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Volume 35, 1902
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Art. II.—The Cultivation and Treatment of the Kumara by the Primitive Maoris.

[Read before the Auckland Institute, 4th August, 1902.]

Previous to the introduction and general distribution of European food plants—that is to say, up to the early part of the last century—the only vegetables cultivated by the Maoris were those which they had brought from their original homes in the Pacific islands—namely, the kumara (Ipomœa chrysorrhiza), the taro (Caladium esculentum), the hue (Lagenaria vulgaris), and the ti pore* (Cordyline terminalis).

Of these the first-named was by far the most valuable and important. The taro would only flourish in particular spots, and even under the most favourable conditions took a long time to come to maturity, and gave but a small return for a good deal of troublesome labour. The hue was tasteless and unsustaining; and the ti pore, in reality a tropical plant, never became properly acclimatised, and the limited quantity grown was used more as an occasional delicacy than an article of every-day food. But the kumara freely responded to care and attention in the most varied situations, and yielded a large crop of an article at once palatable, wholesome, and nutritious. With the primitive Maoris, in fact, the kumara stood in a class by itself, above and apart from everything else. As the mainstay of life it was regarded with the greatest respect and veneration. It was celebrated in song, and story, and proverb. Its cultivation and treatment called forth the utmost care and ingenuity, and were accompanied by the strictest and most elaborate religious observances.

The old customs have long passed away, and very soon all personal recollection of them will be lost. I have therefore in the present paper endeavoured to rescue a few of the most interesting facts connected with the subject from oblivion. In doing so I have been greatly helped by Mr. James Bedggood, of Kerikeri, who has not only given me the result of his own observation during a long lifetime spent in intimate relation with the Maoris, but also the information he has gleaned from some of his old native neighbours whose recollection reaches back to the primitive times. I have also gathered some facts from a very interesting paper by the late Rev. W. Colenso, F.R.S., F.L.S., &c., as well as from Mr. A. Hamilton's “Maori Art,” and from scattered notices in

[Footnote] * For an account of the ti pore, see Trans.N. Z. Inst., vol xxxiii., art. xxxi.

[Footnote] † Trans.N. Z. Inst., xiii., art. i.

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some of the earlier books on New Zealand. I do not pretend to have by any means exhausted the subject, and shall be very glad if my paper is supplemented by those who are able to give additional information.

Varieties of the Kumara.

A very general tradition states that, not finding the kumara on their first arrival in the country, the Maoris made an expedition back to their old home among the Pacific islands to secure a supply for cultivation. That they brought back a large and well-assorted stock is evidenced by the number of varieties they possessed. Mr. Colenso states that not less than thirty of these had come under his notice, while several of the old sorts were already known to be lost. All these varieties were well marked and permanent, and must have been produced before their introduction here, as, although occasionally flowering, the plant has never been known to seed in this country. They had each their separate name,* and were distinguished by different peculiarities in size, shape, and colour, some being valued for their superior flavour and others as giving a more abundant crop, while probably certain of them were specially adapted to local conditions of soil and situation.

As the European food plants—especially the potato—came into use the relative importance of the kumara somewhat declined, and many of the smaller varieties became gradually extinct, the cultivation being chiefly confined to a few of the larger sorts, including the “merikana” (American), so called from the American whalers, who brought it from the Pacific islands. This was a long white twisted tuber, and was the first addition to the old native varieties. Of late years the number has been still further reduced, and at the present time the “waina” (vine), a later introduction—so called from being occasionally propagated by cuttings from the vines or runners —is almost the only sort used for a general crop. This, being a very heavy yielder of robust habit, has quite taken the place of the old smaller varieties, a few of which, however, are still grown in some of the more primitive districts as a special delicacy.

Soil and Situation.

Though, of course, some are more suitable than others, roughly speaking, almost any soil will do for the kumara so long as the situation is dry and the plants are not exposed to the cold southerly winds or to the spring and autumn frosts. The heaviest crops are obtained on the sand and shingle terraces above high-water mark on the

[Footnote] * For a list of the names, see Colenso, loc. cit., Appendix A.

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sea-coast and on the low river-flats; but as the former are limited in extent and the latter are more exposed to frosts — besides taking a good while to dry up after the winter rains—advantage was taken of well-drained sheltered spots on higher ground for the early plantings, though the work of cultivation was attended by much harder labour. The volcanic lands scattered throughout the northern peninsula, where not too stony, offered every advantage; and the extent to which the cultivation on these was carried on may be judged from the large areas on which the blocks of scoria have been gathered and piled into heaps to make room for the crop. Speaking generally, a light porous soil was preferred, but where this was not available the land was improved by a layer of sand from the river-bed or from wherever it could be got. In Waikato the clay land was often treated in this manner with sand from the pumice plains, where the pits from which the supply was procured are still to be seen.

In choosing a site for the plantation other beside agricultural conditions had to be considered, especially in the case of a small or weak community. The crops being almost the only available personal property of the Maoris in the growing season, it was necessary to secure them as far as possible from the sudden raid of a taua, or war party, which might happen at any moment. This was generally done by scattering a number of small plots over a wide area, and placing them as far as possible in unlikely situations. In the case of a powerful tribe occupying a strong pa (fortified village) such precautions were unnecessary, and the cultivations were generally quite open and frequently of large extent.*

Cultivation.

In preparing a piece of land for cultivation much had to be done long before it was ready for planting, and, considering the nature of the tools available, the labour must have been almost incredible. The whole surface of the country was covered either with bush, fern, or tea-tree scrub, except, perhaps, on some of the river-flats, and even these had to be cleared of a rank growth of rushes, toetoe, flax-bushes, and other plants found in such places. The work was always done in the late autumn, when the weather was dry and breezy and the soil in a suitable condition for working. At this season also the fern-root (aruhe), an important article of food, was at its best. Fire was the principal agency for preliminary operations. For a bush-clearing (waerenga) a place was generally chosen at the edge of the forest,

[Footnote] * Cf. Colenso, loc. cit.

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over which the fire had run some time before and had killed the standing trees. The branches and small stuff were broken down and piled around the larger trunks, and, where necessary, dry material was collected and carried in to assist the combustion. The small roots were dug up and thrown on the fires, and, where possible, the large stumps were undermined and prised out with a kind of gigantic spade worked as a lever by the united strength of several men.* This may seem rather a tedious way of clearing land, but a number of hands intelligently employed made light work, and on a dry, windy day the business proceeded merrily; and if some of the heavier masses of timber still proved refractory they were left to be dealt with at a future season, and so by degrees all obstacles to cultivation were removed.

In the case of clay lands, especially those on the river-flats, drainage was necessary, and, where possible, surface channels were made before the winter rams set in, as the prolonged exposure to water not only retarded the spring operations, but had the effect of “souring” the soil and making the work of cultivation more difficult. On the old cultivations the cleaning-out of these drains was the first thing to be attended to as the planting-time approached.

In breaking up new land the principal implement used was the ko, a kind of long-handled spade consisting of a pole of hard wood sharpened to a wedge-shaped point and furnished with a foot-rest or tread (hamaruru) lashed to one side with flax sinnets from about 12in. to 18in. from the bottom, according to the depth the land was to be dug. Both the foot-rest and the handle on the top of the shaft were often elaborately carved, as may be seen in the case of some excellent specimens in the Auckland Museum. Armed with this implement, a number of men formed in line a few feet apart across the plot that was to be operated on, and, keeping time to a song by their leader invoking a blessing on their labour, drove the ko into the ground so as to make a continuous cut about 1 ft. or 18 in. back from the face, according to the nature of the soil. This done, they used the implement as a lever and hove the whole sod over together, with a loud shout of Huaia ! when they started afresh on another piece. Meanwhile the women and children followed up, breaking the clods with small wooden instruments of various patterns and clawing out the fern-root and rubbish with their fingers. The best of the fern-root was reserved for food and stacked up to dry, while the refuse, together with other useless fibrous matter, was thrown on to one of the heaps of burning timber.

It is not to be supposed that these processes were comp-

[Footnote] * See Hamilton's “Maori Art,” pt. iii.

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leted in regular sequence—i.e., that the entire patch was cleared before the digging commenced, as would have to be done in preparing a piece of land for the plough. As a matter of fact, the several processes would often be going on simultaneously on different parts of the field, the smaller stumps and roots being taken out in the action of digging, while special gangs were dealing with the larger pieces, and the general crowd keeping the fires going all over the place. Allowing for the difference in the implements, practically the same system is pursued on a Maori waerenga at the present time.

The only object for the deep digging was to get rid of the roots and clear the land from the fern, which would otherwise shoot up and injure the growing crop. On a patch that had been previously cultivated it was sufficient to clean off the weeds and stir the surface for a couple of inches. In fact, it was an advantage to have a hard bottom, as where the tillage was too loose the roots of the kumara were inclined to run and the tubers to be small and of poor quality.

When the soil was worked up fine and made perfectly clean it was formed up into little round hills, called “tupuke,” about 9 in. high and 20 in. to 24 in. in diameter, set quite close together. The party who undertook this operation commenced in one corner and worked back diagonally across the patch, each man having a row to himself; and as every hill was made to touch the two hills in the next row the whole plantation presented a fairly accurate quincunx pattern. Mr. Colenso, apparently, though perhaps unconsciously, quoting from Captain Cook's Journal, states that a line or cord was used to insure regularity.* No one, however, seems to have actually seen the line employed, and any old Maoris I have consulted are positive that it was never the custom to do so. The appearance of regularity arose from the uniformity of the size and shape of the hillocks and from the orderly manner in which the work was carried on, as well as from the neatness and finish which characterized it. This neat appearance is borne witness to by many old writers. Mr. J. L. Nicholas, who visited the country in 1814, describing a plantation in the Bay of Islands, says, “The nice precision that was observed in setting the plants and the careful exactness in clearing out the weeds, the neatness of the fences, with the convenience of the stiles and pathways, might all have done credit to the most careful cultivator in England.”

No manure, in the sense in which we understand the term,

[Footnote] * Trans. N. Z. Inst., xiii., art. i.

[Footnote] † “Voyage to New Zealand,” vol. i., p. 252.

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was ever used for the kumara. The very idea of such a thing would have been repulsive according to Maori ideas,* the only fertiliser employed being the sand already mentioned. This was carried up from the pits or river-beds in closely woven flax baskets, one basketful being placed on each hill. Men, women, and children joined in this laborious business, the slave and the rangatira working together.

Planting.

The planting usually commenced about October and extended more or less up to Christmas, according to the variation of the season, the state of the weather, the locality, and the condition of the soil. Various natural signs and portents assisted in determining the proper time for the work. Thus, when the kumarahou (Pomaderris elliptica), a small shrub with a sage-like leaf and yellow tufted blossom, which had been in bud all the winter, suddenly shot out into flower it was known that the season was approaching; and when a “mackerel sky” showed an exact picture of a kumara-plot extending across the heavens the Maoris knew that the atua were busy at their planting above, and that they themselves ought to be doing the same below. As a matter of fact, the celestial phenomenon, portending as it does, according to the English farmer's proverb, a state of weather which is “neither wet nor dry,” indicates an atmospheric condition exactly suited for starting the young plants.

Up to the time when the planting commenced everything was noa, or “common,” but once the seed began to be handled until the crop was harvested the whole thing became tapu, or consecrated, including the ground, the plants, and even the workers so long as they were engaged in the cultivation. The tapu was invoked by the tohunga (priest) or the kaumatua (head chief), the two offices being often combined in the one person, by the performance of a karakia or religious service consisting of certain symbolical actions, accompanied by the chanting of an address to the atua (ancestral deity), its object being to ward off evil influences in the shape of injurious weather, insect pests, decay, &c., to protect the cultivation from intrusion, and generally to secure the blessing of heaven on the growing crop. Any breach of the tapu was a crime against the atua, and was punishable with death; and until it was removed by a second karakia by the tohunga it was unlawful for any “common” person to enter the plantation or even approach too closely to it under any circumstance what-ever.

[Footnote] * Cf. Colenso, loc. cit.

[Footnote] † Ranqi kotingotingo, literally “spotted sky.”

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While agreeing in essentials, there appears to have been great variety in the details of these karakias, especially in the invocations, every tohunga of standing having his own particular form of words, some of which were handed down from immemorial antiquity. Many of the ceremonies were very expressive, among which was one that used to be performed on the Island of Mokoia, in Lake Rotorua. It was described to me by Miss M. Bedggood, of Waimate North, who heard of it from some of the old natives living on the spot. On the day before the planting, when the seed kumaras were to be consecrated, the tohunga brought a small quantity in a basket made of dry raupo, shaped like a canoe, and presented it to the matua atua (ancestral god), of whom a little stone image stood in a wooden shrine on the island. Then, after the waiata (song) had been chanted, the vessel was set adrift on the lake, and was supposed to find its way to Hawaiki, whence the image was said to have been brought, and which was still the abode of the god.* By being thus made a sharer in the plantation it was believed that the atua would be reminded of the wants of his children and take the crop under his protection. A somewhat similar ceremony is related by Dr. Shortland in his “Maori Mythology” (p. 56).

It was considered absolutely essential that the planting of the entire plot, however large, should be completed in a single day, and in order to accomplish this a plan was often adopted similar to that of the Canadian “working-bee.” In a large hapu, or division of a tribe living together, every principal man would have one or more plots of his own, and when one of these was to be planted his neighbours would come to assist at the work.

The business commenced with the consecration of the seed, which was done on the day previous to the planting, the seed consisting of the tubers which were too small to be eaten. If these were not sufficient, they were supplemented by the heads — the end containing the eyes — of the larger ones broken off for the purpose.

Early in the morning the workers, men and women, assembled. They were all of the rangatira class, no slave of either sex being allowed on the ground. After partaking of a plentiful meal provided by the owner they were made tapu, and henceforth they could eat no food until the work was completed, when the tapu was taken off. This, of course, had the effect of stimulating their exertions.

[Footnote] * Possibly this image may be identical with the matua tonga in the Grey collection, Auckland, which is stated to have come to New Zealand in the canoe “Arawa,” and of which the later history does not appear to be known.

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When all was ready several of the leading women of the hapu, taking each a basket of the seed, threw it right and left over the ground as they walked up and down chanting a waiata, the actual planting being done by the rest of the party. The sets were placed one in each hill, about 2 in. or 3 in. below the surface, with the head slightly raised and pointing towards the north, the approximate meridian being marked by conspicuous hilltops or other natural objects. It was believed that the sun, rising in summer in the south-east and passing round by the north to the south-west, had the effect of producing tubers on both sides of the plant.

As the business drew near completion the kaumatua, or head chief, chanted a long piece, partly as a stimulus to the workers and partly as a signal to the slaves to get ready the evening meal; and when the party left the field they were relieved of the tapu by a further ceremony conducted by the tohunga.

The tapu, however, remained on the plantation during the whole period of growth, during which, as before stated, it was unlawful for any one not under tapu to enter it, while even a tapu person was obliged to use the greatest circumspection. It was unlawful to enter the cultivation either from the south, the east, or the west. The south was the worst of all, as a person coming from that quarter might bring in the cold cutting wind that was so injurious to the kumara, while on the east or west the wairua (shadow) cast by the sun might spoil the crop. From the north, however, a person, if properly tapu, might enter, as it was thence that the warm breezes came that gave health and vigour to the plants.

Care of the Crop.

The work of cleaning the growing crop was a comparatively light one in the old days, as the host of troublesome weeds that have accompanied European cultivation had not then made their appearance. One weeding was considered sufficient, and it was done in the dry summer weather by a party made tapu for the occasion, and armed with small wooden spades shaped something like a short paddle. Care, however, had to be taken to prevent the vines from rooting on the surface, as this was found to reduce the strength of the plant.

The laborious work of fencing against cattle and pigs was unnecessary before these animals were introduced by the early navigators. Captain Cook, however, noticed that the plantations were” fenced in, generally with reeds, which were placed so closely together that there was scarcely room for even a mouse to creep between.” This was done to shelter the crop from the strong winds which blew in the early summer; and in exposed situations additional breakwinds, formed of fern

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or tea-tree fronds stuck in the ground, were set up in lines across the plantation.* This system may be seen at the present day in the settlements along the Taranaki coast.

With the exception of the hotete, a caterpillar about 2 ½ in. to 3 in. long, the larva of a large moth, the kumara does not seem to have had many enemies amongst the insect world. Though rarely seen of late years, probably owing to the introduction of the pheasant, the starling, &c., in old times it was often very abundant, appearing suddenly in countless numbers and making complete havoc of the crop by stripping the leaves. Mr. Colenso states that the creature “was quite abhorred by the Maoris, who believed that it was rained down from heaven”; and he adds that the job of gathering the insects was greatly disliked. The work, however, had to be done; and they were carefully collected and burnt.

The old native rat was a comparatively harmless little animal, but once its European congener was introduced its ravages soon taxed the utmost ingenuity of the Maori. The plantations had to be watched night and day, and all sorts of devices were employed to circumvent the marauders. Mr. Colenso describes two old men who had a network of flax-lines extending over the garden, at the ends of which bunches of mussel - shells were suspended, and, the whole being connected with a rope leading into the hut where they lived, a noise could be made from time to time sufficient to frighten away the thieves from gnawing the roots.

Harvesting and Storing.

Long before the general crop was ready for lifting the plants were regularly laid under contribution. As this work demanded skill and experience rather than physical strength, it was usually left in the hands of the kuias (old women). With a small wooden spade they would gently loosen the earth and feel underground for the largest root. This was called whakatau ki te ara (“meeting [the crop] on the road”). The general crop was taken up about March or April, a dry sunshiny day being always chosen so as to avoid the danger of mouldiness. Should frost or prolonged heavy rains come on, however, the roots had to be dug at once to save them from rotting or second growth. The general harvest, or hauhakenga, as it was called, was the most important event of the year, all other operations being suspended until it was completed. It was naturally made

[Footnote] * Compare “Excursion to New Zealand in 1841” (Tasmanian Journal of Science, vol. ii., p. 217).

[Footnote] † Trans N.Z. Inst., xiii., art. i.

[Footnote] † Trans N.Z. Inst., xiii., art. i.

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the occasion of a hakari, or harvest festival, accompanied by religious rites; but of these I have been unable to learn any details.

The storing of the crop required the greatest care and judgment, as, in spite of every precaution, it was barely possible to preserve the stock until the next planting - time. Besides being a delicate article to handle, the kumara is susceptible to every change of weather. A single bruised or chafed tuber will soon rot and communicate the decay to those in contact with it, while a very short exposure to damp, or even to cold air, will quickly spoil the whole lot.

In constructing their storing-places the Maoris followed no uniform fixed pattern. As was usual with them, the idea they had in their minds was worked out subject to local conditions, and, as these varied more or less in every locality, it is not surprising to find a corresponding variety in their appliances.

The chief question being the exclusion of damp and the maintenance of a moderate and even temperature, the object, was very simply attained in a dry porous soil by the rua. This was a circular pit sunk in the ground 5 ft. or 6 ft. deep and about the same in diameter, narrowing in at the top and closed by a trap-door made of a wooden slab. The kumara were handed down to a person standing in the middle, and were piled radially round the sides on a bed of soft fern or Lycopodium (waewaekoukou), a layer of the same material being placed between them and the wall. If sufficient accommodation were available only one pile was made, as they kept better if not packed in too large a mass. The enormous number of these ruas on the volcanic plains of Taranaki and elsewhere shows the extent of former plantations. They are called “Maori-holes” by the settlers; and before the country was thoroughly reclaimed they caused the loss of a good many horses and cattle, as, being frequently covered over with tangled fern, they were not generally discovered until a beast had fallen through.

In situations where the soil was not sufficiently porous to allow the rua to be self-drained it was built partly above ground, generally on the slope of a hill. The pit was dug 2 ft. or 3 ft. deep, and of an area proportionate to the quantity of kumara to be stored. An outfall drain was made from the bottom, and a surface channel round the top carried off the storm-water. A roof was made over the pit, the rafters, being set in the ground at an angle of about 30 degrees, and covered with sticks and fern, on which was piled a thick layer of earth, and the whole was coated with fronds of nikau to preserve the earth from the wash of the rain. The entrance was made in the outfall drain, and was closed with a moveable wooden slab or sliding door.

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Very frequently, however, the storing-place was entirely above ground. A small house was built with the walls about 4 ft. or 5 ft. high. These were framed of dressed slabs set vertically in the ground, with battens lashed on horizontally at intervals of a few inches, and covered over with two or three thicknesses of raupo so as to be completely airtight. Mangemange, a kind of climbing fern, or sheets of totara-bark protected the lower part of the walls, and against this the earth was thrown up from a ditch sunk below the floor-level, which acted as a drain for the building. The roof was framed in a similar manner to the walls, and also covered with raupo—sometimes with an inner sheeting of totara-bark—while an upper layer of toetoe-grass, secured by ropes of mangemange or wooden battens, preserved the raupo from the wet. A door was generally placed at each end, so that in order to prevent the wind from blowing in the house could always be entered to leeward; and the opening was made just large enough to allow a person to creep in on all-fours. This class of storehouse was always a conspicuous and picturesque object. They were often ornamented with elaborate carvings, inlaid with pawa-shell (Haliotis), and finished off with a teko-teko (grotesque wooden figure) set up at the apex of the roof.

Sometimes the storehouse was set up on legs 3 ft. or 4 ft. high, when it was called a pataka, and as the imported rat found its way into the settlements precaution had to be taken against its incursions by socketing the tops of the legs into heavy cross-pieces of timber hollowed out like sections of an inverted canoe. A very fine specimen of the pataka is to be seen in the Auckland Museum.

When only a small quantity of kumara had to be dealt with a very simple device, called the “whakatoke,” was sometimes adopted. A shallow circular depression made in the ground was covered with a layer of long stalks of the common fern (Pterıs aquılına), with the roots meeting at the centre and the heads radiating outwards. On this were piled about half a dozen kits (flax baskets) of kumara. The heads of the fern were then bent upwards and inwards so as to enclose the lot, and were tied together over the top. The whole was then covered with toetoe-grass, and a layer of earth was thrown up from a trench round the outside.

There were other modes of storing which were variations or adaptations of those mentioned, in all of which the Maoris were guided by local circumstances. Sometimes the pit was made inside a large shed, and sometimes it was driven horizontally into the face of a steep bank. Occasionally the tubers were placed on a raised platform (whata) and covered with mats and fronds of nikau, while in some rare instances the storehouse was built in the forked branches of a tree.*

[Footnote] * For illustrations of several forms of the kumara store, see Hamilton's “Maori Art,” part ii.

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“All these storehouses,” remarks Mr. Colenso in the paper already frequently quoted, “were rigidly tabooed, as were also the few persons who were allowed to visit them for any purpose, all visits being formal and necessary.” And he goes on to say that “the labour bestowed on them in those early times before the use of iron was immense, and that they were mostly renewed as to the reed-work every year.”

Cooking.

Before the advent of Europeans the Maoris, being unacquainted with the use of metals, had no means of boiling in the ordinary sense. The act, however, was accomplished by means of the haangi, a contrivance common to the whole of the Polynesian race. It is still often used among the Maoris when a large quantity of food has to be cooked, and is generally known among European settlers as the “native oven,” though the term “steaming-pit” would be a more exact description. To make a haangi a hole about 1 ft. or 18 in. deep is scooped in the ground, and of a diameter proportionate to the quantity of food to be treated. The hole is filled with short billets of wood set up on end, with cross-pieces above, on which are placed a number of stones about the size of a man's fist. The wood being kindled, the stones soon become red-hot, and fall to the bottom as the fuel is consumed. The embers are then removed and the stones spread out level. A little water poured from a height raises a jet of steam, which blows away the ashes, and the oven is ready. The kumara, after being carefully scraped and washed, together with any food that is to be cooked with them, as birds, fish, or other kinaki (relish), are piled on the stones and covered with soft fern. Water is now poured in and the oven is quickly spread over with several thicknesses of flax matting, after which a quantity of earth is shovelled over the top and sides and beaten hard with a spade until the steam no longer escapes. In about half an hour the cooking is completed, and the coverings are removed, great care being taken to prevent the earth getting on to the food, which is usually served up in little square baskets of green flax called paaro, a fresh lot being plaited for every meal.

This was the mode invariably adopted when the kumara was required for every-day consumption, a more elaborate plan being used when they were to be converted into a sweetmeat called kao. For this some of the small varieties were chosen. After being scraped and washed as before, they were dried in the sun for two or three days. They were then wrapped in the leaves of certain aromatic plants and packed in small kits before being laid on the stones. For the kao an extra hot oven was used, and no water was poured in, the only moisture

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allowed being supplied from a layer of fern which had been previously wetted placed under and over the kumara, just sufficient to keep them from being scorched. They were allowed to cook for about twenty-four hours, and when taken out had a dry black appearance, with a sweet aromatic flavour. The kao would keep for any length of time if not exposed to damp, and was highly esteemed as a delicacy at a time when such delicacies were rare.

Such was the kumara in the old primitive times. It has long fallen from its high estate. As the Maoris became gradually possessed of the potato, maize, pumpkins, and marrows, and were able to obtain a supply of flour and beef and mutton, the relative importance of the kumara declined; and as the old beliefs gave way to the new ideas the kaıakıas were no longer practised and the tapu vanished from the land. The neatly tended hand cultivation is practically a thing of the past, and the elaborate storehouses have fallen to ruin. The kumara is now generally put in with the plough, and if for want of proper attention the crop should turn out a failure “Kei ahatia” (what matter)? There is always the kai-pakeha (European food) to fall back upon.