Polynesian Society (N.Z.).

The journal of the Polynesian Society online

. (page 19 of 26)
Online LibraryPolynesian Society (N.Z.)The journal of the Polynesian Society → online text (page 19 of 26)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

a tiwha. This is it, but it was in reality an oriori or lullaby sung to
his grandson, Tupua-horo-nuku : —

E Tama 1 E Tapaa ! e tangi nei ki te kai mahan,

A, whaia e koe i mnri i a Hongi ;

Kia homai ai ana kai m&na

£oia te puDgapanga, koia te para-reka,

Koia te poaka ; nga kai ra— e —

* Te Man-tara-nai was at onoe one of the principal ohiefB of Tama-kai-moana
braneh, of the so-called Ure-wera and also of Ngati-Awa, Whakatane, Bay of Plenty.

Digitized by



I whakaahoa ai te poho ;

£La tika, hoki mai, kia whangaia koe,

Ei te putiki whai-haoga,

Eia takaia koe,

Ki te manu rere rangi—

•• Te rau o Titapu,*

Kia pai ai koe te haere ki waho ra,

Nga wai e rere i roto Te Wairoa,

Teua ano ra to koka te moe tonu mai ra,

I te umu-pongipoQgi, i te umu-whakaware,

I te umu-kai-kino ; nohea e mana !

Wbaia e koe nga kupu o te riri,

He mea ka tupono ki maa ki te tangata

Ka kapiti ruuga nei,

Ea kapiti raro nei,

Ka kapiti te whenua nei.

He pokanga Nuku, he pokanga Bangi,

He tai ka tuka atn, he tai ka heke atu,

Mimiti pakora, te tai ki Hawaiki.

my son ! O Tnpua ! crying there for food ;
Thou should follow after Hongi,
That he might give thee of bis streugthning food
Of the pungapunga and parareka (potatoes),
Of hogs also, the strengthning food^
That makes a fair round belly ;
'Tis 80, and on thy return then shall be fed
With the gallant plume,
And be adorned

With the bird of skyward flight.
The plume of Titapn (of huia feathers)^
That thou mayest handaome appear.
On the streams that fall into Te Wairoa beyond.
Where liest thy mother (female relative) in death-sleep.
In the ovens debasing ovens insulting.
But it shaU not disgrace us !
Follow thou the words and deeds of war.
And if may be thou fronts thy enemy.
Then all above shall close-
All below shall close —
The very earth shall close.
The earth shall pierce, the heavens shall pierce.
Like a passing tide, a falling tide,
A dried-up tide to far Hawaiki (death).

The tiwha is a song sung to induce others to join in the quarrel of
the singer. The meaning of the above is coDveyed in metaphor as
usual, but it is quite clear to those accustomed to such a style of
composition, and Te Mau-tara-nui at once understood it and made

^ These foods are intended to be emblematical for powder, bullets, and

> ** Te rau o Titapu,'' sometimes said to represent kuia^ at others, albatros
plames. Titapu is the name of an island (traditionaUy) said to have once existed
oS Cooks' Straits, and frequented by albatros, but now sunk beneath the sea.

Digitized by



preparations to act on the hints conveyed. After a discussion lasting
all night, he decided to visit the Nga-Puhi tribe at their home in the
north to induce them to take up the cause of the Ure-wera. Before
leaving on his errand, in parting from the people, he said : Hei konei '
Nga huahua i muri i akau, maku (*' Remain here 1 Let the birds,
preserved after I am gone, be for me"), meaning that the Ure-wera
people should lay in a store of huahua (or preserved birds) as pro-
visions for the succour he intended to bring. How many people
accompanied Te Mau-tara-nui on his adventurous journey we know
not, though Piki, of the Ngati-Eoura hapu, and Te Iripa, a younger
brother of Te Mau-tara-nui's, formed part of the expedition ; but a
high chief like him would not travel without a sufficient following to
sustain his rank. He proceeded at first to his own relatives at
Whakatane, and thence on to Tauranga to visit the Ngai-Te-Bangi
chief Te Warn, who agreed to render assistance. From there he went
on to Hauraki (Thames) and enlisted Tu-te-rangi-anini of the Ngati-
Tama-te-ra tribe in his cause. Again he passed onwards — by water,
for it would have been dangerous to have gone by land. — to the Bay
of Islands, the Ngati-Paoa tribe of the Thames providing the canoe, to
Tai-a-mai, to visit Pomare. After the usual ceremonies, Pomare
asked, ** What is the reason of thy journey ? " "A death has occurred
at the Wairoa, Bangi-wai-tatao has been killed.'* '' It is well," said
Pomare, " I will help you.'* Then said Te Mau-tara-nui, •* After I
have gone, when Mata-riki* is high up, and the huahtia have been
preserved, in the fourth month {i.e., October), follow after me." They
then arranged that Pomare should follow by sea, ** by the west," in
which I think the Maori narrator makes a mistake, whilst Te
Mau-tara-nui should make the attack on the Wairoa overland. It was
arranged that Pomare should proceed by sea, as it was feared that
Nga-Pubi would not be able to restrain themselves, and would get
embroiled with Ngati-Awa if they came overland via Whakatane. And
then Te Mau-tara-nui returned home to make preparations.

The Ure-wera say that Pomare's expedition left the Bay of Islands
soon after Hongi's expedition got back from Mokoia, Botorua, but this
was in September, 1828, and I think the date given by Lesson is the
correct one, i.e., about May, 1824. He came on right round the
East Cape and down the coast to Te Mahia, where the Nga-Puhi chief
Te Wera was living, and thence to the Wairoa.

In the meantime the allies from the other tribes, who were to take

part in the coming expedition, had gathered at Rua-tahuna, where no

doubt the huahita (or preserved birds) arranged for by Te Mau-tara-nui

was duly appreciated, for the Ure-wera country is celebrated for this


(To he continued. J

* Mata-riki, the Pleiadea.

Digitized by



[131] Ancient Canals, Marlborough, N.Z.

I had oooadon to visit the White BlufF, being the Soath point of Gloady Bay
Marlborough, and about 3^ miles North of the month of the Awatere River. The
road, for the last few miles, goes through a good many old Maori clearings ; these
appear to be clearings for tbe growth of vegetables of some kind, and are, generally,
roughly rectangular in shape, and the stones that have been carried off have been
piled up round the edges. I suppose there must have been a dozen, or 20 or more,
as I only noticed those close to the road. Mr. S. M. Neville, who owns the Thurston
Estate, through which the road runs, informs me, that intersecting the '*Mud
Flats " which formed the Northern portion of tho Clifford Bay, it has been
estimated that there are about 14 miles of artificial canals, or water courses
averaging about 10 feet wide, which have evidently been made by the Maoris in
former times. I cannot vouch for the length here given — I believe it is merely a
rough estimate. We have no detail Survey showing these channels, but I have
seen a few of them, and they certainly appear to have been constructed, and are
artificial water courses. It is supposed that the Maoris constructed these channels
in order to facilitate their operations in catching eels, or ducks, or both. As I
thought probably you had not heard of these before, I have taken the liberty of
communicating these particulars to you, as you might perhaps consider it worth
your while to visit the locality and judge for yourself. On the map of Clifford Bay
Survey District, most of this locality is marked '* Mud Flats," so it would be of no.
use my sending you any plans.— C. W Adams.

[We suggest that Mr. Adams himself should follow up this by exploring
and making a sketch map of these canals, and then write an article for the
*« Journal." Taken in connection with Mr. J. Rutland's discoveries in Pelorous
Sound, they seem to show a phase of old Maori life with which >«e are little
acquainted.— Ed.]

Digitized by





We take the following from the Thirty Seventh Annaal Report of
the '* Hawaiian Evangelical Association " for June, 1900, in reference
to one of onr late members : —

*'The Bevd. Charles McEwen Hyde, D.D., Principal of the
North Pacific Missionnry Institute, and Recording Secretary of the
Board of the Hawaiian Evangelical Association, died October 18th,
1899, in Honolulu, in the 68th year of his age. Coming to this
city early in 1877 as a missionary of the American Board, he has
for more than twenty years been closely identified with the religious
and educational work of the country. As Principal of the Institute,
he has had in his hands the training of all the Hawaiian pastors and
missionaries of this generation ; he kept in close touch with them
till the end of his life, and they greatly miss his friendship. With
great industry, executive ability and power of leadership, he has
made himself felt as an influence for good in many departments of
Christian work. As a teacher, writer and counsellor, his presence was
invaluable; we felt his power and willingness, and laid on him
'* burdens which no one else was found ready to bear."

We also notice in the same publication the death on the 20th
May, 1900, of Albert Francis Judd, LL.D., Chief Justice of the
Supreme Court of Hawaii, and lately a member of this Society.

Digitized by



A MEBTIMO of the Council was held in Wellington, on the 4th October, 1900.

The following new members were elected : —

314 A. Hoby, Wellington

315 Murdock Eraser, New Plymouth

316 Boben C. Hughes, New Plymouth

317 William Kerr, New Plymouth

318 W. L. Newman, New Plymouth

319 T. W. Fisher, New Plymouth

320 Mrs. JoUie, New Plymouth

321 Arthur H. Brown, Rarotonga

322 Edmund Newman, Cheltenham, England.

Mr. Tone gave notice to move at the Annual Meeting, '* That the headquarters
of the Polynesian Society be removed to New Plymouth."

The following books, pamphlets, <feo., were received :

1025 The Geographical Journal. May, 1900

1026 „ „ June, 1900

1027 „ „ July, 1900

1028 The Science of Man, June 21, 1900, and August 22, 1900

1029 Revue de vAcoU d'Anthropologie, Paris. 15th July, 1900

1030 Journal of Royal Colonial Imtitute. Vol. xxxi., part 8

1031 Na Mata, Fiji. September, 1900

1032 Proceedings of the Canadian Institute. February, 1900

1033 Queen's Quarterly, Canada. Vol. viii.. No. 1

1034 Trans. Literary and Historical Society of Quebec. Nos. 22 <j^ 23.

1035 Arekivioper VAnthropologia. Vol. xxix, Fasc. 3

1036 Laviede Joseph Francois PerrauU. 1898

1037 La Oiographie. Paris. No. 7, 15th July, 1900

1038 Annual Report Smithsonian Institution. 1899

Digitized by



A Meeting of the Oonncil was held in Wellington on 29th Ootober, 1900.

The reBignation of Messrs. W. J. Batler and W. S. Beid were accepted.

Mr. Henry Nicholas, of Barotonga, was elected a corresponding memher.

The Secretary was instructed to send no more Joubnals to members who were
two years in arrear, and to again remind all unpaid subscribers.

It was carried, *' That this Gouucil is of opinion that the Executive and
Headquarters should be removed to New Plymouth."

The following pamphlets, books, <fec., were received : —

1039 O le Sulu Samoa. September, 1900

1040 Geodesy. Variation of Latitude, Hawaiian Islands.

1041 Bulletin de la Socimde Oeographie, Paris. 16th August, 1900

1042 Boletin Aeademia de Ciencias de Barcelona. October, 1899

1043 Revue de VEcole d'Anthropologie de Paris. 16th August, 1900

1044 „ „ „ 16th September, 1900

1045 Notulen Bataviaasch Oenootschap, Deel 38. Af. 1

1046 Queensland GeograpMcalJournal. Vol. xv. 1899-1900

1047 Journal Asiatic Society of Bengal. Vol. Ixix. Part 1, No. 1

1048 Journal Anthropological Inst, of Great Britain. Vol. 29, Nos. ^ A i

1 049 Transactions Canadian Institute. December, 1899

1050 Na Mata, Fiji. October, 1900

1051 Tokyo Imperial University Calendar. 1899-1900


Attention of Members is requested to the consider-
ation of the following : —

At the next Annual Meeting the Council will
propose that —

'' The Head-Quarters of the Society be removed
to New Plymouth/'

Digitized by


Digitized by


Digitized by


Digitized by


Digitized by



Bt Elsdon Best, of Bua-tahuna, Tuhob-land.

[Being an attempt to record the Maori conception of the the spiritoal nature
of man, together with some account of varioas elemental principles pertaining to
haman life — as believed in by the old time Maori.]

Part I.

^^T has long been a source of surprise to me that some one
/g) I qualified to write on the above subject has not given to the
iT^ world a monograph on the spiritual beliefs of the Maori, that
is to say, the native idea of what constitutes life, what vital essences
man is endowed with, and what occurs at death, whether man perishes
entirely as the breath leaves the body, or whether some spirit or
essence then passes from the body to reappear and live on in another
world, or under other conditions.

It is the lack of any such monograph that has decided me to place
on record such notes as I have myself collected from natives as bearing
on this subject and thus endeavour to throw some light, however dim,
on this dark page of Maori life.

It is with great diffidence that I approach the subject, for two very
good reasons. In the first place, on no subject can a person be more
easily misled than that of the spiritual or religious beliefs of a people
living in that second culture stage termed by ethnologists, barbarism.
Secondly, I am by no means competent to undertake the task of
describing even the little that I do know. I can merely say that all
information contained in this article has been collected by myself from
the elder generation of natives now living, and has been carefully
checked by comparing statements made by different natives, and where
a difference of opinion occurs, it is so stated.


Digitized by



There appeared, in a recent number of the London Times, a review
of a work entitled ** The Making of Religion," by the well known
author, Mr. Lang. The review states : '* Mr. Lang is most successful
in his criticisms of modem philosophers who have approached the
study of savage life with preconceived ideas as to the religions of
savages and with a determination to find just what falls in with their

Also, ** This volume puts in j«xtaposition facts of savage life and
the records of the Psychical Society. The sorcery, magic and en-
chantments of the savage are compared with clairvoyance and telepathy.
Many of the phenomena of mesmerism and hypnotism are survivals of
savage life .... the object of this book is to show that savages
are not the besotted fools whom science a few years ago delighted in
representing, but that they have ideas as to the mysteries of life much
like those of civilised nations."

The first sentence of this extract points out the great danger to
anyone who attempts to collect at first hand the religious ideas of a
savage or barbarous people, a dauger which cannot be too carefully
guarded against. In the second, there is also much matter for thought
inasmuch as many singular phenomena of human life, which are yet
puzzling ourselves, were known to various ancient peoples, and more-
over the key to, and knowledge of, some wondrous phenomena are now
retained by barbarous or semi-civilised peoples alone. An example of
this is the strange power held by divers races from Asia far into Poly-
nesia, of being able to withstand fire, a power which was undoubtedly
possessed by the higher class of native priests among the Maori.

As to our native races being *' besotted fools, '* such a remark could
only come from a person but little removed himself from that intel-
lectual status, or quite ignorant of the life, knowledge and habits of
thought of such peoples. I have even heard it stated by presumably
intelligent people that the Maori has, and had, no knowledge or power
of abstract thought. This statement will, I trust, be disproved by the
following information taken down directly from the lips of native speak-
ers, such speakers moreover being the elderly men of the Tuhoe tribe,
the most conservative of Maoris and who have ever held themselves
aloof from the intruding pakeha (European).

In the higher culture stages there is but one spirit or essence per-
taining to man, viz, the soul, which at death leaves the body and fares
onward to another realm where it continues to exist for all time in a
state of calm beatitude, or otherwise, according to the deserts of the
individual on earth. But among races not so far advanced on the road
of mental progress we note that the heaven is of a more worldly nature,
the life therein being of a sensual type, and also that man may possess
two distinct spirits or essences. The heaven of the Mahometans is an

Digitized by



example of the first part of the foregoing sentence, and the latter is
represented by the ancient Egyptian belief that man possessed two
distinct spirits. The Ka, which equals the Maori wairua, was a sort
of double, a kind of shadowy self, which left the body and returned to
it as in dreams. The soul w£ks a still more subtle essence, which at
death went to the gods, was judged by Osiris, and rewarded for its
merits or punished for its sins.

The Ea of the ancient dwellers by the Nile thus closely resembled
the icalrua of the Maori but differed from it in the fact of nob leaving
the body at death but continued to abide therein for all time, save an
occasional jaunt outside, to take the air and partake of shadowy food,
but incapable of existing without a physical basis in the old body, or
some likeness of it. Even the soul occasionally came to visit its form-
er abode. Hence the custom of enbalming the bodies of the dead in
ancient Egypt.

In descending to a lower round of the ladder of progress, we observe
certain peoples who, although possessed of the power of abstraction
sufficiently to endow man with a spirit and possibly other subtle qual-
ities or essences, yet have not advanced to the conception of a heaven
wherein the spirit of man takes up its abode at death, there to dwell
for all time. On this plane of thought we find the Maori of NbW
Zealand and his brethren of the Many-Isled sea.

The evolution of the belief in a spirit or soul may be compared
with the growth of written language. We do not find that inferior
races are incapable of assigning a spirit or a spiritual life to man. On
the contrary they assign too much and often endow man with several
distinct essences, as the Maori, Burmese, &c. As a people advance in
mental and general culture they shake off these superfluous and ele-
mentary doctrines, until they arrive at the idea of the one spirit of man,
the soul. In like manner has the noble phonetic alphabet of to-day
advanced through many processes during untold centuries, from crude
pictographs by way of ideographs, cumbrous arbitrary symbols and
syllabaries, and many other graphic milestones of the past.

A culture stage forms or evolves its own grade of religion. An in-
ferior race cannot be lifted to a high plane of religious feeling or
morality merely by the adoption of the outer forms of a superior
religion. The majority of the so-called Christian Maori are almost as
deeply imbued with superstition at the present day as obtained in the
last century.

The Maori were not agnostics, inasmuch as they had a firm belief
in their atiut (deified ancestors, &c., &c.), and also in their cosmogony.
They had not risen to monotheism but were polytheists of a most pro-
nounced nature. Their so-called gods were as the sands of the sea-
shore in number. In the first place were the personifications of primal

Digitized by



ohaoB, then Bangi (the Heavens), the father, and Papa, the Earth
Mother. Then came their descendants, Tane, Tu, Bongo, Tangaroa
&G., thejpresiding genii or tutelary deities of forests and birds, of wars, of
peace and cultivation, and of the ocean, together with the heavenly
bodies and the personifications of water, fire, &c., &e. Again there
were vast numbers of deified ancestors, of war gods, both universal, as
comets &c., and tribal, as caco-demons, a malignant form of demon
which originated in still-bom children.

It is well to state here that the Maori really worshipped nothing.
His so-called gods were beings to be feared, not loved. Dour, man-
slaying demons, to cross whose will spelt death, swift and sure.
Compare Tiu, the war god of the ancient Teutons, to look on whom
was death.

The few beings of a higher or more peaceful nature, such as Bongo
and loio-whenua, were in a decidedly lower scale, and Bongo, who
made for peace, had but few invocations addressed to him, whereas
those pertaining to Tu and Maru, the supreme war gods of the ancient
Maori, were most numerous.

The Maori of old did not pray to his aiua as we understand the
term ** pray. '* His karakia (usually described as prayers) were but
incantations or, in some cases, invocations.

The term atua, commonly translated as " god, *' was most com-
prehensive. It included malevolent demons, fairies, deified ancestors,
natural phenomena, personification of pain or disease, &c.

Those subjects however would occupy too much space to explain
here and must be reserved for a future paper.

The Maori religion was essentially of an esoteric nature. The
strange powers held by the old time tohumja or priest, as hypnotism,
ventriloquism, the power of passing uninjured through fire, as also the
knowledge of the sacred genealogies i.e., the theogony of the most
ancient Polynesian race, their cosmogony, their anthropogeny, their
cryptic karakia^ their sacerdotal terms and expressions, unknown to the
common people, their strange beliefs and hallucinations, their systems
of ontology, psychology, psychomanoy, eschatology, oneirology,
physiolatry, their mystic rites, their system of sacred fires, so closely
resembling those of ancient India and the pre- Semitic peoples of
Gheldoea — all these and many other matters, profoundly sacred to the
Maori, were known but to a select few of the tribe, were jealously
guarded and taught but to a few carefully selected neophytes of each
generation, in a special house set apart for such sacred matters, during
which period the novitiates were under strict laws of tajni and were
not allowed to return to their homes or visit friends.

We will now proceed to speak of the psychological phenomena
noted while studying the Maori conception of the spiritual attributes

Digitized by



of man. In doing so we shall be drawn outside the radius applying
strictly to such beliefs, and be oompAlled to follow other paths of
abstract thought, as trodden by the ancient Maori in his crude en-
deavour to discover what life is, whence it comes and whither it may
go, to account for the origin of man and of life, of disease, pain, and
death. As also his efforts to endow man with an immortal element,
influenced as he was by the universal desire for immortality, that life
might continue in some similar form after the perishing of the earthly

To do this it will be here necessary to describe certain terms
employed by the Maori to denote divers elements oi the human body,
&c., as also others pertaining to other matters. These terms are given
below in the order in which we propose to describe, or explain them : —


Han, apa haa, and kumanga kai



Eehua and kikokiko







Aria and kohiwi


The wainia of the Maori is the spirit of man, the native concept
of such. The Maori had not evolved a belief in a human soul, or
spirit, or psyche, which is judged after death, as in the case of the
ancient Egyptians. The wairua is equivalent to the Ea of the
Egyptians, the shadowy self which leaves the body during dreams
and wanders afar off. With this exception, however, that the Ka
continued to abide in the body after death, whereas the vairua of the
Maori finally leaves the body at death, and descends to Hades, the
underworld, in Maori ^^ Te Fo " — Le, the realm of darkness or gloom
and the abode of Hine-nui-te-Po — the personification of death and
goddess of Hades.

The wairua may be termed the astral body, an intelligent spirit or
essence, a sentient spirit. It is the wairua that leaves the body during

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 19 21 22 23 24 25 26

Online LibraryPolynesian Society (N.Z.)The journal of the Polynesian Society → online text (page 19 of 26)