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The Coming of the Maori

Fabulous Canoes

page 61

Fabulous Canoes

The Mangarara canoe (104, vol. 2, p. 172), under the command of Wheketoro (Crawling-octopus), brought less desirable types of settlers, who, though earlier than the earliest human settlers, were given the traditional form of transport by canoe. The crew and passengers of the Mangarara consisted of reptiles and insects. The reptiles (ngarara) were lizards (mokomoko) of the following species: tuatara, teretere, kumu-kumu, moko-parae, and moko-kakariki, all under the chieftainship of Tuaheke. The insects were the weri (centipede), whe (caterpillar), weta (tree cricket), kekerengu (black beetle) and others. Somehow or other, the torea and whaioio birds and dogs of the mohorangi breed were included through some zoological error in classification. Captain Crawling-octopus landed his queer assortment of passengers at Whangaokena in the Bay of Plenty, and from there, they were distributed over the land.

The Karamurauriki was the canoe of misfortune and death (aitua). The Tatataeore is also mentioned but it was probably an alternative name and both are usually associated together in oratory. In laments for the dead, reference is made to the sailing preparations of the canoe. The bow piece (tauihu) was lashed on, and the raised stern piece (taurapa) was decorated with streamers of white albatross feathers. When the calls came, the canoe of death sailed in and embarked the souls of the dead in the last voyage home to join weir illustrious ancestors in the Spirit-land of Hawaiki.