The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 11 (March 1, 1929)
The Earth Spirit Personified
The Earth Spirit Personified.
The primitive cult of animism, the personification of mountains, rocks, trees and other natural objects is illustrated by many a legend of Taranaki. The old people's minds are full page 37 of such poetic traditions. Pakeha chronicles, too, preserve some early days' incidents showing that the natives regarded the mountain as in a sense, alive, a mountain god. A party of explorers returning from Egmont some seventy or eighty years ago encountered on Stony River an armed body of natives who were on the look-out for them. The pakehas had made a collection of stones and plants from the mountain. These were taken from them, the Maoris saying angrily that the white men had stolen the hair from their sacred ancestor's head. A number of the natives went back to restore the rocks and plants to the mountain, and the pakehas were detained until they returned. It was proposed by some of them that the white men should be taken back and left on the mountain—presumably after being knocked on the head—to appease the spirit of Taranaki whom they had desecrated.
It was scarcely surprising to those who knew something of the Maori adoration of Taranaki Mountain, that the Maoris of the province recently put forward a claim for its return by the Government to the Taranaki tribes. The right, or otherwise, of their claims need not be discussed here, but it is peculiarly interesting that the ancient title of the Maori to the sacred mountain should have been reasserted.
The great beauty and dignity of the mountainscape are closely linked to poetic tradition. Centuries of song and legend have woven a rich garment of folk lore and song about the lone and glorious peak.