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Volume 14, 1881
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Art. I.—Historical Incidents and Traditions of the Olden Times, pertaining to the Maoris of the North Island, (East Coast), New Zealand; highly illustrative of their national Character, and containing many peculiar, curious, and little-known Customs and Circumstances, and Matters firmly believed by them. Now, for the first time, faithfully translated from old Maori Writings and Recitals; with explanatory Notes. Part II.*.

[Read before the Hawke's Bay Philosophical Institute, 9th May, and 12th June, 1881.]

Last year I had the honour and pleasure of reading some historical and traditional papers before you respecting the ancient Maoris of this East Coast. At that time I did so with some diffidence; for, first, I did not know how you might receive them; and, secondly, I did not know whether such papers would be published by the Parent Society. Now, however, we know, that those papers, read here and approved of by you, have been also published in the forthcoming volume (xiii.) of the “Transactions of the New Zealand Institute;” and this encourages me to bring some others of the same class, and obtained from the same sources, before you, during this winter's session; only these are still more ancient, and, I think, more curious and interesting. Of course I have only very recently known of those papers having been printed. Had I earlier known of it, or of their having been approved of, I might have got some more ready during the autumn; for, I confess, the translating of some portions of them is exceedingly difficult, being written (or handed down) in language which, in some places, contains words and phrases that are very old, and have almost become obsolete.

[Footnote] * For Part I. see “Trans. N.Z. Inst.,” Vol. XIII., p. 38.

[Footnote] † Particularly in the matter of charms, spells, invocations, exorcisms, etc.;—also, owing to their allusions (often by a single word) to still more ancient events, persons, (ancestors and semi-deities), and things; and to their largely abounding in ellipses and aposiopesis;—as I have formerly observed when on this subject.

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For my own part I may again repeat (what, I believe, I have said to you before), that it is to such sources we have primarily and mainly to look for much that relates to the manners and customs of the ancient New Zealander. In those old narrations we get to know what they really were; and even then more, perhaps, from casual or incidental matters than from the main subject itself. But then such must have been related by the ancient men themselves, chiefs and priests (tohungas) of the olden time, and not by the present loquacious and mendacious generation, be their position what it may,—for all such are not only grossly ignorant of the past, but are also more or less vitiated concerning the same, through their intercourse with Europeans, both willingly and unwillingly. And when, in addition to all this, what they may have to say is frequently taken down and translated by “free and easy” young interpreters,—often ignorant of the first principles of the noble Maori language, and too much inclined to dress up what they hear, as if writing a novel or romance,—the result may be easily guessed.

And here, perhaps, I may be permitted briefly to mention that—(as it is pretty well known I have collected, during my long residence among the Maoris, very much of their old history, traditions, etc.)—I have been often requested to publish, in a separate form, what I have so amassed and known; but that I have hitherto refused to do so, for I seek neither pelf nor fame (as a book-maker), but merely to relate, in plain words, what I believe to be genuine and authentic, leaving it for those who may come after me to “make the book,”—to fuse together the ores I may have laboriously sought out, and collected, and brought to the surface.

In all those historical traditions we shall find much of war,—of bloody, desolating wars, with all their hideous and savage accompaniments ! far more indeed than we could wish.* But war, as Cook early and sagaciously detected, was the very life and genius of the people; hence, too, they did not fear death. Not, however, but that it might have been better among them, for it will be found that, in almost all cases, their wars arose from some thoughtless or gross infringement of common rights. Yet even here we shall meet with much of extreme courtesy, and of fine feelings, which would have adorned a chivalrous European age; and that, too, in the midst of dreadful harrowing recitals of burning revenge for wrongs,—of extreme cruelty,—of great, yet simple superstition,—and of hair-breadth and marvellous escapes.

[Footnote] * But the most famed and civilized nations of antiquity were, in this respect, quite as bad,—e.g., the Assyrian and Egyptian “Records;” and Polybius, (who had himself seen the savage doings of the Romans), says, “when a town is taken by storm by the Romans, not only human beings are massacred, but even dogs cut in two, and other animals hewn limb from limb,” (x. 15.) Note, also, Saul's slaying of the Amalekites, (1 Sam. xv.)

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Of their human sacrifices and cannibalism, which always and everywhere nationally accompanied their battles, I would say nothing at present; only (as I have before observed),* that I never could consider those savage customs as even approaching, in cruelty and abomination, the well-known doings of that thrice-accursed institution of the so-called Christian Church—“the Holy Inquisition!” in which Christian kings and queens, bishops, priests, and saints (! !) took their unholy and murderous parts with a zest! Indeed, I hesitate not to affirm, that all such conduct as that of the New Zealand savage towards the dead—and that, too, in hot blood, after a deadly hand-to-hand combat with sticks and stones,—is as nothing when fairly compared with the modern and Christian (!) modes of wholesale mangling and destroying the living! (it may often be innocent and unoffending women and children, in the sieges and assaults of towns!) with shells, bombs, mines, mitrailleuses, dynamite, torpedoes, etc., etc.

Those historical stories will also show much of the cool courage, stratagem, endurance, patience, etc., of the ancient Maoris. From them we shall gather not a little every-way applicable to the so-called “Spiritualists” of the present day, showing, at least, that their modern lying “mediums'” deception was known long ago to the savage New Zealander! From those narrations we may also learn that such preternatural doings as that of Joshua commanding the sun to stand still,—of Jonah and the whale,—of supernatural visitants from the sky,—of wonderful achievements and miracles,—of miraculous conceptions,—of resurrections from the dead,—and even of ascensions into heaven, were not unknown to the ancient New Zealander. From them we may learn not a little of their (supposed) skill and belief in controlling and commanding the higher powers of Nature; and all this, too, both quietly and unostentatiously done and related without a single extra remark of the wonderful, or a note of admiration! And from them we shall also learn a good deal of their prayers (?), charms, spells, exorcisms, adjurations, and religious ceremonies—of their great simplicity and (may I not add?) utter uselessness. Or, rather, perhaps, not quite “utter uselessness” in one sense at least, for they, no doubt, felt strengthened in their belief, that, having followed closely in the footsteps of their forefathers, having done all that was required, they should certainly reap a corresponding benefit. And this belief would naturally re-act upon them, and stimulate them to continuous and future exertions to bring about the same, and thus would prove beneficial. In all those charms, spells, etc., we shall find (if I mistake not), three things, like three golden threads, always running through them; viz., (1) their firm belief in their knowledge

[Footnote] * “Essay on the Maori Races,” “Trans. N. Z. Inst.” Vol. I., § 29 of Essay.

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and use of the powers of Nature; (2) their relying on their own strength and ability as able men; and (3) their often invoking their deceased ancestors to help them in times of great need; or, more frequently, encouraging themselves, at such times, with the bare recital or recollection of their ancestors' names* and prowess.

Now all this strong and common, yet (if I may so term it) quiescent belief in the supernatural or miraculous, in my opinion forms a very peculiar and characteristic trait in the old New Zealander. (I know, of course, of those miracles related in the Old Testament, and that, too, generally, in like simple manner, without note or comment). No doubt all ancient nations felt more or less the influence of the Divine in Nature, or of the power of Nature; but as they knew her but imperfectly, all remarkable or unusual phenomena appeared to them as manifestations of supernatural powers, divine or demoniac (as the case might be), or as miracles, which, while they inspired some peoples with awe, did not so act on the minds of the ancient Maori. Not but that they had plenty of signs and wonders, akin to the Roman fictions of prodigia and portentæ, which served to announce important events; but, while they saw and observed, talked of and magnified them, they never feared them; rather ridiculed them, or treated them lightly; and even when all things turned out well and satisfactory, and in keeping with their belief in, or expectations from, those higher powers, no such thing as thanksgiving to them was ever dreamt of!

Moreover, it should also be briefly noticed, that while they laughed and mocked at earthquakes, at pealing thunder, at vivid lightnings, and at terrific storms, they exhibited great dread at merely unexpectedly seeing a small, common, and harmless lizard; at a gaseous flame suddenly shooting forth, with crackling noise, from their private fire towards them; and at a big spark bouncing therefrom in a similar direction ! etc., etc.

The subject of my paper this evening will be some of the doings (and their consequences) of a powerful chief, named Uenuku, who dwelt here on the East Coast of New Zealand, between Table and East Capes, about twenty-five generations back, § or (say) A.D. 1000,—time of our Danish

[Footnote] * See “Paikea's Spell,” in the Story of Ruatapu and Paikea. (infra.)

[Footnote] † Livy, III., 10: XLIII., etc.; Lucan, Phars., I.; Pliny, H.N., II., VIII., XVI., etc; Plutarch, Cæs., 63.

[Footnote] ‡ There were several chiefs and personages of ancient days named Uenuku; some of them bearing an additional suffix to distinguish them. One is said to have dwelt at “Hawaiki” before the so-called migration hither. (See Grey's “Polynesian Mythology,” p., 123, etc.) Uenuku is, also, a name for the rainbow.

[Footnote] § One of the genealogies gives twenty-eight generations, (viz., three additional names). This may be owing to an early branch, commencing with the son of another wife. (See Appendix, Genealogy).

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kings. His descendants are still residing there, who, also, rest their claims to their ancestral estates through their being such. The beginning, however, of their genealogical line goes much further back.

I may also add that this remarkable traditional story I have received in two separate narrations from two sources; and, further, that they wonderfully agree in all their main points, including, also, the charms, spells, and prayers (?) used.

I. Stories Concerning Uenuku.

Uenuku was a very great chief of the olden time; he lived many generations back on the East Coast. One of his wives was named Takarita; she was the sister of a great chief named Tawheta, who dwelt at large towns (pas) of his own, called Matikotai and Porangahau,* also on the East Coast.

I shall begin my narration with the death of Takarita, the wife of Uenuku, who was killed by him because of her great offence; she having committed adultery with two men, named Tumahunuku, and Tumahurangi. Uenuku, being very powerful, not only killed her, but also her two paramours. When she was dead, Uenuku cut her open and took out her heart, and broiled it on a sacred fire, made at the foot of the carved centre-post of his own big house; the name of that house was Te-pokinga-o-terangi—the overspreading of the sky. While it was cooking at the sacred fire, kindled purposely for the solitary bit, namely, at the fire of Takarita, Uenuku recited the following spell:—


My fire is newly kindled by friction;


The land approves of it (or desires it);


Let a fire burn to eat up (a) great chief;


Let a fire burn to eat up (a) first-born;


Let a fire burn to eat up (a) principal chief (ariki);


Let a fire burn to eat up (a) priest (tohunga);


Let (it) burn;—but, by whom is the fire?


Let (it) burn; it is (by) Hineikukutirangi;


Let (it) burn; it is (by) Hineheheirangi.


Let (it) burn, (throughout) two long considerations of the close-quarter-fighting of the Sky.


Let (it) burn;—on, on, onwards !


My sacred fire is verily kindled by friction.


Above, abroad, (or, on the outside), towards the west;


Towards the west; a vengeful desolating principal chief.


Never shall the great chiefs be forgotten by me; never !


Never shall the firstborns be forgotten by me;


(An) eater of scraps and leavings !


The cooking-oven is baking slowly.


(I am) roasting away; naked, waiting !

[Footnote] * Not, however, the present Porangahau, but a place of the same name north of Table Cape.

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The cooking-oven is baking badly;


Go on, bake away the baking-oven !


The oven baking above !


The oven baking below !


Rush to the fight, O Space !


Rush to the fight, O Sky !


Show forth (thy) valour;


Show forth (thy) valour (or, let it be seen);


Return from the charge—return;


Cause (it) to return.—It is ended.*

His spell finished, he fed his own son Ira with the cooked heart of his mother. Hence arose the proverb,—“Ira, devourer of the rich soft interior,” And that same saying has descended to his offspring, namely, the tribe of Ngati Ira.

[Footnote] * A few explanatory remarks on this spell are here offered:—

  • v. 1 & 12. All sacred fires were necessarily fresh kindled, and that by fire then and there obtained by friction.

  • " 2. Meaning, in accordance with national customs and observances.

  • " 3–6. Showing the high rank of the deceased lady.

  • " 8, 9. By (or according to,—in conformity with), Hineikukutirangi, etc.

    These female personages were great ones of old; Hineikukutirangi was often invocated on their going to the deep-sea-fishing. This name means the young-lady-who-drew-the-heavens- (or skies, or clouds) together, (? to prevent the storms and squalls from bursting forth): see the charm recited over Rongoua (p. 11), line 6, and note thereon; where, I think, these two personages are also alluded to: see, also, a similar sacrifice made by Uenuku (p. 15), and note the like names of his two mysterious ceremonial garments.

  • " 10, 24–29. Celestial signs, of warring clouds, etc., are here referred to, as finally denoting approval. See Notes 2 and 4 to Paikea's spell (p. 21).

  • " 13, 14. “Towards the west,”—the quarter of the setting sun, and of death, etc. See Essay on the Maori Races, “Trans. N. Z. Inst.,” Vol. I., § 39.

  • " 15, 16. Indicating his being a strenuous upholder of their ancient traditions, customs, etc.

  • " 17. As said by the hero Whakatau,—War-song, 3, p. 68, “Trans. N.Z. inst.,” Vol. XIII.,—and always meaning the opposite.

  • " 22, 23. May mean oneness of action; i.e. what I am doing here on earth is also now being done in the sky.

[Footnote] † The word used here is a curious and uncommon one, especially in this sense, and, as such, it is almost obsolete. Primarily it denotes the soft, prized, central parts of the Maori gourd (hue), of a water-melon, etc., though it has several other allied root-meanings.

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When the news of her death first reached her brothers, they mourned greatly over their sister. Afterwards, Tawheta proceeded formally to enquire the particulars of the relater (of the tidings),*—“Why she was killed by him, Uenuku?” He replied, “Because she had committed adultery with two men, Tumahunuku and Tumahurangi”. “Then Tawheta said, “It is all right enough, no doubt, (according to his way of thinking); nevertheless, his doings shall be repaid him to-morrow. Verily, to-morrow he himself shall be eaten by grass-hoppers! Here, near me, are his food preserves, which will be sure to draw his children and people this way, in the season; to-morrow, also, he shall be full of trouble, when he shall desire the little bit of property that is lying on the ground; the women shall be as a cliff for the men to flee over!” And so this last word (or phrase) became a proverbial saying; and for a long time Tawheta dwelt quietly, brooding over his anger.

Now Uenuku did not think at all of his cruel killing (kohuru), or of the possible consequences. Another year came round, and Uenuku had forgotten all about his murder. So he sent his children and people to obtain the fruit (or product) of his preserves at Matikotai, and at Porangahau. They went, a large number, both men and women, 70 in all; and on their arrival at Tawheta's town (pa), he took them unawares and killed them, they being all unarmed and unapprehensive. Hence arose the deadly feud between Uenuku and Tawheta. Four of Uenuku's sons were slain on this occasion, namely, Maputukiterangi, Ropanui, Mahinaiteata, and Whiwhingaiterangi, while the fifth, named Rongouaroa, hardly escaped with his life, being the only survivor of the whole party. He, however, had been severely wounded; his skull was hacked and broken in, and he was left for dead by the foe, on the ground among the others. Tawheta and his people,

[Footnote] * Heralds, or messengers, on such high occasions, acted in a very careful and formal ceremonious manner, and only (at first) answered the questions put to them by the chief of the place. Instances have been known where they have been severely beaten, and wounded, and even killed! at the first outbursts of grief and passion, for their sudden and abrupt relation of bad tidings. Hence, such news was almost invariably carried by a relative or a chief.

[Footnote] † By “the property (taonga) lying on the ground,” I understand the fruits of the karaka trees, which were rigidly preserved, and were gathered up in large quantities to be stored or food in the late autumn season. (See “Trans. N. Z. Inst.,” Vol. XIII., p. 25, last paragraph). The close of Tawheta's passionate sentence may have reference to his slain sister, or to the women who would be sure to come thither in the karaka gathering party. At all events, the meaning is,—a full, stern, and dreadful revenge!

[Footnote] ‡ “70” (passim) always means a large and fully complete number for that particular purpose; sometimes, when a very large number was required, it would be twice 70=140; and, also, 170; but always so as to take in the 7 unit.

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after their cruel slaughter, went into their pa to eat their food; it was then that Rongouaroa came to himself, and opening his eyes and looking around, he saw his brothers and companions all dead on the ground; on seeing this he summoned all his remaining strength, and crawled away and hid himself among some thick bushes close by. While there, he heard them (Tawheta and his people) vaunting loudly over their doings, and Tawheta said, “Tomorrow, early, we will all go to Uenuku's pa; we will deceive him, and kill him, too, that he and his may all die together.” Their meal and talk over, they all came out to drag the bodies of the slain into the town (pa), to cut them up (for food). When it was night, Rongouaroa crept out of his hiding-place and crawled into one of their large canoes, and stowed himself snugly away in the forehold (under the nose of the canoe); and this was his charm which he uttered for his safe concealment:—

“Tu! overspread the face of the sky, that (I) may be hidden; let their eyes be dazzled (or flash waveringly) in looking at the stars, and at the moon, and at the light.”

And so, sure enough, he was hidden securely; and he, having uttered his charm, laid himself quietly down.*

Early in the morning the cajoling party was on the move, to go and kill Uenuku. They quickly put their things into their canoes, and paddled away, with vigour, to Uenuku's town (pa). Arriving there, they hastened to disembark and to drag up their canoes on the beach, when they all proceeded quietly into Uenuku's pa, amid the wavings, and shouts, and cries of welcome of Uenuku's people,—“Come hither, come hither, O ye most welcome stranger-visitors!” And so the visiting party went into the pa, and entered the big reception house of the chief and sat down. The people of the place were now all very busy in preparing a plentiful meal for their unexpected visitors; the cooking-fires and ovens were everywhere lighted, and great preparations were being made, for Uenuku and his people supposed them to have come with good intentions only, and, therefore, they were most welcome; but it was not so, as it soon appeared, for they had come to murder Uenuku, and also to eat him, which they had thought to bring to pass through their deceit. While the food was preparing, Uenuku arose, in the large open space before the house, to address his visitors; and thus he began: “Come hither, welcome hither; art thou indeed Tawheta?”

[Footnote] * “Quietly down:”—Notice here the very great influence of Rongoua's firm faith in his simple charm! (See the story of Houmea, (infra), p. 26). It was a desperate step to take, but his only possible chance of saving his people from destruction.

[Footnote] † Uenuku saying, “Art thou,” etc., meaning, Is it possible that Tawheta is come at last to see me! Tawheta, in reply, saying, “Thou thyself!” meaning, Thou alone by thy conduct wert the cause of our being so long estranged from each other.

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which Tawheta interrupted (from within) by exclaiming, “Thou thyself! thou thyself!” Then Uenuku said, “Welcome hither! Dids't thon come hither from our children and young people (leaving them well)?” To this, Tawheta replied,—“;They are all there enjoying themselves at their usual games of play; spinning tops, flying kites, making cats' cradles, darting reeds, and all manner of games.”*

Now it came to pass that, when all those visitors had entered the pa, the wounded man, Rongouaroa, had managed, though with great difficulty, to get out of the canoe in which he had been hidden, and to crawl a little way on to a bush of cutting-grass, where he lay down in the sun. Now the food for the visitors having been deposited in the ovens, and covered over with stones and earth to be cooked, the women engaged therein went outside to gather green leaves of shrubs and flax (Phormium) and sedges, on which to place the food when cooked for their visitors; and so they got to the place where Rongouaroa was lying with his smashed head! On seeing him, and hearing in a few faint words his tale, they soon went back to the pa, and calling Uenuku aside, told him, “Master! master! it is all a false story (or supposition); they are come hither with a different design. The whole of our people have been killed by Tawheta; one only escaped, Rongouaroa! They are come to cajole and destroy thee!” On hearing this, Uenuku demanded, “Where is that survivor?” “Oh! there he is, lying down outside on the tuft of cutting-grass (toetoe), with his head all broken and smashed with a club!” Then Uenuku said, “Fetch him, lead him hither into the pa.” So he was fetched; but, first of all, he was led to the sacred place (tuaahu) close by, where the charms, and recitals, and all proper sacred ceremonies were performed over him, including the feeding the demon with his blood, and the hanging-up of his blood in that spot; and this was the charm which was recited for him:—


Provoking irascible sinew, striving (to) kill!


Hither is come the one (they) sought to murder.


Verily thy own skilful priests (are here):


Thou and I together indeed! (as one).


Thy wound is sacred;—


The celebrated first-born priestesses shall cause the lips of the wounds to incline inwardly towards each other;


Of (or by) the evening, lo! thy wound shall become as nothing!


The stone axe (which caused it) was verily (as) the strong tide rushing on to the shores, and tearing up the beds of shell-fish.


Striving, provoking sinew! eager after food for (their) baking

[Footnote] * This second interjected reply of Tawheta (who was still within the house, and who, according to etiquette, had no need then to speak), was, I think, mainly made to amuse his own party there with him.

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The wounding, indeed, of the man who courageously enraged the demon !


Thy internal parts are all opened to view !


Verily, just as the stirring up of the big fire burning in the court-yard of a pa!


But, lo ! thou and I together (are as one).*

This done, Rongouaroa was taken into the pa; that he might be shown publicly to Tawheta and his party, Now Uenuku had returned to his oratory, keeping his son, Rongouaroa, out of sight, on one side behind his back; the visiting party (according to strict custom) being all within the big house, while the chief of the pa, Uenuku, was outside making his speech to them; moreover, they were tired with their paddling and wanted their morning's meal; and thus Uenuku recommenced his address:—“Come hither, come hither; thou art indeed Tawheta; yes, thou thyself (come at last to see me). Thou art indeed come hither from our children; but are they living, or are they dead? On hearing this, Tawheta bounded out from within the house, and said, “And who indeed is that demon from the sky who is able to kill our children?” Then it was that Uenuku said to Tawheta, “Our children are slain, killed by thee! behold, here is the only survivor!;” at the same time bringing forward Rongouaroa, and making him to stand in the open space before the door of the house, so that he might be fully seen by all those within it. On hearing those words of Uenuku, and seeing Rongouaroa, the whole party were seized with panic fear, and would have instantly fled, or have endeavoured to do so,—and at this time they could all have been very easily slain by Uenuku, but it was owing to his noble disposition that they were not. So he kept them until the food for

[Footnote] * Of this charm, verses 4 and 13 are used to infuse hope and strength, and to assure the unity of the powerful and the weak. (See Paikea's spell, (infra) v. 5.) v. 6 no doubt refers to the two female personages mentioned before in Uenuku's spell, (supra,) vv. 8 and 9—see note there; v. 8 is a beautiful and strongly expressive metaphor tersely given in the original; v. 10 the “demon,”=atua, foe; vv. 11, 12, “internal parts,”—i.e. inner parts of the head; a severely fractured skull was common in the desperate hand-to-hand fights and massacres of old, where heavy clubs and stone axes were the weapons, and not unfrequently the sufferer recovered. (See Proverbs 155, 156, “Trans. N. Z. Inst.,” Vol. XII., p. 137.

[Footnote] † There could be no fear, on the part of Uenuku, that Tawheta, or any of his party, would come out of the reception house while he was absent, as such would be against all custom, etc.

[Footnote] ‡ “Are they living, or are they dead?” Note here the last word! This Tawheta well understood, although he could only then have supposed that Uenuku entertained a suspicion of something evil,—as from a dream, warning, omen, etc.; for, according to correct Maori idiom and syntax, that saying of Uenuku should have been reversed (if spoken at all?)- “are they dead, or are they living?”-which would have had a very different meaning, and Tawheta would have remained quietly in the house of reception. Hence, Tawheta broke the rules of etiquette, and bounded forth boldly to meet the implied and concealed charge against him.

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them was cooked and properly served up and eaten, and then they might depart, saying to them, “Do not fear anything; remain quietly; let the food which has been purposely prepared for you be well and properly cooked and served; then eat it and depart.” Therefore they did so; and when their meal was over, they left the pa in silence, and dragged down their canoes to the sea. While doing this, Uenuku's people were again very desirous to fall upon them and kill them, but Uenuku restrained them, and so they escaped without harm.* As, however, they were leaving the shore, Uenuku called out to Tawheta,—“Depart peaceably, O Tawheta ! ere long, I, also, shall go thither to our children; thou art not a warrior, but an evil-doer.” (Lit. Thou slayest not (thy foe) openly and manfully, but evilly and fraudulently). To this Tawheta replied,—“By what possible means indeed cans't thou venture to go thither; to the home of the many, of the multitude, of the numberless? “ On hearing this, Uenuku rejoined,— “Go away, depart; soon I shall be going thither; thou wilt not escape me; to-morrow thou shalt be devoured by grass-hoppers! thy bravery in battle is slippery; go away, depart!” These were the last parting words of Uenuku, and Tawheta and his party returned to their own place.

After this, Uenuku stirred up all his people to get ready his fighting canoes; so they were all newly caulked, and put together in order, and got ready, and launched to go to war. Then it was that one of his brave fighting

[Footnote] * This highly chivalrous (?) conduct,—or, rather, the noble trait in their character, never to allow the open public rites of hospitality to be infringed, (Uenuku, too, having loudly welcomed them into his village, or fort),—was sometimes strikingly exhibited. The Rev. S. Marsden of Paramatta, informed me (in 1834) of a notable instance which had taken place while some head New Zealand chiefs were staying there at his house. It happened that two of them had come to Sydney by different ships, one was from the Thames, and one from the Bay of Islands,—two tribes who were then at deadly feud in their own country, and so it would have been between those two chiefs on their suddenly and unexpectedly meeting there; but the one said to the other,—“Here, thou and I will dwell quietly, and eat, every day, at the same table together; but when we return to New Zealand I will attack thy fort, and will kill and eat thee:” and all this was carried out to the very letter. It was from the utter want of this feeling on the part of the British (in the Maori estimation), that the early colonists were so greatly twitted by the Maoris during the war of 1860-6; notably by the chief Renata Te Kawepo, in his upbraiding letter to the first Superintendent of the Province of Hawke's Bay. (See, also, “Essay on the Maori Races,” “Trans. N.Z. Inst.,” Vol. I., § 34, end.

[Footnote] † This sentence deserves to be more particularly noticed:—“Ki te kaainga o tini, o te mano o te rororo, o tini o te hakuturi:” lit. to the dwelling place of (the) many, of the numberless of the ants, of (the) multitude of the imps (elves, or fairies). A curious figurative sentence, not however uncommon nor untruthful in the olden time, showing the very great number of his people. (See Houmea, (infra), p. 27, and note there). The same simile of ants, to express a great number, is also used by the Greek and Roman poets: “Theoc. Id. XV., 45. Virg. Æn. IV., 402.

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men, a chief named Whatiua, got up and made an oration against Uenuku going at once by sea to fight, saying,—“This is my opinion, first let the kumara and the karaka be ripe,* then do thou go by sea; but I and my party will go at once by land; we (my party) will first engage the enemy, and break off the tips of the branchlets of (the revenge for) our sad loss; tomorrow morning we will start.” They did so; and as they were leaving the pa, Uenuku called out to them,—“Listen, friends; this is my word to you, if you succeed in capturing Poumatangatanga, let her live, to become a wife for me.” So the war-party, 70 in number, left on their march. They went away inland up over the high hills and kept on until night-fall, when they halted and slept; at break of day they recommenced their march, and again halted at night as before to sleep; the third morning, at daybreak, they resumed their march, and kept on until they came within sight of Rangikapiti, when they again halted until it was dark. In the night they went stealthily forward and surrounded the big house of that place; the people there kept watch also by night but badly. On there arrival there they found that the demon (atua) had joined with the people in the house, and that the priest (tohunga), whose name was Hapopo, was encouraging his people by his questioning the demon as to the expected war-party, and they on the outside overheard their conversation going on between them. Hapopo, the priest, said to the demon,—“Speak, tell me, is the war-party at hand? for we are here dwelling in great fear, not daring to sleep soundly at night.” The demon, whose name was Te Kanawa, replied to him,—“No, there is no war-party near; nothing of the kind; let us dwell together quietly, even as the ancient ones are, there far off away up in the sky.”§ Those were the words spoken by the demon through the medium, whose name was Kahurangi. Hapopo, however, again asked, stirring (him) up, saying-“Tell me, sir, is not the war-party at hand?” When (he) again replied, “Not a single bit of a war-party, respected sir; no fighting whatever, great sir, will come hither against you; rest quietly.”| All this conversation between those

[Footnote] * That is, in the autumn, when the sea would be calm.

[Footnote] † Tawheta's daughter: a common practice. (See Vol. XIII, “Trans. N.Z. Inst.,” p. 40.

[Footnote] ‡ War-parties by land generally went forth by untrodden paths, forming a trail of their own, and often a circuitous one; their object being always to reach the place they were going to attack without being perceived, or even suspected, and to carefully avoid treading on, or walking over, a kumara root ceremonially deposited in the common path. (See below, Art II, “Contributions towards a better Knowledge of the Maori Race,” part IV., Kumara).

[Footnote] § As the gods were (according to the ancient Greek mythology) up on Olympus.

[Footnote] | I have studied to mark the great difference in the modes of address between the priest and the demon. (See, also, between Uenuku and his son Ruatapu, p. 18):—a matter much too little attended to in translations.

– 15 –

two, the demon and the priest, was overheard by the armed war-party, who were outside listening. Early in the morning, at break of day, they assaulted and rushed the big house from all sides. Great was the slaughter of Tawheta's people, he, however, escaped from within the big house; they pursued him, but he got clear off; whence arose this proverbial saying;- “Through flight only was Tawheta saved.” The priest, Hapopo, they dragged outside, and they killed him there; his last word was, “Lying and deceiving demon ! thou gettest clear off, leaving the trouble with Hapopo.” Those words have ever since been used and handed down as a proverb. Paimahutanga* (Tawheta's daughter) was the only one whom Whatiua's band made prisoner and rescued from that great slaughter. The victors baked the slain in ovens, and feasted on them; some portions of their bodies were also carried away with them to their own pa. Thus was fully avenged the death of Maputukiterangi, of Mahinaiteata, of Ropanui, of Whiwhingaiterangi, of Rongoxiaroa, of Hotukura, of Inangatapukitewhao, of Rangiwhetu, and their companions, in that sad massacre by Tawheta. Those Whose names are here given were all chiefs who fell on that occasion. On the return of that war-party to their home they handed over to Uenuku the daughter of Tawheta, Paimahutanga, to become his wife, and Uenuku took her to wife. And so this first assault and carnage ends here; this exterminating slaughter was accomplished by Whatiuatakamarae.

After this was over, Uenuku, still thirsting for revenge for his many murdered children and people, commanded a war expedition to be got ready, that he might himself go and fight with Tawheta. So the warriors got themselves ready; the war canoes were dragged down and fitted up and launched, when Uenuku ordered that each canoe should also be provided with extra large stones (as anchors) and long ropes; and when this was also done, and all were ready, they set forth. On this occasion Uenuku took with him two celebrated garments of his ancestor Tumatauenga. in order to become a defensive armour for him, that is for Uenuku; those famed garments were named Te Rangituitui and Te Rangikahupapa, § and they

[Footnote] * Notice, here, the change of her name, according to custom; and, at the same time, a play upon her former one as to its sound; her new name being also one of good omen,—lit. good-healing-of-the-sore, or wound.

[Footnote] † Here is also an addition made to the name of the leader of that band,—lit. prepared (or brought to pass) in the meeting in the open court,—which may have taken its origin from the prudent counsel he had given to Uenuku, which was also adopted, and led to victory.

[Footnote] ‡ See “Contributions towards a better Knowledge of the Maori Eace;” Part TV.,— Legends concerning the Kumara Plant—Art. II (infra).

[Footnote] § Lit. the Sky-stitched (together), and the Sky-joined, or banded, or rafted (together); and, viewing the Sky as a personage, this may be taken in an active sense. See, also, Uenuku's first charm, vv. 10, 24–29 (supra).

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had ever been taken great care of by the grandson* of Tumatauenga, Uenuku. The war expedition paddled away until they came to Matikotai and Porangahau, where was Tawheta's fort, or war pa; there, at Uenuku's command, all the canoes anchored just outside the swell of the waves, each being provided with stone anchors and long ropes for that purpose; this done they paddled in towards the shore. Then it was that Tawheta and his people, who were there assembled in great numbers; rushed down to meet Uenuku's party, and even waded out into the sea to fight them, and to oppose their landing! when Putuakiterangi, one of Tawheta's braves, was seized by Uenuku's party, dragged into the canoe and carried off! Uenuku giving the order to draw all the canoes outside by their long ropes. There, according to custom, they killed their first prisoner, cut him open, and tore out his heart; then they made a sacred fire by friction, and when it was fully blazing they roasted the heart on the fire, and when it was cooked, they covered over both the heart and the sacred fire with the two garments already mentioned,—Te Rangituitui and Te Rangikahupapa. Then it was that Uenuku, standing up in his canoe, called on the mist from the summits of (the mountain) Tirikawa, saying, “Attend ! fall down and encompass; fall down and cover up!” When, lo ! it suddenly became very dark indeed, and the stars were seen in the sky. Uenuku and his people listened, and lo ! Tawheta and his people were heard fighting among themselves in the darkness, and killing each other! the curses and the groans were heard, also the hollow blows on each other's heads from their clubs; not one of them, however, was struck by Uenuku's party, who were still in their canoes; they did it all themselves. After

[Footnote] * The word mokopuna may mean, great great grandson, etc., or lineal descendant.

[Footnote] † A very similar proceeding to the first sacrifice, mentioned in the beginning of this story, only with different ceremonies. This custom was of universal application among the New Zealanders; hence, in war, it was of great importance (on either side) to seize the first prisoner for this purpose. Uenuku seems to have laid his plan well, by anchoring his canoes in the way he did, to bring the desired end so readily to pass. The student of Ancient History will know how extensively this custom was practised, both in the Old World and New (Mexico); the two things seem generally to have gone together,—the bloody offering (or the life), and the offering by fire; blood being, at all times and in every zone, supposed to be fitted to appease the gods! Sir Walter Scott has well worked upon this ancient belief in his poem of “The Lady of the Lake,” Canto V.,—the combat between FitzJames and Roderick Dhu,—

[Footnote] —–“Which spills the foremost foeman's life, That party conquers in the strife.”

[Footnote] It is even said, that the Highlanders under Montrose were so deeply imbued with this notion, that, on the morning of the battle of Tippermoor, they murdered a defenceless herdsman, whom they found in the fields, merely to secure an advantage of so much consequence to their party.

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some time, Uenuku again called on his preternatural power (atua), the mist on the mountain—that is, to the mist on Tirikawa, saying: “Clear up !” And lo ! it was all clear and bright day. Then the war party looked out from their canoes, and found that many of Tawheta's people were still alive. On this Uenuku again commanded the mist on Tirikawa, saying: “Fall on ! cover up!” when, as before, it was again as dark as night, and Tawheta's people began afresh to fight and slay each other with greater fury than before. By-and-bye Uenuku again called on the mist, saying: “The mist of Tirikawa, break up, clear up, instantly!” And lo! it was again clear daylight. Then Uenuku, thinking they had destroyed each other, pulled off the garments from the roasted heart and sacred fire, and lo! on looking at the sea they saw it was covered with floating corpses and red with the blood of the many slain; deeply red all around them with blood! Three times did Uenuku call on his demons, before that his foes were destroyed. Then Uenuku and his party paddled their canoes to the shore, and landing, killed the few survivors whom they found there on the beach. Tawheta, however, and his remaining men, rallied, and came on, and renewed the fight, which was desperately taken up by Uenuku and his party, by whom Tawheta himself was also killed; but the great multitude of his people died by their own hands, and not by Uenuku's party. The fighting in the sea was named, “The lengthened day;” “the day (of) two sunsets;” and, again, because of the great amount of the blood of man in the sea, it was also called, “The sea of loathsome water;” and the name given to the last battle on land, in which Tawheta was slain, was, “The rising tide.” These were the bloody battles of Uenuku; these were the desolations of Uenuku. The victors cooked and cooked human flesh day after day, and all day, but they could not cook all the food, so it was left and wasted because it became rotten. Here ends the relation of those fightings of Uenuku the man-eater; the evil murders of his children, however, were all sorely and fully avenged. Uenuku having taken Paimahutanga to wife, she bore him a son, whose name was Ruatapu, whose doings shall now also be narrated.

II. The Story of Ruatapu and Paikea.

Many years after those fightings Uenuku got a large canoe made; Haeora was the name of the skilful man who made it; and Te Huripureiata was the name of that canoe. When the canoe was built and finished, it was painted red, and fully ornamented with pigeon's feathers, and all its many adornments. All this took a long time. Then it was that Uenuku ordered his sons, and the sons of other chiefs, to assemble, in order that the hair of their heads might be combed and anointed and neatly tied up in a knot on the crown, and ornamented with a high dress comb stuck in behind (worn

– 18 –

only by chiefs), so as to be regular and look beautiful,* that they might all go together and paddle the new canoe out on the sea. Uenuku himself performed this work of preparing and dressing and tying-up their hair. Those young men were 70 in number, all told, and Uenuku finished with Kahutiaterangi. All the 70 were fine able young men; there was not a boy among them. When all were done, Ruatapu called out to his father,—“O, honoured sir, see ! tie up and dress my hair also.” Uenuku replied to Ruatapu,—“Wherever shall a dress-comb be found for thy hair?” Ruatapu rejoined,—“Why not use one of those combs there by these?” Then Uenuku said,—“Why dost thou not ornament thy hair with one of the combs of thy elder brothers?” On hearing that, Ruatapu cried out,—“O noble sir, O noble sir, I was supposing that I was indeed thine own (son) ! but now I perceive that I am not thine !” Then his father said to him,—“O, sir, thou art indeed verily my own (son); but a son of little consequence, an offspring of inferior birth:” (meaning, that his mother was of no rank, being only a slave saved alive in war). § At this saying of

[Footnote] * Plenty of patterns of their hair so adorned are given in the plates of Cook's “Voyages,” and in Parkinson's “Journal,”—passim. (See Proverb, No. 130, “Trans. N. Z. Inst.,” Vol. XII., p. 133). When their heads were thus dressed they did not lay them down on pillows of any kind for several nights, lest they should disarrange them, but managed accordingly. This curious practice was also largely followed by other Polynesians. So in Africa, and, also, very anciently in Europe. (See Keller's “Lake Dwellings of Switzerland,”; pp. 175, 501, 565).

[Footnote] † This ceremony was always performed by a chief of rank, or by a priest (tohunga); Uenuku was both; the head being pre-eminently sacred (tapu), and never to be touched save by a tapu person.

[Footnote] ‡ I have sought to keep up in a translation the great difference in the modes of address here used between the father and the son; (see, also, p. 14, and the note there).

[Footnote] § In this dialogue three things are to be noticed: 1. Uenuku's quiet way of giving a gentle hint to his son, which tends to show that hitherto, throughout childhood and youth, no such great distinction had yet been made. 2. Ruatapu ought to have understood his father's meaning (see a similar mode of speaking, “Trans. N.Z. Inst.,” Vol. XIII., p. 42, and note there); he knew, as well as his father, that he could not possibly use one of his elder brothers' combs, as all were tapu, and each one strictly confined to its owner's own private use. 3. Uenuku's last words were very bitter and galling to the young man, and, no doubt, were spoken openly before all; and as they were spoken in highly figurative language I give them here in the original, with a strictly literal translation and full explanation:—“Ehika, naku tonu koe; he tama meamea koe nahaku; he moenga rau-kawakawa, he moenga hau!” lit. “O, sir, thou art indeed my own (son); thou art a son of inferior rank begotten by me; a begetting—or sleeping, or cohabiting,—(among) the leaves and branches of the strong-smelling kawakawa shrub,—a begetting, etc.—out of doors in the high wind.” The strong smell of the kawakawa (Piper excelsum) was particularly unpleasant to the New Zealanders; the whole also meaning, that Uenuku's taking Ruatapu's mother to wife was done without any festivities,—without any gifts of fine-woven mats for bedding,—and without a bride's house and other formalities. (See “Trans. N.Z. Inst.,” Vol. XIII., p. 45, bottom).

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Uenuku, Ruatapu was completely overcome with shame, and his whole heart was filled with grief and pain, and, loudly lamenting, he went away to the place where the canoe was, planning in his mind how he should best accomplish the murder of Uenuku's favourite sons, his elder brothers. He soon hit upon a plan; he got a stone chisel and he worked away with it at the bottom of the new canoe, until he had cut a hole through, which, when done, he plugged up and hid with wooden chips and scrapings, so that it should not be seen. Then he went back into the town, but he would not eat any food, for his heart was still deeply grieved at the lowering words which his father had used respecting him. The next morning early Ruatapu went and aroused and brought together the men of the place to drag the new canoe down to the sea. They all came and she was soon afloat, and then those young chiefs, 70 in number, who had been already prepared for that duty, entered on board of the canoe, he himself taking care that no boys* embarked with them, for some who came to do so he returned to their home. The canoe being well-manned with smart paddlers, and all being ready, away they paddled; Ruatapu himself going with them, seating himself in his own place on board, and keeping the heel of his foot firmly fixed on the hole which he had bored in her bottom. They paddled a very long way out to sea, when Ruatapu removed his foot from the hole, and the water rushed in. On seeing the water in the bottom of the canoe they cried out, “We shall be upset! turn her round to the shore !” but Ruatapu again fixing his heel on the hole, and also baling out the water, the canoe was soon free from it. They still paddled away further out, when some said, “Let us now return, for we have paddled to a very great distance.” On hearing this, Ruatapu answered, “We will soon return; let us first go a little further out.” So away they paddled, until they had got quite out of sight of land; then he again removed his heel from the hole, and the water rushed in ! All immediately called out, “Where is the baler? hasten; bale out the water; we are lost!” But Ruatapu had hidden the baler; and soon the canoe was filled with water, and was upset. Then Ruatapu made after his brothers, and quickly drowned several of them by plunging them under. Having done so, and seeing Paikea still swimming, he followed hard after him to drown him also; but Paikea repeatedly evaded him. At last Ruatapu said to Paikea, “Which of us two shall carry the tidings of our disaster to land?” And Paikea replied, “I will, for I can do it; for I am also a son of (or descended from) the sea.” And this was both the reason of his so saying and of his escaping drowning,—Paikea being descended from Rongomaitahanui, who was also descended from Te Petipeti, and Te

[Footnote] * The word may mean—younger sons.

[Footnote] † See proverb, No. 181, “Trans. N.Z. Inst.,” Vol. XII., p. 140.

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Rangahua. Then Ruatapu cried out, “Go thou, swim away to land; and note well, if I am lost here, then thou wilt surely know that I am not descended from our father; but if I escape from this calamity, then, verily, I am from our father. Go thou on; let the crowded parties of the summer season ever remember me, that I am also there, (I) shall not be hidden. When the squid and the jelly-fishes shall have reached the sandy beaches (in the summer season), then look out, I am but a little way behind them, going also towards the shore. Go on, swim away, proceed thou to the land; those who should be the survivors from this wreck (are) become as a pile of slain in a day of bloody battle. This is another word of mine to thee, Let Kahutuanui have the striking-up of the song, so that when (ye), the ample broad-chested, may be sitting closely together in a row by the side of the fire,* it shall be sung in parts,—in fruitful seasons and in unfruitful ones,—at the times of assembling together in companies, and at the times of living separately (in families); through this I shall be ever remembered.” Then Paikea said, “The tidings of our calamity shall be safely carried by me to our town, for I am verily descended from (those of) the sea,—Te Petipeti, Te Rangahua, and Te Aihumoana being my ancestors.” Here Ruatapu gave his last parting words to Paikea, “Go on, swim away to land, to the dear old home!” and so saying he held up his paddle. So Paikea proceeded on, swimming towards land, reciting as he went his powerful spell; and this was it:—


“Now shall be shown, now revealed, the vigour of the trembling heart; now shall be known the force of the anxious heart; now shall be seen the strength of the fluttering weak female heart.1

[Footnote] * For the common regular diversons of the evening, when the fires were lighted in their large houses.

[Footnote] † Paikea has now twice firmly asserted his descent from (beings of) the sea,—and he is not the first of the ancient Maori heroes who has done so. Of those four names of his ancestors here given by him, all are found in the Genealogical Roll (appended); but the first (Rongomaitahanui) and the last (Te Aihumoana) are, also, mythically known as ancient sea-demons (atua), and, so far, pre-historical. Paikea is also the proper name of a species of whale. I saw one about 34 years ago, which had been driven on shore here in Hawke's Bay in a severe gale; it was very long, with a sharpish snout, and its white belly was regularly and closely longitudinally fluted throughout. Its appearance reminded me strongly of the plate of Balæna boops in Rees' Cyclopædia.

[Footnote] ‡ There is a meaning here in this action of Ruatapu which should not be overlooked. To retain one's paddle (which was often highly carved and ornamented), in upsettings of canoes and in naval fights, was always an achievement, and a token of bravery, etc. Just as that of a young Spartan to retain his shield, or, in modern times, the colours, arms, etc.

[Footnote] 1 The very opposite feelings are to be here understood. Also in Uenuku's Spell, p. 7; and in Whakatau's Chant, “Trans. N.Z. Inst.,” Vol. XIII., p. 68; and the last line of Songs, 1 and 4, pp. 65 and 70, l.c.

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The big fish of the sea swims fleetly through strenuous exertion; blowing forth the blasts of sea-water from (its) nostrils; the big fish is lifted above the waters.


Space2 makes (it) buoyant; Sky2 upheaves (it) above the swell of Ocean.


Now, rushing forwards, a steep descent; anon (as if) climbing the fence of a fort! now a roughening squall of wind comes on; anon, as a bird's feather borne before it!


Ha! ha! thy heart (even as, or one with) my heart.3


Now the great enduring courageous heart of (the descendant from the) Sky, shall make itself to emerge through all difficulties and dangers to the habitable, to dwellings (of) light.


A full deliverance (for the) son of a chief, who was properly begotten the son of a chief.


Son above; son abroad; son according to the proper ceremonies (rightly or duly) performed; son according to the sign of the breaking-away of clouds, enlightening hitherwards from the outermost sides of the far-off horizon.4


Ha! abroad, far away on the deep (is) verily the place to exert strength, showing the straining of (one's) sinews.


Here, now, (is) the skid, I mount up on the top (of it); the very skid of Houtaiki;5 the skid satisfying the heart; the skid (that is) sure and fast.


Ha ! ha ! the cold wind (is) laughed at, defied; (so is) the cutting icy wind to the skin; so (is) the bitter cold penetrating and numbing vapour; and so the fainting internal feeling of sickness.


Here (is) the skid! I get up on (it); verily the same skid of Houtaiki so greatly desired and looked for.

[Footnote] 2 For Space and Sky, see “Trans. N.Z. Inst.,” Vol. XIII., pp. 68, 69, etc.

[Footnote] 2 For Space and Sky, see “Trans. N.Z. Inst.,” Vol. XIII., pp. 68, 69, etc.

[Footnote] 3 See the charm used for Rongoua's fractured skull, p. 11, Uenuku.

[Footnote] 4 These two verses (7 and 8) require explanation. Here there are six high reasons given by Paikea for asserting his nobility:—


“Son of a chief”—i.e., by both parents.


“Properly begotten”—i.e., with betrothal, and parental consent, and every proper preliminary arrangement;—see Kapi's wedding, “Trans. N.Z. inst.,” Vol. XIII., pp. 45, 46. (All this was wanting in the case of Paimahutanga, the mother of Ruatapu; see p. 18, note.)


“Son above”—i.e., in and with the approval of the Sky.


“Son abroad”—i.e., around,—in or with the approval of Space.


“Son according to ceremonies duly performed—i.e., by the priests (tohunga), at the early naming,—the cutting of hair,—the arriving at puberty, etc.


“Son according to the celestial signs”—i.e., these, such as are here referred to, were,—distant summer lightnings,—aurora australis,—peculiar red and other clouds, appearing on the horizon,—shooting stars, etc., etc.; and were always supposed and believed to have been given at, or shortly after, such ceremonial seasons, as tokens of approval, etc.

[Footnote] 5 The skid of Houtaiki.“Houtaiki is the name of one of Paikea's ancestors. Here, however, an allusion is made to the canoe of Houtaiki getting safely drawn up on its skids on the shore; it is a very ancient story. It was also used to denote a fixed safe barrier, or bounds, which were not to be passed, as at Taupo, etc.; and, also, known as “te puru o Houtaiki”—i.e., stoppage, obstacle, barrier. “Te rango o Houtaiki” is one of the names of the low isthmus connecting Table Cape Peninsula with the mainland. The name of Houtaiki often occurs in poetry, in connection with that of Houmea (infra).

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Once, twice, thrice, four times, five times, six times, seven times, eight times, nine times, ten times.


Let not the fastening roots of Taane6 be unloosed by thee: let not the hateful ill-omened winds to Taane be set free by thee.


Let the swimmings of a man in the ocean finally end; (let him) emerge at the habitable regions, at the lightsome (and) joyous dwellings.


Take up this descendant (of a line of chiefs); behold! he lives; (he) swims bravely.


Lo ! he swims on; the head first-born chief keeps pursuing; he follows on still swimming away.


Lo! he swims; behold! he swims strongly; still swimming onwards, enabled, enduring.


A head first-born chief follows on; still keeping at the swimming; lo! he swims.


Behold! he swims away, even Paikea (a) first-born chief, who keeps going forwards, still keeping on swimming.


Lo! he swims; behold! he swims; upborne he swims; upborne he continues; he keeps at it, swimming onwards, toiling manfully.


Now above (the surface), then below! anon rolling between the billows; all that ends in the very reaching of the shore by Taane himself.7


Lo! look out! there it is; coming onwards towards (me), like a huge rolling wave. Ugh! strike it down! fell it! with the famed axe of ancient times,—that which overturned the land.


Ha! ha! his own mighty first-born chief appears (to his succour); that is, Rongomaruawhatu,8 therefore it (the big) overwhelming wave, fled away, far off; ha!


The plugging and caulking stands good.


The fixing and lashing together stands good.9


Let (him or it) be uplifted and carefully carried.


Let (him or it) be raised and supported.


Let (him or it) be borne along.10


Alas! my distress, making me to toil laboriously at swimming; here, indeed, it is now being seen.


Make (thyself) to swim on courageously and well, as a skilful knowing one of old: truly so! here, indeed, is it now being shown.


In the midst of the great ocean; here, indeed, is it being seen.


In the midst of the desolate wild,11 far away from man; here, indeed, it is shown.


In the ragged first-appearings of daylight,—far off on the horizon, when first seen away there (from the shore); here, such is now being seen.

[Footnote] 6 Taane, the owner and creator of forests; (see “Trans. N.Z. Inst.,” Vol. XIII., p. 65;) here metonymically used;—“roots of Taane,”—i.e., of the trees of the forests. The strong westerly winds which often blow furiously in summer, sweeping down from the wooded heights and off the shore, East Coast, are here deprecated.

[Footnote] 7 Figurative, for a wooden canoe made out of a forest tree.

[Footnote] 8 One of Paikea's ancestors.

[Footnote] 9 These two verses (25 and 26) are spoken of a canoe.

[Footnote] 10 These last three verses (27–29) may mean, either Paikea, or the canoe coming to save him; there is nothing in the original to indicate gender.

[Footnote] 11 A term curiously used here,—as it means the uninhabited barren wilderness, far away from the dwellings of man.

– 23 –

My bird is verily met above; yes! there (it is) now returning; here, indeed, it is shown.


Ruatapu stood upright (in the sea) grasping his paddle, his last token! Alas! (it) was bad.


One chief dies (or disappears), another succeeds.


Kahutiarangi took Te Panipani to wife; he was a great chief's son, highly esteemed by Whangara.


Here am I, still swimming on; floating, but, alas! going in no certain direction.


The big fish is beaten stiff in the tide of quick dashing waves.


Lo! there it comes! the canoe of Pakia12 is fleetly sailing hither.


O! big black-and-white sea-gull, flying aloft there; settle down hither on (the) sea from the sky.


O! Taane!13 enwrap (me), involve (me), with the garment of careless insensibility, that so I may quietly float to the shore.


Lie quietly down, O young chief, on the sea, which was purposely becalmed (for thee).


Carry safely forward thy brave swimming man to the shore.

[Possibly, there is some omission, or portion lost, here, W. C.] This, which follows, is the ending of the powerful and celebrated charm, which enabled Paikea to keep on swimming, and by it make his way through the ocean. In conclusion, he called on his ancestor, on Hikitaiorea; saying:—


“O Hikita! O! here am I making a great fish of myself.


O Hikita! O Hikitaiorea, O! lo! I am making a (drifting) waterlogged-whitepine canoe of myself.


O Hikita, O! O Hikitaiorea, O! I am making a sperm whale of myself, basking and rolling in the deep.


O Hikita, O! O Hikitaiorea, O! O Tuparara!14 seek me hither, carry me to the shore.


O Wehengakauki!14 fetch me hither, carry me to the shore.


Taane! fetch me hither, carry me to the shore, to my own land; on to the very shore there; to my father indeed, on the shore, there away: alas! alas!”

Then (he) warmed, cheered, and consoled himself, by remembering the name of another of his ancestors, who was called Mataiahuru, (lit. by, or through, the warm comforting sea, or tide,) and so recollecting, he cried:—


“Mataiahuru! Mataiahuru! through the warm sea, through the warm watertide, let my own skin now become warm; (let it now) become as if it were verily basking in the heat of the noon-tide sun suddenly shining on my own skin; let it now be, as if by the blaze of the fire brightly kindled up, that it may become hot.”

And with (or through) these last words, Paikea caused himself to possess comfortable and warm feelings. And so Paikea, at last, reached the shore, at (a place called) Ahuahu.

[Footnote] 12 Another of Paikea's ancestors.

[Footnote] 13 Taane is now, at last, invoked, to make him just as a tree-trunk, or log of wood, that so he may float unconsciously to the shore; (see, also, verses 22, 51;) Taane, is, also, used figuratively, for the Mainland, and is always placed in direct opposition to his enemy the Ocean.

[Footnote] 14 Names of two more of his ancestors.

[Footnote] 14 Names of two more of his ancestors.

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After some time residing there, he took to wife a woman of that place named Parawhenuamea, who bore him several children; one was named Marumuri, and there were others also named Maru (with some other affix). Afterwards he came further south to Whakatane, where he took another wife, who was named Te Manawatina; whence came the name of Whakatane from Manawatina. Thence he travelled still further south to Ohiwa, where he saw Muriwai within a cave; from which circumstance arose the name of Te Whakatohea, who dwelt at Opotiki. In course of time, and still travelling south, he came to Waiapu, where he took another woman named Hutu to wife; and she came on with him to his own place. She bore him Pouheni, etc., etc. (See Genealogy appended.)

This highly curious and ancient Maori rhapsody, the Spell of Paikea, is among the longest of the kind known to me, and was possibly thrown into its present semi-poetical form (in the original) the better to remember it. Although I have already given copious explanatory notes, a few of its more prominent features may further be briefly noticed.

Throughout it possesses just such words and imagery, as a man (particularly a Maori) in such a situation might be supposed to use and entertain. It seems, to me, very natural that one should speak (talk aloud) to himself in that manner, if only to keep his courage up! Many of the similes used are very natural and proper.

A kind of regular and progressive sequence almost dramatic runs through it.

There is great freedom from fear, both natural and superstitious; great dependence on himself; and little looking to any higher power for aid (save in one instance) other than to his own ancestors, whose names he repeats and also calls on, but mainly (as it seems) to encourage himself by reflecting on their meanings; this latter is an old peculiar trait in the Maori character, of which I have known many curious instances.

The invocation to Taane (v. 43), is evidently favourably answered by Taane (vv. 44, 45): there is also a second call on Taane (v. 51). It also appears, in other verses, as if some one supernatural power or personage were speaking to him, or for him (vv. 16, 27–29, 31).*

It is not said how long Paikea was struggling at sea; but, no doubt, the canoe had put off, according to their custom, in the calm of early morning, (indeed, such is nearly said in the story,) and Paikea, after long battling with the waves, feelingly alludes to the dawn of another day breaking; and to the early morning bird (of hope to him) appearing (vv. 34, 35).

[Footnote] * See, also, “Trans. N.Z. Inst.,” Vol. XIII., p. 59, bottom.

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In “the ragged first appearings of daylight,” is another very peculiar and poetical use of a common term; lit. it is, the ends of the irregular strands of scraped flax yarns (ravelings), hanging from the beginning of the weaving of a dress flax garment.

There are, also, some highly curious coincidences here, agreeing with several interesting particulars in Homer's two descriptions of Ulysses and his two long-shipwrecked boats at sea, each of many days continuance—one in reaching, and one in leaving Ogygia, Calypso's isle (Od., lib. V. and XII.); though Ulysses was at one time on a raft, and on another, at first, on part of the wreck of his ship, and afterwards for “two days and two nights” swimming. The coincidences are, (1) Ulysses spurting the brine from his nostrils, etc.; (2) his thoughts, words, and modes of encouraging himself; (3) the goddess, Leucothea, appearing to him in the shape of a cormorant, and alighting by him (giving him hope); and (4) Neptune's big billow, purposely sent, smiting Ulysses;—though, here, the “big billow,” rolling on to do so to Paikea, fled before his invoked ancestor. Of Paul, also, we read, of his having been “a night and a day in the deep;” probably floating on part of the wreck of his ship.

I would also offer a few brief remarks on this story of Uenuku's son, Ruatapu.

And first, I would premise, that while the details of a legend are always false, the legend itself always contains a kernel of truth; a mere invention never becomes a legend.

Ruatapu's revenge is terrible; but, as I take it, it was not carried out merely to avenge the great insult he had then received from his father, but to avenge his mother's and his tribe's great wrongs.

If he had succeeded in drowning Paikea also, and then had got safely back to land, which he might have done, in all probability he would have been the head young chief of Uenuku's people; as no one could have told the secret,—that he alone knew. No doubt he was very strong and brave.

His parting allusions to their home and people; his belief, and his directions, as to how he should live in their memories and songs; and his remarks on the annual recurrence of nature's signs on the sandy shore in the summer season, (which he must have often seen there when a merry boy, and perhaps that very time of the year 1) and of his being also with them in spirit, and of their festal meetings, and simple home evening diversions,—are all of an affecting kind. He left a wife (named Te Kiteora) and (at least) one son (named Hau), who are duly mentioned in several genealogical rolls, and from him some of the present East Coast Maoris trace their descent.

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In some other old legends which I have heard, Ruatapu is said to have foretold to Paikea, at their parting, of a great approaching flood, which would cover all the low-lying lands of the North Island of New Zealand; and that when its signs should appear, the people were to flee to the mountain, Hikurangi, near the East Cape. But this, in my opinion, is merely a straining and embellishing (after the usual manner) of what Ruatapu had said about his own returning (in spirit) to land from the sea in the summer seasons;—immensely strengthened, also, from his high rank, and from the fact of those sayings having been his last parting words, which always had great weight with the Maori people.

III. The Story of Houmea.

In bringing this paper before you to-night, perhaps I should state, in a few words, my reasons for selecting this story of Houmea out of many such.


Because that the name and doings of Houmea are often mentioned, or alluded to, in old Maori poetry, and that, too, in connection with the name of Paikea. Her name is also still used as a warning by the Maoris, in their current “household words” and proverbial sayings.


Because that, according to their genealogies, Houmea was a very ancient ancestress of Paikea. (See the Genealogy.)


Because of its high antiquity; for while (as I have already said) the time of Uenuku and Paikea goes back to about A.D. 1000, or 25–27 generations, the time of Houmea (as derived from their genealogical rolls) goes back to nearly 50 generations! !


Because of the very great scarceness of this ancient tale; it is, I think, unique; as with all my endeavours I could only obtain this one relation or copy.


Because it contains a few more of their Charms, Wonders, and Miracles.

The Story of Houmea, a Female Thief: a very ancient Tale.
Part I.

Here is the narration concerning a certain female thief; the name of that woman was Houmea, and she was a very extraordinary person, a pest. The name of her husband was Uta.

One day her husband went out to sea in his canoe* to catch fish for himself and his wife and their two children; the name of one was Tuta-

[Footnote] * Here, throughout (as has been before observed, “Trans. N.Z. Inst.,” Vol. XIII., p.), only the persons themselves immediately concerned are mentioned; but it should be understood there were plenty of others,—plebeians, etc. A chief, for instance, could not go out alone to the deep sea-fishing in a large canoe.

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whake, and of the other Nini. The husband went out a long distance to fish, and having caught a plenty he paddled back to the shore; on landing he waited some time for his wife to come down to the canoe, to fetch the fish he had caught;* but she did not come. At last he walked to their village, and said to his wife, “O mother! mother! there was I on the beach long waiting for thee, but thou didst not come forth!” On hearing this, Houmea replied, “O, sir, it is entirely owing to the disobedience of these two children.” Then Houmea went down to the sea-shore to the sandy beach, to fetch the fish, and when she got to the canoe, she swallowed all the fish,—every one went into her own stomach, being devoured by her. This feat done, she went to pull up bushes of coarse sedgy plants, and of sow-thistles, which she brought on to the sands, and dragged and scattered them about; she also made big and small footsteps of her own footmarks, and trod all over the beach, and greatly trampled and tore it up, that it might be inferred a marauding-party had been there and stolen the fish. This done, she returned to the village, quite out of breath, sighing and panting; and said to her husband, “O sir, alas! there are no fish left, the fruits of thy fishing! have they been taken away (quietly) by men,—or by a marauding party,—or by thieves?” Then the husband said, “Who, I should like to know, can that thievish people be? here residing near the dwellings of men.” When Houmea rejoined, “The numberless multitudes of imps.” To this remark her husband replied, “Perhaps so.” Then they all went to rest.

[Footnote] * Or, as the mistress, to superintend the taking them to the village; the distribution, etc.

[Footnote] † Meaning,—well able to protect their own property.

[Footnote] Many are the stories—curious, droll, and interesting—related of these little folks,—“imps,” elves, goblins, or fairies. I have never yet been able to decide, what particular English, German, or European term to give them as an equivalent. They are said to swarm in countless numbers; (see Story of Uenuku (supra), and Tawheta's figurative and proverbial expression respecting them (p. 13); and to be just as ready to do good to men in difficulty, as to do mischief. Indeed it is said, in some of their old Myths, that it was from those little cunning beings that the Maoris learnt the art of making nets. Their various relations concerning them have always served to remind me of Gulliver's active Lilliputians. They were found, also, in the depths of the forests, as well as on the sea-sands,—though rarely ever seen by men. Mr. Locke tells me that when he was engaged in surveying for the Government at Portland Island (Hawke's Bay), the older Maoris residing there assured him that they had often in the early morning seen the countless footsteps of those imps on the sandy shore, by the sides of the fresh-water streamlet, where they had been holding their night revels. They bore different names (family or generic) among the old Maoris; which may also mean a difference in kind, dispositions, powers, etc.

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In the morning, early, he again went out on the sea in his canoe to fish, and having caught a quantity paddled back to the shore; there he waited a long time for the woman (or wife), Houmea, to come down to fetch the fish he had caught, but finding she did not come, he went on to the village; and, entering, said to her, “O, mother, mother! am I to remain ever on the sands? there was I waiting for thee, and thou didst not appear; nor, indeed, hast thou done any thing at all!” (i.e., towards preparing for my return). Then Houmea arose, and went forth, and when she got to the canoe, she swallowed all the fish! But, on her going thither, her husband had sent their two children to watch her, and when they got there (within sight but hidden), they saw her swallowing the fish. So those children returned running to their father, and said to him, “O sir, O sir! it was verily Houmea herself who swallowed the caught fish of thy canoe!” Shortly after this Houmea returned to the village, panting and blowing, and said to her husband, “Never a single scrap was there left in thy canoe of all the fish thou didst catch! All have been taken away by some man or other.” Then her husband replied, “O lady-daughter! who, indeed, is that man thou speakest of? The children were verily there, and on their looking-out they saw thee—thy own very self—swallowing the fishes of my canoe.” On hearing this she was overwhelmed with shame; nevertheless she strove hard at her own proper work, winding about, doubling and equivocating, that her theft of fish-stealing might be wholly concealed. In addition thereto she also loudly said, that she was guiltless of this charge, for she had never known anything whatever of crime, whether of adultery or of stealing the food of any man; (therefore, was she likely to begin now?) And then she also said to herself, within her heart, concerning her children, “All right and straight, no doubt, your doings, but I'll equal them yet!”

On another morning, after this, the father went again out to sea in his canoe to fish, and when his canoe had got out to the fishing-ground and had anchored there, Houmea said to one of her children, “O child, go for some water for us, we are all very thirsty;” and so the child went. Then she called to the other of her children, saying, “O child, come hither to me, that the lice (of thy head) may be caught and killed.”* So this child went to her, and squatted down by her, and she caught some lice, and then she swallowed the child whole down into her stomach! Just afterwards the other child returned with the water, and this one was also swallowed up by her. Verily the two children were thus destroyed by her, swallowed

[Footnote] * The head of a chief's child being rigidly tapu (tabooed, or sacred), could only be touched by a tapu person, and so with its vermin; through which the poor children were often great sufferers.

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alive, within her own stomach there to dwell! By-and-bye the canoe with her husband returned from the fishing. On his coming into the village he found her groaning audibly, while the big flies were also buzzing in numbers about her lips. On seeing this the husband said, “O mother dear, art thou ill?” She replied, “Yes, very much so.” Then he rejoined, “Where (within) is the demon (atua), that is now gnawing thee?” She replied, “Within my stomach, within my bowels.” Then he said to her, “Wherever can the children be, as they are not here present?” To this she replied, “Gone away somewhere, from the early morning; wherever can they be, wherever can they possibly be!” Then he closely examined her lips, and having done so, he recited a powerful spell: these are the words of that spell:—

——“Attack, strike end on, hit away upwards, turn (it), ward (it) off on one side; cause the food swallowed by the big cormorant* to be disgorged without; (let it) be open, clear; the obstruction is already uplifted by the charm, the obstruction is now securely noosed in a running loop of flax and carried off,—that is to say, the obstruction hindering (or confining) Tutawhake.”

At the close of those words, lo! out of her mouth came those two children she had swallowed; Tutawhake bearing a carved staff of rank (taiaha), and Nini bearing a spear (huata.) And this is the tale of old concerning the woman who was both a thief and a murderess of her own children.

Part II.

This which follows is the second part of that tale of Houmea; which, however, is more concerning her husband Uta.

Now it came to pass that Uta very greatly feared his wife, lest both himself and his two children should be swallowed up alive by Houmea; and, therefore, he one day said to his two children, “My dear children, this is my word to you two; whenever I may send you to fetch drinking water, be very sure that you two do not go; when I shall threaten you (for not going), be sure that you two do not go; when I shall strongly order you to go, saying also that I will beat you with a stick if you continue disobedient, be sure you two do not go for any water; and even when, with a high voice and severe threatenings, I make you two to feel afraid, still, be very sure that you two do not go.” It was not long after this, that their father ordered them to go (for water), when those two children paid no heed and stirred not at hearing the commands of their father. Then Uta turned to his wife and said, “O mother dear, O mother dear, wilt thou not go and fetch me some water to drink? Verily I am dying through want of water. Here, also, have I been repeatedly ordering those children to go, and they

[Footnote] * Graculus varius.

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will not move, nor do anything, remaining as if deaf to my commands.” On hearing this, Houmea went herself to fetch the water; and when she was gone forth, Uta began to say his spell; and this was it:—

——“Be the water absorbed (sunk into the earth), be the water decreased, be the water dried up; proceed onwards, O Hou,* proceed onwards; away, away, up to the very head of the streamlet, to the distant hill-country.”

And so it came to pass, for, as Houmea went onwards, the water also retreated before her, going out of sight, sinking into the earth, and drying up. Then Uta said to his two children that they should all go away together; so the children went on to the sandy beach where their father's big canoe was. Then Uta taught and showed (by gestures) to the village, to the houses, to the clumps of trees growing near, to the privy, and to the brow on the hill (or place of look-out), that when Houmea should return and seek and call out the names of those three who were now leaving, they (the fixed residents) should all respectively answer to her calling, and that not one of them was to remain silent; and so he ended his indications (showing-forth by gestures) to them. Then he, also, went to the sandy beach, and dragged down the canoe to the sea, and when she was fairly afloat, they all got on board and hoisted the sail, and away fled their canoe before the wind! away, away, to a very far-off distance indeed.

About this time it was that Houmea returned to the village, and not finding her husband and children, she went about calling them loudly, saying, “O sir, O sir, wherever can you all be; thou and our children?” Then the response came forth from the privy; the response came also forth from the houses, from the clumps of trees and shrubs, and from the crest of the hill. At last her heart failed her and became weak, and she began to pant and to cry. Then she went up onto the top of the hill and looked out towards the sea, and looking long and closely she saw the canoe far off, as a mere speck on the horizon. Then she walked to the low sandy tidal-bank and entered into a shag, and went away out to sea floating upon the ripple of the tide. The two children in the canoe kept looking towards the land, and by-and-bye they, through their sharp look-out, saw Houmea coming on after them. On seeing her they cried to their father, “O sir, O sir, here verily is the demon (atua) coming hither!” At this time their father was asleep. He, awaking from sleep, said to them, “O (my) dear children, whatever shall I do, lest (I) be destroyed by that demon, swallowed down alive into her big stomach?” The two children rejoined, “Lo! we two

[Footnote] * Abbreviated and familiar for Houmea.

[Footnote] † By way of echo. Note how careful the narrator is here,—Uta does not teach them by words, but by significant gestures, etc.

[Footnote] ‡ Graculus varius.

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will hide thee below the platform-deck of our canoe, that thou mayest be surely concealed.” So they accordingly hid him there, and he was out of sight. All this time Houmea was coming rapidly on to kill Uta to become food for her. As she neared the canoe her big throat opened wide to swallow them all! Coming close up, she cried out, “Where is my food?” The two children replied, “There, indeed, left behind upon the land; we two came out to sea to catch fish, and were carried away hither by the force of the wind.” Then she called to them, “I am nearly dead from want of food!” On hearing this the children gave her some roasted fish. She ate up all the fish and was not satiated. Then she cried again to them, “Have you not plenty of fish, for I am not satisfied?” The children said to her, “O mother, O mother, here indeed is the thumping big morsel of food for thee, still upon the fire.” On this she cried out, “Give (it) hither, give (it) hither, that it may be eaten up at once.” Then they said to her, “Open thy mouth wide!” And, on her doing so, they flung an immensely big hot stone, by means of a pair of wooden tongs, right into her open throat, which went down into her stomach and burnt it! So Houmea perished there upon the ocean. But her offspring (representative or alter idem) is the big shag which still lives here among us. These related are the doings of Houmea of old. Of Houmea* that now dwells here in the habitable world (among men), this is the proverbial saying,—“Houmea, rough and ugly flesh!” And so the name of Houmea still remains among us, and is used and applied to all evil women; that is, all adulteresses and thieves found dwelling among men.

A few things mentioned in this tale may be briefly noticed.


The invariably kind and courteous words used by the husband, Uta, in addressing his erring wife, even when having received from her great provocation. Also, his kindness to his children.


The fishing-canoe must have been of large size, and of a different build from those of modern times (of Cook's days), for it had a platform-deck, under which the chief, Uta, was stowed away. So in the case of Rongoua, who snugly stowed himself away in the bow of the enemy's canoe, which was also a fishing-canoe, for a war-canoe on that occasion would have told its own tale. (See, Uenuku, (supra), p. 10).


That their deep-sea fishing canoes also carried a fire-place, and had fires and heated stones used for roasting fish.


The charming simplicity of their spells! and yet their (believed) great powers! and consequent value.

[Footnote] * Meaning the bad women to whom the term is applied.

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A Genealogical Appendix.

I. Of Houmea.

This is a genealogical line of descent direct from Houmea, to show her offspring; which line also includes Paikea.

  • Houmea.

  • Tutawhake.

  • Nana.

  • Nioi.

  • Tangaroa.

  • Te Meha.

  • Te Toi.

  • Te Ihimoana.

  • Te Rapumoana.

  • Tumaikawa.

  • Matangiteunga.

  • Ranginumia.

  • Rangiwhetuma.

  • Rangiwherara.

  • Tangaroapatiere.

  • Tangaroawhakamautai.

  • Te Petipeti.

  • Te Rangahua.

  • Te Aihumoana.

  • Te Aihumowairaka.

  • Rongomaitahanui.

  • Paikea.

  • Pouheni.

  • Rangitekiwa.

  • Rakaitapu.

  • Te Aowhakamaru.

  • Uetekoroheke.

  • Niwaniwa.

  • Porourangi.

  • Hau.

  • Rakaipo.

  • Rakaiwhetenga.

  • Tapuatehaurangi.

  • Tawhakeurunga.

  • Hinekehu.

  • Whaene.

  • Te Atakura.

  • Tuwhakairiora.

  • Te Aotiraroa.

  • Tumokai.

  • Tamaauahi.

  • Te Rangikatoiwaho.

  • Huiwhenua.

  • Rongotukiwaho.

  • Porourangi.

  • Potae.

  • Henere Potae.

  • Wiremu Potae. = 48 generations.

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Some other of Paikea's ancestors, whom he had called on, and, also, recollected in his distress,—as Houtaiki, Pakia, Hikitaiorea, Mataiahuru, etc.,—are yet more ancient than those mentioned in this list, and run, also, in two other lines of descent; those lines, however, are not here given.

II. Of Pani.

The genealogical line of descent from Pani down to Uenuku contains 38 generations; and there are several other generations enumerated which preceded Pani, besides others before the first of that line, which are evidently wholly, or in part, mythological.

III. Of Uenuku.

The line of descent from Uenuku to the present time contains 25 to 28 generations; i.e., I have several lines of descent of several families strictly enumerated and all allowed, from Uenuku down to the present time, and they thus vary; which, however, can easily be accounted for. These lines give also the principal wife of each chief; and all of them descend from Uenuku direct through Ruatapu and his son Hau.

In the line, also, from Houmea (above), there are 27 generations from Paikea to the present time.

“Quid prodest, Pontice, longo
Sanguine censeri, pictosque ostendere vultus