Go to National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa
Volume 24, 1891
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Answers of John White, Author of the “Ancient History of the Maori.”

10. The pounamu was found in blocks in the rivers and creeks at the south end of the South Island. Some was also found in the creeks which run into the lakes of that part of New Zealand. Some was also found in the creeks and sounds in that part of the South Island.

13. Tradition says that a chief called Nga-hue was driven out of Hawaiki by Hine-tu-o-hoanga; that Nga-hue, after landing on various islands, at last arrived in New Zealand, and, having found the pounamu on the South Island of New Zealand, on his return to Hawaiki he took some pounamu with him, and with axes made from that greenstone some of the canoes were made which came over to these Islands with Kupe, Turi, Hotu-roa, Nga-toro-i-rangi, and others.

14. All that can be said on the question is answered in No. 13.

1, 2, and 15. The pounamu was broken as best they could break it into pieces when in boulders or large blocks, but it was not chipped— it was bruised to take any angle or point off. It was then rubbed into shape with a stone called mataihona, takiritane, hoanga, onetai, patutane, and ureonetea, with chips of kiripaka as a drill. These stones were called by different names in the localities (by the natives of the districts), in which they were obtained. In some instances a piece of pounamu would be found of a flat or slab shape. The mataihona was then used to cut a line on each side of the slab, and when the cut was sufficiently deep the slab was broken into pieces, thus cut into a rough form of a mere. The ureonetea, takiritane, patutane, and kiripaka were used as drills to cut holes in the pounamu to form a hei-tiki, and when the holes were made to form the arms and legs of the Tiki then the mataihona was used to form the Tiki. The drill used to make the hole in the mere was made with kiripaka and ureonetea. These were broken into spike-like shapes, and placed in the end of split wood [drill-spindle], and tied tightly, the upper end of this wood being placed in a block of timber placed in position to receive it [mouthpiece, or drill-cap]. Two stones [weights] were tied to the upper end of the drill [to steady it], the kiripaka or ureonetea being placed on the mere where the hole was to be made, and a string was wrapped round the drill above the stones [weights], and next to the block of wood [mouthpiece, or drill-cap]. These strings were pulled first one and then the other [the unwinding of one causing the other to wind round the spindle], thus giving a rotatory motion to the drill. A little of the pounded dust of the mataikina and water were put to the point of the drill at various times of the work. [Observe that Mr. White describes a piece of wood by way of a mouthpiece or drill-cap. He does not say whether it was held in the mouth or pressed down with the flat of the chin or the breast of the workman. Compare Mr. Wohlers's interesting description, and Note 3, post.]

3 and 7. These objects were not idols or gods, nor were they the portraits of ancestors, but, as the name implies, hei (for) -Tiki, or, for, or to be used as, Tiki, or to be like Tiki. The value or sacredness of these was derived from the fact of their having been worn or handled by the dead of past ages.

4 and 6. Some of the hei-tiki now seen are many hundred years old, others are of more modern date. The mode of making the hei-tiki in ancient times is that now practised.

5. They brought the knowledge with them.

8. Yes; toki (axes) and eardrops, as kurukuru kapeu, mako (of greenstone), kani (ring), porotti, and many others.

9. Many sorts of greenstone—namely, kahurangi, inanga, tangiwai,

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totoweka, and fourteen others, all of which are grades less in value than the kahurangi. [I have never seen a list containing eighteen names, but I have seen some with some of the names I have collected repeated with qualifying adjectives to describe minor variations. There is one word here, totoweka, which would mean weka's blood, which does not occur in my other lists. It must be the variety with red streaks or spots.]

11. This is called totoweka [weka = the bird Ocydromus]. This, or something like it, is called inangatangiwai. [The rusty yellow-coloured nephrite for which Herr Fischer inquires is extremely rare. I have seen one piece that would answer this description. The expression inangatangiwai evidently indicates one of the numerous grades described in Answer 9, the names of two kinds being combined to describe it.]

12. “Te Wai Pounamu” is the correct name.

16. Yes, but it would fill a book of moderate size to give it. As I am bound to time in writing the Maori History I am compelled to give these answers in this very short way; but all these questions will be fully answered in the history now being compiled. [Mr. White's history had reached the completion of vol. v. when he died, and one volume has appeared since. A mass of MSS. was left, and it is to be hoped that this will some day see light. The published portion does not treat of greenstone save in the chapters incorporated from the Rev. Mr. Stack's writings, the substance of which I have incorporated in this paper.]

17. No; not in the first instance. His invasion was to obtain a home for himself and tribe, as he was being pressed by his enemies the Kahungunu, and being urged on also by his revenge for his relation Pehi.

18. Yes; but in the first instance all the wars undertaken by the natives of the North Island were for conquest of country, and consequent on their being driven out of their homes by fear of stronger enemies; but eventually it became a great point to obtain possession of a land in which the greenstone might be obtained.