Art. XLIX.—Maori Implements and Weapons.
[Read before the Auckland Institute, 3rd July, 1893.]
I have been requested by our President to contribute an item to the programme arranged for the present session in the shape of a paper on some Maori subject, the choice of one being left to myself. In compliance with this request, I have endeavoured to collect and put into shape a few notes on “Maori Implements and Weapons,” meaning such implements and weapons as were used by the Maori in old time, but were speedily superseded by those introduced by the foreigner. Many of the former are now only to be seen as curiosities, and the fact of their having been superseded and discarded makes it next to impossible to get a complete list of them, and a difficult matter to give a very precise description of many of them. It has been suggested to me, however, that a brief description of some of the more noteworthy of these primitive appliances of peace and war might prove interesting, especially if illustrated by specimens from the collection of these articles which we have in our Museum. This task I have ventured to essay. In making the attempt, I do not expect to add much to the stock of information on the subject already collected. I shall tell my audience, for the most part, only what has been told before; but I may possibly render a service to some by bringing together and presenting to view items and scraps gathered from various sources; and I will hope that, though it may possibly be said of my story that the true in it is not new, it may not be added that the new in it is not true.
It will be scarcely necessary to tell you that the aboriginal inhabitants of New Zealand were unacquainted with the arts of extracting metals from their ores and of making pottery. Wood, stone, and bone supplied the material out of which all or most of the various articles they required were fashioned or
manufactured, and the flax-bush supplied the staple of their clothing material. With a wooden spade the Maori tilled the ground, dug his fern-root, excavated the rua, or places in which his winter supplies of food were stored, and the parepare and maioro, or fortifications, of his pa. With fragments of stone of various kinds, ground down with infinite labour to a cutting-edge, he made axes and adzes, lashing them with flax to wooden handles; he felled the tree, hollowed and shaped it to form his waka taua, or war-canoe, 70ft. or 80ft. long; dubbed down slabs of equal length to form the rauawa, or bulwarks; shaped and fitted the haumi; and made paddles to propel his man-of-war through the water. With smaller tools made of the same materials, and a bit of shell or bone, or a flint, or flake struck off a block of obsidian, he carved the figures and scroll-work of the ornamental prow and sternpost. With the same tools he hewed out and dressed down slabs to form the poutokomanawa, or pillar-support, of the ridgepole of his house, and all the other timbers required in its construction—the tauhu and papa, the maihi and matapihi, with their elaborate carving and ornamentation. Some of these houses were very skilfully constructed, and finished in a style which surprises those who have seen good specimens of them. A minute description of a house built and finished in old Maori style for Mr. Colenso in 1844 is to be found at page 50, vol. xiv., “Transactions of the New Zealand Institute.”
According to tradition, the ancestors of the Maori came over to this Island some eighteen or twenty generations ago. They came from a place or places referred to in their traditions as Hawaiki. They came in several canoes—the names of which are preserved—in separate and independent parties, at different times, arriving and landing at different places. The accounts of these migratory expeditions vary greatly, but, so far as I am acquainted with them, they contain little to aid us in an endeavour to identify or connect the people who came in these canoes, in respect of their implements, weapons, arts, or manufactures, with existing races in other parts of the world, or to trace them with anything like certainty to their original home. The generally-accepted theory is, I believe, that the New-Zealanders are a mixed race, combining the physical characteristics of the Asiatic and African types of mankind.
Taking into consideration the fact that these people, without any precise standard of measure, with such utterly inadequate appliances as they possessed or could procure, were able to achieve the results which are to be seen in many specimens of their handicraft, we cannot, I think, withhold our admiration. The carvings and sculptures with which they decorated their canoes, houses, and patakas, the palisades and
waharoas of their pas, &c., though grotesque and certainly not true to nature as representations of the objects we suppose to have been intended to be represented, are yet not lacking in boldness of conception, breadth of design, and a certain artistic finish, which together evidence genius in the artist and consummate skill in the artificer. The canoes themselves, the houses, the pas, and the fortifications, of which now the traces only are to be seen, cause a feeling of wonder which will not be diminished when we inquire more particularly what were the instruments and appliances at the command of the men who formed and elaborated these things.
Most of the carvings we now see were not executed with the old tools, and are not, therefore, specimens of the art and skill of the old tohunga, but they are mainly copied from the older carvings, and though executed with better tools are not superior to them as works of art.
Entering upon my subject, I will first notice what may be called the agricultural implements used by the Maori of the olden time.
The ko was the principal implement used in such agriculture as was known to the Maori. It is composed of a shaft of hard wood, generally manuka or maire, from 7ft. to 9ft. long, flat at the lower end, and brought to an edge at the sides and foot. Five or six inches from the bottom is an attachment, which is movable, called a teka or takahi. The shaft is held with both hands and struck into the ground; and, the left foot being pressed upon the projecting takahi, or spur, it is driven down as far as necessary, and by lowering the shaft the sod is turned. The ko was also used in planting the kumara; also in digging aruhe (fern-root), which in the old time was the principal food, especially in winter, and in time of war, when the people often had to leave their ordinary dwelling-places and betake themselves to their fortified pa. Maori cultivations in those days were not so extensive as they became after the introduction of the potato. The maara kumara and the taro plantations occupied less space than was required when the potato came into general cultivation and extensive bush-clearings or waerenga were made. Before that time, the kumara, taro, and hue, or gourd, were almost the only plants cultivated for food. The kumara was brought to New Zealand by most of the original canoes. The taro is said to have been brought in the Mataatua canoe, by Ruaauru. The ancestors of the Ngatiawa of the Bay of Plenty came in this canoe, and it is in their country that the taro is most extensively grown at the present time. I believe the implement generally used in digging fern-root was shorter and smaller than the exhibit specimens of the ko in our Museum, but similarly shaped.
In a small volume published in 1830—a volume of the “Library of Entertaining Knowledge,” which gives an exceedingly interesting account of the New-Zealanders of that day—an implement, described as “a pole with a crossbar fixed to it, about 3ft. from the ground,” is mentioned as being used by the Maoris for digging. This, no doubt, was the ko. The spade and plough of the pakeha have entirely superseded the ko and the kaheru, which was an implement used by the Maori for such work as would now be done with the hoe, shovel, and rake. It was made of hardwood also, as indeed were all Maori implements used in tilling the ground. It was, I believe, used for loosening and levelling the surface of the ground in preparation for planting, for removing weeds, and for various other purposes. Other implements, as the tihou, the tikoko (a kind of shovel), and an instrument called a tima, used as a hoe, may be included in the list of tools once plied by the Maori farmer; also short wooden instruments, fashioned with more or less care, used for ngaki, or weeding, and hauhake, digging and gathering the kumara crop. These scarcely require special notice.
The Maori is an expert fisherman. His kupenga, or seine, was a very large one, often over 1,000ft. in length. Its material was the leaf of harakeke, or flax-plant, which was split by hand into shreds or strips. These were made up into bundles and hung up to dry, or to partially dry—treatment which made them softer and tougher and more easily handled in the process of netting. The manufacture of the kupenga was a great work, in which the whole community in a kainga, or village, took part, each family making an allotted portion. Strict rules were enforced to secure the orderly prosecution of the work. Restrictions were imposed with respect to eating and to the rules of tapu. The knot is the same as is used in the manufacture of our nets. The takekenga, or mesh, however, was formed over the bunched fingers, and was made closer and stouter in the middle part of the net where the strain is greatest.
The kaharunga and kahararo (upper and lower ropes of the seine) were made of undressed flax, harakeke, also strongly platted with three strands; the pouto, or floats, were made of the whau, and placed at intervals of 18in.; the sinkers were stones. The centre of the net was marked with a larger and ornamental float. Great care was taken of these nets, which, after use, were dried, folded, and laid up in a heap upon a stage. At the end of the season they were thatched, to protect them from the weather, and were thus made to last a long time. Landing-nets (pukoro or rohe) were also used, and several kinds of fishing-baskets, made of netting stretched over a hoop and fastened to a pole.
There is a legend told as to how the art of net-making became known to the Maori people: it was obtained or surprised from the patupaiarehe, or fairies. The legend is to be found at page 178, Sir G. Grey's “Polynesian Mythology” (1858 edition).
“Once upon a time a man of the name of Kahukura wished to pay a visit to Rangiaowhia, a place lying far to the northward, near the country of the tribe called Te Rarawa. Whilst he lived at his own village he was continually haunted by a desire to visit that place. At length he started on his journey and reached Rangiaowhia, and as he was on his road he passed a place where some people had been cleaning mackerel, and he saw the inside of the fish lying all about the sand on the sea-shore. Surprised at this, he looked about at the marks, and said to himself, ‘Oh! this must have been done by some of the people of the district.’ But when he came to look a little more narrowly at the footmarks he saw that the people who had been fishing had made them in the night-time, not that morning nor in that day; and he said to himself, ‘These are no mortals who have been fishing here—spirits must have done this; had they been men some of the reeds and grass which they sat on in their canoe would have been lying about. He felt sure, from several circumstances, that spirits or fairies had been there; and, after observing everything well, he returned to the house where he was stopping. He, however, held fast in his heart what he had seen, as something very striking to tell all his friends in every direction, and as likely to be the means of gaining knowledge which might enable him to find out something new. So that night he returned to the place where he had seen all these things; and just as he reached the spot back had come the fairies too to haul their net for mackerel; and some of them were shouting out, ‘The net here! The net here!’ Then a canoe paddled off to fetch the other one in which the net was laid; and as they dropped the net into the water they began to cry out, ‘Drop the net in the sea at Rangiaowhia, and haul it at Mamaku!’ These words were sung out by the fairies as an encouragement in their work, and from the joy of their hearts at their sport in fishing. As the fairies were dragging the net to the shore Kahukura managed to mix amongst them, and hauled away at the rope. He happened to be a very fair man, so that his skin was almost as white as that of these fairies, and from that cause he was not observed by them. As the net came close in to the shore the fairies began to cheer and shout, ‘Go out into the sea, some of you, in front of the rock, lest the nets should be entangled in Tawatawa-uia-a-Tewetewe-uia!’ for that was the name of a rugged rock standing out from the sandy shore. The main body of the fairies kept hauling at
the net, and Kahukura pulled away in the midst of them. When the first fish reached the shore, thrown up in the ripples driven before the net as they hauled it in, the fairies had not yet remarked Kahukura, for he was almost as fair as they were. It was just at the very first peep of dawn that the fish were all landed, and the fairies ran hastily to pick them up from the sand, and to haul the net up on the beach. They did not act with the fish as men do, dividing them into separate loads for each, but every one took up what fish he liked, and ran a twig through their gills; and as they strung the fish they continued calling out, ‘Make haste, run here, all of you, and finish the work before the sun rises!’ Kahukura kept on stringing his fish with the rest of them. He had only a very short string, and, making a slip-knot at the end of it, when he had covered the string with fish he lifted them up, but he had hardly raised them from the ground when the slip-knot gave way from the weight of the fish, and off they fell. Then some of the fairies ran good-naturedly to help him to string his fish again, and one of them tied the knot at the end of the string for him; but the fairy had hardly gone after knotting it before Kahukura had unfastened it, and again tied a slip-knot at the end. Then he began stringing his fish again, and when he had got a great many on up he lifted them, and off they slipped as before. This trick he repeated several times, and delayed the fairies in their work by getting them to knot his string for him and put his fish on it. At last full daylight broke, so that there was light enough to distinguish a man's face, and the fairies saw that Kahukura was a man. Then they dispersed in confusion, leaving their fish and their net, and abandoning their canoes, which were nothing but stems of flax. In a moment the fairies started for their own abodes. In their hurry, as has just been said, they abandoned their net, which was made of rushes, and off the good people fled as fast as they could go.
“Now was first discovered the stitch for netting a net, for they left theirs with Kahukura, and it became a pattern for him. He thus taught his children to make nets, and by them the Maori race were made acquainted with that art which they have now known from very remote times.”
The Maori had no rope-walk or fibre manufactory. Such taura, or rope, or cordage as he required—for his nets; for lashing on the rau awa (top-sides) to the body of his canoe, and stone implements to their kakau, or wooden handles; for rigging and cable, and for a multitude of other purposes—had to be made by whiri (platting) undressed flax, which was considered stronger than the dressed flax, the gum not having been removed. There were various whiri, or plats—square, round, &c.—all having different names.
The aho hi-ika, or fishing-lines, were made from dressed flax, which was miro (twisted) in the same way as in making the threads for weaving garments.
The matau, or fishhooks, were made from bone (often human bone), from wood, and from shell; and of various patterns, according to the fancy or ingenuity of the maker. They were generally, but not always, barbed. With some, bait was used; others, made of wood, were lined with pearlshell, or fashioned wholly of shell, with a barbed point attached, and shaped to look like a fish when drawn through the water. These are common enough to make minute description unnecessary; many specimens may be seen in our Museum.
The hinakituna, for catching eels, was a basket made of a creeping fern called mangemange. It was generally about 5ft. or 6ft. in length, and 18in. in diameter; cylindrical, but tapering at one end. Both ends were open—one, the larger, having an inverted funnel inserted, through which the eels passed into the basket; the other, fitted with a removable cover, or door, for discharging its contents. These baskets were placed in the pa tuna, or eel-weirs, and in the course of small streams, near their confluence with larger ones. The material of which they were made being very tough and durable, they were almost imperishable; and, as they perfectly answered the purpose for which they were constructed, they were regarded as a most useful and valuable item of personal property.
The tapora is a small net for inanga, the so-called white-bait of the fresh-water lakes and rivers.
The taruke is a basket for taking koura, or crayfish. The rou kakahi is an instrument used to collect the fresh-water bivalve kakahi, found in the lakes and esteemed as a delicacy, and a food suitable for sick persons and children; the liquor obtained from these shellfish (the wai kakahi) making a kind of broth, palatable and nutritious and easy of digestion.
The rou resembles a rake, to which a rori, a net or basket-like receptacle, is attached, into which the shellfish falls as it is raked up from the bottom. The fisherman stands up in his canoe and plies his rou until he has obtained a sufficient quantity. It is hard work, which has given rise to the proverb,—
The husband who gathers kakahi shall be caressed.
The husband who sleeps away his time in the house shall be cuffed.
A specimen of the rou is in the Museum.
Barbed spears were used for spearing flounders and other fish, which were attracted with lighted torches at night.
In snaring birds and kiore (the so-called Maori rat), the Maori was expert. The kiore was taken in a trap, tawhiti
kiore, not very different from a mole-trap. These traps were placed at short intervals along tracks called ara kiore. Birds were noosed with loops of flax, placed in situations to which they were likely to come for water. They were also speared with a long spear (tahere manu, and here) tipped with bone or the sting of the ray. These were made of tawa or other light woods.
In a paper read by Major Heaphy, V.C., before the Wellington Philosophical Society in 1879 (Transactions, vol. xii.), a very good description is given of the tahere, and of the way it was used in spearing pigeons. Major Heaphy says,—
“On another occasion I accompanied a party of natives into the hills near Belmont to spear pigeons. The spears are about 12ft. long, and very slender—not more than ½in. in diameter at the thickest part. They have to be held near the point, and, on a journey, trailed behind until wanted for immediate use. The pigeons are probably feeding in low trees, or are about water-holes, and are scarcely frightened at the approach of the hunter, who quietly steals under them, sometimes even ascending the lower branches of the tree the bird occupies. The spear is then quietly directed amongst the foliage towards the breast of the bird, which takes little notice of the operation. When the point is within half a yard a sudden thrust is made, and the bird is transfixed. The point of the weapon is of bone, and barbed. This bone is hung securely by a lanyard at its base to the spear-head, but when ready for use is lashed with thin thread alongside the wood. The wounded bird flutters with such force as would break the spear were the whole rigid; but, as arranged, the thread breaks, and the bird on the barbed bone falls the length of the lanyard, where its strugglings do not affect the spear, and it is easily taken by the fowler's left hand. This mode of capturing birds very soon after our arrival went out of vogue. The spears were exceedingly difficult to make, and the few that were finished were eagerly bought by the whites as curiosities.”
The Maori proverb inculcating the wisdom of forethought in providing for what may be required on a journey says, “Don't forget provender; there will be no tarainga here (bird-spear making) on the way.”
Weaving, or Whatu.—The implements used by the Maori in the manufacture of the articles used for clothing were very simple. The so-called Maori mat, the beautiful kaitaka, with its rich taniko border at the foot; the korowai, with the pendent glossy black thrums falling in graceful curves over its folds; the handsome bordered korohunga—these Maori curiosities, now so admired and sought after by the tourist, were all manufactured from the fibre of the harakeke, or flax-
plant. The process was called whatu puweru. In texture and workmanship, substance and durability, these fabrics excel the similar productions of the other islands of the Pacific, and were made without the aid of either the spinning-wheel, the shuttle, the loom, or of any apparatus beyond four pegs stuck into the ground to form the four corners of a frame, with a pair, or perhaps two pairs, of skilful hands.
The turupou, or pegs, were about 1ft. or 18in. long, generally ornamentally carved at the top, and placed at proper distances according to the size of the garment to be made. To these were fastened the threads forming the aho (the warp—though called the woof in the dictionaries). With the aho, which was fourfold, were knotted a number of threads of the whenu (the woof) until the intended width of the fabric was attained. The whenu is the woof, as it represents threads carried by the shuttle between the rising and falling threads of the warp in the ordinary process of weaving. The Maori method, differing from ours, is to raise and depress alternately two of the aho threads, at the same time crossing them by bringing the two outer over the two inner ones, which thus become outer ones; this forms a knot, which holds the woof-threads. It will be seen that thus, instead of the shuttle-thread or woof being carried between alternate threads of the warp, the warp itself is manipulated and brought over the shuttle-threads or woof.
By this process were woven a great variety of garments, much pains and care being taken in the preparation of the muka, or flax, more especially that used for the finer garments. It was spun or twisted into thread by the simple process of pressing and rolling between the palm of the hand and the knee two strands of the muka. A twist, tight or loose as required, is thus formed similar to one produced by spinning in the ordinary way. The border, taniko, at the bottom of the kaitaka was not made in the same way as the rest of the garment. The art of making the taniko border, however, if not lost, is, I believe, known to very few of the Maoris themselves at the present day. The kaitaka is peculiarly the garment of a chief, and was worn fastened over the right shoulder. The korowai is more usually worn by females of rank, and was worn wrapped round the body and fastened over the left shoulder, or in front, if fastened at all. Other garments, the foundation of which is flax, are made with strips of dogskin, as the ihupuni or topuni, and the kahuwaero, made from the long hair of the tail of the Maori dog. There were also garments made with feathers of birds, as the kahu kiwi (kiwi feathers); the kahu weka; the kakapo (ground-parrot—greenish feathers). These were incorporated or interwoven in the process of the whatu. There were also coarse gar-
ments for ordinary wear when travelling, or at work, or in wet weather: the pihepihe, the pora or tatara—a very great variety. Specimens of these are to be seen in our Museum, and bear witness to the patience and ingenuity of those employed in their production—generally the feminine part of the Maori community. With reference to the feather mats, however, Polack, in his book, “Manners and Customs of New Zealand,” says, “The clothing of the birds of the shore and ocean are made use of to form a garment, a strong matting being the substance on which the ingenuity of the chiefs is expended in obtaining the aërial garment. In pursuing this occupation among the females the warrior realised no bad idea of the gallant Hercules at the feet of Omphale.”
Floor-mats (takapau), baskets (kete), &c., were made by interlacing strips of flax-leaf, or the leaf of the ti (cabbage-palm). The process of making these is called raranga. Beautiful girdles (maro, or tatua) were also made by the same process from the pingao, a yellow rush growing near the sea. No implement was required for this work—the hand sufficed.
The culinary appliances of the Maori people were very simple; many of them were found ready to hand, requiring but little skill to adapt them to the purposes for which they were used. A pipi shell, or a chip of the mata, or obsidian, served as a knife, and was deftly and effectively handled in all such operations as required a cutting instrument. It is simply wonderful what can be, and is, done with a pipi shell in the hand of an unsophisticated Maori accustomed to its use.
The oumu, or haangi, in which food was cooked, was only a hole scooped in the ground of a size proportioned to that which was to be cooked. A fire of dry wood was kindled in this hole, and upon the burning wood were placed stones not liable to crack with the heat. These soon became red-hot, and, as the fire burned down, fell into the hole. The smoking half-burnt wood was then carefully removed; the hot stones were evenly placed in the hole and covered with green leaves well sprinkled with water, making a clean lining to the oven, upon which the food to be cooked was then laid, piled up and covered with more green leaves; water was then poured over the whole, which, finding its way down to the hot stones, was rapidly converted into steam, while a covering of old flax mats well wetted was spread over the leaves, and the whole quickly and closely covered up with earth to prevent the escape of the steam, which, in a short time, perfectly cooked the contents of the oven, the time required varying according to the mass of food subjected to the process. The haangi was then opened, the coverings carefully removed, and the food placed in fresh baskets made of the leaves of the harakeke (flax) or ti (cab-
bage-palm), and handed round. By this mode the food is steamed, which, excepting broiling or roasting, was the only one known or practised by the Maori. Not having any vessels which would stand the fire, baking could not be attempted, and boiling could only be accomplished by putting hot stones into water in a kumete, or trough hollowed out of a solid block of wood. This method of heating liquids was resorted to occasionally, in exceptional circumstances or emergencies.
The paoi, or wooden pestle for breaking or pounding the roi or aruhe (fern-root), was an instrument in daily use in the Maori kitchen. The preparation of this root for eating consisted in roasting it on the fire and then pounding it with the paoi upon a flat stone. This was generally the work of the female part of the establishment, and took up a good deal of time when the members of the family dining together were numerous.
For general purposes the shells of both the pipi and the kuku, or mussel, were constantly in request. In the preparation of the flax for making garments both these shells were used: the pipi for making the transverse cut across the back of the leaf, and the kuku for stripping, by which the boon, or worthless vegetable matter, was separated and left behind. Again, in the hands of a Maori Adonis, a pair of kuku shells served the purpose of tweezers for the removal of superfluous hair from the face, which, in his case, meant all the hair appearing there, more especially when the face was adorned with a fine specimen of the work of an artist who handled the uhi, or tatooing instrument. The Rev. Mr. Taylor says, in his book, “New Zealand and its Inhabitants,” “To allow the beard to grow was regarded as a sign of old age, and a proof that the bearer had ceased to care for his appearance.” The cultivation of a beard certainly could not consist with the full display of the exquisite moko, and it must therefore be suppressed.
In the hand of a bonâ fide, or professional, mourner at a tangi, or weeping function, a sharp fragment of such a shell judiciously selected and scientifically applied would soon convert the person of the operator into a mass of blood, tears, and other secretions calculated to excite mixed feelings, pity or disgust predominating according to the idiosyncrasy of the spectator. In poetic strain the bereaved or forsaken one calls for the kuku-moe-toka (the rock-sleeping mussel) with which to lacerate the soft skin which had lately known the tender caresses of the departed or beloved one.
A flake chipped off a block of tuhua, or obsidian, also made a very handy and useful cutting instrument, and was applied to a variety of purposes. Among others it was used for the pure, or cutting of hair, which was a far more serious, tedious,
and painful operation as undergone by a Maori gentleman of the olden time than can be easily realised by us. The tohunga, or priest, was the barber; and a number of troublesome religious rites and ceremonies, with much personal inconvenience, were its accompaniments.
In connection with cooking, the mode of procuring fire, the preliminary requisite and sine quâ non of the practice of the culinary art, should be noticed.
The Maori cook had no box of matches, nor even a tinder-box with flint and steel, with which to procure the first requisite for his business. His apparatus comprised two pieces of dry wood, with which, by laborious, long-continued friction, combustion was induced. The instruments are the kaureure or kaurimarima, and the kauahi or kaunoti—the former a pointed stick, which is rubbed forwards and backwards in a groove made in the latter, which is laid on the ground. The kaikomiko and mahoe are the woods preferred for the purpose. The process, as described by Mr. Taylor in his “New Zealand and its Inhabitants,” is “rubbing—or, rather, pushing—a wedge-shaped piece of wood forward and backward along a groove and collecting the charred dust at its extremity until it ignited. It was then placed in a lump of soft flax and waved to and fro, when it burst into flame.” A fuller description of the process, as shown in England by two Maori visitors, is given in a small book, published in 1830—“The New-Zealanders”:—
“A small board of well-dried pine was laid upon the floor, and the younger New-Zealander took in his hand a wedge about nine inches long, and of the same material; then, rubbing with this upon the board, in a direction to that parallel to the grain, he made a groove about a quarter of an inch deep and six or seven inches long. The friction, of course, produced a quantity of what, had it been produced by another means, would have been called sawdust; and this he collected at the end of the groove farthest from that part of the board on which he was kneeling. He then continued his operation, and in a short time the wood began to smoke, the sides of the groove becoming completely charred. On this he stopped, and gathered the tinder over that part of the groove which appeared to be most strongly heated. After a few moments it became manifest that the sawdust or tinder was ignited, and a gentle application of the breath now drew forth a flame, which rose to the height of several inches. This experiment did not always succeed the first time. Whenever it was repeated, whether after failure or success, the operator took a new wedge and formed a new groove; and it was stated that this was absolutely necessary. The process was evidently one of great labour. At the conclusion of it the operator was
streaming with perspiration, and his elder countryman stated that his own strength was unequal to the feat.”
There is a legend which tells about the origin of this mode of procuring fire which is concisely given in a paper by the Rev. J. F. H. Wohlers, read before the Otago Institute, and published in Transactions, vol. vii. The translation will be found at page 12. There are several versions of this legend, which vary considerably, but agree in the main features. I have selected one which has the merit of brevity:—
“In the neighbourhood of that place there dwelt a grand-mother of Maui, of his mother's side, called Mahuika, who was the keeper of the fire. Now, it happened one day that the fire had gone out; and, as the servants were lazy and did not move when told to go to Mahuika to fetch fire, Maui offered to go. When he came to the place the old woman said, ‘What has brought you, a stranger, here? Was it the wind that blows against my skin?’ But when Maui told her that he was her grandson she became very friendly, and willingly gave him a stick of fire—namely, one of her fingers. Maui went away with it; but extinguished it, when out of sight, in the nearest water. Then he went back and asked her for another stick of fire, saying the first had gone out. So she gave him another of her fingers, which he likewise extinguished; and so on, till he had carried away all her fingers and her toes, up to the last little toe. Then the old woman perceived that he was mocking her, and became very angry, by which she raised a great blast to burn him; but Maui quickly transformed himself into an eagle, and swung himself up to the clouds. From thence he sent down rain upon the fire to quench it. Mahuika stirred up her fire to make it burn; Maui poured down large drops of rain upon it to quench it. Mahuika raked together her fire to keep it alive; Maui showered down thick snow upon it to extinguish it. At last, when the old woman saw that she could not keep her fire alive, she cast the rest into trees; in some it stayed, in others not, out of which former it can still be got by rubbing.”
An item in the catalogue of Maori implements which must not be omitted is the uhi, the instrument with which the operation of ta moko, or tattooing, was performed. This was a sharp cutting instrument, or chisel, variously described as formed of bone or shell fixed into a handle of wood shaped like a hoe, with which the lines of the moko were cut into the skin of the face, and other devices upon different parts of the body. Most authorities are in favour of the bone, which is thought to have been that of the toroa (albatross). The uhi was struck with a light mallet of mahoe, the pattern being first traced upon the skin with a black pigment. The operator was a man who cultivated the art, and who, when skilful in its
practice, was handsomely paid for his work. The marks on the face are called moko, and the operation ta moko. As Dr. Shortland tells us in his book, “New Zealand,” it is not intended as a mark to distinguish different tribes, or to denote rank, but only to indicate arrival at man's estate, and a fashionable adornment by which the young men seek to gain the good graces of the young women. It only so far denotes rank as showing that the possessor of a handsome moko must have had the wherewithal to well remunerate the artist. He says: “As a general rule, two fully-marked faces (moko-pu) selected at hazard from different parts of the country would, on comparison, manifest merely some slight dissimilarities attributable to the difference of skill or taste of the artists who had executed the work. The operation is performed with a very small chisel, and, being extremely painful, can only be done bit by bit, according as the patient has courage to endure it.”
The women have usually merely the lines on the lips and a scroll depending from the angles of the mouth.
The process of ta moko is described differently by different authors. The Rev. R. Taylor describes it in “Te Ika a Maui,” at page 320. A somewhat different description of it is given by Rutherford, who, with other white men, his companions, underwent the operation about the year 1825. He thus describes it: “The whole of the natives having then seated themselves on the ground in a ring, we were brought into the middle, and, being stripped of our clothes and laid on our backs, we were each of us held down by five or six men, while two others commenced the operation of tattooing us. Having taken a piece of charcoal, and rubbed it upon a stone with a little water until they had produced a thicket liquid, they then dipped into it an instrument made of bone, having a sharp edge like a chisel, and shaped in the fashion of a garden hoe, and immediately applied it to the skin, striking it twice or thrice with a small piece of wood. This made it cut into the flesh as a knife would have done, and caused a great deal of blood to flow, which they kept wiping off with the side of the hand, in order to see if the impression was sufficiently clear. When it was not, they applied the bone a second time to the same place. They employed, however, various instruments in the course of the operation; one which they sometimes used being made of a shark's tooth, and another having teeth like a saw. They had them also of different sizes to suit the different parts of the work. While I was undergoing this operation, although the pain was most acute, I never either moved or uttered a sound, but my comrades moaned dreadfully. Although the operators were very quick and dexterous I was four hours under their hands, and during the
operation Aimy's eldest daughter several times wiped the blood from my face with some dressed flax. After it was over she led me to the river that I might wash myself (for it made me completely blind), and then conducted me to a great fire. They now returned us all our clothes, with the exception of our shirts, which the women kept for themselves, wearing them, as we observed, with the fronts behind. We were now not only tattooed, but what they called tabooed, the meaning of which is, being made sacred, or forbidden to touch any provisions of any kind with our hands. This state of things lasted for three days, during which time we were fed by the daughters of the chiefs, with the same victuals and out of the same baskets as the chiefs themselves and the persons who had tattooed us. In three days the swelling which had been produced by the operation had greatly subsided, and I began to recover my sight, but it was six weeks before I was completely well.”
The uhi is called in Maori poetry “te uhi matarau,” “the hundred-pointed uhi.” This corresponds with Rutherford's account better than with some others.
The pigment applied to or inserted in the incisions made by the uhi was soot, prepared by burning resin, or resinous wood—generally kauri.
Weapons.—The weapons used by the Maori warrior of olden time were fashioned out of wood, stone, and bone. Those of wood were: The taiaha, maipi, or hani; the pouwhenua, shaped like the preceding without the head, and used as a kind of broadsword; the tao, or tokotoko, a spear, in great variety, long and short; the hoata, a long spear generally carried by the warriors in the front rank during a charge; the wahaika, tewhatewha, or paiaka; with shorter weapons for use at close quarters, such as the kotiate, and others of various shapes and names but coming under the general name of patu; the huata, about which there is some doubt (Tregear gives “a barbed spear” in his dictionary, but I do not know upon what authority).
These were made of the hardest and toughest wood obtainable, most often of manuka. Of these weapons, the taiaha was the favourite; the head of it was carved, and often ornamented with the red feathers of the kaka, or parrot, and the long hair of the Maori dog, waero. The carved head is intended to represent a man's face, the tongue protruding from the mouth or jaws, as in defiance. The mother-of-pearl discs represent eyes. In single combat the taiaha or the tao (spear) was most frequently used. Regular rules of fence with these weapons were observed and taught as an art, proficiency and skill in which gave a warrior great advantage over a less practised or less skilled adversary.
The taiaha was also frequently carried by a Maori chief as a staff, and was oftentimes vigorously flourished by way of emphasizing and adding force to argument or accentuating oratorical flourishes, on great occasions and during warm discussions.
A book published by the New Zealand Government, containing illustrations prepared for the unpublished volumes of White's “Ancient History of the Maori,” has among these some showing the different positions in which certain weapons were held and wielded in single combat. One example is a set-to with a mere pounamu and buckler against a tao, or spear; a second shows two combatants, both armed with the taiaha; and a third where both use the tao, or spear. I cannot vouch for the truthfulness of these representations from my own knowledge, but I presume they were drawn from life and should not be far wrong.
In Maori tales and legends there are many descriptions of encounters of heroes where the taiaha was the weapon chosen to test the prowess of the braves who wielded it. The duel between the famous Tama-te-Kapua and Ruaeo, whose wife the former had carried off from Hawaiki, is graphically described in Sir George Grey's “Polynesian Mythology,” at page 92. It was fought with this weapon:—
“Early in the morning Ruaeo performed incantations, by which he kept all the people in the canoe (the Arawa, which had been hauled up on shore) in a profound sleep, and whilst they still slept from his enchantments the sun rose and mounted high up in the heavens. In the forenoon, Rua (who, with his 140 men, crouched along under the bulwarks) gave the canoe a heavy blow with his club. They all started up. It was almost noon, and, when they looked down over the edge of their canoe, there were the 140 men of Rua, sitting under them, all beautifully dressed with feathers, as if they had been living on the Gannet Island, in the channel of Karewa, where feathers are so abundant. And when the crew of the Arawa heard this, they all rushed upon deck, and saw Rua standing in the midst of his 140 warriors. Then Rua shouted out, as he stood, ‘Come here, Tama-te-Kapua! let us two fight the battle—you and I alone. If you are stronger than I am, well and good, let it be so. If I am stronger than you are, I'll dash you to the earth.’
“Up sprang then the hero, Tama-te-Kapua. He held a carved two-handed sword (taiaha), a sword the handle (head) of which was decked with red feathers. Rua held a similar weapon. Tama first struck a fierce blow at Rua. Rua parried it, and it glanced harmlessly off; then Rua threw away his sword (taiaha) and seized both the arms of Tama-te-Kapua. He held his arms and his sword (taiaha), and
dashed him to the earth. Tama half rose, and was again dashed down; once more he almost rose, and was thrown again. Still Tama fiercely struggled to rise and renew the fight. For the fourth time he almost rose up; then Rua, overcome with rage, took a heap of vermin (this he had prepared for the purpose, to cover Tama with insult and shame), and rubbed them on Tama-te-Kapua's head and ear, and they adhered so fast that Tama tried in vain to get them out. Then Rua said, ‘There, I've beaten you. Now, keep the woman as a payment for the insults I've heaped upon you, and for having been beaten by me.’ But Tama did not hear a word he said; he was almost driven mad with pain and itching, and could do nothing but stand scratching and rubbing his head, whilst Rua departed with his 140 men to seek some other dwelling-place for themselves. If they had turned against Tama and his people, to fight against them, they would have slain them all. These men were giants: Tama-te-Kapua was 9ft. high, Rua was 11ft. high. There have been no men since that time so tall as those heroes.”
Mr. C. O. Davis, in his “Maori Mementos,” gives a story which, epitomized, may be rendered thus in English:—
Tuteamoamo and Waihuka were brothers. The younger, Waihuka, had a very beautiful wife, Hineitekakara. The elder brother was envious, and plotted to destroy the younger and appropriate his beautiful wife. He persuaded Waihuka to go out fishing with him, and managed to leave him in the sea, out of sight of land, to perish. Waihuka, however, after a long struggle, aided by a whale, succeeded in reaching the shore, where he was found by his faithful wife, who had gone to look for his body, supposing him drowned. The reunited pair return to their house unseen by Tuteamoamo, and, by way of preparation for a hostile meeting with his brother, Waihuka essays practice with various weapons. Donning his kahukiwi (kiwi-feather garment), with hair dressed and ornamented with feathers, he seizes his taiaha, and, making passes, appeals to his wife, “Do I handle this well?” She replies, “Very well.” He then lays down the taiaha and takes the meremere, and asks, “Do I look well with this?” His wife replies, “Put that weapon down.” He then takes the kotiate with the same question, to which Hineitekakara replies, “Nay, it is ill with thee.” He tries the huata, the paraoa poto, and all the other patu, repeating his question. His wife answers, “No, thou wilt be beaten.” Waihuka then grasps his taiaha again, and as it strikes the earth the blade quivers, and Hineitekakara exclaims, “Ha, now thou hast it! Handle thy weapon so, and thy brother shall fall before thee.” In the evening Tuteamoamo came and called to his brother's wife, “Hineitekakara! slide back the door!” “Enter, Tuteamoamo!” said
Hineitekakara. As he was about to do so his brother rushed upon him, and in a moment his head was struck off and he lay a corpse.
In Judge Maning's book, “Old New Zealand,” the author tells us of an old warrior who was a great adept in handling the tao, his favourite weapon: “In the hot days of summer, when his blood, I suppose, got a little warm, he would sometimes become talkative, and recount the exploits of his youth. As he warmed to his subject he would seize his spear (tao), and go through all the incidents of some famous combat, repeating every thrust, blow, and parry as they actually occurred, and going through as much exertion as if he was really and truly fighting for his life. He used to go through these pantomimic labours as a duty whenever he had an assemblage of the young men of the tribe around him, to whom, as well as to myself, he was most anxious to communicate that which he considered the most valuable of all knowledge—a correct idea of the uses of the spear, a weapon he really used in a most graceful and scientific manner; but he would ignore the fact that ‘Young New Zealand’ had laid down the weapon for ever, and already matured a new system of warfare adapted to their new weapons, and only listened to his lectures out of respect to himself and not for his science.”
The tao was the weapon most frequently used in the duels, which were often the outcome of a private quarrel, and in the taua, or small armed parties which would visit an individual or settlement to demand and obtain satisfaction for some affront or injury, as, for example, the abduction of a woman, a kanga, or curse, &c. Fierce encounters often took place on such occasions, but were seldom attended with fatalities. Generally both parties used tao (spears). Only flesh-wounds were inflicted, and, as Judge Maning says, “No more blood was drawn than could well be spared.”
In the case of a quarrel between two individuals, a challenge would often be given and accepted in the same terms. “To taua ata!” (“We meet in the morning”) was replied to in the same words—“To taua ata!” (“We meet in the morning”). In the early morning, accordingly, the principals, in appropriate costume, with spears in their hands, would meet and try conclusions with one another in the presence of their relatives and friends, who would attend to see fair play; but it was generally understood that a mortal thrust was not to be given, and a flesh-wound received by either combatant would terminate the affair.
In Rutherford's account of an engagement which he witnessed he says that one of the fugitives of the beaten party, in passing him, threw a short jagged spear, which punctured his thigh and had to be cut out with a shell, leaving a wound
as large as a teacup. This corresponds with what I have been told—that barbed spears were sometimes used.
In a battle fought between the Ngaitahu and the Ngatimamoe, in the Middle Island, an account of which, furnished by the Rev. Mr. Stack, appears in White's “History,” vol. iii., p. 237, the spears used by the Ngatimamoe were pointed with the tarawhaiapu (barbed sting of the ray, or stingaree). This is noted as an unusual practice, and in allusion to the circumstance the battle was spoken of as Te Whai.
The tewhatewha, or paiaka, was used in somewhat similar fashion to the taiaha. The warrior armed with it sought to fell his antagonist by striking him on the head with the back of the blade which forms the upper part of the weapon; if successful, he struck the pointed end into the body of the fallen man. The hawks' feathers attached to the blade were supposed to baffle, distract the attention, or dazzle the eyes of the opponent, and so give the opportunity for delivering the blow. This weapon, however, was less used for offence and defence than as an instrument by which the chief or leader directed the movements of his followers, the blade and feathers causing it to be easily seen.
An anecdote, related by my friend Major Mair, illustrates this: it is as follows: “On the morning of the last day of the fight at Orakau, owing to a temporary panic among the besieged, there arose the ominous cry of ‘Kua horo te pa!’ (‘The fort is taken’). The Waikato at the southern end rushed out, and, to the number of eighty or a hundred, appeared as if by magic in the open space. The bugles sounded the alarm, and, just as suddenly, the soldiers sprang to their feet, and opened a half circle of fire on the Maoris. Then a tall chief stood up, waved his plumed tewhatewha three times, and lo! the Maoris had vanished.”
This use of the paiaka caused it to be called the “rakau rangatira,” or chief's weapon, it being so often seen in the hand of a chief when directing movements of his men, not only in war, but on other occasions. It was often used by the hautu, in the canoe, to mark time for the stroke of the paddles.
In Sir G. Grey's “Polynesian Mythology” there is a description of the killing of a monster named Hotupuku. After the creature was despatched it was opened, and in the stomach was found—besides the bodies of men, women, and children, which had been swallowed whole—what the narrator of the story calls a perfect armoury of weapons—mere-pounamu, kotiate, patuparaoa, maipi, tewhatewha, pouwhenua, tokotoko (tao), paraoa-roa; also a fine collection of ornaments, the enumeration of all which forms a tolerably complete list of such articles. The instruments used in the autopsy also are
given, making a fair list of Maori cutting implements. The miratuatini, there mentioned, is a patu-shaped wooden instrument, with mako (sharks' teeth) set in the outer curved edge. It was, I believe, used in cutting up human bodies at cannibal feasts.
A formidable weapon was the hohoupu, an adze-shaped affair. The blade was of pounamu or other stone, the handle elaborately carved and decked with feathers. It was specially the weapon of a chief, and was used to cleave skulls withal. Polack in his book refers to one of these thus:—
“At a future period many aboriginal curiosities will be discovered by the European colonists in tilling the ground that will give much satisfaction to the antiquary, as the New-Zealanders have been from time immemorial in the habit of burying with their dead the favourite axes and implements of stone that were highly prized by their chiefs while in this existence. The removal of such articles a few years after being once deposited in a sacred place would be accounted the height of impiety and sacrilege, either by a foreigner or native; the former would be subjected to lose every article of property he might possess, the latter to death. This feeling is now fast giving way, but the knowledge of the places where those precious articles have been placed is lost, the priesthood only originally knowing the secret, and they are long since numbered with the dead. In 1835 an influential priest was bribed by us to dispose of an ancient adze, called Toki-pu-tangata by the people; it was extremely ancient, and had been buried in the sandy soil for many years; the place of its interment was only known to the priest, who had noted the spot by the branching of a particular tree called rata. We afterwards discovered that had the circumstance been known of the priest having sold it, probably the infuriated sticklers for sanctity would have sacrificed the seller to their resentment. The adze was formed of a blue granite inserted in a handle of the rata, or red-pine (?) wood, carved agreeably to native taste. This instrument, from disuse, is scarcely to be met with in the country.”—(Polack's “Manners and Customs in New Zealand,” vol. i., p. 71.)
Weapons of stone were much used by the Maori. Several kinds of stone were used, but the one most prized was the pounamu. The weapon made from this stone was called a mere-pounamu, and was perhaps the most valuable article a Maori could possess, more especially in the North, so far from the place whence the stone is obtained. There is some uncertainty as to the period when this stone was discovered or came into use by the Maoris.
There is a legend or myth in which it is spoken of as a treasure owned by a personage named Ngahue, who brought
it to New Zealand, having been driven away from his home—Hawaiki—by a female named Hine-tu-a-hoanga. After much travelling in search of a suitable location for Poutini or Pounamu (his ika, or valued possession) one was found for it on the west coast of the Middle Island, where it remained, and is still found. The legend is given in Sir George Grey's “Polynesian Mythology,” page 82. (The foot-notes on that page require correction: Poutini is the greenstone, or pounamu; Waiapu is obsidian.)
“Now pay attention to the cause of the contention which arose between Poutini and Waiapu, which led them to emigrate to New Zealand. For a long time they both rested in the same place, and Hine-tu-a-hoanga, to whom the stone Waiapu [Mata] belonged, became excessively enraged with Ngahue and with his stone Poutini. At last she drove Ngahue out and forced him to leave the place, and Ngahue departed and went to a strange land, taking his jade-stone [Poutini, or Pounamu]. When Hine-tu-a-hoanga saw that he was departing with his precious stone, she followed after him, and Ngahue arrived at Tuhua with his stone. Hine-tu-a-hoanga also arrived and landed there at the same time with him, and began to drive him away again. Then Ngahue went to seek a place where his jade-stone might remain in peace, and he found, in the sea, this island Aotearoa (the Northern Island of New Zealand), and he thought he would land there.
“Then he thought again, lest he and his enemy should be too close to one another, and should quarrel again, that it would be better for him to go further off with his jade-stone—a very long way off. So he carried it off with him, and they coasted along, and at length arrived at Arahura (on the west coast of the Middle Island), and he made that an everlasting resting-place for his jade-stone; then he broke off a portion of his jade-stone and took it with him and returned, and as he coasted along he at length reached Wairere (believed to be on the east coast of the Northern Island), and he reached Whangaparaoa and Tauranga, and from thence he returned to Hawaiki, and reported that he had discovered a new country which produced the moa and jade-stone in abundance.
“He now manufactured sharp axes from his jade-stone; two axes were made from it—Tutauru and Hau-hau-te-rangi. He manufactured some portions of one piece of it into images for neck-ornaments, and some portions into ear-ornaments. The name of one of these ear-ornaments was Kaukaumatua, which was recently in the possession of Te Heuheu, and was only lost in 1846, when he was killed with so many of his tribe by a landslip. The axe Tutauru was only lately lost.”
The legend goes on to tell how the canoes were made which brought the ancestors of the Maori to this land, giving
their names, &c., and proceeds: “The names of the axes with which they hewed out these canoes were Hau-hau-te-rangi and Tutauru. Tutauru was the axe with which they cut off the head of Uenuku. All these axes were made from the block of greenstone brought back by Ngahue to Hawaiki, which was called ‘The Fish of Ngahue.’”
The signification of the legend is not clear, but it is, I think, symbolical. Hoanga is the name of the sandstone with which the pounamu, or greenstone, is cut, ground down, and polished. Hine-tu-a-hoanga (the Lady of the Sandstone) is the cause of a contest or rivalry between poutini (greenstone) and waiapu or mata (obsidian), which had previously rested quietly together in the same place. Both are used to make cutting instruments, but the pounamu could be ground down or attacked by the hoanga only, and Ngahue endeavours to place it beyond the reach of this enemy, he being the guardian of poutini, as Hine-tu-a-hoanga appears to be of waiapu.
May not this legend rest upon a foundation of truth? The idea is suggested that Ngahue, having discovered the pounamu in New Zealand, and taken a specimen to Hawaiki on his return thither, failed to give those who came here afterwards such directions as were needed to enable them to find its locality; and that their failure to do so, until comparatively recent times, led to the myth of Ngahue having hidden poutini to preserve it from injurious contact with te hoanga.
When the Ngaitahu crossed from the North Island to the Middle Island they were not acquainted with the pounamu. This appears certain from their tradition given in White's “Ancient History of the Maori,” vol. iii., p. 255:—
“It is not till the Ngaitahu conquests reach Horowhenua that we hear anything of Ngatiwairangi, the tribe occupying the West Coast, who, like Ngati-mamoe and Nga-i-tahu, were descendants of Tura, and crossed over to the South Island almost at the same time with them. Hitherto they had been shut off from communication with the East Coast by what were thought to be impassable natural barriers of mountains, till a woman named Raureka discovered a way through them. Wandering from her home, this woman went up the bed of the Hokitika River, and then across what is known as Browning's Pass, and thence down to the East Coast. There, in the neighbourhood of Horowhenua, she found some men engaged in making a canoe, and, taking notice of their tools, remarked how blunt they were. The men asked if she knew of any better. She replied by taking a little packet from her bosom, which she carefully unfolded, and displayed a sharp fragment of greenstone. This was the first the natives there had ever seen; and they were so delighted with the discovery that they sent a party immediately over the ranges to fetch
some, and it subsequently came into general use for tools and weapons, those made of inferior materials being discarded.
“The descendants of Maru-tu-ahu at Hauraki show a heitiki (greenstone ornament) which they say Marutuahu wore when he arrived in New Zealand. It has been handed down from generation to generation, being alternately in possession of his Taranaki and Hauraki descendants. It is quite possible that traffic in greenstone between Ngatiwairangi (of the West Coast, Middle Island) and the North Island tribes bordering on Cook Strait may have been in existence for many years before it became known to Ngaitahu.”
Mr. White says: “There are four sorts of obsidian—tuhua, waiapu, panetao, and kahurangi, each having its appropriate use, as for cutting the skin at tangihanga, for cutting the hair, and for various other uses.”
Judge Maning tells us: “Flint and obsidian knives were always used by the Maoris at the same time that they had the well-polished tools and weapons of stone. The polished tools were used for canoe-building, making paddles, spears, clubs, agricultural instruments, &c., and were exceedingly valuable. The obsidian splinters were not worth the trouble of making into a regular shape. The edge was as keen as a razor, but so brittle that it could not be used for cutting wood to any advantage. These knives were used for cutting flesh, flax, hair, and for surgical operations. The edge soon came off, when another chip would be split off the large lump of obsidian which every family that could afford it would have lying by the house or concealed somewhere near at hand. These blocks were usually brought from the Island of Tuhua by the Ngapuhi, when returning from southern expeditions, and were articles which fetched a considerable price in the way of barter. When I first came to the colony, in many inland villages the obsidian knife was still much used. It was merely a sharp chip, but, when split off artistically, exceedingly sharp.”
In Shortland's “New Zealand” the author thus describes the mere-pounamu, the mode of grinding it, and the drill with which it was bored:—
“This weapon is to the natives as great a treasure as any of the most precious stones are to us. It is thought worthy to be distinguished by a name, as was King Arthur's sword ‘Excalibur,’ and is handed down, an heirloom, from father to son. I will therefore give some description of it, and of the stone from which it was fabricated.
“In the Northern Island it is called a patu-pounamu, or mere-pounamu. A very celebrated one which I saw in the possession of Te Heuheu, at Taupo, was of the form here represented, about 20in. long, the blade about 4in. wide, and three-
fourths of an inch thick in the middle, tapering on either side to a tolerably sharp edge. The stone was of a pale-green colour, mixed with opal, so as to present a wavy appearance, like that of a mackerel sky, translucent at the edge, and not disfigured by a single black speck. This weapon was named Pahikauri, and was obtained from a chief on the East Coast, whom an ancestor of Te Heuheu had killed in battle.
“Specimens of the stone are found, in detached blocks or pebbles, in several mountain-torrents on the west coast of the Middle Island. The places most renowned, near which it is sought, are Arahura and Ohonu, on the north-west coast; Wakatipu, a lake in the interior, one of the sources of the river Mataura; and Piopiotahi, a torrent on the south-west coast…
“In search of this stone the natives of other places have been in the habit of making long voyages, and journeys across the mountain from the East to the West Coast. When procured it is fashioned and polished by rubbing it on flat blocks of sandstone (hoanga). This is a work of so much labour that to finish such a weapon as that above described often requires two generations. Hence one cause of the great value set upon it. Another cause of its value is that the extreme toughness of the stone enables it to bear a fine edge; so that, before the New-Zealanders knew the value of iron, they had a useful substitute for it, from which they made hatchets and chisels.
“By some the strange notion has been entertained that this stone was found in a soft state by the natives, it not being credited that they could have learnt the art of fashioning it otherwise. Mr. Banks and Captain Cook also expressed their wonder by what process this was done, as they found the stone so hard as to resist the force of iron. But sandstone will cut it as readily as it does iron; and holes are drilled through it with the aid of a little fine hard sand and water and a sharp-pointed stick, by a simple process which is described in another place. Stones of different qualities, determined by different shades of colour and transparency, are distinguished from one another by names, and have corresponding values. The best quality is called kahurangi, a word often used, in the same way as we use the word jewel in poetry, to denote a precious object:—
“Whaia e koe ki te iti kahurangi,
Kia tapapa koe: he maunga tiketike
(Seek the Kahurangi—the jewel, the highborn: When you stoop, let it be to a lofty mountain)
are lines which were applied to a woman of rank who had fallen in love with a slave, and were sung to her by her relatives, who disapproved of her unworthy connection. In Phillips's ‘Mineralogy’ this stone is described under the name of
nephrite, and is said to occur in the Hartz, in Corsica, in China, in Egypt, in New Zealand, and in other islands of the Pacific…
“Here [at Waikouaiti] I saw for the first time, on a large scale, the native method of grinding the pounamu, or green-stone, from the rough block into the desired shape. The house belonging to the chief Koroko was like a stonecutter's shop. He and another old man were constantly to be seen there seated by a large slab of sandstone (hoanga), on which they by turns rubbed backwards and forwards a misshapen block of pounamu, while it was kept moist by water, which dropped on it from a wooden vessel. While one rubbed the other smoked. They made, however, so little progress on it during my stay that it seemed probable that it would be left for some one of the next generation to finish the work. It is not, therefore, to be wondered that what has cost so much labour should be regarded as the greatest treasure of the country. Here also I saw the drill with which holes are bored through this stone. It is formed by means of a straight stick, 10in. or 12in. long, and two stones of equal weight, which are fastened about its central point, one on either side, opposite each other, so as to perform the office of the flywheel in machinery, and to exert the required pressure. One end of the stick—or, as we may call it, shaft of the instrument—is applied to the pounamu where the hole is to be bored. Near the other end are tied two strings of moderate length. One of these is wound round the shaft, close to the point of its attachment, and its extremity is held in one hand while the extremity of the other string is held in the other hand. A motion is now given by pulling on the former string, which, as it unwinds, causes the instrument to revolve, and the other string becomes coiled round the shaft. This is then pulled on with a similar result, and so the motion is kept up by alternately pulling on either string. The point of the instrument can thus be made to twirl round, backwards and forwards, as rapidly as the point of a drill moved by a bow, and merely requires to be constantly supplied with a little fine hard sand and water in order to eat its way through the pounamu or other stone, on which steel would make no impression.”
In the vocabulary at the end of his book Dr. Shortland gives the names mania and papa for a “thin lamina of sandstone used for cutting the pounamu. The natives fasten them in frames after the manner of a stonecutter's saw”; and “a hard sandstone, found in thin slabs, used as a saw to cut the pounamu”
In using the mere-pounamu the warrior tries to seize his adversary by the hair with the left hand, and, having his
weapon firmly grasped with the right, and secured by a thong or strap wound tightly round the wrist, he thrusts or drives its sharp end against the temple of his victim. Another mode was to grasp the body of his antagonist and drive the weapon under the ribs with an upward thrust. The direct blow with the long edge was not often given when the combatants faced one another. There have been many famous mere-pounamu, the names of which are probably known almost all over New Zealand. Among these may be mentioned the Ka-ore-ore, owned by the Ngaitahu chief, Tama-i-hara-nui, whose tragic history and fate form one of the most sensational episodes in Maori history; Pahi Kauri, which belonged to Te Heuheu, the great Taupo chief, and was recovered after being buried with its owner under an avalanche of mud which overwhelmed the village where he lived. Te Rau-o-te-huia was another famous pounamu, the possession of which was long the subject of contention between some of the Arawa chiefs. The Piopiotahi is another, owned by the chief Tohi te Ururangi, of the Arawa, who lost his life while leading a party of our allies in the late war. Many others might be named, locally or generally famous.
Other weapons of stone were used by the Maoris—the onewa, a club or patu of grey stone; okewa, one of black igneous stone, shaped liked the mere, but thicker, and made of hard fine-grain stone. There is ground for belief that some of these stone weapons are much older than any of the mere and toki made of pounamu, and date back to a time long anterior to the discovery of the pounamu on the west coast of the Middle Island. In vol. xviii. of the Transactions will be found a very interesting paper by Professor Haast on “The Stone Weapons of the Moriori (Chatham Islanders) and the Maori.” He says,—
“The stone axes and other implements”—of the Chatham Islanders—“were first roughed out by fracturing and chipping with other ones until the approximate shape was obtained. I may here add that the stone implements are made of Lydian stone, aphanite, dioritic and basaltic rocks—for the greater part, doubtless, obtained on the Chatham Islands, though there are some specimens in the Canterbury Museum, received from that locality, of chert and some other material, which appear to have been imported from New Zealand. After the approximate shape had been given to these stone axes the Morioris used grindstones (hoanga). These were made of a coarse sandstone generally found on the sea-coast at various places. They had generally a flat surface, were otherwise somewhat round, and varied in size from 7in. to 12in. on the average. This hoanga was placed flat on the ground, and the implement ground by rubbing it to and fro thereon with water.
Numbers of these hoanga are to be seen at the Islands, easily recognisable by the hollow in the centre, shaped like a saucer—a sign of their frequent use. Mr. Shand observes that he ‘need scarcely remark that the operation was tedious in the extreme’; and one can easily see that such was the case by the examples of ill-ground axes, especially some of the smaller ones with round shoulders (uma) unreduced, like an ill-ground European axe. On the other hand, however, there were a number of really beautifully finished axes. (toki) that must have taken an infinite amount of time and skill to get into such a perfect shape. There are many unfinished axes lying about at the Chathams in the rough state, evidently intended to be ground, but afterwards thrown away. When not using them the owner generally Aid his tokis to avoid their being stolen. Now and again a number so buried are discovered in ploughing or in digging up old places of residence. Mr. Shand observes that he has ‘never seen—in fact, doubts the existence of’—any of the toki-titaha, or large axes used by the Maoris, and common also to New Guinea, used for chopping the top and bottom edges of a cut, the ordinary form being used to cut out the chip by chipping sideways, like an adze. ‘It may be of interest,’ Mr. Shand continues, ‘to state that the mode of making and tying a handle on to the toki or large stone axe was identical with that of the Maoris, of which race the Chatham Islanders evidently formed a part in the original departure from Hawaiki. This is shown also by their traditions, legends, and the causes assigned for their leaving their so-called Hawaiki home.’
“The Morioris also used flint (mata), which they split into thin, irregular, wedge-like shapes, as knives, there being no volcanic glass (tuhua) obtainable in any quantity, although a reef of it is known to exist under water at the south-east corner of the island at Manukau. The micaceous clay-slates or argillaceous schists, with layers of quartz, occurring on the northern coast of the main island, were used for making the patus, and were also employed in the same way as the mata, though their edges cannot be made so sharp as that of the latter. Both are used with or without handles in cutting up grampus, or any other variety of whale, for food, the blubber of which was considered a great relish by the Morioris…
“Besides the large weapons made of nephrite, to which exclusively the Maoris apply the term mere, they also used stone weapons of similar form, manufactured from melaphyre, aphanite, and other fine-grained basic rocks, for which weapons the generic term okewa was used… Concerning the stone implements used by the Maoris and their ancestors, I have already stated that they called all those made of nephrite mere, and the rest okewa. It is evident that the
stone clubs, possessing the same form as the mere, but made of hard black igneous rocks, are of a far more ancient date, though they have been worked with great care, and their form and polish are perfect. They have been found in such positions that there can be no doubt as to their great age. I was therefore much interested in obtaining two Maori stone implements, which are very different in form from those just alluded to, and which in many respects agree far more with the stone weapons of the Morioris than those of the Maoris… Until further specimens of the same material and form are found of these remarkable New Zealand stone weapons it would be premature to speculate upon the affinities between them and the stone weapons of the Morioris; but it seems evident to me that they date back to a time anterior to the discovery of nephrite at the West Coast, and its subsequent use in the manufacture of meres, which must have supplanted the inferior material used till that time.”
Of Maori weapons made of bone the hoeroa is the most worthy of notice. It was made from the rib of the whale. It is one of the ancient weapons, and there is some doubt as to the mode of its use. Some say that it was used as a projectile—thrown at an approaching foe, but recovered by an attached lanyard held in the hand. It was a weapon very highly prized, and exclusively possessed by a chief. Specimens of this weapon are to be seen in our Museum.
Shorter weapons, also made of whale's bone, are the kotiate, the mere, the patuparaoa; but these are, for the most part, merely imitations of the weapons of the same names fashioned out of wood or stone.
It is, I believe, a debatable question whether the Maori used missiles in warfare. At page 66 (Maori) of vol. iii. of White's “Ancient History” there is a plate in which is shown something, called kotaha-kurutai, which has the appearance of a missile to be projected by means of a stick and lanyard which would become detached as the missile is hurled. I have seen a description of such a missile as is there represented and of the mode of using it, but have forgotten where it is to be found. A specimen of the kotaha and pere, or dart, is in our Museum. I have also been told by a Rotorua chief that his father was killed with a totaha, hurled a considerable distance from a pa, situated on an elevation, which he, with his people, were besieging. The missile in this case was described as a blunt instrument. Judge Maning tells us that red-hot stones were sometimes slung into a besieged pa, with the intention of setting the houses on fire. The burning of the Arawa canoe by Raumati is said to have been effected by slinging darts carrying fire across the Maketu River, and setting on fire the thatch which formed its covering.
To revert briefly to the pounamu: It was not only as a material for a weapon that this stone was used and highly prized by the Maori. His most effective tools were fashioned out of it. The axes with which he felled large trees, and the adzes with which he shaped his canoe, dubbed down and dressed the rauawa and the timbers and slabs used in the construction of his house, food-store, palisades, &c. of his fortified pa, were of pounamu, ground, polished, and lashed to wooden handles. They were called toki, and were of various shapes and sizes, adapted to the work on which they were used.
The toki-titaha, used for felling large trees, was fixed by lashing to the end of a stout pole or shaft, with which it was thrust or driven against the tree to be felled. By successive blows two deeply incised rings, a foot or more apart, were carried round the trunk, the scarf between these being wedged out with smaller axes or adzes. The ringing and wedging process was repeated until the centre of the bole was reached and the tree fell. Sometimes a staging was erected around the tree, standing upon which a number of men could work together in this way; the axe-strokes being given simultaneously, to time marked with shout and song, in the same way as in paddling a canoe. Fire was also used as an auxiliary to the work of the axes and adzes. There were toki-tarai, toki-hangai, used for shaping and hollowing the trunk which formed the body of the canoe; toki in endless variety in shape and name. The adzes were lashed to handles, shaped so as to hold the cutting-stone at the proper angle. There were toki-paneke, or panehe, for finer adziing-work, and these diminishing in size down to the purupuru, or whao, a small chisel using in wood-carving. Kapu was a general name for an adze—a handle for which was often formed from a human leg-or arm-bone. Thepounamu was also made into ornaments of various kinds, worn on the person, as the heitiki, a grotesquely-carved representation of the human figure, which was worn suspended from the neck; also ear-ornaments, the kuru, tau, poria and many others. These were regarded as jewels, and many of them were named and famed in tradition, as were also the axes and other pounamu tools: e.g., the toki Tutauru, and Hauhau-te-rangi, which were made from Ngahue's ika, or fragment of greenstone, taken by him to Hawaiki from New Zealand, are said to have been used in the making of the seven canoes named in the legend as those which brought the first emigrants to these Islands. The ear-ornament Kaukaumatua, also made from a portion of the same block, is referred to in the song or lament of Te Iwikau for his brother Te Heuheu, the great Taupo chief, in whose possession that famous jewel was when he met his death, in the manner previously mentioned.
I will not further trespass upon your time. Other articles of Maori handicraft formed with the tools I have attempted to describe must be passed over with slight notice: Heru, combs of various kinds of wood and of bone; the putara, or conch-shell, used as a trumpet; the pukaea. Musical instruments: the koauau, kowauwau, or flute, with which Tutanekai serenaded and charmed the maiden Hinemoa; the pakuru, the putorino, and many others. The limits of a single paper will not allow of more than a rapid glance at some of the more interesting items in the Maori repertory of tools and weapons.
I beg now to thank you for having so patiently listened to me, and to say that, if my imperfect attempt to deal with an interesting subject should lead to further inquiry on the part of some of my audience, I shall feel that the time occupied by me in putting together these few notes, and by you in listening to me, has not been altogether wasted.