The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 73
Art. XI.—Observations on some peculiar Maori Remains, with Remarks on the Ancient Institution of Tapu
Art. XI.—Observations on some peculiar Maori Remains, with Remarks on the Ancient Institution of Tapu.
I have the pleasure of exhibiting this evening for your inspection two somewhat remarkable specimens of Maori remains, respecting each of which I will offer one or two observations.
|Stephanic diameter of the cranium||116||85|
|Minimum frontal diameter||90||80|
|External biorbital diameter||110||109|
|Maximum transverse diameter||135||115|
* Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. xxvi., p. 572.
The other specimen is part of a Maori skull, in which there is an abnormal growth of one of the teeth. It will be seen that the left upper canine or "eye-tooth" is turned completely upside down in its socket, the crown appearing in the region of the nostril, and the fang coming out in the roof of; the mouth or palate. From the condition of the adjoining bicuspid, the enamel being worn away by long grinding and the dentine exposed, it evidently belonged to an adult, presumably a person past middle age. The reversed tooth is of the normal length, and its singular position is perhaps due to some injury to the upper jaw during youth, but not during infancy, because this is a fully-developed second tooth. The proper socket has become obliterated by absorption, and a thick covering of bone has been formed in front of the eccentric tooth, giving quite a normal appearance to the jaw.
* According to the doctrine of law which governs the Native Land Court, conquest, unless followed by actual occupation, confers no titles to the land.
"The law of tapu is a universal custom among our race. There are many kinds of tapu, and it belonged to the owners of the land to decide the nature of the tapu they imposed upon any land. It was the right of the relations of the dead, being owners, to impose a tapu; and theirs only. An attempt by any others than the owners would be valueless.
"I will give instances: Wharengaro was one of the principal chiefs of Taupo. He died at Te Ariki, in the Arawa country, and was interred in the middle of a plantation where potatoes and kumaras had been grown. In fact, he was buried just where he fell—in his blood as he was shot. Te Hirapango was his companion, and shared his fate and his grave; but the tribe could not whakatapu the spot, because, while the dead chiefs were Ngatituwharetoa, the land belonged not to them but to the Tuhourangi. Had it been their own land they could have proclaimed it tapu. Long after, when the flesh was decayed, the bones were exhumed and removed to Tongariro; but the land was never tapu, and it is not so now.
"On the other hand, Te Heuheu (the elder) was buried by a landslip at Te Rapa, between Tokanu and Waihi. The page 152 village was on the edge of the lake, and was completely buried In consequence of this, the entire lake and the land within defined limits was tapu, lest the fish of the one and the productions of the other should be eaten by any one. This was proclaimed by Te Heuheu Iwikau. Nothing from the lake-fish, koura, &c.—could have been eaten on pain of death. It was not till five years after that the present Te Heuher removed the tapu. He was the man whose right it was to do so, being the son of the deceased chief; and it was done to secure provisions for the gathering held for the lamentation over his father. No foreign chief could have done it. The ceremony was that the fish were caught, then removed tot place still tapu, and then cooked; then given to the priest, the ariki, and then eaten by him solemnly. No meaner person could have dared to do so. The high priest, the arik, on this occasion, was Te Takinga, and it was his office to eat these first-fruits of the land.
"I take the instance of Te Rangituamatotoro. After his death he was conveyed by Tamaira to Motu-taiko. An earthquake shattered the island, and the bones fell into the lake. The water of the lake within certain limits was whakatapued Now, there was a certain shallow (tahuna) in the lake that was a favourite fishing-ground, but it has been tapu ever since, and it is so still, and no one will dare to fish there.
"In all my experience I have never met with a single instance of a tapu laid by a foreign tribe upon land not their own property. Were such a thing attempted it would not be respected.
"I knew Totoia; also his elder brother, Te Ihukino. I heard of the tapu imposed because of his death. I was present at Waikari when Te Kaperakau and the others were there. Te Kaperakau—grandfather of Aperahama Te Kume [the claimant]—and the rest started to look for his body, but it could not be found. Totoia was a man of great consequence, as is proved by the land being made tapu for his sake. It was Te Kaperakau and Te Reweti who proclaimed the tapu."
A witness, however, on the other side gave the following evidence: "When I and my party visited Maungaiti we found Totoia living there alone. He was growing potatoes: that was all I saw. We slept there one night, and went on the next morning. Totoia gave us supper and lodging. There were several houses, but much dilapidated, and he himself had grown very old. He said that was his settlement. He was dressed in a cat-skin rug, painted inside with red ochre. The skins were of different colours. He wore it by day and he slept in it by night. We went on from Maungaiti to Tapapa and took up our residence there. After this we heard of To toia's death at Maungaiti. I do not know how he died. We page 153 did not go to fetch his body or look for it. The Ngatikikopiri did go, but I heard that it was supposed the pigs had devoured him, for he could not be found. . . I heard that Wahineiti died at Tauranga a natural death. His body was brought back to Patetere by the Ngatikea and the Arawa, and was deposited at Omaruapu in a small wooden hut in which he was seated. Then all Ngatiraukawa were summoned by messengers to come and see him. They assembled, and when they saw him they chanted a funeral dirge, to which Ngatikea and the Arawa responded; and then the Ngatiraukawa removed the body to Maungaiti, resting at Tokoroa on the way. On the birth of the child of Rangitaiki (the chief of Ngatikikopiri) it was called 'Nga-wi-o-Tokoroa,' and Hape's child was named Horohau, from the grass on which the corpse had lain and the wind that blew over it as it rested there. The body was then interred by the Ngatiraukawa at Maungaiti, because that was his own special territory. His remains were subsequently removed to Waotu when those of Hape were removed from Mangatautari, for the chiefs of the Ngatikikopiri decided that the two brothers should rest together."
Referring to this, Hitiri Paerata (the hero of Orakau), who also gave evidence in the case, said, "Wahineiti was travelling through and died, and was taken to his own place. It was only the great people who were taken to the tribal sepulchres. The common people were buried where they died—anywhere."*
* Wahineiti, the elder brother of Hape, died at Tauranga. He said to Ngatikea, "Don't take me to Maungatautari, but to Tokoroa, that the rushes of my land may grow over me; that I may drink the dews of Tokoroa." This occasioned the name of "Horohau." Therefore "Nga-wi-o-Tokoroa" became a proverb. (Evidence of Aperahama Te Kume.)
There is another consideration to be borne in mind, and it is this: that, in the case of evidence given on oath, the natural tendency to romance is necessarily somewhat if not entirely curbed, and that consequently by this means a truer narrative ought as a rule to be obtained than by any other mode of inquiry. What, for example, could be more realistic and apparently truthful than the following passage taken from the evidence of Matiaha Peko, in the Rangatira case (1882), about the killing of Totohu?—"I was born at Te Ngei, and am the son of Takiau, the same man who killed Totohu in company with Te Kapiti, at Te Karangi, on the Pourewa. They killed him for stealing the eels there. Then they cut him up and ate him—ate the whole of him, except the head, and that we put on a pole. We dried it, Maori fashion (mokomokai), and took it to Turakina. There was a kumara ground there, and we set up the head on it to scare the pukekos. Afterwards it was thrown into an eel-pond or lagoon at Waiwhero. I helped to eat him. I saw the head. It was a huge head, with crisp hair, like a negro's (poriki), and the face completely covered with tatooing. He was said to belong to Ngatihauiti."
It would not require much play of the imagination to suppose that the remarkably thick cranium which I have exhibited I this evening belonged to just such a head as that so graphically described by Matiaha Peko—that of the unhappy eel poacher, Totohu.