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History and traditions of the Maoris of the West Coast, North Island of New Zealand, prior to 1840

The Maori Ancestor Tarionge

page 139

The Maori Ancestor Tarionge.

Here and there in Maori traditions is found mentioned an ancestor named Tarionge, who flourished in Hawaiki a few generations before the sailing of the fleet to New Zealand. Nothing very remarkable is mentioned about this ancestor, but, nevertheless, his name is one of those on which hinges the connection with Maori, Tahitian and Rarotongan. It is from such cases as this that we deduce dates in Polynesian history, and where this can be done by comparing genealogical descents from some one well-known name, down to people living in various islands, the value of the date is much enhanced.

As Tarionge is connected with these West Coast tribes—Taranaki, Ngati-Rua-nui and Nga-Rauru—the notes I have gathered may find a place here for the benefit of future students.

In an Oriori tamariki, or lullaby, published in "Nga Moteatea," p. 186, we find:—

Na Kiki taua, na Toto taua,
Na Tarionge e!…..

We are descended from Kiki, from Toto,
And from Tarionge…..

Again, the same volume, p. xcviii.—we have in a Taranaki lament:—

Kihai koe i whangaina
Ki te manga tawhiti.
Naku koe i whangai
Ki te aitanga a Tarionge
I te kai whakaoto e piri i te toka.

Thou wert not fed
On foods of distant lands,
But 'twas I that brought thee up
On the offspring of Tarionge
The astringent food that adheres to the rooks.

Here, Tariongo's name appears to be used as a synonym for shell fish.

From the Ngati-Kua-nui tribe we have this short genealogical table, which fixes the date of Tarionge according to the Maori traditions:— Possibly Mangemange-rau married Kiki, of the lullaby (see ante). If so, this table agrees with the song.

page 140

Next, we find in. the Rarotongan history of Tangiia, that the latter after his expulsion from Tahiti, went to Huahine Island (aboat 120 miles west of Tahiti) to visit his sister Raka-nui, where a long conversation takes place, in which occurs the following:—"Rakamea married the lady Raka-nui, and they gave birth to Tarionge… …" Now Tangiia fourished twenty-six generations ago, and if Tarionge was a nephew of his (by his sister Rakanui) there is only one generation difference between Maori and Rarotonga story.

But Tarionge, under the form Tario'e—these people do not pronounce the "ng"—is known to Tahitian tradition also. Miss Teuira Henry, of that Island, supplies me with the following:—

"Te Fatu (Maori, Te Whatu) was the name of a man who went from Rarotonga to Porapora (twenty-two miles northerly of Rai'atea, Turi's old home) where he married Te Uira. Their marae was called Fare-rua (Whare-rua in Maori). The family from whom Te Whatu camo was named Tario'e (Tarionge) whilst that of Te Uira was Te Hiva (a well known Raiatea hapu). Pou-tara was the high priest of the marae. The children of these two people were Maro-te-tini and Vaearai (? Wae-arai or Waea-rangi in Maori)."

In a further communication Miss Henry supplies the following information:—

Fa'ahue, she adds, is the ancestor of the Pomare family of Tahiti. This man is shown in the Pomare pedigree table, page 26, Vol. II., Journal Polynesian Society. But the position he there holds is much too near the present day to allow of his nephew Tario'e being the same as the Maori ancestor, for he is there shown to have lived about nineteen generations ago—accepting Hiro, on the same table as being identical with Rarotongan Iro, and Maori Whiro, who, there is very little doubt flourished twenty-five generations ago (see Chapter IV.). Maybe Fa'ahue, the Pomare ancestor is a different man, and this seems to be proved by the fact of Te-I'a-tau-i-r'ai (Maori, Te Ika-taui-rangi) being known to both Maori and Rarotongan histories as having flourished in Hawaiki before the heke to New Zealand in 1350, i.e., more than twenty-two generations ago, but his exact position cannot be determined.