History and traditions of the Maoris of the West Coast, North Island of New Zealand, prior to 1840
Chapter III. — Kupe—the Navigator
Those among us who take a real interest in the history of the Polynesian Race, and especially those who have studied the matter somewhat deeply with a view of eliminating errors in the Native histories, and bringing the discordant data into the semblance of real history, are aware that the date at which Kupe the Polynesian Navigator visited New Zealand is very uncertain. Many Maori traditions accredit him with the original discovery of these islands. It is worth while, therefore, endeavouring to clear the matter up—if it is possible. In the following notes, all that is known of Kupe is for the first time brought together into one focus. We may, perhaps, thus come to some definite conclusion on the subject.
First, it is abundantly clear that Kupe was one of those South-Sea rovers—the product of the age of navigation which, commencing at the period when the Polynesians occupied the Fiji group, ended with the discovery and colonisation of, probably, every island in tropical and temperate Polynesia. Trusting to the Rarotongan traditions and genealogies, we can assign an approximate date to the dawn of this period, which has been shown to bo about the year a.d. 650.* It did not close until nearly all Polynesia had been colonised; and the last memorable voyages we have any record of were those that brought the latest emigrants to New Zealand in a.d. 1350. Kupe must have flourished during this era of navigation, for no one has ever suggested that he made his voyages later than the great heke to New Zealand, although some traditions state the fact that he was a contemporary of those who came here in the fleet. Others again show him to have lived many generations prior to that period—and herein lies the difficulty which we must now attempt to solve. In the first place let us consider the place-names in New Zealand connected with Kupe.
There are a number of such names, but nearly all on the West Coast of the North Island. The following for instance:—page 40
|1.||Matakitaki, a largo flat-rock on the east side of Palliser Bay, so called because it was here that Kupe first saw Tapuaeuenuku mountain, inland of Kaikoura, standing out snowcovered, apparently in the sea. He staid there some time looking at it (matakitaki) hence the name of the place. "His daughters remained at that place. Near the rock is a pool of water which is red in colour with streaks of the same tint running down to it from the rock. These are supposed to be the blood from the girls, which flowed down there when they cut themselves in mourning for Kupe when he left."|
|2.||Nga-ra-o-Kupe (the sails of Kupe). The name of two triangular patches of light-coloured cliff showing against the green vegetation a few miles to the west of Cape Palliser. The story connected with this is, that Kupe and his companion Ngake were camped hero on one occasion, when a contention arose as to who could succeed in first completing a canoe sail (ra). So each started to work in the evening to make a sail; Kupe had finished his a little after midnight, whilst Ngake did not complete his until dawn. Thus Kupe won. The sails were then hung up against the cliffs, "and may be seen there to this day" says my informant.|
|3.||Nga-waka-o-Kupe (the canoes of Kupe) a range of hills east of Greytown, Wai-rarapa, where the rocks are said to be shaped like a canoe.|
|4.||Nga-waka-o-Kupe (the canoes of Kupe) is the name of a group of rocks in Admiralty Bay, near D'Urville Island, something like a canoe in shape.|
|5.||Te-kakau-o-te-toki-a-Kupe (the handle of Kupe's axe) a rock on Te-uira-ka-rapa Point in Tory Channel, just opposite Moioio Island, which latter was an old Ati-Awa pa. This axe is that with which Kupe is supposed to have killed the octopus, named Te Wheke-a-muturangi, in Tory Channel (see infra). To Ana-o-te-Wheke-a-muturangi, is the name of a cave at Castle Point.|
|6.||Taonui-o-Kupe (great spear of Kupe) Jackson's Head, Queen Charlotte Sound—so called because Kupe cast his spear from the North Island across Cook Straits towards this point, but it was carried away by the current of the Straits. He threw the spear with the object of joining the two islands together; but how this was to be effected my informant could not say.|
|7.||Nga-tauari-a-Mata-hourua (the thwarts of Mata-hourua—Kupe's canoe) a place on the bluff called Pari-nui-a-whiti, page 41that lies 4 miles south-east of the mouth of the Wairau river (Middle Island), and is called by Europeans, White Bluff.|
|8.||Te Kupenga-a-Kupe (Kupe's fishing net) is a place near Jackson's Head, Queen Charlotte Sound.|
|9.||Te Ure-o-Kupe (Kupe's membrum virile) one of the pointed rocks on Barrett's reef at the entrance of Wellington Harbour.|
|10.||Te-tangihanga-a-Kupe (Kupe's lamenting) Barrett's reef above —so called because Kupe here bewailed his daughters or nieces, when leaving them (see below).|
|11.||Matiu (Soames Island) and Makaro (Ward's Island, south of the former) islands in Wellington Harbour called after two nieces of Kupe.|
|12.||Te-ra-o-Mata-hourua (the sail of Mata-hourua) name of a place near Ohariu, on Cook Straits, west of Wellington; another story says the sail is at Hataitai, Lyell's Bay, Wellington, but on the sea-coast.|
|13.||Te-punga-o-Mata-hourua (the anchor of Mata-hourua) a stone with a hole for the cable, lying on the sandy flat north-east side of the railway bridge, Porirua.|
|14.||Mata-hourua canoe is said to have landed at Wai-tawa, just inside Porirua heads, south side.|
|15.||Wairaka, a rock on the coast near Pae-kakariki, said to represent one of Kupe's daughters.|
|16.||Orongo-mai-ta-kupe, a place near Cape Egmont, but whether it has anything to do with Kupe is uncertain.|
Fanciful as the above names are, they seem to show a connection with the celebrated navigator. All these places are on the shores of Cook Straits, excepting Numbers 3 and 16, and there are also two rocks on the coast near Rimu-rapa, Sinclair's Head, near Wellington, named Toka-haere and Mo-huia, which represent Kupe's daughters mourning for him, when he crossed the Straits to prosecute his discoveries in the Middle Island.
Passing over for the present Kupe's connection with the Patea river, Cook Straits, we now come to the places connected with his name in the north, the information having been gathered by Mr. John White some fifty or sixty years ago.
|17.||Te-au-kanapanapa (the flashing current) a projecting point to the east of Whangaroa harbour, East Coast, where the water is clear and sparkling, and here tradition says Kupe first landed when he came to New Zealand. It may be added that this place is traditionally known as one of the starting points for voyages made back to Hawaiki, and no doubt the fact of page 42this being Kupe's first land-fall has something to do with its subsequent use as a point of departure. In this respect it resembles Ke-ala-i-Kahiki (in Maori, Te-ara-ki-Tahiti), a point on the S.W. coast of Hawaii Island, where voyagers in former times took their departure for Tahiti and the Southern groups.|
|18.||Tapuae-putuputu. Mr. John White says this was one of the names of Kupe's canoe, and in it was brought the native rat (kiore), and a certain kind of fern-root (roi), called putuputu, which was planted at Ohuri, Waima, and Hokianga. It is probable that putuputu is the name of some food plant introduced by Kupe and which did not flourish, for of course the common fern with the edible root, is native to New Zealand.|
|19.||The anchor of Kupe's canoe is said to be at Rangiora point, on the west side of The Narrows, Hokianga Harbour.|
|20.||The bailer of Kupe's canoe, as a stone, is to be seen not far from Te Whakarara-a-Kupe, (see below) at a place called To Tou-o-Puraho.|
|21.||Another bailer is pointed out on the beach near To Kohukohu, Hokianga Harbour, said to belong to Kupe.|
|22.||Kupe's dog. "At the mouth of the Whirinaki river, Hokianga, the old natives point out a stone in the shape of a dog, which is said to represent Kupe's dog left there when he visited that part." It is on the east side of the river.|
|23.||Te Whakarara-a-Kupe. Kupe once gave a great feast at a place between Kerikeri, Bay of Islands, and Whangaroa, and instead of using poles to support the baskets of food (as in hakari?) he used stones. These stones are to be seen at this day at Tarata-roto-rua. (? Who were the people to whom Kupe gave the feast.)|
|24.||"Kupe, when travelling from Kerikeri to Hokianga, carried a stone which he left in a valley of a branch stream of the upper Waihou, at a place called Te Puru. This is at the head of Hokianga river. When any Maoris pass that way they utter the karakia or invocation called whakauru or uruuru-whenua which is always used by strangers entering a district new to them. When doing this they east on the stone sprigs of karamu or kawakawa, or pebbles which they have brought, and then pass on, taking care not to look back at the stone." There are several karakias extant relating to this ceremony, which is a placating of the genii locii.|
|25.||At Wharo (? Waro) on the coast north of Hokianga are the page 43foot-prints of Kupe's foot, indented in the rock. Near there also the foot-prints of his dog are to be seen.|
|26.||The real name of Hokianga Harbour is Hokianga-a-Kupe (the returning of Kupe) so called because it was from this harbour he departed on his way back to Hawaiki. "He came to this land to look for Tuputupu-whenua, and searched all over the south before he finally discovered him at Hokianga—whence he returned—hence the name. He was the first man to come to this Island."|
|27.||The toheroa shell-fish, found in great abundance on the West Coast, north of Auckland, is supposed to have been placed there by Kupe (as well as others) "as food for his daughter Tai-tuauru-o-te-marowhara." The great rolling waves on that coast have been named after her. So says the proverb: "Tai-hauauru i whakaturia e Kupe ki te maro-whara." The western sea, opposed by Kupe with the war belt.|
The last statement, but one, to the effect that Kupe was the first man to come to this island may not be correct, but it seems apparently to indicate, at any rate, in the minds of many that his voyage must have been long anterior to the date of arrival of the fleet in 1350, notwithstanding the persistent accounts in some of the histories of the "Aotea's" voyage, that Kupe gave to Turi the directions for finding New Zealand.
Kupe is supposed to have separated the North from the South Island, which action is referred to in the following ngeri, or words sung to a war dance:—
Ka tito au, ka tito au,
Ka tito au ki a Kupe,
Te tangata nana i hoehoe to mouna
Te tangata nana i topetope te whenua
Tu ke a Kapiti, tu ke a Mana,
Tau ke a Aropaoa.
Ko nga tohu tena
A toku tupuna a Kupe
Nana i whakatomene Titapua,
Ka toreke i a au te whonua nci.
I will sing, I will sing,
I will sing of Kupe,
The man who paddled over the ocean—
The man who divided off the lands;
Solitary stands Kapiti, separated is Mana,
Removed is Aropaoa.
Such were the great signs
Of my great ancestor Kupe.
'Twas he that caused Titapua to sink,
(Nor) will I leave any land remain.
(Notes.—Kapiti and Mana, two well-known Islands in Cook's Straits. Aropaoa, the island forming the east side of Queen Charlotte's Sound. Titapua, an island that is said to have stood off the east entrance of Cook's Straits, and from whence albatross were obtained; now sunk below the sea, according to Maori tradition. Te-rau-o-Titapua (or titapu), feather-plume of Titapua, has become emblematical for a plume, or ear-pendant of albatross feathers. This is a strange tradition, for there are no signs of a submerged island. Can it have referred to the Chatham Islands where the albatross is very common?)page 44
There are numerous references to Kupe in old Maori poetry, some few of which that are pertinent to this story are quoted below:
|Kia koparetia te rerenga i Rau-kawa||Let the eyes be blind-folded in crossing Rau-kawa,|
|Kia huna iho, kei kitea Nga-whatu||To conceal them so Nga-whatu may not be seen.|
|Kia hipa ki muri, ka titiro at||Only when they are passed may they be looked at,|
|Kia noho taku itl, to koko ki Te Whanganui||Then lot me rest in the bay at Te Whanganui|
|Nga mahi a Kupe, i topetopea iho.||The result of Kupe's cutting off.|
(Notes.—Rau-kawa is Cook's Straits. Nga-whatu, the Brothers' Rocks, in passing which for the first time, in old times, the eyes of strangers wore blindfolded so that these rocks might not be seen; otherwise a storm would arise. Te Whanga-nui is Cloudy Bay, on the Middle Island.)
|Kei te kotikoti au—e||I am cutting up,|
|Nga uaua o Papa-tua-nuku||The sinews of the Earth.|
|Nga taero a Kupe—e.||The obstructions of Kupe.|
Here the last line refers to the kareao (supplejacks), tataramoa (brambles) and tumata-kuru (spear grass), ongaonga (nettles), and other obstructions to travel in the forest and open, which are called nga taero a Kupe, the obstructions of Kupe, when he was exploring the country. This expression is now often applied to mental difficulties and obstructions.
We may now consider what tradition says as to Kupe's visit to New Zealand, and will first translate the earliest account that appeared in print, viz.: that to be found in Sir George Grey's "Nga mahi a nga Tupuna," p. 109—published in 1854—which describes the departure of the "Aotea" canoe from Rai'atea Island for New Zealand. This account is said to have been furnished to Sir George by Rawiri Waimako, father (? or uncle) of Tauke, the present learned man of Ngati-Ruanui, living at Okaiawa, near Hawera.
…."Then Rongorongo (Turi's wife) went to fetch a 'way' (a canoe) for them from his (Turi's) father-in-law, Toto; and 'Aotea' was given as a canoe. Waiharakeke was the name of the river where 'Aotea' (as a tree) grew, and Toto had hewn it out. When the tree fell to the ground it split, and 'Mata-atua' canoe was formed of one part, 'Aotea' of the other. Whilst 'Mata-horua' canoe was given to Kura-maro-tini, 'Aotea' was given to Rongorongo (Turi's wife) Toto's two daughters. 'Mata-horua' was the canoe that travelled to many distant lands, when Reti was the man in charge.
"Now Kupe and Hotu-rapa went out to sea to fish, and when the canoe of these two was anchored, Kupe let down his line. When the line got to the bottom, Kupe thought he would deceive his companion page 45with it, so said to his younger brother—'Friend Hotu, my line is caught, dive for it!' Said Hotu-rapa—'Give it to me' (let me try to get it up.) Kupe replied—'It cannot be done, but you jump into the water and dive for it.' But it was deceit on the part of Kupe, in order that Hotu-rapa might be drowned, and then he would be able to have Kura-maro-tini (Hotu-rapa's wife) for himself. So Hotu-rapa dived, and when he had got to the bottom, Kupe cut the painter of the canoe, and proceeded to carry off Kura-maro-tini. When Hotu-rapa came up to the surface, the canoe was a long way off, so he called out—'O Kupe, return the canoe for me!' But Kupe did not do so; and so Hotu-rapa was drowned, and Kupe went ashore, where he secured Kura-maro-tini as a wife, (he ran away with her) and came on to this island (New Zealand) where he found no men. Then he crossed the straits of Rau-kawa, and there entered the Awa-iti (Tory channel) where he met the fierce current of Kura-te-au which forced him back, but he tried again and succeeded, and then got into the whirlpool. Here was the Wheke-a-Muturangi (a cuttle-fish or octopus) which, as soon as he heard the canoe, rose up to overwhelm Kupe's canoe. When it came to the surface, Kupe saw it, and considered how he should overcome this taniwha. Then he decided what to do. The tentacles of the cuttle-fish were approaching to sink the canoe, whilst Kupe was strenuously and continuously cutting them off. But what was that to this taniwha! Now, Kupe bethought him of another plan by which he would kill it. So he took out his calabash and throw it on the water, where it was immediately seized on by the cuttle-fish who thought it was the canoe. As soon as its body got on to the calabash to press it down, Kupe stood carefully on his canoe, and as carefully lifted his axe, and with a tremendous blow severed it in two and killed it.
"His work was this: his separating of the land; he saw two men, Kokako and Ti-waiwaka (both names of birds). But Kupe did not remain, he returned to the other side (to his home). He left his signs here, but returned himself. On his arrival he found Turi there, and it was in the fourth year (after his return)—after Hawe-potiki was killed—that Turi came hither (to New Zealand).
"Then was Toto's canoe 'Aotea' dragged down to the water as a means of transit for Turi. As the canoe approached the sea side, Kupe heard it and went to see, and then said to Turi—'O Turi, when you go, look to the rising of the Sun, and keep the bows of the canoe in that direction.' Turi replied—'Come! let us both go together!' Then said Kupe—'Will Kupe return?' But he added—'When you cross over to the other side, go along till you see the river found by me, the mouth of which is to the west; there are the people I saw, page 46two of them. If you stand on one side (of the river) and call out they will answer; that is the place.'"
The account then describes Turi's voyage and his settling at Patea, and winds up as follows:—"This roturns to the handing over by Toto of 'Aotea' to Turi; she was launched at night, and as Kupe heard the scraping of the keel on the sand he went to the shore to see Turi: and said to him—'Depart (in peace), look to the rising of the Sun, and do not divert the bows of the canoe from where the sun and the star rise; keep the bows there,'" and then repeats what has been said about the two men (or birds) at Patea.
In this story there are one or two rather precise statements; first, that Kupe found no one at the places he landed at, nor saw any signs of inhabitants beyond the birds—which, however, may have been men's names; secondly, that Turi was to steer constantly to the sun rise; and thirdly, that Turi left Rai'atea four years after Kupe had returned. The first statement may be correct, but the second is, I think, certainly wrong as I propose to show later. It must be remembered that this account of Kupe's voyage is the foundation of nearly all that has been printed about him since.
The Rev. R. Taylor, in his "Te Ika-a-Maui, 1855," gives much the same account as Sir Geo. Grey, but says Kupe came in search of his wife Kura-marotini, who had been carried off by his younger brother Hotu-rapa—just exactly opposite to what the above account states.
In "Ancient History of the Maori," Vol. I., p. 73, John White, translating a Ngai-Tahu history of Rata, says:—"The name of the axe which Ngahue gave to Kupe was 'Tauira-apa'"—implying that Kupe was a contemporary of Ngahue, the other navigator who is said to have discovered New Zealand, and also to have taken back greenstone to the islands from which he came. We do not know at what period Ngahue flourished, except that probability seems to indicate the same generation as that in which the fleet came to New Zealand. At page 188 of the same work, Vol. II., we find the Ngati-Apa people of Rangitikei saying that Raka-taura, after a visit to New Zealand, remained in Hawaiki, but sent Kupe to explore the land, and on his return he found the fleet just preparing to depart and advised them to hasten to New Zealand. Raka-taura, one of the ancestors of the Waikato tribes is supposed to have come here with the fleet in 1350.
We will now see what some other accounts say as to Kupe: Karipa Te Whetu (Journal Polynesian Society, Vol. II., p. 149) says:—"At page 47the time that Kupe came to this country with his children… he came along over the ocean until he arrived at New Zealand. His course was directed towards the western (sea). He called at Wai-te-mata (?) and afterwards at Manukau.. then Waikato.. Whainga-roa, (Raglan) Kawhia, Mokau, Waitara, Patea and Whenua-kura. Between Patea and Whenua-kura he gathered some vegetation into a bunch (puia otaota) and bound it up—the meaning of this was a taking possession of the land. He then proceeded.. to Hataitai (in Port Nicholson).. then Wairarapa and as far as Te Matau-a-Maui (Cape Kidnappers) from whence he returned to Te Rimu-rapa (in Cook's Straits).. Kupe settled down at Te Rimu-rapa with his two daughters Mohuia and Toka-haere… Kupe then returned northwards.. and came to where he had left the puia-otaota.. then on to Kaipara where he left this island, and finally arrived at Motiwhawha island where he met Turi who was on his way here—to New Zealand… Turi asked Kupe, saying—'O Kupe! did you not see any remnants of people (morehu, survivors) in the island (you visited)?' Kupe replied—'I did not see any, but I heard the voices of some grunting; one was on top of a bar or rail, and his companion was turning head-over-heels.'.. Kupe said to Turi—'O Turi! Proceed, let your course be direct past the the snowy mountain (Mount Egmont) and when you see a river beyond, and a bunch of vegetation tied up, that is the place (for you); let your home be there.'.. Turi found the mark at Whenua-kura, and remained at Patea. After a lengthened stay he.. went on to Waikanae where he set up his boundary.. named Meremere."
We may ask here why it was necessary to set up a boundary? It could only be as against other people, and there could be no other than the tangata-whenua. This may be assumed to be the Ati-Awa account, from North Waitara, a people who are not generally descended from the crew of Turi's canoe, the "Aotea."
In another account, in my possession, from Ngati Bua-nui (most of whom descend from the crew of the "Aotea") we find Kupe directing Turi, before he started, how to steer, as follows:—"O Turi! let the bow of the canoe be directed to the rising of the Star. When you reach that land go straight to the river I discovered; you will see a river opening to the west, that is it." After calling at Rangi-tahua island to refit the canoe, Potoru in the "Ririno" canoe arrived…. Turi said to Potoru—"Kupe told me to keep the bows of the canoe to the rising of the Star." Potoru replied—"Let us direct the bows of our canoes to the rato, sunset." So they separated, each taking his page 48own course, and Potoru is said to have perished with all his companions. But, a friend of mine from the Taranaki tribe holds that Potoru did not perish, but came on to New Zealand, and landed on the South Island, in support of which he quotes an old song, as follows:—
Ka iri auo koe i runga i "To Ririno,"
Te waka tautohetohe no te tere i a Turi
Ka pae a Potoru ki te au o Raukawa
Ka eke i te ranga i O-Tama-i-ea.
Thou earnest on board "Te Ririno,"
The canoe that caused dissensions in Turi's fleet,
And Potoru was cast ashore in Raukawa current,
Landing on the bank at O-Tama-i-ea.
This is part of a lament by Tu-raukawa of Ngati-Rua-nui, in which he compares the loss of his friend to the disaster that befel Potoru. In this song, Kau-kawa is Cook's Straits, and O-Tama-i-ea is the boulder bank at Nelson Haven, South Island.
This same man says—"Turi met Kupe on the ocean on the latter's way back to Rangi-atea (Rai'atea) when Turi asked him what kind of a land it was that Kupe had been to. "It is not much of a country; I found one part that is good, although all the trees along the coast are curved inland by the strength of the wind" (which is often the case on the West Coast). "There are two rivers which open to the west (ka parara ki te uru), and the soil there is one kakara—sweet scented soil—which will suit your kumaras" "Are there people there?" asked Turi. "The only people I saw were two, the piwaiwaka (the fan-tail bird) who hops about on the pae-tautara (latrine), and the other lives in the woods on the mountains, and who cries out 'ko, ko, ko,' and whose name is kokako (the New Zealand Crow).
It is clear from the above quotations that the Taranaki tribe generally believes Kupe to have been a contemporary of Turi of the "Aotea" canoe, and, therefore, to have flourished about the first half of the fourteenth century. As to the sailing directions, I will deal with them later on. The quotations also seem clear on the subject of the absence of inhabitants when Kupe visited New Zealand. But rebutting evidence will be quoted shortly as to the people Turi and others found here. In the meantime let us see what other accounts say as to the period of Kupe, and in following this out, we shall have to deal with a good many genealogies.
Hetaraka Tautahi of the Nga-Rauru tribe, of Southern Taranaki, who dictated to me the best account, yet printed, of the "Aotea's" voyage, and which was published in Journal Polynesian Society, Vol. IX., p. 211, does not say a word about Kupe, nor of any direction given to Turi to steer by, though he did say, in explaining the "awa," or page 49karakia, recited to secure a propitious voyage, in the lines on page 221 loc. cit., that Rehua was the star they steered by, and Rehua is believed to be Antares. Nothing is said of any previous inhabitants, beyond this, that Turi's. son fought many battles in the north and on east coast with the tangata-whenua (for which see infra).
Mr. John White in his lectures, delivered in Auckland, 1861,* says:—"The canoe Mamari is spoken of by the Nga-Puhi natives as that in which their ancestors came from a distant country, the name of which is not given by them." (Wawau is the island named in other Nga-Puhi traditions, which is the ancient name of Porapora, close to Rai'atea island of the Society Group). "The canoe came, it is stated, in search of a previous migrator. A man named Tuputupu-whenua had arrived in New Zealand, and a chief called Nuku-tawhiti. came in the canoe Mamari in search of him. After Nuku-tawhiti had reached the land near the North Cape, he fell in with Kupe. Kupe is spoken of as the most energetic and enterprising of all the chiefs of the different migrations from Hawaiki. He circumnavigated the whole of the North Island, giving names to places as he sailed along the shores…. This Kupe told Nuku-tawhiti that Tuputupu-whenua was on the West Coast. Having found him, Kupe had returned from that part of the land, therefore, he had called in at Hokianga, which word means a 'going back,' 'a returning,' Kupe having returned from that part of the coast where the Heads of Hokianga are situated, hence the name."
Mr. White then quotes many of the names of places in the north already enumerated, as connected with Kupe, but replaces Kupe's name by Nuku-tawhiti. At page 185, Mr. White says:—"It is generally admitted among the natives that the chief Kupe, who came in the 'Mata-horua' canoe was the first who took possession of New Zealand—this he did by naming the rivers and mountains from Whanganui to Patea. Turi is the chief mentioned as having next arrived in the canoe 'Aotea,' and he gave names to all the rivers and mountains from Patea to Aotea."
If, as I have suggested,* Uhenga, shown in the margin, was the man of that name, whose other name was Tangiia, the great navigator and ancestor of the Ngati-Tangiia tribe of Rarotonga Island, then this line agrees fairly well with the Rarotonga lines which makes Tangiia to have flourished twenty-six generations ago. But too much reliance must not be placed on the early names in this table (see infra).
So far, a considerable amouat of evidence goes to show that Kupe's voyage to New Zealand occurred in the same generation that saw this country overrun by the last migration, which came from Tahiti and Rarotonga about 1350. But we have now to consider Kupe's period from the point of view: firstly, of other genealogies than that just quoted; secondly, the statement quoted that Kupe found no inhabitants here; and thirdly, the steering directions he is supposed to have given Turi.
† Kupe is said, by another account, to have had other children, Rua-tiki and Taiapua, left in New Zealand.
* "Hawaiki," loc. cit., where, however, the generations are counted back from 1850—not 1900 as in these pages.
From what we know of the coasts visited by Kupe, we may expect to find his descendants either amongst the Nga-Puhi tribes of the North, or the tribes inhabiting Cook's Straits; and this is the case. Taking the Southern tribes first, we find the following—the numbers denoting generations back from the year 1900:—
Another line branching from Table No. 8 gives twenty-five generations back to Kupe, who is, in that particular account, said to have had many children. It is difficult to say which, if any, of these are right, but I think we may safely leave out the ancestor Awa-nui-a-rangi, for though his period is about right in table 9 above, it is improbable that he could have been an ancestor of Kupe. We can now take the mean of six lines, and get this result:—That Kupe was born 22.66 (say twenty-three) generations ago; and, if Uhenga is really the same as Tangiia-nui of Rarotonga, who was born twenty-six generations ago, then we shall find that these lines agree fairly well, thus:page 52
Now, we have another check on this, if the statement in Table 12 is correct, that Whiti-ranga-mamao married Whiro-te-tupua; by Table 13, she was born twenty-four generations ago—and Whiro was a contemporary of Tangiia, born twenty-six generations ago (for which see the Rarotonga M.S.S. in my possession, and "Hawaiki," loc. cit). Of this there can be no doubt, for Whiro's son Tai-te-ariki was adopted by Tangiia and became the ancestor of the Ngati-Tangiia tribe of Earotonga. There are two heroes of the name of Whiro in Polynesian history, who are often confounded one with another, as we shall show. According to Rarotonga history (Journal Polynesian Society, IV., p. 130) the following is the connection between Tangiia and Whiro.
It will be observed there is a fair agreement amongst these various tables as to the period of Kupe, and the conclusion is that he flourished a generation before the mean date of the great heke, i.e., 1350.
But it is now necessary to consider the Nga-Puhi account, as stated by Hone Mohi Tawai, and Hare Hongi, both competent genealogists. Tawhai's Table was sent to me in 1892, and he also gave an identical copy to the Rev. T. H. Hammond, who furnished me with a copy. (Hare Hongi's table will be found in Journal Polynesian Society, Vol. VII., p. 36.)—See tables on opposite page.page 53
The following are quoted from the tables previously alluded to, being those parts which bear on the question:—page 54
The following may be stated as the results flowing from these tables: On three lines recited by the Nga-Puhi tribe—all the later generations coming down to different individuals—Kupe is said to have flourished 41, 42, and 43 generations, and Whiro 32 generations back from the year 1900. Table 19 from Aitutaki Island also shows Whiro to have flourished thirty-three generations ago. Therefore, four lines confirm one another, and it is evident Whiro's immediate ancestors are the same on all six lines. This also takes us back to about the period at which New Zealand was first colonised as shown in Chapter II. hereof, and the persistent statements made in Maori traditions to the effect that Kupe found no one living in New Zealand is thus accounted for.
So far the evidence seems consistent, but it is upset by the following:—Of all the learned men of the Polynesian race, who have left records of their history, Te Ariki-Tara-are, high priest of Rarotonga, who flourished during the first decades of the 19th century, must, I hold, take the first place as an authority. Any one who reads his papers (not yet printed) relating to the times of Tangiia-nui, the great chief, voyager, and coloniser of Rarotonga, and of Whiro (the Rarotongan Iro), can only come to the conclusion that Tabe No. 14 is correct, and that consequently Whiro flourished twenty-four generations ago, and that all the names given in Tables 15 to 20, beginning with Mo or Moe—were the immediate progenitors of this same Whiro. As confirming this, take H. Hongi's Table No. 16, where Tai-te-ariki is shown as a son of Whiro's, just the same as in the Rarotonga tables. Again, take Table 18, where Hiro (the Tahitian form of Whiro) is shown to be twenty-five generations ago, and this same Ra'i-atea authority quotes Marama-toa also as a son of Whiro's, as do Maori traditions. The story of the death of Ngana-te-irihia, quoted by H. Hongi (Journal Polynesian Society, Vol. VII., p. 36) at the hands of Whiro, is related exactly the same as the Rarotongan history of Whiro, excepting that it was one of Whiro's wives who was thus killed by catching the lashing of the rau-awa of the canoe round her throat. Again, H. Hongi—and others—shows Hua to be a brother of Whiro's, according to Maori tradition, and I have shown, I think with strong probability, that this Hua after the wars and troubles in Wawau (Porapora island) fled to Hawaii, and became an ancestor of the people of those islands—he flourished according to Hawaiian history twenty-five generations ago (see Journal Polynesian Society, Vol. II., p. 41). Again, the same incident related of Whiro in Maori Traditions, as to the killing of the child, and the burial of the body under the canoe, then preparing for a voyage, is told almost in exactly the same words page 55in the Hawaiian traditions in connection with the voyage of the priest Paao (? Maori Pakao) from central Polynesia to Hawaii. Now Paao flourished twenty-six generations ago, according to the genealogies given by Fornander, which seems to shew that the incident is the same in both Maori and Hawaiian traditions. (See Dr. N. B. Emerson's "The Long Voyages of the Ancient Hawaiians," a paper read before the Hawaiian Historical Society, May the 18th, 1893.) In the Rarotonga M.S.S., a great deal is related of Whiro's voyages—from Fiji and Samoa to Vavau (Porapora, Society Group), and to other islands, and on one of them on starting from Upolu, Samoa, he sings a very long song enumerating the names of different lands and people; among the latter is Taeta (in Maori, Tawheta), and this is probably the enemy of Tangiia's grandson, Uenuku, according to Maori history, and Whiro's contemporary. Whiro also mentions. Piu-ranga-taua, Marama-toa, and Tautu, his daughter and sons, who will avenge his defeat at the hands of the Puna tribe of Ra'iatea Island. Probably this Piu ranga-taua is the same as Piua-i-te-rangi shown by H. Hongi to be Whiro's daughter, and who was a warrior, etc., as expressed in the old Maori chant (given to me by H. Hongi; last two lines slightly altered by me):—
Ko Tane-matoe-rangi, ko Peranui
I tu ai to peka i te turanga parekura
Te Tini-o-Uetahi, taia Peranui,
Kahore te peka i riro i te hau tuma-tane,
I ta to tungane, i Tai-parae-roa,
Riro ke te peka i ta te tuahine
I hinga ki te manowai
I ta Piua-ki-te-rangi.
It was Tane-matoe-rangi, Peranui
And Te Ara-o-hinga
Caused the greatest to fall on the fatal field
The host of Uetahi, who slew Peranui,
The chief ones did not fall by the hands of the famed one,
That is, the brother's, at Tai-parae-roa.
The chief ones were taken by the sister's
And fell in great numbers
By the valour of Piua-ki-te-rangi.
The incidents hinted at in this song, are corroborated by both Rarotonga and Aitutaki story, and they describe the destruction of Ngati-Puna by the brother and sister and their tribe. It has been necessary to say this much about Whiro, because of the connection shown between him and Kupe on tables 15 and 16, for Kupe is not known to any of the Eastern Polynesian traditions or genealogies that have come to my knowledge. Ho may be shown under a different name; and from the well-known fact that many of the Polynesians changed their names at the occurrence of some important event in their lives, it seems probable that he may yet be recognised under another cognomen.
In the meantime, the evidence seems to me to point to the fact that page 56one Kupe came here just before the heke of 1350, that is, that a man of that name did come about that time, but that the Kupe whose name is attached to so many places in New Zealand was another individual, and a much earlier voyager. If we take the period of Whiro as twenty-four generations ago, and then take the ancestral line given by Nga-Puhi, from him back to the first Kupe, we shall find that he flourished either thirty-two or thirty-four generations ago. Now, this will bring him to the date of the Polynesian Navigator, Te Ara-tanganuku—very nearly thirty-seven generations as against say thirty-three—or to Uhenga-ariki thirty-three generations ago; both of whom were noted voyagers. I would make the suggestion that Kupe was another name for one of these, or some other noted voyager of that period, when the ancestors of Maoris, Rarotongans, and Tahitians were sailing all over the Pacific, discovering new lands, settling on them and introducing new food-plants for the benefit of their descendants. If this suggestion is allowable, then we can understand why Kupe is said to have seen no people, for the inference is, that the tangata-whenua first settled in the north and north-east parts of New Zealand, and as Kupe's voyage was practically confined to the West Coast, he would, at that early period, not find people there. Whereas in the time of the second Kupe, i.e., just before the arrival of the "Aotea," there were undoubtedly people living in Cook's Straits,
The steering directions said to have been given by Kupe to Turi, i.e., to steer for the sun rise, or for the star Rehua (Antares) cannot on any reasonable hypothesis indicate a course to New Zealand from any of the Islands of the Pacific. On the other hand, if we suppose these directions to have been handed down from the original Kupe, who probably lived either in Samoa or Fiji (where To Ara-tanga-nuku and his descendants lived), as being the course for fetching Hawaiki (or the Society Islands), from whence the Maoris came to New Zealand, then the course is perfectly right. What seems probable, is that the sayings and doings of two men of the same name have been, in process of time, confused one with another—in the same way that the genealogies have suffered in order that individuals might be able to trace descent from some noted personage—a thing that has often occurred.
Although I made constant inquiries both in Tahiti and Rarotonga as to Kupe, I got very little information except what was told me by Tati Salmon, the high chief of Papara, S.W. coast of Tahiti, which was to the following effect:—"That 'Upe is a high chief's name at Ra'iatea. It is still in use, and was lately taken by one of the chiefs who page 57were, in January, 1897, fighting against the French at that Island. It was in ancient time the name of a celebrated warrior." It may be added, that as the Tahitians have lost the letter "k" in their dialect, 'Upe is the same as Kupe. There is yet another supposition, and that is that some voyager—perhaps Ngahue, who is known to have visited New Zealand shortly before the heke of 1350—may have had the name Kupe given him because he emulated the former Kupe in the extent of his voyages.
So much has been published as to the extent of the. voyages of the ancient Polynesians that no one, who has considered the evidence, can doubt the fact of their having been practically all over the Central and Southern Pacific besides far north to Hawaii and the islands lying North-west from the latter group, where some of their old gods hewn out of stone have been found (see Journal Polynesian Society, Vol. III., page 153).
During these extensive voyages, the early ones of which were made long before our own race over undertook more than coasting voyages, the Polynesians acquired a complete knowledge of the ocean and all its phenomena. They are naturally most acute observers of nature in all its aspects. The points of the compass were named with almost as great nicety as those of the modern navigator of civilized races; the currents of the ocean were shown and depicted on their rude charts; they had noticed and recorded the fact of the decreasing temperature of the waters as they sailed south; the principal stars were known and named, the times and places of their rising and setting well known. Every variation on the surface of the ocean was to them a sign; the change of colour, the presence or absence of fish and birds, the floating seaweed or rack of any kind, each told a tale that helped them on their way. Those amongst us who have thought of these things must have asked themselves the question—How did the Polynesians discover New Zealand, so far to the south of their usual routes? It seems to me there is an answer to this, which, at any rate has strong probability in its favour, though not mentioned in the traditions. It is well-known that the kohoperoa, or long-tailed Cuckoo (Endynamus Taitensis) comes to New Zealand every year in October, and departs again in February. The bird is a native of Central Polynesia, and is known in Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Niue, Ra'iatea, the Society Group, and Tahiti, and as far east as the Marquesas. The name Ko-hope-roa—in which hope means tail, roa, long—was no doubt brought by the Maoris when they came here. Hope in the sense of tail is now an obsolete word, though still used in Tahiti.
With the acute powers of observation possessed by the Polynesians, page 58the sight of one or move of these birds passing overhead from a southerly direction would at once indicate to them the presence of land in the direction from which the birds were flying; and the repetition of the flights in several following years would make such an indication a certainty, and by following up the direction the birds came from, they would be sure to make the New Zealand Coasts.
It is also possible, but not so probable, that the Amo-kura (Phaethon rubricanda or Tropic bird) may have played its part in indicating the presence of land. It appears to breed at Norfolk Island, and is found occasionally near the North Cape of New Zealand. Its two red-tailed feathers are very highly prized by the Maoris.
The Kuaka- (Limosa Novæ Zealandiæ, Curlew or Godwit) may also have assisted in discovering New Zealand, for it arrives here from the North about October, and departs in March for Norfolk Island, The Now Hebrides, The Solomon Islands, New Guinea, Timor, Celebes, Japan, China, and finally Siberia.
Of the three birds mentioned, the Ko-hope-roa is probably the one that has most assisted in the discovery of New Zealand, because its home is in the parts of the world inhabited by the Polynesians, when their period of navigation was at its height. There are some few statements in the old karakias relating to the accounts of voyages to New Zealand, that may possibly be construed into references to this or other birds, but they are so indefinite that little reliance can be placed on them.