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The Autobiography of a Maori

Fish and Stone

Fish and Stone

I must put this on record, if only for the reason that it is an East Cape reminiscence.

Old Tete Korimete, two or three other young men and myself had pulled out for a day's fishing off East Island. Before we dropped anchor, Tete warned us against letting any fish we might catch come in contact with the stone sinkers or the spare stones we had with us, and, to be doubly sure, he asked us to put all stones into bags. He said that if a fish touched a stone we would catch no more fish that day and we then might just as well go home. After an hour's fishing we caught so many fish that they became mixed up and Tete's next fish was accidentally placed in the bag in which he had put his stones. The boys noticed Tete's oversight but they kept quiet. Suddenly, Tete realised his mistake and called out, "No more fish today, boys. I have put a fish in the same bag as the toone (stones); better pull up the anchor and go home." The boys giggled, but would not pull in their lines. Still they caught more fish. But old Tete, stubborn, conservative, and true to his up-bringing, would not admit that the old Maori notion was nonsensical. No more fishing for him that day. The boys made fun of old Tete when they got ashore and for many weeks and months they called him, "Toone" (stone).