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Lore and history of the South Island Maori


page 9


The Maoris of New Zealand are a hybrid race, and not as fully pure Polynesian as some writers would like us to think. An examination of something like eighty skulls obtained from both islands for Doctor Scott, professor of anatomy at Otago University during the nineties amply proved the presence of a Melanesian strain.

Sir Julius Von Haast in 1868 forwarded to Professor C. G. Carus of the Imperial German Academy of Naturalists two skulls which had been found at the mouth of the Selwyn River, Lake Ellesmere, and the greatest authority of that time declared they were not Polynesian Maori. Death prevented the authority giving a detailed finding. Doctor Buck in 1926 stated that dealing with the ethnology of the Maori we could only in the main theorise, and the position remains so to the present.

W. M. Maskell, S. Percy Smith, Elsdon Best, James Cowan, T. W. Downes and others who have studied traditions do not fall fully into line with the archaeologists. In 1938 James Cowan summed up the position thus:—"Archaeology is of less importance than tribal history and traditions in assessing the duration of Maori and proto-Maori occupation of New Zealand. One wave of primitive race migrations after another might pass and leave little or no material trace behind," "Before 1350 there must have been thousands of people a blend of Polynesian migrations with a Melanesian tar brush." It is quite easy to trace the main strain of to-day through the Pacific Ocean and its spreading out from a central source, say Tahiti. However in New Zealand there are many disturbing factors, and these have not been cleared away by the archaeological findings of the last few years, valuable in their way as they may be. Augustus Hamilton who was for many years director of the Colonial (Dominion) Museum, Wellington, and whose work "Maori Art" is still looked upon as authorative comments thus:—"There is a possibility that the early inhabitants were more Melanesian than Polynesian." Lullabies are peculiar to the Maoris, as is the leaping and acrobatic energy displayed in the Maori haka. Both the foregoing are strange to Polynesia. The spirals in Maori art are a legacy from Borneo as is the tattoo on a Maori woman's chin. The protruding tongue so page 10common to the Maori art belongs to Indonesia and the Caroline group. The question can well be asked, "Did the Maori of New Zealand revert to a former art derived prior to the arrival at Tahiti or Rarotonga in the journey through the Pacific, or did he learn from a Melanesian strain already in New Zealand when he came here?"

Tradition obtained in the North Island of New Zealand, and a few rare objects found would point to the latter. Herewini Ira of Moeraki, Tame Parata, and Tikao and other intelligent Maoris of the South Island have referred to descent from a tribe in the South Island, darker than the Maori, with curly hair and a different language. It is a most intricate subject to deal with inasmuch as many stories are common to Melanesia and Polynesia, and the names of heroes are entwined to a remarkable degree.

It is possible that the fabled Kiwa was a voyager to New Zealand two thousand years ago, as among the Maoris of the South Island a very dark-skinned individual is called a son of Kiwa, not the Kiwa of many centuries later. Ui te Rangiora is said to have visited New Zealand from Fiji about 650A.D. Half a century later came Maui, in the Mahunui Canoe, and many natives of the South Island can trace a family tree to that explorer. There were several heroes of that name and of purely mythical origin.

In 850A.D. arrived Rakaihautu in the Uruao Canoe with the first Waitaha Tribe. The Hawea Tribe of the Waitaki watershed owe their descent to the Waitaha Tribe of Rakaihautu, and according to Tikao and others were a dark, curly-headed race and not brown like the Maori.

Maui the explorer is immortalised in several place names of the South Island, Mautau a Maui which is a beach on Bishop's Peninsula in the Nelson Province being one. Lakes Rotoroa and Rotoiti at the headwaters of the Buller River according to tradition were formed by Rakaihautu. Like some other South Island lakes they were delved out with his ko (spade), a fanciful way of saying he discovered them. The Rapuwai Tribe arrived in the South Island from Patea and were noted for the peculiar manner adopted in swimming.

Forty generations ago the South Island was explored by Kupe in the Matahoura Canoe. Ngahue in the Taiwiri rangi canoe also circumnavigated the South Island. From tradition it would appear the South Island was peopled before the North Island, and that would be before the arrival of Toi from Polynesia about 1125A.D. Practically all the tribes of the North Island can now trace descent from Toi, and the South Islanders also from their North Island connections. The more reliable history of the South Island is connected first with the page 11second Waitaha Tribe who arrived at Maketu in the North Island by the Arawa Canoe of the Great Migration of 1350A.D. from Hawaiki. Settling in Poverty Bay they finally came to the South Island in the Takitimu Canoe under Tamatea. They are said to have multiplied exceedingly, and were of fairer skin than the other arrivals. In the South Island they were displaced by the Ngati Mamoe whose main ancestry connects with the Tokomaru Canoe. The present principal tribe of the South Island the Ngai Tahu connects up with arrivals by the Takitemu, Kurahaupo and Mata horua Canoes. The Ngati Mamoe and the second Waitaha Tribe have been loosely referred to as Morioris. The Morioris who went from the South Island to the Chatham Islands over 1000 years ago were actually more Polynesian than the Maori, so we must look further back than the days of Toi in New Zealand to pick up the Melynesian tar brush.

The Ngati Hau came to the South Island under the leadership of the chief Tauirapareko. The Ngati Wairangi arrived in the Nelson district under the chief Tawahirikapaku, but finding the second Waitaha already there moved on to Westland. The Ngati Tumatakokiri arrived under the chief Tumatakokiri and soon spread over Nelson towards Karamea, and remained the dominant tribe of Nelson until 1690A.D. when they were ousted by the Ngati Apa (Ngatihapa), who in turn were conquered in 1828 by sections of the Ngati Awa and Ngati Toa tribes in conjunction with the Ngati Tama.

The Ngatirarua the sub-section of the Ngati Toa was led by the chiefs Te Niho, and Takerei, while the sections of the Ngati Awa were under Koihua. The Ngati Tama were in charge of Te Puoho, who later was slain at Tuturau in Southland by the Ngai Tahu during the famous raid of 1837. Koihua settled at Pakawau.

The Ngati Tumatakokiri claimed descent from arrivals by the Kurahaupo Canoe, as did the Rangitane Tribe who arrived in the South Island from the Wairarapa district under the chief Te Rerewa. The Ngati Kuia of Pelorus Sound are now the representatives of the once powerful Rangitane Tribe. The Ngai Tara Tribe crossed over from Wellington 19 generations ago. The Ngati Mamoe arrived at Arapawa 700 years ago, and figure often in the warfare from Marlborough to Southland.

Tahu, the founder of the Ngai Tahu Tribe living 180 years later than his ancestor Paikea, resided for a period at Kaikoura in Marlborough, but on the death of his brother Porourangi returned to the North Island. His grandson Tuteahunga was slain at Kaikoura. Kuri the founder of the Ngati Kuri Tribe was a cousin to Tuteahunga. The Ngati Kuri joined up in later years with the Ngati Tahu in the warfare in the South Island.

A folk known as the Pohea settled at Whakatu (Nelson) page 12and at Waimea built the pa called Matangiawea. This place bears a prominent part in the history of the Ngai Tahu Tribe and its Tuahuriru hapu. Friction with their kinsmen of the Ngati kahungunu Tribe of the Waiararpa caused the Ngai Tahu to cross the stormy waters of Raukawa (Cook Strait) and find a haven with kindred tribes especially those domiciled in the Waimea district of Nelson at the Matangiawea Pa, which was occupied by the Ngai Tara, Ngati Whata and Ngati Rua. Totaranui near Starvation Point had been long recognised as a safe landing place for canoes making the crossing. (This Totaranui must not be confounded with the place of the same name now called Ships Cove in the Marlborough Sounds where Moki, a son of Tuahuriri landed in later years with a large body of the Ngai Tahu Tribe.)

At Matangiawea Pa the Ngai Tahu chief Kahukare te Paku and his son Tumaro often came to dwell. Tumaro was married to Rakai te kura a daughter of the chief Tama ihu poro. Whenever Tumaro left his North Island home on tribal business, his wife Rakai te kura committed adultery with the chief Te Aohikuraki, and a son was born. Tumaro taxed his wife with infidelity, and as she admitted her misdeeds, she was left with her lover. The son was called Te Hiku tawa o te raki, and he was called by his kin "The Misbegotten".

On the advice of his mother "to follow the setting sun," on reaching youth he set out to find Tumaro his mother's husband.

He was received at the Waimea by Kahukare te Paku, who did not recognise the youth, who fortunately for himself proclaimed his name as Te Hiku Tawa o te raki. Just as well, as the oven was ready to cook him; Kahukare te Paku not desiring to eat a possible grandson, pushed him through the window of the sacred building and right on to the tapu place. Reference to the famous whare called Kau whakaarowaru also assisted the recognition of the lad. The youth was fierce with anger on observing the oven in which he might have met death. His kinsmen observed this and renamed him Tu-ahu-riri (standing angrily at the altar). Tuahuriri secured a revenge without shedding blood in later years. He bought over a large visiting party to the Waimea from Wellington, and they ate up the whole of the food supply of their hosts, truly eating them out of house and home. The whare in which Tuahuriri lived was destroyed by fire, and wild cabbage grew on its site. This vegetation was eaten voraciously by the starving folk of the Waimea, but the vegetables having been grown on "tapu" ground, all who partook sickened and died. Descendants of some of the fortunate ones still live near Nelson and are closely related to some of the natives of Banks Peninsula.

Tuahuriri and his eldest son Hamua were drowned crossing page break
Totaranui, where the Ngai Tahu tribe first landed in the South Island, under Kahukare te Paku and Tu Maro.

Totaranui, where the Ngai Tahu tribe first landed in the South Island, under Kahukare te Paku and Tu Maro.

Outlet of Lake Rotoroa, Nelson

Outlet of Lake Rotoroa, Nelson

page 13 Cook Strait when the canoe Te Hauwai foundered with 140 persons. Tuahuriri when at his pa, (called Te Mata ki kai poinga) had been advised by a chief Te Aweawe to use a double canoe for the journey over Cook Strait but neglected to do so. Te Aweawe in his double canoe crossed to the South Island safely.

When the Ngai Tahu had firmly established themselves in southern Marlborough, Canterbury and Westland, frequent skirmishes took place between them and the Ngati Tumatakokiri over land rights at the Maruia, the upper Waiauau and the upper Waiau toa (Clarence). The slaying of a Ngai Tahu chief named Pakeke at Maruia brought together the East Coast and Westland members of the tribe to attack the Nelson folk. The Arahura section of the Ngai Tahu were led by Te Warekino, and the Mawhera (Greymouth) party by Tuhuru, and they were joined by the Tuahuriri force who journeyed via the Hurunui, Lake Sumner, north branch of the Waiau, Kaitangata (Cannibal Gorge), Maruia, and down that river to the Kawiteri (Buller), the Matiri tributary, to the source of the Karamea, then to the coast. The Westland Ngai Tahu journeyed up the coast to Karamea. The combined Ngai Tahu attacked and defeated the Ngati Tumatakokiri at West Whanganui. The defeated tribe were next assailed by the Ngati Apa (Ngatihapa) and killed out at Paparoha.

A previous fight with the Ngai Tahu had been caused through a Westland chief taking forcibly to wife a lady of the Ngati Tumatakokiri Tribe. E. Kehu and E. Pikiwati who acted as guides to Thomas Brunner the explorer of western Nelson and Westland in 1847 belonged to the then almost extinct Ngati Tumatakokiri Tribe. Brunner and Heaphy in their explorations in 1845 were obstructed by the chief Niho of the Ngati Rarua hapu of Ngati Toa, and they held him quietly marooned at West Whanganui.

Kotuku a chief of the Ngati Apa (Ngatihapa) was slain with his followers at West Whanganui during the fighting with the Ngati Toa hapus and allies. The Maoris of the Nelson Province, especially those of Motueka (Motuweka) and other parts of Tasman Bay, right up to the late forties used double canoes, and these were used to a limited extent down the West Coast in the traffic for greenstone. Owing to the rough seas the journeys were hazardous, and a well-built North Island canoe was lost at Hunts Beach in South Westland. The Westland Maoris of Makawhio, Mahitahi and Martins Bay, fashioned canoes to trade with their Nelson clients. The "Ruapuke", a canoe that once belonged to Te Rauparaha was abandoned at Croixelles Harbour. It was discovered hidden by scrub in 1888 by a Nelson settler.

Ancient native quarries exist at Rush Pool, some nine miles page 14from Nelson, and near Woodman's Bay on D'Urville Island. The latter island is associated with the old-time Morioris.

Lakes Rotoroa and Roto iti were visited in the dim past by the chiefs Tuaroaro Te Reki, Katipurupuru and Katai wheri when journeying from Nelson to the Buller. Lake Rotoroa is 7 miles long by 2 miles wide and is situated 1623 feet above sea level. Lake Roto iti is 4 miles long by 1 mile wide and the elevation above the sea is 1800 feet. A fresh water mussel called "kaihau", when boiled with raupo roots, formed a good meal for the Maori visitors. The fresh-water herring called upukororo was freely caught. The Ngai te raraua Tribe arrived from the North Island at Riwaka by the Wi takuau Canoe, and the "Wellington Spectator" of August 24th 1842 mentions that a large pa existed at Riwaka, and the village at the mouth of the Motueka River had a population of 100 natives. Cape Farewell bears the Maori name of Taumauka (dry ridge of a hill). The Farewell Spit has evidences of native occupation. Wharariki is the name of the bay south west of Cape Farewell, which is about six miles north of West Whanganui. The ridge of hills near West Whanganui is known as Whaka marama. Over the low saddle at Massacre or Golden Bay is Pa kawau (the pa of the shag). Near Parapara on December 19th, 1642, Abel Tasman had some of his ship's crew slain by the Ngati Tumatakokiri Tribe.

Until comparatively recent years, the West Coast of Nelson was very much off the beaten track, except that portion near Westport. Kawau is the small point a little north of Cape Foulwind. Gold was discovered at the Buller (Kawatiri) in April 1858, by Mr Lee and his Maori companions Tarapuhi and Wereta Tainui. Tauranga is the bay on the south side of Cape Foulwind and a few Maoris were dwelling there in 1846. They had extensive cultivations; mussels abounded in the bay especially at Rocky Point. The Totara (Browning) stream south of Cape Foulwind with its tributary the Okari (place of a clump of trees) also possessed extensive native gardens. The place known to-day as Brighton has borne two Maori names, namely, Tirimoana and Pahutangi. Addison's Flat, the plain approximately 15 miles south of the Buller is "Te Kara o Tamatea". Perpendicular Point or Jacob's Ladder, bears the Maori name of Te Miko. It was an obstacle to travelling along the coast. In 1846 Kororoa or Nine Mile Creek north of Point Elizabeth had a small pa with six Maori residents. Paekere is on the south bank of the Buller River, near the mouth. The Orowaite Creek and Lagoon on the north side of Westport is most likely named after Reuben Waite, an early European resident.

Ngawaitakerei is the Nile River one mile north of Constant Bay, north of Charleston, and Waitakere was the site of an old time kainga on the rocky point near Charleston. There page 15was an abundance of timber and water there, and the Maoris obtained from the sea extensive hauls of dog fish. The Maoris had a lookout post on the point. Waitohi is a stream near the Nile River. Four Mile River at St Kilda is the Tiko pihi. Point Elizabeth bears the Maori name of Tarakina, and Rocky Bluff south of Brighton is Maunga huru. Poti kohua is north of the Fox river. A large number of skeletons have been found near Charleston, supposed to be the result of the fighting during Niho's conquest of the Ngai Tahu Tribe of the West Coast. Tauhinu is the name of the hills near Charleston. Charleston has of recent years been proposed as the site for a modern port.

Omau Paturiki north of Westport was the site of a Maori kainga. Mautorea are rocks off the coast about 17 miles north of Westport and Te Purie is a stream in the district. Mokihinui is about 27 miles north of Westport. When Messrs Brunner and Heaphy were exploring, they discovered the wreck of a 400 ton baltic copper lined vessel near the Mokihinui Bar. The ship was believed to be the Rifleman of Hobart, Tasmania which disappeared in 1825. From native sources it appeared the vessel touched Cape Foulwind before coming ashore. The crew that stood by the wreck were quickly slain by the Maoris, the other section moving up the coast met the same fate, while though two of the sailors actually reached Totaranui before they in turn were killed.

Little Whanganui is forty miles north of Westport, and Karamea is forty-six miles north. At Karamea, moa bones and Maori curios have been found in the limestone caves. Kahurangi a point and stream 61 miles north of Cape Foulwind had a Maori settlement, and when Niho in 1837 gave up his conquered "Ngai Tahu" lands in Westland, he made the place his southern boundary. Awaruati is a creek north of Kahurangi; Raukawa is the next stream north and "Iwi tuaroa" are the hills in the vicinity. Te Ana weka is the third stream north of Kahurangi. The Heaphy river is the Whakapouai and Rocks Point is Rangitoto. The Heaphy River District now contains a large native reserve. Te Hapu is north of the Heaphy.

Reverting south to the neighbourhood of the Fox River we find a few chains from the stream a large cave known as "Te Ana o Matuku". It was a favourite camping place for Maoris travelling along the coast. The cave which has three entrances, is 80 feet long and 30 feet high. The chief pas of the Ngati Apa (Ngatihapa) Tribe in Nelson were situated at Whakapuaka and Ngawhakapakoho. At Kina Beach near Motueka, was the pa "Te Mamaku". Punawai was the name of the pa in Richardson Street, Nelson, occupied by the Ngatikoata Tribe. Pounamu was a pa near Motueka; Kaiteretere Pa stood on Pa Hill. On Kakaho Island stood a pa belonging to the Ngatirangi page 16Tribe and it was taken by the Ngai Tara Tribe. Pakawau was the headquarters of Te Puoho; Whakatu was the old name of Nelson. Old pas were Hawaiki on Pepin Island, Ekapa on Bishop's Peninsula, Kaiate, Turematao and Kahupakira near Homestead, Te Momaki at Kina Beach, Kaingaroa on Moutere Island, Kaiaua at Red Clay Point, Whangarei, Whiti kareao, Whakapaetura on Motueka River and the Anawhakau Pa near Riwaka. Waikihi was a kainga north of Pakawau, and in the same locality another village Tamatea. Parapara or Purupuru south of the Aorere River is the site of another old time settlement. The Wai nguru pu Springs near Takaka are said to be the largest in the world. Motupipi was a stronghold of the Ngati Awa, Takapo, the old time pa of the south coast of Massacre Bay. At the mouth of the river at Totara nui in Blind Bay was a large village. The Boulder Bank at Nelson is Otama. Whakapuaka is where the boulder bank meets the mainland, and Croixelles Harbour is Whangarei. D'Urville Island is Rangitoto and French Pass is Te Aumiti (the current swallowed up), and according to tradition was formed by a cormorant bird named Te Kawau-o-Toru. Stephen's Island is Taka purewa (float on the stomach). The head of Pelorus Sound is Te Hoiere, named after a canoe that landed there from the North Island. As the Tourist Department maps give most of the place names of the northern coast of Nelson it is unnecessary to reprint them here.

By the adoption of the New Zealand Company's scheme of one tenth of land purchased from the Natives, the Maoris of Nelson are now well supplied with lands even though much of it is useless for cultivation purposes. The land purchases, many of them overlapping, are contained in about a dozen deeds. Te Rauparaha's tribes and allies obtained a much better deal, than the Ngai Tahu and Ngati Mamoe who appropriated threequarters of the South Island. At present the Native Reserves of Nelson are numerous, but small; the total area being 58,565 acres.

According to tradition Nydia Bay should be called Opouri. At Levin in the North Island while a man was building a canoe, he resented observation by a boy and murdered the lad. On completion the canoe was sailed across the Cook Strait to Nydia Bay. The lad's father and friends in another canoe crossed over and slew the murderer's relatives taking the culprit back to Levin to perish by means of terrible punishment. (Opouri means "place of sorrow.")

James Cowan has left on record that according to tradition a Maori woman named Hine poupou swam Cook Strait. The story in brief is thus:—"A chief named Manini pounamu of D'Urville Island decided to get rid of his faithful wife Hine poupou, in order to take to his bosom a young woman who page 17had taken his fancy. He took his wife across Raukawa to Kapiti, and marooned her there. At Wharekohu at the south end of Kapiti she viewed in the far distance her homeland. She recited the sacred chants, and the gods came to her aid as she swam across the Strait. Reaching the Brothers Islets, at Pelorus Sound she was guided to the shore by a dolphin. Villagers among whom her relations lived brought a canoe and took her back to D'Urville (Rangitoto) Island. She did not return to her villainous spouse but went to live with her friends.

When Manini pounamu and his connections went out in canoes to catch hapuku, Hine poupou called on the gods for revenge, a gale sprang up, and Manini pounamu was drowned. The distance of Hine poupou's swim is thirty miles.

Te Rauparaha's forces slew the inhabitants of Nelson Province first at Anatoto, a point on the mainland west of French Pass slaying the chief Te Nge, and further slaughters took place at Whangarei (Croixelles), at Whakapuaka, Whakatu (Nelson), Motueka, Takaka and at Te Tai Tapu in Massacre Bay. Te Rauparaha like Napoleon met his own Waterloo in the fights (later) in Marlborough at the hands of the Ngai Tahu Tribe.