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Hawaiki: The Original Home of the Maori; with a Sketch of Polynesian History

Tahitian Origin of the Maoris

Tahitian Origin of the Maoris.

Having sketched out the History of the Polynesian race down to about the year 1350, and traced their various migrations, from far Hawaiki-nui to Eastern Polynesia—Tahiti and Rarotonga—it remains to be shown where was the immediate "Whence of the Maoris."

In the circular issued by the writer in 1891, asking those interested in Polynesian matters to join in forming a Society—having for its objects the preservation of records of the Polynesian race—a hope was expressed that such a Society would tend to draw the members together, and that, by their means, many obscure points in connection with the history of the race would be cleared up and valuable matter placed on record. A glance through the first six volumes of Transactions published up to 1897, will show that a considerable meed of success had attended the operations of the Society, but much still remained to be page 194done. The information thus received from all parts of the Pacific seemed to indicate that there were fields still open in which much might be gathered; and at the same time certain questions arose out of the contributions to that Journal that seemed to render enquiry on the spot desirable by some one having a fair knowledge of what had already been accumulated. Many of the questions awaiting solution were of great importance, in connection with the history of the Polynesian people, and of special interest more particularly, perhaps, to those who dwelt in New Zealand and who were seeking to learn the origin of the Maoris. Notwithstanding the many attempts that had been made up to that time, nothing certain had been settled as to the immediate whence of the people, though many indications had been given, and as it turns out, often given truly.

It seemed, therefore, to the writer that the attempt to clear up this and other questions once for all, was worth making. Time was pressing—the old men of the Polynesian race from whom their history could be obtained were fast passing away—civilization was fast extinguishing what little remained of ancient lore—the people themselves were dying out before the incoming white man—and, to all appearances, there would soon be nothing left but regrets over lost opportunities.

Feelings of this nature were borne in strongly on the writer, and, it was felt the attempt to clear up some of the outstanding questions must be made. It was with this object then that I undertook a six months' voyage in the Pacific in 1897; the results, in brief form, are shown in what precedes this, and in what follows.

It is doubtless due to the prominence of two names (in the Samoan, Savaii, and Hawaiian, Hawaii) that so many page 195writers have supposed one or the other of these to be the Hawaiki from whence the Maoris came to New Zealand. But now we know that all the Tahiti Group was called Hawaiki also, the other evidence of their "whence" falls naturally into its place, and indicates this latter Hawaiki as their former home—the immediate home from whence they came to New Zealand. To the Rarotongans, all the Western Groups including Samoa, Tonga and Fiji are known as Hawaiki-raro,* or leeward Hawaiki, whilst Tahiti and the adjoining groups are called Hawaiki-runga, or windward Hawaiki. Again, the ancient name for New Zealand—with which they were well acquainted traditionally —was Hawaiki-tautau, as well as the Maori name Aotea-roa. Tautau is the Maori word tahutahu, to burn, or burning, and the name was probably given to New Zealand on account of its active volcanoes. It is over twenty-five years since I came to the conclusion that Eastern Polynesia must be searched for this particular Hawaiki; but, with the exception of Judge J. A. Wilson, no one appears to have followed in the same lines as myself. Mr. Wilson truly indicates in his interesting little book that the Maoris came from Rarotonga, but as we shall see further on, this was only a stopping-place on the voyage.

Amongst other names of ancient places mentioned in the Maori traditions as one of those from which they came hither, is Tawhiti-nui. It is frequently mentioned in the Maori traditions; sometimes it is Tawhiti-nui-a-Rua, the latter word clearly being a man's name. In one of the accounts of Nga-toro-i-rangi's return from New Zealand to

* The terms raro, below, and runga, above, are always applied by Eastern Polynesians to the direction to which, and from which, the trade wind blows, i.e. raro is the west, runga the east.

"Sketches of Ancient Maori Life and History," by J. A. Wilson.

page 196their ancient home in the Pacific, to avenge the insult offered to him, the place he went to is called Tawhiti; in another, Tawhiti-nui-a-Te-Tua, where again the last two words represent a man's name. In another account still, it is stated that Te Tua was the chief of the land to which the above expedition went.

Now, I was told in Tahiti that Te Tua is the name of a high chief, and has been so from time immemorial. The name Nga-toro-i-rangi, the celebrated priest of Te Arawa canoe, is known in Tahiti as 'A-toro-i-ra'i (they do not pronounce the ng), but it is there the name of a god, and of a place. Possibly this celebrated priest was deified there. At the same time the two names may have nothing to do with one another.*

In one of the Maori "Uenuku" legends is mentioned the name of a mountain (Arowhena) which was somewhere in Hawaiki. Now, Oro-fena or Orohena is the highest mountain in Tahiti. I have shown that this same Uenuku lived (part of his life at any rate) in Rarotonga, and that voyages between there and Tahiti were frequent, and that, he made voyages from Rarotonga to the country where this mountain was, though the name of the island is not given—Hawaiki being understood.

Pari-nui-te-ra is the name of the place to which some of the Maori traditions say their ancestors returned from New Zealand to fetch the kumara. I gathered from an old man on Moorea Island that there is such a place, near Pape-ete, on the north shore of Tahiti.

In Mr. Best's "In Ancient Maori Land," p. 41, will be found the Ngati-Awa of the Bay of Plenty account of the coming of the Mata-atua canoe, with the name of a tribe of Tahiti named Te Tini-o-te-Oropaa. The tribe of Te

* A name given to one of the very ancient ancestors of Hawaii-Nakolo-wai-lani, may possibly also be identified with this.

page 197Oropaa live in the district of that name, just north of Papara, west side of Tahiti. A place is also mentioned in the same account—Te Whana-i-Ahurei; Te Fana-i-Ahurai is the adjacent district to Oropaa, whilst Paea, another name mentioned, is a place near Oropaa district. In addition we have this very important fact, that on the arrival in this country of Te Arawa canoe the crew called their tuahu or altar, which they set up at Maketu, Bay of Plenty, Ahu-rei, in remembrance of their ancient home in Tahiti.

I was told by Mr. Tati Salmon, of Tahiti, that expeditions were known to have left the west coast of Tahiti in former days, to find homes for themselves elsewhere, but the particulars have not been preserved. The name of only one canoe as having arrived there from distant parts was remembered; this was Manu'a-tere, which was that of Te Atonga previously mentioned,

The only two places where the native name of New Zealand (Aotea-roa) is known, so far as I can learn, are Tahiti—where it is mentioned in an old chant—and at Rarotonga, as will be shown. Taken altogether, the evidence which has now been adduced (besides other that might be quoted) seems conclusive that Tawhiti of the Maori is Tahiti, and that their Hawaiki is Hawaiki-runga, which includes all the groups around Tahiti.

We next come to another island of the Society Group, the name of which has been retained in Maori traditions, but only I think in those of the Maoris of the West Coast of the North Island. This is Ra'i-atea (in Maori Rangiatea), one of the poetical names of which is Havai'i-mata-pee-e-moe-te-Hiva. It is also called 'Ioretea'-Uri-e-tea and Havai'i. About four miles to the north is another lovely island, with indented coast line, down to which the mountains fall in abrupt and wooded page 198slopes. This is Taha'a, a poetical name for which is Taha'a-nui-marae-atea, and one of whose ancient names was Uporu. The Rarotongan name for Ra'iatea is Rangiatea, and that of Taha'a is Taanga (in Maori, Tahanga). Some twenty miles to the north-west of Taha'a is Porapora, the ancient name of which was Vavau, probably the Wawau-atea of the Maoris. It has a very high and fantastic peak on it. To the east of Ra'iatea, twenty-two miles distant, is Huahine, a double island, an old name of which was Atiapi'i. Some eleven and a-half miles to the west of Porapora is Maiao-iti, the former name of which was Tapuae-manu. It is a high island, but of no great size.

This group of islands is separated from Tahiti by the Sea of Marama, named after one of the Tahitian ancestors, and which name I believe is referred to in the following lines from an ancient Maori lament which is full of old Hawaiki names, and was composed by one of Turi's descendants eleven generations ago:—

Tikina atu ra nga tai o Marama,
I whanake i te Waima-tuhirangi.

in which the Sea of Marama is mentioned.

Of the islands mentioned above, I think Ra'iatea is clearly the Rangiatea of the Maori traditions preserved by the Taranaki and West Coast people, which they say was the name of Turi's home, and where also tradition says was the great marae "at Hawaiki, belonging to the warrior chiefs—to the great chiefs of the sacred cult, used for their invocations in time of war. That marae was a temple, and the name included both temple and marae. It was where the deliberations of the people were held, and was a place of great mana. Hence is our saying—He kakano i ruiruia mai i Rangiatea—('We are) seed scattered hither from Rangiatea.' The Church at Otaki, West Coast, page 199Wellington, was named Rangiatea by Te Rauparaha, in memory of our island home in Hawaiki, for it was a sacred island to our ancestors."

At Ra'iatea was the most sacred and important marae in the Central Pacific. It was situated at Opoa (called Poa in Rarotonga), at Taputapu-atea, and from which place stones were taken to use in the foundation of many other maraes in Tahiti, etc.; as, for instance, the stone pillar called Tura'a-marafea at Papetoai, Moorea, and that taken by Fanunū to found the marae of To'oarai, Papara, Tahiti, near which was afterwards built that of Mahai-atea, which has already been described.

There are other things which seem to connect Ra'iatea with Turi's ancient home, and one of which I think will be seen from the following quotation from an old Maori song:—

Tenei ano nga whakatauki o mua—
Toia e Rongorongo "Aotea," ka tere ki te moana,
Ko te hara ki Awarua i whiti mai ai i Hawaiki.
These are the sayings of ancient times—
'Twas Rongorongo launched "Aotea," when she floated on the sea,
Because of the sin at Awarua they crossed over from Hawaiki.

Now, Avarua is the opening in the reef a little to the north of Opoa, and by which the steamers now enter the lagoon of Ra'iatea from the east, and the "sin at Avarua," as described in the Aotea legends was the cause of the crew of that vessel migrating to New Zealand. Rongorongo was Turi's wife, and Aotea his canoe.

In Maori story, only one of the other islands referred to above is mentioned, viz., Vavau or Porapora, which I take to be Wawau-atea connected with the stories of Whiro, of whom Tahitian, Maori, and Rarotongan traditions are full, especially in connection with Ra'iatea and Taha'a. His page 200Tahitian name is Hiro, but on the east coast of Tahiti, at Hitia'a (Maori, Whitianga), I found they pronounced his name Firo. Wawau, as has been shown, is a very old Polynesian name, which, like Hawaiki, has been applied to several places in the Pacific, in memory of a more ancient Wawau.

Of Turi, the great ancestor of Taranaki, Ngati-Ruanui, Nga-Rauru and the Whanganui tribes of the West Coast, North Island, New Zealand, and commander of the Aotea canoe, it is well known that he arrived here about twenty generations ago at the same epoch as the fleet, of which, however, the Aotea did not form a part. This would be about 1350. Turi—I believe the same as the Maori ancestor—is well known in Tahiti, but up to the present, a promised genealogical table from him to people living, has not arrived. Therefore the evidence is incomplete. The following is what I learnt about him; and though the stories are much mixed up with the marvellous, as so often occurs with distinguished Polynesian heroes, the historical part is easily sifted: Turi was a great chief of Tahiti, and born at Mahaena, on the north-east coast of that island, where he grew up to manhood. He there married his first wife, Hina-rau-re'a, of whom he was very fond, but very jealous. On one occasion, before going inland to procure feis (wild bananas) he enclosed his wife's house in a hedge of prickly thorns so that no one might go near her. Presently Turi's two sisters appeared and declared it was a shame so pretty a woman should thus be shut out from all enjoyment, and finally persuaded Hina to go with them to the beach to indulge in the favourite pastime of fa'ahe'e-'aru (whakaheke-ngaru in Maori) or surf-riding. Hina was a novice at this amusement, but Turis sisters were adepts. On coming ashore, Hina trod on a he (Maori whe) or caterpillar, "which had been endowed with supernatural powers by Turi, for page 201the purpose of watching Hina, and to inform Turi of any infringement of his orders that took place during his absence."On Turi's return he was duly informed of Hina's disobedience, at which he was greatly enraged, so much so that he decided to leave Mahaena. He gathered together his feia (people), and leaving Hina-rau-re'a, sailed away to Ra'iatea where many adventures befel him. After a time he left Ra'iatea with his people and sailed away no one knows whither.

Another account is, that he left Tahiti for Ra'iatea, where, being a man of a very amorous nature he got into frequent trouble. Finally a great quarrel arose between him and the Ra'iatea people, when Turi departed with his people and never came back, nor does any one know where he went.

The most complete account I got of Turi, however, was at Moorea, from a native woman, who is the granddaughter of one of the old Ra'iatea Tahuas, (or Tohungas, in Maori) and moreover a woman of great intelligence and considerable knowledge. According to her, Turi was born at Fa'aroa (Maori, Whangaroa) in Ra'iatea; he was the eldest of his father's family; after him came Puī, then a girl, and lastly another girl named Nona-i-mata'i. Fa'aroa is a deep inlet on the shores of which is the ancient marae of Opoa. Turi owned a celebrated trumpet named Ro'o-puna, and also two canoes the names of which are not remembered. Manava-pau was the name of his spring of water.* He had a marae of his own, near Te-umu-ape, at Fa'aroa; it was cut out of the solid earth in the shape of a canoe. Near the marae was a taro patch, in which some of the women had been on one occasion washing taro. Turi was angry at

* Can this be the origin of the name of Manawa-pou, the stream not far from Turi's New Zealand home? The Taranaki people are much given to using "o" instead of "a."

page 202this, for some reason not stated, and forbade them to do so again, and for their transgression ordered that "the cocks must not crow, the dogs must not bark, there must be no waves in the sea, no man may go afishing (huti i'a)" and the people were ordered to fill his house with ruru (rolls) of mats, and cloth made of anu-ora'a (bark of the banyan tree). Turi's wife set to work and filled four houses instead of one. The wife's name is forgotten, but she came from 'Otipūa at Ra'iatea. Her grandfather's name was Toto (or Hoto, it is not certain which—according to Maori story Toto was Turi's father-in-law) who was a great warrior, and through his conquests had acquired a great deal of land. There are four of Turi's direct descendants still living at Ra'iatea. Like all great chiefs Turi had a mou'a or mountain, it is called Fane-ufi. His tahua (floor), place for meetings, was named Te-umu-'ape (ape is the giant taro). Some say he died at Te-umu-'ape, but most people say he sailed away from Ra'iatea with his wife, children, and feia (people). Ti'etau was the name of a woman in Turi's time, and Toi is an ancestor of the Ra'iatea people. The name is still common at Huahine Island. Toi-aito was a contemporary of Turi's. His mata'eina'a (Rarotonga matakeinanga), or tribe, or clan, was named Vaitoa. His pu (trumpet), his patapata (flute, played with the mouth), his vivo (flute, played with the nose), and his pahu (drum) "may still be heard, but one man only has heard the accompanying upaupa (dance and song) distinctly, and it demented him The song is only heard in cold weather when the people stay in their houses."When Turi left Ra'iatea he went across the moana-uriuri (the deep sea) and never returned in the flesh, neither does anyone know where he went, but his spirit returned in former times to trouble the people

Other accounts I heard agreed in the main with the above. It is a very remarkable thing—explain it as you page 203may—that the Maori accounts are very persistent in saying that Turi's spirit, after his death, returned to Hawaiki. One Maori story says that Turi was living at his home, Matangi-rei, on the banks of the Patea River, when the news came of the death of his son Turanga, killed in battle at Te Ahu-o-Turanga (named after him), Manawatu Gorge, and that the old man was sorely affected thereby. He went out of his house, and was never seen again—hence the Maori belief in his return to Hawaiki.

The above notes, taken altogether, seem to identify Turi, of the Aotea migration with Turi, of Ra'iatea; the fact of Toto, his father-in-law, being mentioned, and that of one of the name of Toi, being his contemporary, both by Ra'iatea and Maori story, also point in the same direction.

It is needless to point out how frequently the name Rarotonga occurs in Maori History, especially in the old chants, but there is nothing in them that indicates any lengthened sojourn in that island. Many places in New Zealand have been named after the old Rarotonga, as also after the old Hawaiki, but none of the first, so far as I am aware, have been given to the landing places of the canoes of the fleet; as has been done in the case of Hawaiki; such, for instance, as the final resting place of the Tainui canoe at Kawhia, and the ancient tuahu where Te Arawa landed at Maketu. This name appears to have been brought with the fleet and applied to the landing places of Te Arawa and Tainui canoes in fond remembrance of older places bearing that name. We find a Maketu in Rarotonga, in Atiu, in Mauke, and in Mitiaro, though none of these islands are mentioned in Maori History.

Of the other islands in the Cook group, only that of Mangaia appears to be remembered in Maori History, for I take Ma-mangaia-tua to be the same name. It is also, I page 204think, known to the Maoris under its older name of A'ua'u, or Ahuahu, which seems probable from the incident in Maori story known as "Te huri pure i ata," when Uenuku's son Ruatapu drowned the younger chieftians of his father's clan on account of the insult offered to him. In this story Paikea is said to have been the only one who, by swimming, reached the shore, and he landed on Ahuahu Island, which, in process of time came to be identified with Ahuahu or Great Mercury Island in the Bay of Plenty. As will be shown later on, both Uenuku and Euatapu lived, for part of their lives at any rate, in Rarotonga, and the descendants of the latter are there still. The above incident occurred, according to Maori History, either in the same generation as the migration to New Zealand, or in that preceding it. Another ancient name of Mangaia was Manitia; this has not been preserved by the Maoris, but it is known both to Tahitians and the Morioris of the Chatham Islands.

As there is no other island in the Pacific named Raro-tonga, we must assume that this is the island known to Maori tradition. It is true there is a marae at Manu'a Island, Samoa, called Rarotonga, that formerly belonged to the Karika family of Rarotonga, but it certainly is not the one known to Maori History. The name Rarotonga is said to have been given to the island by Karika as he first sighted it on coming from the north-east, because it was to leeward (raro) and towards the south (tonga). The former names were Tumu-te-varovaro and Nuku-tere, the first of which has now become its poetical name.