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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 70

Legend of Poutini and Whaiapu

Legend of Poutini and Whaiapu.

The very discovery of New Zealand is connected with greenstone. Poutini and Whaiapu both rested in the same page 8 place, and Hine-tu-a-hoanga (the Lady of the Rubber), to [unclear: wh], the stone Whaiapu belonged, became excessively enraged [unclear: with] Ngahue and with his stone Poutini. At last she drove [unclear: Ngah] out of the place, and Ngahue departed to a strange [unclear: land] taking his jade-stone, followed, however, by Hine-tu-a-[unclear: hoanga], Ngahue arrived at Tuhua (Mayor Island, in the Bay of [unclear: Plenty] it is the Island of Obsidian) with his stone; and Hine-tu-[unclear: a]-hoanga, also landed there, and began to drive him [unclear: away] Then Ngahue sought a place where his jade-stone [unclear: might] remain in peace, and he found in the sea this island [unclear: Aoteara] (North Island), and contemplated landing there. Thinking [unclear: he] would there be too close to his enemy, and lest they [unclear: should] quarrel again, he left, carried it of off his stone. So he carried it if with him, and they coasted along, and at length arrived [unclear: at] Arahura (on the west coast of the South Island), and he [unclear: made] there an everlasting resting-place for his jade-stone, Then [unclear: he] broke off a portion of his jade-stone, and with it [unclear: returned]; and as he coasted along he at length reached Wairere ([unclear: believed] to be on the east coast of the North Island), and he [unclear: visited] Wangaparoa and Tauranga, and returned thence direct [unclear: to] Hawaiki, and reported that he had discovered a new [unclear: country] which produced the moa and jade-stone in abundance. [unclear: He] now manufactured two sharp axes from his jade-stone, [unclear: named] Tutauru and Hauhau-te-rangi. He manufactured some [unclear: portions] of one piece into images for neck-ornaments (hei-tiki), and some portions into ear-ornaments. The name of one of these ear-ornaments was Kaukaumatua, which was recently [unclear: in] the possession of Te Heuheu, and was only lost in 1846, [unclear: when] he was killed with so many of his tribe by a landslip. [[unclear: This] has since been recovered.] The axe Tutauru was only lately lost by Purohokura and his brother Reretai, who were descended from Tarn a-ihu-toroa. When Ngahue, returning arrived again at Hawaiki, he found them all engaged in war; and when they heard of his description of the beauty of this country of Aotea some of them determined to come here.

They then felled a totara-tree in Rorotonga, which lies to the other side of Hawaiki, that they might build the Aims from it. The tree was felled, and thus the canoe was hem out from it and finished. The names of the men who but the canoe were Rata, Wahie-roa, Ngahue, Parata, and some other skilful men who helped to hew out the Arawa and to finish it. The Tainui was also built by Hotu-roa; also, other canoes—viz., Matatua, Takitumu, Kura-hau-po, Toko-maru, and Matawhaorua. These, the Maori historians say, are the names of the canoes in which their forefathers departed from Hawaiki and crossed to this Island The axes with which their canoes were built were made from page 9 the block of greenstone brought back by Ngahue to Hawaiki, which was called "the fish of Ngahue."

The earlier part of this story is probably a myth-A contention arises between two precious stones. The Lady of the Stone-rubber harries the owner of Poutini, the precious greenstone, who, however, ends by establishing a new nation. It is, in effect, the same as Cain (the agriculturist) turning upon Abel (the pastoralist) and forming a stronger nation—a process which goes on actively in these colonies to this day. His name, "The Swarm," does not appear to connect itself with the subject, Flying from Hawaiki, the land of shades or night, he first comes to Tuhua, This means "obsidian," and is the name of an island in the Bay of Plenty—Mayor Island—where quantities of that stone are found. Disturbed there, he comes to Aotea, the Land of Bright Day. At Arahura, where he at last lands, he plants his stone, and so the story accounts for our now finding it there. He returns and tells of the new land of the moa and the jade-stone. The place "Wairere," wherever it was, frequently occurs in Maori story in connection with the extremely vague traditions of the moa. The story may be a mythical version of the discovery by a real personage of the distant land; and it is possible that the bringing home of this rare stone may have occurred. The rest of the story is the well-known tradition of the migration to New Zealand, the true historical value of which has yet to be determined. The names of the canoes and their builders are good Maori names.

The foregoing is abbreviated from Sir George Grey's "Polynesian Mythology" and Maori legends. Another version discards the mythical cause of contention, but gives the story of the contention, and tells how Ngahue, taking up his abode at Arahura, found during his residence there a block of greenstone "in a lifeless state "—i.e., unworked—which he took back with him to Hawaiki, from which were made the axes used in building the Tainui and Arawa. An earring (tarapounamu) called Kaitangata (man-eater), also made from this lock, was in the possession of the Ngatitoa for ages, and was by the famous chief Rangihaeata presented to Sir G, Grey in 1853. There are several versions of the story, generally agreeing, most of which refer to the eardrop as Kaukaumatua.*

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Of this story it may be remarked that, though we have no means of determining its historical accuracy, it is, of course, possible that preliminary exploring expeditions visited New Zealand and returned to the ancestral home, wherever that was, as we have evidence that, as a rule, the islands of the Pacific were discovered by regularly-equipped exploring expeditions. The report of the discovery of a great country, with no formidable inhabitants, arriving in an over-populated island the inhabitants of which were constantly at war with each other, is just the kind of circumstance that would stimulate a great migration, such as that which the tradition describe with such minute detail. The chief difficulty in this story and others relating instances of a return to Hawaiki lies in the degree of accuracy required to navigate a small vessel back to a very small island, while we know that for ages before Cook's time New-Zealanders had not made such voyages. It is, however, more than probable that the Maori navigators of ancient times possessed far superior knowledge and methods to those of Cook's time. Possession of a great territory had made them cease to be navigators of the ocean. The same thing had happened to our own race for two centuries at least before Alfred's time, and it is not difficult to point out that four or five times in history the possession of more than sufficient land-extension has caused the English or the Saxons to turn their faces from the sea,

Several traditions exist in New Zealand attached to particular implements or ornaments of greenstone besides the two mentioned, suggesting that they were brought from Hawaiki. Reference to one of these is made by Mr. Stack in his replies to my questions given later. I am informed by the Rev, Mr. Hammond, a missionary at Patea, that when the Maoris lose a treasured keepsake they make another like it, and always refer to the new one as if it were the identical original: in this way a paddle of one of the ancient canoes may be preserved in name. Possibly the precious Kaukaumatua may thus represent an ancient jewel of some other material.

* The various references to "Kaitangata" and "Kaukaumatua" in books are somewhat be wildering, and leave me uncertain as to whether they are the same ornament; if not, which of them was given to Sir G. Grey, Kaukumatua frequently crops up in history and poetry, It was brought from Kew Zealand to Hawaiki; it became the property of Tamatekapua, who was a son or kinsman of Ngahue, and navigated the Arawa to New Zealand it was buried by his son Tuporo, and recovered [Tregear]; it passed through the hands of many other celebrities, and is an important muniment of title.