Art. V.—Contributions towards a better Knowledge of the Maori Race.
[Read before the Hawke Bay Philosophical Institute, 12th August, 1878.]
—“For I, too, agree with Solon, that ‘I would fain grow old learning many things.’”—Plato: Laches.
“Though this be madness, yet there is method in't.”—Hamlet.
On the Ideality of the Ancient New Zealander.
Part I.—Legends, Myths, and Fables.
§ 1. Introductory.
I Have long been desirous of adding what little I may have gleaned on this subject during an extended sojourn in New Zealand; and I feel still the more inclined to do so through (1) it being now evening time with me, and (2) through my having noticed the many crude theories which have been broached concerning the Whence of the Maori, not a few of which, by their several writers, have been laboriously propped and buttressed with all and every item, however insignificant, far-fetched, and vague, they could possibly impress and bring forward, but in which, in my estimation, they have notwithstanding signally failed, because they laboured to build up a pet fancy or hobby of their own rather than the truth; some even starting with assuming the very proposition which they had to prove.*
For my own part, I altogether disclaim all such; I have no pet theory; I only seek the truth; to do what little I may towards establishing it; firmly believing, as I have already written, †that in the years to come this, too, will be found out and known.
For this purpose, then, I shall bring before you on the present occasion a few, out of the many, curious old legends, myths, and fables of the Maori, preferring those which I have known for many years, which have to do with natural and tangible objects, and which have not been tampered with or added to by Europeans, or by Maoris who had imbibed new and foreign ideas.
[Footnote] * Plenty of this will be found in several volumes of the “Transactions N.Z. Inst.,” which, although often attempted to be dressed up in a new fashion, is not new. I append a suitable extract on this subject from an old book, as the work itself is scarce and little known:—
[Footnote] “In respect to the New Zealanders, some have imagined that they sprang from Assyria or Egypt. ‘The god Pan,’ says Mr. Kendall to Dr. Waugh, ‘is universally acknowledged. The overflowings of the Nile, and the fertility of the country in consequence, are evidently alluded to in their traditions; and I think the Argonautic expedition, Pan's crook, Pan's pipes, and Pan's office in making the earth fertile, are mentioned in their themes. Query—Are not the Malay and the whole of the South Sea Islanders Egyptians ?’ To which we reply—When will the spirit of conjecture rest ?”— Beauties, etc., of Nature, by C. Bucke; new ed., vol. ii., s. 79; London, 1837 (note).
[Footnote] †In Essay on The Maori Races; Trans., Vol. I., pp. 61, 62, 1st Ed.
Here, however, let me pause awhile to explain clearly, yet briefly, what I mean by the term Ideality: I mean that superior faculty—that conception of the natural and beautiful, the truthful and symmetrical, which has ever been found to pertain to the higher races, or varieties of men, and in particular to the more gifted among them. As Cousin says (On the Beautiful): —“The Ideal appears as an original conception of the mind. * * * Nature or experience gives me the occasion for conceiving the ideal, but the ideal is something entirely different from experience or nature, so that if we apply it to natural, or even to artificial figures, they cannot fill up the condition of the ideal conception, and we are obliged to imagine them exact.” Kant lays it down—” By ideal, I understand the idea, not in concreto but in individuo, as an individual thing, determinable or determined by the idea alone.”* On this subject, also, Emerson impressively writes:—“I hasten to state the principle which prescribes, through different means, its firm law to the useful and beautiful arts. The law is this: The universal soul is the alone creator of the useful and the beautiful; therefore, to make anything useful or beautiful, the individual must be submitted to the universal mind. * * * Beneath a necessity thus almighty, what is artificial in man's life seems insignificant. He seems to take his task so minutely from intimations of Nature, that his works become, as it were, hers, and he is no longer free. * * * There is but one Reason. The mind that made the world is not one mind, but the mind. Every man is an inlet to the same, and to all of the same. And every work of art is a more or less sure manifestation of the same. * * * We feel, in seeing a noble building, much as we do in hearing a perfect song, that it is spiritually organic; that is, had a necessity in nature for being; was one of the possible forms in the Divine mind, and is now only discovered and executed by the artist, not arbitrarily composed by him. * * * The highest praise we can attribute to any writer, painter, sculptor, builder, is, that he actually possessed the thought or feeling with which he has inspired us.”† That delightful writer on Art, J. Ruskin—whether considered as artist or art critic—always in love with the Beautiful, and possessing the wonderful power of telling it in such charming language, says:—“I call an idea great in proportion as it is received by a higher faculty of the mind, and as it more fully occupies, and in occupying, exercises and exalts, the faculty by which it is received. * * * He is the greatest artist who has embodied in the sum of his works the greatest number of the greatest ideas.” Then Ruskin contrasts the old Venetian worker in glass, with his profusion of design, his personality of purpose, and his love of his art, with the British
[Footnote] * Crit. Pure Reason.
[Footnote] † Essay on Art.
worker with his mechanical accuracy. “Everything the old Venetian worker made was a separate thing — a new individual creation;* but the British worker does things by the gross, and has no personal interest in any one article.”†
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To this, from the Moderns, I would also add two short extracts from the Ancients. According to Cicero, there is nothing of any kind so fair that there may not be a fairer conceived by the mind. He says :—“We can conceive of statues more perfect than those of Phidias. Nor did the artist, when he made the statue of Jupiter or Minerva, contemplate any one individual from which to take a likeness; but there was in his mind a form of beauty, gazing on which, he guided his hand and skill in imitation of it.” (Orator, c. 2, 3.) And Seneca takes the distinction between ἰιδοϚ and ἐιδοϚ thus :— “When a painter paints a likeness, the original is his ἰιδοϚ — the likeness is the ἐιδοϚ or image. The ἐιδοϚ is in the work— the ἰιδοϚ is out of the work and before the work.”—(Epist. 58.)
Possibly some one may say, or think: “Do you really believe that any thing of that kind, or power, ever appertained to the mind of a New Zealander ?” And my reply would be: “Yes, undoubtedly, and that in no small degree.” And here we must be careful in discerning and considering, in order to arrive at a right conclusion.
The fragment of brown floating seaweed, when properly examined and considered, shows the hand of the Great Artificer as surely as the superb and symmetrical flower of the garden, the admiration of all beholders. In viewing the colossal architecture of the ancient Egyptians, we must beware how we compare it with that of ancient Greece, especially with the airy and flowery Corinthian Order. So, when we contemplate the modern Greek, untaught and unskilled peasant it may be, sauntering among the marble ruins of the cities and capitals of his forefathers, and thoughtlessly breaking up some exquisite creation of the gifted sculptor of ancient days, and the question of doubt arises in our minds as to the possible oneness of that race, we must not forget how sadly, how greatly, they have degenerated. Just so, then, in my estimation, it has been with the nation of the New Zealanders. They, too, have degenerated—sadly, surely, and quickly—particularly within the last half a century:
“Tis Greece, but living Greece, no more.”
But do not mistake me, as if I meant to assert that they in their Ideality ever approached to that of the great Western nations which have been mentioned. Not so; but speaking comparatively, and in their degree,
[Footnote] * Much of this re the old Venetian workman is truly relatively applicable to the old New Zealand worker.
[Footnote] † Modern Painters.
and according to their own national conceptions, and to the circumstances in which they were placed by nature,—without a written language, or the use of metals, or beasts of burden, or any knowledge of, or communication with, the great world of mankind lying around them,—aye, more;—without teaching or instruction or communication of ideas (even among themselves!);—without the healthy incitement arising from competition with artists of other tribes, and of exhibition, and of praise from afar!—without even a probable certainty of his even completing what he had painfully devised and begun (all such being utterly precluded by their constant wars!); and without the slightest excitement of pay or reward, as things were never made for sale among them; and also with having a share (in common with the other members of his tribe) in the almost daily labours attendant on the cultivating and obtaining his food,—from which exertion no New Zealander in health, whatever might be his rank or intelligence, was ever exempt;—all these things being fairly weighed and considered,— this, this is the way in which they should be judged by us—
“They are—of the works of the Father,
And of the one Mind the Intelligible.
For Intellect is not without the Intelligible,
And the Intelligible does not subsist apart from Intellect.”—Zoroast.
The Maori of to-day is not worthy, in this respect, to carry the shoes of his forefathers. And he knows it; he feels it. Ichabod! or Fuit Ilium, may well be called upon them.
I, who have been, I may be allowed to say, long conversant with them, have no hesitation in stating, that the more I have seen and known of the works of the Ancient New Zealander, the more have I been struck with the many indications of their superior mind,—of their fine perception of the beautiful, the regular, and symmetrical; of their desire and labour after the beautiful; of their prompt and genuine, open and fearless criticisms.—in a word, of their great Ideality. And this high faculty of theirs which they possessed in an eminent degree, will probably be better known and understood hereafter than it is at present. It was their possession of that faculty, even in more modern times, which enabled them at a glance, and, as if by inspiration,* to detect inaccuracy or want of æsthetic conformity and exact precision in the skilled performances of their European visitors, and as quickly to declare it;—as in the martial exercises of the military (regulars), in the want of exact time in the rowing of boats by the most skilful seamen of H.M. navy;—and, in all their own works, to perceive instantaneously all such want of symmetry if present.
[Footnote] * I use this word here in the Socratic sense, as by him in Plato, Ion.
That faculty was exhibited in many ways, e.g.:—
In the building of their war-canoes with all their carving and many adornments; and that without plan, pattern, or tools. The exquisite regularity and symmetry of both sides of the vessel, including even that difficult one of carved concentric circles worked in filagree, were astonishing; and, as such, borne ample testimony to by all their first visitors.*
In the building of the highly ornamented houses of their chiefs.
In all their better carvings, with which every article of wood, of bone, of shell, or of stone, was profusely and boldly adorned—from the handle of a working-axe, or spade, to the baler for their canoes. Horace truly says—
“Pictoribus atque poetis
Quidlibet audendi semper fuit æqua potestas,”
to which, however, I would also add, sculptoribus; unless such may be considered as included in poetis; for Plantus affirms, “Poeta ad eam rem.”†
In their tattooing.
In their weaving, plain and ornamental, of many kinds and patterns (more than 200) of textile fabrics; and all simply done by hand!
In their chequered dogs‘-skin, and kiwi-feathered, and red parrots’-feathered, cloaks.
In their making and twisting of threads, cords, lines, and ropes; many varieties of each.
In their ornaments—of feathers,‡ of greenstone, and of sharks' teeth.
[Footnote] * Vide Cook, Forster, Parkinson, and others, passim; also, Nicholas' “New Zealand,” Vol. I., p. 48; II., p. 49.
[Footnote] † “One of the arts in which the New Zealanders excel is that of carving in wood. They often display both a taste and ingenuity, which, especially when we consider their miserably imperfect tools, it is impossible to behold without admiration. The N. Z. artist has no lathe to compete with, neither has he even those ordinary hand tools which every civilized country has always afforded. The only instruments he has to cut with are rudely fashioned of stone or bone. Yet even with these his skill and patient perseverance contrive to grave the wood into any forms which his fancy may suggest. Many of the carvings thus produced are distinguished by both a grace and richness of design that would do no discredit even to European art. Their war-canoes have their heads and sterns elaborately carved. On their musical instruments much time and labour is bestowed in the shaping, carving, and inlaying.”—The New Zealanders, pp. 129, 131.
[Footnote] ‡ Of their taste in feathers for decoration of the head, we have notable instances recorded. It is well known that the national taste in this respect was severely simple yet graceful.
[Footnote] “Simplex munditiis.”—Hor. “Plain in thy neatness.”—Milton.
[Footnote] The New Zealanders preferring the snowy-white plumes of three birds in particular—the white stork, the albatross, and the gannet, and the black feathers, tipped with white, of the Huia (Heteralocha gouldi);—nothing, gaudy or of strong glittering colours was approved of by them; otherwise they could easily have manufactured such feathers from several of their indigenous birds. All this we have in the voyages of their earliest visitors, and in the plates. But in the principal plate (or the one ostentatiously intended to be such—the frontispiece) to Hochstetter's work on New Zealand (English edition), we have a Maori Chief with three peacock's feathers stuck in his hair!! a proof of their degeneracy in taste; or, as I believe, of the baser (inferior) taste of the English artist, who had merely learnt by rule, and who had no conception of the superior faculty.
In their ornamented staffs of rank, carved and inlaid with mother-of-pearl, and decorated with quillets of flowing dog's hair, and red feathers.
In their symmetrical planting of their food, with faultless regularity, and all done “by the eye.”
In their language; hence its great grammatical precision, its double duals and double plurals, its euphony, its rhythm, and its brevity, and its many exquisite particles and reduplications, both singular and plural, all highly pregnant with meaning, which almost defy translation into English.
In many of their songs and recitations; some plaintive and mild and full of love, others bold and martial; all natural and sympathetic.
In their possessing diesic modulations, or quarter-tones, in their airs and music.*
In their proverbs and sayings, and quaint laconic effusions; often abounding with wit and beauty of expression and depth of meaning.
In their legends, myths, tales, and fables.
In the regular sequence of their peculiar mythology, and of the beginning and formation of all things; all natural orders of living things having each a separate creator or progenitor.
In their polite and courteous behaviour, and true, open and free hospitality, often exhibiting the true gentleman.†
In their knowledge of many of the operations of nature, including the periodic return of the moon and stars, and the seasons.
In the faultless precision of bodies of them moving together, as if it were but one man! as in their paddling and dancing and in several games.
Now in all these matters, and more might be adduced, they ever showed their innate national taste, in which they were vastly in advance of our own British forefathers when first visited by Cæsar; although the Britons had many natural advantages, of which the New Zealander had never dreamed.
To return from our earliest intercourse with the Maori, two or three peculiar and strange traits and circumstances highly characteristic of him have been known. I allude to those respecting his belief in, and fear of, animals of the Saurian or Lizard kind. Settlers and colonists of to-day can form no correct idea of how a bold and daring New Zealand warrior, who feared not to meet his fellow foe in a stern hand-to-hand deadly fight, would blanch and run away in horror from a little harmless lizard! yet
[Footnote] * See Appendix to this paper; one highly interesting to trained musicians.
[Footnote] † Vide Nicholas' “New Zealand,” Vol. I., pp. 24, 25.
this I have often seen. Why was this? was it that he really feared that little harmless animal ? or was it that that tiny creature was to him the form and representation of a great, fearful, mischievous, and mysterious power, the deadly foe of man, ever hated and dreaded by all New Zealanders, and called an Atua, or demon? of which it was said—aye, and firmly believed—that it often gnawed the internal part of diseased folks, and so surely caused their death; or was it through their belief in those cherished legends of the olden time, that had been strictly handed down through many generations from father to son, containing the history of some dreadful monsters of the Saurian order, and which the prowess of their ancestors, aided by the charms and spells of their priests (mark this), had enabled them to vanquish and to overcome? Animals of such a huge and monstrous size as would comparatively leave the Megatherium and Mammoth far behind in the place of kittens!
And here I cannot help calling your particular attention to a very curious feature, which will prominently appear in the relations I shall have to give you—viz., that while the utmost exactitude is preserved in those strange stories—of time, and place, and persons, and of a certain amount of strong natural reality, yet not a single vestige of any osteological remains of any animal of the Saurian kind has ever yet been discovered! While, on the other hand, the fossil remains of many large and extinct Struthious birds of several genera and species, and commonly known in the lump by the name of Moa, are to be met with in great abundance; and yet, of these realities, there are neither credible history, nor curious legendary tale, nor myth nor fable, that I have ever been able to lay hold of.
Captain Cook heard something of those large Saurians on his third voyage while at anchor in the Straits which bear his name; which, being but brief, I will give in his own words :— “We had another piece of intelligence from this chief, that there are lizards there of an enormous size. He described them as being eight feet in length, and as big round as a man's body. He said they sometimes seize and devour men; that they burrow in the ground; and that they are killed by making fires at the mouth of the holes. We could not be mistaken as to the animal, for, with his own hand, he drew a very good representation of a lizard on a piece of paper, in order to show what he meant.” And this statement was further confirmed by Mr. Anderson, the surgeon to the ship, as appears from a note appended to that voyage, viz. :—“In a separate memorandum book, Mr. Anderson mentions the monstrous animal of the lizard kind, described by the two young New Zealanders they had on board, after they had left the island.”*
[Footnote] * 3rd Voyage, Vol. I., pp. 142, 153.
Mr. Nicholas, who accompanied Mr. Marsden on his first visit to New Zealand in 1814, says:—“While in the forests at the Bay of Islands, observing a hole at the foot of one of the trees, which evidently appeared to have been burrowed by some quadruped, we inquired of Kena what animal he supposed it was; and from his description of it, we had reason to believe that it must be the Guana. Wishing to know how far our surmise was correct, we desired our friend to thrust a stick into the hole, and endeavour to worry the animal out of it; but this he tried with no effect, for either it was not in the hole at the time, or, if there, not to be dislodged by such means. Kena, however, was rather well pleased than otherwise at not meeting with this animal; for his dread of it was so great, that he shrunk back with terror at the time he thought it would come out, nor did he examine the hole but with very great reluctance. This we thought very strange, for the Guana (the animal we took it for) is perfectly harmless. * * * The chief, Ruatara, however, informed us that a most destructive animal was found in the interior of the country, which made great havoc among the children, carrying them off and devouring them, whenever they came its way. The description he gave of it corresponded exactly with that of the alligator. * * * The chief had never seen the animal himself, but received his accounts from others; and hence it appears to me very probable that his credulity might have been imposed upon.”*
Captain Cruise, of the 84th Regiment, who came to New Zealand in H.M.S. ‘Dromedary’ five years after Mr. Nicholas, and who resided in this country ten months, gives in a few words an interesting notice of the abject fear exhibited by the Maori at the mere sight of a small lizard! which, as it is (or was) so truthful—as I have too often myself witnessed— I also quote :—“A man who has arrived at a certain stage of an incurable illness, is under the influence of the Atua, who has taken possession of him, and who, in the shape of a lizard, is devouring his intestines; after which no human assistance or comfort can be given to the sufferer, and he is carried out of the village and left to die. * * * This curious hypothesis was accidentally discovered by one of the gentlemen, who, having found a lizard, carried it to a native woman to ask the name of it. She shrunk from him in a state of terror that exceeded description, and conjured him not to approach her, as it was in the shape of the animal he held in his hand that the Atua was wont to take possession of the dying, and to devour their bowels.”†
In various parts of this island, but all to the north of Napier, I have had shown me when travelling (1834–1844), many spots where it was said monsters of the Saurian Order had formerly dwelt.
[Footnote] * Narrative, Vol. II., pp. 124, 126.
[Footnote] † Journal, pp. 283, 320.
Thirty-five years ago, when journeying along the East Coast, between Cape Kidnappers and Castle Point, on reaching the top of the high hill or range situated between Waimarama and Te Apiti, named Marokotia, my attention was called to a remarkable rift or chasm at the head of the glen just below me, on the east or sea side of the old Maori track or pathway. This, I was told by the old chiefs of the coast who were with me, was in ancient times the dwelling of a monster Saurian, named Hinehuarau; that it burst away from this place, tearing and rending all before it, and so went on south until it reached Wairarapa, where it was subsequently killed by a chief of note of ancient days, named Tara, whose name he gave to the lake near Te Aute, “Te Roto-a-tara.”
Some time after I was again in the Wairarapa Valley, and hearing so much of the “bones,” or, as some said, “the head,” of this monster being yet to be seen in the place where it was slain, away among the hills, I purposely walked thither from a village called Hurunuiorangi to see them. It was rather a long and rough walk to the place among the hills on the other side of the Ruamahanga river. Arriving there, I found the said “bones” to be a heap or knob of yellowish, friable, glittering, quartz-like stone (calcite), which cropped out from the hill-side and lay in large lumps. I remember well how angry one old Maori became, who was of the party with me, on my asserting that the pile before us was not bone at all but stone. Very likely those natives had never seen any other stone like it (up to that time I had not). It bore, at first sight, a resemblance to the yellow decaying bones of a whale. I think the spot was called Tupurupuru, and that it is not very far from the head waters of the river Taueru.
Such places, however—caves, rifts, chasms, and strange-looking stones —are by no means unfrequently met with in travelling in New Zealand, especially when journeying (as I was obliged to do) along the old foot-paths, which mostly led over ridges of hills; and there are plenty of such stories concerning them, each spot having its own peculiar myth or legend, which was once most certainly believed.
I have also more than once seen another curious spot in this neighbourhood (Hawke Bay), which deserves recording, the more so, perhaps, from the fact of its being no longer to be seen as I saw it. It was on the low undulating grassy banks of the river Waitio. There, at that time, was a huge earthwork representation of a ngarara, or ika, i.e., a lizard, or crocodile, which, several generations back, had been cut and dug and formed in the ground by a chief of that time named Rangitauira, who, in doing so, had also dexterously availed himself of the natural formation of the low alluvial undulations in the earth. It had the rude appearance of a huge Saurian extended, with its four legs and claws and tail, but crooked,
not straight, as if to represent it wriggling or living, and not dead. It was many yards in length, and of corresponding width and thickness, and by no means badly executed. On two occasions, in particular, in travelling that way, as we generally rested there on the banks of the stream, the old Maori chiefs with me would diligently use their tomahawks and wooden spades in clearing away the coarse grass and low bushes growing on it in its more salient parts, so as to keep its outline tolerably clear, reminding me of what has been said of the periodical scouring in the Vale of the White Horse. The natural vegetation of the place was well suited for the purpose of preserving it, being mostly composed of our (Hawke Bay) common carpet or mat grass (Microlana stipoides) and a low-growing Muhlenbeckia (M. axillaris)*, but in those days no foot of man trod on it, and of beasts there were none!
This curious earth-work was called Te Ika-a-Rangitauira, that is, that that Saurian outline was made or formed by a chief whose name was Rangitatuira. He was an ancestor of the chief Karaitiana (M.H.R.), and of several other chiefs and sub-tribes now living here in Hawke Bay; he lived nineteen generations back; one of his residences was a large pa called Te Mingi, on the Tutaekuri river. He formed this design, or earth-work (which originally consisted of three Saurian outlines) in remembrance of his having returned from that spot with his fighting party. They had left their own pa to attack another on the east side of the Tukituki river, but being here overtaken by daylight abandoned their design. First, however, forming and leaving there those three monsters, to indicate to the people of the pa they had set out to attack, how they had intended to serve (i.e. devour) them. This chief subsequently met with his death in returning from the Patea country in the interior, through being overtaken by a violent snow-storm, and taking refuge in a cave called Te Reporoa (on the lower passes of the Ruahine mountain range) where he and those with him miserably perished in the snow! His younger brother, who persevered and kept on his journey, escaped. Consequently for many years this chief's huge earthwork was attended to and kept clear of coarse weeds by his descendants in commemoration of him.
I now proceed to give you some of those old legendary tales, for which I have been preparing the way, premising that these are all fair translations from the original Maori as I received them, and without any addition. Like most translations, however, they lose much of their striking original character and beauty in attempting to clothe them in a foreign dress.
[Footnote] * It was here that I discovered that pretty little and very scarce plant, Stackhousia minima
The Story of the Destruction of Monsters.
1. The Slaying of Hotupuku.
Here is the tale of the valiant deeds of certain men of old, the ancestors of the chiefs of Rotorua. Their names were Purahokura, Reretai, Rongohaua, Rongohape, and Pitaka; they were all the children of one father, whose name was Tamaihutoroa. As they grew up to manhood they heard of several persons who had been killed in journeying over the roads leading by Tauhunui and Tuporo, and Tikitapu,—all places of that district.
People of Rotorua who had travelled to Taupo, or who went into the hill country to meet their relations, were never again heard of; while the folks of the villages who were expecting them were thinking all manner of things about their long absence, concluding that they were still at their respective places of abode; but, as it afterwards turned out, they were all dead in the wilderness!
At last a party left Taupo on a visit to Rotorua, to travel thither by those same roads where those former travelling parties had been consumed. Their friends at Taupo thought that they had, arrived at Rotorua, and were prolonging their stay there; but no, they, too, were all dead, lying in heaps in that very place in the wilderness!
Afterwards another travelling party started from Rotorua to Taupo; this party went by the lakes Tarawera and Rotomahana, and they all arrived safe at Taupo. On their arrival there many questions were asked on both sides respecting the people of Taupo who had gone to Rotorua, but nothing whatever could be learned of them. On hearing this the people of Taupo earnestly enquired of the newly-arrived party from Rotorua, by what road they came? They replied, “We came by the open plain of Kaingaroa, by the road to Tauhunui.” Then it was that the people of Taupo and the party from Rotorua put their heads together, and talked, and deeply considered, and said, “Surely those missing travellers must have fallen in with a marauding party of the enemy, for we all well know they have no kinsfolk in those parts.” Upon this the Taupo people determined on revenge, and so they proceeded to get together an army for that purpose, visiting the several villages of Taupo to arouse the people. All being ready, they commenced their march. They travelled all day, and slept at night by the road-side; and the next morning, at daylight, they crossed the river Waikato. Then they travelled on over the open plain of Kaingaroa until they came to a place called Kapenga, where dwelt a noxious monster, whose name was Hotupuku. When that monster smelt the odour of men, which had been wafted towards him from the army by the wind, it came out of its cave. At this time the band of men were travelling onwards in the
direction of that cave, but were unseen by that monster; while that monster was also coming on towards them unseen by the party. Suddenly, however, the men looked up, and, lo! the monster was close upon them; on which, they immediately retreated in confusion. In appearance, it was like a moving hill of earth! Then the fear-awakening cry was heard, “Who is straggling behind? Look out, there! A monster, a monster, is coming upon you!” Then the whole army fled in all directions in dire dismay and confusion at seeing the dreadful spines and spear-like crest of the creature, all moving and brandishing in anger, resembling the gathering together of the spines, and spears, and spiny crests, and ridges of the dreadful marine monsters of the ocean. In the utter rout of the army, they fell foul of each other through fear, but, owing to their number, some escaped alive, though some were wounded and died. Then, alas! it was surely known that it was this evil monster which had completely destroyed all the people who had formerly travelled by this way.
The news of this was soon carried to all parts of the Rotorua district, and the brave warriors of the several tribes heard of it. They soon assembled together, 170 all told, took up their arms, and marched even until they came to Kapenga in the plain, and there they pitched their camp. Immediately they set to work, some to pull the leaves of the cabbage-tree (Cordyline australis), others to twist them into ropes; then it was that all the various arts of rope-making were seen and developed!—the round rope, the flat rope, the double-twisted rope, the three-strand rope, and the four-sided rope*; at last the rope-making was ended.
Then the several chiefs arose to make orations and speeches, encouraging each other to be brave, to go carefully to work, to be on the alert, and to be circumspect, and so to perform all the duties of the warrior. All this they did according to the old and established custom when going to fight the enemy.
One in particular of those chiefs said—Listen to me, let us go gently to work; let us not go too near to the monster, but stay at a distance from it, and when we perceive the wind blowing towards us over it, then we will get up closer, for if the wind should blow from us to the monster, and it smells us, it will suddenly rush out of its cave, and our work and schemes will be all upset.” To this advice the chiefs all assented, and then the men were all properly arranged for each and every side of the big rope snare they had contrived and made, so that they might all be ready to pull and haul away on the ropes when the proper time should come.
[Footnote] * This was still the custom in late years; their strongest common ropes were made from the leaves of the cabbage-tree, after steeping them in water, and a strong and very peculiar kind of 4-sided rope was made by them of it. I have had such made for me, but I almost fear the art is lost. Flax (or Phormium) leaves would not be suitable.
Then they told off a certain number to go to the entrance of the cave where the monster dwelt, while others were well armed with hard-wood digging spades* and clubs, with long spears, and rib-bones of whales, and with short wooden cleavers or halberts. Last of all, they carefully placed and laid their ropes and nooses, so that the monster should be completely taken and snared in them; and then, when all was ready, the men who had been appointed to go up to the mouth of the cave to entice and provoke the creature to come forth, went forwards; but, lo! before they had got near to the cave, the monster had already smelt the odour of men.
Then it arose within its cave. And the men who had gone forth to provoke it heard the rumbling of its awful tread within the cave, resembling the grating noise of thunder. Notwithstanding, they courageously enticed it forwards by exposing themselves to danger and running towards it, that it might come well away from its cave; and when the monster saw the food for its maw by which it lived, it came forth from its den ramping with joy.
Now this monster had come fearlessly on with open mouth, and with its tongue darting forth after those men; but in the meanwhile they had themselves entered into the snares of ropes, and had passed on and through them, and were now got beyond the set snares—the ropes, and nooses, and snares, all lying in their proper positions on the level ground.
At this time those men were all standing-around below when the huge head of the beast appeared on the top of the little hill, and the other men were also ascending that hill and closing in gradually all around; the monster lowered his head awhile and then came on, and then the men, the little party of provokers, moved further away on to the top of another hillock, and the monster following them entered the snares! At this the men on that little hill stood still, then the monster moved on further and further towards them, climbing up that ascent also, so that when its head appeared on the top of that second hillock its fore legs were also within the set loops of the big snare.
Then it was that the simultaneous cry arose from the party who were standing on the top of the little hill watching intently, “Good! capital! it has entered! it is enclosed! pull! haul away!” And that other party, who were all holding on to the several ropes, anxiously waiting for the word of command, hearing this, pulled away heartily. And, lo! it came to pass exactly as they all had planned and wished for—the monster was caught fast in the very middle of its belly.
[Footnote] * This implement (called a ko) might be just as well termed a lance, or pick; it was narrow, pointed, and 6-7 feet long, and used for digging fern-root, &c., and sometimes, as here, as an offensive weapon.
Now it began to lash about furiously with its tail, feeling more and more the pain arising from the severe constriction of its stomach by the ropes.
Then the bearers of arms leaped forth. A wonderful sight! The monster's tail was vigorously assaulted by them; they stabbed it over and over with their hardwood digging picks and their long spears, and pounded it with their clubs, so that even its head felt the great amount of pain inflicted on its tail, together with that arising from the severe constriction of the ropes on its softer parts. Now the monster began to rear and to knock about dreadfully with its head; on seeing this, the enticing band of provokers, who had still kept their position in front, again began to entice it to make straight forward after them, by going up close to it and then running away from it, when, on its attempting to stretch out after them, they suddenly faced about in a twinkling, and began to play away upon the monster's head with very good effect. Oh! it was truly wonderful to behold!
By this time, too, the party of rope-pullers had succeeded in making fast all their ropes to the several posts they had fixed in the earth all round about for that purpose; this done, they also seized their weapons and rushed forward to assist their comrades in beating the monster's head—this being now the part of it which reared and knocked about the most violently. Now, the assault on its head was carried on alternately by those men, combined with the others who began it, and who for that purpose divided themselves into two parties, when one party rushed forward and delivered their blows, and the hideous head was turned towards them, and they fell back a bit, the other band came on on the other side and delivered their battery, either party always beating in the same place. After a while the monster became less vigorous, although it still raged, for its whole body was fast becoming one vast mass of bruises through the incessant and hearty beating it was receiving.
Still the fight was prolonged; prodigies of strength and valour, ability, and nimbleness were shown that day by that valiant band of 170, whose repeated blows were rained upon the monster. At last the monster yielded quietly, and there it lay extended at full length on the ground, stretched out like an immense white larva* of the rotten white pine wood, quite dead.
By this time it was quite dark; indeed, night. So they left it until the morning. When the sun appeared they all arose to cut up this big fish.† There it lay, dead! Looking at it as it lay extended, it resembled a very
[Footnote] * The word is huhu. I suppose this large grub has been selected for a comparison owing to its dying helplessly extended, and its plump, fat appearance.
[Footnote] † I have translated this word (ika), wherever it occurs in the story, by “fish,” this being one of its principal meanings; but it would carry a very different one to a New Zealander. Here it would be just synonymous with whale, or large marine animal.
large whale,* but its general form or appearance was that of the great lizard, † with rigid spiny crest, while the head, the legs, feet, and claws, the tail, the scales, the skin, and the general spiny ridges, all these resembled those of the more common lizards (tuatara). Its size was that of the sperm whale (paraoa).
Then this man-devouring monster was closely looked at and examined for the first time—the wretch, the monster, that had destroyed so many persons, so many bands of armed men and travelling parties! Long, indeed, was the gazing; great was the astonishment expressed. At last, one of the many chiefs said, “Let us throw off our clothing, and all hands turn to cut up this fish, that we may also see its stomach, which has swallowed so many of the children of men.‡
Then they began to cut it open, using obsidian and pitch-stone knives, and saws for cutting up flesh made of sharks' teeth, and the shells of sea and of fresh-water mussels (Unio). On the outside, beneath its skin, were enormous layers of belly fat (suet), thick and in many folds. Cutting still deeper into its great stomach or maw, there was an amazing sight. Lying in heaps were the whole bodies of men, of women, and of children! Some other bodies were severed in the middle, while some had their heads off, and some their arms, and some their legs; no doubt occasioned through the working of the monster's jaws and the forcible muscular action of its enormous throat in swallowing, when the strong blasts of its breath were emitted from its capacious and cavernous belly.
And with them were also swallowed all that appertained to them—their greenstone war-clubs, their short-knobbed clubs of hardwood, their weapons of whales' ribs both long and short, their travelling staves of rank, their halbert-shaped weapons, their staffs and spears—there they all were withiin the bowels of the monster, as if the place was a regular stored armoury of war. Here, also, were found their various ornaments of greenstone for both neck and ears, and sharks' teeth, too, in abundance (mako). Besides all those there were a great variety of garments found in its maw: fine bordered flax-mats; thick impervious war-mats, some with ornamented borders; chiefs' woven garments made of dogs' tails, of albatross feathers, of kiwi feathers, of red (parrot) feathers, and of seals' skin, and of white dogs' skin; also, white, black, and chequered mats made of woven flax, and garments of undressed flax (Phormium), and the long-leaved kahakaha (Astelia, species), and of many other kinds.
[Footnote] * Nui tohora.
[Footnote] † Tuatete, the angry, frightful lizard, now extinct.
[Footnote] ‡ Uri-o-Tiki: literally, descendants of Tiki; Tiki being, in their mythology, the creator or progenitor of man.
All the dead bodies, and parts of bodies, the conquerors scooped out and threw into a heap, and buried in a pit which they dug there. And that work over they proceeded to cut up the fish into pieces; and when they had examined its fat and suet, they expressed its oil by clarifying it with heat, which was eaten by the tribe; and so they devoured and consumed in their own stomachs their implacable foe. This done, they all returned to Rotorua and dwelt there.
2. The Killing of Pekehaua.
After the destruction of the monster Hotupuku, the fame of that exploit was heard by all the many tribes of the district of Rotorua. Then a messenger was sent to those heroes by Hororita, or by some other chief, to inform them that another man-eating monster dwelt at a place called Te Awahou, and that the existence of this monster was known, just as in the former case of the one that dwelt in the plain at Kaingaroa. The travelling companies of the districts of Waikato and of Patetere were never heard of; and so the travelling companies of the Rotorua district, which left for Waikato, were also somehow lost, being never again heard of. When the people of Rotorua heard this news, those same 170 heroes arose, from out of many warriors, and set forth for Te Awahou. Arriving there, they sought for information, and gained all they could. Then they asked, “Where does this monster dwell?” The people of the place replied, “It dwells in the water, or it dwells on the dry land, who should certainly know; according to our supposition, no doubt it is much like that one which was killed.”
Hearing this, they went to the woods, and brought thence a large quantity of supplejacks (Rhipogonum scandens), with which to make watertraps of basket-work. Those they interlaced, and bound firmly together with a strong trailing plant (Muhlenbeckia complexa), so that when they were finished the traps consisted of two or even three layers of canes or supple-jacks. Then they twisted ropes wherewith to set and fix the water-traps, in order to snare the monster, and these were all done. Then they made similar plans and arrangements for themselves, as on the former occasion when the first one was killed. All being ready, the band of heroes set out, reciting their forms of spell, or charms, as they went along; those were of various kinds and potencies, but all having one tendency, to enable them to overcome the monster. Onwards they went, and after travelling some distance, they neared the place, or water-hole, where it was said the monster lived; the name of that deep pool is Te Warouri (i.e., the Black Chasm). They travelled on until they gained the high edge of the river's side, where they again recited their charms and spells, which done, the 170 proceeded to encamp on that very spot.
Then they diligently sought out among themselves a fearless and courageous man, when a chief named Pikata presented himself and was selected. He seized the water-trap, which was decorated on the top and sides and below with bunches of pigeons' feathers; the ropes, also, were all fastened around the trap, to which stones were also made fast all round it, to make it heavy and to act as an anchor and to keep it steady; and, having seized it, he plunged into the water with his companions, when they boldly dived down into the spring which gushed up with a roaring noise from beneath the earth. While these were diving below the others above were diligently employed in performing their several works, viz., of reciting powerful charms and spells,* of which they uttered all they knew of various kinds and powers, for the purpose of overcoming the monster.
Now it came to pass that, when the spines and spear-like crest of the monster had become soft and flaccid, through the power of those spells and charms, for they had been all erect and alive in full expectation of a rare cannibal feast, Pitaka and his chosen companions descended to the very bottom of the chasm; there they found the monster dwelling in its own nice home; then the brave Pitaka went forwards, quite up to it, coaxing and enticing, and bound the rope firmly around the monster; which having done, lo! in a twinkling, he (Pitaka) had clean escaped behind it! Then his companions pulled the rope, and those at the top knew the sign, and hauled away, and drew up to the top their companions, together with the monster, so that they all came up at one time. Nevertheless, those above had also recited all manner of charms for the purposes of raising, lifting, and upbearing of heavy weights, otherwise they could not have hauled them all up, owing to their very great weight.
For a while, however, they were all below; then they came upwards by degrees, and at last they floated all together on the surface. Ere long they had dragged the monster on shore on to the dry land, where it lay extended; then they hastened to hit and beat with their clubs the jaws of this immense fish. Now this monster had the nearer resemblance to a fish, because it had its habitation in the water.
[Footnote] * Upwards of ten kinds of spells are here, and in other parts of these stories, particularly mentioned by name; but as we have nothing synonymous in English, their names cannot be well translated, and it would take as many pages of MS. to explain them. Among them were spells causing weariness to the foe, spells for the spearing of taniwhas (monsters), spells for the warding off attack, and for the protection of the men from the enemy; spells for causing bravery, for returning like-for-like in attack, for uplifting feet from ground, for making powerless, etc., etc., all more or less curious, but mostly very simple in terms. Of spells and charms, exorcisms and incantations—for good or for ill-luck, for blessing and cursing—the ancient New Zealander possessed hundreds, ingeniously contrived for almost every purpose; few, however, if any, of them could be termed prayers. Such form a bulky history of themselves.
So then went forth the loud pealing call to all the towns and villages of the Rotorua district. And the tribes assembled on the spot to look at and examine their implacable foe. There it lay dragged on to the dry land on the river's side, in appearance very much like a big, common whale. Yet it was not exactly like a full-grown old whale; it was more, in bulk, as the calf of a big whale as it there lay.
They then commenced cutting-up that fish as food for themselves; on laying its huge belly wide open there, everything was seen at one glance, all in confusion, as if it were the centre of a dense forest.* For, going downwards into its vast stomach, there lay the dead, just as if it were an old bone-cave with piles of skeletons and bones—bones of those it had swallowed in former days. Yes, swallowed down with all their garments about them, women and children and men! There was to be seen the enormous heap of clothing of all kinds; chiefs' mats of dogs' tails and of dogs' skins—white, black, and chequered—with the beautiful woven flax-mats adorned with ornamental borders, and garments of all kinds. There were also arms and implements of all kinds † clubs, spears, staves, thin hardwood chopping knives, white whalebone clubs, carved staffs of rank, and many others, including even darts and barbed spears, which the monster had carried off with its food. There these arms and implements all were, as if the place were a store-house of weapons or an armoury!
Then they proceeded to roast and to broil, and to set aside of its flesh and fat in large preserving calabashes, for food and for oil; and so they devoured their deadly enemy all within their own stomachs; but all the dead they buried in a pit.
Then every one of those valiant warriors returned to their own homes. The name of that village, where they were for a while encamped, was Mangungu (i.e., broken bones).
So much for thy victorious work! O thou all-devouring throat of man, that thou shouldest even seek to eat and to hunt after the flesh of monsters as food for thee!
3. The Killing of Kataore.
When the fame of those victors who had killed the monster Pekehaua reached the various towns and villages of Tarawera, of Rotokakahi, and of Okataina, the people there were filled with wonder at the bravery of those men who had essayed to destroy that terrible and malicious man-devourer.
Then they began to think, very likely there is also a monster in the road to Tikitapu, because the travelling companies going by that place to Rotorua
[Footnote] * The words are: “Koteriu o Tane-Mahuta;” lit., the hollow stomach, or centre of Tane-Mahuta—i.e., the god of forests; Tane-Mahuta being the god of forests.
[Footnote] †; Ten kinds are here enumerated, all of hardwood and hard white whale's-bone.
are never once heard of; their relations are continually enquiring, “Have they arrived at the place to which they went?” but there is no response; therefore they are dead. Hence it follows that the sad thought arises within, were they killed by some monster? or, by some travelling man like themselves? or, by some armed marauding party of the enemy?
But the chief of Tikitapu and of Okareka, whose name was Tangaroamihi, knew very well all along that there was a monstrous beast at Tikitapu, although he did not know that the beast there residing ate up men; the chief always believed that it dwelt quietly, for it assumed the very air of peace and quietness whenever the chief and his men went to the spot where it dwelt to give it food; and that beast also knew very well all its feeders, and all those who used it tenderly and kindly. Nevertheless, when they had returned from feeding it to their village, and any other persons appeared there going by that way, then that monster came down and pursued those persons and devoured them as food.
Now the manner of acting of this ugly beast was very much like that of a (bad) dog which has to be tied to a stick (or clog). For its knowledge of its own masters was great; whenever its master, Tangaroamihi, went there to see it, its demeanour was wholly quiet and tractable, but when people belonging to another and strange tribe went along by that road, then it arose to bark and growl at them; so that, what with the loud and fearful noise of its mouth, and the sharp rattlings of its rings and leg-circlets, great fear came upon them, and then he fell on them and ate them up.
Now when the multitude everywhere heard of the great valour of those men, the tribes all greatly extolled them, and wondered exceedingly at the prodigious powers of those four chiefs.
Then it was that the chiefs of Rotokakahi, of Tarawera, of Okataina, and of Rotorua began to understand the matter, and to say, “Oh! there is perhaps a monster also dwelling in the road to Tikitapu, because the traveling parties going from those parts to Rotorua, as well as those coming from Rotorua to these five lakes, are never heard of.” For when the travellers went to Rotorua by the road of Okareka they safely arrived thither; and so when they returned by that same way of Okareka they reached their homes in safety;—but if the travellers went from Tarawera to Rotorua by the road of Tikitapu, they never reached Rotorua at all; somehow they always got lost by that road.
And so again it was with the people from Rotokakahi, travelling thence to Rotorua; if they went by the road leading by Pareuru, they safely arrived at Rotorua, and also in returning from Rotorua; if they came back by that same road, they reached their villages at Rotokakahi in safety; somehow, there was something or other in that road by Tikitapu which
caused men's hearts to dislike greatly that way, because those who travelled by it were lost and never heard of.
Therefore, the hearts of those who remained alive began to stir within them, so that some even went as far as to say—“Perhaps that chief Tangaroamihi has killed and destroyed both the travelling parties and the armed parties who travelled by the way of Tikitapu.” But that chief Tangaroamihi had shown his hospitality and expressed his kindly feeling to the enquirers who went to his town to seek after those who were missing.
Now, however, when the suffering people heard of the exceeding great valour of those four chiefs in their slaying of monsters, then they considered how best to fetch them to come and to have a look at Tikitapu.
So their messenger was sent to those brave heroes, and when they heard from him the message, they all bestirred themselves, that same 170, for they were greatly delighted to hear of more work for them in the line of slaying monsters. So they immediately commenced preparations for their journey to Tikitapu, some in pounding fernroot, some in digging-up convolvulus roots, some in taking whitebait (Galaxias attenuatus), and some in dredging freshwater mussels, all to be used as food on their journey to Taiapu, to the mount at Moerangi, for Moerangi was the place where that noxious beast called Kataore dwelt.
In the morning, at break of day, they arose and started, taking their first meal far away on the great plain, at a nice kind of stopping-place. When they had scarcely finished their meal they commenced conversation with the usual talk of warriors on an expedition; for at this time they did not exactly know whether it was really by a monster, or by the people who dwelt thereabouts, that all those who had travelled by that road, whether armed parties or whether singly, had been destroyed.
When this armed party took their journey, they also brought away with them the necessary ropes and such things, which had been previously made and got ready. They knew that such (as they had heard) was the evil state of all the roads and ways of that place, therefore they sat awhile and considered, knowing very well the work they had in hand.
However, when the eating and talking were ended, they again arose and recommenced their march. They entered the forest and traversed it, quitting it on the other side. Then the priests went before the party to scatter abroad their spells and charms, that is to say, their Maori recitations. But they acted just the same on this as on former occasions already related.
They recited all the charms and spells they had used against both Hotopuku* and Pekehaua, going on and reciting as they went; at last
[Footnote] * Though not once mentioned or alluded to in that story.
they made up their minds to halt, so they sat down. Then it was that the people in the villages, under the chief Tangaroamihi, gazed watchfully upon that armed party there encamped, thinking it was a party of their enemies coming to fight and to kill; but in this they were deceived, it being altogether a different party.
A long time the party remained there, watching and waiting, but nothing came. At last one of the chiefs got up and said—“Where-abouts does this noxious beast that destroys men dwell?” Then another of those chiefs replied—“Who knows where, in the water, or in the stony cliff that overhangs yonder?” On this they set to work, and closely examined that lake; but alas! the monster was not to be found there; nevertheless, the appearance of that water was of a forbidding fearful character, that is to say, the fear was caused by the peculiar glitter of the water, as if strangely and darkly shaded, having the appearance of the water whence the greenstone is obtained. But notwithstanding all that, they could not detect any kind of chasm or deep dark hole in all that lake, like the hole in which Pekehaua was found.
Then certain of the chiefs said to the priests, “Begin, go to work; select some of your potent charms and spells.” So those were chosen and used; the priests recited their charms, causing stinging like nettles, and their charms of stitching together, so that the bubbles might speedily arise to the surface of the lake, if so be that the monster they sought was there in the water. At this time one of the priests arose, upon the word spoken forth by one of the chiefs of the party, and said, “It is all to no purpose; not a single burst, or rising, or bubble has arisen in the water of Tikitapu.”
Then they turned their attention upwards to the stony cliff which stood before them; when, before they had quite finished their spell, causing nettlestinging, and were reciting their lifting and raising charms, a voice was heard roaring downwards from the overhanging precipice at Moerangi, as if it were the creaking of trees in the forest when violently agitated by the gale; then they knew and said, “Alas! the monster's home is in the cave in the stony cliff.”
Upon this the whole body of 170 arose and stood ready for action; for glad they also were that they had found food for their inner man. In their uprising, however, they were not forgetful, for they immediately commenced reciting their powerful charms and spells; all were used, of each and every kind—none were left unsaid; the several priests made use of all,* that being their peculiar work.
They now set to work, and soon they got near to the entrance of the
[Footnote] * Seven or eight kinds of charms and spells are here also particularized, and then the remainder given in a lump.
cave in the rock where this noxious cannibal beast dwelt. At last they got up to the cave, where the whole band quietly arranged themselves, and took a long time to consider how to act. At length the valiant, fearless men arose—men who had already bound monsters fast—and, seizing the ropes, went forward into the cave. There they saw that noxious beast sitting, and staring full at them; but, oh! such fearful eyes! Who can describe them? In appearance like the full moon rising up over the distant dark mountain range; and when gazed at by the band, those hideous eyes glared forth upon them like strong daylight suddenly flashing into the dark recesses of the forest. And, anon, lo! they were in colour as if clear shining greenstone were gleaming and scintillating in the midst of the black eye-balls! But that was really all that gave rise to the appearance of fear, because the creature's spines and crest of living spears had become quite flaccid and powerless, through the potent operations of the many weakening spells which had been used by those numerous warriors, that is to say, priests.
Then they managed to put forth their hands stealthily over its huge head, gently stroking it at the same time. At length the rope was got round the monster's neck and made secure; another rope was also slided further on below its fore-legs, and that was firmly fixed; twice did those brave men carry ropes into the cave. Having done all this they came out to their friends, those of the 170 warriors who had been anxiously waiting their return, and who, when they saw them emerge, enquired, “Are your ropes made fast?” They replied, “Yes; the ropes are fastened to the monster; one round the neck and one round the middle.” Then the enquiry arose, “How shall the dragging of it forth from its cave, and its destruction, be accomplished?” When some of the chiefs replied, “Let us carry the ropes outside of the trees which grow around, so that, when the monster begins to lash and bound about, we shall be the better able to make them fast to their trunks.” Then others said, “All that is very good, but how shall we manage to kill it?” Some replied, “Why should we trouble ourselves about killing it? Is it not so fastened with ropes that it cannot get away? Just leave it to itself; its own great strength will cause it to jump violently about, and jerk, and knock, and beat itself; after that, we having made the ropes fast to the trees, the destroyers can easily run in on it and kill it; or, if not, let us just leave it alone to strangle itself in the ropes.” So all this was carried out by those 170 brave warriors.
Then the several men having been all properly placed, so as to hold and handle and drag the ropes effectually; the word of command was given, “Haul away!” and then they all hauled with a will! But, wonderful to behold, entirely owing to the cave being in the face of the perpendicular
cliff, almost simultaneously with the first pull, lo! the monster was already outside of the entrance to the cave. But then, in so saying, the potent work of the priests in reciting their raising and uplifting charms must be also included in the cause of the easy accomplishment. The moment that the monster's great tail was outside clear of the cave, then its head began to rear and toss and plunge, frightful to behold! On seeing this, they loosened a little the rope that held it by its middle; when, lo! its head was close to the trees, against which it began to lean, while it knocked about its tail prodigiously. The men, however, were on the watch, and soon the two ropes were hauled tightly up around the trees, notwithstanding the jerkings and writhings of its huge tail. There, at last, it was, lashed fast close to the trees, so that it could only wriggle a little that is to say its tail.
Then the armed men came on; they banged and beat and clubbed away at the monster, which now lay like a rat caught in the snare of a trap; and it was not long before it was quite dead, partly through the blows and bruises, and partly through the ropes; and so it came to pass that it was killed.
The fame of this great exploit was soon carried to all those tribes who had fetched and sent Purahokura on his errand to Tikitapu. Then they assembled at the place, and saw with astonishment their deadly foe lying on the ground, just like a stranded whale on the sea-shore, even so this noxious monster now lay extended before them. Then arose the mighty shout of derision from all both great and small, the noise was truly deafening, loud sounding, like that arising from the meeting together of the strong currents of many waters!
Early the next morning the people arose to their work to cut up their fish; then was to be seen with admiration the dexterous use of the various sharp-cutting instruments—of the saw made of sharks' teeth, of the sea mussel-shells, of the sharp pitch-stone knives, of the freshwater mussel-shells, and of the flints. Truly wonderful it was to behold, such loads of fat! such thick collops! This was owing to the cannibal monster continually devouring men for its common food at all times and seasons; it never knew a time of want or a season of scarcity; it never had any winter, it was always a jolly harvest time with it! How, indeed, should it have been otherwise? when the companies of travellers from this place and from that place were continually passing and repassing to and fro; therefore it came to pass that its huge maw was satiated with food—not including the food given to it by its master Tangaroamihi—and therefore it came to be so very fat.
So the big fish was cut up. As they went on with their work, and got
at length into its stomach, there the cannibal food which it had devoured was seen! there it lay—women, children, men—with their garments and their weapons. Some were found chopped in two, both men and weapons; no doubt through the action of its terrible lips in seizing them! others were swallowed whole, very likely through its capacious mouth being kept open, when the strong internal blasts from its great gullet drew down the men into its stomach! For you must also know, that this cave is situated near to the water, so that whenever a party came by water paddling in their canoe to Tikitapu, and the canoe came on to the landing place, this monster, Kataore, seeing this, came out of its cave, and, jumping into the water, took the canoe with the men in it into its stomach, so that both men and canoe were devoured instantaneously!
The victors worked away until they had taken everything out of its big maw, both the goods (of clothing and instruments as before) and the dead; the dead they buried in a pit. Then they finished cutting up that big fish; some of it they roasted and broiled; and some they rendered down in its own fat, and preserved in calabashes; and so it came to pass that it was all eaten up, as good food for the stomach of man.
But when the news of this killing was carried to the chief Tangaroamihi, to whom this pet Saurian belonged, and he heard it said to him,—“What is this they have done; thy pet has been killed?” The chief enquired, “By whom?” and they answered, “By the tribe of Tama” (Ngatitama). On hearing this the heart of Tangaroamihi became overcast with gloom, on account of his dear pet which had been killed; and this deed of theirs was a cause of enmity and war between Tangaroamihi and those who had destroyed his pet; and it remained and grew to be a root of evil for all the tribes. Thus the story ends.
It should be briefly noticed, in conclusion, that the name of this chief (Tangaroamihi), is one highly suited to the event; or it may have been given to him at an earlier date, through his having a pet reptile. Tangaroa is the name of the god, or creator or father and ruler, of all fishes and reptiles; (though Punga is sometimes spoken of as a god possessing similar powers, but perhaps over only a certain natural section of those animals;* and mihi means, to show affection for, or to lament and sigh over, any one,—present or absent, living or dead;—so that Tangaroamihi might mean, (1) that this chief lamented over the death of one of Tangaroa's family, or tribe; or (2) that he ever liked and showed great affection towards one of them.
[Footnote] * Vide the beginning of the following fable,—“The Shark and the large Lizard,” and the note there,)
1.—The Fable of the Shark and the Large Lizard—(Guana).
In days of yore the large lizard and the shark lived together in the sea, for they were brothers, both being of the children of Punga.* The lizard was the elder and the shark the younger. After some time they fell out, and as the quarrel was great and protracted, the lizard, vexed at the conduct of his younger brother, determined to leave off dwelling in the sea, and to reside on the dry land, so he left the water.† But just as he had got on the shore, his brother the shark swam up to where he was on a rock, and wished him to return, saying—“Let you and I go out to sea, to the deep water.” The lizard replied, with a bitter curse, saying—“Go thou to the sea, that thou mayst become a relish of fish for the basket of cooked roots.‡ On this, the shark retorted with another curse, saying—“Go thou on shore that thou mayst be smothered with the smoke of the fire of green fern.”∥ Then the lizard replied, with a laugh, “Indeed, I will go on shore, away up to the dry land, where I shall be looked upon as the personification of the demon-god Tu,§ with my spines and ridgy crest causing fear and affright, so that all will gladly get out of my way, hurrah!”
2. The Battle of the Birds.—(A Fable of the Olden Time.)
In ancient days, two shags met on the seaside. One was a salt-water bird and the other was a fresh-water bird; nevertheless, they were both shags, living alike on fish which they caught in the water, although they differed a little in the colour of their feathers. The river-bird, seeing the sea-bird go into the sea for the purpose of fishing food for itself, did the
[Footnote] * According to the Maori mythology (in which each portion, or kingdom, of Nature had a different origin or progenitor), Punga was the father, or former, of fishes and reptiles.
[Footnote] † Darwin, in his “Naturalist's Voyage” (oh xvii.), writing of the large aquatic lizard (Amblyrhynchus cristatus), has some curious remarks very applicable here.
[Footnote] ‡ “Roots” is not in the original, which has merely “kete maoa”—basket of cooked (food, understood); but the meaning is fernroot, or sweet potatoes. Our common potatoes were not then known to the New Zealander, otherwise I should have preferred that word. “Sweet potatoes” (or kumara) would not answer well, as this food was not in use all the year ronnd; and “vegetables” would mislead, as such were never alone cooked save in times of great scarcity. The allusion is as to the Maori manner of serving-up and setting food before men, each basket having a bit of fish or flesh, as a savour, placed on the top.
[Footnote] ∥ I had often heard of the old mode of capturing this (the edible) lizard, which lived in holes (burrows) at the foot of trees, and was made to appear by smoking them out; forty years ago this animal was still being eaten by an inland tribe named Rangitane. (Vide ante, extract from Cook, p. 83, and from Nicholas, p. 84.
[Footnote] § Tu was the name of the New Zealand god of war.
same. They both dived repeatedly, seeking food for themselves, for they were hungry; indeed, the river-bird dived ten times, and caught nothing. Then the river-bird said to his companion, “If it were but my own home, I should just pop under water and find food directly; there never could be a single diving there without finding food.” To which remark his companion simply said, “Just so.” Then the river-bird said to the other, “Yes, thy home here in the sea is one without any food.” To this insulting observation the sea-bird made no reply. Then the river-bird said to the other, “Come along with me to my home; you and I fly together.” On this both birds flew off, and kept flying till they got to a river, where they dropped. Both dived, and both rose, having each a fish in its bill; then they dived together ten times, and every time they rose together with a fish in their bills. This done the sea-bird flew away back to its own home. Arriving there it immediately sent heralds in all directions to all the birds of the ocean, to lose no time but to assemble and kill all the fresh-water birds, and all the birds of the dry land and the forests. The sea-birds hearing this assented, and were soon gathered together for the fray. In the meanwhile, the river-birds and the land and forest birds were not idle; they also assembled from all quarters, and were preparing to repel their foes.
Ere long the immense army of the sea-birds appeared, sweeping along grandly from one side of the heavens to the other, making such a terrible noise with their wings and cries. On their first appearing, the long-tail fly-catcher (Rhipidura flabellifera) got into a towering passion, being desirous of spearing the foe, and danced about presenting his spear on all sides, crying “Ti! ti?”* Then the furious charge was made by the sea-birds. In the first rank came, swooping down with their mighty wings, the albatross, the gannet, and the big brown gull (ngoiro), with many others closely following; indeed, all the birds of the sea. Then they charged at close quarters, and fought bird with bird. How the blood flowed and the feathers flew! The river-birds came on in close phalanx, and dashed bravely right into their foes. They all stood to it for a long time, fighting desperately. Such a sight! At last the sea-birds gave way, and fled in confusion. Then it was that the hawk soared down upon them, pursuing and killing; and the fleet sparrow-hawk darted in and out among the fugitives, tearing and ripping; while the owl, who could not fly by day, encouraged, by hooting derisively, “Thou art brave! thou art victor!”;† and the big parrot screamed, “Remember! remember! Be you ever remembering your thrashing!”‡
[Footnote] * Its faint little note, uttered as it hops, and twirls, and opens its tail.
[Footnote] † “Toä koë! toä koë!” was the owl's cry, which the words a little resemble.
[Footnote] ‡ “Kia iro! kia iro koe!” was the cry of the parrot.
In that great battle, those two birds, the tiitii (Haladroma urinatrix = petrel), and the taiko,* were made prisoners by the river-birds; and hence it is that these two birds always lay their eggs and rear their young in the woods among the land-birds. The tiitii (petrel) goes to sea, and stays away there for a whole moon (lunar month), and when she is full of oil, for her young in the forests, she returns to feed them, which is once every moon. From this circumstance arose with our ancestors the old adage, which has come down to us, “He tiitii whangainga tahi;” literally, A tiitii of one feeding; meaning, Even as a tiitii bird gets fat though only fed well once now and then.†
Appendix.—Note to p. 82.
This is an astonishing fact, but it is strictly true, though, I believe, scarcely known. I, therefore, with great pleasure, give in a note an extract or two from an interesting letter “On the Native Songs of New Zealand,” written nearly twenty-five years ago, by a talented musician and author of several works on music (Mr. J. H. Davies, of Trinity College, Cambridge), which letter was printed as an appendix to one of Sir G. Grey's works on New Zealand; and though highly worthy of being read and of being deeply studied—especially by a trained musician—it is, I fear, but very little known among us.
[Footnote] * Of this bird, the Taiko, I have formerly often heard, particularly at the northern parts of the North Island, but have never seen one. It is scarcely known here in Hawke Bay, save by name to a few of the oldest natives. An old chief at Te Wairoa told me that he had known of two which were seen together on the shore of Portland Island (Hawke Bay), many years ago, one of which was snared and eaten. From another very old chief I had heard of two having been once cooked in a Maori earth-oven as a savoury mess for a travelling party of rank; and from his story it would appear as if the bird could have been easily taken in its habitat, at the will of the lord of the manor; for, on that travelling party arriving at the pa, one of the chiefs' wives remarked, “Alas! whatever shall I do for a tit-bit to set before our guests?” The chief said, “I'll get you some.” He then went out and soon returned with two Taikos, which were cooked and greatly relished. This bird is said to have been large, plump, and fat, and highly prized for food, and only to be obtained on exposed oceanic headlands and islets. (There are small rocky islets called by its name, Motutaiko.) Possibly it may be a large species of petrel or puffin; although, if the imperfect Maori relation is to be depended on, its beak was more that of an albatross.
[Footnote] † This proverb would be used by the New Zealanders on various occasions; such as (1) When chiefs of lower rank would bring a present (annual, perhaps, as of sweet potatoes [kumara] at harvest-time), to their superior chief: (2) When a travelling party arrives at a village, and something particularly good, or extra, which perhaps had been stored up or set by, or just obtained with difficulty or labour, should be given to the party; on such occasions the proverb might be used. Much like (here) our sayings of, “We don't kill a pig every day!” “In luck to-day!” “Justin in time” &c.
First, Mr. Davies writes of “the enharmonic scale of the ancient Greeks” (which has long been lost, and which, indeed, has been disputed), that “it consisted of a quarter-tone, a quarter-tone and an interval of two tones, an interval somewhat greater than our third major;” and that this long-lost ancient scale has been found to exist among the Arabians, the Chinese, and the New Zealanders.
“As the highest art is to conceal the art and to imitate nature, that mighty nation the Greeks, with an art almost peculiarly their own, having observed these expressions of natural sentiment,” stated fully in the preceding paragraph, “thence deduced certain laws of interval, by which, while they kept within the limits of art, they took care not to transgress those of nature, but judiciously to adopt, and as nearly as possible to define, with mathematical exactness, those intervals which the uncultured only approach by the irregular modulation of natural impulses. * * * Hence, I conceive the reason of the remnant of that scale being found among most of those nations who have been left to the impulses of a ‘naturetaught’ song rather than been cramped by the trammels of a conventional system—the result of education and of civilization.”
“Plutarch remarks, that the most beautiful of the musical genera is the enharmonic, on account of its grave and solemn character, and that it was formerly most in esteem. Aristides Quintilian tells us it was the most difficult of all, and required a most excellent ear. Aristoxenus observes that it was so difficult that no one could sing more than two dieses consecutively, and yet the perceptions of a Greek audience were fully awake to, and their judgment could appreciate, a want of exactness in execution.”
“Mr. Lay Tradescant, speaking of the Chinese intervals, says that ‘it is impossible to obtain the intervals of their scale on our keyed instruments, but they may be perfectly effected on the violin;’ * * * and our own ears attest that, universally, in the modulations of the voice of the so-called savage tribes, and in the refined and anomalously studied Chinese, there are intervals which do not correspond to any notes on our keyed instruments, and which to an untrained ear appear almost monotonous.”
“Suffice it to say that many Chinese airs, of which I have two, show the diesic modulation and the saltus combined; but the majority of the New Zealand airs which I have heard are softer and more ‘ligate,’ and have a great predominance of the diesic element.”
“One thing, however, is certain, that, as Aristoxenus tell us, no perfect ear could modulate more than two dieses at a time, and then there was a ‘saltus’ or interval of two tones, and as the New Zealand songs frequently exhibit more than two close intervals together, it is more than probable that many of these songs are a chromatic.”
“In proof that a system of modulation like the above still survives, I shall produce as nearly as my ear could discern, the modulation of some of the New Zealand melodies. * * *
“I here beg to state, that though with great care and the assistance of a graduated monochord, and an instrument divided like the intervals of the Chinese kin, I have endeavoured to give an idea of those airs of New Zealand which I heard, yet so difficult is it to discover the exact interval, that I will not vouch for the mathematical exactness. * * * I must also, in justice to myself, add, that the singer did not always repeat the musical phrase with precisely the same modulation, though without a very severe test this would not have been discernible, nor then to many ears, the general effect being to an European ear very monotonous. But I may say that, when I sang them from my notation, they were recognised and approved of by competent judges, and that the New Zealander himself said, ‘he should soon make a singer of me.’”*
Mr. Davies has also, in his letter, given some of our Maori New Zealand songs, set by him to music, as examples.
I may here also mention, that one of the earliest scientific visitors to New Zealand, Dr. Forster, who accompanied Captain Cook on his second voyage, has left a statement on record of a similar kind. Here is a short quotation from it, given, partly on account of the learned German's feeling and truthful deduction therefrom, and partly because his valuable work is scarcely known in the Colony. (And, to the everlasting honour of the good Doctor, it is to be further noted, that he does this immediately after relating several acts of killing and cannibalism perpetrated by the New Zealanders on Europeans, among which was the very recent one, in which ten seamen belonging to Captain Cook's expedition were killed, etc., so that Dr. Forster did not allow his reason to be carried away by his feelings.) He says,—“The music of the New Zealanders is far superior in variety to that of the Society and Friendly Islands. * * * The same intelligent friend who favoured me with a specimen of the songs at Tongatapu, has likewise given me another of the New Zealand music; and has also assured me that there appeared to be some display of genius in the New Zealand tunes, which soared very far above the wretched humming of the Tahitian, or even the four notes of the people at the Friendly Islands.” (Two specimens of their tunes set to musical notes are then given.) “The same gentleman likewise took notice of a kind of dirge-like melancholy song, relating to the death of Tupaea.” (The musical notes of this, with the words, are also given.)
[Footnote] * [Note.—See “Polynesian Mythology and Ancient Traditional History of the New Zealand Race, as furnished by their Priests and Chiefs.” Appendix, p. 313. By Sir George Grey; Murray: London, 1855.—ED.]
“They descend at the close from c to the octave below in a fall, resembling the sliding of a finger along the finger-board of a violin. I shall now dismiss this subject with the following observation,—that the taste for music of the New Zealanders, and their superiority in this respect to other nations in the South Seas, are to me stronger proofs in favour of their heart, than all the idle eloquence of philosophers in their cabinets can invalidate.”— Forster's Voyage, vol. II., pp. 476–478.