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Maori Wars of the Nineteenth Century:


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The following narrative of some stirring events of the nineteenth century was first published in the “Journal of the Polynesian Society,” and subsequently in book form by Messrs. Whitcombe & Tombs Limited. This second edition has been somewhat enlarged, and slightly rearranged so as to incorporate parts of the former editions in their proper places, which previously could not be done because some of those items were only gathered after the first parts were printed.

It has been a labour of many years to gather this information together, and particularly to ascertain the true date of each event. There may still be a few errors in these dates, but not many; for great care has been exercised in ascertaining them, partly from the Church Missionary Records and also by careful enquiry amongst the old Maoris, many of whom were alive and took part in the events related herein when these notes were first commenced—some of them fifty years ago.

Many of the narratives were told by the old chiefs over the camp fire, with that accompaniment of gesture which is so very expressive, and which, of course, it is impossible to reproduce. For surely the old Maori of fifty years ago was the most charming raconteur it would be possible to meet. No detail was ever omitted; in picturesque and forcible language the narrative poured forth “like running water.” as the Maoris themselves say, and aroused in the listeners an intense interest—often the greatest excitement.

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A few expressive Maori words are frequently used in this book, of which the following are noted here for reference:—

Iwi, tribe Tohunga, a priest
Hapu, sub-tribe Atua, a god
Taua, a war-party Marae, a plaza, place of meeting
Ope, a company
Take, a cause, reason Utu, payment, revenge.
Karakia, an incantation, invocation

S. Percy Smith.

New Plymouth. N.Z.,
March, 1910.