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The Teaching of the Tohungas

The Teaching of the Tohungas

While the school was in session the chief priest sat on the right hand side with the other teachers on the left. It was the duty of the chief priest to see that no interpolations nor omissions were made in the teaching. Like the laws of the Medes and Persians, the teaching of the Whare-wananga varied not. The priest's constant and unceasing vigilance was necessary to prevent mistakes, and should one be made the teaching tohunga would be interrupted and the chief priest would instruct another teacher to carry on.

One of the names of the chief priests was Taumata-ahurewa, or the dwelling medium of the gods. They had amazing powers. They could control the elements and had strange powers of mind over matter. At will they could conjure up phenomena known as Kurahau-awatea and Kurahau-po. The first was a solar halo and the second a lunar halo. All high class priests were devotees of the Iho cult. Iho the only Holy One, the Supreme Deity, parentless and without offspring, was the creator of heaven and earth and the originator of all things. He was the master and cynosure of the human soul. Any suppliant approaching him should be in a condition of great purity, both ceremonially and morally. page 52The high priests were the link between Iho and the common people as they alone knew the sacred formulae and sacerdotal expressions necessary to such approach. Such priests were the arikis.