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The Autobiography of a Maori

More Fish-stories

More Fish-stories

When I was editing Te Pipiwharauroa, for a change from the serious subjects I would often refer to some ridiculous Maori superstitions which invariably brought protests. But I scored well over my opponents. I suppose fishing, being one of the principal means of food supply for the people, is hedged in with superstition. When fishing for moki the Maoris are so superstitious that not even a particle of food is carried out to the fishing grounds in a canoe. I ridiculed the notion that a fish at the bottom of the sea could see any food in a canoe when it couldn't see the barbed hook hidden in the bait. The article was much read and discussed and when Dr. Wi Repa introduced me to the old and lame Popata, from Te Kaha, a stickler for Maori traditions and superstitions, who had come with a football team to Te Araroa, he said that I was the man who had laughed at the notion that a fish could see food in a canoe but could not see the fatal hook wrapped in a page 145bait. The old man was wise enough not to be drawn into an argument and simply said, "Doctor, I came to play football and, not to meet Reweti Kohere with his 'hook hidden in a bait.' "