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The Coming of the Maori

5 — The Maori People

page 65

The Maori People

The maori people who were in occupation of new Zealand at the time of European contact were the descendants of the intermixture of three successive groups of immigrants: the moahunters and the early tangata whenua who came with Maruiwi, the two crews under Toi and Whatonga, and the settlers from the Fleet of 1350. The second and third groups came from Hawaiki which has been identified as the Society Islands and hence they were recognized as people of Polynesian stock. The first settlers came from some unidentified island but, owing to the teaching of one of the Maori houses of learning, they were assumed to be of Melanesian origin. The physical traits ascribed by the school to the first settlers included a very dark skin, a flat nose with expanded nostrils, and thin calves. However, the same tradition also endowed these dark people with straight hair and thus created an imaginary type which, lacking frizzy hair, could not possibly be Melanesian.

The Moriori were regarded as a branch of the first settlers of New Zealand, who had found their way to the Chatham Islands before the arrival of the Fleet and thus through isolation to have retained more of the physical characters of the early settlers than the Maoris who were the result of intermixture with the later arrivals. Hence when European visitors professed to see Melanesian characteristics in the Moriori, such unchecked statements were accepted as confirmation of the theory that New Zealand was first settled by people of Melanesian stock.

Confusion arose between cultural and biological origin. The solution of the biological problem required investigation by observers brained in physical anthropology. The close study and exact measurements of a sufficient number of crania or of living subjects were necessary to provide adequate data before physical types, affinities, and racial origin could be determined. Statements and theories not based on anthropometrical measurements are of no scientific value and are usually misleading.

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The earliest physical studies on the Maori were made on skulls which had been taken to Europe and, though such studies were made by eminent anthropologists, they were based on too few specimens to be conclusive. The first important study was made by Dr J. H. Scott, Professor of Anatomy at the Otago Medical School, and his paper based on 83 Maori skulls and 50 Moriori skulls was published in 1893 (64, pp. 1-64). Scott came to the conclusion that the Maori and Moriori were closely related and that they were derived from a mixture of Polynesian elements with an antecedent Melanesian strain. Scott took his Melanesian type from a study of the Fijians by Flower and the characteristics which Scott regarded as Melanesian in his Maori material were a long, narrow skull, high in proportion to width, projecting jaws (prognathism), and wide nasal openings. He held that there was greater Melanesian influence in some tribes than in others and more in the North Island than in the South Island. Thus Scott's "antecedent Melanesian strain" lent support to the traditional story of the early settlement of New Zealand by Melanesians.

Later studies on additional skulls widened the biological horizon by finding affinity with the Australians (Tasmanians), Ainu, and Fuegians. These affinities were based on statistical methods which set up arbitrary types as a result of mathematics without regard to the biological possibilities of intermixture.

The study of the living had lagged behind for obvious reasons. The crania collected for European museums were available for study by anthropologists in the older countries but in a young country such as New Zealand, there was no course at the University Colleges, until recently, that would qualify students to take up the project of measuring the living Maoris. In 1919, when I was detailed as a medical officer to the troopship bringing back the Maori Pioneer Battalion from World War I, I saw an opportunity of making a contribution in a neglected field. Before leaving England, I consulted Sir Arthur Keith at the Royal College of Surgeons and Professor Karl Pearson at University College, London. Equipped with the necessary instruments, I measured, during the voyage home, 814 men of whom 424 were full Maori so far as I could check. Failing the help of a mathematician, I worked out the main measurements without the coefficient of variation and other formulae and the incomplete study was published in 1922-1923 (88). Some of the averages on the full Maoris were as follows:

Weight, 163.91b. Face width, 145.7 mm.
Height, 1706 mm. (67.3 in.) Facial index, 85.1
Head length, 1965 mm. Nose height, 52.8 mm.
Head width, 152.8 mm. Nose width, 40.1 mm.page 67
Cephalic index, 77.7 Nasal index, 75.9
Face height, 124.0 mm.

The average cephalic index for the series is mesaticephalic or mediumheaded but there is a higher percentage of long-heads than broad-heads, as follows:

Dolichocephalic 39.1 per cent
Mesaticephalic 51.3 per cent
Brachyocephalic 9.2 per cent

There was considerable tribal variation in the percentage of long-heads and broad-heads (94, p. 37) which conforms with Scott's observations on crania.

At the time I worked up my material, Professor Roland Dixon's Racial History of Man had been recently published. As Shapiro (67, p. 8) points out, I subjected my material to a "Dixonian analysis" by plotting the combinations of cephalic and nasal indices and obtained four extreme types out of a possible nine combinations (94, p. 34). As Dixon's method of analysis has not been subsequently accepted and has been deemed unbiological, my Dixonian analysis recorded in the Cawthron lecture may be entirely disregarded. Similarly my attempt to align the types defined by Dixon's method with the basic Polynesian elements isolated by Sullivan (84) may also be shelved. New methods are devised by specialists from time to time, but when more extensive material and their study leads to a revision of former theories, we must also change our opinions to conform to the weight of scientific evidence.

Organized study of the physical characters of the living was taken up by the Bishop Museum of Honolulu, which inaugurated its regional survey of Polynesia in 1920. American graduates in anthropology were sent to Tonga, Marquesas, and Austral Islands to make surveys of native culture and take measurements of sufficient numbers of the native population. The research workers were supplied with the requisite instruments and special forms for filling in the anthropometrical data. The records made by the field workers were submitted to Dr L. R. Sullivan who worked up the material for publication by the Bishop Museum. On the death of Dr Sullivan, the task of correlating the anthropometrical material was delegated to Dr H. L. Shapiro of the American Museum of Natural History who also shared in the field work in Polynesia. The survey has practically covered the whole of Polynesia and so for the first time in history provided adequate data for the physical study of the Polynesian people. Though the Bishop Museum survey did not include New Zealand, it made it possible to compare Scott's work and mine with the racial stock to which the Maoris belonged.

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From the anthropometric data on the living and, therefore, contemporaneous Polynesian populations, Shapiro (67, p. 12) concluded that "the Polynesians despite common traits also revealed a local differentiation which could be correlated with geographical distribution." The common traits were grouped by Shapiro (69, p. 6) as stature, bizygomatic diameter, fronto-parietal index, and zygo-frontal index. In these particular traits, all the Polynesian groups from Hawaii to New Zealand and from Samoa to Easter Island closely resemble each other. "Such a uniformity implies that the earliest and latest immigrants shared a basic physical community, whatever additional variations they may have acquired in their history."

The more variable traits that showed a well-defined pattern in geographical distribution embraced head length, head width, cephalic index, and possibly minimum frontal diameter. A central area of marked brachycephaly was formed by the Society Islands, northwestern Tuamotu, Australs, and the high islands of the Cook group (excepting Mangaia), with a northward extension to Hawaii. Encircling this broad-headed centre, Samoa, Tonga, Marquesas, central Tuamotus, Mangaia, Manihiki, and Rakahanga show a drop in the cephalic index ranging from 81 to 79. Still further out from the centre, the southeastern Tuamotus, Mangareva and New Zealand drop further to below the upper limit of dolichocephaly. Finally, Shapiro (69, p. 6) points out that in the most remote eastern outposts of Polynesia, Napuka and Easter Island, the cephalic index reaches the lowest level for the entire area—74.27 and 74.61 respectively.

The third group of traits comprising the lower jaw diameter and nose and face heights with their indices is widely fluctuating but they indicate local differentiation rather than migration and diffusion.

Shapiro was of opinion that the geographic pattern of cephalic deviations cannot be attributed to chance but indicates that central Polynesia (Society Islands) was a centre of migration. Though the present population of the Society Islands is broad-headed, a study by Wagner on Polynesian crania showed that those from Tahiti were dolichocephalic. Most of the crania were regarded by Shapiro (67, p. 13) as dating from prehistoric times and thus the cranial evidence indicates that the Society Islands had an earlier population of long-headed people. It is evidently branches of these long-headed people who moved out early to the marginal areas but left traces in Mangaia, Manihiki, and Rakahanga.

Traditional accounts of early Polynesian settlement and voyages may be correlated to some extent with the anthropometric findings. Traditions from various islands indicate that the Society Islands was an ancestral home. Tahitian history states that the earliest settlers of the group were the Manahune who were conquered and driven back into the upper valleys and mountains by invading armies from Raiatea. It may be that the Manahune were the long-headed people whose crania were described page 69by Wagner and that the invaders from Raiatea were the broad-headed people who absorbed the Manahune and transmitted their cranial traits to the present population. The earliest movements to other islands took place before the Raiatean invasion of Tahiti. Hawaiian traditions credit the Menehune as being the first settlers of the Hawaiian Islands and the name is obviously a dialectal form of the Tahitian Manahune. Rarotongan traditions state mat a group named Mana'une accompanied one of their early ancestors from Tahiti. In Mangaia, one of the dominant tribes at the time of European contact was the Ngati Mana'une and though it had a local origin from an ancestor named Mana'une, the use of the name implies past ancestral descent. The earliest settlers of New Zealand, termed tangata whenua, were probably a branch of the Tahitian long-headed Manahune.

The later human waves which spread out from the Society Islands may be correlated with the broad-headed Raiatean stock for the Manahune had been absorbed or reduced to vassalage and were not in the position to organize long sea voyages. Thus the later settlers to Hawaii, led by Moikeha and others from Kahiki (Tahiti) were probably broadheads who ultimately absorbed the Menehune without leaving any physical evidence of their having existed and transmitted the broad-headed traits which characterize the present population. The settlers who accompanied Tangiia to Rarotonga were evidently broad-headed and the same applied to the settlers of Aitutaki, Atiu, and Mauke. Thus the present populations of these islands of the Cook group are markedly broadheaded. My interpretation of the Mangaian traditions and anthropometric data is that people of Manahune stock, who had come to Rarotonga in the train of the Rarotongan ancestors, crossed over to Mangaia which is only 116 miles distant. Later arrivals from Tahiti referred to as worshippers of the god Tane probably supplied the broad-headed element and the intermixture resulted in the cephalic index of the present Mangaian population being much lower than that of the inhabitants of the other islands of the Cook group.

In the Cawthron lecture (94, p. 35), I followed Professor Dixon's theory mat a broad-headed wave had preceded a long-headed migration from Eastern (Central) Polynesia to New Zealand but the non-acceptance of Dixon's method as well as the more recent work summarized by Shapiro have led me to accept a reversal of the order. There seems little doubt from the chronological order of events in the Society Islands that the first wave of tangata whenua settlers belonged to the long-headed people I have associated with the Manahune. These first settlers had developed into a large population which had spread into the South Island before the extinction of the moa and probably before the arrival of fresh immigrants from central Polynesia. The second arrival of two male crews page 70under Toi and Whatonga probably had little effect on the physical characters of the population as a whole. The third wave of members of the Fleet in 1350, however, was important from their numbers and the dominance which their descendants acquired. It has been accepted that the Fleet came from the Society Islands and comparative genealogical tables show that it left at least a century later than the broad-headed emigrants who absorbed the Menehune of Hawaii. Hence the Fleet personnel should have been derived from the broad-headed stock which developed into the central Polynesian type both in the Society Islands and Hawaii. If so, the long-headed character of the earlier population remained dominant in the mixed population which developed as shown by the average cephalic index of 77.7 of the Maori of the present day. It is possible, however, that at a period of over 500 years ago, the broad-headed traits may not have been so highly developed in the districts of the Society Islands from which the crews and passengers of the Fleet came. Granting, however, that a broad-headed element was introduced by the Fleet, the great variation in the Maori tribes may be due to a varying amount of intermarriage and selection between the later and the earlier immigrants. A more comprehensive survey of the physical characters of the different Maori tribes is needed to shed light on the problem.

The theory that the earliest inhabitants of New Zealand were of Melanesian stock may now be discarded. Scott's conclusion was based on the belief that dolichocephaly was characteristic of the Melanesians. However, subsequent studies have shown that the inhabitants of Melanesia are composed of a variety of types which are yet ill-known. Furthermore, dolichocephaly in Polynesia is not confined to the Maori but has been shown to be widely spread throughout marginal Polynesia. Again, had the tangata whenua been of some Melanesian type, we would expect to find some accompanying traits such as frizzy hair, deeply pigmented skin, and forward projecting jaws more common in New Zealand than in Polynesia but, as Shapiro (67, p. 14) points out, "they are no more frequent among the Maori than in Polynesia generally." This also applies to the Moriori. Thus any elements in the Maori and Moriori regarded as Melanesian are shared by other Polynesians and if such elements are truly of Melanesian origin, the intermixture did not take place in New Zealand but in the west long before the migrations took place within Polynesia.

In summing up the anthropometric evidence, Shapiro (69, p. 7) came to the following conclusions. The Polynesian population possesses a fundamental unity in physical type and the successive settlers of the various islands were derived from a common people. The common people, however, were of mixed origin and variation is particularly noticeable in the head dimensions and the cephalic index. The opinion that Polynesia page 71was settled by a number of distinct migrations, each characterized by a distinct physical type, rests mainly on the differences in head form between island groups but neglects the broad and consistent similarities which could never have arisen by mixture within Polynesia. Hence the composition of diverse elements such as long-heads and broad-heads occurred before the people entered Polynesia. Somewhere outside of Polynesia, the ancestors of the Polynesians became welded into a distinct population which served as a source from which immigrants streamed into Polynesia. The present differences in particular cephalic dimensions may have been the result of gradual and progressive modification of the fundamental type over the long period of settlement in Polynesia.

Many theories have been evolved regarding the land of origin of the Polynesian people. Percy Smith, in his remarkable work Hawaiki (78), adopted the theory that they originated in the Ganges valley in India and had come into contact with Aryan invaders. Tregear supported the origin in India on linguistic evidence of an affinity between the Polynesian language and Sanskrit. Fornander and others saw a Semitic origin in similar customs and placed the land of origin farther west in ancient Saba of southeast Arabia. Percy Smith supported his origin in India with an interpretation of Rarotongan legends and genealogies. The earliest legendary character was Tuterangimarama who ruled in the land of Atia te varinganui in 450 B.C. The word vari was identified later with the Indian word padi meaning rice and hence the land Atia te varinganui (Atia-where-rice-was-abundant) was India. A Maori legend emanating from the Matorohanga school stated that the original homeland was named Irihia and this has been taken by Percy Smith to be another name for India. The same legend also speaks of the neighbouring land of Uru and though some see a connection with ancient Ur of the Chaldees, Percy Smith regarded the name as that of a neighbouring people who came into conflict with the people of Irihia. The Irihia tradition further states that the canoes which came away from that land had sun-dried kumara (sweet potato) among their provisions. At that period, the sweet potato had not crossed the Pacific from its habitat in South America.

In dealing with the oral traditions of a people without a written language, it should be realized that no matter how the memory may be cultivated, it has human limitations. If events which happened within Polynesia 500 years ago have not been accurately memorized, how can reliance be placed on traditions of what happened over 2000 years ago in a land alleged to be thousands of miles away? We know that later events have been interpolated into more ancient stories but if some of the details are really old, they must have occurred in Indonesia, along the route to Polynesia, or within Polynesia itself.

Returning to the biological problem, we must seek a land in the west page 72where intermixture between long-headed and broad-headed peoples could produce the hybrid ancestors of the Polynesians. In the light of other studies, Indonesia appears to be the most likely area. A study of the peoples of Malaysia by Fay-Cooper Cole (24) provides a reasonable summary of what may have happened. Leaving the fossil discoveries of early man in Java for further investigation, we start with the evidence that the Negrito Pygmies and a Vedda-like people formed the early inhabitants of Malaysia. A new physical type began to filter into Malaysia by way of some of the river courses of southeast Asia. They were like the Malayans but had longer heads, broader noses, heavier features, and a more stocky build. Among them were individuals who showed Caucasoid mixture. In the Malay Peninsula and the adjacent islands, they met and partially absorbed the sparse Negroid and Vedda-like aborigines and pushed east and north. This early mixture, Cole termed the proto-Malayans because of evident relationship with Malayans and their predating the Malays. The next invaders were the broad-headed Southern Mongoloids who occupied Indonesia by a steady infiltration and quickly amalgamated with the proto-Malayans. The proto-Malayan invaders probably spoke a dialect of the language we now call Malayo-Polynesian and as they were joined by small but continuing waves of Southern Mongoloids, they impressed their speech on the newcomers. Some isolated proto-Malayans were left along the trail they had travelled and are still in evidence in the Naga Hills of Assam, the Karen Hills of Burma, and the remote Tibetan borders.

We now come to the parting of the ways. The proto-Malayans who remained in Indonesia were subjected to more and more intermixture with the Southern Mongoloids and became the broad-headed Malays. Other branches of the proto-Malayans moved out with less Mongoloid mixture. Some moved north and are represented to-day by the Igorot and Ifugao of northern Luzon. Another branch moved east; and from proto-Malayan, we may now change their name to proto-Polynesian. If we regard their passage through the Micronesian route as a steady infiltration, we may assume that the vanguard escaped with little Mongoloid intermixture, whereas the rearguard which lingered longer in Indonesia, became more mixed with the Mongoloid broad-heads. Thus the longheaded vanguard represented by the Manahune broke first into Polynesia, took up their headquarters in Tahiti, and spread to the outer margins. The broader-headed rearguard followed to Raiatea and later conquered Tahiti and sent out expeditions which led to further intermixture within the same racial stock.

An interesting problem is raised by the distribution of blood groups in the Pacific area. Of the four groups, O, A, B, and AB, Shapiro (68) has shown that the Polynesians have O and A in varying percentages page 73but B is entirely absent in Tuamotu, Australs, Mangareva, and Easter Island. In Hawaii, Tahiti, and New Zealand, there is a very low percentage of B but this may be attributed to intermixture with foreign white blood. In Samoa, however, the results of three studies involving 589 persons show that the percentage of B ranges from 13.7 to 263. The B group is present in Melanesia and Micronesia with an increasingly higher percentage towards the west. The Samoan percentage, however, is higher than the Fijian percentage of 9.4 and it seems that Samoa may have had additional later intermixture with Micronesians. It is evident that the Polynesians had no B blood when they entered Polynesia. It is known that Melanesia was populated at a much earlier date than Polynesia. Had the Polynesians moved east through the southern Melanesian route, they would have acquired some B blood through the inevitable intermixture with Melanesians. The fact that they have no B blood is further evidence that they did not come that way.

With regard to the northern route, there is no such definite evidence that Micronesia was inhabited at the time that the ancestors of the Polynesians worked their way through to Polynesia. Again, had the ancestors of the present Micronesians been in occupation, the Polynesians would have received some B blood from them unless they avoided inhabited islands which does not seem feasible. On the present data, it would appear that the Polynesians passed along the Micronesian chain when there were no inhabitants with B blood in occupation which would mean that the ancestors of the present Micronesians moved in behind the Polynesians. However as Shapiro (68, p. 415) points out, "The present data is by no means conclusive and least of all for the various hypotheses designed to account for the origin and spread of blood groups."