Art. XLIX.—The Tradition respecting the Aboriginal Inhabitants of Whakatane.
Communicated by T. Kirk.
[Read before the Auckland Institute, 2nd November, 1891.]
Turning over an old note-book, I came across a note given to me in 1872 by the late Lieut.-Colonel St. John, and, as it seems worth preserving, notwithstanding its extreme brevity, I send a copy of it herewith. If read at a meeting of the Institute it may elicit a fuller account. It is as follows:—
The first man who landed was Toe, of Ngapuhi. Disembarking at Kohi Point, and the clouds obscuring the sun, he found it cold, and sang a waiata (preserved by tradition) for the clouds to clear off. On Kohi, between Kapu and the point of the headland, existed, at his landing, a pa containing aborigines, with whom he dwelt until the arrival of the next party, which came from Hauwhaiki, under a man named Taukata, who introduced kumaras. The aborigines knew of no other food than mamaku and fern-root, and did not know how to light a fire.
The remainder of the tradition is merely a genealogical table accounting for the ancestors of the various tribes in the Bay of Plenty, with fabulous accounts of their doings.
The Whakatane natives still point out a spot on the summit of the hill as the original pa found by Toe. If trenches were opened on this site some implements or skulls might be found which would throw light on the original population of New Zealand.
The tradition expressly states that the aborigines remained in their own pa, while Taukata took up his dwelling on the beach. After Toe's arrival they seem to have been absorbed into Toe's tribe, Rahiri of Ngapuhi, and eventually left Whakatane for the Bay of Islands.