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Maori Religion and Mythology

Chapter V. The Maori Chief Of Olden Time

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Chapter V. The Maori Chief Of Olden Time.

Θεὸς δ'ὣς τίετο δήμῳ.Homer.

The Chiefs who came from Hawaiki to Aotea-roa in the canoe Arawa were the following:—Tia, Maka, Oro, Ngatoroirangi, Maru-punganui, Ika, Whaoa, Hei, and Tama-te-kapua. After their canoe was hauled ashore at Maketu, these chiefs set out to explore the country, in order to take possession of land each for himself and his family.

Tia and Maka went to Titiraupenga, at Taupo, and there remained.

Oro went to Taupo, and thence to Wanganui.

Ngatoroirangi went to Taupo, and died at Ruapehu.

Marupunga went to Rotorua, and died there.

Ika went to Wanganui, and died there.

Whaoa went to Paeroa.

Hei went to Whitianga (Mercury Bay). He was buried at O-a-Hei, on the extremity of the promontory.

Tama-te-kapua went to Moehau (Cape Colville).

Waitaha, son of Hei, and Tapuika, son of Tia, and Tangihia, son of Ngatoro-i-rangi, remained at Maketu. Tuhoro, and his younger brother, Kahumata-momoe, sons of Tama-te-kapua, also remained at Maketu. Their Pa was named Te Koari, and is still a sacred place. Their house was named Whitingakongako. Kahu had a cultivation named Parawai, which his mother gave him.

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While he was at work one day in his garden, Tuhoro struck him, and they strove together. The elder brother fell, and being beneath his younger brother was held down by him on the ground. Then their children and the whole tribe cried out, “Let your elder brother rise up.” So he let him go; but their quarrel continued with angry words. “Some day I will be the death of you,” said Kahu, “and no one shall save you.” Tuhoro, enraged, again struck Kahu; but he was thrown to the ground a second time by Kahu. Then Tuhoro seized hold of Kahu's ear, and tore from it a green-stone; the name of this stone was kaukaumatua. Tuhoro kept it, and some time afterwards buried it in the ground, at the foot of the post by the window of their father's house.

After this Tuhoro resolved to follow his father, Tama-te-kapua. So he went, he and all his children. He left none behind. He went to Moehau, and there he and his father both died.

When Tama-te-kapua was on the point of dying, he said to his son, Tuhoro, "You must remain sarced three years, and dwell apart from the tribe. Let there be three gardens by the sides of your house, set apart as sacred, in which you are to cultivate foor for the Atua. On the fourth year awaken me from sleep; for my hands will be ever gathering up the earth, and my mouth will be ever eating worms, and grubs, and excrement, the only food below in the Reinga (abode of spirits). When my tuuta1 drops down, and my head falls down on my body, and my hands drop down. and the fourth year

1 Point of junction of the spine and skull

page 53 arrives, turn my face to the light of day, and disinter my papa-toiake.1 When I arise you will be noa (free from tapu.)

If clubs threaten to strike,
You will see to it—Yes, yes.
If a war party is abroad,
You shall strike—Yes, yes.”

Having thus said, Tama-te-kapua died, and was buried by his son on the summit of Moehau.

The three years enjoined by Tama were not ended, when Tuhoro commenced cultivating food as formerly; so the sacred remains of his father turned against him, and he died.

A short time before his death, his sons, Taramainuku, Warenga, and Huarere, assembled in his presence. Whereupon Tuhoro said, “Your younger brother must bury me.” So the younger son was called. Ihenga came and sat beside his father in his sacred house, who thus instructed him: “When I am dead, carry me out of the house, and lay me out naked to be your Ikahurihuri2 (twisting fish). First bite with your teeth my forehead, next bite with your teeth my tahito3 (perineum). Then carry me to the grave of your grandfather. When I am buried, go to Maketu.”

“Why must I go to Maketu?”

“That your uncle may perform the ceremonies to remove your sacredness.”

1 Lower extremity of the spine.

2 Omens were gathered from the movement of the dead body. The word fish or canoe is often used symbolically for a man.

3 The perineum and head are considered the most sacred parts of the human body.

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“But how shall I know him?”

Then the father said, “He will not be unknown to you.”

“Ho! some one will kill me on the way.”

“Not so. You will go in safety along the sea-shore.”

“But I shall never find him.”

“You cannot mistake him. Look at his right ear for a part hanging down. He is a big, short man, with a sleepy eye. When you approach your uncle, in order that he may know you, go at once and seat yourself on his pillow. When you are both freed from sacredness, search for the ear-drop of your uncle under the window-post.”

“But how shall I find it?”

“You will find it. Dig for it. It is buried there wrapt in a piece of cloth with manuka bark outside it.”

So, when the father died, his naked body was brought out of the house, and laid on the ground. The younger son bit with his teeth the forehead, and then bit with his teeth the tahito of his father, saying at the same time, “Teach me when I sleep.”

The reason why he bit the forehead and the tahito was that the mana, or sacred power of his father, might inspire him, so that he might become his tauira, i.e., the living representative of his mana and karakia. Then the young man thus addressed the corpse: “If an enemy attack us hereafter, show me whether death or safety will be ours. If this land be abandoned, you and your father will be abandoned, and your offspring will perish.”

Then the corpse moved, and inclined towards the page 55 right side. Afterwards it inclined towards the left side. A second time it inclined to the right, and afterwards to the left side. After that the moving of the body ceased. Therefore it was seen that it was an ill-omen, and that the land would be deserted.

After this laying out of the corpse, its legs were bent, so that the knees touched the neck, and then it was bound in this position with a plaited girdle. Afterwards two cloaks, made of kahakaha, were wrapt around the corpse, over which were placed two cloaks such as old men wear, and then a dog-skin cloak. Feathers of the albatross, the huia, and the kotuku (white crane), were stuck in the hair of the head, and the down breasts of the albatross were fastened to the ears. Then commenced the tangi (dirge, or lament). Then the last farewell words were spoken, and the chiefs made speeches. The lament of Rikiriki, and the lament of Raukatauri for Tuhuruhuru was chanted; and the corpse was buried on the ridge of Moehau.

Now, when the young man slept, the spirit of his father said to him, “When you are hungry, do not allow your mouth to ask for food; but strike with a stick the food-basket. If you are thirsty, strike the gourd. “Every night the spirit of the father taught the young man his karakia, till he had learnt them all; after which he said to his son, “Now we two will go, and also some one to carry food.”

So they went both of them, the father's spirit leading the way. Starting from Moehau they passed by Heretaonga, Whangapoua, Tairua, Whangamata, Katikati, and Matakana. There they rested. After that they page 56 went on to Rangiwaea, where Ihenga embarked in a small sacred canoe, while his travelling companion went on board a large canoe. Then they crossed over to Waikoriri. Here Waitara wished to detain him, but he would not stay. He went straight onwards to Wairakei, and the Houhou. He met a man, and enquired where Kahu dwelt. The man said, “At the great house you see yonder.” So Ihenga went on, and having reached the place where the Arawa was hauled ashore, he looked about him, and then went on to the sacred place, the Koari, and there left his father's ueta1. He then ascended the cliff to the Teko, and climbing over Kahu's doorway, went straight on to the sacred part of the courtyard, and seated himself on Kahu's pillow.

Meanwhile Kahu was on the beach, where guests were usually entertained, busied about sending off a canoe with food for the Atua at Hawaiki, and for Houmaitahiti, food both cooked and uncooked. This canoe was made of raupo (a species of bulrush). There was no one in the canoe, only stones to represent men. There Kahu was busied sending off his canoe, when his wife, Kuiwai, shouted to him, “Kahu, Kahu, there is a man on your resting place.” Then Kahu cried out, “Take him; shove him down here.” The woman replied, “Who will dare to approach your pillow; the man is tapu.” Then Kahu shouted, “Is he seated on my pillow?” “Yes.” “I am mad with anger,” said Kahu; “his head shall pay for it.”

Ihenga was dressed in two dog-skin cloaks, under

1 The ueta is a whisp of weeds or grass used to wipe the anus of the corpse. It is afterwards bound to a stick, and is carried as a talisman.

page 57 which were two kahakaha cloaks. As Kahu went up towards the Pa he asked, “Which way did the man come.” The woman replied, “He climbed over your gate.”

By this time Kahu had reached the fence, and caught sight of the young man.

He no sooner saw him than he recognised his likeness to his brother, Tuhoro, and straightway welcomed him — “Oh! It is my nephew. Welcome, my child, welcome.” He then began lamenting, and murmuring words of affection over him; so the tribe knew that it was the young son of Tuhoro.

After the lament, Kahu made inquiry for his brother, and the young man said, “My father is dead. I buried him. I have come to you to perform the ceremonies of the pure and the horohoro, to remove my sacredness.” Immediately Kahu shouted to the tribe, “The marae (courtyard) is tapu,” and led the young man to the sacred house of the priests. He then ordered food to be prepared— a dog of the breed Irawaru—and while it was being cooked, went with the young man to dip themselves in the river. His companion, a son of his brother, Warenga, remained with the rest of the tribe. When they had dipped in the river, Kahu commenced cutting young man's hair, which is part of the ceremony of Pure. In the evening, the hair being cut, the mauri,1 or sacredness of the hair, was fastened to a stone.

1 The hair of the head, in this ceremony, was made fast to a stone, and the sacredness of the hair was supposed to be tranferred to this stone, which represented some ancestor. The stone and hair were then carried to the sacred place belonging to the Pa.

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Then Kahu went with Ihenga to the Koari, where the ueta of the corpse had been left, and there chanted a karakia. They then rested for the night.

The next morning the ceremony of the Pure was finished, and the following karakia was chanted by Kahu:—

Complete the rite of Pure,
By which you will be free from
The evil influence of Po,
The bewitching power of Po.
Free the canoe from sacredness, O Rangi;
The canoe of stumbling unawares, O Rangi;
The canoe of death unawares, O Rangi.
Darkness for the Tipua, darkness.
Darkness for the Antient-one, darkness.
Some light above,
Some light below.
Light for the Tipua, light.
Light for the Antient-one, light.
The uwha1 is held aloft.
A squeeze, a squeeze.
Protection from Tu.

After this they went to partake of food; and the oven of the kohukohu2 was opened. While the oven was being uncovered by Hine-te-kakara (the fragrant damsel), she took care to turn aside her face, lest the savour of the kumara and the steam of the sacred oven should come near her mouth, lest evil should come to her. She did not even swallow her spittle, but constantly kept spitting it forth.

1 Uwha, the bivalve shell used for cutting the hair.

2 Kohukohu, the plant chick-weed, in the leaves of which the sacred kumara was wrapped.

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When the food was set before Kahu and Ihenga, Ihenga took up some of the kohukohu in which were wrapt two kumara, and held it in his hand, while Kahu chanted the following karakia:—

Rangi, great Rangi,
Long Rangi, dark Rangi,
Darkling Rangi, white-star Rangi,
Rangi shrouded in night.
Tane the first, Tane the second,
Tane the third, &c.
(Repeated to Tane the tenth).
Tiki, Tiki of the mound of earth,
Tiki gathered in the hands,
To form hands and legs,
And the fashion of a man,
Whence came living men.
Te Atua-hae,
And your first born male
Now living in the light of day.

While Kahu chanted thus, the kohukohu was held in the hand of Ihenga. Kahu then proceeded with the direct male line—


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There ended the recitation of Kahu, and he went on to his own proper line—

And to your offspring born to life,
And to the light of day.
This is your kohukohu of the horohoronga,
To make light the weight of tapu.
He is free, he is released from tapu.
He goes safely where food is cooked,
To the evil mighty spirits of Night,
To the kind mighty spirits of Night,
To the evil mighty spirits of Light,
To the kind mighty spirits of Light.

Then the kohukohu was offered as food to the stone images, and was divided for Houmaitahiti, for Ngatoroi-rangi, for Tama-te-kapua, and for Tuhoro, and was pressed into their mouths1 This being done Ihenga took up another kohukohu, and held it in his hand raising it aloft, while Kahu chanted the following karakia:—

For Hine-nui-te-po,
For Whati-uri-mata-kaka,
For the evil old women of Night,
For the kind old women of Night,
For the evil old women of Day,
For the kind old women of Day,
For Kearoa,
Whose offspring is born to life,

1 Hence the term horohoronga (=swallowing) given to the ceremony. It is to be remarked that the distinguishing name given to various ceremonies was taken from some striking circumstances connected with it,—thus, a sacred oven is named kohukohu from the leaves of the plant in which the kumara was wrapt: &c.

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And to the bright light of day,
This kohukohu is offered for you,
The kohukoku of the Ruahine.
He is free, he is no longer tapu.

The female Atua were then fed with the kohukohu as in the former case. Then part of the kohukohu was offered for the mother, Whaka-oti-rangi.1

Turn away Night,
Come Day.
This is the kohukohu of freedom,
And deliverance from tapu.

This done, Ihenga took up another kohukoku, and held it aloft in his hand, while Kahu chanted thus:—

Close up Night, close up Day,
Close up Night as the soft south wind.
The tapu of the food
And the mana of the food,
The food with which you are fed,
The food of Kutikuti,
The food of Pekapeka,
The food of Haua-te-rangi.
I eat, Uenuku eats.
I eat, Kahukura eats.
I eat, Rongomai eats.
I eat, Ihungaro eats.
I eat, Itupaoa eats.
I eat, Hangaroa eats.
I eat, Ngatoro-irangi eats.
I eat, Tama eats.

1 Kearoa and Whaka-oti-rangi being both sacred female ancestors— wives of Ngatoro and Tama, represented the Ruahine, the swallowing of this food by whom was requisite in removing the tapu. The tapu, or sacredness of Kahu, was supposed to be transferred to the kohukohu, and when this was east by the ancestral spirits, the tapu was deposited with them.

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This ended, Kahu proceeded thus:

If I fall from the precipice,
Let me not be harmed.
If I fall on the taramoa,
Let me not be scratched.
If I eat of the maihi1 of tohunga's house,
Let me not be harmed.
Be thou undermost,
While I am uppermost.
Give me your mana to strike down.
Close tight your spirit-devouring teeth.
Close tight your man-devouring teeth.

Then Kahu spat on the kohukohu, breathed on it, and offered it to Tama, that is to say, to the image of Tama-te-kapua. Kahu and Ihenga then ate the food cooked for them in the sacred oven. Ihenga ate with a fork, while at the same time he fed Kahu with his left hand.

The same ceremonies were observed at the evening meal.

Eight days after the ceremony of Pure, the heart of Ihenga conceived a desire. He was taken with the fair face of Hinetekakara; so he asked Kahu, “When shall we two be free from tapu?” Kahu replied “We two will not soon be free.” “Oh! be quick,” said Ihenga, “that I may return to my elder brothers, to my mother, and to my sisters.” Kahu said, “You will not be dismissed soon—not until the tapu is completely removed from you.” “How many nights, then, after this?”

1 Maihi are the two boards placed at an angle at front gable of a house. If the wood of a sacred house were to be accidentally used as firewood for cooking purposes, anyone who ate the food thus cooked would be guilty of a crime, to be punished by the Atua with disease or death.

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Kahu answered, “Twenty nights.”

“Ho! what a very long time,” said Ihenga, “for our tapu.

The remonstrance of the young man here ended; but not long afterwards he persisted in the same manner. Thereupon Kahu began to consider—“Ha! what is it my nephew persists about?” So he asked, “Why are you in so great a hurry to be free from tapu?” Then the young man spoke out, “Whose daughter is the maiden who cooks our food?”

“Mine,” replied Kahu.

“My fear, “said Ihenga, “lest some one may have her.”

“I thought there must be something.”

“Do not let some other man have her.”

“Your cousin shall be your wife,” said Kahu, calling the damsel: “Come here, girl, near the door.”

The girl came laughing, for she knew she was to be given to Ihenga.

Then said Kahu: “Your cousin has a longing for you.”

“It is well,” replied the damsel.

“Oh! my children,” murmured Kahu. He then cautioned his daughter not to enter the house where young people resort for amusement.

“I never go to the play-house,” replied Hinetekakara, “I always sleep with my mother in our own house,”

“You do well,” said Kahu; “in twenty days we shall both be free from our tapu.

So they both continued to dwell in their sacred house by themselves, and the damsel always cooked food for page 64 them; and when the day fixed by Kahu came he sent Ihenga in a canoe to catch fish to complete the ceremony of removing the tapu. The fish were caught, and two ovens were prepared to cook them—a sacred oven for the tohunga, or seers skilled in sacred lore—and a free oven for the tauira, or those being instructed in sacred lore. And when the food was cooked they assembled to eat it: the tohunga on the right hand fed each other by hand, and the tauira on the left ate freely their unsacred food. This was done to lighten the weight of the tapu, in order that they might be free. When all this was done, and they were no longer tapu, Hinetekakara became the wife of Ihenga.

The following morning Ihenga searched for the greenstone kaukaumatua, and found it in the place where Tuhoro had buried it. He then fastened it to the ear of Hinetekakara, bidding her go and show the treasure to her father. When Kahu beheld his lost treasure hanging from his daughter's ear he gave utterance to his feelings with tears and words of affection for his dead brother, and when the tangi or lament was ended, bid her keep the treasure for herself, and for her cousin.

some time afterwards Hinetekakara conceived, and Ihenga went to catch kiwi for her turakanga1 He took with him his dog Potakatahiti, one of the same breed as the dog of the same name which was devoured by Toi and Uenuku.2 Crossing the swamp Kawa, he went to

1 Turakanga (=throwing down) was a ceremony in which a stick set up to represent the path of death was thrown down. A form of karakia was, at the same time, used

2 Vid : Sir G. Grey's “Methodology and Traditions,” p. 63.

page 65 Papanui, and arriving at the cross-road at Waipumuka ascended the hill Paretawa. Thence he went on to Hakomiti, and Pukerangiora, and began to hunt kiwi. The dog feeling the heat, and becoming thirsty, went off in search of water, at the same time hunting kiwi. When he caught a kiwi he left it on the ground. At last a kiwi ran a long way, and tried to escape by running into a lake where the dog caught it. The dog then began to catch in its mouth the small fish called inanga; and having filled its belly returned by the way it had come, always picking up the kiwi, which it had left on the ground, and carrying them in his mouth, till he reached his master, laid them on the ground before him. Seeing the dog dripping with water, Ihenga said to his companions, “Ho! the dog has found water. There is a lake below, perhaps.” However they did not then go to look for it, for they were busied about cooking food. Meanwhile the dog began to roll on the ground in front of Ihenga, belly upwards. It then lay down, but not long after began to vomit, and the inanga were seen lying on the ground. Then they went to look for the water, and the dog ran before them barking every now and then to let his master know which way he was going. In this way they soon came to the lake. Shoals of inanga were leaping on the water; so they made a net with branches of fern, and having caught a great many, cooked some for food; after which they returned to Maketu, carrying with them basketsful of inanga to show to Kahu, that he might know how the lake abounded with food. Ihenga named the lake “Te Roto-iti-kite-a-Ihenga (=the small lake discovered by Ihenga), thus claiming it as a possession for his children.
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When they reached Maketu Ihenga told Kahu about the lake he had discovered.

“Where is it?” inquired Kahu.

“Beyond the hills.”

“Is it a long way off?”

“Yes,” said Ihenga.

“Beyond the first range of hills?” inquired Kahu.

“At the sixth range of hills,” said Ihenga.

“Oh! it is near,” said Kahu.

Then Ihenga bid his companions show Kahu the food they had brought.

But Kahu said, “No; leave it alone till to-morrow.”

The next morning the oven was made ready for the ceremony of Turakanga. Hinetekakara dipped in the river, and two mounds of earth were made—one for a male child, and one for a female child. The path of death was thrown down, and the path of life set up. Then the woman trampled on the mound for the male child with one foot, and with the other foot she trampled on the mound for the female child. Then she ran and plunged in the river, and when she rose to the surface she swam ashore, put on her tawaru, and returned to her house.

When the food was cooked all the men assembled to eat it—the men of the race of Houmaitahiti. There were six hundred kiwi, and two baskets of inanga. And as he was eating Kahu murmured, “Ho! ho! what prime food for my grandchild.”

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After some time a child was born and was named Tama-ihu-toroa, and when it grew strong in limb, so that it could turn about from one side to the other, Kahu said to Ihenga, “Go, seek lands for your child.”