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The Coming of the Maori



Human flesh was eaten when procurable. Some writers have advanced the theory that the practice developed through feelings of revenge rather than hunger and others that the consumer might acquire the mana of the consumed. However, human flesh was eaten for its food value in the Cook Islands, the Marquesas, eastern Tuamotu, Mangareva, and Easter Island and it is therefore probable that some, at least, of the Maori ancestors brought the taste with them to New Zealand. The absence of pigs and the limited supply of dog's flesh may have been additional factors in inducing the Maoris to satisfy their hunger for meat with human flesh. Sometimes slaves or other persons were killed and baked on special occasions such as the tattooing of a high chief's daughter, a chiefly marriage, or the funeral of a high chief. The frequent battles provided a supply and after the war-god received his offering of a portion of the first slain, the victors shared the rest. Most tribes, however, prohibited women from eating human flesh.