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



I find amongst my notes a probable reason for the migration of Rauru from Western to Eastern Pacific, though my informants did not connect the two things, and I regret to say I neglected to follow it out—indeed the connection had not occurred to me at the time. There are traditions amongst these West Coast tribes of a great division having taken place long before they came to New Zealand, which was due to dissension among the priesthood on a matter of belief—in the same manner that the Gothic and other Arians differed on a point of belief with the Italian and other Catholics in the fourth or fifth centuries. This separation of the people is also known to the Tahitians, who call those who resided in the west, and held one faith, Ao-uri, whilst the others (Tahitians and Islanders of that neighbourhood) were named Ao-tea. There is little doubt that the two traditions refer to the same movement. The most detailed account of this split in the tribes, from the Maori side, is given by the Rev. R. Taylor in "Te Ika-a-maui," p. 65, which, however, is corroborated, but not with the same detail, by my own notes and those of others. Mr. Taylor did not see the significance of the matter he recorded—indeed he could not have done so, for the time was not ripe, and hence perhaps, with his well known predilection that way, he has attempted to find its analogy in Hebrew history.

I abbreviate here part of Mr. Taylor's account of Whare-kura, page 144that being the name of the house in which this division of the people took place—a name, however, which has become a general one for their various houses where the history, beliefs, genealogies, etc., were taught, even from the times of this original Whare-kurn, down to the time when Christianity put an end to such teaching. Some of Mr. Taylor's names, often incorrectly given, are also corrected.

Mr. Taylor states that the original Whare-kura was a "house of prayer," or worship, which seems to me a mistake, for nothing like worship, in our sense of the word, ever occurred amongst any branch of the race. What is meant, is that here their sacred karakias (invocations, incantations, etc.) were recited, but these do not imply worship. It is said to have been a very large edifice, in which people met for "the rehearsal of their several pedigrees as well as the heroic deeds of their ancestors, for holding their solemn councils and administering justice." In this respect Whare-kura much resembles the Koro-tuatini of Rarotonga tradition, which, however, was far more ancient than this particular Whare-kura, and probably was situated in India. The same ideas, howover, transmitted through the ages, would induce the people to perpetuate the character of the Koro-tuatini and its uses in various stages of their migrations; and therefore Whare-kura may be said to have been the legitimate outcome of the ideas which originated Koro-tuatini……" At the other extremity (of Whare-kura) was a small building in which the high priest resided, and seventy other priests had their houses ranged around, each building bearing the name of one the heavens." I think Mr. Taylor has got somewhat astray here, for the Maori only acknowledges ten heavens.

The following tribes used to assemble in Whare-kura:—

1.The Kahui-Kauika, and their chiefs Kauika-nui, Kauika-roa, Kauika-papa, Kauika-whakaroa-korero.
2.Te Kahui-Whata, and their chiefs Whata-nui, Whata-roa, Whata-korero, and Whata-atua.
3.To Kahui-Kapua, and their chiefs I-Kapua-nui, I-Kapua-roa, I-Kapua-tuatahi, and I-Kapua-whaka-roa-korero.
4.Te Kahui-Rangi, and their chiefs I-Rangi-tu-ana, I-Rangi-tu-Tawhaki, I-a-Whiro, I-Roto-pua.*
5.The tribe of Maru, and their chiefs Whiro, Monga, Wai-tu-rourou-atea, Hurihanga, Marama-nui-o-Hotu, Rakei-pingao.

* These names beginning in I are peculiar, and unknown in any other connection in Maori, though quite common as Marquesan proper names, and are also known in Hawaii.

page 145

There were two priests whose function it was to procure and braid in a special manner the sinnet that was hound round the images of the gods,* whose names were Huru-manu and Takitaki. Their sisters were high priestesses, and were named Puto-whara and Rito-maopo. It was said that it was due to these two women that the great quarrel took place, and the final separation of the tribes occurred, when many migrated to Eastern Polynesia. As is usual in all events of importance in Maori history, this separation has a special name given to it, viz.: "Turia-te-ngairi" (according to Mr. Taylor but which I suspect is Turia-te-ngahiri, meaning uproar, contention, discussion, etc.)

The other faction appear to have been under the leadership of Uenuku, who was the head of 180 chiefs, some of the groups of whom were:—

1.Te Kahui-Potonga
2.Te Kahui-Poupou-titi
3.Te Kahui-Torea
4.Te Kahui-Pou-taha
5.Te Kahui-Pou-korero
6.Te Kahui-Pepe—Pepo-mua, Pepe-roto and Pepe-te-muimui

"The different tribes which met at Whare-kura were ranged in two grand divisions, one party occupying one side of the building, and the other the opposite side. One party possessed a staff called Te Tokotoko-o-Turoa (i.e., the 'ancient' or 'enduring staff'), whose owner was Rangi-tawhaki. The other side also had a staff named Tongitongi (to peck, to point out) which belonged to Maihi-rangi."

When the tribes quarrelled, "Kauika broke the staff of Maihirangi, and this became the signal for anarchy and confusion; sorcery and witchcraft were then practised against each other, and then they fought. Whakatau-potiki set the building on fire, and a multitude perished in the flames."

It is a question, if there is not some confusion here as to Whakatau-potiki—if this is the same hero who burnt Te Uru-o-Manono temple, and it seems as if ho wore from the context—for according to Raro-tonga history ho flourished about the year 900, and Rauru about 1150; Whiro about 1275 to 1300; Ue-nuku (if the same) about 1300. Probably the two histories have in time become mixed up.

There is a great deal in this obscure tradition that offers food for

* Sec a specimen of this pattern of binding sinnet round the emblems of the gods, Plate 4.

These two names arc significant—Rito-wliara = Pandanus cure; Rito-ma-opo —Breadfruit core—neither of which trees grow in New Zealand, but are common in Samoa and Fiji.

page 146thought, for it evidently refers to some great dispersion of the people. Even the names given are worth study, for they arc all capable of an emblematical translation, and may have been of the same nature as the honorific names of Samoa, or the marae names of Tahiti. It is to be feared we shall never get much further light on this subject, unless Miss Tcuira Henry's Tahitian Traditions, when published, may help us.

My informants are quite positive that this division in the people took place before they removed to Rangi-atoa (Rai'atoa Island), where-as other traditions say it occurred at the latter place.

There is amongst the Nga-Rauru people a peculiar remnant of an ancient story, that may be classed as folk-lore; the only other version I have ever soon is to bo found among the Ure-wera people, and which was published by Mr. Elsdon Best in his "Wai-kare-moana."

The following is the West Coast account. It is termed the—

Story of Pou and Te Manu-Nui.

In former times there was a kind of taniuha, or monster named Ikaroa, in shape like a fish, which came ashore and laid on the boaeh, at a place named Kone-puru-roa in the Patea district. Now as Pou—a dweller in those parts—was wandering along the beach he came across this great fish and thought it a good opportunity to replenish his larder. Having with him his mira-tuatini, or sharks-tooth saw, he commenced to cut up the fish; but to his great surprise, as soon as he made a cut it closed up again. This, thought Pou, must be a tupua, fish, and not to be dealt with in an ordinary manner. So he commenced to say Jus karakias in due form, whilst Ikaroa was listening all the time, and fearing that Pou would succeed in the end, with the aid of his powerful incantations, suddenly took up Pou and carried him away to the Muri-wai-o-Hawaiki On arrival at this distant country, a council was called (presumably by the people of Ilawaiki) to adjudicate on the case, as to whether Ikaroa was justified in his abduction of Pou. The decision come to was, that Ikaroa was wrong, inasmuch as ho was out of his own element when Pou attempted to cut him up. The story does not say whether the decision also carried costs against Ikaroa; but at any rate, the powers that ruled in Ilawaiki decided to assist pou to return to his own country, and to that end engaged a taniwha (sea monster, hut here evidently a monster of the air) named To Manu-nui-a-Rua-kapanga to convoy him homo. On nearing Patca, the place from whence Pou had been carried off, the Manu opened wide its wings, and said to Pou—"Pull out a feather from my side, to page 147be a mâna (power, prestige—in this case a talisman) unto you." So Pou did as ho was told, "and the name of that thing was To Rau-a-Moa"—the feather of the Moa.

Now when the people of the Whanganui district heard of this object that Pou had acquired, they sent Tukai-turoa, and his sister, to obtain it for themselves. They came to Pu-manga at Patea, and there Pou gave to them this talisman as a power and prestige to Whanganui, in order that they might avenge their wrongs. And it was through the power of Te Rau-a-moa that Whanganui got compensation for the evil they were suffering under. (It is not stated'what is was.) That talisman never came back from Whanganui; "it finally disappeared there, and is not; it would have been better if this valuable property of Nga-Rauru and Ngati-Rua-nui had come back to them."

Rua-kapanga is known to the Rarotongans as the name of a groat kite (manu), and is mentioned in some of their old songs. There is a saying about it—"E tin a ie kuekue."

I have suggested in Chapter IV., that this Pou may bo identical with Pou-to-anuanua of Mangaia Island, whose other name was Toi, and whose genealogy is given in Table 22. In fact, the suggestion is made that this mysterious journey of Pou to Hawaiki, when he was carried off by Ikaroa, may be the dimly remembered record of a voyage made prior to the heke of 1350.

In order to preserve it, I copy an ancient lament of those people, in which the above incidents are alluded to.

He Tangi Na Te Ika-Tere-Aniu Mo Te Pere
Takiri ko to atu, kua whitirere au,
Kaore ana nei he pere i wehe ai
Kei a Hine te hoa,
Tena E Whaene! Tirohia iho ra,
Taku inareikura, he koata ariki,
No Kai-atua e—i, no to Kahui-whata,
Turakina tc kahui kuaka,
Ki te Uru-a-Tawhiti nei—e—i.
He hia kai hapu kia tomo atu koe
Ki a Whaka-tauroa,
Ko te kete tena i tuwhera ki tc rangi
I tukua iho ai tu whenua e takoto
Kua tu ai ki te ao nei.
A, rongo ano au tc huka a To Tawhiti,
I takoto a Wai-matua ki te hohonu
E Taina—e—i.
Ka tupu te tangata, ihi kau ki te ao,
Hoki atu ki te kore—te kore i oti atu—e—i
page 148 Huti kau inai au nga huti o te kura,
E kore e hoki mai; ka pae ki te one-roa,
I Pikopiko-i-Whiti e—i.
Mona to knra pae
Whai inua koe ki te Wai-o-rangii—
Ko Wai-whakatipua,
Ko Rua-rongo, ko au,
Nana i kopekopo ko te owe
O te ika wai-waha
He putanga ariki e—j,
No Te Kahui-pua.
Kia whawhia iho ki roto, karanga atu
Ke te kctc tena i whakairia ai
Ka tau ki te matapihi o to whare o Tangaroa—e—i.
Ka rangona ki reira to kupu a Te Tawhiti
Kei te kune, kei te weu, kei te aka.
Kei te tamore, kei to katoa,
Kei te karawa, kei te au ika.,
Ka tupu ko te Kahui Iawa e—i
Ko Rua-kapanga, ka whaketawhi au,
Ki a Ikaroa e—i.
Me kokumo iho koe ki Paopao-te-rangi
Te Huki-o-te-moa, ko te ipu tena
I takoto mai ai, koia Huna-kiko
No Te Apiti-o-te-rangi,
E Tama e!—

I regret I am unable to furnish a translation of this ancient song, so full of references to the traditional lore of the Maori. Without the help of one of the tribe learned in such matters, it is impossible.

There is another very strange tradition among these people, the origin of which is very difficult to fathom. So far as I am aware it is found no whore else in New Zealand, nor anywhere else in Polynesia. We are indebted to Mr. John White for the preservation of it, and it is to be found in his "Aotea" papers, now with the Government. It is called—

Te ewe i tere—the winged people.

"A placenta was east into the sea, and in due course became a man whose name was Whanau-moana, or Sea-born. He had wings, as had all his descendants. At first, none of these beings had stationary homes, but flew about from place to place, sometimes alighting on the tops of mountains, or extending their flight to islands in the sea. One of the women, named Tara-pu-whenua, first caused them to dwell in pas. This people belonged to Wai-totara and lived at Tieke, page 149(Moerangi a sacred place, where the famous "Awhio-rangi" axe, brought here from Hawaiki by Turi, was buried seven generations ago, and re-discovered in December, 1887—sec Journal Polynesian Society, Vol. IX., p. 229). The last of this people who had wings was named To Kahui-rore, and he lost thorn through a woman pressing them down in the night when ho was asleep. Hoani Wiromu Hipango of Whanga-nui (died about fifteen years ago) says that his wife was a descendant of these winged people."

Another version is as follows:—Hare Tipene, of To Ihu-puku pa, Wai-totara, says Tama-nui-te-ra (sometimes given as a name for the Sun) was the first person who possessed wings, or who could fly, but it is not now known whether he had wings or merely possossed the power (mâna) of raising himself up in the air at pleasure, which he used to do, and could take long flights. Ilenee is the saying:—

Ka rero te atua iti
E kove e marma te rangi,
Ka rere ko Ttuna-nui-to-ra,
Ka marama te rangi.

When the minor god flies,
The heavens will not be bright.
When Tama-nui-te-ra takes flight
Then will the heavens be bright.

Tama-nui-te-ra had a house in the sky named Whare-totoka. Tama-hewa was the last person who had powers of flight, but he lost them through his wife Raka-takapo treading on his wings in the night. They lived at Tieke and Moeirangi."

Here is a Waiata or Maori song, in which these winged people are alluded to:—

Ra te uira ka hiko i to rangi!
Ou tohu ra, E te hoa! i haore ai koe.
E hara, E Hino! te tau mai nei,
No Te Mounga-roa, no Tawiri koe—
Na Tauru-a-te-rangi.
He matamata ariki no runga 0 Tieke
No Moe-rangi ra.
Na Te Rangi-hikaka,
Na Uru-te-augina,
Na Te Kahui-rere,
Na Te Manu-i-te-ra—e.

Behold the lightning flashes in the. heavens!1
'Tis a sign from thee, O friend! that, thou art, gone.
'Tis not, O Lady! that all are departed,
(For some rest here still)
Thou wer't. descended from Te Mounga-roa, 2 from Tawiri,
page 150 From Tauru-a-te-rangi, 3
From the high-born fountain above at Tieke, 4
And from Moe-rangi4 there.
Thou wer't descended from Te Rangi-hikaka,
From Uru-to-angina,
From Te Kahu-rere.6
From Te Manu-i-te-ra. 7(The bird in the Sun.)

The only other reference to a winged people, I know of, amongst the Polynesian people—but not living in Polynesia—is to bo found in Fornandcr's "Polynesian Race," Vol. I., p. 57. He says—"The people of Pulo Nias, an island off the south-west coast of Sumatra, like the Battas and Dyaks a pro-Malay remnant of the Polynesian race, call the sky, or heaven by the name of Holiyawa, and people it with an order of beings whom they call Baruki, superior to mortals, gifted with wings, and invisible at their pleasure. And they relate that in olden times a King of these Baruki, called Luo-mehu-hana, arrived from that Holiyawa, and was the first who taught them arts and civilization, and also how to speak." This is quoted from Sir Stamford Raffles, Vol. II., chapter 17. It would thus appear that this tradition of winged people was brought by the Maoris from Indonesia, if not from further to the west, and localized at Wai-totara.

The hapus of Nga-Rauru are: —


1 1. The lightning flashed and thunders pealed at the death of great people, in the Maori's belief.

2 2. Te Moungaroa, Captain of "Kura-hau-po."

3 3. Tauru-o-te-rangi, probably an ancestor.

4 4. Where the "winged people lived.

4 4. Where the "winged people lived.

6 6. The last of the winged people.

7 7. The bird in the Sun (an expression sometimes—perhaps not often—substituted for Tama-nui-te-ra, "the Great Son of the Sun"), the true meaning of which, if we could obtain it, would throw a light on the ancient beliefs of this people, that would take them very far back in old-world ideas. Tawhaki's wife was impregnated by "the bird in the Sun."