Art. XLVII.—Vestiges: Reminiscences: Memorabilia of Works, Deeds, and Sayings of the Ancient Maoris.
[Read before the Hawke's Bay Philosophical Institute, 12th October, 1891.]
“Ex ungue leonem.”—Prov.
When relating any peculiar and striking doings of the Maoris of the olden time, which I had either seen or heard of in my early days among them (now nearly sixty years ago), I have not infrequently been asked to commit the same to writing, or, in other words, “to make a book.” This latter, however, I am not inclined to do, partly from want of time for such a purpose. Notwithstanding, I have thought I would jot down briefly a few of their more remarkable and little-known ancient acts and deeds, as many of them have long become obsolete, and are scarcely known even by name to the present generation of Maoris; and very likely there is not another European now living besides myself who knows anything about their old doings from actual observation; having frequently
visited Maori villages in all parts of the North Island, where no European had preceded me.
§ I. Of The Mako Shark.
Fifty years ago (to go no further back) a Maori chief would be known by wearing certain emblems or insignia indicative of rank, one of which was the tooth of the mako as an ear-pendant; and, as such were plentiful, though distributed, the thought often occurred to me in my early travelling days, What a number of the fish mako there must have been cap-tured or obtained by the Maoris to yield such a large number of teeth! Moreover, on inquiry I invariably found that all the teeth I saw were prized heirlooms, and had descended to the present possessor through several generations, and (as far as I could learn) none had been recently acquired. And while, when travelling along the sea-coasts for many a league on both sides of the North Island during several years, and always on foot, I had both seen and heard of a number of large sea-animals (fishes and mammals) that were driven on shore on the sandy beaches in severe gales from the sea, I never knew of a single mako shark, nor had the Maoris resident on those shores ever heard of one being cast up.
In replying to my numerous inquiries by letter respecting the mako, made many years ago, an intelligent aged Maori chief living on the east coast wrote as follows (or, rather, he being of the old school, and unable himself to write, a young adherent did so at his dictation). I give a literal translation of portions of his letter:—
“You ask, did I ever see a mako fish? Yes; and it is a very large creature, the biggest of all the sharks (mango)—in length 2 fathoms measured (erua maro whanganga nei), and in thickness 1ft. It is a true shark, but called by us a mako on account of its teeth. You also inquire concerning its fat or oil, and the edible qualities of its flesh, whether considered choice by us Maoris. Now, there are many kinds of shark, as the mako, the karaerae, the pioke, the ururoa, the uatini, the tahapounamu, the. taiari, the tatere, and the mangotara, and I have not eaten of them all, and therefore I do not know how nice or how fat they all are; and so of this one, the mako. But, my friend, this fish was never desired as an article of food—never so used by us Maoris. The only part of it that we sought and greatly desired to have was its head, and this solely on account of its teeth. When caught out at the deep-sea fishing-grounds its body was never hauled into the canoe, but the head was cut off while it was still in the sea and alongside of the canoe (ka tapahia moanatia te upoko): this done, and the head secured, the body was left to drift away on the sea. The head was also immediately wrapped
up securely in a clothing-mat (kahu), lest it should be noisily wondered at by those who were strangers or unacquainted with it (koi umeretia e nga tangata tauhou). You also ask what instrument was used for cutting off the head of the mako. What, indeed! Why, the saw made of the teeth of the tatere shark firmly fixed on to a wooden blade (he niho tatere, he mea hohou ki runga ki te rakau). You further inquire respecting the number of its teeth. There are eight—that is, large ones from within, and also eight smaller ones of them outside. Besides those there were several much smaller ones in front or outside (o waho rawa), but these I never counted, and therefore cannot give their exact number.”*
He also wrote (in another and subsequent letter) in answer to my further inquiries: “There are four very large teeth from the beginning, or within. These are called rei, and are kept for ear-pendants. Altogether there are eight teeth—that is, four very large ones, and four smaller, making eight in all. † The outside teeth resemble those of the tatere shark, and are only termed teeth (niho); these have no other name, but those that are kept for ear-pendants are called au-rei. Then, you wish to know how the mako was captured by us Maoris in the olden times. Listen. This fish was never taken as other sharks (mango) were, with hook and bait: none of our fishhooks would be strong enough to hold it, they would soon be broken. Now, when the fishing-canoe was out fishing, and had been a long time there catching fishes of various kinds, suddenly a mako would be seen coming leisurely along on the surface of the water (e hara mai noa ana i te kiri o te wai, ara i te kare o te wai). Then the man who saw it would shout out to his companions in the canoe, ‘Haul up our land ’ (Hutia mai to tatou whenua). not naming the fish;‡ and when the mako was pretty near to the canoe, about three yards off, then
[Footnote] * “E waru nga niho nunui o roto, e waru hoki o waho mai o era, nga mea iti nei, haunga hoki nga niho o waho kaore au e mohio ki te tatau.”
[Footnote] † “Ko nga niho nunui rawa e wha o te timatanga mai, he rei ena, nga mea e waiho ana hei tau taringa e waru tonu ana niho, e wha nga mea nunui rawa, e wha hoki nga mea tua ririki, ka waru ai.” As there is apparently a discrepancy in the two letters of my Maori informant respecting the number of the prized teeth of the mako, I have given here in these two notes his own precise words; he seems to be very exact. He may, however, have counted them by pairs in his second letter—as the old Maoris always did men, kumara (sweet potatoes), and fish, and a few other things—but, though understood, was omitted by his younger secretary; and, if so, then his number will be quite correct, and the same in both letters.
[Footnote] ‡ Observe here two things: (1) “not naming the fish,” from a superstitious belief and custom which also obtained in a few matters on shore; and (2) the peculiar cry of the descrier, which no doubt had reference to the old myth of Maui fishing up the North Island from ocean's depths.
the big tempting bait was let low down before it, and on the mako seeing the bait it would bend down its head to seize it (ka tupou te upoko), when its tail would be upraised above water. Then a noosed rope would be flung over its tail (lasso-fashion) and quickly hauled tight, which would secure the tail within the noose hard and fast. And away would speed the canoe at a fleet rate towards all sides of the sea and sky, being continually turned about in all directions by the fish, the man who had noosed it always holding on to the rope. At last, being exhausted, the mako died; then it floated, when its head would be cut off, as I said before. This was our common manner of catching the mako fish (ko tona hii tonu tenei o tenei ika o te mako), often also called by us a monster (taniwha); and hence arose the term of monster-binding (here-taniwha), owing to it being securely noosed and bound with a rope flung over its tail.” Here ends the interesting narration of my worthy old Maori correspondent, who died soon after.
I have never seen a mako fish, and I am in doubt whether it is yet fully known to science. It is evidently one of the deep-water fishes. The first mention of it by skilled scientific observers that I have noticed is in Sir James Ross's “Voyage to the South Seas,” wherein it is stated that on nearing the Chatham Islands, in November, 1841 (within a week after leaving their winter quarters and anchorage in the Bay of Islands), “the long-snouted porpoises were particularly numerous. One of these creatures was struck with a harpoon, and in its formidable jaws we found the teeth which the New-Zealanders value highly as ornaments, and which had puzzled us greatly to ascertain to what animal they belonged” (vol. ii., p. 134). Those Antarctic Expedition ships had spent several months in the Bay of Islands, and the officers had frequent opportunities of seeing and examining the teeth of the mako, and very likely had purchased some from the Maoris, as they were diligent in acquiring natural specimens, and curios and ornaments of all kinds.
Professor Hutton, in his “Catalogue of the Fishes of New Zealand” (published by the Government in 1872), considered the mako to be the “Lamna glauca=tiger-shark;” but he says, “The shark from which the Maoris obtain the teeth with which they decorate their ears is probably this species, but I have seen teeth only” (I.c., p. 77).
Subsequently Professor Julius von Haast (in 1874) read a paper before the Philosophical Institute of Canterbury* on the mako of the Maoris, which, he says, is Lamna cornubica, the porbeagle shark, and not L. glauca as had been supposed
[Footnote] * Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. vii., p. 237.
by Professor Hutton. But Professor von Haast had only a small young specimen (or, rather, its skin) to examine, which two North Island Maoris, then engaged at Christchurch Museum, pronounced to belong to a young mako, and informed him that this fish in its adult state was about 12ft. long. The animal to which the skin belonged was 4ft. 10in. long. Professor von Haast also gives much information relative to the teeth of his small specimen (differing widely from my Maori friend's description given above), their number, form, and size, the colour of its skin, &c. Still, as I take it, there are reasonable doubts as to that specimen being a true mako; I think it is highly probable that his two Maori informants had never seen a real mako shark.
Couch, in his celebrated work on “British Fishes,” in his account of the porbeagle shark, gives a drawing of it from nature, and also others of its teeth and jaws, which appear to be different from those of the mako, being much more slender, and semi-terete, undulate, and sharply pointed (vol. i., pp. 41–44).
My object in writing this notice of the mako shark is mainly to relate the ancient Maori mode of capturing it.
§ II. Of The Preparation of Black Pigment For Tattooing.
The ancient Maoris had more ways than one of obtaining the black substance used in tattooing, which colouring-matter also varied in quality, partly owing to what it was made from; that for the countenance being superior to that used for the lower parts of the body. One way of obtaining the best kind was as follows:—
First, two proper careful men were selected for the work. This, too, was done with ceremony, they being (for the time) tapu (i.e., under the laws of taboo)—rigidly set apart. A small kiln-like furnace (ruangarehu) was excavated in the side of a hill suitably situated. The substances to be used in burning for their soot—kauri-resin (kapia) and the resinous veins of white-pine wood (kapara)—were got ready; a net made from the wharanui flax leaves finely split, composed of very small and close meshes, and beaten well, so as to be rough and scabrous from long broken fibres, in order the better to catch and retain the soot (awe), which was intended to adhere only to the network: this net was fixed properly and securely over the top opening or chimney of the kiln, and above it were placed thick mats and suchlike, to prevent the escape of the burning soot and smoke. All being ready, a very calm fine night was chosen for the firing of the kiln—a night in which there should not be the least breath of moving air; and, the kiln being fired, those two men remained all night at their
post, attending to their work, carefully feeding the fire. When all the resinous substances were burnt up, and the kiln cold—the calm weather still continuing—the soot was carefully collected and mixed up with the fat of birds, and then given to a Maori dog to eat, which dog had also been early set apart for this work—tied up, made to fast, and kept hungry, that it might perform its part and eat the prepared morsels with avidity. After devouring the mixed food the dog was still kept tied up, and not allowed to eat any other aliment until it had voided the former. When the fæces were evacuated they were carefully gathered, and mixed up and kneaded with birds' oil and a little water, and, when this mixture became dry and hard, it was put up securely into a large shell, or into a hollowed pumice or soft stone, and laid by carefully, buried in the earth, for future use. It is said to have possessed no disagreeable odour when dry (though it had while fresh), and, though long kept, it did not become bad nor spoil through keeping, which, on the contrary, was said to improve it, and it was very much prized.
It was this pigment, so put up and kept, that was the origin of one of their proverbs, “Puritia to ngarahu kauri” = Keep to thyself thy kauri-resin-soot pigment. This saying was used when a person was unwilling to give what was asked, the same being some common thing, and not at all needed by the avaricious owner. But there is a double meaning here, in this simple sentence (proverb)—namely, “You may never require it, or live to use it.” (See Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. xii., p. 145.)
§ III. Of The Manufacture of Their Long Spears.
Some of their spears were very long. Of these there were two kinds. One kind was made of hardwood, rimu (Dacry-dium cupressinum). This was used in defending their forts and stockades before the introduction of firearms, being thrust through the palisades at close quarters against the legs and bodies of the invaders. The other kind was much lighter, though longer, being made of the light wood of the tawa-tree. (Beilschmiedia tawa), and used only for the spearing of pigeons when they were sitting on the top of a high tree. This spear was tipped with a flattish serrated bone 3in.-5in. long, usually coarsely barbed on one lateral edge, and sharply pointed; the bone being human, and a portion of that of the arm or leg, and, of course, of their deadly enemies. Seeing that these long spears were always made from heartwood of their tallest trees, it was a mystery to me how they managed to manufacture them, the hardwood ones being from 16ft. to 20ft. and the others from 20ft. to 35ft. long; and it was not until my first visit to the Urewera Tribe, at Ruatahuna, in the
interior beyond Waikare Moana, in 1841, that I discovered how it was effected. This patient performance has ever seemed to me a notable example of one of their many laborious and persevering works. For it must never be forgotten, in considering their ancient laborious and heavy works, especially in hard substances, as wood, bone, and stone, that they accomplished all without the use or knowledge of iron or any other metal.
First, a straight, tall, and sound tawa-tree was selected in the forest. This was felled with their stone axes. Its head and branches having been lopped off, it was dragged out into the open ground, and split down the middle into two halves. If it split easily and straight, then it would probably serve for two spears, if each half turned out well in the work-ing. The next thing was to prepare a long raised bed of hard tramped and beaten clay, 35ft.-40ft. long—longer than the intended spear—the surface to be made quite regular and smooth (like a good asphalte kerb town walk of the present day). On to this clay bed the half of the tawa-tree was dragged, and carefully adzed down by degrees, and at various times, to the required size and thickness of the spear. It was not constantly worked, but it was continually being turned and fixed by pegs in the ground, to keep it lest it should warp and so become crooked. It took a considerable time—about two years—to finish a spear. The last operation was that of scraping with a broken shell or fragment of obsidian, and rubbing smooth with pumice-stone. When quite finished and ready for use a suitable tall and straight tree was found in, or on the edge of, the forest; its trunk was trimmed of branchlets, &c.; the long spear was loosely fixed vertically to it, so as to run easily through small round horizontal loops girt to the tree, and placed at some distance from each other; the tip of the spear concealed, yet protruding near the topmost branches of the tree; and, as the pigeon is a very thirsty bird (especially, I should think, after feeding on the large fruits of the tawa and of the miro—Podocarpus ferruginea—trees, which are hot and piquant), the Maoris made small corrugated vessels of the green bark of the totara tree that would hold water, and fixed such on the top of the tree to which the long spear had been lashed, and by-and-by, when the bird was settled above after drinking (for it is a very quiet bird, sitting long after feeding), the spear was gently pulled down by its owner below on the ground, and sent up with a jerk into the body of the pigeon. I have seen the fixed spear thus used in the forests, and have eaten the bird so captured.
I may here mention that I have also seen those totara-bark dishes, with water in them, fixed high up on the big branches
of trees in the woods in the Urewera country, having flax nooses so set over the water as to catch and hold fast the pigeon in its drinking. I have seen pigeons so caught, the Maoris climbing the trees naked with the agility of monkeys to secure their prizes.
From the large amount of labour and the time consumed in the making of a long spear, and its great beneficial use when made, arose a good proverb among them relative to industry in tillage, &c., and to being prepared—” Kahore he tarainga tahere i te ara”=You cannot hew a bird-spear by the way. Meaning: Without timely preparation you may die from want of food, though the pigeons are plentiful in the forests near you.
§ IV. Of The Hair of The Tail of An Ancient Maori Dog.
A dog with a white flowing tail was greatly prized. It was kept in a house, and always slept on clean mats, so that the hair of its tail should not become soiled or discoloured. (The Maoris had no soap, yet they sometimes used soapstone, steatite, and a soft bluish clay for the purpose of cleansing oily hands, &c.)
Tohutohu, the aged principal chief of Tangoio (also a tohunga, or priest), once told me of a very curious operation they were in the habit of performing in the olden times on a living Maori dog's tail—namely, to strip the flowing hairs in long narrow lines or strips, somehow connected by the epidermis, so as not to injure the dog, nor to prevent their growing again.* I got him to repeat his relation twice in order to be sure of it, it seemed so very strange. He assured me that it had been done, that it was a very delicate operation which took a long time, and that it was only effected by a skilled man.
These long flowing white hairs were called awe. They were made up neatly into highly-peculiar little queues, each having one-third of its basal length firmly and finely bound round with a very fine cord, spun of best picked flax-fibre, looking somewhat like the silver string of a violin. These were used
[Footnote] * This peculiar operation of theirs seems to be analogous to that of our country people—namely, the regular and stated plucking of live geese for their quills, formerly extensively used for writing-pens. And here I may remark that it was a good thing that steel pens were invented and came into common use; otherwise, I suppose, under our new English laws against cruelty to animals, the owners of geese would be prohibited from so plucking them. I am led to allude to this from having lately read in the Home papers of country farmers having been prosecuted and fined for tying the legs of their fowls when bringing them to market for sale, and others, also, for having put too many live fowls into one basket. Jam satis!
for ornamenting the chiefs' carved staffs of rank, made of hardwood and polished (hani at the north, taiaha and maipi at the south), and were hung around the head of the staff beneath the fixed red feathers taken from under the wings of the large parrot. A large number of those little flowing hair queues (sometimes thirty or more) would be so hung around a single staff, and they remained in good preservation for many years, only becoming soiled.
As may naturally be supposed, the ancient Maoris had several proverbs derived from their dogs, all more or less natural, and some notable and laughable. A few specimens I will give:—
“He hiore tahutahu” = An often-singed tail. Taken from a skulking dog lying before the fire, and getting its tail repeatedly burnt. Moreover, such a dog would be early killed for food. Used for an idle fellow.
“He hiore hume” = A tail drawn down beneath. “He whiore hume tenei tangata” = This man is a dog's-tail, clapped under, between its legs (and sneaks away afraid). Used of cowards. N.B.: A very severe saying with a warlike people.
So that from these sayings we may conclude that the habits and actions of their now unknown Maori dog were much the same as those of other dogs.
§ V. Of Their Animal Pets.
Besides their little domestic dog the ancient Maoris had five birds which they occasionally kept in captivity—two of them for their prized feathers; one for use; one for its company; and one solely on account of its repeating a taught Maori song or recitation, and possibly, also, for its beauty, and for its prominently possessing in its plumage those two contrast colours (black and white, or nearly so) which were so highly prized by the old Maoris.
Those two birds kept for their feathers were the huia (Heteralocha acutirostris) and the kotuku or kautuku = the white heron (Ardea egretta). Of these two birds I have seen but very few in captivity, and always pitied them, as they must have had a wretched existence, and that mainly from lack of their proper food, and, in the case of the white heron, the miserable low cage in which the poor bird was confined not permitting it to stand erect. The Maoris might, however, have succeeded better with them in the olden time, when they had less to occupy their time and distract their attention—and perhaps they did so. One acquainted with their thoughts and old manners and customs is led to believe that they so acted, from the fact of their having suitable natural proverbs relating to this bird, showing that they were close observers of its
economy, which they so highly approved as to apply it proverbially as a fitting example to their chiefs—e.g., “He kotuku kai-whakaata” (Eng.: The white heron eats leisurely, after viewing its food and its own shadow in the still clear water). This is said of a chief who looks after due preparations being made for his expected visitors; also, of one who quietly and courteously awaits the arrival and sitting of others to their repast before he eats his own food.
The Maoris were always passionately fond of the plumes of these two birds, and prized them highly among their most valuable possessions, making beautifully-carved boxes, with their exact fitting lids, of hardwood, to keep their feathers in—real caskets. These two birds were also not common. The tail-feathers alone of the huia, being black, tipped with white, were used for adorning the heads of the chiefs; while several of the pure-white feathers of the kotuku, from various parts of its body, were of service. Those from within its wings, and near their junction with the body, were of two kinds—the larger of them were called meremere, and the smaller awe. * These last were sometimes stripped off with the skin adhering, so as to form a ball-like bunch to be worn in the ears. The larger feathers on the outside (secondaries, wing-coverts, and scapulars) were termed waitiripapa; while the extreme feathers of its wings (primaries) were called hiku-rangi. This bird, so comparatively common in the South Island, is very rarely seen here in the North Island: in all my travelling I have only seen four between Napier and Cook Strait, and those flying singly and at different times. One was shot here in Hawke's Bay, in the freshwater lagoon between Napier and Meanee, upwards of forty years ago, by W. Morris, the old whaler, who then resided at Rangaika, beyond Cape Kidnappers. He was on a visit in his whaleboat to me at Waitangi at the time, coming round by Ahuriri, when he came across the bird, and, having shot it, was bringing it to me, when he was stopped by the chief Tareha, who claimed the bird as being shot on his grounds.
[Footnote] * I may here, in a note, point out the curious and apparently contrary meaning of this short word of three letters—awe. I have already mentioned it, in section ii. of this paper, as the proper name for soot (which is pure black), while here it is also the proper name for the fine gauzy feathers of this bird (which are pure white). This same name is also given to similar white feathers of the gannet and of the albatros. And in section iv. (supra) it is again used as the proper name for the long white flowing hairs of a Maori dog's tail. So that it would appear as if the ancient Maoris put aside'the colour and the origin of the substances, and only considered their common lightness and airiness. This, again, reappears in this same word being used adverbially for “soon,” “early,” “in time,” with especial reference to travelling, walking to a place, &c., as if denoting quickly, lightly moving.
This was quite in accordance with Maori custom, and, I may say, with our English customs too.) A long altercation took place between them, but Morris was obliged to give way to save his gun. Hex afterwards called on me and told me of the circumstance, and how much he regretted it. The next day Tareha himself, with a whole posse of his wives and people, came in a canoe bringing me the bird wrapped up in a new garment (Tareha having heard from Morris that he intended it for me); but they had plucked out all its prized feathers, and now wanted £ 1 (or “a golden sovereign”) for what remained. For some time I would not take it at all, seeing it was spoiled as a specimen for preserving; but at last (and to please him) I took it, giving him 4s. for it: and the skin (though deprived of its choice plumes), with head and feet, I preserved with arsenical soap, and sent it to Professor Owen through Sir W. J. Hooker, as, at that time, I considered it to be a new species, and unknown. Another specimen of this bird was kept in a cage by the Maoris at Porangahau, who had managed to snare it alive in the neighbouring stream. They fed it very sparingly with small fresh-water fish, but placed them in such a shallow saucer-like vessel as strongly to remind me of æsop'sfable of the fox and the stork—that is, of the fox's invitation entertainment. It soon, however, died—before that its prized feathers had newly grown. Of course its old feathers were plucked out when it was captured. From the great scarcity of this bird, and its high value, it became proverbial—e.g., “Kotuku rerenga-tahi”= Kotuku once (seen) flying. So that the rare visit of any great and friendly chief or welcome visitor was likened to its flying, or rare appearance.
The one bird they kept for use was the common large brown parrot = kaakaa (Nestor meridionalis). This was used as a decoy-bird to enable them to catch wild parrots. It was always kept securely fastened by one of its legs, enclosed within a bone circlet, and tied by a short thick cord to a hard-wood (manuka) spear, but allowed to run up and down the spear, a loose loop being at the end of the cord. It was of great service to them in their clever parrot-catching, and sometimes lived to a great age notwithstanding its hard, confined, and wretched life. This was the only one of all their bird pets that was pretty common among them, especially in the interior, in the forest districts.
There are several good old proverbial sayings concerning the parrot—e.g.:—
“He kaakaa wahanui” = A noisy-mouth parrot. Applied to a chatterer, or boasting person.
“He kuukuu ki te kaainga, he kaakaa ki te haere” = A pigeon at home, a parrot abroad. The New Zealand pigeon is a silent bird, and remains quietly sitting on the high trees;
the parrot is a noisy screamer, and flies about, making the forest resound with its loud cries. This proverb is applied to an inhospitable chief: he does not raise the cheerful cry of “Welcome!” to travellers nearing his village; but when he travels, then, on approaching any place, he sounds his trumpet to get food prepared, and afterwards finds fault with the victuals given him.
“He kuukuu tangae nui” = A pigeon bolts its food. Used of a greedy fellow never satisfied.
“He kaakaa kai honihoni” = A parrot eats leisurely, bit by bit. Said to a person who eats moderately and slowly.
The fourth of their pets was a sea-bird, a large gull = ngoiro, also toroa (Larus dominicanus). This one fared better than any of the others, as it had its liberty, and ran about, and into the sea, and so (in part) fed itself with its own natural food, and back again to the village, which it seemed to take up with—more so than with the people of the place the dogs and the cats. It was only found in the sea-coast villages, and was kept merely for sociality and companionship. The bird was taken away young from its parents, and fed by hand; having had its pinions broken off, it could not now fly. It often emitted a mournful cry when wandering about in the village, which, to me, was not pleasant to hear, as I always fancied it was bewailing its hard lot. Of this bird, too, they had their proverbial sayings, one of which is very neat and pleasing—”Me he toroa ngungunu” = Like a gull folding its wings up neatly. Used of a neat and compact placing of one's flowing mats or garments about one's person, especially by orators when making a speech à la Maori, running up and down.
Their true pet, however, was the tuuii = parson-bird (Pros-themadera novæ-zealandiæ). This bird was taken great care of, and kept in a decent rustic cage, entirely for its Maori song, which it was diligently taught. I have known some to live several years in captivity, to look well in their fine plumage, and to sing or repeat words and sentences parrot-like, but with more of life and energy, as if the bird delighted in being noticed, and was showing off. The old Maoris had an especial Maori song which this bird was brought to repeat. Some of its sentences were very quaint—e.g., (in English) thus: “Lo! hast thou heard? Here is the welcome visitor. Where from? Draw nigh. Call hither the dog. Come hither, welcome visitor. From the south is this welcome visitor? From the north is this welcome visitor?” &c. These words were extremely applicable to a party of friends arriving at a village; and if the tuuii in the olden time was so well taught by its owners as to rattle them out on the arrival of visitors it must have been very pleasing to them. At all
events, they are a standing memorial to the well-known exuberant hospitality of the ancient Maori people.*
The finest tame tuuii I ever saw was the property of Mr. W. G. Puckey, of the Kaitaia Church Mission (that was in 1838). This bird had been in Mr. Puckey's possession several years, and when it rattled off its Maori song it would also inflate its body, appear bulky, and ruffle up its glossy feathers, and so make itself look nearly twice its real size, and all the time move up and down its perch as if with glee. Truly it was a pretty sight to see and hear it. An elegant proverbial saying respecting this bird I may here mention—“Me he korokoro tuuii” = As eloquent as the throat of the sweet-singing parson-bird. Spoken in praise of a good orator.
A pleasing anecdote of another tuuii may here be mentioned. When H.M.S. “Buffalo” was here in New Zealand in 1834, felling kauri-pine spars and loading them for the Government dockyards at Home, and consequently had to remain some time in the New Zealand waters, several of our endemic birds were captured alive to be taken to England, and among them, naturally enough, were many tuuiis. On the passage Home, however, all the tuuiis died save one, and that was the property of a common sailor on board. As the ship neared England large sums were offered “Jack” by the officers for his bird; but he steadily refused them all, saying (good-sailor-like) the bird was for his darling girl, Polly.
I may also mention that among their very ancient legend-ary stories is an interesting one of an immense saurian (a man-eater) that was the pet of the chiefs of that district (Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. xi., pp. 95, 100).
§ VI. Of The Fine Smelling-sense And Taste of The Ancient Maoris for Perfumes.
I have already more than once, and in former papers read here before the Institute, touched on the superior powers of sight of the ancient Maoris;† and it has often occurred to my mind that they also possessed a very keenly developed sense of smell, which was largely and quickly shown whenever anything sweetly odoriferous, however fine and subtle, had been used—as eau de Cologne, essence of lavender, &c. Indeed, this sense was the more clearly exhibited in the use of their own native perfumes, all highly odorous and collected with labour. Yet this sensitive organization always appeared to be the more strange when the horribly stinking smells of
[Footnote] * Mention is also made in an interesting old story of a chief's son, in quest of his father, having taught two tamed birds — a huia and a kotuku—to repeat a sentence in Maori. See Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. xiii., p. 55.
[Footnote] † Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. xiv., p. 67, &c.
two of their common articles of food—often, in the olden times, in daily use—are considered: rotten corn (maize, dry and hard, in the cob) long steeped in water to soften it, and dried shark. The former, however, has long been abandoned; yet at one period every village at the North had its steeping-pit.
In a paper I read here at our June meeting** I mentïoned some of the very small Hepaticæ (Lophocolea and Chiloscyphus species) as being used for perfume by the Maoris, who called them piripiri. Their scent was pleasant, powerful, and lasting. Hooker, in describing those plants, has mentioned it from dried and old specimens. Of one species, Lophocolea pallida, he says, “odour sweet;” of another, L. novæ-zealandiæ, “often fragrant;” of another, L. allodonta, “odour strong, aromatic;” of another, Chiloscyphus fissi-stipus, “a handsome strongly-scented species;” and he has further preserved it to one of them in its specific name, C. piperitus, “odour of black pepper.”
There were also two or three ferns—viz., Hymenophyllum sanguinolentum, a very strong-smelling species, hence too its specific name; dried specimens not only retain their powerful odour, but impart it to the drying-papers: Polypodium pustu-latum, having an agreeable delicate scent: and Doodia fragrans, a neat little species; this last was so far esteemed as some-times to give name to the locality where it grew, as Puke mokimoki, † the little isolated hill which once stood where the Recreation-ground now is in Napier; that hill having been levelled to fill in the deep middle swamp in Monroe Street.
One of the Pittosporum trees, tawhiri (P. tenuifolium), also yielded a fragrant gum; but the choicest and the rarest was obtained from the peculiar plant taramea (Aciphylla colensoi), which inhabits the alpine zone, and which I have only met with near the summits of the Ruahine Mountain-range, where it is very common and very troublesome to the traveller that way. The gum of this plant was only collected through much labour, toil, and difficulty, accompanied, too, with certain ceremonial (taboo) observances. An old tohunga (skilled man, and priest) once informed me that the taramea gum could only be got by very young women—virgins; and by them only after certain prayers, charms, &c., duly said by the tohunga.
There is a sweet little nursery song of endearment, expressive of much love, containing the names of all four of their perfumes, which I have not unfrequently heard affectionately
[Footnote] * See above, Art. XXXVII.
[Footnote] † Mokimoki Hill, from mokimoki, the name of that fern.
and soothingly sung by a Maori mother to her child while nursing and fondling it:—
Taku hei piripiri,
Taku hei mokimoki,
Taku hei tawhiri,
My little neck-sachel of sweet-scented moss,
My little neck-sachel of fragrant fern,
My little neck-sachel of odoriferous gum,
My sweet-smelling neck-locket of sharp-pointed taramea.ast;
Here I may observe that to the last one of the four the word kati is prefixed: this word—meaning, to sting, to bite, to puncture, to wound sharply and painfully—is added to indicate the excessive sharpness of the numerous leaves and leaflets of the taramea plant (hence judiciously generically named by its early discoverer, Forster, Aciphylla = needle-pointed leaf), and the consequent pains, with loss of blood, attending the collecting of its prized gum, thus enhancing its value.
This natural and agreeable little stanza, one of the olden time, has proved so generally taking to the Maori people that it has passed into a proverbial saying, and is often used, hummed, to express delight and satisfaction—pleasurable feelings. And sometimes, when it has been so quietly and pri-vately sung in a low voice, I have known a whole company of grey-headed Maoris, men and women, to join in the singing: to me, such was always indicative of an affectionate and simple heart. How true it is, “One touch of nature makes the whole world kin”! †
In the summer season the sleeping-houses of their chiefs were often strewed with the large sweet-scented flowering grass karetu (Hierochloe redolens). Its odour when fresh, confined in a small house, was always to me too powerful. ‡
[Footnote] * See Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. xii., p. 148.
[Footnote] † It is pleasing to notice that the observant artist Parkinson (who was with Sir Joseph Banks as his botanical draughtsman, and Cook on his first voyage to New Zealand) makes special mention of those little sachels in his Journal, saying of those Maoris who came off to the ship in their canoes, “The principals among them had their hair tied up on the crown of their heads with some feathers, and a little bundle of perfume hung about their necks” (Journal, p. 93). Captain Cook, also, has similar remarks respecting the young women.
[Footnote] ‡ Sir J. D. Hooker thus writes of this fine, sweet-smelling grass in his Flora Novæ Zelandiæ: “A large and handsome grass, conspicuous for its delicious odqur, like that of the common vernal grass (Anthoxanthum) of England, that gives the sweet scent to new-made hay” (I.c., vol. ii., p. 300). A closely-allied northern species (H. borealis), which was also supposed to be found here in New Zealand, is also used on the Continent of Europe for similar purposes. In some parts of Germany it is dedicated to the Virgin Mary (hence, too, its generic name of Hierochloe = sacred grass), and is strewed before the doors of the churches on festival days, as the sweet sedge (Acorus calamus) is strewed on the floor of the cathedral at Norwich for the same purpose at such seasons.
Here, in conclusion, I may briefly mention an instance of their correct discrimination on the contrary side, clearly showing how well and closely the ancient New-Zealander agreed in his opinion of a plant with the highly-civilised scientific visitor already named above, the botanist Forster. Forster named the Coprosma genus from the fœtid odour of the first species he discovered in the South Island, which signification he also continued in its specific name, C. fætidissima: this shrub also bears a similar Maori name, hupiro, highly expressive of its very disagreeable smell.
§ VII. Of their House-decorations.
These were mainly of three kinds: 1. Their peculiar manner of making a smooth surface to the large flat and broad hardwood pilasters of their principal houses by dubbing them down. These were closely worked into little shallow semi-symmetrical ridges and hollows, somewhat imitating the trunk of the larger fern-trees; and the work was called, after them, ponga, pongaponga, and mamaku, and all done, of course, with their stone adzes. It had rather a pleasing effect. 2. Their strange and bold regular designs drawn on the larger roof-rafters and beams of their chiefs' houses, which had been previously smoothed and prepared, reminding the beholder at first sight of stencil work. These traceries were of various patterns, and coloured red and white. All the patterns of their ornamental-border carvings and coloured tracings bore different proper names; and so of branches or parts of the figures, when compound, as mango-pare (the hammer-headed shark), hikuaua (herring-tail),* kowhai, from the flower of the kowhai-tree, &c.; and all from real or fancied resemblances—correlations, as it were, of the Maori mind. One, in particular, I may mention and explain: This pattern was called rengarenga, from being an imitation of, or ideal association with, the curved anthers of the flowers of that plant, the New Zealand lily (Arthropodium cirrhatum). Here we have another curious and pleasing instance of coincidence of ideas in natural close observation and naming between two widely opposite peoples, the ancient New-Zealander and the highly-civilised European—the German botanist Forster who accompanied Cook on his second voyage to New Zealand, and who gave the appropriate specific name of cirrhatum to this plant from its peculiar closely-curved and revolute anthers.† 3. Their striking and neat variegated reedwork,
[Footnote] * Lit. tail of the aua, a small sea-fish, Agonostoma forsteri.
[Footnote] † I give in a note that portion of Forster's full and able description of this fine plant which applies to its anthers: “Antheræ oblongæ erectæ, bisulcæ, candidæ. Barbata corpuscula duo filiformia, purpurea, pubescentia ab antherâ ad basin filamenti longitudinaliter dependentia, ibique cirrhi in modum revoluta, parte cirrhi formi flavissimâ.” Forster, however, had described it as being a species of Anthericum; but Brown made a new genus of some Australian plants (Arthropodium) very near to the old Linnean genus Anthericum, and so included this one. I see Sir J. D. Hooker has given Brown's name after our New Zealand plant in his N.Z. Flora, but I think Forster's name should have remained.
displayed in the inner walls and ceilings of their best houses, and also in their verandahs.* 4. Their famous boldly carved and sculptured work. This, however, I omit, from want of room, and because much of it yet remains with us, as may be seen here in our local Museum.
§ VIII. Of the Peculiar Modes of preparing some Articles of Animal Food, as practised by the Ancient Maoris.
Under this head I would briefly notice a few which were both singular and strange, and confined to themselves, in which also they excelled; these (like many other of their good and useful preparations) having long become obsolete among the Maoris. I am the more inclined to do this from my having already given in a former paper† their striking and curious modes of obtaining and preparing and laying up in store some of their wild indigenous vegetable food for winter use, particularly the fruits of the karaka (Corynocarpus lævigata) and of the hinau (Elæocarpus dentatus), the pollen of the raupo (Typha angustifolia), and the roots of the aruhe = common fern (Pteris esculenta).
1. Of their little rat, once so plentiful and now extinct. This animal was sometimes prepared in this way for their chiefs' and first-class visitors' meal: It was carefully singed, and so denuded of its fur, and then its bones were broken within the body and extracted by the anus, without breaking the skin; this done, it was cooked in their earth-ovens, and, being very fat, made choice plump morsels, somewhat resembling large sausages. The contents of its stomach (being a frugivorous animal) were also eaten, much as in England those of a woodcock or snipe. Another mode adopted by the old Maori cooks was to stuff small rats into the belly of a large one. For both of these gastronomic preparations they had proper names.
In the early times, before the creation of the colony, when lands were sold at the North, I have known a chief to lay claim to a share of the price paid for the land from the fact of his ancestors and himself being entitled to the fat of rats caught thereon; and such claim was allowed.
[Footnote] * For more particulars, see my note about the same, Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. xiv., p. 50.
[Footnote] † Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. xiii., p. 3.
2. Of fish they made large store in the summer season by drying them for winter use. Of these I would especially mention the mackerel (tawatawa of the Maoris), which they caught in great numbers in their big seine-nets.* This fish was managed thus for storing: They gutted them, took off their heads and tails, and split them into halves, and cooked them by steam in large earth-ovens made expressly for the occasion on the sea-beaches, always using a peculiar kind of wood for heating the ovens. When cooked the fish were carefully separated unbroken, and placed on raised stages to dry in the sun and wind, and when dried packed in large flax baskets for winter use. This fish, once so very plentiful, arriving annually on the shores of New Zealand in immense shoals (much as it does on the shores of England), has now and for many years past become very scarce.
Of the smaller kinds of shark (generally known by the common appellative of mango), and also of fresh-water eels (common name tuna), the old Maoris caught and dried great numbers for winter use, and perhaps this is still being done by them in several suitable localities at the North. Of the larger dried eels I have myself eaten, and considered them very good. In drying them they split them down the back, as the Cornish fishermen formerly did the great sea-eel, or conger, for salting and drying.
A small, delicate river fish—the inanga (of at least two species, yet going together in small shoals, and both distinguished by the Maoris)—was also in some places caught in large quantities in the summer season, and carefully dried in the sun for storing. Of these, also, I have frequently partaken in travelling among the Maoris, and liked them very much. My usual plan was to put a handful of them into the iron pot to boil with the potatoes, when the potatoes were nearly quite cooked. [N.B.—There were neither mutton nor sheep in those days.]
They also dried for winter use large quantities of bivalve
[Footnote] * Cook's remarks on the great plenty of mackerel he obtained from the Maoris are worthy of a notice. While at Mercury Bay, in November, 1769, Cook writes: “The natives who came to the ship this morning sold us for a few pieces of cloth as much fish of the mackerel kind as served the whole ship's company, and they were as good as ever were eaten.” And, again, he subsequently writes: “On the 9th, at daybreak, a great number of canoes came on board loaded with mackerel of two sorts—one, especially, the same with those caught in England. We imagined the people had taken a large shoal….they were very welcome to us. At 8 o'clock the ship had more fish on board than all her people could eat in three days; and before night the quantity was so much increased that every man who could get salt cured as many as would last him a month.” (Voyages, vol. ii., pp. 335, 336, and 440.)
shellfish of different kinds of cockles, especially the kokota (Mesodesma novÆ-zealandiÆ). These were first cooked in their shells in earth-ovens, and then the fish extracted and dried in the sun. Of course, these and all kinds of their dried animal food were softened when required for use, in cooking by steam in their close earth-ovens.
But the most curious mode of preparing and drying was that practised on their crayfish (koura). This perfectly astonished me when I first witnessed it. At the proper summer season (November) this crustacean would be caught in great numbers, and taken on shore near to a running stream of fresh water. Into this water they would be securely and closely packed in rows across the stream, like tiles on a house-top, and kept down with stones placed upon them. When dead they were taken out, and their shells stripped off. These came off very easily, and the whole body of the fish, with its legs and feelers, came out from the shell in one piece unbroken. These were quickly prepared, flattened, with their legs, &c., confined and compressed on their bodies, and hung up high in tiers on erected hollow stages in the wind and sun to dry, and when dried were securely packed into flax baskets. Each fish when dry presented a most curious appearance—small, thin, light in weight, and whitish, somewhat resembling a half-baked scone. A stranger would be sure to be deceived from their greatly-altered appearance—scarcely a trace of their legs, &c., to be seen—merely a small oblong cake of tough fish, in its dried state, and always considered a bonne bouche with the Maoris, and, like the other kinds of dried sea-fish, often sent into the interior as presents.
§ IX. Of their Textile Manufactures.
These were formerly prominent among the great industrial achievements of the Maoris, and always elicited the admiration of their wondering visitors.
I divide them into two great classes—(1) of garments, which were woven; and (2) of threads, cords, lines, and ropes, which were spun.
Nature had given to the Maoris one of her choicest gifts in the well-known flax plant (Phormium), of which there are two ascertained and valid species (P. tenax and P. colensoi) and several varieties. These plants are pretty general throughout New Zealand, and are well known to the Maoris by the common names of harakeke, wharanui, wharariki, and tihore—excluding those of the many varieties, as known to them. *
[Footnote] * Sir James Hector, in his book on the Phormium plants, enumerates fifty-five named varieties; but it is doubtful whether more than half of that number are permanent ones.
So that what they may have lost on the one hand through not having the valuable wild edible fruits of other South Sea islands (as the cocoanut, bread-fruit, plantain, &c.) they more than merely gained in their flax plant, which is also common, and almost endemic, being only found outside New Zealand in Norfolk Island.
And here I may briefly mention an anecdote of the flax plant. On my arrival in this country the Maoris (who knew nothing, or very little, of any other land) would often inquire after the vegetable productions of England; and nothing astonished them more than to be told there was no harakeke growing there. On more than one occasion I have heard chiefs say, “How is it possible to live there without it?” also, “I would not dwell in such a land as that.” This serves to show how highly they valued it. Moreover, at first and for many years the principal export from New Zealand prepared by the Maoris was the fibre of this plant—all, too, scraped with a broken shell, leaf by leaf.
1. Of their Woven Articles (or Garments).—I do not intend to say much of them in this paper. Many of them are well known, and still to be found in use among the Maoris, but their manufacture has for many years sadly deteriorated: indeed, I have not seen a newly-made first-quality clothing-mat for the last twenty to thirty years, and I very much doubt if such can now be made at all. Not that the art of weaving them has been entirely lost, but the requisite taste, skill, and patience in seeking and carefully preparing and using the several parts (including their dyes) are no longer to be found among the Maoris. I sometimes indulge in a contemplating reminiscence—an idea—a pleasing reverie of the long past—of great gatherings of Maoris, tribes and chiefs; and at such times the figures of some head men I have known, clothed in their handsome, clean, and lustrous dress-mats (kaitaka and aronui), would stand forth in pleasing high relief. The close and regular weaving of such flax dresses, having their silky threads carefully selected as to fineness and uniformity of colour, and their smooth, almost satiny, appearance, as if ironed or calendered when worn new, was to me a matter of great satisfaction—a thing to be remembered—“a joy for ever.”
Those best dress-mats were always highly prized, both by Maoris and Europeans, and brought a high price. I well recollect a young lady, daughter of very respectable early English settlers in the Bay of Islands, who, when she came across the inner harbour in a boat with her parents to attend the English Church service on Sunday mornings in the Mission chapel at Paihia, often wore one of them folded as a shawl, and to me it seemed a neat and graceful article of dress.
Three things more in connection with these fine mats I will just relate: one, the cross-threads in weaving were always of a different sort of flax—the weft and the woof of these mats were not both taken from the same kind of flax; the second, that extremely soft lustrous appearance was given to the flax-fibres by repeated tawing done at different times—it was a pretty sight to see the various skeins of flax-fibres in their several stages of preparation neatly hung up in the weaving-shed; the third, that in the weaving of one of these garments, if a thread showed itself of a different shade of colour, that part of the garment was carefully unravelled to take it out, and to substitute another better suited in its stead. It was also from this superior knowledge and close attention to their work that the principal chiefs frequently took women who were clever at making those things to be their wives, in order to secure to themselves their valued manufactures.
They also wove very good and useful floor- and bed-mats of unscraped flax-leaves, split into narrow lengths and carefully bleached in the sun—these were very strong and lasting; also baskets and kits of all sizes. Some of them were woven in regular patterns with black (dyed) and uncoloured flax; others were skilfully and pleasingly semi-damasked (if I may so term it) by changing sides to the flax-leaves used to form the pattern, the upper side of the leaf being smooth and shining, the under side not shining and of a glaucous colour. The little kit, or basket, for a first-born child was often a little gem of weaving art, and made by the mother.
Besides the flax plant they had other fibrous plants whose leaves and fibres were also used in making articles of dress: (1.) The toii (Cordyline indivisa), of which they made black everlasting wraps or cloaks. The making of these was confined to the natives of the mountainous interior, where alone those plants grow. (2.) The long orange-coloured leaves of the pingao (Desmoschænus spiralis), a prostrate, spreading seaside plant, also afforded them good materials for weaving useful folded belts, which were strong, and looked and wore well, and were highly valued. (3.) The climbing kiekie (Freyci-netia banksii) was also used; likewise the long, slender, and soft leaves of the kahakaha (Astelia banksii), but not frequently. (4.) Of the leaves of the common swamp plant raupo = bulrush (Typha angustifolia), they formed large sails for their canoes. These leaves the Maoris curiously laced together. (5.) I should not omit to mention their flying-kites (pakaukau and manuaute), formerly in great esteem among them, and made of the manufactured bark of the aute shrub = paper-mulberry (Broussonetia papyrifera), which was formerly cultivated by the ancient Maoris for its bark. Inferior ones, however, were made
of the prepared leaves of some of the larger sedges. They were prettily made, requiring both time and skill in their construction, and much more resembled a bird flying than our English ones. They always served to remind me of those of the Chinese, as we see them in their own drawings and on their chinaware. The old chiefs would sometimes quietly spend hours amusing themselves in flying them and singing (sotto voce) the kite's song, using a very long string.*Kites being flown at any village or fort was a sure sign of peace. These, too, gave rise to proverbs, some being quaint and highly expressive. A pleasing one I give as a sample: “He manuaute e taea te whakahoro” = A flying-kite made of paper-mulberry bark can be made to fly fast (away, by lengthening the cord). Used by a lover, expressive of impatience at not being able to get away to see the beloved one.
2. Of their Spun Fibrous Articles.—These were very numerous in kind, size, and quality, according to the particular use for which they were required; and, while the larger number of them were composed of scraped and prepared flax-fibres there were also other fibrous-leaved plants used by the Maoris, particularly the leaves of the erect cabbage-tree = tii (Cordyline australis) and of the kiekie, already mentioned. Here, too, in this department, the different kinds or varieties of the flax would be used for making the different sorts of threads, cords, and ropes, some of the varieties of flax enduring much greater strain when scraped and spun into lines than others; and of such their deep-sea fishing-lines were made. It was ever to me an interesting sight to see an old chief diligently spinning such lines and cords—always done by hand, and on his bare thigh. The dexterity and rapidity with which he produced his long hanks and coils of twine and cord, keeping them regular, too, as to thickness, was truly wonderful. Some of their smallest twisted cords or threads were very fine. Such were used for binding on the barbs to their fishhooks, and for binding the long queues of dog's hair to their chiefs' staffs. One of those peculiar cords was a very remarkable one; it was a small cord, bound closely round throughout its whole length with a much smaller one (something like the silver or fourth string of a violin). I never saw this kind but once, and that was at the East Cape, in 1838. A specimen of it I shall now exhibit. This cord was used for a single and particular purpose, attached to the small under-aprons of girls —chiefs' daughters.
Their larger cords and ropes were composed of several strands, well twisted and put together. Besides their round
[Footnote] * See an interesting historical tradition respecting such (Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. xiii., p. 48).
ropes so made, they had also flat ones of various widths, which were plaited or woven, resembling our webs and bands, and much used as shoulder-straps in carrying back-loads; also double-twisted ropes, and three-strand ones; likewise a remarkably strong one that was four-sided. This was made of the unscraped leaves of the cabbage-tree, that had been gathered, and carefully wilted in the shade, and then soaked in water to make them pliant. It was used for their anchors, and other heavy canoe and house requirements. The leaves of the flax would not be suitable for this purpose. I have had all those different kinds of cords and ropes made for me in former years, but I much fear the art of making them is lost.
There were also their nets for catching fish and for other purposes, with their meshes of various dimensions. Their smaller ones (hand-nets) were made of all manner of shapes and sizes. Some of them were dexterously stretched over circular skeleton framework. And their large seine-nets, used for catching mackerel and other summer fish that swam in shoals, were very long and very strong, made of the leaves of flax, split and prepared, but not scraped, and completely fitted up with floats, and sinkers, and ropes, and other needful appurtenances. Cook, who was astonished at their length, has written much in praise of them. I make one striking quotation: “When we showed the natives our seine, which is such as the King's ships are generally furnished with, they laughed at it, and in triumph produced their own, which was indeed of an enormous size, and made of a kind of grass [Phormium] which is very strong. It was five fathoms deep, and by the room it took up could not be less than three or four hundred fathoms long.”* (Voyages, vol. ii., first voyage, pp. 369, 370.)
In residing at Dannevirke, in the Forty-mile Bush district, during several months, I have often noticed the Maoris from neighbouring villages coming to the stores there to purchase tether and other ropes and lines (large and small) for their use with their horses, ploughs, carts, pigs, &c., while on their own lands and close to them the flax plants grew in abundance. These Maoris had very little to occupy their time, and could easily have made common lines and ropes for their own use if they knew how to spin them as their fathers did, and also possessed their forefathers' love of work.
[Footnote] * An interesting historical tragic story of the cleverly-planned taking and death of a large number of Maoris in one of these seine-nets, together with the fish (illustrating what Cook has written of their immense size), and of the deadly warfare that followed, is given in the Transactions N.Z. Institute, vol. xiii., p. 43.