Art. V.—Maori Magic: Notes upon Witchcraft, Magic Rites, and various Superstitions as practised or believed in by the Old-time Maori.
[Read before the Auckland Institute, 7th October, 1901.]
To the Maori of past days there were practically but three causes of death, as follows: (1) Mate taua, or death on the battlefield; (2) mate aitu, or mate tara whare, death from sickness—i.e., a natural death; (3) mate whaiwhaiā, or death caused by witchcraft.
Deaths from makutu, or witchcraft, were, according to Maori ideas, exceedingly numerous in the days of yore, and still occur even in these times of the pakeha. Such deaths need not be the result of an active force, as in themātāai, the rua-iti, &c., to be hereinafter described, but may also be brought about by what might be termed a semi-passive or a semi-active medium, which is not dangerous to life until it be interfered with. of such a nature are the waro rahui, rongotakawhiu, pa, and trees or places endowed with tapu in order to prevent persons interfering with them, &c.
There is also a third class or kind of makutu, or witchcraft, which is non-aggressive, and which is merely intended to ward off the magic spells of others, and protect the life, spirit, and physical and intellectual vigour of the performer. of such a nature are the rites of the mātāpuru, ahurewa, ngau-pae-pae, &c
Yet another variety is that which not only wards off and nullifies the effect of the magic spells of one's enemy, but also causes such spells to recoil on the performer thereof, and so destroy him or them. Such are the kai-ure and ahi-whakaene rites. These two latter varieties of magic are known by the generic terms of “ripa,” “parepare,” “momono,” “whiti,” and “whakataha.”
After the above preamble I would wish to explain that the following notes on Maori magic comprise but a very small portion of the items of that extensive, far-reaching pseudoscience. For two reasons—first, such items, invading as they do all departments of Maori life, necessarily come under many headings, as “War,” “Birth,” “Marriage,” “Death,” “Woodcraft,” “Social Life,” “Sickness,” &c. Hence to give a description of all branches of magic would be to compile a practically complete account of Maori life, and would result in an article of such appalling length that it would probably be returned to me with or without thanks. (See Skeat's “Malay Magic” as an illustration, and the review thereof which appeared in the London Times.) The other reason is that I have already described many of the items in papers prepared on different subjects, that on “War” alone running to some 250 pages of foolscap. Again, practically the whole of these notes have been obtained from the Tuhoe or Urewera Tribe alone, and hence the article makes no pretence of being a compendium of the magic rites of the Maori of New Zealand as a whole. Rites, customs, and superstitions differ to a certain extent among the various tribes.
It was Bastian who defined magic as “the physics of mankind in a state of nature.” Moreover, it is quite clear to those who study the origin of religions, and also primitive cults, that the realm of magic must be invaded in either case in order to fully understand such cults and origins. Magic has ever been closely associated with religion. The Ark of the Covenant was the mauri of the Polynesian. The hirihiri of the Maori finds its counterpart in the bones or toe-nails of the mediæval gentlemen who struck work and declined to wash themselves. The tawhito and kai-ùre beliefs yet linger in European lands. Do not laugh at the magic of the Maori; our houses are yet partially of glass.
Belief in magic was formerly universal with the Maori, and is yet believed in to a very great extent. Tapu and makatu were practically the laws of Maoridom. Property, crops, fish, birds, &c., were protected by them. The old-time Maori had to carefully guard himself against magic rites, against infringing the laws of tapu, for a hair of his head, a shred of his clothing, a portion of the earth whereon he had left his footprint would, in the hands of an enemy, be sufficient to bring about his death. In every walk of life, during every action, whether eating, drinking, sleeping, or taking his walks abroad, whether among friends or foes, if no enemy were within a hundred miles, yet death ever attended the Maori and walked side by side with him, awaiting the opportunity to strike him down and despatch his spirit to the gloomy underworld—the Po, or realm of darkness, of oblivion.
The ancient inhabitants of New Zealand are credited with having possessed the power of magic, as the story of Tama-o-hoi will show. This gentleman is also known as Te Mahoi-hoi, and is said to have been a past-master in magic—those forms of magic dangerous to life.
That strange person Tama-o-hoi was of the ancient people of this land. He was a descendant of Maui. His descendants are among the Maori people, and also the fairies who dwell upon the great ranges. Tama-o-hoi lived at Te Roto-iti, but his dwelling-place was underground.
There are three legends anent the feats of Tama-o-hoi or Te Mahoihoi: One occurred in the far-back period when mountains were gifted with the faculties of speech, locomotion, &c.; another just after the arrival of the canoe “Te Paepae-o-Rarotonga” from Hawaiki; and the third when “Te Arawa” canoe arrived.
In regard to the two names applied to our wizard, it is probable that Te Mahoihoi is the more correct, for this reason: This ancient personage is spoken of as an atua, or demon—a being possessed of supernatural powers. Now, in the Paumotu dialect “mahoi” means “a spirit”; in Tahitian “mahoi” means “the essence or soul of a god.” Among the New Zealand branch of the Polynesian race Te Tini-o-te-mahoihoi is a name applied to an apparently mythical people—spirits, elves, or fairies similar to Te Tini-o-te-hakuturi and Te Heketoro. Therefore Te Mahoihoi is probably correct.
In the days of yore the mountains grouped around Taupo Lake were very numerous. They lived together amicably for some time, but when Tongariro took unto himself two wives—Pihanga and Ngauruhoe (two mountains)—then dissensions arose, and the mountain family broke up, many leaving the district. Taranaki went to the west, and some went east, including Whakaari (White Island), Paepae-aotea (an islet off White Island), Mou-tohara (off Whakatane), Putauaki (Mount Edgecumbe), and Kakara-mea (Rainbow Hill, at Wai-o-tapu). Putauaki had two wives, Whatiura and Pohatu-roa (latter at Atiamuri).
Now, Rua-wahia (mountain) was coming along all the time. And there was a certain demon coming from the east. That demon was Te Mahoihoi. He was the person who had great knowledge of magic. The two met and quarrelled. Rua-wahia struck at Te Mahoihoi, who warded off the blow and struck back so stoutly that Rua-wahia was cleft in twain, as may be seen to this day. Look at Tarawera. Look at Ruawahia.
Such is the earliest feat of Te Mahoihoi on record. The name Tama-o-hoi we will drop. It appears to be used by the
modern migration of the Maori, those whose ancestors came in “Te Arawa,” “Mātātua,” and other vessels. The former and correct term is used by the descendants of the ancient people of New Zealand—i.e., of the Bay of Plenty tribes, the descendants of the old-time peoples known as Te Hapu-one-one, Te Tini-o-toi, Te Kotore-o-hua, Nga-potiki, &c. These latter are the people who have preserved many ancient Polynesian words not found in our Maori dictionaries, but many of which may be found in the dialects of Paumotu, Tonga, Mangareva, Rarotonga, Nukuoro, &c.—more especially such sacerdotal terms as “mahoi,” “puri,” “tŭrŭma,” &c.
We give a genealogy from Tangotango to Te Mahoihoi, but have not secured the generations from the latter to the present time:—
We commence again. Rua-wahia is the mountain that was interfered with by Te Mahoihoi. That was before the vessels arrived (i.e., “Te Arawa,” “Mātātua,” &c., the modern fleet of the fourteenth century). Waitaha-ariki-kore had arrived. His vessel was “Te Paepae-ki-Rarotonga.” It came to land at Tara-o-muturangi, near Mătătā. Waitaha went to Rua-wahia, where he met Te Mahoihoi. The latter looked at Waitaha and saw that he was a stranger, whereupon he commenced his magic spells, in order to slay him. But Waitaha proceeded to avert the evil spell; he raised his incantation, it was the tawhito, the whakakuruki:—
Whakataha ra koe
E te anewa o te rangi e tu nei
He tupua, he tawhito to makutu
Kei taku ure e patu nei
Na te tapu ihi, na te tapu mana
Takoto ki rato ki to kauwhau ariki
Tau e patu ai ko koe ano
Haere ki te Po uriuri
Mau ka oti atu, oti atu.
Then the eyes of Te Mahoihoi weakened (momohe), and he
fled to Taupo, to Taranaki; hence the people of those parts are versed in the arts of magic.
In the above account are used some most singular expressions, which, when inquired into, lead us into various interesting channels of research. My aged informant said, “Te Mahoi-o-te-rangi, te tangata tena nana te makutu. He tama-tane tena mahi a te iwi Maori, e kore ia e kaha i te tama-wahine” (Te Mahoi-o-te-rangi was he who practised magic. That practice of the Maori people was a tama-tane—male child, or son; but it cannot contend against the tama-wahine—female child, or daughter). Here “tama-tane” seems to be a term applied to witchcraft, active magic, while the expression “tama-wahine” denotes defensive magic. I have nearly one hundred notes collected on these two expressions, and they appear to be applied to everything in the heavens, on earth, and the waters under the earth. It would take up too much space to go fully into the matter here. Tama-wahine is applied to the west, sometimes to the north, and to the ruahine who performs the closing act of all sacred rites—that is to say, the lifting of the tapu or sacredness—also to descent from Papa, the Earth Mother (the female line of descent), and to numberless other things
Here is another remark of my venerable authority. In speaking of Te Mahoihoi's encounter with Waitaha he continues: “Ko taua waha a Te Mahothoi, he waha rawhiti. Ma te tawhito anake a Waitaha e kore ia e ora, ahakoa waha rawhiti, waha hauraro, tama-wahine. Ka hu i te tama-tane, ka ora te rangi, ka ora te iwi” (That voice of Te Mahoihoi was an eastern one. The tawhito alone could not have saved Waitaha, albeit an eastern or northern voice, or the tama-wahine—(?)west. When the thunder resounds in the tama-tane—east—then the sky clears and man is safe). Here are more side issues. The latter part of the remark refers to oho rangi, a rite performed by the priests (tohunga Maori) in reference to certain sacred matters, in order to cause thunder to resound. The term “tawhito” is practically the same as “ure” (membrum virile). The latter is the ordinary term, while the former is the sacred or sacerdotal term, and which may be translated as the “Ancient One.” It was used when referring to the organ as being used in various rites, as to ward off evil, especially magic spells. “The tawhito,” said one of my aged teachers, “is the salvation of man.” But more of this anon.
After a perusal of countless notes I have evolved the following. I fear it is not a clear formula, but appears mixed and vague; but there is something of great interest behind these ancient, dim, and metaphysical abstractions:—
1. Tama-tane = waha rawhiti = east = male descent, and tawhito active, and active magic.
2. Tama-wahine = waha hau-raro = west = female descent, and tawhito passive, and passive magic.
3. In magic the latter prevails or is the most important, if backed by sufficient mana (power, prestige, intellectual, natural, and supernatural), mana, according to the Maori, being derived from ancestors.
4. Tawhito = ure = procreative organs.
5. Tama-tane = male = active force.
6. Tama-wahine = female = passive force.
7. Waitaha could not be saved by the male tawhito alone. It needed a blending of the tama-tane and tama-wahine (male and female forces) in order to preserve life. In like manner, when both the tama-wahine and tama-tane thunders have resounded, then the sky clears.
The whole being the results of the attempt of a primitive people to explain the male and female forces, and to apply such to all departments of nature. And probably these items are the remains of, and point to, a system of phallic worship, as practised by the ancestors of the Polynesian race in times long passed away.
The rite known by the above term is performed in order to save the life of a person who has been subjected to the magic spells of an enemy, and to cause such magic to recoil upon the author thereof. Ka rere te ringa ki te ure, ka titoiria, katahi ka hapainga te karakia:—
Kai ure nga atua,
Kai ure nga tapu,
Kai ure ou makutu, &c.
And, again, in the whakau rite the following is repeated:—
To kai ihi, to kai ihi
To kai Rangi, to kai Papa
To kai awe, to kai karu
To kai ure pahore, &c.
In speaking of the above rites an old Maori said to me “The ure is the important mana (power, prestige, &c.) of the tapu.” An interesting kai ure invocation may be found in “Nga Moteatea,” page 305.
An aged native wrote me, saying, “Friend! I am sending the means by which you may ward off the shafts of magic and confound your enemies. Behold this invocation, the tawhito, the kai-ure, which saves man. When a person attempts to interfere with you in any way do as I tell you and you shall retain life; but your enemy, he shall descend to Hades for all time.” He then proceeded to explain how I
was to act, and also wrote out the magic spell. I have not yet tried it on any of my enemies, but hope to be able to do so in the future. This subject is an extremely interesting one, but my notes thereon have really become so numerous that they must be reserved for a separate paper.
It is said that the Takitumu migrants brought a great knowledge of magic with them to New Zealand.
One of the most common forms of makutu, or witchcraft, is that in which a medium is used in order to connect the spells of the wizard with the object to be acted upon by them. This medium, termed “ohonga” and “hohonga,” when man is the object, is usually a fragment of his clothing, a lock of his hair, a portion of his spittle, or a portion of earth on which he has left his footprint. By obtaining such a medium the wizard will be able to bewitch the owner thereof by uttering his spells and performing certain rites. This is sympathetic magic. It may work all right, but if the object becomes aware that arts of magic are being practised against him he can divert (whiti, or whakataha, or ripa) such by counter-spells and rites, as the kai-ure, the parepare, the momono, and many others. It will then be resolved by the fact as to which possesses the greatest mana or power (intellectual and supernatural).
The above is generally termed “taking the hau” of a person. The hau of man means his intellectual and spiritual and supernatural power (mana). The hau is the immaterial essence or representation of such powers, while the ohonga is the material representation of the hau, and through such medium the hau of the subject is affected. When a person's hau is affected by magic his body perishes, it can no longer exist; his intellectual and spiritual force has departed.
If you meet a wizard, a person famed for his magic spells, and you happen to be carrying some food, do not give him any of it or he will use it as a medium and bewitch you. But when he has passed you do you stop and wave that food across the track, and repeat an incantation to nullify the effects of his spells. The action of waving the article of food across the trail traversed by the magician will carry with it the “warding-off” power of the karakia or charm.
When the ohonga is taken it is fastened to a branchlet of the karamuramu shrub and taken to the tuāhu, or sacred place of the village, and there the necessary spells are repeated over it in order to cause the death of the subject, who will be afflicted by wasting sickness.
If you are talking to me and I wish to lay a spell upon you, I can take the hau of your voice by uttering certain incantations. Such spells as this and others practised in the presence of the subject are not repeated aloud.
The earliest case of slaying a person by magic contained in my notes is the destruction of Maui by Hine-nui-te-po, Goddess of Hades (the Po) and personification of death. The origin of the quarrel was the slaying of the children of Mahuika (origin and personification of fire) by Maui. After that Maui and Hine differed as to whether or not man should grasp eternal life. The ohonga, or medium, obtained by Hine was a drop of Maui's blood, which Namu, the silent sandfly, procured for her. The mosquito was sent first, but proved to be too noisy a messenger, and was heard and killed by Maui. Verily it was well to be wary in the days of old, for death was ever near.
There were many ways by which personal hau might be protected from magic, so long as the enemy's magic was not the more powerful. For instance, the ahua or semblance of the hau of man could be taken and protected by means of magic. The material token of such semblance would probably be a lock of the person's hair. This would be taken to the tuāhu, or sacred place of the village, and buried at the base of the Ahurewa, which is one of the forms of tuāhu, and is represented to the eye by a carved stick stuck in the ground. The depositing of this talisman was accompanied by the repetition of appropriate incantations or spells to render it effective.
A similar thing was the ika purapura, or taitai. This was a bird into which the semblance of the health, vitality, vigour, productiveness, &c., of the people and tribal lands had been instilled. After being hung up for a time, this talisman or semblance of the hau of man and land was buried, as an ika purapura. It would retain the essence of the desirable qualities of man and land, and guard them against magic arts. For reasoning in a metaphysical and anagogic sense the Maori has probably no superior, so far as his understanding went.
The hau of land, or of a forest, or of a productive tree, can be protected in the same way as personal hau, and in much the same way, by the concealing (with proper charms or invocations) of a material semblance of such land, forest, or tree. Take, for instance, a tree which is much frequented by birds, and hence a desirable one on which to set bird-snares. It is deemed advisable to protect the tree from being killed or blasted by an enemy's magic, or the birds driven therefrom by the same means, or from being poached by other persons. Therefore the tree is made tapu by the priest; after which, should any one interfere with it, such person will be afflicted by the atua or familiar demon of the priest. If that person, so afflicted, wishes to save himself he must go to the priest or wise man who rendered the tree tapu and place himself in
his hands for treatment. Nor is it wise to delay the matter; the gods who live for ever are not to be trifled with.
In the above rite the priest takes the hau of the tree, or the semblance thereof. The usual plan is to take the first bird snared upon the tree—or the long wing-feathers (kira)—which is taken away and hidden in the forest somewhere, and incantations said over it to render the tree tapu and so protect it. It cannot now be injured by the magic spells of enemies.
Should a person sell or barter the property of another, that is termed a “hau whitia,” or “averted hau.” The person who so received the article will surely die; he will not survive.
Theft was often punished by the dread arts of magic in this wise: When a person lost an article by theft he would take the ahua (semblance of personality) of such article to the priest, the material token of which ahua would be something that had been in contact with the stolen article. Two cases came under my notice. In one some eels were taken from a man's eel-pot. In the other case money was stolen from a box. In the first case a fragment of the eel-pot was used as a material token of the personality of the eels. In the other a coin which had been overlooked by the thief was used. This medium would be taken to the priest and laid before him, with the explanation that it was the ahua of an article which had been stolen. The priest would look at the material medium and say to the applicant for justice, “I see the wairua (spirit) of the thief standing by your side.” He would then describe the appearance of the thief whose spirit he saw. Such spirits are always anthropomorphous with the Maori, and probably to all other primitive races. The plaintiff in the above case would, when he recognised the thief from the priest's description, sometimes go and demand his property so as to give him a chance of escaping the awful effects of the priest's spells of witchcraft. When the thief refused to return the article stolen it was time enough to put the law of makutu in force. Sometimes, however, the sufferer of the theft would say at once, “Patua atu” (Destroy him). The priest would then perform his magic rites over the medium which had been brought to him. And it was not well for that thief; death or insanity lay before him. The priest who performed the above rite would be one of the class of tohunga (priests) known as a “tohunga ruanuku.” Other classes of priesthood are tohunga taua, or war-priests; tohunga pukenga, or teachers; and tohunga puri, who are also magicians. The above priest would also be a matatuhi (matakite), or seer. The material medium mentioned above is sometimes termed “hau” or “maawe.”
When it comes to the knowledge of a person that he is under the influence of magic directed by some enemy, or when he is taken ill, he at once hies him to the priest, who will tell him to return to him in the evening. When the sun sets they go together to the wai tapu, or sacred water of the village. This is a pond, spring, or stream set apart for sacred purposes, and no one may interfere with such water or make use of it. To take a drink of it is about equal to taking a dose of poison; it is even dangerous for an individual unaccompanied by a priest to approach it. On arriving at the water the priest looks at the patient and says, “You have been bewitched. I see the wizard standing by your side. What shall I do with him?” The answer will probably be, “Slay him.” The priest then repeats the spell to destroy the wizard, after which he taps the patient with his sacred wand and recites:—
Haere i tua, haere i waho
Haere te maramatanga
Haere i nga kapua o te rangi
Haere mahihi ora
Haere i nga kapua o te rangi
Haere ma hihi ora
Ki te whai ao, ki te ao marama
Ko rou ora
Haere i a moana nui
Haere i a moana roa
Haere i a moana te takiritia
Ki te whai ao, ki te ao marama
Ko rou ora.
With his wand the priest sprinkles water over the body of the patient. At dawn next morning the sacred umu, or steam-oven, is kindled, and food cooked therein. Among the food is a special piece placed. When the oven is uncovered if that special article of food is thoroughly cooked, then it is known that the wizard has perished or is nigh unto death. Then the patient recovers. It would appear that the above may be a form of crystallomancy, and that the priest, by intense will-power or other means, sees reflected in the water the form of the magician—i.e., if the acting-priest's mana is strong enough to overcome that of the offending wizard. Such rites as the above are always performed in the evening or early morn, for the simple reason that the wairua, or spirit of man, does not wander forth or roam about in the broad light of day, and hence is not available to be influenced by the magic spells of the priest. In like manner, when such a rite is being performed the people of the village or fort will remain in their houses, lest their spirits roam forth and approach the spot where the magic rites of the priest are being performed, which would probably destroy such wander-
ing spirits, when, of course, the physical bases of such would infallibly perish.
Those who have been simply rendered insane or mentally deranged (keka) by magic for such a crime as theft would spend the balance of their days wandering aimlessly about, clutching at the air, and repeating meaningless words and phrases.
The whakamatiti is a spell of magic, or magic rite, which is employed by a priest in order to punish a thief without killing him. This causes him to become mentally deranged, as described above, and also contracts his fingers and weakens his hands, so that he can take or hold nothing with them. This rite is sometimes termed “ahi matiti.” It is mentioned in an oriori, or lullaby, of olden times:—
Waiho te whare, E hine!
I to tipuna i a Paia
Hua rawa atu nei ka matau rawa i a ia
Te whata a to tipuna, a Raumati-ninibanga
Na Turuwhatu te whata a Pouroa
Mou ra, E hine!
Koi hikaia koe ki te ahi o te ruhi,
Ki te abi o te ngenge,
Ki te abi o te whakamatiti
Mo te kore rawa, E hine!
There were in former times a great number of charms or spells of an inferior kind, which had no power to destroy life, but simply unnerved or weakened the subject. They were often put in the form of a song or chaunt (waiata). The following is a specimen thereof. It is one of the class of songs known as a “makamaka kaihaukai,” which are chaunted by the people who present food to guests at a feast. The following was composed by one Ruru, of Tuhoe, in order to unnerve a rival and render him incapable of performing with good effect before the visitors at a feast:—
He Waiata Makamaka Kaihaukai. Na Ruru: He Karakia kia kore e kaha tana hoa Makamaka Kaihaukai, kia hinga i a ia.
Korokoro whiti, korokoro whiti
Tu ana te manu i runga i nga puke ra
Tenei hoki te kame ka whakairi
Te kame ka whakarere
Te kame i pokaia noatia
I runga i a Tu-ka-riri
I a Tu-ka-niwha, i a Tu-ka-ritarita
E baere ana Rita, he tangata kamenga kore
Ka pau te ki hanga maka
He nui kame maoa e tu ana i ou atua roa
He tini te kame, he mano te kame, he tutae taua
Ka kame tiko iho ki waenga
He aha aku kai tē pau noa ai
Naku te tohenga ki te whitu, ki te waru
Ki te roa o te tau
Waiho nei matau hai timokomoko kai
Ma te ngaburu (? Ngahuru)
Tangi ana te whakatopatopa o kame
O kame maunu, he toroa, he taiko—e, &c.
The following is also a charm to weaken a person and prevent him from finishing the building of his house. It might be used out of ill-will, or to punish the builder for having made an error in the plan of the house or in the measuring (tieke) thereof:—
He tai panuku, he tai wheranu
E Nuku! E moe nei, ka riri koe e koe
E Papa e moe nei
Tauia mai ra te papa o toku whare
He ra ka hinga, he ra ka newha
Ka tupeke hinga ki tai o Motutapu (or Ka tupe, ka hinga?)
Uahatia taku manu i te rangi
He toroa, he karae, he taiko
Ko te manu tangi reo
Ki te muriwai o Wai-rarawa
Turakina, ka hinga ki te Po whekerekere
Ka takoto i Muriwai whenua
Ka eke i ona irohia.
There are two varieties of charms or magic spells known as “rotu.” One is termed a “rotu moana”; it is used in order to calm the ocean—to put it to sleep, in fact. “Rotu” means “heavy-eyed,” as for want of sleep. “Rorotu” means “to oppress with sleep.” The other rotu is used in order to make a person sleep. The following is such an one:—
E moe! E moe!
Ko te po nui, ko te po roa
Ko te po i whaka-aua ai to moe
Tamoe, or Umu Tamoe
“Tamoe” means to suppress the evil designs and enmity of people by means of a magic rite—the umu tamoe. When the Matatua immigrants were coasting along the shores of the Bay of Plenty they performed this rite before landing, in order to calm the enmity of the people of the ancient tribes of that part. After a battle has been fought the victors perform the umu tamoe in order to prevent the enemy being able to avenge their defeat. The umu horokaka is a rite performed before attacking an enemy. A fire is kindled by the priest, whose magic spells are to cause the wairua, or spirits, of the enemy to be drawn into the magic fire and therein be consumed (ka rotua nga wairua o nga hoariri ki roto).
The umu hiki is a rite performed in order to cause a people
to forsake their lands and migrate to pastures new. It is an easy way of disposing of objectionable people.
The ka-mahunu is a rite performed in order to render an evil person ashamed of his ways—to cause his conscience to prick him, in fact. This is probably one of the highest points to which Maori ethics reached.
The wero ngerengere is an incantation to cause a person to be attacked by leprosy. It is a Taupo product, and used to be practised there.
Tu-matapongia, is a spell to cause a person to become invisible to others. It is useful when being pursued by an enemy.
The papaki is a spell to destroy or render demented a woman who will not consent to marry a man who desires her. There are many charms and magic rites in connection with birth, love, marriage, conception, divorce, &c., which would occupy too much space here.
The hau-o-puanui is a wind raised by magic in order to accelerate a person's speed in travelling, or the return of a truant wife, &c.
The whakamania is to pass disparaging remarks about a person to his face, not behind his back, to which latter the terms “kohimu,” “ngau tuara,” “rae oneone,” &c., are applied. The term “whakamanior” is similar in meaning to “whakamania.” These disparaging remarks, when uttered by a person of importance, are looked upon as being ominous of evil. When the sons of Tuwharetoa, of Kawerau, wished to go a slaying their aboriginal neighbours their father objected, and told them to wait until the tapu was lifted from his crops. However, the sons persisted, which angered the old gentleman. He said to them, “Haere i a tuku noa, i a heke noa, e popo, e anea, mau ka oti atu, oti atu,” which was equivalent to telling them that they could go to the deuce and end in Hades. So fell they in the fight of Kaka-tarae.
The umu-pururangi is a rite and incantation used to destroy life. When the two wives of Uenuku-koihu quarrelled one slew the other by means of this magic rite, which I refrain from publishing, for obvious reasons.
The puru-rangi is an incantation used to block up the flood-gates of the heavens, in order to make the rain and wind cease and bring fine weather. It is an extremely useful charm to have in camp. When winds become too boisterous to be pleasant the first invocation or spell repeated was the tokotoko, which was to cause the wind to betake itself to other parts. After that the puru-rangi was recited:—
Tokona nga hau
Tokona ki waho
Tokona nga hau
Tokona ki uta
He rangi kia purupurua, &c.
The wind known as “tutakanga-hau” is laid by means of cursing it vigorously, as follows:—
Riri te rangi i runga nei
Riri nga hau.
The umu-pongipongi is also a rite of magic used in order to take human life (he umu kai whanaunga). Compare fakabogi = murder, in Tongan, as also fakabogibogi.
A strange legend of Te Roto-iti mentions a horde of demons or uncanny objects which were despatched by Te Rongo-pu-iti against the Moturoa Fort at that lake. These taniwha, or goblins, appeared in most extraordinary forms, such as he uma kau (a being all chest), he upoko anake (a head only), he tapahu (war-cloak), &c. I much fear that the seer who saw these wondrous beings must have been unwell at the time. However, the Maori priests and mediums had some very extraordinary hallucinations.
This was a rite by which many different spells of magic were performed in the good old days. It is said to have been a sacred fire kindled by a priest, and over which the ka-mahunu and other rites were performed.
A rite is performed at the ahi whakaene whereby the personality (ahua) or the hau (intellectual and spiritual force) of man is destroyed, when the body of such man must perish. When the priest kindles the sacred fire he repeats the following charm, known as hika ahi (fire-generating):—
Hika atu ra taku ahi, Tu ma tere
Tonga tere ki te umu toko i-a-i—e
Tere tonu nga rakau
Tere tonu ki te umu—e.
Another rite performed at the ahi whakaene is that known as whakautuutu. To encounter the moko kakariki, or green lizard, or the moko tapiri was an evil omen. The person seeing one in his path would at once know that it had been sent by an enemy to destroy him and possibly his clan also. Such an occurrence is termed a “kotipu.” The first thing to do in such a case is to kill the reptile and get a woman to step over it, in order to avert the omen. This is called a “ripa” or “‘whiti.” The people then collect to perform the whakautuutu rite. The priest kindles the ahi whakaene, and the reptile is cut into pieces, which are thrown into the fire. As each piece is thrown in the name of a tribe, or sub-tribe, or noted magician is mentioned: “So-and-so shall eat you”—mentioning all people whom it is thought likely
might have sent the ill-omened reptile. Also a charm known as “hirihiri” is repeated, in order to banish the threatened disaster to other parts. Then the people will pull out some of the hair of their heads and cast it into the fire, and all expectorate upon the dead lizard. Thus will the evil omen recoil upon he or they who sent it. Kaitoa!
I tahuna mai ahau ki te ahi whakaene
Ki mate te wairua.—Old Song.
The hirihiri is repeated by a person when he believes that some one is directing, or may shortly direct, spells of magic against him. Also, a priest will recite a hirihiri over a sick person, in order to discover who is “meddling” with him—that is to say, what magician is bewitching him. The following is an example:—
Kotahi koe ki reira
Kotahi kia Te Reretautau (name of a priest or magician)
Kotahi koe ki reira, kotahi ki nga ariki
Kotahi koe ki reira, kotahi ki nga mātāmua
Kotahi koe ki reira, kotahi ki nga wananga
Kotahi koe ki reira, kotahi ki nga tapu
Kotahi koe ki reira, kotahi kia Te Haraki.
In the particular case from which I take the above, when the patient heard the name of Te Haraki (a wizard) pronounced his life departed in a last sigh (puhanga manawa = the last expelling of breath by a dying person). Thus it was known that the worker of magic, Te Haraki, had been the cause of his death. Had the illness of the sick person been caused by that violation of tapu known as “Kai-ra-mua” (the eating of food set apart for the first-born, matamua, of a high-born family, a most intensely tapu individual), then he would have expired (ka puha ake te manawa) at the word mātāmua; and so on with the other terms.
Be clear, the offender would be afflicted in this manner during times of peace. But if he ate of the food of a mātāmua in time of war, then he would be afflicted by Tu-mata-rehurehu of dread memory; of a verity the afflictions of the pahunu, hinapo, and parahuhu would descend upon him. His strength would wane, his sight wax dim, no enemy would he slay or catch, the fear which springs from sin committed would be upon him. All of which troubles are inflicted by the gods.
A person falls ill. The priest is sent for. He finds that the illness has been caused by some infringement of tapu. The priest will then proceed to cure the patient by means of the rite known as “Ngau paepae.” He conducts him to
the village latrine, and says to him, “Bite the paepae” (wooden bar), which the patient does, the priest reciting:—
Ngaua i te pae, ngaua i te wehi
Ngaua i te upoko o te atua
Ngaua i a Rangi e tu nei
Ngaua i a Papa e takoto nei
Whakapa koe ki te ruahine
Kia whakaorangia koe
E tahito nuku, e tahito rangi
E tahito pamamao
Ki Tawhiti i Hawaiki.
The following is another such karakia (charm, spell, incantation, invocation):—
Ka kai koe ki tua
Ka kai koe ki te paepae
E takoto nei
Koia nga tapu, koia nga popoa
Koia nga whare, koia nga urunga
Koia nga tapu nei
He atua kahu koe
Haere i tua, haere i waho
Haere i te rangi nui e tu nei
Ki te whaio ao, ki te ao marama
Ko rou ora.
After this rite the patient is noa, or free of the dread tapu, and so recovers.
The mātākai is a spell recited in order to bewitch a person while he is in the act of eating, that the food and power of the spell may pass together into his stomach. In two days he will be assailed by illness. (See an account of the same sort of magic in Welby's travels in Abyssinia.) It is said by some that this spell causes a person to choke; he cannot swallow his food, it sticks in his throat.
This was a spell of magic in the form of a chaunt or dirge. It was used in order to slay a person or persons sometimes living far away. The following is a tangi tawhiti composed and chaunted by the Tuhoe people in order to avenge the death of Te Umu-ariki, one of their chiefs who had been slain at Whangara:—
Taugi taukuri ai, e te mamae ra
Takaro ra mota ki whakaaro iho
Koia te tangata ringa taupoki patu kohuru
Ko tama e tu, ko Rehua tu roa Rite rawa lara te toa taurekareka
Whakaorahanga ki te ra, ki te marama
Nou te kaha ki te ika tere
Ka pae kai a Matioro
Turanga o te tipua o Paoa, o Takitumu
O Ruawharo, o Timu-whakairia, o Rongokako
Ka mene kai roto o te puku nui o Tahaia
Aurara ou ringaringa, kai te rokiroki
Kai te penapena, kai te rakai whenua
Tetea nga niho o Tara-mai-nuku
Te niho o Tipoki ka whakatara ki te whetu
Te niho o Tipoki ka whakatara ki te marama
Ona niho kai tangata
Ka ngau ki te mata o Hoturoa
Ripia mai nei e te paea
Te taha maui ki tana (ripi)
Te Tipi a Houmea ki te one poutama
Tena te tohu na te tipua
Ka mau kai te kiri o te toa horopu
He ringa kia tu
Ka maha noa atu e roto—i.
The tipi a houmea mentioned above is identical with the papahāro, a most grievous affliction. It is a rite of magic which is used to blast the fertility of lands and render them sterile, or to destroy shellfish, &c., on a beach. The performing priest smooths a little sand or earth, which represents the lands whose fertility is to be destroyed. He then scores it across with a wand, repeating at the same time his spell of magic to blast the fertility of that land. Or he will take a stone and recite over it his spell, and then throw the stone across the land or water to be sterilised. It is the mănă of his ancestors, whom the priest invokes, that is the destructive power. The incantation to restore the good products of such lands to their original state of vitality is known as “pare-hao-kai.”
The following is an interesting tangi tawhiti: A female relative of Piki, of Tuhoe, was bewitched by Taratoa. Piki, who was at Whakatane, chaunted this tangi tawiti in order to slay Taratoa, who, with all his people, was living inland. Taratoa saved himself and two relatives by means of counter-charms, but the rest of his relatives died:—
E hine, Marunui i te tapui
Ka taka i ou tuakana
Tu ake hoki, e hine! ki te tu wharariki
Hai whakakakara mo hine ki te moenga
Te moenga tē whita, te moenga tē au
Oti tonu atu koe ki raro—e—e
Taupae atu ra i tua o Te Wharau—e hine!
Ka wehe ko te po, ka wehe ko te ao i a koe
Tokona atu ra ki tawhiti
He tokouri, he tokotea, he mapuna, he kai ure
Kai ure noa ana, e hine!
Nga tohunga i nga atua kia mate
Koi tonu nga niho ki te ngau.
Na Maui i hangarau, e hine!
Tana ika tapu, ko te whenua nui
E noho nei taua
I tikina ki raro wheuriuri, kia Hine-nui-te-Po
Hai ngaki i te mate
I tukua mai neiki āna karere,
Ki te waeroa, ki te nainu poto
Hai kakati i te rae.
I te mata o te hurupiki—e hine!
Ko ta paua (?) ka ea te maie
O te hiku rekareka nei, o te tuna—e-i
Takoto mai ra, e hine!
I roto i te whare papa
Ko te whare ra tena o to tipuna, o Tama-a-mutu,
I tuhia ai—e-ki tuhi marei kura
Koia a Ngai-Tama-tuhi-rae
I whakairi ai—e-ki runga ki te rakau
Koia te kauhau i to papa, i a Maui, e hine!
Tera ia te rua o tini raua ko mano
I karia ki te oneone ika nui—e hine!
Hurihuritia iho ra, e hoa ma—e!
Ta tatau mahuri totara
No te wao tapu nui a Tane
No te awa-e-i Oatua.
No runga-e-i Okarakia
No nga pinga-e-i roto i te Kopua
Taku totara haemata,
Te rite ai, e hine!
Ki a koe—i—a.
Oatua is a stream and Okarakia a settlement at Ruatahuna. The tuna mentioned is Puhi, the eel-god, who was slain by Maui for interfering with Hine-nui-te-Po, Goddess of Hades.
The Maori possessed spells of potent magic to contract the land, and others to stay the sun in its course. These were used by travellers. Others were used by persons engaged in searching for anything. If a person were supposed to have been slain or perished from hunger or in a snowstorm while travelling, a priest (tohunga ruanuku, or magician) would perform a certain rite in order to “awaken” the bones of the dead—a ka hu mai aua wheua, and the bones would resound to show their whereabouts.
The punga was a spell to lessen the speed of a person pursuing one, or of a person one is pursuing.
The hearts of slain enemies were cooked at a fire termed “ti-rehurehu,” and spells were repeated over them to sap the bravery of the enemy and render them faint-hearted.
The whakaumuumu is a magic spell used to destroy human life. To ward off a threat of magic the following brief phrase is used: “Kuru ki whakataha.
If a person is put to shame before people he may wish to be transported elsewhere. He will therefore call upon his familiar taniwha, or monsters—probably ancestors of his, who assumed that form at death—to bear him hence. He will summon them by repeating the following:—
Tangi atu au ki te ninihi nui o te moana
Ki te parata nui o te moana
Ki te taniwha nui o te moana
Ki te paikea nui o te moana
Kia hara mai, kia horomia hine
Ko Hine whakaruru taua
Kei a rawea e koe
Tutakina ki te rangi taua.
The toko-uri and toko-tea are said to be two posts or sticks which are erected at the sacred place of a village. One is the emblem of misfortune, sickness, and death; the other is the emblem of health, vigour, and life. The one is subjected to magic rites that misfortunes may not assail the tribe—to expel sickness, death, &c. The other is similarly treated to cause it to retain the health, vigour, &c., of the tribe.
It is excessively bad form to be inhospitable to a visitor. Should he arrive while you are eating, ask him at once to join you. Should you neglect so to do, thinking, perhaps, that he is a person of low birth and an ignorant, yet he may possess powers of magic and destroy you for slighting him. Hence the old saying, “Kai ana mai koe he atua, noho ana ahau he tangata” (You are eating there as a god; I am sitting here as a man).
When red war has siezed upon the land it is quite probable that you will find yourself, spear in hand and patu in belt, about to measure strength with an enemy; or trouble may arise in other ways, and it is decided that you settle the matter by single combat. You first carefully perform the rite of tuaimu, and repeat the spell or incantation known as a “mata-rakau” or “hoa rakau.” This has the effect of rendering a thrust or stroke of your weapon most effective. Before you commence to repeat the charm you must spit upon your weapon. If you wish to kill your adversary you add the words “Mau ka oti atu ki te Po, oti atu” (Away to the shades for ever) to your tuaimu spell which is meant to weaken your enemy. But, if your adversary is a relative, you probably do not wish to slay, but merely to wound him. Therefore the above words are omitted, and when you have struck down your foe you stand over him, and, expectorating upon your fingers, rub them over the face of the fallen man, at the same time repeating: “Mau ka hoki mai ki te ao nei”. (Return you to the world of life). Understand, you yourself are under tapu at this time, and therefore your spittle even is, as it were, impregnated with that tapu. Therefore the action just described has the effect of imparting mana, or power, to your magic.
Rua-iti, or Rua-torino.
This is another method of destroying life by magic spells acting upon the human hau. Ngati-awa Tribe describe the
rua-torino as being a mound of earth formed in human shape by the priest. In this supposed human body he makes a hole, and then recites his spells of magic, in order to cause the spirit of the subject to descend into that hole, where it is affected or destroyed by the spells of the priest.
Tuhoe describe the rua-iti as follows: The priest makes a hole in the ground. This is the rua-iti. He has already obtained a piece of cord, the property of the subject, obtained by theft. He holds one end of the cord in his hand and allows the other end to trail down into the hole. He then repeats a spell to cause the wairua, or spirit, of the subject to descend the cord into the rua, or hole, where it is confined and destroyed by an incantation known as “kopani-harua.”
If a man finds out that some one is trying to destroy him by means of magic, his atua, or familiar demon (probably the spirit of his father or of an ancestor) will warn him, or his own wairua (spirit) will discover the fact that a magician is “meddling” with its physical basis and so return and warn the same (this refers to dreams: a person dreams that he is being so treated; to the Maori it is his spirit which has seen it); and he, the subject, will despatch a person to obtain a piece of any kind of cord belonging to the wizard. This cord is the medium between the subject (who now becomes an active agent) and the magician. The person makes an incision on his shoulder and smears the blood therefrom on the cord, which he then burns. I have not the special incantation here used. This rite is to ward off the spells of the magician who has bewitched him, and if it has sufficient mana it will destroy him. The performer must then whakanoa or lift the tapu from himself. To effect this he will obtain the services of a ruahine, a woman who is employed to make common people, houses, &c., under the influence of tapu. He cooks a single kumara and hands it to the woman, who eats it, while more invocations are repeated. Another way is to place the kumara under the threshold of his house, which the ruahine then steps over.
In war, when flying from an enemy, the pursued would turn and score a line across the earth or water behind him, at the same time repeating a karakia, which is said to destroy the pursuer so soon as he crosses the aforesaid line. When it was known or suspected that a war-party was approaching in order to attack a fort or village, the priest of the latter would go forth and bury a kumara (sweet potato) under the trail by which the enemy was supposed to approach. When such enemy crossed that spot they would be assailed by the pahunu or mahunu, a loss of nerve, an indefinable fear, produced by the spells of the priest recited when burying the kumara. Sometimes a spear would be laid across the track
with the same object in view. of course, the hoa rakau charm was repeated over the weapon thus deposited.
In the far-back misty past, when gods and men mingled and deeds of passing strangeness occurred, it was Maahu who strove with Haere-atautu, their weapons being the magic of old. This was probably after the separation of Maru, Haere, and Kahukura. Both those beings were destroyed, each by the other. Haere (a rainbow god) was lured by Maahu to the paepae, where he was entered by Noke, the earthworm, and so destroyed; while Maahu of old was lured by Haere into the calabash known as Tipoki-o-rangi and therein destroyed.
When travelling through an enemy's country always walk in the water as much as possible, so as to avoid leaving your footprints on earth or sand, the hau (personality) of which might be taken by an enemy and used as an ohonga, or medium, through which to destroy you by his dark spells. Also be careful not to expectorate as you traverse a trail or cast away any article you have touched, for any of these articles may serve as a medium for the rites of magic. Again, when in mixed company, of whom you are not sure that a member thereof may not bear you ill-will, never rise from a seat without putting down your hand and “scooping up” therewith any fragments of your hau, or personality, which may have adhered to the seat. It is not well to neglect these precautions.
A priest or magician of sufficient mana, or power, can cause a flood by means of an invocation known as tukurangi, addressed to Para-whenua-mea, the origin and personification of floods or flood-waters. He can also cause a flooded river to subside. To do this he would take in his hand a stone, over which he would repeat his karakia (charm, &c.). He would then cast the stone across the flooded river. The tohunga rua-nuku had also incantations in his budget wherewith to blast trees, to shatter rocks, and many other marvellous things.
When invited to a feast it behoves one to be cautious when the presents of food are placed before you, for maybe that food has been bewitched by some evilly disposed person, and it is well to avert (whiti) the misfortune. You know, of course, that when the long heap of food is placed before guests the right-hand end as you face it is the kauru (head) and the other end the take (base). Before commencing to eat, your priest or man of knowledge will rise and, taking the basket of food from the extreme right, or kauru, he will place it on the extreme left, and shift the one on the left to the extreme right. This is a whiti ora, an averting of misfortune.
If you should happen to wound yourself—say, a cut by an
axe—you should instantly rub the axe on the wound and repeat the charm known as “whai motu.” If in walking you trip and hurt your foot, repeat the words “Tina ora.”
Mawake, of Kawerau, waxed old and died. He was buried at Waitaha-nui. After some time one Manaia was strolling past that spot and possessed himself of Mawake's jaw-bone, out of which he fashioned himself a fish-hook. One day Manaia and his people went out to sea to fish. As they lay fishing on the banks a fish leaped from the sea and dropped into the canoe of Manaia That fish was an aho. Then the demons of the sea rose and utterly destroyed that people. Behold the power of the gods!
The custom of protecting crops or fish or forest products, or flax or ochre springs, &c., by means of a rahui was widespread in Maoriland—in fact, a universal custom. A post, termed pou rahui, would be set up and a bunch of fern or weeds tied thereto as a token of the rahui. Sometimes the head of a slain enemy was so used. When Tuhoe slaughtered Ngatirangitihi at Rere-whakaitu they brought back to Rua-tahuna the heads of many chiefs. That of Tionga was taken to Tarapounamu and there used to guard a famous bird-snaring tree.
The above post had no power in itself to punish poachers, but an object, such as a stone or branch, &c., was used as a whatu (kernel, an object to absorb the magic power), and was termed a “kapu.” Over this the incantations were repeated which had the power of destroying any person who interfered with the things protected by the rahui. The kapu, or whatu, was concealed near the pou rahui.
Waro rahui is another term used. “Waro” means a pit or chasm. A Maori would say, “A waro was dug that those who went to steal might descend thereby to death.” It by no means follows that any pit was dug. The pit was the power of the spells of magic by which poachers and thieves were slain; that was the real pitfall. Such is one of the beauties of the Maori tongue. A person often means something totally different from what he says.
But, apart from the rahui, if it was found that poachers were snaring birds in a forest where they had no right, an offence known as “kai haumi,” search would be made for some of the feathers that may have fallen from the birds taken. These would be taken to the priest of magic, to act as an ohonga, or medium, between the incantations of the priest and the subjects; and trouble lay before the kai-haumi gentry.
The causes of magic spells being employed were innumerable. Among others were quarrels concerning women, contentions between men as to items of ancient history, &c. jealousy, envy, and other causes too numerous to mention.
One of the earliest acts of magic (makutu) on record is the act of Maui when he caused Irawaru to assume the form of a dog. The cause of this act was that Whatu-nui, wife of Maui, had received attentions from Maui's elder brother, Maui-mua.
Kākā, a chief of Kahungunu Tribe, derived his name from the following circumstance: A leading chief of the tribe had been slain by a priestly magician named Moeroa, who, in conjunction with one Meke, of Te Wairoa, obtained some kākā birds and performed over them their magic rites, and then sent them to the above chief, who, eating of them, died the death. It was then that Kawatiri took the name of Kākā, in order to keep green the memory of that killing.
Another good way in which to dispose of enemies is to obtain one of the (cooking) stones from their ovens. You then have certain spells recited over this by a magician and return the stone to the oven. When next those people eat food that has been cooked in that oven—he parekura! there will be trouble.
Sometimes bitter wars arose in consequence of acts of makutu, or witchcraft. When Ngati-maru, of Hauraki, raided the eastern shores of the Bay of Plenty they took back home with them numbers of Ngai-tai and Ngati-ira. Some time after this Te Whata, son of Tu-te-rangi-anini, of Ngati-maru, died, and Ngai-tai were accused of having bewitched him and so caused his death. Ngai-tai denied the truth of this, but said that Te Aitanga-a-mahaki had done so. Whereupon an expedition of Ngati-maru sailed from Hauraki, under the chiefs Tu-te-rangi-anini, Te Popo, and Te Rohu, to square matters up. After their departure Ngati-ira and Ngai-tai evolved the idea that Hauraki was a good place to migrate from. They therefore left, and returned home by an inland route through Tuhoeland, eventually reaching Torere. The Ngati-maru party attacked and defeated Ngai-tai at Parepaopao. One account says that they went on and attacked Te Aitanga-a-mahaki, a Turanga tribe. Before returning home Ngati-maru also defeated Te Whaka-tohea, the fight being known as “Paenga-toitoi.”
We have seen that when a person is taken sick he is taken to the waterside in order that the warlock may discover, by magic arts, the cause of the illness. Possibly you would like to know why a sick person is taken to the water. The reason is this: Wainui (the personification and origin of waters) is an ancestress of man, hence man is taken to her to be saved. And whether is his ailment a house, or a bed, or a sacred place, or a cacodemon, or a burial cave, there shall it be made clear—i.e., violation of tapu places.
There is another way in which the arts of makutu, or
black magic, are used. When a man has served his time as a learner of the sacred history, religious rites (including magic), genealogies, mythology, &c., of his tribe, the time then comes when he must make some sacrifice in order to give power, force, mana, to the magic rites which he has learned during his novitiate, taught to him by the learned priests of the tribe. The teacher is not paid for his services by the pupil (tauira); the only payment made by the latter is the sacrifice above mentioned. The priest who taught him will tell the pupil that he must now, by his newly acquired magic powers, destroy one of his relatives—his wife, or father. or brother, &c. This is done, and the rites of the pupil will thus have due effect afterwards. Sometimes the pupil would first be given a stone, over which he would recite one of the numerous incantations which come under the generic term of “hoa.” He would then cast the stone down on the ground, where it would be shattered. Should it not break, however, then his learning has been in vain, his karakia, or charms, will not be effective.
To prevent an enemy from passing up a river in canoes a pole is stuck in the river-bed, and a bunch of fern, &c., tied on to the part of the pole above water. After certain magic spells are recited over it any enemy passing up the river above the pole will be afflicted by divers disorders. Also, when a tribe wishes to prevent eels from going up a river beyond the limit of the tribal lands they set up a similar pole. A totara log in the river Rangi-taiki, at Nga-huinga, held this magic power until it was interfered with by the godless soldiers of Fort Galatea.
The evil eye (titiro makutu) is believed in by the Maori. When bathing one day at Rua-tahuna I was amused when a small child said to me, “I titiro makutu a poti ki a koe, i a koe e kaukau ana” (The cat was looking upon you with an evil eye whilst you were bathing). Fortunately I felt no evil effects from the evident hostility of her cat; possibly my immunity from trouble lay in my knowledge of the art of mātāpuru.
You have heard of fire-walking as practised by the Tahitians and Fijians, as also by Oriental peoples. Maori traditions assert that this rite was formerly practised by their priests in order to give force, power, to their incantations. The following is the only clear account of the rite that I have succeeded in collecting:—
“Te Rangi-kaku, of Nga-maihi, was in a bad way. Evidently the gods had deserted him, or he had not sufficient mana to call the demons of the deep to his rescue. It was in
this wise: Bangi had paddled merrily forth from Te Awa-a-teatua to take the offspring of Tangaroa, who swarm in the Sea of Toi. A storm arose, the canoe was swamped, and Rangi, the fisherman, perished. His body drifted ashore at Wairakei, where it was found by the Tauranga people, who promptly cooked and ate it. Te Hahae, a noted warlock of Ngati-awa, heard of this occurrence, and inquired concerning the appearance of the drowned person. The answer was, ‘He was a light-haired man, and had the puhoro pattern of tattooing on his left arm.’ Te Hahae cried, ‘Alas! He was my grandson, Te Rangi-kaku.’ He at once despatched his daughter, Te Rere-wairua, to Puketapu (at Te Teko), to her brothers, Ouenuku, Rehe, and Tikitu, saying, ‘Should your brothers consent to my proposition, let there be seventy separate whawharua (holes in which taro are planted), and only one taro in each, which must be cultivated so as to grow to a large size.’ So she went, and arrived, and said, ‘Te Rangi-kaku is dead and has been eaten. Te Hahae spoke in this manner: That taro be cultivated, that eels be caught (and cured).’ These labours were commenced. The woman returned. Te Hahae asked of his daughter, ‘How did your brothers receive the message which you took?’ She replied, ‘The taro are being cultivated.’ Autumn arrived. The Tauranga people came to get the taro and eels. The dawn of the morrow came. The old warlock cried to Nga-maihi, ‘Arise! Collect fuel and stones and covering (for the steam-ovens).’ These things were collected. The old man said, ‘The sacred oven, I will attend to that.’ The people cooked their food, and Te Hahae prepared his sacred umu (oven). As he dug the hole he repeated a charm. As he placed the fuel therein he repeated a charm. As he placed the stones on the fuel he repeated a charm. When the stones were red with heat Te Hahae, clad merely in a girdle of green twigs and leaves, entered the oven and stood upon the red-hot stones thereof. There he stood and repeated his magic spells, yet was he not injured by heat, nor was his girdle affected in any way by flame or heat. Then he stepped out and proceeded to put the taro in the oven. Then he covered the taro with green branches and fern-fronds, and covered the oven with earth, repeating a charm as he performed each act. When the food was cooked he uncovered the oven and put the food in baskets, and placed these in a row, and presented the food to the people of Ngati-pukenga and Ngai-te-rangi. And each of these acts was accompanied by further spells of magic. Then those people thought as to what return they could make for this present of food. And it was said, ‘We will go to the fishing-grounds.’ Then those people paddled out upon the ocean. Te Hahae said to Nga-
maihi ‘Arise!’ And Nga-maihi returned to their homes. They left the old man behind. He entered the water and by his magic power raised the wind (uru-karaerae) in furious violence. Thus appeared the wind, the lightning, the thunder, the hail. The sea was torn up. That storm caught the fishing-fleet anchored on the hapuku-grounds, and utterly destroyed it and the people thereof. So fell Tauranga; and the eating of the body of Te Rangi-kaku was avenged. Wrought by Te Hahae, the works of the wizards of old. Friend! This is the end.”
Certain tribes are famed for their knowledge of witchcraft. Among these are the two divisions of Ngati-awa, and also the section of Ngati-kahungunu which lives in Te Wairoa district, on the East Coast. “Wairoatapoko rau” is a saying applied to that district. It is equivalent to “Wairoa, the engulfer of myriads,” so many have been slain by the dark arts of those people. A sub-tribe of the Wairoa people, Ngati-hika by name, who lived at Te Mahia, are said to have made themselves so objectionable to their neighbours by means of their magic powers that the latter rose up and expelled them. They, or a portion of them, came to Tuhoeland, where they were given wives and settled down, thus becoming merged in the Tuhoe Tribe.
Only this morning I had a visit from three old women of Tuhoe. Passing by my camp, they called in to exchange greetings, and to weep over a photograph of one of their number who but recently drank of the waters of Tane-pi and lifted the world-old trail for Te Reinga. Anyhow, we got talking, and some questions of mine led to the following narrative from one of my visitors: When she was a young girl, eight years or so of age, she was whakapakuwhatia, or betrothed, by her tribe to a man of the Ngati-awa Tribe. Her aunt took her to that tribe, where they remained some time, but she, not liking the man, returned with her aunt to their own tribe. Some time after a party of Ngati-awa visited Ruatahuna, and one of their number abstracted a few threads of her clothing, which fragment was taken away to serve as an ohonga, or medium. Thus she and several of her relatives and friends were bewitched by Ngati-awa. The case called for instant action. One of the tribal tohunga, or wise men, who was kauwaka, or medium, of the atua (god, demon) known as Taimana, took all the patients to Matuahu pa, or fort, on the shores of Waikare-moana (where he made them live for several seasons). He said, “Let a cord and a mussel-shell be sought.” These were found, and he proceeded to avert the magic of Ngati-awa and destroy the wizard. He bled each of the patients on the right shoulder and smeared the blood on the cord, which, together with the shell, he carried off to work
the spells of old therewith. The old lady did not know what the rest of the rite was. A shell was sometimes used by the wizard in such rites as the rua-iti, in order to “scoop” the spirits of the subject into the pit of death. The above people left Matuahu just before Witty's expedition against that pa in 1869.
There would appear to be a great similarity between different races in regard to their superstitions and magic rites. The finding of the mātākai in Abyssinia is interesting, but primitive races appear to evolve similar ideas all the world over. In this connection an article on “Chinese Magic” which lately appeared in the Nouvelle Revue is interesting.
Do not imagine that makutu is a thing of the past. Not so. It still obtains and is still dreaded. I heard but yesterday of a case wherein a half-breed of the descendants of Tionga is said to have been bewitched by Tuhoe, on account of his claiming their lands at Te Whaiti.
Tama-rae, of Ngati-awa, is said to have slain Tikitu by means of magic. So Tikitu's son promptly shot the wizard, and, being pursued by the Armed Constabulary, fled to Ruatahuna.
I am informed that native magicians have tried to destroy white men by means of magic, but somehow it does not succeed.
In the above pages are given but a portion of the numberless ways in which people were slain or affected by means of the black art. We will now give a few more items by means of which the spells of magic are averted and life saved. You are now aware of some of the innumerable dangers to which human life is exposed. Be equally diligent in learning how to save life.
I had been getting some information regarding Maori religious rites from an old man of Tuhoe. When the interview was over he said, “I must mātāpuru, that the information I have given you may not return (recoil) and kill me.”
In the days of yore and the mana Maori, when the dread atua (demon) Tu-nui-a-te-ika (a meteor) was seen, the priests would at once proceed to mātāpuru—i.e., to perform certain rites and recite divers incantations or invocations in order to ward off the aitua, or evil omen. The mātāpuru is an excellent plan by which to avert the effects of magic. Should I hear that a wizard is in the vicinity I would at once proceed to mātāpuru. I tie a number of pieces of green flax round my body, arms, and legs—say, three or four on each. This is termed a “ruruku,” or binding-together of the body. I then
recite the mātāpuru incantation. The following is a specimen one; it is termed a “momono”:—
Monokia te waha o te tipua
Monokia te waha o te tahito
Me puru to waha ki pari a nuku
Me puru to waha ki pari a rangi
E ki mai na koe, he tahito koe
He koeke, he kai-ure.
This mātāpuru is performed by travellers before entering a village where they imagine they may possibly be in danger of being bewitched.
The karakia known as “titikara” possesses great powers of healing, and is most useful in restoring to life those apparently dead.
Another good item is the whakaeo. This word means “to deprive of power.” If you are attacked by a taniwha, or demon, you should at once pull a hair from your head and cast that hair towards your assailant, at the same time repeating the appropriate incantation, which is a variety of the tuaimu.
Here is another spell by which you may avert the evil omen of meeting or seeing the little green lizard:—
E patu koe ki tua
E patu koe ki waho
E patu koe ki te hau e pa nei
E patu koe ki te papa e takoto nei
E patu koe ki te rangi nui e tu nei
Tau e riri ai, ko uta, ko tai
Ko tou ora
Ki te whai ao
Ki te ao marama.
The above is a whakaeo; it deprives the evil omen of power.
The following is said to be effective when you are in trouble with a taniwha, or water demon:—
Haere i tua, haere i waho
Haere i a moana nui, haere i a moana roa
I a moana te takiritia
Ki te whai ao, ki te ao marama.
But do not forget the hair.
The expression “whakaeo” is also applied to man; certain spells are recited or actions performed in order to deprive enemies of strength, vigour, energy, &c. Sometimes the medium of the tribal war-god will explain to the warrio is that a certain act must be performed in order to whakaeo the enemy.
A man dies and is buried. Something causes his friends to think that he has been bewitched. The priestly worker of mysteries takes the matter in hand. He proceeds to the grave, carrying with him a stalk of the rarauhe fern. Over
this he repeats one of the innumerable spells which come under the generic term of “hoa.” The stick is left there. If it sinks and disappears in the earth it is known that the person died through the power of magic, and also that all persons implicated in that dark work will perish before long. If the stick does not so disappear, then the person was not bewitched.
The sterility of the women of Ngati-whare, of Te Whaiti, is said to be the result of magic spells of Ngati-awa Tribe.
The following is a karakia repeated in order to avert any misfortune, sickness, trouble, &c., which may be lurking about—i.e., to preserve the people from all harm:—
Tua mai te whiwhia, tua mai te rawea—oi
Hao ki uta, hao ki te rangi nui e tu nei—oi
Haere ki waenga tapu
Tapu ihi, tapu rangi, toro i rangi
Tonoa mai te Pu, tonoa mai te More
More ki tua, More ki waho ra
Hukia mai te thi
Hukia mai te hata papatea
Korihi te manu, korihi te po, te ata haea.
Huna mai te ruruku, kohera mai te ruruku
Uru ki tua, uru ki waho
Kei te awhenga, kei a tutakarewa.
I can accomplish the slaying of a person by going to the tuahu, or sacred place, and taking therefrom food which has been placed there for the gods, or some of the remains of meals partaken of by a first-born child, which remnants are also there deposited. I bring the same away and put it among the person's food that he may eat thereof. will perish.
When travelling it is always desirable to protect yourself against magic, and you can do this by means of the whakau rite. The people of the land may bewitch your food, or work some other evil art. You take a small portion of cooked food and repeat over it:—
To kai ihi, to kai ihi
To kai Rangi, to kai Papa
To kai awe, to kai karu
To kai ure pahore
Kia kai mai te ati tipua
Kia kai mai te ati tawhito
E kai, e horo o tatau kaki
Kia kai nuku tatau
Kia kai rangi tatau
Kia kai mātāmua tatau.
Enough said. If any one has been bewitching you his magic spells will recoil upon his own head and slay him.
When in your sleep your waiua (spirit) goes forth from your body and wanders about, it is ever seeking to discover
any danger that may be threatening you, its physical basis. Should it discover that some person is bewitching you, it will at once return and you become aware of the fact. So soon as you awake go at once to the tuahu, or sacred place of the village, and stand there; but you must face in the direction of the place where the wizard lives, and then, stretching forth your hand, you repeat the charm beginning “Whakataha ra koe e te anewa o te rangi e tu nei” (Pass by thou whirlwind of the heavens, &c.). Having finished that, you then repeat the tuaimu charm, which has a most enervating and dangerous effect upon your enemy:—
Te imu kei te ruhi
Te imu kei te ta, kei te anewa
To ringa i tu, to ringa i pe
Pepehi nuku, pepehi rangi
Rere taka o rangi ki waho
Tuku tonu, heke tonu
Te ika ki te Po
He ika ka ripiripia
He ika ka toetoea
He ika ka haparangitia
Muimui te ngaro, totoro te iro
Mau ka oti atu ki te Po
Oti atu ki te Po wherikoriko.
The wind known as “Te Aputahi-a-pawa” is most boisterous. It begins with a gentle wind, known as “hau mātāriki,” but after continuing for some time it becomes most fierce and is dangerous. Hasten at once to the water, to your mother Wai-nui, and stand therein. You have brought with you a piece of dead ember. You take this in your left hand and pass that hand under your thigh. Enough, the fierceness of that wind will at once abate.
Heoi! You have now seen how beset by dangers is man's path through life. You have also learned how to avoid such dangers. But the way is thick with snares and pitfalls; relax your vigilance for a few brief moments and the workers of evil shall fasten upon you. Above all, revere the laws of tapu. Keep green the memory of your ancestors, for of such are the gods of the Maori. They can save you from danger or send you down to Hades.
The long, weary fight against superstition which you have waged for many centuries, through sorrow and darkness and much suffering, it has just commenced here. Old Waihui, a frail survivor from the days of the levelled spear, when she heard of the marvels of the white man's hospital, said to me, “Oh! and if we had taken my son there he might still be with me.”
And so the struggle goes on.