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The Material Culture of the Cook Islands (Aitutaki)

Chapter X. — Weapons, Agricultural Implements, Musical — Instruments, Personal Adornment, — Tattooing, Decorative Art

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Chapter X.
Weapons, Agricultural Implements, Musical
Instruments, Personal Adornment,
Tattooing, Decorative Art.


Weapons of wood were generally made of the heart of iron-wood, which was called taikura. The genealogy of iron-wood, toa, is as follows:—

A black and white diagram showing the genealogy of iron-wood from Atea and Papa down to Te Toa.

Weapons were also made of miro, of the gnarled, twisted tree known as mingimingi. From this came the saying applied to weapons,

"E aha ra? E miro takamingimingi no Vairota."
"Oh, what is it? A twisted miro from Vairota."

Vairota is near the hare karioi that stood in the old village of Vaitupa. The twisted, tough kind of miro was much sought after for weapons.

The usual names of the longer weapons were ko, paheru, tokotoko, and taitea. These names are synonymous. The act of thrusting or stabbing was ko, and the cutting stroke with an edge was tipu.

Long Weapons.

The names given for the long weapons were:—

(1.) Tara tahi. The tara tahi was a spear about 6 feet long, made in one piece. It was used for thrusting, and was also thrown.

(2.) Hiku tuna. The hiku tuna was about two spans in length. It was pointed, kohekohe. The other end was bulged out into a long oval, but with the edges sharpened. This latter end resembled somewhat an eel's tail, hence the name of the weapon, hiku tuna, an eel's tail. The wielder of the weapon stabbed to the front and struck to the back page 350if an opponent approached from that direction. The weapon was also thrown. See Fig. 295.

Figure 295.The kiku tuna weapon.

Figure 295.
The kiku tuna weapon.

(3.) Puapua inano. The puapua inano is somewhat similar to the hiku tuna, but the barbs are in sets of four. The points are made in the solid. They are distributed round the axis, so to speak, and so resemble the male flower of the pandanus, inano, which has a number of pointed leaflets arranged in a similar manner. There are two forms of arranging the points, as in Fig. 296. In some
Figure 296. The points of the puapua inano weapon.

Figure 296.
The points of the puapua inano weapon.

cases the barbed end is made separately and then tied to a handle. The weapon may be used in hand-to-hand fighting, or it may be thrown.
(4.) Noho mou. The noho mou is a long weapon, three or four spans in length, according to the strength of the wielder. The point was four-sided, tapa ha, and the other end was somewhat paddle-shaped, with sharp edges for striking, Fig. 297. This weapon was not thrown. It was
Figure 297. Point of noho mou weapon.

Figure 297.
Point of noho mou weapon.

wielded by a skilled warrior, who, thrusting or striking in either direction, held his ground and stood fast. From the method of wielding the club, it was called noho mou, to remain fast.

(5.) Tu-a-rupe. The tu-a-rupe seems to have been a form of weapon localised in the village of Tautu, or rather page 351in its predecessor, Taravao. It is said to have been something like the puapua inano, but shorter, and with a separate head that was joined to a handle or shaft.

Short Weapons.

(1.) Stone axe. One informant stated that a stone axe, toki, mounted on a short handle, was used in fighting. There was no information as regards the short thrusting weapons like the mere of New Zealand.

(2.) Dagger. There were no regular short stabbing weapons of the dagger type. On one historical occasion, however, an iron-wood autui needle was used with effect. According to Aitutaki tradition, a giant from Mangaia, named Tahiri-te-rangi, overran the country. Pukenga of Tautu disguised himself as a woman and concealed an autui needle in a bunch of Dracaena leaves used as a fan. As Tahiri-te-rangi approached Tautu, Pukenga met him and invited him to stoop and exchange the customary greetings. As Tahiri stooped down, Pukenga stabbed him in the eye with the thatching needle and slew him. He then raised the hakariro, or cry of exultation.

Pukenga toromata kia Akamake,
I toro ai te mata o Tahiri-te-rangi.
E Kenga e! Te kuramea,
Kuramea ka hei ki taku rima.
     E ha ha.

Pukenga, eye-stabber of Akamake,
Through whom the eye of Tahiri-te-rangi
     Was pierced.
O Kenga! Behold the giant fish,
The giant fish caught by my hand.
     A ha ha.

In an account by Wyatt Gill1 there is quite a different version. However, the people of Aitutaki can point out the hollow in the ground where Tahiri-te-rangi is said to have been buried.

Projectile Weapons.

(1.) Bow and arrow. The bow and arrow was not known in battle. There is no definite account of it in the old historical narratives. It has been used lately by the children in play. The bow was made of orange or guava and the arrows of teka cane. The bow was called tokini.

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(2.) The Sling. The sling was used in Aitutaki, as throughout the Cook Group. My informants were not too clear about the name. They held that maka applied to the sling stones, and the sling itself was probably titiri, as the word of command to sling was "Tiria," "throw."

The sling was made of hibiscus bast, in exactly the same manner as the cocoanut oil wringer, taka hakari. The two examples shown in Fig. 298 are from Rarotonga. The plaiting started one one side of the band that was to enclose
Figure 298. Slings, Sling Stone, and Carrying Net. (Auckland Museum.)

Figure 298.
Slings, Sling Stone, and Carrying Net. (Auckland Museum.)

the stone. When the opposite side was reached the wefts were bent back to form an edge, as in the taka. The plaiting proceeded towards one end, until half the length of the band was completed. The width was narrowed by incorporating two wefts as one. When narrowed down sufficiently, the wefts were plaited, either as a three-ply braid or a four-ply round plait, as in the taura puna. The other end was finished off in the same way.

In the small sling on the left of Fig. 298 the pouch, or band, is 5 inches long and 1 inch wide. The cords are plaited in the four-ply round plait, and are 2 feet 3 inches and 2 feet 4 inches long. The end of one cord has been doubled over and tied with an overhand knot. This leaves a loop big enough to fit over the thumb.

In the longer sling in Fig. 298 the band is 7 inches long and 2½ inches wide. The wefts are somewhat narrow, being page 3536 to 1 inch. The cords are three-ply braid, with the ends finished off by binding with a fine cord. The cords are fairly thick. In one the wefts at the end have been divided into two lots, and two smaller cords plaited on for about 7 inches. These two small cords were for tying round the wrist. The cord with the bifurcated end is 3 feet 2 inches in length to the bifurcation, and the other is 3 feet 5 inches.

The sling stones, maka, are seen in position on the two slings. They are of the dark pohatu maori stone, and have been worked, hakaonu. They are shaped into the round.

On the right of Fig. 298 is a netted bag for holding sling stones. The netting material is sinnet braid, and the netting cord is the weaver's knot. A cord runs through the circumferential meshes, so as to close the bag. The ends are long for tying round the waist or suspending over the shoulder. It is said that in battle the women carried up fresh supplies of stones.

In using the sling, the loop of one cord was slipped over the thumb. In the larger sling, the cords at the bifurcated end were tied round the waist. The stone was placed in position in the pouch and the other cord held in the hand. The sling was swung round and round the head and the held cord let go. The stone flew with great velocity, and much accuracy was attained in ancient times. The sling was much used in pursuit of a disorganised enemy.

In battle, an incantation called nuku was used by the priest to promote good marksmanship on his own side and cause the stones of the enemy to miss the mark.

Nuku Incantation.
E Rongo, e Tane, e—
Moria to tangata ki te rima.
Kavea tahau pohaki
Ki te mata i katau.
Kia hinga tiraha.
Tiria tana pohaki
Kia ava i te one.

O Rongo! O Tane!
Support thy man in thy hand!
Direct your stone
To the eye on the right,
That he (the enemy) fall face upwards.
Direct his (the enemy's) stone
That it may furrow the earth.

page 354

It will be noted that the priest ingratiates himself by saying that the stones on his side are the gods'.

Agricultural Implements.

The act of digging is ko, and to prepare a cultivation ko kai, to cultivate for food.

(1.) Paheru. The digging implement was an iron-wood stick, pointed at one end, and called a puheru. There was no step attached to the stick. The implement was driven into the ground by the arms alone. The implement was called a ko by the Rarotongans.

(2.) Implement for making holes for taro. Attention was drawn to this implement at Rarotonga, where a party were seen planting taro on dry ground. This implement was also called a ko, but it probably had some other distinguishing name. It was made of sapling, 5 feet 6 inches long, and about 4 or 5 inches in diameter. The upper end was trimmed into a handle, and the lower end rounded. The best wood on Rarotonga was the moto, which is quite heavy when dry. Candle-nut wood, tuitui, is also used when green, but it is useless when dry, as it becomes too light.

The earth is dug up and prepared. Then a layer of cocoanut leaves is laid over the surface of the prepared ground. The men drive the implements down into the soil between the leaflets to make holes. Women place the taro plants in position in the holes and press the earth firmly against the sides. The cocoanut leaves restrict the growth of weeds. The taro are planted in rows about 2 feet 10 inches apart, and the individual plants are 2 feet 10 inches apart in the rows.

Musical Instruments.

Flutes, kohe. Flutes were made of bamboo, kohe, and hence received a name from the material. The septum at the nodes were pushed out with a stick, except the one at the top end. Four holes were made. Some of the old men seemed to know something about them, but in the rush of a short stay, the manufacture of a sample and the accompanying demonstration were overlooked. Nothing was known of the nose flute. It had been forgotten. The flute mentioned must have been a mouth flute, such as described by Linton2 in the Marquesas. Evidently a tongue was made, for mention was made of placing a hair beneath it.

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Shell trumpet, pu uho. The trumpets were made of a triton shell, which had the end cut off. In some cases a hole was bored at the side. No old specimens were seen, but the modern ones were in use by the native bakers. When their delivery carts went round in the mornings, the sound of the shell trumpet gave notice to their customers.

Tokere. The tokere was made of tamanu wood, which was hollowed out as shown in Fig. 299. It was sometimes made of miro.

Figure 299.Tokere.

Figure 299.

In one measured, the length was 3 feet 6 inches, and the circumference 1 foot 9½ inches. The log was hollowed out, but a septum about 3 inches wide was left 3 inches from either end. The width of both the long slits and the end slits at the surface was l¾ inches. The tokere vary in size, but are always made with the two septa. They are beaten with one stick usually, and different notes are produced by striking the middle part and the ends. They are used to give time in the dancing. The same instrument is called a pate in Rarotonga.

Kahara. The kahara is a much more complicated instrument, Fig. 300.

It is always made of tamanu wood. The length of the one figured is 2 feet 11½ inches, but its outside circumference is 3 feet 1¼ inches. The kahara is round in cross section. The log is hollowed out through a curiously shaped opening, which is evident in Fig. 300. The ends of the opening are rounded, and then taper back to a narrow connecting slit. The widest parts of the opening at either end are 4¼ and 4½ inches, whilst the middle slit part is 1¼ page 356
Figure 300.–Kahara.

Figure 300.–Kahara.

inches. The ends of the opening come right to the end septum at either end, which are 2 and 2¼ inches thick. The depth of the hollowed out part is 9¼ inches at the ends and 9½ inches at the middle. The total length of the opening was 2 feet 4¼ inches, and the thickness of the lip half an inch.

At either end the kahara was ornamented round the circumference with 21 knobs, each 1½ inches long and 1 inch square at their ends, but slightly narrower at their junction with the body. Opposite either end of the opening there were no projections.

The instrument was also carved with a single spiral on either side of the ends of the opening, and with simple cross lines near the circumference at the ends. Altogether the kahara formed a handsome instrument. Some are very elaborately carved, such as that figured by Hamilton3 in Dominion Museum Bulletin No. 3.

page 357
Figure 301.Playing the kahara.

Figure 301.
Playing the kahara.

The kahara. was played with two sticks that were beaten near the hole, Fig. 301. A different note was produced from either end.

Drum, pahu. The pahu was a true drum, formed from a hollowed block and covered with skin, Fig. 302.

Figure 302.The pahu drum.

Figure 302.
The pahu drum.

page 358

The wood used was tamanu, tou, kuru, puka, or utu. The specimen figured stands 1 foot 7½ inches high. It is circular in cross section. Its diameter at the lower end is 1 foot 2 inches, and at the widest part, towards the top, 1 foot 4 inches.

The wooden block has been hollowed from both ends, leaving a solid wooden partition about 5¾ inches from the base circumference. The sides of the lower end have been cut into a number of slits, commencing about 1 inch below the partition. Each slit was 2½ inches long and 1 inch wide, and about 1 inch apart. There were 21 slots arranged around the circumference of the drum. Below them, the circumference of the base consisted of a continuous band, 2¼ inches deeep. The lower end was left open.

The opening at the upper end was 8¾ inches in diameter. Over the opening was stretched a piece of shark-skin, which extended down on the outer surface of the drum from 3 to 4 inches. The covering shark-skin was in one piece. A single layer of shark-skin, 2½ inches wide, is placed under the outer edge of the single sheet, so as to make a double layer round the circumference. Through both layers, and about 2/5ths of an inch from the edge, holes are pierced, from 1¼ to 1½ inches apart. There are 32 holes altogether.

The tightening cords consist of lengths of flat threeply sinnet braid. They pass from the holes in the shark-skin down to the slots, through which they pass, to be tied round the woodwork between the bottom of the slot and the lower edge of the base. The few drums seen in Aitutaki had no shark-skin in position. The example figured showed that the cords had been attached as in Fig. 303.

Figure 303.Arrangement of tightening cords in pahu drum.

Figure 303.
Arrangement of tightening cords in pahu drum.

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Each cord is over twice the length of the distance between the shark-skin and the lower rim. In Fig. 303 the cord a has come over from the hole on the left. It passes down through the hole in the shark-skin, A, and down to the corresponding slot below, B. It passes back through the slot, and may take a turn round the lower rim. A fresh length of cord, b, starts from the slot B. A short length of one end is passed back through the slot and takes a turn round the rim. The ends of a and b may be tied together temporarily on the bottom of the rim. The long length of b is now brought upwards on the left of a. It passes over the shark-skin and under a, just to the left of its entrance in to the hole A in the shark-skin. From here b is taken across to the hole B, passes through, and down to the slot D, where it is treated in exactly the same manner as the cord a on the last slot B. A new cord c is now treated in the same manner as the cord b in the last slot B. The new cord c passes upwards under b and across to the next hole on the right. In this manner all the cords are put on in pairs, one cord ending as another begins. There are 32 holes in the shark-skin, but only 21 slots near the base, hence 11 of the slots take two pairs of cords, but this makes no difference to the technique of the cords.

To tighten up the cords, each pair is pulled as taut as possible down towards the rim. Then the short end of one of the pair of cords, generally the commencing end, which has taken a complete turn round the rim, is brought up in front of the rim. It is passed back into the slot behind the pair of cords, and pulls them forward as in Fig. 304. The rim is nearly 1½ inches thick, so the loop exercises enough leverage to complete the tautness of the cords. The end of
Figure 304. Technique of loop to tighten cords in pahu drum.

Figure 304.
Technique of loop to tighten cords in pahu drum.

page 360 the loop, which now goes back from the front below the rim, is tied to the end of the other cord of the pair with a reef knot. The knots may be on the under or inner surface of the rim. Where two pairs enter one slot, each pair is dealt with separately.

The knots and crossings on the rim are concealed by covering the front, under surface, and back of the rim with strips of dry pandanus leaf. These are kept in position by running a continuous fine twisted cord in a chain knot round the rim. The tying cord passes once or twice through each slot.

The drum is played with the bare hands, and makes quite a good sound.

The pahu in Fig. 302 is covered with painted figures from the lower rim to the shark-skin. The figures are done before the shark-skin is put on. They will be shown in detail in the section on Decorative Art.

Personal Adornment.

Ornaments come under the general name of rakei. To decorate is hakamanea.

Head ornaments. Wreaths or garlands come under the general term of pare, and have been referred to under the chapter on Clothing. They were made of flowers and sweet-scented leaves that are mentioned under hei, necklaces.

Hair Ornaments.

Combs. Combs are now called paoro. No information was obtained of ornamental combs corresponding to the Maori combs of bone, nor of the close-set combs of wood. Paoro simply means to scrape.

Feathers. The scanty information regarding feather head-dresses has been given in Chapter 3.

Single feathers or feathers bunched together were used for hair adornment. The feathers were those of the tavake (tropic bird). karavia (long-tailed cuckoo), purake (a white sea-bird that comes inland), and the moa (fowl). The term for feathers is huru manu.

Ear ornaments. The ears were pierced with a pointed stick. In these days it is done with the thorn from an orange tree. On removing the thorn, a small quill from the feather of a fowl is put in to keep the aperture from closing. After some days the quill is removed, and, if page 361necessary, the hole is kept from closing by putting the pointed ends of the unopened central leaves of the Dracæna, ti.

Flowers and scented leaves were worn in them, but no special ear ornaments, such as those of the Marquesas or New Zealand could be described. Flowers were also worn with the stalk over the ear.

Neck ornaments. Anything strung on a cord and worn round the neck comes under the name of hei. They were composed of scented flowers and leaves in various combinations, shells, and seeds.

Flowers and Leaves.

Tiare maori. The tiare maori has a beautiful white, scented flower. It is said to have been introduced into Aitutaki by the ancestor Ruatapu. The place where he planted it was called Tiare, and can still be pointed out.

Hara, pandanus fruit. The pandanus, hara, is recognised by the natives as male and female trees. The large fruit of the female tree is called kahui hara. When ripe, it has a pleasing orange colour, and is scented. The segments of the ripe fruit are separated and threaded on a cord, usually with other material.

Inano. The inano is the flower of the male tree. The flower bunch is called kopu inano, and it is selected for its pleasing scent.

Miri. The scented leaves of the miri plant are interspaced amongst the more showy flowers.

Poroiti. The poroiti belongs to the same family as the two kinds of poroporo of New Zealand. There are two species in the Cook Group. One has a bright red berry and the other has yellow berries. The latter is called tavai ranga. The ripe berries are peeled into a continuous strip from one end to the other. In combination wreaths and necklaces, the spiral strips hang down and brighten up the hei.

Mapua. The mapua g rows in the taro patches. It is of historical interest, in that it was brought by one Hui-tariro in the canoe Uira-kau-putuputu. He came from the district of Taravao in Tahiti, and gave the name of Taravao to a district in Aitutaki. More recently introduced plants are now used. The most sought after is the Frangipani, but roses and other page 362flowers of a temperate climate are used with good effect.

Shells. Shells are bored and threaded on short strings for head bands or on longer strines for necklaces. A single species of shell may be used, or various combinations. The use of different shells is known as tahonohono. The shells used are:—

Pareho. The pareho is a small kind of cowrie. Pipi. The pipi is a bivalve, with a ribbed shell like a cockle.

Kahi. The small shells are used for necklaces, and the larger shells for domestic purposes.

Ungaunga. The ungaunga is a long, thin, spiral shell.

There are also a number of shells that come under the pupu class. They are here enumerated under their native names.

(a.) Pupu Mangaia. (c.) Pupu henua.
(b.) Pupu tahi. (d.) Pupu motu.

Puka. The black seeds of the puka are covered with a brown substance. This is rubbed off against a coral stone and the seeds rubbed and polished with cocoanut oil. They make a good necklace with shiny black beads.

Poepoe The poepoe is a plant that grows 4 to 5 feet high, and the seed are of a slatey blue colour.

Tavara. The tavara is a red seed that is much used for necklaces.

Mata koviriviri. The mata koriviviri is a red seed with a black spot. It is said to have been introduced from Niue Island.

Breast ornaments. Breast ornaments come under the name of tiha. There are none to be seen in Aitutaki at the present time. One was described as having been dug up in an old deserted village site that was being brought into cultivation. It was made of pearl shell that had been worked into a crescentic shape. There was a hole at each end to take the fastenings to the cord for tying round the neck. Unfortunately the finder broke it with his adze and threw it away.

Makea Vahine informed me that an old tiha belonging to the Makea family was of the above type. In these cases page 363the shell came from the Northern Islands. Similar crescentic ornaments were made from cocoanut shell, ipu, and rubbed with cocoanut oil to make them shine.

Large cowrie shells were also split for a similar purpose. Te Muna Korero decorated his canoe with shells of the pahua and ariri.

Tattooing, Ta Tatau.

The process of tattooing was known as ta tatau. Ta is the verb, and tatau the effect of the process. Tattoo has probably been taken from tatau, and should not be transposed back as tatu. In Maori the process is ta moko, where the verb is the same, but the noun is totally different.

Implements. The tattooing implement was made from the bone of a bird, and in later years the bone of a cat. The bone was scraped down thin, angiangi, and worked into serrations or teeth. The bone part was tied on at right angles to a wooden handle of teka, hau, or any appropriate wood. This instrument was simply called ivi, bone. A short piece of wood as thick as the little finger was used to tap the bone implement. It was called rakau papa or rakau patupatu.

Pigment. The pigment was procured by burning the kernels of the candle-nut under an inverted bowl or ipu of cocoanut shell. The soot was collected and mixed with water. The pigment took its name from the soot, and was called ngarahu.

Swab, horoi toto. A piece of bark cloth, pahoa, was wrapped round the fourth and fifth fingers of the left hand and used to swab up any blood from the operation. This gave the name of horoitoto, horoi to wipe away, and toto blood.

Procedure. The bone points were dipped in the pigment, applied to the skin, and tapped with the rakau papa. It was stated that no incantations were used, as was done in New Zealand. The expert tattooer or tahunga was feasted after the operation was over and paid with presents of food. It was said that anyone could become tattooed, his sub-tribe helping by contributing to the feast. On asking about anyone too poor to provide a feast, the answer was, "There was no man who did not have relatives."

Designs. It was held that tattooing designs, or rather motives, were derived from carving on wood, pana. From page 364tattooing, they were afterwards copied on floor mats. Lieut.-Colonel Gudgeon4 states it was held that each canoe that arrived from Hawaiki was carved on the bow with a more or less distinct pattern, and that the carving was adopted by those who came in the canoe as the ta tatau which should for all time distinguish them from other tribes. It seems reasonable that tattooing should be a later development than carving. The more developed tools and the preparation of pigment would indicate that. It is also natural to suppose that the motives carved on wood should suggest similar motives on flesh. Wood must have been the practicing medium. Different motives must have come in at various periods and become the fashion at that particular time, just as occurs in modern times. Thus it seems much more likely that the various canoes brought in different fashions, due to a period, and not motives that were adopted as a tribal heraldic device. The tattoo motives given to the author by Kake Maunga in 19065 are here repeated, and those given by Lieut.-Colonel Gudgeon are compared with them.

Tattoo Motives.

Papavaro. The papavaro consists of a continuous series of chevrons. The lines meet at an obtuse angle, Fig. 305. They are traced over the anterior surface of the abdomen and the thighs. They are also traced on the back, but were essentially an anterior design, as shown by the song mentioned under manutai.

Figure 305.Papavaro motive.

Figure 305.
Papavaro motive.

Gudgeon4 states that this motive was introduced into Aitutaki by Te Muna-Korero, who named Maina Island on the reef. He named the motive pa-maunga, a range of mountains, in memory of a mountain range in far-off Havaiki.

Figure 306.Parepare motive.

Figure 306.
Parepare motive.

page 365

Parepare The parepare motive is shown in Fig. 306. It was used on the shoulder, over the deltoid region, and also on the chest and wrist.

Tatatao. The tatatao is a face pattern consisting of three curved lines, which are used in three positions: (1) on the forehead, over each eyebrow, resembling the Maori tiwhana; (2) over each cheek, corresponding to the Maori kawe; and (3) on the chin, with the concavity upwards. See Fig. 307.

Figure 307.Tatatao motive.

Figure 307.
Tatatao motive.

Ruru. The ruru motive, Fig. 308, is worked on the wrists and forearms.

Figure 308.Ruru motive.

Figure 308.
Ruru motive.

Manutahi. The manutahi design is worked on the back. It consists of two vertical lines drawn down the spine, with short vertical lines between them. From these oblique pairs run upwards and outwards to the mid-auxiliary line. These pairs have short cross lines between them, Fig. 309.

Figure 309.Manutahi motive.

Figure 309.
Manutahi motive.

When a man had thy papavaro on the anterior surface of his body and the manutahi on his back, he took pride in page 366himself. At gatherings of the people he could stand forth in their midst and display his tattoo designs with the song:—

Ie huria, huria.
Huria te manutahi ki tahitikura.
Huria te papavaro ki tahitikura.

Oh turn, turn.
Turn the manutahi to one side,
Turn the papavaro to the other side.

The other motives recorded by Gudgeon are as follows:—

Puapua-inano. This is printed in the text as puapuainana, but there is no doubt that inana should be inano. Puapua-inano is the flower of the male pandanus. The motive is shown in Fig. 310. Gudgeon states that the
Figure 310. Puapua-inano motive.

Figure 310.
Puapua-inano motive.

motive was introduced by the chief Kaki, who came in the canoe Katopa-henua, entered by the Vaimotu passage, and landed at Taravao.

Komua. The komua motive was introduced by Irakau, who came by the Ui-tariao canoe and entered by the Taketake passage. Komua means the forward thrust of a spear. See Fig. 311.

Figure 311.Komua motive.

Figure 311.
Komua motive.

Paeko. The paeko, Fig. 312, was introduced by Te Erui-o-te-rangi.

Figure 312.Paeko motive.

Figure 312.
Paeko motive.

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Punarua, The punarua motive is associated with Ruatapu. The motive shown in Fig. 313 does not suggest the punarua motive of floor mats.

Figure 313.Punarua motive, attributed to Ruatapu.

Figure 313.
Punarua motive, attributed to Ruatapu.

Attention is drawn to the statement that the punarua, viti, tapuae mokora, and matautua motives in the decorative borders of mats were derived from tattooing motives. The ones shown above do not fit in with the contention, though it is probable that some tattooing motives have been forgotten.

Decorative Art.

Mats. According to the elders of Aitutaki, the four first patterns used in the decorative borders of mats were derived from tattooing. These are the punarua. Fig. 118, the viti, Fig. 122, the tapuae mokora, Fig. 123A, and the matautua, Fig. 123B. The viti is the simplest, and is vouched for as vertical lines of dots. It is curious that Kake Maunga did not mention it in 1906. The other three, as already pointed out, do not agree with the tattooing designs figured. It may be that the chevron design called papavaro by Kake Maunga and pa-maunga by Gudgeon4 may have suggested the rows of continuous triangles that form the technical basis of the three designs. Once they were set up in white or black, various combinations developed in a field that was restricted by the technique of plaiting. The various other motives and designs have been shown in Chapter IV on Mats. They show a distinct advance on anything done in the other Island Groups in Eastern Polynesia.

Tattooing. The tattooing motives are very simple. They mostly consist of straight lines. In the ruru pattern, Fig. 308, curves appear, and also in the parepare, Fig. 306. The most interesting is the tatatao, Fig. 307. Here the curves on the forehead and from the nose round the corner of the mouth correspond with similar motives in Maori tattooing.

Carving. Carving on wood was termed pana. Carving was used to decorate wooden bowls, spears, adze handles, page 368and the large atamira seats. No carved bowls or spears were seen.

Adze handles. The adze handle in the Auckland Museum, Fig. 215, was merely ornamented with notches cut on the sides of the pointed head of the handle and the ridges on the enlargement near the base of the shaft.

A handle seen in a private collection, however, was very neatly carved. The head of the handle was divided into three parts by two deep notches. The carving on the anterior surface of the head continued down to the top of the notch that took the butt of the adze. This is shown in
Figure 314. Carving of handle of Aitutuki adze (from a rubbing by A. J. Driver).

Figure 314.
Carving of handle of Aitutuki adze (from a rubbing by A. J. Driver).

A, anterior surface. B, side.

Fig. 314A, where the effect is quite good. From the level ab, the anterior surface slopes backwards and upwards. The simple carving on the sides of the handle, B, is a repetition of the motive on the lower part of the anterior surface. It will be seen that the design is rectilinear.

Atamira. The atamira seen in Aitutaki was ornamented along the edges of the carved seat by notches. A part of the carving of the atamira in Fig. 45 is shown up in more detail in Fig. 315.

An analysis of the carving shows that it may be divided into three horizontal sections. In the uppermost section there is an upper and a lower row of U-shaped pieces page 369
Figure 315. Carving on large atamira in Auckland Museum.

Figure 315.
Carving on large atamira in Auckland Museum.

gouged out. The gouged cut parts in the lower row are directly below those in the upper. The effect is a row of headless anthropomorphic figures, with arms and legs corresponding to the lower margins of the U-shaped depressions.

In the lowest section, the U-shaped depressions of the lower row are directly below every alternate depression in the upper row. The effect is the same as in the uppermost section, except that what corresponds to the bodies of the anthropomorphic figures is twice the width of those in the upper section.

In the middle section the motive is raised zigzags, running vertically. A similar motive formed the only ornamentation of the edge of the atamira shown in Fig. 43.

Other carving. The only other piece of carving seen was in a piece taken from a church, and with some of the rectilinear figures shown in Fig. 316. This was given to
Figure 316. Carved frame from church.

Figure 316.
Carved frame from church.

page 370 the author as an example of the old-time type of carving, though roughly made with European tools. The vertical panel A shows the orthodox figures, whilst the others are irregular variations, due to poor carving. The upper row shows the lozenge or diamond motive, with various embellishments. The middle and lower rows show variations of the radiating lines. The white in Fig. 316 indicates the level of the original surface, whilst the black shows the parts that have been cut away.

Paintings, Bark cloth. The decorative motives on bark cloth have unfortunatelty been forgottten. The only specimens seen were the plain hapaha cloth that was dyed yellow.

Drum. The painted figures on the pahu drum shown in Fig. 302 are shown in more detail in Fig. 317. The lowest straight lines, with four pairs of short curves and inverted triangles, are painted on the parts between the
Figure 317. Details of figures painted on pahu drum.

Figure 317.
Details of figures painted on pahu drum.

slots near the bottom of the drum. Above a shorter repetition of the same motive come three rows of four triangles, meeting at their apices, and thus forming a kind of Maltese cross figure. The middle and lowest row of crosses are connected by zig-zag lines. The zig-zag lines, again, are page 371connected transversely by curved lines. The upper limbs of the middle row of crosses are opposed by a row of equalsized triangles. The triangles in turn are connected with the lower limbs of the upper row of crosses by zig-zag lines. The zig-zag lines really form the sides of the lower limbs of the cross. Below, the acute angles of the zig-zag lines are also filled in. The edges of the filled-in parts are curved, as they are in the limbs of the middle and lowest rows of crosses, which face each other.

Remarks. The number of examples of carving and painting or dyeing are too few to venture upon a discussion of decorative art motives in Aitutaki. Ruth H. Greiner6 gives a number of Cook Island motives from the richer material available to her. The above few examples are therefore figured merely for record, to assist other workers.


Edge Partington7 has figured two caps formerly worn by the master of ceremonies at native dances, and also a shield carried by the same official. They are to be found in his Ethnographical Album of the Pacific Islands, First Series, Part I.

In the same album is figured a representation of " Ronga, a rude human figure formed of cords of plaited sinnet covered with feathers, from Arutanga, a district of Aitutaki." This was probably meant to represent the god Rongo.

Mask. In the Auckland Museum there is a mask labelled as having come from Aitutaki. The figure has a serrated crown, and wears a long beard. It is painted with European paint. The mask looks so much like Father Neptune that it has not been reproduced for these pages.

Comparisons with New Zealand.

Weapons. The weapons of Aitutaki are disappointing. Whilst the principle of using both ends was in vogue, the Island weapons were evidently held horizontally. They stabbed to the front and struck to the rear. The Maori double-handed clubs had proceeded to a further stage of evolution. They were held vertically or diagonally, with the striking blade above and the stabbing point below. They are shorter and lighter, and mark an advance in quick footwork and dexterity. The Maori short clubs of wood, bone, and stone also mark an advance in in-fighting, where page 372the object was to avoid the stroke of the longer weapons, fall into a clinch, and upper-cut the opponent with a jab stroke of the front end of the short club. With the great attention paid to the hand-to-hand fighting, the Polynesian sling seems to have been abandoned.

Musical instruments. Our information about Aitutaki flutes and nose flutes is too poor to make comparisons. The Triton shell trumpet was also used by the Maori, but owing to the great development of carving, a carved wooden mouthpiece was attached to the shell. The trumpets were also known as pu. The Island form of wooden gong with a narrow slit, inside which was a much wider hollow, was known. Evidently they were used as alarm gongs, and not for dancing. The Island name for drum, pahu, was used for the gongs, whilst the true Aitutaki pahu drum was unknown.

Personal adornment. As regards ornaments, the Maori, owing to the presence of greenstone, had a much richer variety of ear and neck ornaments. Whalebone was also used to a great extent, especially in the manufacture of ornamental combs. Wreaths became a sign of mourning. Children were severely admonished if they used them in play, as it was regarded as inviting trouble. Necklaces did not figure so prominently as in the Islands.

Tattooing. Maori tattooing motives were much more developed than the simple forms that prevailed in Aitutaki. The face was completely covered with spirals and curves. The thighs and buttocks were also covered with particular designs. Maori women tattooed on the chin and lips, but nothing was known of face tattooing amongst Aitutaki women. Attention has been drawn to the curved lines of the face tattooing of Aitutaki men. Aitutaki tattooing is exceedingly sparse when compared with that of the Marquesas.8

Decorative art. Again material from Aitutaki is too scanty to permit of comparisons.

1 Gill, W. W., 1880, I.

2 Linton, R, 1923, I.

3 Hamilton, A., 1911, I.

4 Gudgeon, Lieut-Col., 1905, I.

5 Te Rangi Hiroa, 1911, I.

6 Greiner, Ruth H., 1923, I.

7 Edge, Partington, 1890, I.

8 Handy, Willowdean Chatterson, 1922, I.