Art. I.—Maori Medical Lore: Notes on the Causes of Disease and Treatment of the Sick among the Maori People of New Zealand, as believed and practised in Former Times, together with some Account of Various Ancient Rites connected with the Same.
[Read before the Auckland Institute, 7th September, 1903.]
With a preliminary note by Elsdon Best.
(Having collected a considerable amount of notes on the subject of disease among the Maori people and its treatment, I bethought me of placing such notes in the hands of some qualified person for compilation, with a view to publishing the same. Hence it was that I handed over all such notes to Dr. W. H. Goldie, of Auckland, who proceeded to add to them his own collection, culled from many works on New Zealand, Australia, Polynesia, &c Unfortunately, before the compiler had completed his task he was compelled by ill-health to give up all work, professional and otherwise. He therefore forwarded to me the MS. of his paper; in so far as he had completed it, with a request that I would prepare the same for laying before the Institute, adding that only about two-thirds of the paper had been written when he was compelled to cease work. He writes me, “The bulk of the paper is really yours, but rearranged by me. The section on drugs is, unfortunately, quite unfinished. I have copious notes on pharmacy, poisons, &c., which I am unable to compile.” Regarding the information contained in the following paper, the original matter is my own, having been collected by me from members of the Tuhoe Tribe of Maoris of New
Zealand, while the balance of the paper is composed of extracts, &c., from many works, and is the result of some years of careful research on the part of Dr. Goldie. I fail to see that a non-professional person, who is a mere collector of notes, is competent to edit or rearrange the matter contained in this paper. It will therefore be presented in practically the same form as it was in when it reached my hands. My own contributions to this paper have been taken from two articles written by myself, but not yet printed, on “Maori Treatment of Disease,” and “Rites and Customs pertaining to Birth, &c., among the Maori People.” As so many works have been drawn upon in the compilation of this paper, it is perhaps needless to say that I do not agree with some of the statements therein. Regarding the numberless decoctions, &c., used as medicines in modern times by the Maoris, it is certain that nearly all such have come into use since the arrival of Europeans, and that very few internal medicines were used by the old-time Maori.—Elsdon Best.)
The following notes have been collected and compiled with a view to placing on record some account of the diseases which afflicted the Maori in past times, as also those introduced by Europeans; and to explain the manner in which a primitive, neolithic people looked upon disease, as to origin and treatment thereof. Knowing, as we do, the Maori to be an extremely superstitious people, it is not surprising to note that they had made but little progress in the inquiry as to the cause and cure of disease; indeed, their treatment of disease lay in the sphere of magic and shamanism. Hence we shall note in this article many curious beliefs, myths, and superstitions connected with sickness. The Maori appears, perhaps, to less advantage in this than in any other department of knowledge, for he was completely in the hands of an unscrupulous and ignorant priesthood. It will be observed that universal use was made of charms and incantations to prevent and cure disease, &c. Many hundreds of such charms were carefully conserved by the shamanistic priests, and handed down to their successors. There were also many singular rites performed in connection with sick persons, but of these we have by no means a full or clear account. This paper, although lamentably incomplete, will yet record a considerable amount of matter which now for the first time sees the light.
Classification and Diagnosis of Diseases.
The Maori, says Best, divided the causes of death into four distinct groups—namely (1) Mate atua, or death due to supernatural influences—i.e., demons, gods, witchcraft; (2) mate taua, by war; (3) mate tara whare, natural decay; and
(4) accidental, and by suicide. Class 3 is sometimes termed mate aitu, hemo o aitu, or mate koeo. The last expression is applied to any sickness in which a person wastes away, but is sometimes used in a general sense, as given above. Hau koeoeo is a slight indisposition, as sometimes felt by a person on rising in the morning. Natural death originated with Hine-nui-te-po, death not entering into the original scheme of the universe, according to Maori mythology.
Mate atua includes death due to atua, sent either by the gods or deified ancestors, or by sorcerers. “The word atua,” according to Mr. Elsdon Best, “means ‘demon,’ and never had the meaning of beneficent spirit or Supreme God.” Speaking of the terrible epidemic known as the rewharewha, an old native said, “It was that atua [i.e., the rewharewha] that destroyed the Maori people and so reduced their numbers.” Likewise, the terms kaiuaua, puhi-kai-naonao, papaka, and a number of others are applied both to the atua producing the disease and to the disease itself. It would appear that these atua are really the personified forms of the disease. In the case of illness caused by sorcery it is really the atua of the wizard which gives power to the karakia or magic spell. And in disease due to infringement of the tapu it is the atua or malignant spirit sent by the tribal deified ancestors that is the actual cause of the malady. Thus, in former times, the vast majority of diseases were of the class mate atua.
The diagnosis of serious illnesses was made by means of the hirihiri ceremonies, to be described hereafter. It was thus found out whether the patient was the victim of the tribal atua or of makutu (sorcery).
General Treatment of the Sick.
When a native is taken ill away from his home it is the usual custom to carry him back to his own place, there to recover or die, as the case may be Sick persons and bodies of the dead are so carried on litters (amo, or kauhoa), sometimes very long distances. The kauhoa consisted of two poles, between which the patient rested on a flax net with broad meshes, and wrapped in flax mats, the litter being carried on the shoulders of two bearers, one before and one behind.
Removal from one part of the country to another was, as Thomson points out, a favourite remedy for certain diseases, the object being to remove the patient from the sphere of action of the afflicting demon. This treatment was based on the belief that the power of the malicious atua was confined to a definite place—for instance, that of a deceased relative to the neighbourhood of his last dwelling-place, or the confines of the village. Another reason for carrying sick persons from one house to another, or to a neighbouring village, was to
have the continual benefit of the lamentations of the women. When a person is ill and the tohunga sees that the cause of his illness is located where he is residing, he tells him to go away to another place, and there live for a year or two: the trouble will not assail him there. This treatment, which is termed whakahehe, is suitable for illness due to atua or makutu (i.e., demons or sorcery).
Sickness made a person tapu because of the atua or demon, ngarara or lizard, kikokiko or ancestral ghost, entering into the body of the afflicted. The sick were removed from their own houses, and had huts built for them in the bush, at a considerable distance from the pa or village, where they lived apart; if any remained in their houses and died there the buildings became tapu, were painted with red ochre, and could not again be used, which put the tribe to a great inconvenience, as some houses were the common abode of perhaps thirty or forty different people. In some cases, when the tohunga has divined that the disease is the result of an infringement of the tapu, and the patient is being punished by the gods for his wickedness, he banishes the victim, who takes up his abode perhaps in some miserable hut that cannot protect him from the evening breeze, much less keep out the dew and rain. Here he lies unattended, no person being permitted to hold further communication with him or to supply him with food. In some cases the sick person is compelled to he out-of-doors on the ground, either without any covering or within a roughly prepared hut. At the present time a tent is often used, and some person remains in attendance on the invalid, but the attendance is of the poorest kind. Among the Tuhoe natives it is seldom, says Mr. Best, that one can detect any sign of affection for or loving care of a sick person, except sometimes in the case of children. No attempt is made to provide the sick with comforts of any kind. “I have often,” he adds, “prepared food for sick people here, but find it necessary to take the food myself and watch the invalid eat it, otherwise he would see but little of it.” Dieffenbach observed, however, that the Maoris with whom he came in contact provided the sick with better and more easily digestible food than usual—with cockles, fresh fishes, fish - broth, and game. The root or rhizome of the edible fern (Pteris esculenta), which is rich in starch and farinaceous matter, was also given to the sick.
The beliefs of the Maori relative to the origin of diseases had a powerful tendency to stifle every feeling of sympathy and compassion, and to restrain all from the exercise of those acts of kindness that are so grateful to the afflicted, and afford such alleviation to their sufferings. The attention of the relatives and friends was directed to the offended
gods and demons, and their greatest efforts were made to appease their anger by offerings, and to remove the continuance of its effects by incantations, charms, and mystic ceremonies. If their karakia rites and remedies were found unavailing, the atua (demons) were considered implacable, and the diseased person was doomed to perish. In such cases the Maoris treated their sick with rather more consideration and kindness than many other branches of the Polynesian race. It cannot be denied that the unfortunate sufferer was often expelled from the village and left to die of starvation, as was also the custom among the Hawaiians, New Hebrideans, Tahitians, and Savage-Islanders; yet we have no evidence to show that the Maoris ever murdered their sick, as was a common practice in certain Polynesian and Melanesian island groups. Thus, Ellis,* writing of the Society-Islanders, points out that these savages sometimes buried their sick alive. “When this was designed they dug a pit, and then, perhaps, proposed to the invalid to bathe, offering to carry him to the water, either in their arms or placed on a board; but instead of conveying him to the place of bathing they would carry him to the pit and throw him in. Here, if any cries were made, they threw down large stones in order to stifle his voice, filled up the grave with earth, and then returned to their dwellings.” In other cases murder was perpetrated with heartless and wanton barbarity. “The spear or club was employed to effect what disease had been too tardy in accomplishing. All the persons in the house when these deeds of horror were performed were called out, and the friends or companions of the sufferer, armed with spears, prepared for their savage work. It was in vain the helpless man cried for mercy; instead of attending to his cry, they would amuse themselves in trying which could take best aim with the spear they threw; or, rushing upon him with spear in hand, they would exclaim ‘Tui i raho’ (Pierce through), and thus transfix him to the couch on which he was lying.”† Such barbarities as these are not, however, found exclusively among Polynesians, for in Russia the Tchuktchi slowly strangle aged members of the community, while the followers of Makaroff, in the Government of Saratoff, prematurely bury their sick relatives and friends.
Legends concerning the Origin of Disease and Death.
To woman is attributed diseases and death. The following interesting note was sent to me recently by Mr. Elsdon Best. It refers to a subject on which our knowledge is ex-
[Footnote] * “Polynesian Researches,” vol. iii., p. 49.
[Footnote] † Ibid, p. 48.
tremely limited, and which is one of the fundamental beliefs on which the whole fabric of the Maori social system was built up—namely, the mysterious primal curse of woman or of the female nature. The ancient Maori held most interesting and unique ideas regarding the sexes, some of which are referred to here. “Tane said to Rangi, ‘Where is the uha?’ Rangi (the Sky Parent) replied, ‘Kei raro te uha, te whare o aitua; e hamama i runga, ko te whare tena o te ora.’ Now, this remark has two applications. The whare o aitua means the female procreative organs (tara, tore, &c.), and is also applied to Mother Earth, because her children (man) die and are taken back to her bosom—i.e., buried; also because of the mysterious primal curse of sex—female—which is ancient beyond compare, and appears in the most ancient myths of the ancient tribes of New Zealand. All troubles, misfortune, sickness, come from the whare o aitua (whence man enters the world)—i.e., from the female sex. On the other hand, the children of the primal pair who remained on high (the sun, moon, stars, &c.) perish not, but live for ever. They represent eternal life, hence the term whare o te ora applies to them. The ure tane (penis), the sacerdotal term for which is tawhito (‘the ancient one’), is another whare o te ora, or representative of life. The tawhito is the salvation of man: it gives mana* to his karakia and saves him from sickness and death. A man clasped his penis while repeating karakia to ward off magic spells. The tara wahine, or female genital organs, were, as we have just pointed out, the cause of death entering the world. Maui entered the womb of Hine-nui-te-po (goddess or personification of death) viâ the tara, in order to gain eternal life for man, but the puapua (sphincter vaginæ ?) of Hine closed upon Maui and killed him; hence death came to man. Thus the female genitals represent death, while the male organ signifies life. The first woman, in the Maori mythology, drags down her offspring to Po (night), meaning to death, and the first woman in the Greek mythology, Pandora, introduces all kinds of afflictions as an heritage for hers.” The key to so many Maori customs and superstitions is to be found in their cosmogonic myths, and that portion relating to the creation of woman, and her fall, resulting in the introduction of death and disease into the world, may be briefly summarised here.
Commencing with a primitive state of darkness, night, morn, heaven (Rangi), earth (Papa), the winds, were produced in succession, and later Tiki, the first man. Rangi and Papa had numerous children, one of whom was named Tane-nui-a-rangi. This Tane, desiring a wife, made an image in the
[Footnote] * Mana = force, power, authority, &c.
human form from red clay. She was named Hine-ahu-one; and after giving birth to an egg, from which sprang all the birds of the air, Tiki-kapakapa, a girl, was born—the Maori Eve. Tane took her to wife, and she bore a female child. One day Tiki-kapakapa, who was now called Hine-a-tauira, said to Tane, “Who is my father?” On learning the truth the woman was sad, and fled away to Po, the lower regions of darkness. There she took the name of Hine-nui-te-po (Great woman of night). Her farewell words to Tane were, “Remain, O Tane, to pull up our offspring to day, while I go below to drag down our offspring to night.” Thus was man cursed for ever and doomed to death. We have already related how the demi-god Maui visited Hine-nui-te-po to wrest from her, as she slept, the secret of eternal life, but she awoke and strangled the brave Maui. Since then all men have been subject to disease and death.
The whare o aitua, the passage by which man enters the world to be assailed by disease, by death, is seen in woman. As Rangi said to Tane, “The whare o aitua yawns below, the abode of life is above”; or, in the words of the ancient Maori priest, “That which destroys man is the mana of the female organ: it turns upon man and destroys him.”
As affording a good illustration of the strange channels in which the thoughts of the Maori run, and as an interesting relic of an ancient system of phallic worship, the following remarks made to Mr. Elsdon Best by an old Maori may be here recorded: “Friend,” said the old man, “it seems to me that the ora [health, vigour, vitality] of the white men, and their exemption from disease and sickness and premature death, is caused by their never forgetting the koutu mimi at night-time; it is ever in the room to protect them. For that urine represents the tawhito, and will avert any evil consequences of any act of witchcraft levelled against them. For that organ was the life and salvation of my ancestors, and saved them from trouble and death”
“According to Maori belief,” says Best, “there were two most important things by means of which physical health and general well-being were retained. The first of these was the mauri, and the second tapu. To maintain inviolate the mauri, tribal, family, or individual; to refrain from transgressing the laws of tapu, and to retain his prestige and powers, natural and supernatural, was to command health, physical and mental
“The tribal mauri is a sort of sacred talisman that holds and protects the health and prosperity of the tribe. The mauri of the Matatua tribes was located at Whakatane. It is termed the pouahu, or the makaka, by the descendants of the ancient inhabitants of the Bay of Plenty. This was the
supreme source of the welfare of the old-time people of the district, and through its power the sick were restored to health, or the cause of their death ascertained, and impending danger warded off from the living. The mauri of the later migration of Maoris from Hawaiki is known as ‘the manuka at Whakatane,’ a tree which is said to have grown from a branch brought from the fatherland. In the case of a sick person this mauri was appealed to by invocations repeated by the priest. The mauri ora at Whakatane was the salvation of man, says my aged informant; it was life and health itself; it represented the vitality and spiritual well-being of the people. The manuka at Whakatane was the essence and semblance, or personality, of health, of life, of spiritual and intellectual prestige.
“There was also a custom of instituting a mauri to represent the health and well-being of individuals, or of a family group, the latter being the real unit of Maori social life. In these cases some material token was placed at the tuahu or sacred place of the village, and this token or talisman was imbued with the semblance of health, vitality, &c., of the person or persons, and also that of the tribal lands. By means of this singular rite the welfare of man and lands was protected, and neither would then be in danger of suffering from the arts of the wizard. For, bear in mind, we are now speaking of sickness and troubles of divers kinds as being caused by magic arts.
“There were innumerable invocations used and rites performed in order to preserve the physical, intellectual, and spiritual vitality of man. These ceremonies began early in the life of the individual, when the tua and tohi rites were performed over the new-born child, and the kawa-ora and other invocations were repeated by the priest.
“When the kumara, or sweet-potato, was first obtained by the old-time people of Whakatane they were advised by the islanders from whom they obtained it to slay one Taukata and sprinkle or besmear his blood on the door-frame of the store-house in which the kumara was placed. This rite was for the purpose of preventing the mauri or life-principle of the tuber from returning to Hawaiki. Should it do so, then it would be useless attempting to cultivate or propagate the seed-tubers: they would not bear, the life-principle being departed.
“Now, the natives say that, in like manner, the ora (life, vitality, health) of the Maori people has returned to Hawaiki, on account of the mauri or kawa ora having become noa, or polluted. This sacred life-principle of man has become polluted through contact with Europeans—i.e., the tapu of the race is destroyed. When Christianity was embraced by the natives they proceeded to whakanoa, or make them-
selves common, or free from tapu, that they might be able to accept the new religion. For the tapu was of the Maori gods, and must be got rid of, or reduced, so to speak, before the new god was accepted. This was done, in most cases, by washing the head with water heated in a vessel in which food had been cooked. Shade of Toi! It was enough to cause the whole horde of gods in the Maori pantheon to turn on the race and destroy it at a blow—the most sacred part of sacred man to be brought into contact with cooked food!
“As old Pio remarked to me, ‘The mauri of the Maori has become polluted; that is what is destroying the Maori people. It may be that this generation, born among the white men, may survive, and be as healthy and virile and industrious. But I fear that the Maori has forsaken his own well - being [ora and mana] in pursuing that of the white man. And I ask, How may we survive? [Me aha ra tatou e ora ai.] Let us return to the beliefs of the Maori, and the rites of old. I am resolved to follow the practices of my forefathers, which have been followed for many generations. I say to you that the Maori is in fault; he has deserted his ancestral rites, customs, and beliefs, and now they have turned upon him and are destroying him.’ “
The Tuhoe Maoris have a tradition that it was Irakewa, father of the chief Toroa of the Matatua canoe, who introduced disease into New Zealand from Hawaiki. He seems to have visited this country in some mysterious manner just before the coming of the Matatua canoe. Before the arrival of these voyagers it is said that disease was unknown here.
Violation of Tapu.
“The violation of tapu includes any interference with tapu objects, persons, or places. For instance, when a house has become tapu for some reason, and is deserted, it must not afterwards be entered, or burned, or interfered with in any way. Only a priest, or those under tapu for conveying a body or exhumed bones, may trespass on a burial-place or cave where bones of the dead are placed. Should any one else so trespass, then those bones of the dead will turn upon the intruder and slay him, or afflict him grievously. That is to say, the gods will punish that person.
“The bed and pillow of a tapu person are likewise endowed with that dread quality, and should any careless or imprudent person presume to seat himself on such, or eat food there, he will be seriously afflicted ere long. These things cannot be done with impunity. The gods will mark him down. This does not, of course, apply to the sleeping-places of ordinary persons who are not highly charged with tapu.
“To trespass on a tuahu, or sacred place where rites are performed, or any place where a sacred fire has been kindled, even though it were long years ago, will also bring down the anger of the gods. At no great distance from camp Heipipi, at Rua-tahuna, is an old settlement named Kiha, which has been deserted for nearly forty years. A few weeks ago, two native women in camp were discussing the probability of obtaining some flax from that place. An old woman said, ‘Be careful how you approach that place. Do not go straight up through the clearing, but keep round the edge of the bush until you get opposite the flax, and then strike straight across.’ ‘And why should we not go straight up?’ inquired one. ‘He ahi kai kona’ (There is a fire there), replied the aged one. No more was said; the women understood at once that, in past generations, a fire had been kindled at that spot in order to perform some religious rite. They would carefully avoid the place.
“Another frequent cause of illness is the kai ra mua, a term applied to the act of eating food which has been set aside for the gods, or food prepared for a tapu person. It is also applied to the infringement of a rahui (a private tapu-mark set up to prohibit persons from robbing or trespassing). There are many other acts of a similar nature the performance of which will cause a person to be seriously afflicted by the gods.
“Tapohe is a term applied to the polluting of persons, &c., by placing tapu objects in common places. The placing of the food, or remains of food, of a tapu person in a common place—i.e., a place not tapu—would be a tapohe. If it happens to be the maanga (remains of a meal) of a sick person, the invalid will have a relapse, and the person who committed the dread act of tapohe will also be taken ill. If a sacred oven is tapoheria it spells death for the offender, unless he takes time by the forelock and hies him to the priest or a matamua, who may shrive him of his sin.”
Affections of the throat were thought to be caused by the eating of sacred food, such as that prepared for the tapu persons who were engaged in buiying the dead, or in exhuming the bones thereof. The disease inflicted by the gods for committing these breaches of the tapu are always considered very serious; by some they are believed to be incurable—the patient must die. And when death comes the body is burned, in order to protect other persons affected by the same disease
Another method of slaying persons who have been guilty of koi ra mua, adopted by the gods, is to destroy them by means of a lightning - stroke. This is brought about by Tupai, one of the personifications of thunder. The form of
thunder represented by Tupai is accompanied by little or no rain.
The infringement of tapu as a cause of illness and death is still implicitly believed in by the Maori, and quite recently, at Gisborne, a tohunga named Paneri Tawera diagnosed the disease of his patient, Kapu, to be due to such a cause. He treated him accordingly; but, unfortunately, the patient died, and the medicine-man was charged with murder. Paneri stated the cause of Kapu's sickness in these terms: “The root of the sickness of Kapu is at Mangatu, at the site of the old whare. There is a pit there; Kapu has gone on to that place, and that is the reason of his sickness.” He said that that was a sacred (tapu) place, and Kapu's sickness had resulted from trespassing on it. The tohunga conducted the relatives of the sick man to the scene of the trespass, and at the root of a poplar-tree found a stone, which, with some grass that was growing near, he carefully wrapped up in his handkerchief. He said, “This is the cause of Kapu's illness. A man in former times, coming from Ti Kete, on the sea-coast, arrived at this place, and they did not offer him any food. On that account he put a tapu on that particular place.” The stone appears to have been the symbol of the tapu. After the tohunga had done talking the party returned to Koutara, where Paneri took the grass that was in the handkerchief and gave it to the people professing the same religion as himself, and told them to repeat certain incantations or charms. When they had finished their karakia he gave a bundle of grass to them. He directed that it should be placed secretly under the sleeping-mat where Kapu was lying. The only other treatment received by the patient in this case was an occasional drenching with cold water, the common remedy for fevers among primitive peoples. Poor Kapu died in great agony, and the mana of Paneri was shattered.
The karakia used by the Ngatiawa tohungas to cure those afflicted by disease as a punishment for trespass on a sacred place (tuahu), or a place where a sacred fire has at some time been kindled, or a cave containing the bones of the dead, is as follows. After the usual sprinkling process by the sacred pool or stream, the priest recites this incantation:—
Heuea ki runga, heuea ki raro
Heuea ki te po uriuri
Heuea ki te po tangotango
Tuhia mai te tuhi e atua nui
Ana ra e patu nei
Haere, whakataha ra Tutara kauika
Ana ra e patu nei
Haere i te po uriuri
Haere i te po tangotango
Haere ra i te po uriuri
I te po tangotango
I te wherikoriko
Ka kai koe ki to matua e tu nei
Mihia mai te tere nui
O te atua e patu nei
Tua mai te ora i tua
Koia nga atua e patu nei
Haere i tua, haere i waho.
Ko uru koe e patu nei
Haere i tua, haere i waho
Haere i te maramatanga
Atua nui koe
Haere i tua, haere i waho
Haere i te rangi nui e tu nei
Haere i te papa e takoto nei
Whakaarahia mai te kauae o te mate
Ara mai te hau o te ora
Kahu ana te tangata e patu nei
Haere i tua
Haere i te hau o tua, o waho, o te ora
Koia nga tapu nei
Koia nga mate nei
Koia nga atua nui e patu nei
E ara kahukura i te rangi nei
Haere nga atua whiu
Haere nga atua ta
Haere i tua
Haere i nga koromatua
Ki te whai ao
Ki te ao marama
Ko rou ora.
The tohunga and his patient then return from the stream, and the rite is performed to remove the tapu from them, during which the patient holds a dead coal taken from the sacred oven.
The mediæval physician and the astrologer of old believed that an intimate association existed between the heavenly bodies and those of men. The various organs of the human body were supposed to be governed by certain stars and planets of the Zodiac. Thus the heart was held to be in sympathy with the elements of the sun, the brain with the moon, the lungs with Mercury; or, according to one ancient physician, “Leo governeth the heart and causeth it to become afflicted; Cancer governeth the chest and lungs.” The Maori regarded the stars as the aria (likeness, form of incarnation) of the gods; they were born of Tangotango and Wainui, and are the grandchildren of Rangi and Papa. The moon and sun are the elder brothers, the stars the younger brethren. “All
the stars are persons to us. The small stars are the common people.” The heavenly bodies give signs to the people of the earth concerning the seasons, the crops, &c, and one star at least influences the bodily condition of human beings. When a person feels listless and weak (iwingohe) in summer-time it is said to be caused by Rehua—or, rather, by his summer wife, Whakaongekai. Rehua (Betelgeux, sometimes Antares) is also known and spoken of as “Rehua kai tangata” (Rehua, destroyer of mankind). Rehua is a chief among stars, a whetu rangatira (lordly star). Thus we have here the beginnings, the germs of astrological theories and beliefs such as those on which the whole fabric of medical practice was founded in mediæval times.
The Greeks had many gods to whom they appealed in times of disease, as, for instance, Apollo, Æsculapius, Diana, Hermes, Cheiron; several of these, notably Apollo and Diana, were also the senders of plagues and epidemics, disease, and death amongst men. We find that the Maoris also held similar views as to the existence of disease-producing and disease-healing gods. These divinities were anthropomorphic, or, in some instances, zoomorphic deities. They were not the fetishes of wood and stone which the zealous missionaries invariably and erroneously designated idols, for idols and idolatry were never existent, according to the best authorities, in Polynesia and New Zealand. The gods above referred to as playing an important part in producing disease were the national deities of the Maori race, and many of them were generally recognised throughout Polynesia. They were the great gods, mythical ancestors of the human race, the offspring of the primal pair Rangi and Papa, and denizens of the higher heavenly planes. They keep a jealous eye upon the people, the wicked inhabitants of mother earth, and were ever ready to punish them for infringements of the tapu laws of the national religion. It must be borne in mind that although in some instances the gods inflicted disease and death owing to the inherent maliciousness of their nature, yet generally pain and sickness were sent as punishment for sin. There are Christians who still regard disease in this light.
The Chaldæans, amongst others, believed that the different parts and organs of the human body were afflicted with disease by special gods or demons. Thus, one of their old manuscripts says, “The execrable Idpa acts upon the head of man; the malevolent Namtar upon the life of man; the malevolent Utug upon the forehead of man; the malevolent Alae upon the chest of man; the malevolent Gigim upon the bowels of man.”
Similarly with the Maoris: various portions of the body were supposed to be presided over by different gods, to whom
were attributed the diseases occurring in those regions. Thus Tonga was the god of the head, and he produced headache and nausea; his abode was the forehead. Mokotiti, a lizard deity presiding over the chest and lungs, was the cause of consumption and pulmonary diseases. Tutangatakino, son of Tutewanawana, the father of reptiles, and half-brother of Tuatara, was the god of the human stomach. Titihai occasioned pains in the ankles and feet. Korokioewe produced the disorders of childbirth, and Taiepa, one of the inferior deities, assisted him in his wicked attacks on parturient females. Hineteiwaiwa, on the other hand, was the beneficent “goddess of parturition,” who was always approached in times of painful or delayed labour, and one of the most ancient of Maori karakia (incantation) is that which they used when seeking her aid. She was also called Hina, Hinauri, Hinateotaota by the Maori, and is the most prominent of all Polynesian deities Rongomai, who assumed the form of a whale, and on another occasion appeared in the heavens as a ineteor or comet, with Tuparitapu or Tuparimaewa, the god of the liver, are responsible for consumption, and wasting away of the arms and legs. Paralysis and wasting sicknesses were attributed to the devouring influence of Hanake, sometimes called Niho-oa. Among the Tuhoe people, when a person has infringed the tapu by eating food in a sacred house, or by resting on a sacred pillow, revenge is taken by the god Te Hukita, who enters his victim's body and causes disease. Such a patient is taken to the nearest stream and sprinkled by the tohunga, who recites the takutaku:—
Ara to ara
Mehemea he urunga to take
Ko Te Hukita koe
Haere i tua, haere i waho
Haere i a moana nui
Haere i a moana roa
Haere i a moana te takiritia
Ki te whai ao
Ki te ao marama
Ka uru te ora ki roto
Ka uru te mate ki waho
Uru toro hei
He urunga koe e patu nei
Te Hukita koe e patu nei
Haere ki o take
Ko rou ora
Ki te whai ao
Ki te ao marama.
In another similar takutaku, repeated over a person who had polluted the garments of a tapu individual by bringing cooked food near them, the words “He kakahu koe e patu
nei” are inserted, and after the words “loro hei” the karakia continues—
Tu tawake mai te atua i te rangi
In such cases the tapu person whose sleeping-place has been contaminated can save the offender from the effects of his act by performing the above rite over him.
In times of epidemic sickness two gods in particular were called upon to stay the pestilence: these deities were named Mihimihitea and Tapatapa. The incantation to Tapatapa followed that to Mihimihitea.
In the following karakia the great national gods Rangi and Tu are invoked to cure the invalid:—
Breathe thou, breathe thou, O Rangi,
And thou Tu, give thy living spirit
To create life, that the body and soul may live in this world.
Beat with life thou heart.
The tree falleth, the tree of Atutahi;
Here the blow was given, the wind blew there;
There is the tree of enchantment.
The rainbow god, who is a disease-producing god according to the Zulus and the Karens of Burmah, is regarded by the Maoris as a beneficent deity. There is an old Maori proverb which runs thus: “Haere, e whai i te waewae o Uenuku, kia ora ai te tangata” (By going to the feet of Uenuku a man's life may be saved). Uenuku, also called Kahukura, Atuatoro, Tohaereroa, and Uenuku-Kopako, is one of the great or national gods—the god of life, death, and disease. Karakia were repeated to him by people who were ill.
Invalids also offered prayers to Kahui-tahi-o-rangi (Flock of warm ones of Rangi), who, though unable to heal sickness, exercised a mysterious power over man. Offerings of seaweed and grass were presented to them, so that they might be pleased and act kindly towards man.
In addition to the great gods above mentioned there are hosts of minor divinities, demons, animal gods, malignant atua, infant sprites, and wandering ghosts of the dead, who, from a spirit of mere mischief, or as agents of some higher divinity, or as familiar spirits of hostile sorcerers, enter the bodies of their victims, causing disease and death.
The Maoris very rarely attributed disease to demons. By “demon” I mean any supernatural being which is neither a god nor a disembodied human spirit. The New-Zealanders peopled their forests with numerous fairies and elves; but, unlike the Australians, they feared no fabulous disease-deal-
ing monsters such as Myndie, an enormous snake many miles long, who travelled over the tree-tops, and set up epidemics of small-pox and dysentery in the tribes, and caused ulcers and blindness.
Maori demons were for the most part aquatic monsters, like the Australian man-eating Bunyip and Wangul, which frequented water-holes. Thus we have the taniwha, a demon of huge proportions and terrible mien, inhabiting the lakes and rivers, devouring any human being whom he could capture. Of the sea demons, most dreaded was Mokoroa, the immense sea-serpent, many fathoms long. This mythical creature is one of the very few demons to which the Maori attributed diseases. Another was Ruamano, also an ocean monster, which, according to the Urewera tribes, caused the mate pokapoka, or diseases which eat into the flesh, such as various kinds of ulceration, ringworm, and a terrible disease of the face called hura, or hore.
In the good old days, before the advent of the pakeha, two very celebrated taniwhas resided near the bar of the Hokianga River. Their names were Tauneri and Arai-teuru; and their very names were sufficient to strike terror into the hearts of the Maoris in that district. Tauneri was lord of all; Arai-te-uru was his subject, but by no means an obedient one, for he often on his own account entered the river, upset the canoes, and ate the eyes out of those whom he chose to drown—for this, be it known, was the taniwha's mark. Tauneri, being a rangatira, was not malicious: he only killed those who infringed his tapu or disregarded his mana. The tohungas alone had power to avert the evil consequences attending a visit to the home of these monsters, for they alone could repeat the karakias which must precede the visit. On one occasion four young men went fishing near the Hokianga Heads, against the wish of a powerful tohunga, whom they insulted, and jeeringly suggested that he might report them to his taniwhas. The deeply offended tohunga invoked Tauneri, and begged him to take revenge on those who scorned his power. Tauneri and his comrade capsized the canoe and devoured the wretched fishermen, and thus punished them for their temerity.
The lizards, spiders, birds, dogs, &c., which were credited with being harbingers of disease should not be classed with the demons, for almost without exception these creatures were regarded as the incarnations of ancestral souls, or of the lesser gods.
Throughout Polynesia one may say that disease was not frequently attributed to demoniac possession, but to ghostly possession and magic. Disease demons, such as those described in Assyrian, Accadian, and Hebrew mythology,
demons “born without father and mother, who are neither male nor female, who have not wife, nor to whom child is born,” probably do not exist in Polynesian, Melanesian, or Australasian mythology or philosophy. The disease demons of the older civilisations are in the lower replaced by malignant human spirits.
Certain species of lizards are greatly dreaded by the superstitious Maori, owing to the belief that these reptiles are the chosen abode, the aria or incarnation, of all kinds of evil and disease-inflicting atua The ghosts of the dead, old and young, which had not been admitted to the underworld often became incarnate in lizards, and appeared before their living relatives as omens of impending disaster or death, or by crawling down their throats while asleep set up all manner of disease. The kakariki (Naultinus elegans), a beautiful bright-green lizard, about 8 in. long, is the variety generally chosen by the kehua (wandering ghost of the dead) for its earthly habitation. It has the power of contracting and dilating its pupil, and makes a curious noise which the Maori regards as malicious laughter, and the unfortunate person who hears the sound knows that he will soon die. The Tuhoe tribes regard the tara-kumukumu lizard as a malignant atua or demon, which, by entering the body, causes swelling or ulceration in the region of the thighs. This disease demon was exorcised by means of the hirihiri rite, in which would probably be some special reference to this reptile.
In addition to the lizards animated by kahukahu (miniature infant spirits), kehua (wandering ghosts of the dead) and tribal ancestral atua, who inflicted painful and wasting diseases on their relatives and enemies, either from pure malice, or as punishment for infringement of the ritenga or ordinances of the established superstitions, there were the lizard gods proper, descendants of the great primeval pair, Rangi and Papa. Thus Tangaroa, son of Heaven and Earth, and god of the ocean, had a son Punga, whose children Ikatere and Tu-tewehiwehi, or Tu-tewanawana, were respectively the male progenitors of all fish and reptiles. Tu-tewanawana, by his second wife, Tupari, begat Mokohikuwaru, the tutelary deity of lizards, and a god of evil whose dwelling-place is with Miru in Hades Lower down the line of descent came the reptile deity Mokotiti, the god of pulmonary consumption and chest-diseases generally, and Ngarara, the disease-producer. Then, again, there were the mythical monsters called Mokoroa, serpents or lizards of immense size, which came across the sea from Hawaiki. In the following lament of a dying chieftainess her incurable illness is attributed to a demon of this latter class:—
Ah! this animal Mokoroa has
Thrust his teeth into my flesh, and
Grasped my body with his numerous
Teeth, and thus I am being eaten up.
The pain that wracks my body is like
An army passing on, each wounding
As he passes.
Aye, there's little
Hope of my recovery; I'm hastening to the dust
To appease the gods, who haunt my spirit hence.
If a traveller should see a lizard in the path before him, he would know the creature did not come there of its own accord, but had been sent by an enemy as an aitua (evil omen) for him to cause his death. He therefore at once kills the reptile, and gets a woman to step over it as it lies in the path. By this means the evil omen is averted And he will also probably try to find out who sent this dread object to bring sickness or death to him. Then he will say, “May so-and-so eat you” Thus he will transfer the aitua to that person so named.
Ripia, the grandmother of the grand old chief Patuone, who died at Auckland in 1872, had a child stillborn, to whom was given the name Te Tuhi. He frequently troubled his tribe, appearing to them in the form of a lizard. His visitations caused great dismay, and many members of the tribe fell victims to his supernatural power Tapua, the priest offered prayers, and various incantations and divinations were resorted to in the hope of laying the troublesome spirit. It is stated that Patuone was urged repeatedly by the lizard spirit to become the medium of communication between the beings of the two worlds, but no amount of persuasion could induce Patuone to become the medium of the atua, and in process of time Te Tuhi's ghost discontinued to trouble his earthly friends.*
The Urewera natives thus account for their dread of lizards: Punga, the parent of all lizards, spiders, insects, &c., was also the origin of the kumukumu (gurnard), which elected to take up its abode in the ocean. As it went to the ocean the lizard sons of Punga said, “Soon we shall hear of you being roasted at a common fire.” Said the kumukumu, “Ere long I shall hear of you being roasted in a fern fire.” “Not so,” replied the lizards, “for all will fear our ugly appearance.” Hence, for all time, men have feared to look upon the lizard.
The aria, or form of incarnation of Tamarau, the Tuhoe chief, is a lizard known as the kueo, which resides in a ti tree at Rua-toki. It is the size of a tuatara, and bears whitish marks. Should any one approach its resting-place a loud
[Footnote] * “The Life and Times of Patuone,” C. O. Davis, 1876, p. 15.
report is heard, and the atua is seen to dart away like a shooting-star, leaving the miserable spectator paralysed with fear.
Ngarara is the name of a lizard god, and is also the name of the disease supposed to be produced by this demon.
In New Caledonia, when a child tries to kill a lizard, the men warn him to “beware of killing his own ancestor.”
Kikokiko (Ghost Souls).
There are two supernatural forces to which the Maori attributes most cases of sickness, especially internal or obscure cases, and these influences are—first, the presence of an ancestral ghost or kehua, and, second, the occult powers of the sorcerer or tohunga. The wandering spirits of the dead cause most diseases.
When a Maori dies, the wairua, or dream-ghost, or soul, which during life could leave the body and wander at large when its owner slept, becomes a kehua. “Kehua,” says Best, “are the spirits of the dead which revisit their former haunts of this world and make things unpleasant for the living. Kehua appear to return to earth generally during the night-time—they dread sunlight and the light of fires. Some say the wairua, or ghost of a dead person, remains here as a kehua or atua whakahaehae until the body is buried; it then descends to Hades.”
Kehua are said by some to be invisible, and capable of acting benevolently or in a hostile manner upon men. They can communicate with mortals; they eat and drink, wander about the village; they can see and hear what is going on about them. In fact, these disembodied spirits retain many of the characteristics of their living fellow-men.
Ghosts of the dead are invisible except to people who are asleep, or to priests in a state of trance. Tohungas, who possess clairvoyant powers (matakite or matatuhi), sometimes saw a whole host of ghosts of the dead (kehua) traversing space. Such a company was termed a tira māka or kahui atua, and the object of their visiting this world was to acquaint living persons with the fact that some disaster or death was imminent. Tohungas would drive them away to avert the evil. It was a common thing for spirits of the dead to appear to their living relatives in order to warn them of evil. Should a person dream that he is chased by the ghost of a dead person, and the kehua from the Po (Hades) catches him, that is an evil omen; he may soon take ill and die. When a kehua appears to the wairua (dream-ghost) of a living person it is anthropomorphic, but when it appears at the request of its medium—say, at a spiritualistic seance—it assumes the form of a spider or lizard, &c. It can also make its appearance as a shadow of a sun-ray. Ghosts of the dead
were said to have returned to this world in the form of butterflies. In Samoa they are said to return in the form of moths. The Maori ghost, like the Australian, often revisits the spot where his bones are deposited. “Sometimes,” said Beviuk, a New South Wales black, “the murup comes back to this world and looks down into his grave, and may say, ‘Hallo, there is my old' possum rug; there are my old bones.’ “If a Maori trespassed on a burial-ground the ghosts of those interred there would punish him with disease, and perhaps death. Their presence is said to be made known generally by a whistling sound. A breath of warm air felt while travelling at night is a sign of the near presence of a kehua. Irirangi is the term applied to a spirit-voice heard singing without, when at night the people are within their houses: it is an omen of evil import. Shortland says the voice of ancestral ghosts is not like that of mortals, but a kind of sound—half whistle, half whisper. He had a conference with the ghosts of two chiefs who had been several years dead, and was assured that such was always the peculiar voice of atua when they talk with man. Other Europeans have had similar intercourse with Maori ghosts, and one need hardly explain that the mysterious voice was in every case the ventriloquistic utterance of the spirit's medium. I have already pointed out that the kehua become hungry like ordinary mortals, and Taylor states that they were thought to feed on flies and filth; but they also had the spirit of the kumara and taro (?).
When a Maori dies his wairua (soul) leaves the body, and either remains near the corpse or goes away to the lower world. In either case it can return, and, re-entering the corpse, bring it to life again. If the kehua goes to the nether regions it may be sent back to this world by its relatives, for the purpose of caring for its children who have been left without a guardian owing to the parents' death, but no soul can return to earth if in Hades it eats of the food of the denizens of that region.
The tohungas have elaborate ceremonies by means of which they restore the soul to a person just dead, but the feat is rarely performed, because the necessary astrological juxtapositions are rare favourable. The ancient Greeks offered the ghost fresh blood, that it might for a time be called back into life and answer questions—a conception which gave birth to the practice of raising the dead and asking oracles of them. By performing the hirihiri divination rite over a corpse the Maoris were enabled to consult the kehua or wairua of the dead person, and gain information as to the cause of its death. I have already referred to the hosts of ancestral ghosts sometimes seen by the matakite or
clairvoyant seer: these companies of spirits were called apa hau by the Tuhoe people, and they were represented in the living world by some living relative, who was the medium (kauwaka or kaupapa) through which such spirits communicated with, and acted as guardians of, their living relatives. A single person may be the medium of the kehua of many deceased relatives. Such kehua or wairua do not abide with the medium, but visit him when they have anything to communicate. The medium may be quite a common person, of no standing in the tribe until he becomes a medium.
Ancient Greek philosophic thought ran to some extent in grooves parallel with that of the Maori. Thus the Greeks believed that the soul left the body and assumed animal form. In particular the snake was imagined to embody a soul; but the forms of bats, birds, and butterflies were also assigned to the spirits of the departed. The Greek ghosts, like the Maori kehua, kept the human form, and to them were ascribed all the attributes of living persons. Food was offered to them; ceremonies and rites were performed to appease their wrath; their influence was exerted only in the neighbourhood of their abode; they revealed future events, or the proper remedies for sickness; they avenged neglect by sending sickness or death, and were therefore called kereo (cf. Maori kehua)—in short, the Greek conception of the ancestral spirit resembled almost in every particular that of the untutored Maori.
I have dwelt at length on the nature, modes of manifestation, and special characteristics of the kehua, or ancestral ghosts, because they are in many ways the counterpart in primitive medical systems of the pathogenic bacteria, or disease-germs, of modern medicine. The Maoris, and, in fact, man in all stages of evolution, from crude savagery to hypercivilisation, regard ancestral souls as playing a most important part in the causation of disease. At the present day the followers of Blavatsky and Besant attribute disease, like the Maori, to the kehua or ghost of the dead. Such was also the belief of the Hebrews, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans; and this theory still holds a prominent place in the medical lore of the Polynesians, Melanesians, Australian aboriginals, the Amazulu, Peruvians, and European peasants, especially in Russia, Germany, Austria, and Sweden. In India, China, and Japan we find similar ideas. It was not until the reign of George II. that the statute of James I. of England enacting that all persons invoking any evil spirit, or consulting, covenanting with, entertaining, employing, feeding, or rewarding any evil spirit, should be guilty of felony, and suffer death.(?)
According to Maori belief the ancestral ghosts confined
their attentions to the tribe to which they belonged, inflicting or curing disease in their living relatives, or in other ways exerting their powers for good or evil among them. The kehua of a dead person is known by the name of such a person. The most malignant of the kehua were the souls of still-born children and the paheke spirits, which form a special class of evil beings called kahukahu. Ancestral ghosts are the tribal and family atua or gods, as distinguished from the national gods, such as Rangi, Tu, Tangaroa, &c. The question then arises, why do the tribal atua or ancestral ghosts inflict disease on their living relatives? And the answer briefly is, because of neglect on the part of the living to pay proper respect to their dead. In other words, the atua inflict disease because the living relative has broken a religious commandment, or tapu, and thus insulted some ancestral spirit. Then, again, Maori sorcerers often had certain kehua or atua at their command, and by suitable incantations, such as the mata-tawhito, they could collect these good genii round them to keep off evil spirits; but, on the other hand, they were able, by means of other karakia, to send these ghosts on disease-inflicting errands among other members of the tribe. Evilly disposed persons would sometimes invoke an ancestral ghost (kehua, or atua) to slay people of the world of life without just cause. In one case of this kind the ghost was armed with a taiaha by the invoker and instigator, and was seen bearing the taiaha (weapon of war) and searching for some one to slay. One valiant person challenged it, axe in hand; the ghost fled to the burial-ground and disappeared into a grave.
In some cases the wairua of the dead were invoked by means of karakia, in order that they might avenge a murdered person. For this purpose the body of the murdered person is laid on the sacred place (tuahu) of the tribe, and the priests invoke the aid of the kehua of the deceased, who, having given some sign of his presence, receives instructions as to whose death is desired. Then the body is buried, and ere long his murderers take sick and die.
Should a person desecrate a sacred place of the tribe, such as the tuahu or ahi taitai, he will certainly be afflicted by the ancestral ghosts (atua) in a most grievous manner. Of if he desecrate a tree which has been tapued by the tohunga, and thus set apart for some special purpose, such as bird-snaring, he will be assailed by the familiar spirits of the priest, and, although he may not die at once, yet he will gradually succumb. It is not an uncommon practice to make a person offend against some law of tapu without his being aware of it, with the express object of causing the anger of the atua to fall on him. This practice is a class of witchcraft (makutu). If the body of a relative, or any person of the same tribe, is
eaten, then the ghost of the same would inflict sickness and death on the eaters of his body. It is safe to eat the body of a person belonging to another tribe, because, as I have already pointed out, the ghost or atua of such a person cannot inflict disease on those not related to him. It is interesting to note that the atua are not supposed to inflict disease always on the person who breaks the tapu, but, as Shortland says, more generally on the sacred person himself whose duty it was to guard himself from such an indignity. This refers especially to the tapu law, which prevents a common person eating food which has touched the person or clothes of a priest or chief.
A person knows when a ghost has entered his body by the creeping sensation felt in the flesh of the arms or other parts of the body at the moment the atua enters. This symptom is termed papakikokiko.
Diseases attributed to kehua have applied to them the generic term mate kikokiko, and the ancestral ghosts who cause such diseases are called kehua, wairua, atua kahukahu, kikokiko, or atua kikokiko, and as a class are designated atua poke, or malignant spirits. Of these, the most utterly poke were the kahukahu, a term applied to ancestral ghosts, but perhaps more commonly restricted to menstrual germs which have become malignant spirits, and to the ghosts of prematurely- and still-born children, the most dreaded of all disease-germs.
Atua poke were liable to visit their victims at midnight, and set up painful bowel complaints, fever, insanity, and numerous other painful and fatal diseases, often of a lingering character, and resulting in great wasting of the body. As already pointed out, a near relative was often the subject of their wrath. The ancestral ghosts of Australian blacks gave disease by such simple means as the thrusting of twigs and small pieces of wood into the eye or the ear; or, creeping up to the victim, would extract his kidney-fat; or would kill him by inflicting blows on the back of the neck with an invisible club. “It was by no means an unusual thing for Morioris to affirm that they had been visited by the kikokiko, in which case, at the slightest approach of sickness, they would resign themselves to death, and that would be the invariable result.”
The question next arises, why did ancestral ghosts wander about as malignant spirits? Had the Maoris no means of “laying” the ghosts? It is well known that the ancient Greeks resorted to all manner of religious rites and festivals of the dead to prevent the “destructive ones” from returning to earth and causing illness and death. The Melanesians make offerings of food to the duka; the Samoans offer libations of kava to keep the ghosts friendly, and in times of war kinswomen of the dead visited the theatre of death carrying
mats. The place of death was earnestly sought out; the mat was spread upon the ground, and the women sat about and watched it. If any living thing alighted it was twice brushed away; upon the third coming it was known to be the spirit of the dead, was folded in, carried home and buried beside the body, and the ghost rested. But for this the spirit would wander about and be unable to gain an entrance to the proper country of the dead. Australian natives resort to many ingenious practices to prevent the ghost from leaving the grave after burial. They sometimes remove the finger-nails of the deceased so that the spirit may be unable to scrape a hole in the earth and thus escape; or, to gain the same end, they tie the fingers tightly together with cords, or the finger-tips are burned. In Thibet they pierce the soles of the feet and also the heart of the deceased, thinking that, being nailed into their tomb, the spirit cannot possibly leave it. Hunt, writing of the Moriori, says, “The everlasting kikokiko was a terrible bugbear to old and young; they had a firm belief that a person visited by an ancestral ghost, and touched on the head, would die very soon after such visitation. To prevent the dead from troubling them they had a very curious custom.” When a person died they would all assemble at midnight in some solitary, secluded spot and proceed to “lay” the ghost. “First, kindling a large fire, they would sit round in a circle, each person holding a long rod in his hand; to the end of each rod a tuft of spear-grass was tied; they would then sway their bodies to and fro, waving the rods over the fire in every direction, jabbering away strange and unintelligible incantations.”
The methods adopted by the Maoris to “lay” the ghosts of the dead varied in different tribes, according to the local theories regarding the soul's destiny after death. Maori philosophers were divided in their beliefs as to the destiny of the soul after death. Some held that the soul remains on earth; others that it descended to Hades (Te Po); while a third school believed that the human spirit finally ascended to the blissful heavens of Rangi.* Thus many of the Taranaki natives had no faith either in the ascending or descending of spirits: they thought that the dead always remained near their bodies; that the wahi tapu, which are generally small groves adjoining their pas, in which they were interred, were also filled with their spirits; but if a person died a violent death, he wandered about until the priest, by his incantations, brought his spirit within the sacred enclosure. An old philosopher of the Tuhoe tribes, one of the Hades school of thought, thus addressed Mr. Elsdon Best: “Son, our ancestors
[Footnote] * This is modern.—E. B.
never taught us that Rangi, our parent, issued a command or law that his descendants [man] should ascend to him at death. The word of Rangi to Papa [the Earth Mother] was this: ‘Our grandchildren, foster them; conceal them, let them be hidden in the deep darkness in the bowels of the earth.’” In other tribes, however, it was held that the souls of chiefs and tohungas, at least, ascended to heaven (Rangi). And at death karakia* were addressed to Tawhaki “so that the spirit of the deceased might ascend to heaven, Tawhaki's abode.”† The officiating priest, while repeating his “ghost-laying” invocations, held a staff, the end of which he placed on the heart of the deceased.
The prophylactic measures adopted by the Taranaki natives naturally consisted in burial rites and ceremonies for the purpose of inducing the spirits of the dead to enter the sacred grove, and, being safely deposited there, to prevent their escape. Thus, when a chief was killed in battle and eaten, his spirit was supposed to enter the stones of the oven, which retained their heat so long as it remained in them. His friends repeated their most potent incantations to draw out his spirit from the stones and induce it to enter the sacred grove (wahi tapu). So, also, when any were slain in battle, the friends endeavoured to procure some of their blood, or fragments of their garments if the body could not be, obtained, over which they uttered karakia, and thus brought the wandering soul within this spiritual fold. These places were looked upon with much fear, as the atua are thought occasionally to wander from them, and cause all the sickness their relatives suffer. In them the tuahu, or native altar, the toko and the pataka, or stage of offerings to the atua, were placed: it was thought to be extremely dangerous for the living to enter them or the tapu houses where the dead were buried. Thus we-have here a cult of the grove, or cult of the grave, and a care of the dead as a protective measure against sickness and death.
Those who believed that the soul went at death to the dark underworld, to Te Po, Te Reinga, Paerau, or Hades, did not neglect the necessary ceremonies to induce or to enable the wairua of the dead to gain admission to that abode of the dead. These rites and incantations were called tuitupapau, and by observing them the ghost was effectually “laid,” but if neglected it became an atua kikokiko and a source of danger to the surviving relatives. The god Tiki, creator of man, guards the portals of Hades; he sits at the threshold of his long reed house in Te Po, and forbids the ghosts of the
[Footnote] * See Taylor, “Te Ika a Maui,” p. 101.
[Footnote] † O. O. Davis, “Patuone,” p. 135.
departed to enter unless the friends of the deceased have performed the necessary ceremonies and made offerings of food. Taylor relates an instance where a child was buried, and after a time the bones were disinterred, scraped, placed in an ornamental basket, and suspended from the ridge-pole of the mahau, or verandah, of the father's house. From time to time the tohunga repeated karakia over them, to assist the soul in ascending through the different heavens. Every time an incantation was uttered over the bones it was supposed to aid the soul in its ascent.*
Such, then, are some of the methods by which the Maori sought to prevent the souls of their dead relatives from developing into atua poke, or disease-dealing atua; and doubtless the weeping, singing, food-offerings, and dances at the tangi preceding the nehunga or burial were also to propitiate the wairua of the dead.†
When a person believes he is afflicted by an ancestral ghost he hurries to the tohunga, who will, after sunset, take him to the sacred pool (wai tapu) and cause him to stand naked in the water. The hirthırı or diagnostic rite will then be performed, and the tohunga, having decided what caused the sickness, will pull up a fern-stalk (rarauhe) and, dipping it in the water, sprinkle the holy water over his patient's body, at the same time exorcising the demon by means of suitable charms or karakia.
If the person recovers he will probably become the kauwaka or medium of that evil kehua or ghost, and enjoy the power of being able to afflict his enemies by means of the supernatural powers of the spirit.
The kahukahu constitute another group of very malignant disease demons. They are the spirits of still-born and immaturely born children, and ghosts which spring from menstrual clots (paheke)—the latter are thought to be wasted souls of human beings. These belong to the great class of spirits called poke, the atua poke being unclean, wicked, man-destroying sprites. Their chief delight is to get into human bodies and cause most painful diseases by biting and pinching the sensitive internal organs.
The Maoris have various beliefs regarding the precise source from which the human soul, or life, takes its origin. Some say “the moon is the real husband of all women, and the marriage of man and woman is of no moment”; while
[Footnote] * From Taylor's “Te Ika a Maui,” a most unreliable work. For the trail of the missionary is over it all.—E. B.
[Footnote] † No; to avenge the death.—E. B.
others declare that the hau and wairua of a child are implanted during coition, by the father, the mother being merely a receptacle (whare moenga). When this soul, whatever, its origin may be, is prematurely liberated from its whare moenga it becomes a kahukahu.
The idea of woman being the repository of potential atua poke, and the menstruating female as a liberator of malignant kahukahu, led to the imposition of certain restrictions on women, and to their segregation during the menstrual period.(?) Thus, “a Maori woman may not step over a male child, or it will be stunted in growth; nor may she step over a man, should he be lying in the way, though in the latter case it would be merely looked upon as an act of impertinence.” Then, again, should a person inadvertently seat himself on a place used by women as a seat or sleeping place, he will lose his acuteness of vision as a seer of the supernatural. Should a warrior or seer lie down in the women's portion of a house he will become kahupotia, or afflicted by tu-matarehurehu; his sight will become dim, his pluck decrease; he will not be able to distinguish an enemy or see the atua. To avert this calamity he must perform the whakaepa rite, that the mind and the eyes may be clear.
During menstruation the woman is tapu and is avoided by others. She uses a diaper, or some special form of apron, called marototo, remu, korea, whakatahe, angiangi, or kahukahu,* within which the infant sprite is supposed to remain, for a time at least, and which was usually placed, after use, amongst the reeds or rushes forming the wall of the whare. Here these atua dwelt, and were sometimes called atua noho-whare, or house-dwelling demons. In some localities it was customary to bury the menstruous diapers “in a proper manner and with appropriate ceremony, that the kahukahu may be laid or rendered powerless to assail those who dwell in the living world. This is done by the all-necessary tohunga, who, having cooked some food in a sacred umu (earth oven), proceeds to offer it to the gods, and then by means of karakia (incantations) he renders harmless the evil spirit or germ.” The spirit of a kahukahu, according to Tuhoe belief, “will sometimes enter a fish, or a moth, or a pig, according to where the whakatahe is thrown (the safest plan is to bury it deeply). If left on the surface of the ground it may be eaten by a pig, or a moth may fly over it, and then that pig or moth would be entered by the spirit of the kahu and so become a malignant demon, an atua ngau tangata, a demon to assail man. If thrown into water and found by a fish, that fish will become an atua, a demon possessing
[Footnote] * These terms are somewhat mixed.—E. B.
grievous powers. In this (Tuhoe) district a fœtus was buried under the perch of a tame kaka bird, and the spirit or cacodemon of the same entered the bird, and worked much harm to man. And should a person dream that he saw the bird with its feathers ruffled, or upstanding (e whakakenakena ana), that was a good sign—the sick person would recover. But should the bird be seen (in a dream) to wriggle about (a, kia mohimohi ranei nga huruhuru), that was a bad omen for the invalid. Affections of the eye and other ills are said to have been caused by that bird.”
Mere contact with paheke blood was sure to infect a person and to result in the victim becoming possessed by an atuakahu.(?) Breaking the tapu also provoked the atua of the family to anger, and led them to punish the offender by sending infant sprites to feed on a part of his body, more or less vital, according to the magnitude of his crime. Infant ghosts, it seems, are generally selected as the agents of the vengeance of the family atua (i.e., deified ancestral spirits), on account of their love of mischief, and because, not having lived long enough on earth to acquire attachments to their living relatives, they are most likely to attack them without mercy. The atua or ancestral ghosts were the only sort of divinities supposed to take an interest in human affairs, and were very jealous of any neglect of the duties enjoined by their religion. Their instruments of punishment, the kahukahu, were greatly dreaded, in proof of which the following lines may be cited:—
Ko te kahukahu piri-tara-whare.
Kei te whakaheke au i aku toto,
Wai tuhi-rae no nga tohunga.
Nana ka ngau kino, ka mate rawa.
which may be translated thus:—
It is the kahukahu sticking fast in the wall of the house.
I am making my blood run down,
Instead of water, to smear the brow of the sorcerer.
Should he (the atuakahu) gnaw spitefully, it will be certain death.
In the event of a person being afflicted by a kahukahu, he may be cured by the first-born (ariki) of the family, who accomplishes this by biting the part affected. Or, by means of the hirihri rite, the priest may ascertain that a certain woman is the cause of the trouble. He then questions her: “Is there nothing that you know of?” She will reply, “I had a clot of blood, and threw it into the water.” Enough! The priestly seer goes off to search for the plant or moss termed keketuwai, to be used as an ara atua (a path for the god) by which to expel the demon. He places the weed on the afflicted one, and recites this karakia:—
Tenei to ara
Haere ki ou tupuna
Haere ki ou matua
Haere ki ou koroua
Haere ki nga mana o ou tupuna.
Water-weeds, such as the above, were often used as ara atua, by which route the afflicting demon would be forced to depart. The weed or leaf used would then be deposited in the sacred place of the village.
The following is another form of takutaku:—
Hurahia ko te tutu
Hurahia ko nga atua
Ma wai e huaki?
Maku e huaki
Ka matika, ka haere
Tau tika, tau tonu
Te roua atu, kapea mai
Roua ki whiti, roua ki tonga
Hamama tu te waha o nga atua
I titaha te taha o te rangi
E oho nga atua whiu
E oho nga atua ta
E oho i te rawa i pakina at koe.
This calls upon the gods or spirits afflicting the person to give some sign of their presence when the particular cause of the attack is pronounced. The tohunga then goes on to mention various tapu, objects, and when the patient sneezes, or yawns, or gasps, the object then being spoken of was the cause of his illness. The medicine-man, having thus diagnosed the nature of the complaint, then proceeds—
Haere i te pu
Haere i te more
Haere i te weu
Haere koutou e patu nei
Haere i tua, haere i waho
Or, if it is an atua kahu, then he inserts,—
Haere i a moana nui, &c.
The tohunga will also proceed to the place where the fœtus was buried and there kindle a fire, over which he will repeat an incantation in order to lay the evil spirit and to render it harmless. He will also cook some food, usually a kumara, or sweet-potato, at that fire. This he proceeds to eat, and thus the evil spirit is tamaoatia, or polluted, rendered harmless. This rite is nowadays termed whakawhetai by the Tuhoe people—a modern, introduced expression.
The above rite was often performed over the fœtus as soon as it was buried, in order that the evil spirit might be rendered impotent, otherwise it might turn on the relatives of the woman and afflict them sorely.
To destroy the evil spirit of a human fœtus, some of the leaves in which food has been placed for cooking may be used as a covering for such fœtus when buried. This will have the desired effect. There is nothing so inimical to tapu, or supernatural powers, as cooked food, or anything which has come into contact with it.
But in some instances these atua kahu were not destroyed, but were cultivated, conciliated with offerings, and developed into war gods, in order that their power might be directed against tribal enemies. Such was the origin of the atua known as Te Awa-nui, Parehouhou, Peketahi, and Te Rehu-o-Tainui, of the Tuhoe Tribe.
Another kind of demon which caused disease was the rikoriko or ngingongingo, which haunted deserted houses and ruins of villages. They would creep into the bodies of unwary mortals and devour their vital organs. The Tahitian word riorio means “the ghost of an infant,” and perhaps these rikoriko were atua noho-whare.
Maori mythology contains several accounts of the origin of sorcery. In one of the cosmogonic myths it is related that the visible heavens combined with the great abyss of eternity to produce the numberless sorceries, the gods Taokaimaiki, Taoitia-paekohu the enduring, and other numberless forms of witchcraft, and the “cold of space.” The sorceries and the “cold of space” combined are the destroyers of mankind. “From the heavens originated all calamities.” Another myth relates how the great hero Maui enraged Rohe his wife, who “was beautiful as he was ugly, and on his wishing to exchange faces with her she refused him his request. He, however, by means of an incantation, managed to gain his point; in anger she left him, and refused to live any longer in the world of light, but proceeded to the underworld and became a goddess of Hades” (Tregear). A variant of this myth is that Rohe was killed by Maui, and her spirit, returning from the shades, in revenge killed him; “hence death, witchcraft, and all the evils men are subject to came into the world.” Other charms and spells, witchcraft, religious songs, and dances, were obtained from Miru, the goddess guarding the Gates of Death, who dwelt in Hades, and who was visited by Rongomai, a celebrated demi-god ancestor of some of the Maori tribes, to whom she imparted, amongst others, the kaiwhatu, a “guardian charm” by which witchcraft was averted. One of Rongomai's men was caught, and was claimed by Miru in sacrifice as utu (payment) for having taught the sacred knowledge, but Rongomai and the others returned safely to the world again.
Maori legend abounds with fabulous stores of the magical powers possessed by ancient tohungus; how Kiki, a celebrated sorcerer of Waikato, was so endued with mana that his shadow withered the grass and shrubs when he travelled abroad; how Tautohito and Purata, two celebrated wizards, possessed a magical wooden head, and slew hundreds of persons by the power of its enchantments.
Diseases attributed to Makutu (Sorcery).
Like all other primitive peoples, the Maori believes implicitly in the potency of the dread incantations and mysterious rites of the sorcerer. By appropriate karakia the ghosts of the dead (kehua) are sent by the tohunga to enter his victim's body and afflict him with disease. Or, without the intervention of any disease demon, by mere repetition of charms and performance of symbolic rites, the occult power, or mana, of the wizard may accomplish the same end. In the latter case the victim is often warned that he is bewitched, and such magical arts prove effective through the patient's own imagination; when he knows he has been subjected to makutu he will often fall ill, and will actually die unless he can be persuaded that he has been cured. Disease and death by magic may be effected in still another way—by destroying the victim's wairua or dream-ghost; the ahua or semblance, or its aria or form of incarnation, being acted on by the tohunga in a manner elsewhere described. The hau, or intellectual spirit, also may be destroyed by means of a bait, or ohonga, which, in the form of some hair, spittle, or article of clothing of the intended victim, is supposed to contain the ahua or semblance of that essence, called hau, which pervades and vivifies the body.
The idea that the sorcerer can capture the wairua (dream-ghost) of an enemy, and by killing it can thus kill his victim, though commonly met with throughout Polynesia, is not often met with in New Zealand.* Thus, in the Sandwich Islands, there was a special class of tohungas called soul-catchers (po'i whane), and they were not only able to see the souls of living beings, as were the tohunga kilokilo uhane, but could catch them with the hand, and squeeze them to death, or imprison them in a water-calabash. The sorcerer then had the owner of the soul in his power, and could levy blackmail on him as he pleased, for if he killed his kakaola he would go into a decline and soon die. In the Solomon Islands if a child starts in its sleep it is believed that some ghost is snatching away its soul. In New Britain disease is sometimes attributed to a certain atua having seized
[Footnote] * It was an universal belief among the Maori.—E. B.
on a man's dream-spirit or soul and bound it to a tree. The priest takes a fish or pig to the sacred place and offers it, saying, “This is for you to eat in place of that man; don't kill him”; and he is then able to loose and take back the sick man's soul so that he may recover. At Uea, one of the Loyalty Islands, it was the custom formerly when a person was very ill to send for a medicine-man whose employment was “to restore souls to forsaken bodies.” The soul doctor and about twenty assistants would repair to the family burial-ground. The male assistants then played nasal flutes, while the women assisted by a low whistling supposed to be irresistibly attractive to truant souls. The soul was then conducted back to the village amidst great rejoicing, and was ordered in loud tones to re-enter the body of the sick man. So also among the tribes of the Lower Congo we find the same peculiar belief that in cases of chronic illness the spirit (moyo) of the sick man is supposed to have left his body and is wandering at large, and the aid of the charm-doctor is called in to capture the wandering spirit and bring it back to the body of the invalid. In Fiji a sick native has been seen lying on his back bawling for his soul (New Zealand, wairua) to come back; and in another case a native declared that his soul had left him, and he was therefore a dead man. After chatting with his relations, and having a hearty meal, this man who believed himself to be soulless was carefully buried. Thus the conception of disease being due to the absence of the wairua, or dream-ghost, or soul, from the body is commonly held by Polynesians, Melanesians, &c., but it is not often met with in New Zealand. The Maori sorcerer endeavours to take or operate on the hau in order to destroy the wairua or astral body. It is true that in the rua torino and rua-iti ceremonies the wairua is destroyed, and with it, of course, the earthly body wherever it may be. And the high priests of old frequently used an incantation called haruru in order to destroy the wairua, and thus set up a fatal illness in the material body. Generally speaking, however, the Maori did not attribute disease to the absence of the wairua, and the machinations of the sorcerer were directed against the hau, not the wairua.
The wairua is supposed to be able to see and hear, and leaves the material body during sleep, but apparently not when the person is awake, as in Polynesia it wanders forth as a spy to find out if any sorcerer is trying to bewitch its owner, and returns to warn its physical basis, and hau or life-essence, if the magician is afoot. The wairua is an active defensive astral body; the hau is a passive element which pervades the material body, and when acted on by those who practise makutu causes-illness or death of the victim. Much of Maori magic (makutu)
is based on their conception of the human hau. The hau is a vital essence which cannot, like the wairua, leave its physical basis, the body. Parts, however, may become detached when one walks or sits down, and on this fact is based certain sorceries belonging to the category of sympathetic magic.
This sympathetic magic, which is so commonly practised by the tohunga makutu of New Zealand, worked on the supposed vital connection between the object (ohonga) and the subject (human hau). The victim is supposed to be in sympathy with the bait (ohonga), and sickens and dies as it burns, melts, or rots. The first essential, then, in practising this form of makutu is the ohonga or bait, which is the ahua or representation of the hau. The bait, as already stated, must be some object which has touched the person to be bewitched, such as a drop of spittle, some hair, paring of finger-nail, shred of clothing, remnant of food, some earth on which the victim has sat or walked, or even a drop of blood, as in the classic case of Maui. Having obtained the material medium, it is converted into an ohonga, when the appropriate incantation is repeated over it. When this ohonga is obtained the sorcerer ties it to a piece of the karamuramu (shrub used in mystic rites). He then carries it to the sacred grove or village altar and invokes his own or the tribal atua. The cryptic karakia repeated over the bait makes the victim sicken and die. When taking the bait from the person a karakia suited to the occasion must be repeated. The bait, says Best, is the passive agent; the incantation which destroys the hau, and through it the physical body, is the active agent. In Melanesia and some parts of Polynesia, however, it would seem that the bait is an active agent, for as the bait melts or rots or burns so does the victim become feverish or ill. When no incantation is employed, as in some instances in certain Australian tribes, then the bait becomes the active agent of sympathetic destruction.
Sympathetic magic was practised by the great Maori gods For instance, Hine-nui-te-po destroyed Maui by this kind of sorcery. The bait used was a drop of Maui's blood. Hine sent in succession the butterfly (kahukura), the mosquito (waeroa), the midge (tuiau), and the sandfly (namu) to secure for her the necessary ohonga, and the last succeeded in obtaining it after the others had failed.
A favourite bait was saliva, because there was not generally much difficulty in obtaining it. The Urewera, famed all over New Zealand for their skill in makutu practices, often used spittle as a bait. For this reason, people are careful not to spit when in company with members of this tribe. So great was the dread of sorcery in the Sandwich Islands that the kings used always to have near them spittoon-bearers, and these people
carefully disposed of the spittle, either by secretly burying it or throwing it into the sea. Remnants of a repast were also used as a bait, and after having spells pronounced over it was buried. Food could also be bewitched during a meal by merely quietly repeating a charm as the victim ate. Or the food could be bewitched beforehand by means of karakia. He who ate such food which had been rendered tapu would be punished by atua with sickness. Such cases are not, however, instances of sympathetic magic. A man's clothing is permeated with his hau and makes an excellent bait; so also, but to a lesser extent, is the earth which bears a foot-print, and a seat on which one has been sitting. If suspicious of the hau being abstracted for purposes of makutu he will, as he rises, touch the seat with his left hand and scoop up the invisible portion of hau. In the good old days, persons travelling through a hostile country would walk as much as possible in water, so as to avoid the danger of having their manea (hau of the human foot or foot-print) taken. Should a sorcerer chance to come upon your trail and extract your manea from your footsteps, and take that manea to his abode and suspend it on the whata puaroa (place used as an altar), and then when the sacred mara tautane (ground in which is grown kumara for the gods) is being cultivated he bury the manea in that place, together with some of the seed kumara, then you will surely die.
Makutu was resorted to often for the purpose of avenging some insult, or to punish a thief or other evildoer. “A respectable tohunga, or priest,” says Gudgeon, “of any standing in this profession would as a rule disdain to use his powers against a common man who might affront him, unless indeed the insult were very glaring, in which case discipline had to be maintained. “But,” he adds, “there were tohungas and tohungas: all of them were not respectable.” If a person offended another he could secure a sorcerer to bewitch his enemy to death on making a suitable payment. In a case of theft it was not always necessary to consult a tohunga. The person who was robbed might take a twig of a tree, and, going to a pool of water, invoke his special atua until the wairua of the thief appears. If the wairua appeared the thief would surely die. Or the person robbed might take to the tohunga the hau of the place from which the article had been taken. His hau would probably be a portion of earth on which the article had been laid. As the person approached the tohunga, the latter would see the ghost of the thief advancing by the side of the bearer of the hau. He would then call upon the spirit of the thief to confess. If he did so he was allowed to live. But should he deny the theft, then his wairua would be slain by the awful arts of the priest.
Riki Tatahunga, better known as “King Dick,” died recently at Tauranga. Riki had been ailing for some time, and his illness was ascribed to witchcraft, brought on because he appeared as advocate against his own tribe in a Land Court case. As soon as the tohunga had diagnosed the case as being caused by makutu or sorcery no hopes were held out for his recovery, and death soon ensued.
By means of makutu a person could be made to offend against some law of tapu without his being aware of it, and in such case illness or death was sent by atua who had been insulted. And it has often happened that an innocent person has been sacrificed to the rage of the relatives of a sick man, under the belief that he had caused the disease by unlawful means. For instance, a few months ago a Maori named Hirawa Moananui became ill, and a relative named Tera te Teira accused Haora Tareranui of bewitching him so as to cause his death. It is alleged that he threatened that if Moananui died he would shoot Haora. Had Tareranui not been protected by the police he very likely would have lost his life.
This makutu business was the dangerous part of a tohunga's profession, for it was by no means an uncommon thing for a man who believed himself bewitched to load his gun and anticipate matters by shooting the wizard. “I have known one or two cases of this kind,” says Gudgeon, “and one in which an old man, having threatened to bewitch his daughter-in-law because she refused to allow him to take charge of his grandson, was deliberately, and with the consent of the tribe, doomed to death and shot by his own son. Makutu is a two-edged sword.” In the year 1844 a slave and his wife were killed at Hokianga for the supposed crime of witchcraft. “Even in these days,” writes a colonist in 1861, “the lives of nearest relatives are sometimes sacrificed to the still strong belief in these Satanic rites, and for the supposed crime of witchcraft murder is still perpetrated.” In modern days the gun is the favourite means of protection against sorcery. In olden times if a Maori was guilty of the crime of killing, or attempting to kill, by means of makutu, without just cause, he was usually punished through the agency of his hau—that is to say, his hau was taken and his body doomed to death in the usual manner by makutu or sympathetic magic.
The Maori magician is generally an aged man, but he does not cover himself with charms and amulets, bones of animals, beads and bells, and such ornaments and grotesque personal decorations so dear to the medicine-man of the Zulus and other primitive races. He whirls no terrifying bull-roarer, carries no bag of disease-dealing or disease-destroying charms or bundles of magic herbs. Nor can he travel underground, or fly enormous
distances with marvellous rapidity, as do the Australian sorcerers. To gain entrance to the profession he does not need to have some marked physical deformity or hideous countenance. The most powerful tohunga was often of high birth and held a high and influential position in the tribe. He believed implicitly in his powers, and was often an extremely shrewd man. His stock-in-trade consisted of a knowledge of very many karakia; an ability to interpret omens; a bodyguard of good genii or familiar spirits who at his call would attack and kill his enemies or their attendant familiar spirits (atua); and a large amount of common sense. He sometimes carried a staff, sometimes a taiaroa, a peculiar long ornamental staff used for purposes of enchantment.
Maori sorcery differs very considerably from that of the Australian blacks, especially in the absence of all those practices by which foreign substances are magically introduced into the victim's body to set up disease, and also in the total absence of any such custom as the magic extraction of the kidney-fat. Australian aboriginal sorcerers kill by “pointing the bone,” or by transmitting to the body of their sorceries small fragments of magic rock crystal, or bone, or chips of wood, or other hard substance. These entering the vital organs cause pain, disease, and death. The Maori tohunga kills either by sending a demon or spirit to gnaw the vital organs, or he, by symbolic magic, extracts, or in some way destroys, the life-principle (hau), or the dream-ghost (wairua).
The potency of makutu depends far more on the repetition of special cryptic karakia (incantations, invocations, charms, &c.) than on the proper performance of any elaborate ceremonials. The great essential to nearly all the rites of sorcery among the Maoris was the correct rendering of the ancient and often very long incantations; the accompanying rites were generally simple, and often consisted in sprinklings with water, and the symbolic burial of the soul of the victim.
Forms of Sorcery
(a.) Charms and Curses.
According to Gudgeon, “there are many degrees of a Maori curse, and those being the cause of a person becoming bewitched, a few specimens will not be out of place. There are three principal degrees—viz., the kanga, the apiti, and the tapatapa. The kanga is the superlative curse, and has various forms, as “Upoko kohua,” which means, “You skull to cook in,” and “Upoko taona,” “You cooked head.” The kanga is an actual wish that the person cursed may be eaten—absolutely the most terrible and degrading end that any Maori could have. The apiti is a
literal comparison, in which the person's bones are likened to a fork, or the skull to a drinking-cup, as “To upoko ko taku ipu wai” (Your head is the calabash from which I drink); “Ko taku tirou kai o whena” (My food-fork is your bones). There is also a lower degree, tapatapa, which is by calling the name of any animal or thing after a person. To remove the bewitching effect of these curses elaborate ceremonies have to be performed by the priest, who repeats numerous incantations and counter-charms: these ceremonies continue in some cases for three days. They are fully discussed in another part of this paper.
(b.) Rites and Ceremonies.
The Maoris induced insanity by means of sorcery, sometimes in the spirit of revenge, as when a lover resorted to that form of black magic called whaka-tihaha, in order to drive mad and kill the woman who had repelled his amorous advances. The rotu is a potent spell to throw a person into a magic sleep, prior to a murderous attack perhaps, and commences thus: “O mata e tıro mai, nana tu whakarehua, tu whakamoea, e moe!” which may be translated thus:—
O eyes that behold,
Be thou closed in sleep,
Be thou fast in sleep, sleep.
Much more potent, however, than the rotu was the deadly tipi-whaka-moe, or sleep-causing stroke, which was the sudden letting fly a mystic power by the wizard, resulting in the sudden death of his victim. Mata-rere-puku is the name of a species of witchcraft so called because the charm was effected by the tip (matamata) of the tongue of the sorcerer secretly (puku) applied. Umu pongipongi (umu = oven, ceremony?) was some form, ceremony, and karakia to bewitch. Its exact nature is not known.
The Rua-iti Rite (rua, a pit, a grave; iti, small).—When a priest wished to slay a person by symbolic magic a commonly used form was that known as rua-iti. The sorcerer secretly digs a small hole in the ground and places in it, or moulds at the bottom of the pit, a mound of earth in the form of the human body. Taking a cord in his hand, and standing over the hole, he allows one end of the cord to hang down in the hole. He then repeats potent incantations to cause the wairua (dream-ghost) of the doomed person to descend by way of the cord into the hole, where it is destroyed by means of another powerful karakia known as whakaumu. In some cases the cord seems to have been dispensed with, and the wairua is then seen to enter the hole in the form of a fly (rango), such fly being the ahua (semblance) or aria (form of incarnation) of the spirit of the victim. Or the ahua in other cases appeared over the pit as a small flame or light, a will-o'-the-wisp, which was promptly cursed, and its
owner thus secretly doomed to death. If the cord is used it is indispensable that the sorcerer should procure it from the home of the doomed person. The counter-ceremony for the rua-iti sorcery was thus described by a Maori to Elsdon Best: “Should I become aware that a tohunga is bewitching me so as to cause my body to waste away—and I should know at once if he were—I send some one to his place to bring me a piece of cord, of any kind. I take the cord and smear it with blood procured from an incision in the left side of my body. I then kindle a fire and burn the cord; also, I cook a single kumara or taewa at that fire. The cooked kumara I give to the ruahine (a childless woman employed in various sacred rites), who eats it. Friend, that man is dead! Another method of averting the evil is to place the kumara beneath the paepae-poto (door-sill) of my house and get the ruahine to step over it.” It is not easy to explain the rationale of this counter-ceremony. Perhaps, however, the string is an ohonga (bait), and by cooking a kumara at the fire in which the ohonga was burned the aria of the victim is transferred to the kumara, the eating of which is symbolic of his destruction. The burning of an ohonga is sometimes considered sufficient to cause the death of the enemy.
Many ailments are supposed to be caused by magic, as insanity (porangitanga, porewarewa, porangi, wairangi, haurangi, potete, apa, awhireinga), leprosy (ngerengere, mutumutu, tuawhenua, tuhawaiki), wasting sickness, and many obscure complaints of the internal organs, both chronic and acute. Sorcerers were supposed to be able to bring about the death of their victim within a week, sometimes at the end of the third day after the commencement of their magic rites. Many deaths resulted doubtless from melancholia or fear.
We have seen that when a person's illness has been caused by magic the tohunga can identify the individual by whose evil sorceries the disease-demon was sent, either by means of the hirihiri or of the paepae. But if the patient be dead when the priest arrives, then he will find out who caused his death when the body is buried, either when the grave is being prepared or when the body is being placed in it, or sometimes afterwards. If the tohunga arrive before his patient dies he may be able to counteract the sorcery. If the case is a complicated one and his patient is of high rank, then the elaborate and prolonged rites and incantations about to be described must be carefully carried out to effect a cure. In minor cases a man might undertake his own cure, for most people had a knowledge of charms or simple karakia to ward off sorcery. But if he had opposed to him a very powerful tohunga makutu his own karakia would not have sufficient mana to overpower those of his
adversary, and he must either call to his aid a capable sorcerer or die.
When, then, a man believes he has been cursed or bewitched by a powerful magician he is taken by his tohunga to the sacred stream, and, making mounds of earth beside it, the priest sticks a twig of tangeo (Tetranthera calicaris) into the bank; then they immerse themselves in the water, the sorcerer repeating this incantation, while the gods are supposed to come and rest upon the mounds, and dance upon the twigs set up:—
Now are the mounds made,
On the side of the dark stream,
By the place of thy wanderings, and of thy curse.
Now stands the twig by the mound:
It is the twig of revenge,
To hurry onward my power,
Emblem of the gods and their power.
Now is the power of this incantation,
Of these sons and of these emblems.
The water is flowing to this place of sorcery:
It flows on to this sacred spot.
Thou son of evil words and this curse,
Thou who didst defy the priests with a curse,
By these emblems, fall thou, die thou
With suddenness be thy death:
Die quickly for thy curse and evil word.
This done in the water, they return now to the settlement and make a space clear of grass or weeds as an arena on which the gods (atua) may alight. While clearing the ground the tahinga invocation is repeated:—
Sweep, sweep an open space
For the god of power
On which to sow death, to revenge these sons.
Tu* the powerful, and Rongo,*
Itupaoa†, and Ihungaru†, come,
Sow death for this word and curse.
Darkness, come from the world below.
From the gods below,
From the worm below, and smite these sons.
Within the open space the sorcerer digs a hole (rua haeroa) about 2 ft. long, which is intended for a grave for the spirits (wairua) of those who cursed, and while digging it this karakia is repeated:—
Now is the pit dug to the depth of Nuku,
To the limbs of the earth, to the depth of Papa,
To the uttermost darkness below, to the long night,
To the utmost darkness, to the power of these priests,
To the darkness of the gods of these sons and emblems.
[Footnote] * National gods.
[Footnote] * National gods.
[Footnote] † Tribal gods formerly kept at Mokoia (Rotorua). They were brought from Hawaiki at the time of the Maori advent to New Zealand.
[Footnote] † Tribal gods formerly kept at Mokoia (Rotorua). They were brought from Hawaiki at the time of the Maori advent to New Zealand.
This done, and the grave finished, they put a twig of the sacred karamu (Coprosma robusta) on each side, and seat themselves on its brink, and take a shell of a fresh-water mussel with which to scrape into the pit the souls of those who bewitched the patient, which have already been brought to the pit's edge. While doing this, again the priest begins:—
Let the revenge of Tu consume these sons,
Their priests, their gods, their power and incantations.
May the power of their sorcerers be confounded;
Let their wizard god be made dumb.
A narrow ridge is then made along the side of the grave, upon which the tohunga places stones named after those who used the curse, one for each, and says:—
To sweep in, to cover up, kill and bury them;
For thy power in war, thy strength and anger, &c.
Thou art struck down to the depths of Nuku,
Even to the root of the world thou art sent,
As food for the hosts there; thy powerless incantations also.
Thy ancestors and their power is gone with thee;
They are now weak and cannot kill.
We sweep them and thee into this pit,
And hide you altogether with this shell,
The shell of these sons and emblems.
This is repeated over every stone, and each time he comes to the name “Nuku” he strikes into the pit the stone to which it is addressed. The twigs are now thrown likewise into the grave; then he fills the hole, and pats down the mound with his hands. They have thus, by symbolic magic, consigned the opposing sorcerers to the grave. The next day they come there again, and, weaving a basket which is of very small size, and called the demon's basket (paro taniwha), the priest again repeats:—
Weave my basket for my sons to sleep in:
My basket is for my dead sons and enemies.
To whom does the basket belong?
To the gods and priests and ancestors,
To the sacred powers and female ancestors,
To the gods of theft. Fill up, fill up my basket!
It is to put you, your priests, gods, and incantations,
Your power in incantations
To whom does the basket belong?
To the female ancestors and you all,
Even to the stay of all power, the gods of theft
The bodies of their enemies were buried in the twigs, the stones representing their hearts, cold and dead as they. Now their spirits (wairua) are imprisoned in the basket, and, being hung up on a stick above the grave, and squeezed by the hands of the priest, are thus offered to the gods. By thus squeezing the ghosts of the hostile sorcerers, their bodies, being in sympathy with the spirit, were contorted with internal pains, and death soon ensued.
On the third day, at a little distance from this pit, they build a hut, and make a mat and lay it on the pit. They then make an effigy of raupo, putting within it a stone to represent the heart, and laying it on the mat. This is called Whiro (the god of thieves). They then address the figure:—
Sleep, O son, sleep!
Sleep thou on the grave of the sinful men.
They are gone to the long night,
The night of manifold darkness;
They are gone to the end,
To the thousands below.*
The mat and effigy are lastly taken up and destroyed in the hut, and the priest, standing at a little distance, asks “Are you asleep, Whiro? Arise, arise! Go thou to the gods in the depths of Nuku, to the worm, to the depths of the dark world, to the evil, to the gods of power, to the end of evil.” This concluding ceremony is called whakaoho, and the curse is finally removed from them and transferred to him or them who uttered it.
Finally the tapu has to be removed by the eating of specially prepared fern-root which has been applied to the head and shoulders of the patient. Both are then polluted (noa) and unfit for further rites of sorcery. This is done to protect others from bewitchment by contact with them, and to prevent the secrets of the craft being divulged. Another karakia accompanies the resumption of their garments; for had they touched cooked food without these precautions, the sorceries of the priest would return upon his own head. So end the ceremonies, which must be concluded before day dawns or closes upon them.
For three days afterwards they must both eat only the pohue (wild convolvulus) root to insure the complete success of their sorceries. Nor is this success in the least doubtful if they be left to their uninterrupted operation; yet if the offending man relent, and would avert the death thus menaced, it is still in the power of the priest to undo his work, and to effect a cure on the bewitched man by repeating this karakia over him:—
As the sounds of music from the koauau,
Such shall be thy returning soul
To this world of health,
To this world of light.
So saying, he spits on the sick man's forehead, and, laying his hand upon him, says:—
Evil man, great sinner,
Thou art of Maui.
These words complete the cure.
[Footnote] * This account is from John White's Lectures.
If a curse were uttered against a sorcerer, he would not speak at the time, but silently repeat the following incantation:—
Tu, baptise the night;
Tu, baptise the day,
Go thou beneath, I go above.
Send thy power below
To the night below, to the worm below,
To the evil one below. Go to death,
And thy spirit for ever to darkness.
Then, returning home, he fasts three days, to insure that the offender shall have eaten food, which will enhance the effect of his incantation. When he is certain of this he has food cooked for himself, and, taking part of it, he wraps it in a nikau-palm leaf, with some hairs from his own forehead, and, taking it to a running stream, he throws it in, saying:—
My fire is burning
To the big sea, to the long sea,
To the boisterous sea.
Then he returns, and while eating, lest he who cursed him should have bewitched his food, he repeats silently:—
Stand erect before the world of spirits
That the soul of food may be eaten,
And the essence of food—the food of the gods.
This completes the charm against the offender—he is now doomed to certain death; and, that the cause of it may be known, the ghost of the sorcerer will appear bodily at the funeral. The relatives then, seeing and recognising it, will go to a running stream, and, sitting on its brink, repeat this incantation:—
Our protector will destroy his power,
He will protect from death.
Go thou evil one to the heaven above,
Go thou to the earth beneath.
This charm precludes any future sorcery being exercised against the remainder of the family. Occasionally, however, instead of all these ceremonies, the sorcerer, when cursed, will lay his left hand on the right side of his breast, and with the right hand catch the curse, saying aloud, “Au taku upoko!” (Oh, my head!) for on the head dwell the principal gods, and they are thus called to punish the offender with death.
Such is the description of the ceremonies of black and white magic, of symbolic and sympathetic magic, of the Maoris as recorded by John White.* In addition to these complicated karakia and mystic ceremonies, there were in every-day use simpler rites, charms, spells, and magic formulæ used by the common people, and on less serious occasions by the sorcerers. If, for instance, the tohunga has satisfied himself, after looking
[Footnote] * “Maori Customs and Superstitions,” 1861.
at the patient, that his sickness is not attributable to the influence of makutu (witchcraft), he merely repeats this incantation, with certain contortions of his body, clawing the air with his hands over the patient, sometimes standing, sometimes sitting; but no certain rules can be given, for the ceremonies in this case are quite arbitrary on the part of the priest. Some of them never come near the patient, merely repeating the incantation while they are standing on the top of their own house, which is as follows:—
Breathe thou, breath thou, breathe, O Rangi!
And thou Tu, give thy living spirit
To create life, that the body and soul may live in the world;
Beat with life thou heart.
The tree falleth, the tree of Atutahi.*
Here the blow was given, the wind blew there,
There is the tree of enchantment.
Whakahokitu is a form of makutu used to counteract the sorceries of hostile wizards. The following is a specimen of the karakia used on such occasions:—
Great curse, long curse,
Great curse, binding curse,
Binding your sacredness
To the tide of destruction.
Come hither, sacred spell,
To be looked on by me;
Cause the curser to lie low
In gloomy night of ill-omen.
Great wind, lasting wind,
Changing wind of Rangi above,
He falls; he perishes.
Cause to waste away the cursed tohunga;
Let him bite the oven-stones,
Be food for me,
The tapu and the mana
Of your atua,
Of your karakia,
Of your tohunga.
Matapuru were a class of protective karakia used to ward off witchcraft. The kai-ure charm belonged to this class: If a man came to know that he had been bewitched, or that some wicked sorcerer was trying by makutu to take his hau (vivifying spirit), he would immediately procure some strips of harakeke, or flax, and tie them carefully around his body and limbs—perhaps to prevent the escape of the hau or the wairua. He would then recite a matapuru, or guardian charm, to render harmless the spells of his enemy.
[Footnote] * The star Canopus.
The Grand Healing Rites.
(1.) Ripa or Parepare (the Defensive Charm).
When a person, in former times, believed himself falling ill he would consult the tohunga in order to get him to avert the trouble. The priest would take him to the waterside—a pond, pool, or stream near the village, at which many rites were performed, and which was avoided by the people at other times, it being sacred (tapu). These rites were always performed early in the morning, or after sundown in the evening. The priest would divest himself of his clothing, save a girdle round his waist, and the patient had to disrobe and appear in a similar manner. Bearing a small branch of the karamuramu shrub in his hand, the priest would enter the water, and, dipping the leafy end of his wand in the water, sprinkle the water therefrom over his patient, repeating a karakia to avert the evil influence at work on him, or to weaken or destroy the power of the attacking atua. Such a charm is a ripa, parepare, or momono, which terms mean “to avert, to ward off, to overpower.” The following is a specimen of such a karakia:—
Whakataha ra koe
E te anewa o te rangi
E tu nei
He tupua, he tawhito to tohu
To makutu e kite mai nei koe
E homai nei koe kei taku ure
Na te tapu ihi, na te tapu mana
Takoto ki raro ki to kauwhau ariki.
In those cases where diseases were supposed to have been caused by hara (infringement of the tapu) the aim of the tohunga or seer was to divine what sin (hara) had been committed by his patient, after that his course of action was clear to him. For it would often be that the patient himself would be ignorant of the cause of his illness—that is to say, ignorant of having disregarded any of the numerous laws of the Maori system of tapu. In order to ascertain, or diagnose, the cause of the illness of the patient, the tohunga would tell him to accompany him to the wai tapu, or sacred pool, described above. Thither they would proceed after sunset. Should the sick person be feeble, one or two persons would be allowed to assist him to the waterside. All the rest of the inhabitants of the village would remain carefully within the huts, lest their wairua or spirits wander forth to the waterside and there be destroyed by the magic spells of the priest as he performed the rites over the sick person. And if a person's wairua was slain, naturally the body, its physical basis, must also soon perish.
(2.) Hirihiri (the Diagnostic or Prognostic Rite).
Having the invalid stripped at the waterside, the tohunga, clad in scant girdle of green branchlets, enters the water, and with his wand sprinkles water over the sick man's body, and repeats an invocation termed a hirihiri, for the purpose of finding out the cause of his patient's illness. A Tuhoe seer would whakahirihiri thus:—
Kotahi koe ki konei
Kotahi ki a Te Reretautau
Kotahi koe ki konei
Kotahi ki nga ariki.
Kotahi koe ki konei
Kotahi ki nga matamua.
Kotahi koe ki konei
Kotahi ki nga wananga
Kotahi koe ki konei
Kotahi ki nga tapu
Kotahi koe ki konei
Kotahi ki a Te Haraki.
This is a special form of hirihiri. When the seer repeated the name of Te Haraki, a noted wizard of the Ngatiawa, if the patient gasped, his limbs stiffened, his eyes turned, his last breath was expelled like unto a long sigh, and he died, then it was known that the wizard Te Haraki had caused his death. Had he expired when the name of the sorcerer Te Rere-tautau was mentioned, then his death would have been attributed to that magician. Had he died when the word tapu or matamua, &c., was being repeated, then it would be clear that some transgression of tapu had caused his death. For instance, had he inadvertently eaten food prepared for a matamua, or first-born member of a high family—a most sacred individual—that would have been the cause of his death, and he would have expired when that word was pronounced.
The Tuhoe tribe often used the following hirihiri:—
Kotahi koe ki reira
Kotahi ki te manuka i Whakatane, &c.,
the manuka at Whakatane being the great mauri, or talisman of life and health, of the Matatua tribes. When Kahungunu. wandered away to distant lands and knew that Tamatakutai was trying to bewitch him, he saved himself by repeating—
Kotahi au ki konei
Kotahi ki te manuka i Whakatane.
Another example of the hirihiri runs thus:—
Kotahi koe ki te whare
Kotahi koe ki te kakahu
Kotahi koe ki te moenga
Kotahi koe ki nga whenua, &c.
In these lines occur the words “house,” “garment,” “bed,” “lands.” Should the patient gasp when any of these lines were repeated the cause of the sickness would be known: if at the word “bed,” then he has trespassed on the sleeping-place of some tapu person; if at the word “house,” then a sacred house, or the site thereof, has been desecrated by him.
When the cause of the illness has been the offence termed kai hau, or wrongful giving away of another's property, then the patient would expire when these words of the hirihiri were repeated:—
Kotahi koe ki te taonga o (mea)
I whiua ketia e koe te utu.
The expressions “Kotahi koe ki konei, kotahi ki Whakatane,” &c., in the above karakia really mean, “You are lying here stricken by illness, while the mauri ora which can save you is at Whakatane.” It will thus be seen that the hirihiri rite has two bearings. In the first place it is a species of divination employed to discover the cause of illness, and in the second place it implies a protection of man, his life, vitality, vigour, &c., against influences of a supernatural nature, such as witchcraft, the consequences of disregarding tapu, &c.
When the priest has performed his hirihiri rite over the sick person, and has found the cause of illness is witchcraft, he will say, “You have been meddled with. So-and-so has bewitched you. I see him [i.e., his wairua or spirit] standing by your side. What shall be done with him?” Should the victim of his machinations reply “Patua atu” (Destroy him), then the tohunga will, by his counter-magic, cause the attaking sorcerer's death. Ere long, the news will arrive that he is dead. The following is an example of a karakia used for this purpose:—
Haere i te po uriuri
Haere i te po tangotango
Haere i te po te hoki mai
Haere i te po te oti atu
Muimui te ngaro
Totoro te iro
Mau ka oti atu
Oti atu ki te po.
Another mode of treatment in cases of sickness diagnosed as being due to witchcraft is for the tohunga to take his patient to the sacred pool, and, after sprinkling him with the “holy water,” to repeat this invocation:—*
Rise all ye powers of this earth,
And let me see the gods.
Now I am roaming over the earth,
May the gods be prevented
[Footnote] * “Maori Customs and Superstitions,” John White, 1861.
From cutting and maiming this man.
O thou god of the wizard,
When thou descendest to the world below,
To thy many, to thy thousands,
And they ask who required thee there,
Say Whiro the thief; come back then
And we shall find thee, we shall see thee.
When thou goest inland,
Or to the ocean, or above,
And the thousands there ask thee,
Tell them the same.
Go thou even at day-dawn,
Where the night s last is,
Hide thyse f in it, and go.
Go thou, but the skull of the wizard shall be mine
To cut and to tear it,
To destroy its power and its sacredness
Cut off the head of the god.
Then patient and priest return to the village. The invalid being very tapu, he is ihowaka, and must not eat ordinary food for three days: at the end of that time the cure is supposed to be complete.
That class of priests termed tohunga matatuhi or matakite (mata, a medium of communication with a spirit) usually performed the hirihiri rite, inasmuch as they were supposed to be masters of divination and second sight. It is, of course, the god (atua) or familiar spirit of the tohunga who enables him to ascertain the person or object which is the cause of illness. Sometimes the priest would perform the hirihiri at his sacred place, where he kept the symbol of his atua, and addressed his karakia to it. And the god would explain the cause of the illness through his human medium (waka, kauwaka, or kaupapa)—that is, through the tohunga. When the priest had performed these rites over a sick person, it was customary to present to him the cloak or garment which had been used to cover the patient when being taken to the sacred pool.
Many of the sacred rites of the Maori were performed in or on the banks of some sacred pool or stream. A pool or pond was preferred, inasmuch as the permanent tapu placed over it did not interfere with the domestic requirements of the tribe. The water of a tapu stream would not be available for household purposes. The sacred pool was called wai tapu, or wai whakaika, and people were not allowed to approach near it unless conducted thither by a tohunga, in order to go through some religious rite or ceremony. The reason why a sick person is taken to the wai tapu is thus explained by the Ngatiawa Maoris: “He is taken to his ancestress Wainui, who makes all such things clear in regard to the troubles which afflict the Maori people. The cause of his sickness will there be disclosed, whether it be
witchcraft, or desecration of a tapu or sacred fire, house, bed, or burial-place, &c. For Wainui was of the offspring of Rangi and Papa, the primeval progenitors of the universe and of man And Wainui is the Mother of Waters, the origin and personification of waters, of the ocean, of lakes, of rivers and streams. even as Para-whenua-mea is the personification of floods.”
The Prognostic Rite.
The morning after the patient has been taken to the sacred pool the tohunga performs further rites over him in order to divine whether the patient will recover from his sickness or whether death will ensue. For this purpose a sacred umu or steam-oven is prepared by the priest, and among the food placed therein the priest places a certain portion over which he has recited a charm or spell which comes under the generic term of hoa. When he uncovers the oven, should that piece of food be found thoroughly cooked it is a sign that the patient will recover, and that if he has been bewitched the offending wizard will die. On the other hand, if the food is found to be uncooked, that is a sign that the patient will die. The food cooked in the oven is eaten by the sacred first-born female of a family of rank, who is employed as a ruahine (priestess) to remove the tapu, in this and many other rites. The afflicted person is often told to procure some special food for the above oven.
(3.) Takutaku (the Exorcising Rite).
The illness having been diagnosed by the tohunga as being due (a) to demoniac possession, (b) to sorcery, or (c) to an infringement of the tapu, he proceeds to repeat the takutaku karakia suited to the particular disease. This form of incantation is used to exorcise the evil spirit which is the cause of the trouble.
The takutaku, like the hirihiri, was often performed at the waterside, the person being sprinkled from the sacred staff of the medicine-man, as before described. The general meaning of a takutaku was given to Mr. Elsdon Best—to whom I am indebted for most of the information on the rites now under consideration—as follows: The tohunga in his karakia endeavours to coax the atua out of the body of his victim by saying, “Here is your path by which to leave. Cease afflicting this person. Return to your origin, to your caretaker. You are an important person. Will you not succour this person?” The flattery here is doubtless diplomatic, but a request made to the malicious devil to succour his victim could hardly be followed by the desired effect. If the atua refuses to leave his victim, it is the duty of the tohunga to find out the path by
which the spirit came from the lower regions to the upper world, in order that he may be made to return by the same way he came. He proceeds thus: Going to the river or seaside, he dips his head beneath the surface of the water, while the relatives most interested in the case remain seated on the shore to witness his success at divination. Perhaps he does not succeed the first time, so he dips his head into the water a second time. If not then successful, the third time is probably enough, and, raising his head, he assures the anxious spectators that he has found the path, and that the atua came from below upwards through a flax-bush, or the stem of toetoe (Arundo conspicua), as the case may be; for it is a general belief that the paths selected in preference by spirits, when on such journeys, are the inner shoots of a flax-plant (Phormium tenax) or of the toetoe grass, the stalk of the common fern (rarauhe) or of the plant termed tutumako. It still remains, however, to discover the identical stem selected by the demon. So the tohunga sets off to the neighbouring stream or swamp to search for it. He takes hold of one of the young leaves, and, grasping it firmly, repeats:—
Ka kimi ki hea?
Ka kimi ki uta
Ka kimi ki te pu
Ka kimi ki te more
Ka kimi ki te po
Ka kimi ki te atua
Kia mana koe.
He then tugs at the leaf, pulling it out from the sheath. Should the pulling-out cause the parting leaf to make a screeching sound (e rara haere ake te waha o te rito o te harakeke), he knows he has discovered the right one. Armed with the flax-stalk, he goes to the patient's bedside, and places one end on the body of the sick person, or hangs it over his head. This is an ara atua, or path by which the atua or demon afflicting the person is to pass out of the sick person's body, in response to the takutaku exorcising charm. The spirit relents, and, seeing a path close at hand for his return to the lower regions, he departs, and straightway the sick man is convalescent.
If, when the takutaku is being performed, the atua leaves the patient at once when called upon by the priest to depart, then it is known that it was the patient's own god which was afflicting him. If the atua be a stubborn one and difficult to expel, then it is a strange demon, probably sent by a hostile sorcerer, or by one of the tribal or family gods as a punishment for breaking the tapu laws.
The following is a specimen of the takutaku karakia:—
Haere i tua, haere i waho
Haere i te maramatanga
Haere i nga kapua o te rang
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.
(4.) The Oho rangi Rite.
The oho rangi ceremony caused the heavens to thunder, and was designed to give mana (power) to the preceding rites and incantations. It was believed that if the thunder rolled at the call of the tohunga, then the sick person would certainly recover. But if it did not, that was a bad omen.
The oho rangi rite was performed when the sun was declining. “For,” said an old Maori, “when man was in the grasp of death, then tears for his plight were demanded from the heavens, and the wise men of old called on the thunders to sound:”
The Tuaimu Rite—to render the Disease (Atua) powerless.
This rite consists in the performance of certain ceremonies and the repetition of certain karakia known as tuaimu or tuaumu (tua, to subdue), the object being to render the hostile sorcerer, his atua and his karakia, powerless.
For this purpose the priest would obtain a piece of one of the plants which come under the generic term puha or puwha, to which he added a piece of dead ember from the fire. Taking the herb and ember, he would pass them round the left thigh of the invalid, from left to right. He would then wave his hand containing those two articles towards the heavens, the objects themselves being afterwards taken to the tuahu or sacred place of the village, where, it is said, another invocation was repeated in order to restore health to the invalid. It appears to have been believed that the ahua, or semblance, or personality, of the disease became, as it were, absorbed into the articles passed round the thigh, and that in the waving of them towards the heavens the said personality flew off into space. This singular custom was performed on the left side because that is the taha ruahine, the female side and the noa (common or tapu-less) side of man. The left side of man has great mana although it be not tapu.
While performing the above the priest repeated the following:—
Ka oho te po
Ka rongo te po
Ka rongo te ao
Ka oho ki tua
Ka oho ki waho
Ka oho ki nga koromatua
Ka tupu, ka rea
Ka puta ki te whai ao
Ki te ao marama.
After which he recited the tuaimu, as follows:—
Te imu kai te ruhi
Te imu kai te rongo
Ka rongo ki uta
Ka rongo ki tai
Ka rongo ki te po
Ka rongo ki te ao
Tuku tonu, heke tonu
Te ika ki te po
He ika ka ripiripia
He ika ka toetoea
He ika ka haparangitia.
This rite was sometimes performed without the aid of the tohunga. For instance, if a person when sleeping be warned by his wairua (dream-ghost) that a tohunga makutu is trying to bewitch him, then as soon as he awakes he must go and stand before the altar of the tribal gods (atua, or ancestral ghosts), and, standing facing the direction in which the hostile wizard lives, he stretches forth his hand and repeats:—
Avert thee, then,
O thou paralysing power of heaven!
Supernatural power of old is thy witchcraft
That thou apphest to my organs,
By the dread tapu, by the all-powerful tapu.
Fall thou in front, prostrate below,
To thy kauwhauariki.
After this he must recite an incantation (tuaimu) to weaken the power of the enemy:—
The rite to effect exhaustion,
The rite to effect the killing
With the paralysing power
Thy hand be wounded, thy hand be rotten,
Press down earth, press down sky,
Headlong falls thy prominence.
Away, descend the victim to Hades,
A victim that is slashed, is torn in shreds,
A victim that is uprisen.
Gather the flies, spread the maggots,
Begone for ever to Hades,
Begone to the Hades of blackness.
(5.) Whakanoa, or Whakahorohoro (the Rite of Purification).
When a priest-physician had been attending a sick person and the latter recovered, there was yet another rite to be performed. This was done either in some sacred place near the village, or at the sacred pool (wai tapu or wai karakia) of the village. Here the whakanoa rite was performed, and the priest concluded the ceremonies by causing the thunders of heaven to sound. This last is termed the oho rangi.
A person or place was whakanoa by means of karakia and cooked food. A kumara or piece of fern-root was roasted by the priest, which was eaten by the tapu person, or placed to his lips, or simply his body touched with it. A woman was often employed to lift the tapu, because women are noa from and before birth. In some cases the horohoro (casting-off) rite consisted in the tohunga offering a small quantity of sacred food to his atua, some of which he himself ate, and the remainder was consigned to the earth. After the priest had sprinkled the place with water the ceremony terminated.
Various Rites by means of which Diseases were warded off or cured.
The Ngau Paepae Rite.*
The singular performance known by the above name is one of the most extraordinary customs of a strange people—extraordinary even for a Maori. It consists of causing a sick person to bite (ngau) the beam of a latrine, with which native villages were provided in former times. By “sick person” is meant any one suffering from the effects of hara (transgression of the laws of tapu) or of witchcraft—i.e., any person afflicted by the gods; and the vast majority of ills, pains, and diseases were so caused, according to Maori ideas. The one idea which seems to pervade this ancient rite seems to be that the paepae hamuti, or latrine, which is very tapu and possesses great mana (power, prestige) holds the power of being able to prevent or avert the effect of the anger of the gods, and the shafts of magic, which latter, although directed by man, are really carried out by the gods.
These rites performed at the latrine are described as a whiti i te mate (averting of evil or death or sickness), or as a parepare, which means the same thing, or as a ripa, which signifies “to deprive the gods of power, to put bounds to their power for evil.” But the general term for the rite is ngau paepae. An old man said to me, “The paepae is the tangata matua,† it is the hau ora of man. It is the destroyer of man; it is the saviour of man.”
[Footnote] * This description is from the Tuhoe Tribe alone.—E. B.
[Footnote] † A singular expression, which applies to a very ancient cult, perhaps of phallic origin.—E. B.
Should a person be going on a journey, he will first be conducted to the latrine and caused to bite the beam thereof: that will avert the magic arts of those he is going amongst. Persons going through this rite always stand in front of the bar, for that is life. The other side, the rear of the bar, is death, and is termed kouka. It is the Po: it is the rua iti; it is the realm of Hinenui-te-Po. When performing rites of magic at the paepae whereby to slay man, the performer stands at the front of the bar, for that is the world of life. Should the wairua (spirit) of his enemy cross to the kouka, it will assuredly be destroyed.
But that sick person has yet to be cured. In the evening, when the sun has set, the priest conducts his patient to the paepae. They place themselves before the bar, the priest saying, “E ngau to waha ki te paepae”—i.e., commanding the person to bite the bar, which he does. The priest repeats,—
Ka kai koe ki tua
Ka kai koe 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 whai ao
Ki te ao marama
Ko rou ora.
They then return home, and the rite is over. It is said that the demon who has been afflicting the person would sometimes be seen to leave his body and fly off into space, and in the gathering shades of night a shower of bright objects would be seen flying off, these being the offspring of the expelled demon.
When a person had been guilty of trespassing on a sacred place, such as already explained, the ngau paepae rite will take the tapu off him and save him from the effects of his act—i.e., save him from being afflicted by the gods. Here is the sort of karakia used on such occasions:—
Ngaua i te pae
Ngaua i te wehi
Ngaua i te upoko o te atua
Ngaua i te 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.
In time of war, any interference with tapu objects, persons, or places has the effect of causing the person to be afflicted by Tu-mata-rehurehu—i.e., he will become nervous, apprehensive, listless, and also lose his power of second sight, hence he will be of no use in the fray. These afflictions may, however, be cured by the above rite, or by the hirihiri.
The following is another karakia ngau paepae:—
E tu haupa a nuku
E tu haupa a rangi
Ka haupa ki runga
Ka haupa ki raro
Ka haupa ki te paepae roa i Hawaiki.
Kai ure (Tuhoe).
Any one suffering from any of the numerous ills caused by witchcraft might be cured by the process or charm known as kai ure. Or it may be utilised in order to ward off the shafts of magic which some person is believed to be directing against you. In repeating this spell or charm, the reciter must clasp his membrum virile in his left hand. The following is a specimen of the incantation used (possibly not complete).
Ka rere te ringa maui ki te hopu i te tawhito, ka titoiria, ka karakia atu:—
Kai ure nga atua
Kai ure nga tapu
Kai ure ou makutu.
Another kai ure spell is that beginning—
Whakataha ra koe
E te anewa o te rangi e tu nei
He tawhito to makutu
E homai nei kei taku ure, &c.,
which averts or wards off the magic arts, and after which is recited the tuaimu spell, in order to destroy the wizard—
Kei te imu te ruhi
Kei te imu te mate, &c.
The Whakanoho manawa Rite.
The rite or invocation known by the above name was for the purpose of causing the breath of life to be retained by a dying person, and it is said that it was used to restore to life those who had died. Information regarding the actions of the priest are lacking, but below are given specimens of the invocation repeated:—
Ko to manawa, ko taku manawa
Tutakina mai to manawa
Hoki mai ki roto nei
He urunga, he tapu
Kei te whiua, kei te taia
Mata taitaia te ihi nei
Mata taitaia te atua e patu nei
Haere i tua, haere i waho
Haere i te pu, haere i te more
Ka whiwhia, ka rawea
Ka puta ki te whai ao,
Ki te ao marama
Ko rou ora.
He karakia whakanoho i te manawa o te tupapaku (a charm to cause the breath of life to be retained by the sick):—
Ko to manawa
Ko taku manawa
Ka turuturua, ka poupoua
Ki tawhito o te rangi—e
Ko wai te atua e patu nei ?
Ko moana nui, ko moana roa
Ko moana te takiritia
Ki te whai ao
Ki te ao marama
Ka uru te ora, ka uru ki roto
Ka uru te mate, ka uru ki waho
Uru, toro hei.
The following example is a good one. A reference to the whare o aitua, elsewhere mentioned, may be observed therein:—
Kai hea ?
Kai hea te pu o te mate ?
Kai runga, kai raro
Kai te hikahika nui no Hine-nui-te-po
Wetekina i runga, wetekina i raro
Wetekina i te ate
Wetekina i te manawa
No hea te atua ?
No runga, no raro te atua
He tipua koe, he tawhito au
Wetea mai te whiwhi
Wetea mai te hara
Wetea kia matara, kia mawheto
Tawhito te rangi te taea
Tiu hara nui, hara roa
Kati te riri
Kati te patu e te atua
Ka pikitia e koe te tuahu nei
Ka kakea e koe te ihi tapu
Kia kite koe i te hua mokimoki
Tu te rupe, tu te kawa
Ko te kawa i numinumia ai
Ki te pa tuatahi, ki te pa tuarua
Ka haramai, ka whakakiki ahu mai
Ahu mai ki te ao marama
Mo te ao ano koe
Kai hea to ara e piki ai koe ?
Kai te rangi tuatahi, kai te rangi tuarua
Kai te rangi tuatoru, kai te rangi tuawha
Kai te rangi tuarima, kai te rangi tuaono
Kai te rangi tuawhitu
Tukua atu tama kia puta ki te ao
He ohorere te tokomauri
Tihe mauri ora ki te ao marama.
Another custom in former times was to utilise a piece of aute bark as a waka atua, an abiding-place for an ancestral spirit. This fetish would be brought and placed upon a sick person, and an invocation, commencing as follows, repeated, in order to exorcise the malignant atua:—
Koia nga haku
Koia ki te rangi
Koia ki te kapua
Kia tu mai taku kai roro
Ko mangungu, ko manono, &c.
Treatment of Wounds.
Both herbs and priestly incantations or prayers to the gods were resorted to in cases of serious wounds. If in war a warrior is compelled to strike down a friend or relative whom he does not desire shall die, he rubs some spittle on the body of the fallen one, at the same time repeating this charm:—
Mau ka hoki mai
Hoki mai ki te ao nei (Return to life).
For, being tapu, the saliva of the warrior is also tapu and possessed of healing and destructive power. If an important personage is seriously wounded he is led by the medicine-man to the tuahu, or altar where offerings are made to the gods, and certain karakia muttered to propitiate the gods, while the atua are fed with blood, and blood-clots from the wound are lifted up on a staff before the altar of the god Mua.* Then is repeated this healing incantation:—†
Provoking irascible sinew, strong to kill,
Hither is come the one they sought to murder.
Verily, thy own skilful doctors are here—
Thou and I together, indeed, as one.
Thy wound is sacred (tapu).
The celebrated first-born priestess
Shall cause the lips of the wounds
To incline inwardly toward each other;
By the evening, lo! thy wound shall become as nothing.
The stone axe which caused it
Was verily as the strong tide rushing on
To the shores and tearing up the bed of shell-fish,
Striving, provoking sinew, eagei after food for baking
The wounding indeed of the man
[Footnote] * “Mua” is not the name of a god, but the antithesis of muri, a tapuless place.—E. B.
[Footnote] † “The Ancient History of the Maori,” T. White. vol iii, p. 17.
Who courageously enraged the god.
Thy internal parts are all open to view,
Verily, just as the stirring up of the big fire
Burning in the maiae (courtyard) of a pa (fort).
But, lo! thou and I together are as one.
The Moriori invoked the god Maru to descend upon the crown of the head (the most sacred part of the body) of the injured person, and apply his healing power to the wound or injured limb. Then was repeated this ancient karakia,* which was originally used at the raising of Rakei from the dead:—
Come from the crown of the head;
Be thou closed,
Be thou at ease, &c.
Let the bones close,
Let the clotted blood close.
Close it with the closing of Maru,
Close it with the closing of earth.
Maru was the Moriori god who healed wounds, severe cuts, and broken bones. His image was of wood bound round with a plaited rope made of pingao (Desmoschæmus spiralis).
If a Tuhoe native cut himself, say with a stone adze while working, he would first apply the implement with which he cut himself to the wound, and then repeat a charm such as the following, in order to stop the flow of blood and cause the wound to heal:—
Te whai one tuatua, one taitaia
Te haehaea, ko te piere
Te ngawha, tee katikati
Torokina, toro wheua
Toro katikati te uaua
E mahu, e mahu—e!
Werowerohia atu nei taku tao
Werowerohia i Utupaoa
E te toto pouri, nau mai ki waho
E te toto potango, nau mai ki waho
Ko mata te hakuwai
Ki wai ora, ki wai te mumuhu
Te ara maomao, te tim kai mata
Ki te ara ki Otiummukia
Ka puta kai waho kai te mokopu roa
Another Tuhoe whai charm for healing wounds runs thus:—
Te whai one tuatua, one taitaia
Ko te piere, ko te ngawha
Ko te kapi ka—pi
Mahu akuanei, mahu apopo
Koi tae mai ki to kiri tipu
[Footnote] * Jour. Pol. Soc., pp. 89–98, 1895.
Ki to kiri ora, ki to matamho
Kai tai roro i tai pupu
Tenei te rangi ka ruruku
Rukutia i o kiko
I o toto, i o uaua
He nonota, he karawa, he au ika
Ko Tane tutakina te iwi
Tane tutakina te uaua
Tane tutakina te kiko
Tane tutakina te kiri
Tane tutakina te parapara
Tane tutakina te kapiti rangi
E mahu akuanei
E mahu apopo
E mahu a takiritanga o te ata.
The following is a very ancient Tuhoe method of treating a person who has been wounded, or has a bone fractured, or has been bruised by a fall, &c. The medicine-man would proceed to takahi the sufferer—i.e., he would, as the person lay on the ground, place his left foot on his body, and repeat the invocation, termed haruru:—
Haruru ki tua
Haruru ki waho
Haruru ki runga ki tenei tangata.
The tohunga then repeats the hono charm (were it a burn, he would repeat the whai wera):—
Tao ka tu
Ka tu ki hea ?
Ka tu ki runga
Ka tu ki waho
Ka tu ki te uaua nui o rangi
Ma wai e mimi
Ma tahito e mimi
Ma wai e mimi
Ma te atua e mimi
Taku kiri nei
Taku kiri tapu
He kiri ka toetoea
Ka haehaea ki te taha o te umu
Ka toro te kiri ora
Ka mahu te kiri ora
The priest places his left foot on the patient's body because that foot is tapu. The manea of his left foot will give power or efficacy to the rite. Manea is a term applied to the hau of the human foot and footstep; it is the sacred vital principal of that member. The manea is the caretaker and salvation of man; its influence is very great.
In some cases the Maoris washed their wounds, and then applied a plaster of mud to exclude the air, and this was allowed to remain until the wound was well: toetoe grass was sometimes used instead of mud or clay. Small wounds were bruised with a stone to excite bleeding, and afterwards held over the smoke of certain specially selected herbs. Other applications in use were the gum of the harakeke (Phormium tenax), the oil of titoki and that of the kohia (Passiflora tetrandra), the gum of Podocarpus ferruginea, and a decoction of the leaves of Piper excelsum or kawakawa. These remedies have astringent, stimulant, or emollient properties. The Tuhoe tribes used a decoction made by boiling in water pieces of the bark of the rata-tree (Metrosideros robusta), and another made from the barks of the rimu (Dacrydium cupressinum) and tawa (Nesodaphne tawa) trees, the bark of the former being cut into pieces and that of the latter scraped, and the whole then boiled or steeped in water, together with some leaves of the tutu shrub (Coriaria ruscifolia).
A lotion made from the namunamu (Geranium molle), or from piripiri, by steeping them in hot water, was applied to open wounds, or rubbed on as an embrocation in case of contusion. The leaves are also applied as a poultice. The sap of paewhenua is applied to abrasions. When women who have been employed catching fish in the streams return with their feet scratched and sore, they find ease by applying leaves or plants heated before the fire: this process is known as tapi. The Tuhoe people sometimes cauterised wounds by holding near the cut a burning piece of dry pirita or supplejack (Rhipogonum scandens). In the case of a slight cut it was a common practice to urinate on the part, by which means swelling and inflammation were avoided. This is a very old procedure. The sap of young shoots of the pirita is used for wounds on dogs, when ripped by pigs.
During the Maori war many natives died of bullet wounds, for which their treatment was quite inadequate. In such cases they used sometimes to kill a dog, collect its blood, and make it hot by the aid of heated stones. This the patient drank as hot as possible, after which the tohunga repeated certain healing charms over him. In other cases the wounds mere merely washed and all foreign matter removed, and the limb placed in a sling (in the case of an injured arm) of flax, but no dressing or healing application of any kind was applied to the wound. Invocations to the gods were frequently repeated during the progress of healing. No married man or woman (except the wounded man's wife) was permitted to come near or see the patient during his illness, from a superstitious idea they held that by so doing the atua (demons) would be angry and retard the cure. The man was, in short, tapu until he recovered.
A choking person was relieved by means of such charms as the following, the sufferer being slapped on the back at the time of repetition:—
Kaitoa ano koe kia raoa
Nau ka ngau mai, ngau mai
Na i ka ngau atu, ngau atu
Te horo a te kawau
Horo mania, horo panuku
Horo, puhaina mai ki waho.
Or the following:—
Te Whai whiti raoa, tapa raoa
Kaitoa koe kia raoa
Na to kai tu, na to kai rere
Na to kai haere
Na to kai tama wahine
E hia ou ka ?
E rua ou kai
I horomia e koe
Ko nini, ko nana
Ko te patari o Wahieroa
Tama wabine, whakaruakina
Raoa ki waho
Hokaikai ana ou ringaringa
Hokaikai ana ou waewae
Hotu nuku, hotu rangi
Nau mai ki waho.
Leprosy is found in nearly all the groups of islands of Polynesia, and, like other diseases introduced by foreign peoples, it at first increases rapidly in severity and frequency, and then gradually diminishes. Introduced into the Sandwich Islands by the Chinese circa 1848, leprosy quickly spread amongst the unfortunate Hawaiians until they gained the unenviable distinction of being one of the few native races more leprous than the Chinese. Fifty years after its introduction the disease was reported to be diminishing in severity. There are fears that the terrible record of leprosy in Hawaii is to be repeated in New Caledonia. Introduced in 1866 by a Chinaman, it has now spread to all the tribes: over four thousand cases are said to exist in the group, and the disease is rapidly increasing. The history of the introduction of leprosy into New Zealand is hidden in the mists of bygone centuries. Possibly it spread very rapidly at first, and then, as in the Sandwich Islands, having reached a maximum, commenced to decline, and has now almost entirely disappeared.
The classical account of leprosy among the Maoris was written
by Dr. Arthur S. Thomson* in 1854. He saw six cases. The disease, he writes, appears to have been more frequent early in this century. In 1854, if a native were asked if he knew any one ill with ngerengere, he would generally recollect one or two cases. Thomson knew a Maori who had seen ten cases in one village. Four cases were admitted to the Auckland Hospital in four years. At the present day only two or three cases of the native leprosy are known to exist among the Maoris. One case is reported to be at Tawata, a village on the Upper Wanganui River, and another at Rangiriri. Mr. W. E. Goffe reported the former case in the year 1901, but the following note from a recent newspaper probably refers to the same patient: “While in the Wanganui district lately  he [Dr. Pomare, Native Health Officer] discovered an undeniable case of leprosy (the Maori ngerengere) at an up-river Maori settlement some fifteen miles above Wanganui Town. He made experiments which convinced him of the presence of the bacilli of leprosy. The sufferer has been isolated from the other Maoris. Certain other suspicious cases have from time to time been reported to Dr. Pomare, but the only ones in the colony proved to be leprosy are two Maoris, besides a Chinaman in Otago.” It is, however, stated in the census of 1896 that “three cases of native leprosy exist.” They are among the tribes residing in the districts north of Auckland, and they appeared to be of recent origin. One case of supposed leprosy was found also near Rotorua.” Lepra gangrenosa is said to have occurred in all parts of New Zealand, but chiefly in the North Island in the Rotorua and Taupo districts.
Dr. Thomson described the disease as lepra gangrenosa, and his account, which I will now quote fully, is the only one that exists. He states that “ngerengere, or the lepra gangrenosa of the New-Zealanders, commences with a cutaneous eruption on the extremities, which extends over the trunk of the body. The eruption presents, in some parts, the oval patches and the copious exfoliation of a brown, scaly, morbid cuticle, observed in lepra vulgaris; the irregular patches of psoriasis; and, occasionally, the innumerable fissures, the elongated and extensive cracks, as in ichthyosis. This is accompanied with troublesome pricking and itching. The eruption goes on for months or years, increasing, and decreasing, and disappearing, partially or entirely. Gradually the hair on the eyebrows, eyelashes, whiskers, and beard falls out; not the hair of the head, the axillæ, or the pubes. The skin becomes livid, the eyeballs prominent, and a copious discharge of tears flows from them. The voice changes its tone; the face, nose, lips, the forehead and eyebrows, become
[Footnote] * Jour. Pol. Soc., pp. 89–98, 1895.
swollen and shining, but not tubercular. The skin is dry and harsh, but never anæsthetic. In about a year (it may be more or less) from the appearance of the eruption a small boil, blister, or dry crack appears in the direction of the flexure, on the last joint of some of the fingers or toes. The soft parts ulcerate by a dry process, the phalanx falls away, and the part heals. Every year one or more of the joints fall off. There is sometimes pain along the lymphatics during this process. The other fingers or toes are dry, shining, and scabby, and the hand assumes a deformity somewhat like the main-en-griffe of nerve leprosy, the fingers being kept bent, the skin and tendons appear to contract, and the fingers are stiff; dislocation at some of the joints takes place. The acute sense of touch of the fingers is impaired, yet feeling is not quite lost, unless in the fingers about to drop off. Three, four, or more years may elapse before the whole of the toes or the fingers are lost. The appetite and digestion are good. The general health does not appeared to be impaired, and the body keeps up its usual weight. Sexual desire is diminished. Infants are never attacked; a boy of about twelve years of age has been seen affected. Most of the cases occur after puberty, and under thirty. Males appear to suffer more commonly than females. Several members of one family have died from it. It is not always, though usually, fatal. Its duration varies from one to five years.”
Lepra gangrenosa was most familiar to the Maoris under the name ngerengere, or, when the face was much disfigured, matangerengere (mata, the face). Other names given by Tregear* as being applied to “a kind of leprosy” are taiko, ringamutu, tuwheke, and tuwhenua. The two latter also signified “covered with sores”; while tuhawaiki was “the native leprosy, a disease in which the extremities perish as though by frostbite.” Mutumutu was “a kind of leprosy, whereby the first joint of a finger or toe falls off.”
Leprosy was probably brought to New Zealand during the early migrations from Hawaiki, for there can be little doubt that the disease has been known to the Maoris for centuries. The term tuhawaiki or tu-Hawaiki suggests such a mode of introduction; and, as significant of the antiquity of the disease among them, may be cited the case of Te-whai-po (Incantations chanted at night), a legendary tohunga “born before the flood,” whose “skin was not like other men's, but all white from leprosy.” To the deified priest-physician, or demi-god, Maiwaho (or Tama-i-waho), “a most eminent man, and of great healing power and influence,” “all offerings were made, ceremonies performed, and incantations chanted for the afflicted and leprous.
[Footnote] *“The Maori Comparative Dictionary.”
It was he who taught Tawhaki many powerful incantations for the purpose of healing diseases.”
“A singular belief,” writes Elsdon Best, “exists among the old natives that the ngerengere disease is caused by the fish of the sea and by the land-birds. The aged Pio, of Ngatiawa, said to me, ‘Another atua (demon, disease) of the Maori people is ngerengere. No one recovers from that disease. The persons (ancestors) who destroy the Maori people by that complaint are the fish of the ocean and the birds of the land. I say that the ngerengere is a plebeian complaint, unlike the whewhe (boils) and hakihaki (probably the itch), which are aristocratic complaints. If a person appears to be recovering from the ngerengere, that means that the causes of the disease have fled to the ocean, but ere long they will return and again assail the person: then he will die. This disease was first introduced by the Ngatiwhatua Tribe. It appeared at Taupo a long time ago, and the first person afflicted by it there was cast into a cave called Oremu.’” The Ngatiwhatua termed the disease tuwhenua.
At the present time the Maoris believe that ngerengere can be caused by the means of a magic rite termed wero ngerengere, and some assert that Te Whetu, a sorcerer at Taupo, still possesses this power. It has always been regarded as an atua (demon) disease inflicted by makutu (sorcery), or by their deified ancestors (atua) as punishment for infringement of the tribal tapu laws. Accordingly the leper was tapued and fed apart from healthy people. Some say that the natives believed the disease might be communicated by contact, but this is doubtful. They attribute its gradual disappearance to the introduction of Christianity, which has deprived their gods (atua) of the power of inflicting the malady.
The Maoris endeavoured to cure the disease by keeping the leper from sunrise to sunset in a vapour bath. During the process of steaming, the tohunga (priest-physician) repeated the karakia and charms especially applicable to such a malady. The diet during treatment was entirely vegetarian, no fish or pork being allowed. In spite of treatment all cases ran their course unchecked, although temporary relief from certain disagreeable symptoms was gained by using the vapour bath.
The following laments, composed by Te Rohu, of Taupo when he was attacked by ngerengere, were sent to me by Mr. Elsdon Best:—
Ka ura mai te ra, ka kohi au he mahara
E hoa ma. E' He aha tenei hanga e te rau e pae
Tirohia mai ra aku pewa i taurite
Tenei ka titoko kai te ngaru whakakeo
E tere i Taupo
Ko te rite i taku kiri, ka ura mai i te rangi
Ka riro aku taonga i a Te Anga-a-mai i tawhiti
Tutata a Ngatiwhatua
Whakarongo mai ra, e koro
I Tongariro, i te puke ronaki
Te uru ki te whenua i mahue matau
Te tira o te tamwha
Me i hurihia iho, e au ana taku moe
Ki taku makau tipu—e'
Te Anga-a-mai is said to be the name of an ancestor who was the ariki (priestly healer) of the ngerengere disease: “He tangi nana, mona e ngaua ana e te ngerengere:—
Tera te ata iti hohoro mai koia
Matatu noa ana ko au nei anake
Kai te mura tonu o te pu a Rewi e ka ana
E pa! I heria mai i tua
Kia rongo atu au i te papa koura
Hai taoro iho mo te kino
I taku tinara ka tueketia
Ko tahau repera pai tonu tenei e te tangata
Ko te tika i to pono
Horahia mai ra, kia ui atu au
Ko wai to ingoa ? Ko te ana i Oremu
Ko tau rakau kai te mata ngira tonu
Te ngotonga ki roto ra
Aue! Te mamae ra!
The Maoris placed implicit faith in omens, and recognised one that presaged an attack of leprosy. This was Io, the involuntary twitching of certain parts of the body. Io was a sign of good or evil. “If the Io were under either ear it was a sign of death. If it were at the side or below either eye it meant death. If it were above the eyes it was an omen that the person would lie smitten with leprosy or with contracted muscles.* The Maoris in the olden times worshipped Io, whom they regarded as the Supreme God, the creator of heaven and earth, whose name was held to be so sacred that none but the priest might utter it at certain times and places.† We presume that he communicated with the faithful by means of these involuntary twitchings, thus warning them of danger in time of war, of sickness, and of many other events which would soon come to pass.‡
Mr. Edward Shortland,§ Protector of Natives, came in contact with large numbers of Maoris, and, writing in 1843, he states that at Otakou, in the South Island, he saw for the first time a case of tuhawaiki. The victim, a young woman not more than thirty years of age, had lost her hands and toes, as though they
[Footnote] * “The Ancient History of the Maori,” J. White, vol. n., p. 2.
[Footnote] † “The Life and Times of Patuone,” C. O. Davis, 1876, p. 13.
[Footnote] ‡ The io takiri (omen) is not connected with Io the origin of all gods.—E. B.
[Footnote] § “The Southern Districts of New Zealand,” 1851, p. 13.
had been frost-bitten. The mutilated stumps had healed, but the limbs were shrivelled and darker than other parts of the body. He believed the disease to be rare, and had never seen a case in the North Island, nor to the south of Akaroa in the South Island.
The few sporadic cases of leprosy observed amongst the Maoris have been referred to by so many authors that undue importance has been attached to them, and the prevalence of this disease in the colony has been overestimated. That ngerengere was once very widespread in New Zealand is only a surmise, not supported by any facts. The steps now being taken by the Government to isolate the few remaining cases will doubtless result in the total disappearance of the disease.
Fractures were treated by encasing the limb with splints of bark (papariki), or the strongest parts of the flax-leaves. Compound fractures were sometimes carefully set, laid upon pillows, kept clean, and the pressure of the clothes kept off by wickerwork hoops. Sometimes the limbs were well set, and the splints very efficiently applied and kept in position until the bones were firmly united. The process of setting of the fracture was greatly facilitated by repeating this special invocation to the demi-god Tiki:—
O thou Tiki, give me thy girdle
As a bandage for this limb.
Come thou, bind it up,
Tie around it thy cords and make it right.
O thou flesh, be thou straight,
And ye sinews, be ye right,
And ye bones, join ye, join ye.
Healing of the broken bone was hastened by repeating a charm known as a hono, such as the following:—
Tutakina i ou iwi
Tutakina i ou toto
Tutakina i ou mongamonga tena te rangi
Ka tutaki, tena te papa ka whena.
which, being translated, is:—
Close up your bones,
Close up your blood,
Close up your marrow, and be united as the heavens,
And let your bones be strong as the earth.
Burns and Scalds.
The Maoris apply the feathery plumes of the toetoe grass (Arundo conspicua) in the form of a poultice to a scalded surface, and, while applying it, repeat the following karakia or prayer to Tiki:—
Return, O ye gods of the land,
And ye gods of the sea,
Come and save, that this man
May work for us, O Tiki,
For you and me.
Heal him, O heal!
If it had been kindled by me on Hawaiki
It might have been extinguished.
O thou skin, be not diseased by this evil,
Cease thou heat, be cured thou burn,
Be thou extinguished thou fire
Of the god of Hawaiki;
Ye lakes of heaven give coolness to his skin;
Thou rain, thou hail, come to his skin;
Ye shells and cool stones, come to his skin;
Ye springs of Hawaiki, Rarotonga, and Aotea
Come to this skin and cause it to be &
Be healed thou skin, be healed.
Or this charm might be considered sufficient:—
I wera i te aha ?
I wera i te ahi
Ahi a wai ?
Ahi a Mahuika
Tikina mai, whakaorahia
Hei mahi kai ma taua
Wera iti, wera rahi,
Wera kia raupapa.
Maku e whakaihi,
Maku e whakamana.
Which may be translated thus:—
What caused the burn ?
Fire caused the burn.
Fire kindled by whom ?
Fire kindled by Mahuika [fire goddess].
Come and fetch some [fire], spread it out,
To be a slave to dress food for both of us.
Small burn, large burn,
Burn, be crusted over with skin.
I will make it sacred,
I will make it effective.
The Tuhoe people used the following charm, termed a whai wera, supposed to have been derived from their great ancestor Tawhaki:—
Te whai, te whai
Te turitaku, te poko taringa
Te ruahine matua.
I wera koe ki hea ?
I wera ki Tarahanga a ue Tawhaki
Hoki taku tama
Ka tokia to kiri ki te wai ti,
Ki te wai ta
Ka ka te motumotu
Ka ka te ngarahu
He wera iti te wera
He wera rahi te wera
He wera kaupapa
Mahu akuanei, mahu apopo
Mahu a takiritanga o te ata.
In addition to these karakia and charms the natives made applications of cold substances, such as pebbles, shells, &c., or placed the burnt part in cool water. They also used the ashes of burnt “tussac” grass, and a lotion prepared by boiling the leaves of the plant kopakopa (Plantago major), or from the bruised leaves of the kopata (Pelargonium australe). As an emollient they used the white gum called manna by the colonists, gathered from the manuka, or tea-tree (Leptospermum scoparium). The inner bark of the rimu (Dacrydium cupressimum), bruised into a pulp, was applied to burns. The viscous gum or mucilage of the flax-plant (harakeke) afforded an excellent protective, and, from its alkaline properties, sedative application for wounds and burns.
Boils (whewhe) were of common occurrence in former times, but are not so frequent now owing to improved sanitary conditions. The Maoris attributed this complaint to eating decomposed and fermented corn, of which they were extremely fond. Other etiological factors were the custom of washing in small, filthy, common bathing-pools, the crowding together of nude or scantily clothed people, with their boils often discharging and polluting the floors and mats of the huts. It is not surprising that epidemics of boils sometimes occurred. The disease runs the same course as in the case of white men, except when the native is physically weak from starvation, &c., when death sometimes occurs from fever and exhaustion. This was an especially common termination in weakly children.
As an external application they sometimes used poultices of scraped roots, such as those of harakeke (Phormium tenax), also hot leaves. A decoction made from the rauriki (Sonchus), and the expressed juice of the “pig's - ear” (Mesembryanthemum sp.) were used locally, while as a “tonic” they took internally an infusion of the leaves of the kawakawa shrub (Piper excelsum). When mature, or sometimes long before, they incised the boil with a sharp edge of a shell, an obsidian splint, a sharp-pointed stick, or a thorn, and applied firm presssure so as to force out the core (whatu). Finally human milk was used as a wash to complete the cure.
Ulcers (mate poka), simple, venereal, and tuberculous (tipu), were caused in some cases by atua—as, for instance, tara-kumu-kumu, an ulcer caused by a demon of the same name, and occurring on the thighs. The cure was to wash with warm water.
Also, papaka, or he atua, likewise attributed to a special demon. This disease originated with Te Whatu-i-apiti Hapu of Here-taunga, and consists of a series of ulcers which break out on various parts of the body, sometimes causing death. No remedy was used to relieve the complaint. To ulcerated surfaces they applied as a poultice the leaves and tender shoots of the astringent koromiko (Veronica salicifolia), the boiled leaves of the kopakopa (Plantago major), or the poroporo leaf (Solanum laciniatum). The bark of the pukatea (Atherosperma novœ-zelandiœ) steeped in water, after removing the outer rind, formed, a healing lotion for tuberculous and chronic ulcers. The miro or black-pine (Podocarpus ferruginea) yields a gum used for the same complaints. A favourite method also was to bathe the affected parts in the hot sulphur and siliceous springs of Rotorua, Taupo, and other places in that district.
Mate pokapoka is a general term which includes all diseases that cause ulceration and destruction of the skin. It is applied to ulcers, syphilitic skin eruptions, patito (ringworm), and hura. “This latter,” says Elsdon Best, “is a very disfiguring complaint, of which I do not know the European name, and seems generally to attack the neck and side of the head, which get into a dreadful state. When cured it leaves the skin much marked, drawn, and seamed. This complaint is also termed hore; it is said to have been common here before the arrival of Europeans.” From so meagre a description of the lesion one cannot do more than suggest the possibility of hura being a tuberculous skin ulceration. Patito is a disease of the scalp, commonly seen in children. The term is also applied to ringworm, but probably the latter may be a modern application. The following is the Tuhoe method of treating these complaints. “Some wood-ashes are placed in a small vessel, and over them is poured a liquid made by boiling or steeping pieces of the bark of kowhai (Edwarsia microphylla) and manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) trees in water. This mixture is stirred and allowed to dry, when it sets hard. When used, the skin is scored with a sharp instrument, and some of the block of ashes is scraped off and rubbed into the scored lines. This ash-mixture is termed pureke.
“This scoring of the skin is very common among the Maoris. It is done for headache and almost any pains affecting the body. The skin is scored with a needle, and then either painkiller or vinegar is rubbed in, as a rule.”
Maihi (dandruff) is treated like mate pokapoka by rubbing ashes on the scalp.
Hakihaki (scabies, or the itch), a contagious animal-parasitic disease, a sort of eczema or dermatitis, caused by the presence of an animalcule, the itch-mite, in the skin, was one of the commonest
and most troublesome complaints from which the Maoris suffered. This is not to be wondered at when one notices their aversion to soap-and-water, the custom of living crowded together in common sleeping-houses, and their close contact with such domestic animals as dogs and pigs. This distressing malady was formerly treated by the use of lotion applied to the affected parts. The outer bark of the manono (Coprosma grandifolia) was scraped off, and the inner bark obtained. This was squeezed in order to express the sap, which was applied, the affected regions being first rubbed with oil or fat in order to soften the cuticle and expose the inflamed spots. The inner bark of the kowhai and the poroporo were used for the same complaint. As internal remedies they took rimu-roa (Laminaria sp.), a long marine alga which grows on the rocks on the sea-coast; its tender end was roasted and eaten, as were also the young shoots of the kareao plant. These latter medicines were probably totally useless, but some relief was doubtless obtained from an ointment or salve prepared by drying certain parts of the kohu-kohu (Pittosporum obcordatum) in the sun, pounding them into a dust, and finally mixing into a paste with hinu-kohia oil, made from the seeds of Passiflora tetrandra.
Pakewakewa, probably a form of eczema, was attributed (erroneously, no doubt) by the natives to the use by a woman of her own or another woman's clothing for a pillow. “The skin of her face and neck becomes rough (whekewheke), possibly pimply, or covered with eruptions. To mutunga iho o te pakewakewa, he kiri hoko (the pakewakewa ends in, or leads to, the kiri hoko).” The latter disease causes the affected parts to turn white. This blotched skin is particularly repulsive in appearance, but is not identical with kotureture. The treatment is to rub the parts with oil.
Overindulgence in the favourite Maori delicacy, potted mutton-bird, caused an eruption about the arms and thighs, accompanied by intolerable itching, which, however, soon disappeared with the aid of cleanliness and abstinence from such gross diet. This eczematous eruption was no doubt much aggravated, if not partly caused, by the repeated application to the skin of the rancid fat in which the bird was potted, that irritating substance being unavoidably transferred from the hands to different parts of the body.
The paipai, a pre-European cutaneous disease, which is also called tokatoka and patuheni, was perhaps eczema intertrigo. It was cured by means of the smoke of a fire of totara wood (Podocarpus totara). The term paipai is also given to gonorrhœa, while tokatoka is one of the Maori designations of syphilis.
Hawaniwani was a skin-disease affecting children. The skin
became covered with crusted sores. The usual remedies were kokomuka (i.e., koromiko), a preparation of the shrub hanehane (Geniostoma ligustrifolium), and the oil expressed from the seeds of the titoki-tree.
Eczema of the scalp was treated with the kohu-kohu ointment used for the itch, and with a lotion made from the pukatea plant.
Ringworm (muna, patito) was washed with the lotion prepared from the rata bark, and a preparation of the root of hara-keke (flax-plant).
The native custom of lighting fires in their huts and closing all the apertures by which the smoke might find egress was naturally productive of much ocular and pulmonary irritation in those who passed the long winter nights in such a vitiated atmosphere. Weak eyes (toretore), watery eyes (toriwai), styes, or boils of the eyelid (kiritona), ectropion, or eversion of the eyelids (kirikiritona, or karu-kowhiti), and other inflammatory conditions of the superficial parts of the eye were of common occurrence. The process of tattooing the eyelids, both from the mechanical injury and the subsequent inflammatory processes, must also have resulted at times in serious ocular disease.
Rewha (squint) and paua (corneal opacities ?) were sometimes seen, while blindness (pura, parewha, or matapo) was not unknown.
The term toriwi is applied to weakness of the eyes with excessive lachrymation, for the relief of which the Maoris use the sap of the creeper aka kura (Metrosideros scandens). A piece of the creeper is cut into short lengths, one end of which is placed in the mouth, and by blowing the sap is forced out at the other end: this is collected and applied to the eyes. The sap of kopukupuku is used in cases of toretore, as are also the green oil of the titoki-tree (Alectryon excelsum), and the bruised pith of the mamaku (Cyathea medullara).
A kiritona or stye on the eyelid, when maoa, or ripe, is squeezed to express the core (whatu, or nganga), and then bathed with human milk.
Dimness of vision, and perhaps blindness, were attributed sometimes to the atuakahu, but the causes leading to inflammatory conditions of the conjunctiva must have been quite obvious to the natives. For the relief of blindness (matapo, eye-darkness) certain charms were recited, and Taylor* gives the following example:—
He wai o mata ki te ra,
[Footnote] * “Te Ika a Maui, p. 39.
He hurumai ra,
He pa ko rirerire,
Hae tahi ki te mata,
O Watitiri rua ki te,
Mata O Watitiri
Ki tu mata ora,
Ki tu mata o Rehue.
Which may be translated thus:—
Wave before your eyes, wave before your eyes.
Thou smitten blind, thou smitten blind,
Be your eyes bright
Like the sun that rises there,
Since you are so greatly afflicted,
Once to the eyes of Waititiri
Twice to the eyes of Watitiri.
Look this way,
Glance this way
With your healed eyes,
With your star-like eyes.
This was the incantation repeated by the god Tawhaki in response to the appeal of the blind Wai-tiri, or Waititiri. She said to him, “Perform the ceremonies and cure my eyes.” He at once complied. Taking clay and kneading it with his spittle, he rubbed it in her eyes, repeating meanwhile the above incantation. The result was highly satisfactory, the patient remarking, “Aye, aye, my eyes are cured, my grandson.”
Another method of curing matapo is thus recorded by White in his lectures on “Maori Customs and Superstitions”: “The priestly physician ties round his own waist the twigs of kawa-kawa (Piper excelsum) and karamu (Coprosma, var. species) as an apron, and, standing in front of his patient, who is sitting up, he waves a branch of one or other of the same shrubs before the man's face, saying:—
Thou sun now coming,
Red in thy coming—give light here.
Thou moon now coming,
In thy flight look on this man,
Now dimly seeing the gods are moving.
Welcome, come ye forth,
From the eyeballs the red waters come,
Give light, give strength,
Give life—life now come.
The teeth were classified into cutting-teeth, or incisors (nihotapahi), eye-teeth (niho-kata), and double teeth (niho-pu, or niho-purakau). Milk-teeth were named niho-kaiu; uneven or overlapping teeth, niho-tapiki; and a broken tooth, niho-hawa.
In former times toothache and gum-boils were of frequent occurrence, but until the advent of the colonist decayed teeth were rarely seen. In a series of eighty-three skulls examined by Professor Scott,* of the Otago University, the teeth were all free from the slightest sign of dental caries. In seven he noted the cavities of alveolar abscesses (tunga-puku). “Six of these cavities are found in the upper jaw, one in the lower; and most of them have been at the roots of either the incisor or premolar teeth.”
Toothache (niho-tunga, tunga-raupapa, or mamae o nga niho) was attributed by the Maoris, as it is by many peoples of low culture, to the gnawing of a grub, worm, maggot, or insect. The tunga is the grub of a species of beetle inhabiting decayed wood, and niho-tunga is the term applied by the natives to both toothache and decayed teeth, while tunga-puku is an alveolar abscess or gum-boil.
One method of treating toothache is to place one end of a small stick against the tooth and then to strike the other end a smart tap with another stick. The Australian blacks extracted incisor teeth by a similar procedure in their initiation ceremonies, but we are not aware that the Maoris ever resorted to teeth-extraction in odontalgia. Another cure is for the person to hold some of his urine in his mouth for a time. This is done early in the morning, and is supposed to kill the ngarara (reptile) whose burrowing causes the pain. A modern cure is to place in the hollow tooth a piece of the “chestnut” (maki) of a horse's leg; but the patient must not see the maki, or no cure will be effected: he must get some one else to procure it and place it in his tooth. The application to the affected tooth of a piece of the tough, leathery cocoon of a certain caterpillar, which is found attached to branches of the manuka shrub, is another reputed remedy. The most efficient of their herbal remedies was perhaps the New Zealand pepper (Macropiper excelsum), the leaves and berries of which have a warm aromatic flavour. The leaves and root were chewed as a remedy for toothache. This plant closely resembles the kava (Piper methysticum) of Polynesia, but its root does not possess similar sedative or narcotic powers. A very strong decoction of pukatea bark held in the mouth for some time relieves toothache, as does also the bark of the ngaio-tree (Myoporum lœtum). The sap of a plant known as kopukupuku or maruru is also used. The leaves are clenched between the teeth of the suffering person, who is then told to sleep, and when he awakens the pain will have disappeared. But, as in the former case, the sufferer must not see the leaves, or they will lose their medicinal power.
[Footnote] * Trans. N.Z. Inst., 1893, p. 21.
In olden times charms were repeated in order to cure toothache, as also others to cause children's teeth to grow. A favourite, charm was this:—
He tuna, he tara
Mau e kai i te upoko
O taua tara-tu.
Which, being translated, is:—
An eel, a spiny back,
True indeed, indeed: true in sooth, in sooth.
You must eat the head
Of said spiny back.
Scotch and Welsh peasants attribute toothache to the presence of a worm, and, like the Maoris, sometimes endeavour to exorcise it by muttered charm or incantation.
Maori philosophers regard the body and the mind as separate entities. The spirit, or what we regard as the soul, is with them not a single but a compound intangible and invisible spiritual essence. We have already referred to the hau and the wairua, the vital essence and the dream-ghost, as component parts of man's soul, and it is interesting to note here that the Maori metaphysician locates intellectuality in the hau, and not, as we do, in the cerebrum, and regards the wairua as the source of all moral ideas, prompting a person to perform good or evil actions. These savages, although so advanced in the region of abstract conception, had not progressed so far as to be able to attribute disease to derangement of organic function; and insanity was not regarded by them as the result of any morbid condition of the body or spirit: mental aberration was due to the subtle entrance of some hostile spirit—the lunatic was the victim of sorcery or the plaything of an evil atua. This messenger from the gods, or ancestral ghost, or malignant atua, is heard speaking during the mutterings and ravings of the lunatic; it is this atua which throws him to the ground, jerks and writhes him in convulsions, makes him leap upon the bystanders with a giant's strength and a wild beast's ferocity—impels him, with distorted face and frantic gesture, and peculiar unnatural voice, to pour forth wild incoherent raving, and even in his fury to rush and jump headlong over a cliff into the sea.
All persons who were the subjects of “demoniacal possession” did not behave in this violent manner. For instance, a kaupapa, or person who is occasionally visited by an ancestral spirit, and who is its medium of communication with the living, might, on the arrival of his familiar spirit, merely commence to tremble
and behave in a stupid manner, giving forth prophecies in a squeaking, hissing, or ventriloquistic voice. Or, if he wished to attract attention and gain the reputation of being a powerful tohunga, he might, on a suitable opportunity, demonstrate the power of his atua by undergoing a series of violent bodily contortions and facial grimaces, accompanied by the emission of prophecies in an unnatural voice.
A magic rite called whaka-tihaha was practised by the sorcerer to induce madness in the enemies of his clients. This species of makutu was generally directed against thieves, and women who repelled the amorous advances of undesirable suitors.
Of the manifestations of mental disorders among the Maoris in the early years of colonisation we have the observations of two medical men who had at that time an intimate and extensive acquaintance with the natives. Dr. Arthur S. Thomson, writing in 1854, stated that insanity and idiocy were not of frequent occurrence in the aboriginal villages. In the extensive district of Poverty Bay, out of 2,145 persons, there were, in 1849, two idiots and one insane person; and at Tauranga, in the Bay of Plenty, in 1849, out of 2,411 souls, there was no insane or idiotic person. Temporary fits of insanity, the result of chronic and acute disease, were occasionally observed; but the above data show that true insanity and idiocy were rare. Dr. Thomson attributed most of the cases of insanity which came under his notice to defective formation of the skull, mechanical injury, old age, or superstition: all of which causes it is not in their power to prevent. He mentions the case of an old Maori, then in the Auckland Asylum, who had been “mad” several times. The condition was caused by excessive drinking. His tribe lived at a distance from Auckland. He periodically escaped from his friends, and, coming to town, drank himself into a state of delirium tremens, with suicidal tendencies. A few weeks' detention in the asylum resulted in a cure. Dr. Thomson observes that this was the only instance he had ever heard of a strong desire for spirits among the aborigines. This contrasts strongly with the state of affairs in Australia, where it is possible to trace the development of insanity in the tribes (N.S.W.) from a time when lunacy was extremely rare among them to one in which it is almost twice as common as among the white inhabitants in the same territory. A considerable portion of these cases were due to drink; four or five were due to imprisonment, but the chief factor was doubtless “civilisation.”* In 1864 Sir John (then Dr.) Tuke also referred to the comparative rarity of mental disease among the Maoris. The varieties of mental alienation most frequently met with by him were, in the order
[Footnote] * Trans. Austra.1 Med. Congress, 1889, p. 857.
of their occurrence—idiocy; senile mania and dementia; morbid impulse, such as homicidal and suicidal mania; and general paralysis of the insane. “All the forms of mania, monomania, and melancholia observable,” he says, “are purely emotional—a fact which might be anticipated when their peculiarly excitable temperament is taken into account. An orator at one of their tribal meetings, when wound up to the proper pitch, might be readily taken for a maniac by one not conversant with their usages; and the same person might easily mistake a paroxysm of passion, as evinced by a native on very slight provocation, for the ungovernable rage of the insane.”
Recently I received a communication from Dr. E. G. Levinge, Medical Superintendent of the Christchurch Asylum, in which he stated that, although there were two or three considerable Maori settlements in the district embraced by his asylum, yet only five or six Maoris had been admitted during a period of fifteen years. He attributes their comparative immunity to their simple code of life, and comparative freedom from anxiety, worry, and intemperance.
Dr. Tuke's early observations have been recently confirmed by an authority who declares that the most common form of mental disease observed amongst the Maoris is congenital amentia, in all its varieties, from mere weakness of intellect to the drivelling idiot, and, as elsewhere, it is characterized by the small head and retreating brow; and next, senile dementia, with occasional fits of maniacal passion. A considerable portion of those natives, he adds, who reach advanced age settle down into a torpid, manimate state.
Epilepsy is uncommon in Polynesia, but has been observed at Tahiti, New Caledonia, Hawaii, Fiji, Tonga, and among the Australian blacks. It is said to be unknown among the Maoris.
Persons who were insane (porangi, porangitangi, porewarewa, kaurangi, potete), or demented and foolish (wairangi), or temporarily possessed by a demon (apa), were, if not violent or showing any homicidal tendencies, allowed to wander aimlessly about, without restraint. They were often supposed to have powers of second sight, and in such cases were treated with attention and respect.
When a man became mad (porangi) he was taken to a tohunga, who first made an examination as to the cause of the disease. He and the sick man then went to the sacred pool, and the medicine-man, stripping off his clothes, took in his hand an obsidian flint. First he cut off hair from the left side of the sick man's head, and then a lock from the top of the head. The flint was then placed on the ground, and upon it the lock of hair which had been cut from the top of the head, the other lock being
held aloft in the left hand of the tohunga, while in his right hand he held a common stone, which was also raised aloft, while the following karakia was being repeated by him:—
Tu, divide; Tu, split;
This is the Waitapu flint,
Now about to cry aloud
To the moon of ill omen.
Then the priest breathed on the flint, and smashed it with the stone in his right hand. After this he selected a shoot of the toetoe plant, and pulled it up, and to it fastened the two locks of hair. Then, diving into the water, he let go the toetoe and locks of hair, and when they floated on the surface he commenced his great incantation, thus:—
This is the Tui of Tu-i-rawea,
This is the Tui of Uenuku.
Where lies your sin?
Was eating kuta [lice] your fault?
Was sitting on tapu ground your fault ?
Explain the mystery,
Take away the fault from the head
Of the atua who afflicts this man.
Take away the disease,
And the power of the sorcerer.
Turn your supernatural power against your tohunga
And your whaiwhaia [charm].
Give me the charm
To make as cooked food.
Your demon desecrated,
Your sacredness, your incantation,
Your sacred-place-dwelling atua,
Your house-dwelling atua,
Give me to cook for food.
Your sacredness is desecrated by me.
The rays of the sun,
The brave of the world,
The supernatural power, give me.
Let your atua and your tapu
Be food for me to eat.
Let the head of the magician
Be baked in the oven,
Served up for food for me,
Dead, and gone to Hades.
The latter part of this karakia consists of a series of the most powerful insults and curses that a Maori could invent to direct against an enemy. All things most holy to the New-Zealander—his ancestral spirits (atua); the most sacred part of the body, the head; his most cherished virtues, his mana (prestige); his tapu—are all foully cursed and desecrated, and this is done to nullify the force of his black magic (whaiwhaia), which is supposed to have rendered the patient mad. From the early part of this interesting incantation we learn that insanity was supposed to
result from the breaking of the tapu laws, or the spells of the hostile wizard.
In some cases herbs were given to the lunatic (keka), such as the juice of the pith of the tutu-tree (Coriaria ruscifolia).
Rapidly Fatal Melancholia of the South Sea Islanders.
Every one who has dipped into the somewhat extensive literature concerning Polynesia and the Polynesians has read strange stories of strong men sitting down and “willing themselves to death” because they imagined themselves the victims of the sorcerer's art, or that they were under the ban of the gods. This fatalistic tendency which has been so often observed, not only in the Polynesians proper, but also in the Maoris, Australian aborigines, and Melanesians, and which leads to death after a shorter or longer interval of deep depression and lack of desire to live, is due to the effects of superstitious fear acting on a peculiarly susceptible nervous system.
A Maori who unwittingly desecrates a sacred (tapued) spot is seized with a terrible superstitious fear. He has incurred the anger of the tribal or family gods. He feels that his sin is unpardonable, and the unhappy wretch rolls himself up in his mat, refuses sustenance, and soon dies. His death is not due to starvation, but to severe mental and consequent physical depression. Dr. Batty Tuke knew of a case which proved fatal in less than three days, the subject previously being apparently in rude health, and possessing a Herculean frame. He also mentions a second case where a Maori, to all appearance well, and who certainly was not suffering from any disease of the thoracic viscera, became melancholy, apparently chagrined at life; he said he was going to die, and die he did within ten days. The above was rather a protracted case; there being many well-authenticated cases, he adds, where the victim died in three or four days. Taylor relates that the great chief Taonui once lost his tinder-box, which was found by some common men, several of whom lighted their pipes from it, and that these men actually died from this form of melancholia, induced by fear, when they discovered to whom it belonged. Shortland, I believe, relates somewhere that when travelling with a Maori guide they sat by the wayside to rest, and while conversing with his dusky companion a green lizard ran over the guide's foot. The lizard was at once captured by the Maori, who examined it carefully for some minutes and then let it run away. He afterwards casually declared that he would die in eight days. The lizard, he explained, was an incarnate ancestral soul, and had come to warn him that he must die. There were eight black spots on the creature's back, and these indicated the day of his death.
The native went about as usual for seven days, and on the evening of the seventh wrapped himself in his mat and was found dead next morning. The gods had called him to the great world of the spirits. Last year the well-known Waikato chief Hori Kukutai died. He was extremely superstitious, and he likewise imagined he heard the spirit-voices calling him, and prepared to obey the summons. Some little time before he died, Lord Ranfurly, the Governor of this colony, made a trip round the Province of Auckland in the Government yacht, and Kukutai was one of the party. The aged chief enjoyed himself immensely till the vessel approached the North Cape; he was a good sailor, and in excellent spirits. As, however, they approached Te Reinga, the legendary cliff where the souls of the dead natives plunge through the portal of Hades and gain entrance to the spirit underworld, Hori began to get depressed, and to sink deeper and deeper into a state of profound melancholy. He said the lapping of the water and the sighing of the wind were the voices of his dead ancestors calling him. To appease them, he threw overboard a shirt belonging to one of the Crown Ministers, and quickly followed this by some articles of attire belonging to other members of the ship's company. His own clothes were at first reserved, but as his symptoms increased he would have thrown them overboard too; and it was feared that he would have jumped over the side had he not been carefully watched and attended by those on board. As it was, so great was his nervous prostration that grave fears were entertained that he might succumb.
Mr. Andrew Lang* relates the following interesting case occurring in Melanesia. “The story is vouched for by Mr. J. J. Atkinson, late of Noumea, New Caledonia. To him one day a Kanaka of his acquaintance paid a visit, and seemed loth to go away. He took leave, returned, and took leave again, till Mr. Atkinson asked him the reason of his behaviour. He then explained that he was about to die, and would never see his English friend again. As he seemed in perfect health, Mr. Atkinson rallied him on his hypochondria; but the poor fellow replied that his fate was sealed. He had lately met in the wood one whom he took for the Kanaka girl of his heart; but he became aware too late that she was no mortal woman, but a wood-spirit in the guise of the beloved. The result would be his death within three days; and, as a matter of fact, he died.”
This peculiar form of melancholia which has a fatal termination when affecting persons free from obvious organic disease is a most potent and frequent cause of death in times of epidemic sickness. Thus, in the great pestilence called okuu, which swept
[Footnote] * “Myth, Ritual, and Religion,” vol. i., p. 105.
over the Sandwich Islands in 1807, great multitudes succumbed. The name okuu was given to the epidemic because the people okuu wale aku no i ka uhane—i.e., dismissed freely their souls and died.
As illustrations of the despondent state of mind into which the Maori often fell when seized with what he believed to be an incurable disease, sent by the gods in punishment for sin, we may cite the following laments:—
Alas, thou canst not find a remedy,
The gods have otherwise decreed; Whiro [a god] by his
Axe has all my bones disjointed, and I am
Torn asunder as a branch snapt from its
Parent stem by some rude blast, and fal'ing
With a crash is rent in pieces
I did it; I brought this death
Upon myself in meddling with the sacred things
Which e'er displease the gods: and now
As in a desert I'm bereft of every succour.
Emaciated and folorn, wracked with
Pain of body and distress of mind, I turn me
Round to die.
Such was the song of the daughter of Kikohiko, chief of the tribe Ngatiwhatua, of Kaipara. In another lament by a chieftainess, who imagined that she was also a helpless victim of evil demons, we find these lines:—
Ah, this animal Mokoroa has
Thrust his teeth into my flesh, and
Grasped my body with his numerous
Teeth, and thus I am being eaten up.
The pain that wracks my body is like
An army passing on, each wounding
As he passes.
Aye, there's little
Hope of my recovery; I'm hastening to the dust,
To appease the gods, who haunt my spirit hence.
The fatalistic frame of mind into which these superstitious young women drifted would render them unfit subjects for medicinal treatment, and would place them even beyond the power of the most potent karakia and rites of the tribal sorcerers. Superadded to their organic disease was the condition of rapidly fatal melancholia, or awhireinga, the latter term signifying “to embrace or draw near to the region of spirits, or, to court death.”
Mr. C. J. Du Ve* relates that “in the year 1860 a Maneroo (Australian) black died in his service. The day before he died, having been ill some time, he said that in the night his father, his father's friend, and a female spirit he could not recognise had come to him and said that he would die next day, and that they would wait for him.” Mr. Fison, who prints this tale
[Footnote] * A. Lang, “Myth, Ritual, and Religion,” vol. i., p. 106.
in his “Kamilaroi and Kurnai,” adds, “I could give many similar instances which have come within my own knowledge among the Fijians, and, strange to say, the dying man in all these cases kept his appointment with the ghosts to the very day.”
Another phase of this fatal melancholia is frequently seen in Fijian girls and youths who have sickened and died after the sudden discovery and disruption of an amorous intrigue: an interesting example of the profound mental shock which may be experienced by people who are generally unimpressionable. Then again, when a Polynesian becomes ill of any save the most ordinary malady he makes little or no struggle for life, but becomes melancholic, and perhaps fixes the date of his death, and dies on the appointed day. In times of epidemic sickness these islanders become what the Fijians call taqaya (overwhelmed, dismayed, cowed), abandoning all hope of living, and becoming incapable of any effort to save themselves or others.
Profound and often fatal melancholy was also induced in people who imagined or were told they had been bewitched. This was shown in a striking way when a sorcerer informed a white man at Hawaii that he was about to bewitch him to death (anaana), and the white man replied that he too could bewitch. The priest, supposing that the white man was practising black arts against him, sank into despondency and despair and finally died. Codrington mentions a somewhat similar case, where a native of Ava, in Melanesia, had declared his intention of bewitching to death an enemy with his magic tamatetiqua, or “ghost-shooter,” at an approaching feast; but he would not tell who it was he intended to kill. To add force to the ghostly discharge he fasted many days before the feast began, and became so weak that he had to be carried to the dancing-place. There he sat, a fearful object, black with dirt and wasted to a skeleton with fasting, his “ghost-shooter” grasped in his bony hand and closed with his thumb, and his bleary eye watching for his enemy. Every man trembled as he danced by him. After a while, bewildered and dazed by the tumult, he presented his magic bamboo charm at the wrong man. The man he aimed at fell at once to the ground, and the dancers stopped. Then the sorcerer saw his mistake, and that the wrong man was bewitched, and his distress was great; but the man that had fallen was ready to expire, but after the true state of affairs was explained to him he took courage again to live, and presently revived. No doubt, adds Codrington, he would have died if the mistake had not been known.
Examples of deaths from this form of fright, technically called “thanatomania” (death - mania), might be cited ad infinitum from the anthropological records of the Maoris, South
Sea Islanders, Melanesians, and Australian native races. And although death is not due in such cases to the true “rapidly fatal melancholia of the South Sea Islanders,” yet the condition is a nearly allied one.
No one, I think, has attempted to explain the rationale of death from this curious form of melancholia. The victim is popularly supposed to “will himself to death,” but we cannot seriously attribute the fatal issue to the will-force of the savage. The chief characteristic of the Maori mind is its instability. His mental equilibrium is at the mercy of a thousand daily incidents; he is the plaything of outside circumstances. His brain not having been subject to a prolonged course of moral and intellectual culture, he lacks that mental balance which is the characteristic of highly civilised peoples. He is incapable of governing himself; he will laugh or cry for the most futile-reasons; explosions of joy or sadness may disappear with him in an instant. A Maori chief once burst into a violent fit of tears because some sailors had covered one of his smart cloaks with flour—the insult completely overpowered him. I have seen a crowd of weeping mourners at a Maori tangi suddenly burst forth into yells of delight and laughter at the grimaces and grotesque postures of some dancing-women. A Tahitian woman who was-crying bitterly because her child had just died broke out into laughter when she saw Captain Bligh. Thus the savage is liable to sudden fits of happiness or of depression.
In that curious mental condition called “South Sea Island hysteria,” the patient, after a preliminary period of depression, suddenly becomes violently excited, seizes a knife or some weapon, and rushes through the village slashing at everybody he meets and doing no end of damage, until he finally falls exhausted. If he cannot find a knife, he might rush to the ocean reef and fling himself into the water and swim for miles, until rescued or drowned. This violent hysterical excitement is common to all the islands, as is the opposite condition of sudden and profound mental depression. A pakeha once attended a Maori spiritualistic seance at which the local tohunga had promised to call up the spirit of a noted young chief recently killed in battle. He thus describes the proceedings: “At night we all met the priest in the large house. The priest retired to the darkest corner. All was expectation, and the silence was only broken by the sobbing of the sister and other female relations of the dead man. They were in an agony of excitement, agitation, and grief. Suddenly, without the slightest warning, a voice came out of the darkness. ‘Salutation! Salutation to you all! Salutation! Salutation to you, my tribe! Family, I salute you! Friends, I salute you!’ A cry of despair and affection came from the sister of the dead
chief. At the same instant another female voice was heard from a young girl who was held by the wrists by two young men, her brothers: ‘Is it you? Is it you? Truly is it you? Aue, aue! they hold me, they restrain me, they watch me, but I go to you. The sun shall not rise, the sun shall not rise. Aue, Aue!’ Here she fell insensible on the rush floor, and with the sister was carried out.” The seance was prolonged far into the night, and soon after the proceedings terminated the whole village was roused by the report of a rifle. “Out I rushed. A house had been set on fire to make a light. Before another house, close at hand, a dense circle of human beings was formed. I pushed my way through, and there, in the verandah of the house, was an old gray-bearded man; he knelt on one knee, and on the other supported the dead body of the young girl who had said she would follow the spirit to spirit-land. The young girl had secretly procured a loaded musket, tied a loop for her foot to the trigger, and blown herself to shatters.”
Given, then, a people who are highly emotional, whose brain is in a state of unstable equilibrium, liable to excessive excitement or profound melancholy; who have no fear of death, and in whom the life-preserving instinct is feebly developed; who are deeply superstitious, attributing unlimited evil powers to their malignant gods and wicked sorcerers—when one possessing such mental attributes in a marked degree becomes convinced that he is the victim of a powerful god or tohunga, the excessive nervous shock renders the whole nervous system paretic; he offers no resistance to the stuporose condition which then supervenes; he becomes self-absorbed and dwells on the enormity of his sin and the utter hopelessness of his condition; he is the helpless victim of delusional melancholia. He is submerged by one overmastering delusion: he has offended the gods, he must die. There is an abeyance of interest in things external; the morbid state is most acutely centralised; there is great nervous depression; there is a loss of physical energy, and this secondary depression spreads gradually to all the organs: the vital functions are all depressed, the heart becomes depressed, the involuntary muscles become dormant, and finally there is a complete anergia or death. The unbalanced mind succumbs without a struggle to the severe mental shock of overwhelming superstitious fear.
Ventereal Diseases, Diarrhœa, etc.
Gonorchœa was introduced by the early whalers' and traders' crews.
Kotureture is a venereal disease. It causes the skin of body and limbs to turn a hideous white, in large blotches. The natives
believe that this disease is caused by eating the liver of the shark. Copper filings from a penny are used to cure the kotureture. Another method of treating this and other venereal diseases, as also piles, is to make a hole or short tunnel in an earth bank, with a small shaft for an outlet. A small smoky fire of chips or shavings of totara is made in this tunnel, the smoke escaping by the shaft, over which the person sits, covered with a sheet or old cloak to prevent the smoke from escaping too rapidly. * This disease of the tara wahine is thought by my informant to be syphilis, a disease which he thinks is not nearly so prevalent among the natives as it was twenty or thirty years ago.
Goitre, or tenga, is common in the high-lying district inhabited by the Tuhoe tribes. Those afflicted by it are mostly women. No attempt seems to be made to cure it. The term tenga is also applied to the pomum Adami, and to a bird's crop. Elsdon Best has only seen three men affected by goitre in his neighbourhood, but many women there have it, some of them being quite young.
Sneezing (matihe) is looked upon as an evil omen, a token of coming disaster or sickness. Several short charms are used to avert the trouble. Some simply repeat the words “makihi ora.”
Delirium in sickness is termed kutukutu ahi. It is said to be the aimless talking of the wairua or spirit of the sick person, and is considered a fatal sign.
To restore a person apparently drowned the process known as whakapua is employed. The person is held so that the smoke of a fire will enter his nostrils, which will revive him (ka ketu ake le manawa). The same treatment is adopted in cases where persons have been bitten by the poisonous katipo spider (Latrodectus). Some state that the sufferer was first placed in a stream.
The bark of the manuka-tree is used for diarrhœa and dysentery. Pieces of the bark are boiled until the water is dark-coloured, and this decoction is drunk. Here again superstition steps in. The aged lady who gave me this note states that just twelve pieces of the bark must be used, neither more or less, and they must all be cut of an even length and size. If this be not done, then the medicine will not be effective. The bark of the white manuka only is used, the branches of which are drooping and the leaves fragrant, and which is said by the natives to be the male tree—rakau toa.*
[Footnote] * Elsdon Best.
[Footnote] * Elsdon Best.
Epidemic Diseases (Papa reti or Mate uruta).
Terrible decimating epidemics have at various times, but particularly during the decade 1844 to 1854, swept through the Maori villages.
In all probability infectious fevers were introduced by Europeans, prior to whose advent epidemics were never experienced, or but seldom. “It is undoubtedly a fact that so soon as Europeans arrived in New Zealand the native tribes were afflicted by very serious epidemics, which swept off great numbers of the people. They perished by thousands, many villages being almost depopulated, and many settlements were decimated on account of the scourge. Natives of several parts of the North Island have told me,” says Elsdon Best, “that when the famous rewharewha was ravaging the land the dead were often so numerous that they were left in the houses unburied, while the survivors fled in terror to seek a new home elsewhere. A village known as Te Neinei, near my present camp, was so deserted, the survivors settling at Pa-puweru. Some visitors coming to Te Neinei found the dead lying in the huts, and partially consumed by rats. Epidemics of this nature are termed by the Tuhoe people papa reti, the name of a sort of toboggan formerly used by them. The dying of many people was compared with the swift motion of the toboggan down the slide. Or, as an old man explained it to me, ‘Tuhoe flowed like water down to Hades.’ Pio says that was on the second coming of Captain Cook that these epidemics commenced their ravages, and that they spread all over the island, numbers dying in every village. So many died that for the first time the dead were all buried near the villages. When an epidemic desolated the Rua-tahuna Valley in 1897 I was informed that the cause of the visitation was the fact that the tapu had been taken off the sacred house Te Whai-a-te-motu, at Matatua, in order that visitors might be entertained therein. The gods had punished this act of pollution by sending the epidemic among the people.
Epidemics such as influenza and dysentery were undoubtedly introduced by white sailors, and were attributed by the Maori to the displeasure of the foreigner's gods, or in some cases to the gods of the missionaries, who were supposed to be annoyed because the natives did not reject their heathen practices and the worship of the gods of their ancestors. Influenza, dysentery, coughs, certain skin affections, and venereal diseases were thus accounted for.
“The only epidemics I have heard of,” says Best, “as prior to the advent of Europeans were those caused by remaining too long on a battlefield, and continued eating of human flesh in a
state of decomposition. When the big party of a thousand Ngapuhi, Rarawa, &c., were camped near Wellington in the early part of last century, some hundreds of them died from this cause. The survivors said that the cause was the taking for fuel of some of the brush or scrub of which their priests' hut was made.” It seems clear, however, that these deaths were due to ptomaine poisoning, and, strictly speaking, this is not an instance of epidemic sickness.
Epidemics of dysentery (tikuku, torere, koea, tikotiko-toto) were prevalent among the Maoris in 1795, and in the year 1800. The former epidemic occurred just after the visit of a European ship to Mercury Bay, near Auckland, and proved fatal in very many cases. The natives called the disease makoko, or maripa. The latter epidemic, which commenced among the natives in the north, was one of the most disastrous of the pestilences which have at different times decimated the Maori tribes. This was the above-mentioned rewharewha.
In the treatment of dysentery the Maoris obtained relief by masticating and then swallowing the leaves and tender shoots of the koromiko (Veronica salicifolia) and the leaf of kopata (Geum urbanus). A decoction of the leaves of the tutu (Cortaria ruscifolia) and of the li (Cordyline australis) were likewise used, also the tannin-bearing inner bark of the pohutukawa (Metrosideros tomentosa) and bark of the kawakawa (Macropiper excelsum), while the gum of the harakeke (Phormium tenax) served as an excellent demulcent. The administration of these herbs was usually accompanied by the repetition of charms to make them potent, and in cases of diarrhœa the proper karakia was called He korere. It may be translated thus:—
Stop up the looseness, allay the flow,
The purging will subside, the purging is stayed.
There is purging and there is stopping up,
For this is the remedy that stayed
The malady of thy ancestor Houtaiki.
Influenza epidemics also came with the pakeha ships, and the disease was named “the foreign disease” (rewharewha, tarutawhiti, taiawa, or tarewha). The precise date of the first epidemic is uncertain; by some it is fixed at 1790, and by others at 1836. In the year 1844 this disease carried off multitudes of Maoris, many dying from exposure to cold while suffering from high fever, and others from jumping into the sea or river to cool their burning skins. “At this period,” says Taylor, “the same complaint
was raging in all the Australian colonies, as well as in the various settlements of New Zealand.” Dieffenbach, writing in 1843, says, “Epidemics of influenza are still common. The disease is a bad form of influenza, a malignant catarrh of the bronchi, with congestion of the lungs, affection of the heart, accompanied by fever and great prostration of strength.” At this period, it is interesting to note that immense numbers of dead fish were thrown up on the shores, and in a later epidemic the illness first attacked poultry and pigs and dogs, later causing many deaths in the native villages—which always swarmed with dogs and poultry. Breathlessness and severe headache were two of the most pronounced symptoms of the disease among the Maoris, as with Polynesians generally, and it was commonly called “the head-splitting disease.” When influenza was very prevalent in the north, one of the Maori tohungas declared that he had found a cure for “the head-splitting disease.” It was composed of roots, bark, and leaves of trees, with certain shrubs, burned together, the ashes being mixed into a paste with hogs' lard. This mess he sold to his patients in balls the size of a marble, charging £1 10s. each. They were bought with avidity by timid persons, who, when they felt the least pain in any part of the body, made an incision in that part and rubbed a portion of the compound into it. “It was astonishing,” says White, “to see how many cures were affected by it amongst those nervous persons in whose imagination alone the disease had existed.”
About the end of the eighteenth century the Kauarapaoa. Pa on the Whanganui River was held by about eight hundred natives when the devastating rewharewha epidemic broke out among them. An old native thus described it to Mr. Best: “Friend, I will now tell you of the first sign of the white man which came to us. It was the rewharewha, the disease that slaughtered the Maori people, until thousands were represented by hundreds, and hundreds by tens. When attacked by that disease, for one night and one day might man look upon the world of life: then death came. Men did not die singly, but in tens, and twenties, and thirties. Day by day and day by day they died. No effort was made by the survivors to mourn for the dead, or to carry out our ancient burial customs, for a great fear was upon them. And the hearts of the living breathed not as they looked upon the multitude of the dead. So the children of Paerangi went down to Hades. Then the survivors. fled to the ranges, and a war party which came to attack the fort found only the dead therein, many of whom they ate.”
The Maori's Aversion to European Doctors
Tohungas, Ancient and Modern.
The natives still place great faith in their tohunga, and the modern tohunga is a kind of quack doctor, a hybrid imposition, a fraud, a despicable fellow, inferior in every way to his savage ancestors, who were, at least, more honest in their professions.
The Attitude of the Maori to European Doctors.
A great distrust of European doctors is manifest in the Tuhoe district. “It is probable,” says Best, “that this is not due to any disbelief in the medical knowledge of the said profession, but that the natives have an instinctive fear that a doctor will interfere with their state of tapu; that the life-principle will be endangered by the methods of the European being employed. A middle-aged woman of this district was taken seriously ill, and it was proposed that she be sent to the hospital. Her people strongly objected, urging her to adhere to native customs, saying they would rather see her die than be operated upon by a European. However, she was taken to the hospital by Europeans, was operated upon, and recovered. When she returned here I heard an old woman ask her, ‘In what state are you now?’ (i.e., ‘Have you deserted our ringa tu religion, are you noa?’) The reply was, ‘O, every cooking-vessel of the white man has been passed over me’ (her body had been washed with water heated in a kitchen). Her tapu has gone, and she is clinging with great earnestness to European ways and customs, as a means of protecting her vitality. But this is a rare case. There is another singular idea possessed of the native mind. A native is ill, and you ask why he is not taken to the doctor. The reply will very likely be, ‘Oh, it is a native complaint; the doctors could not cure it,’ although it be something as common as stomach-ache.”
When travelling in the Taranaki District many years ago Sir George Grey found the natives very willing to take European medicine. They fancied that every pakeha was by nature a doctor, and never travelled without a medicine-chest, from which their sick expected remedies almost as a matter of course. Those whose maladies were relieved were seldom grateful for it, whilst those who were not benefited went away grumbling, as if they had been seriously injured. In Fiji the natives are even more ungrateful, and in one instance a native asked the European doctor for payment for the time expended in having his sores dressed by the medical man without expectation of fee or reward, and also demanded a shilling for attending to the dressings himself when the doctor was necessarily absent.
Again, the Maori dreads visiting the white medicine-man for fear that some surgical operation or amputation be suggested. For instance, once a native had his arm badly crushed. He was taken to the nearest hospital, but would not hear of having the limb amputated without his father's consent, and the old fellow flew into a fearful rage when he was consulted, saying his son would want his arm in the next world, and it was better for him to die with it and keep it, as it could not be sent after him. The Fijians also believe that in the future state they retain the precise physical attributes pertaining to them at their death. If they die minus a leg or arm, then in the next world they remain for ever deformed. This belief has led to some curious incidents. For instance, a young Fijian who was sick and unable to eat was buried alive, because, as he himself said, if he could not eat he should get thin and weak, and the girls would call him a skeleton and laugh at him, while in the other world he would for ever be subject to the jeers and taunts of his comrades. He was buried by his own father; and when he asked to be strangled first he was reprimanded and told to be quiet and be buried like other people. It was the same pride of physical appearance which made Maoris dread anything of the nature of surgical mutilation, however necessary such interference was for their well-being, or even for the preservation of life.
The Maori terms for menstruation are paheke and mate marama. The former term is used also as a verb (cf. heke, to drip); the latter literally means “monthly sickness” (marama, the moon, the lunar month). The term atua is also sometimes applied to the menses. This word, which generally signifies “god,” or more correctly “ancestral spirit,” is also given to various obscure phenomena, as, for instance, menstruation.
Regarding lunar influences on women, native authorities informed Mr. Best that “the reason of this sickness being known as mate marama is because it affects women when the moon appears. It never affects them when the moon is lost to view—that is, during the dark nights (hinapouri) of the moon. Some women are affected when the moon is first seen, and others at various stages of its growth; some when the Turu moon appears (i.e., the seventeenth night of the moon). A woman is always affected at the same stage of each moon; the time of her paheke does not vary.” Another native, an old woman, said, “Women do not paheke during the dark nights of the moon, nor yet while suckling a child, although the child may suckle its mother for a long time.” When the moon appears, the skin of women who have chronic dysmenorrhœa becomes rough, like what we term
“goosa-skin.” When the moon appears, then women say, “The husband of all women in the world has appeared.” Another native, an old man, said, “The moon is the permanent husband of all women, because women paheke when the moon appears. According to the knowledge of our ancestors and elders, the marriage of man and wife is a matter of no moment: the moon is the real husband.”
There was, and still is, a certain amount of tapu placed on a menstruating woman. The discharge is viewed as a sort of human embryo,* an immature or undeveloped human being; hence the tapu. An aged native said, “The paheke is a kind of human being, because if the discharge ceases, then it grows into a person: that is, when the paheke ceases to come away, then it assumes human form, and grows into a man.”
A chief or man of rank avoids the sleeping-places of women, because contact with clothing or places polluted by the paheke would render him kahupotia, or devoid of the clairvoyant power. In this state he would no longer be able to observe the numerous signs by which ancestral ghosts warn their living descendants of impending troubles and dangers. “Son,” said an old Ngatiawa tohunga to Mr. Best, “never recline on the resting-places of women. Such places are unclean. The blood [i.e., paheke] of woman is there. They are the undoing of man. But should you happen to do so, then be sure that you conciliate your ancestors, that they may restore your sight, and continue to guard and preserve you from evil.” A man would perform the whakaepa rite in order to free himself from the polluting effects of the moenga toto, or unclean sleeping-place.
Australian blacks have a similar dread of pollution from contact with menstruating women. Those of the Leichhardt River, for instance, would immediately kill a woman who thus contaminated them. In their gesture language they had a special sign or signal for menstruation, so as to enable women to warn men of their condition, from a distance. It is stated that a blackfellow (N.S.W.) once slept in a blanket that had been used by his gin (wife). When he came to know that it was defiled, he thrust his wife through with a spear, and shortly afterwards he himself died from fear of the consequences of the pollution.
“If a menstruating Maori woman goes on to a sea-beach where pipi shellfish are found, all those shellfish will desert that beach and migrate to pastures new. Or if such a woman essays to cook the kernels of tawa-berries in a boiling spring, they will never be cooked, but remain quite hard, although those of other women, not in that condition, will be quite cooked. They believe also that if a menstruating woman goes to an ahi titi (a fire made
[Footnote] * See Kahukahu.
to attract the titi, or mutton-birds, and at which they were formerly taken in great numbers), no birds will be caught. For the birds will persistently avoid the fire, and will be heard crying out and screeching. Then the fowlers will know that a menstruating woman is among them. They will know it from the actions and cries of the birds.”
“The term paheke has, strictly speaking, three applications. It is the name of the discharge, it is the verb ‘to menstruate,’ and it is also applied to the day of the menstrual onset. The term koero is given to the second and third days of the period. When a woman does not desire to conceive, she will not cohabit with her husband during menstruation, or rather during the koero-tanga (koero stage), for such connection, she believes, would certainly result in pregnancy. She therefore abstains until three days after the period has ceased. Thus, according to Maori ideas, it is during the koero stage that the sexual act is most generally fruitful.”
“The material used among the Tuhoe natives, from time immemorial, as a menstruating diaper is a variety of moss (generic term rimurimu) known as kohukohu or angiangi. It is probably Hypnum clandestinus. It is a light-coloured, fine, very soft moss, found growing on logs in the forest. As used for the above purpose it is termed a kope. It is not prepared in any way, but simply crumpled up and thrust into the vagina. After the discharge has ceased, the woman goes into the forest and buries the kope, each woman having a secret place where she does so. It would be a serious matter for her were her kope to be seen by any one. For they would probably make a great joke of it, and she would feel terribly humiliated—so much so, indeed, that she might commit suicide.”*
When an Australian aboriginal girl reaches the age of puberty she is subjected to very great cruelty, and undergoes in certain tribes most painful surgical operations. In the Arunta and Ilpirra Tribes of Central Australia she has to sit over a hole dug in the ground for two days without stirring away; in Victoria, cords are tied tightly around several parts of her body, causing great pain and swelling; but the most repulsive procedure is the horrible operation of atna-ariltha-kuma (atna, vulva; kuma, to cut), performed soon after the onset of menstruation. In this mitiatory or marriage rite the hymen and perineum are rudely lacerated with a wooden instrument, or stone knife. Such barbarities seem never to have been practised by the Maoris, nor indeed in any part of Polynesia, except perhaps on rare occasions, and with much less severity, in Fiji and Samoa. In New Zealand
[Footnote] * All the original matter in this paper pertaining to menstruation, pregnancy, parturition, &c, has been collected from the Tuhoe Tribe.—E. B.
no special attention seems to have been paid to the young woman at this time—she underwent no ceremony of initiation, and was not in any way tortured or operated on like her less fortunate Australian sister.
Like the Parsee woman, the Maori wahine is possessed by a demon during menstruation—or, rather, she becomes dispossessed of a malignant disease-dealing demon, the atuakahu previously referred to. The Hebrew woman was tapu (unclean) during the monthly period, and, like the Maori, “everything on which she sat or lay during this time, and every one who touched such things or her, incurred uncleanness.”
Thomson found that the Maori girls commenced to menstruate at thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, or sixteen. He heard it stated that they commenced at ten years of age, but he disbelieved it. Moriori women reached puberty at from thirteen to sixteen years, about the same as the Maoris. “Among the Maoris,” says Batty Tuke, “the menstrual discharge appears at regular intervals within six weeks after childbirth.” The child-bearing period is said to extend from sixteen to thirty-five years of age, but Thomson knew of a native whose age must have been forty-seven when she gave birth to a child.
Every respectable Hawaiian family had a series of houses forming its establishment, including one named the hale-pea, the house of separation for the wife during the period of her infirmity. No such houses were found in Maori communities, nor did the menstruating woman paint her head and body with a mixture of red clay, as did the natives in New South Wales, nor with turmeric and oil, as did the women in various parts of Polynesia.
Thomson has noted menorrhagia and metrorrhagia among the Maoris, and says that sometimes menstruation is very irregular with them. He is of opinion that they are subject to the same irregularities as women in England; but these irregularities are perhaps not so common, nor do they appear to have so much influence on the constitution. Bennett* observed several deaths among the Maoris from niu toto (uterine hæmorrhage).
In cases of difficult menstruation a decoction made from flax-root (Phormium tenax) and a creeper called aka taramoa (Rubus australis) is used. Another medicine is made from the bark and berries of the rohutu-tree (Myrtus obcordata). Women suffering from dysmenorrhœa were usually isolated in former times. In native opinion it is the moon that is affecting a woman when thus suffering. The natives of the Tuhoe Tribe state that their women have more trouble during menstruation of late years
[Footnote] * Lond. Med. Gazette, ix., 1832, p. 436.
than they had formerly. With this increasing tendency to dysmenorrhœa there is an increasing lack of fecundity.
Pathological amenorrhœa, which is not very common among the Maoris, though perhaps more frequent among the half-breeds, is spoken of as he mate kino na te marama (an evil complaint caused by the moon). Such an illness may continue for a week, during which time the woman will take but little food. At such a time women have a great desire to drink cold water, but are not allowed to take much lest it should aggravate the trouble.
Amenorrhœa is termed papuni. To cure this a woman will, at dawn of day, go and bathe in a stream, and then on her return she takes a decoction made as follows: Four pieces of flax-root (Phormium tenax), and four pieces of the branchlets of a forest-climbing plant known as aka taramoa (Rubus australis), are cut up into small pieces and boiled in a vessel until the liquid is considerably reduced in quantity. When obtaining these roots and twigs they must be taken from the east side of the flax-clump and creeper, as the mana, or virtue, of them is on that side only, as regards their use as medicine for menstruating women. This singular superstition may be connected with the rising of the moon in the east, for when the same materials are being procured for the purpose of making a medicine for diarrhœa, or constipation, it does not matter from which side they are taken.
Vicarious menstruation has been observed among the Ruatahuna natives. A woman of the Hamua clan has a discharge of blood from the nose at each appearance (kohiti-tanga) of the new moon. This is termed her menses by the natives, inasmuch as the ordinary discharge is invariably absent.
The Maoris have several theories to explain the process of conception. By some tribes the pregnant state is attributed to the moon-god, who is, as we have already pointed out, “the true husband of all women.” Others believe that during sexual intercourse the male transmits to the female the life-principles (hau and wairua) of the fœtus, the woman being merely the receptacle in which this germ matures. In other cases women are supposed to become enceinte owing to the supernatural influences of certain conception stones, phallic trees, incantations, and magic dolls. Certain Australian tribes (Arunta, Luritcha, and Ilpirra) firmly believe that the child is not the direct result of intercourse, and that at pregnancy the woman becomes “possessed” by an already formed spirit-child, the natural habitations of which are certain gaps in the ranges, and the vicinity of phallic monoliths, such as the Erathilpa Stone, near Alice Springs (C.A.). Maori beliefs are very similar to these. They say the soul or
spirit is created by the gods in the seventh heaven, called autoia (“here the spirits of mortals begin to live”), coming to earth. These spirit-children render women pregnant, and thus assume a material body, or become malignant demons (kahukahu) in the manner described elsewhere.
Another extraordinary explanation of the physiology of impregnation is the following, given to Mr. Best by an aged Tuhoe wahine: “There is,” she said, “a certain substance or organ in woman. This is white outside and reddish-yellow inside. It resembles a bird's egg. A row of these extend from the base of the liver (ate) to the womb. When the husband has connection with his wife a portion of the white substance attracts the semen of the male, and these two substances unite, the male's and the female's, and also a portion of the blood of the paheke (menses), and become one and are enfolded in a part of the white substance, and then develop into a child.” This is probably a Maori perversion of a European story; it is altogether unlikely that such a theory should originate in the native mind.
Phallic Stones.—Sterile Maori women, like Australian aboriginals, Banks Island and Fijian women, were acquainted with phallic or conception stones. One well-known stone of this kind stands on the bank of the Awaroa River, in the Kawhia district, and married women who have had no children perform ceremonies and chant incantations to the atua of this stone that they may become mothers and have children to nurse. Their tradition is that the god Uenukutuwhatu (Rainbow with hailstones) turned himself into a taniwha (water-demon) and then became the above-mentioned stone. In Fiji there are similar stones which the women worship. These monoliths represent the generative principle and procreation, and in many ways resemble in form, and in the mode they are worshipped, the phallus of the Phœnicians, and the similar gods whose worship assumed such offensive forms in ancient Rome, and found vent in the noblest monuments of the Pharaohs.
Phallic Trees.—Mr. Elsdon Best* has recorded some extremely interesting facts concerning certain so-called phallic trees existing in various parts of the North Island of New Zealand. These trees are supposed to have the power of rendering sterile women fruitful. The potency of the conception stone above referred to was apparently attributed to the indwelling god Uenukutuwhatu, but the special functions of these phallic trees were derived from a totally different and unique source. According to Maori cosmogonic myth man and plants are the offspring, by different wives, of the god Tane-nui-a-rangi. The
[Footnote] * “Te Iho-o-kataka.” Auckland Weekly News, 20th Sept., 1899.
birth of the various forest-trees preceded that of the first human being; but trees did not give birth to men, as in the myths of the Hereros, Kaffirs, West Africans, &c. The Ovahereo or Damaras trace their origin to a sacred tree from which were also begotten the Bushmen, oxen, zebras, and all other living things. The Maori recognised, as did the Buddhists, Karens, Ojibways, and other primitive peoples, that trees had what may be called souls, and also that ancestral ghosts, and the souls of gods and demons, might be confined in or take up their abode in trees. In India the doctrine of transmigration “widely and clearly recognises the idea of trees and smaller plants being animated by human souls.” “All over the world, from ancient Egypt to the wigwams of the Algonkins,” says Andrew Lang, “plants are said to have sprung from a dismembered god or hero, while men are said to have sprung from plants.” In Bengal we find the curious custom in certain totem clans of marrying the bride and bridegroom to trees before they are married to each other. The bride touches with red lead a mahwa-tree, clasps it in her arms, and is tied to it. The bridegroom goes through a like ceremony with the mango-tree. This is done possibly with the idea of rendering the union of the couple fruitful, but we have no definite information supporting this theory. The Yarucaris of Bolivia say that a girl once bewailed her loverless estate. She happened to notice a beautiful tree, which she adorned with ornaments as well as she might. The tree assumed the shape of a handsome young man—
She did not find him so remiss,
But, lightly issuing through,
He did repay her kiss for kiss,
With usury thereto.*
The special virtues of the Maori conception trees did not depend on any peculiarity of their growth or species; nor was it attributed to the presence of any god, demon, or ancestral ghost who may have taken up his abode in the tree; nor was the tree regarded as a man or god who had assumed the outward form of a denizen of the forest. Mr. Best regards these trees as phallic symbols, and “evidences that the ancestors of the Maori practised the phallic cult.” That the Maoris in olden times did practise phallic worship cannot be disputed, but there is but little to support the theory that their conception trees were phallic symbols.
The conception trees are thus described by Mr. Best: “The Iho-o-kataka is the name of a famous hinau-tree which stands in the Upper Whakatane Valley, in the land of the Urewera
[Footnote] * J. G. Müller: quoted by A. Lang, “Myth, Ritual, and Religion,' vol. 1, p. 155
Tribe. It holds an important place in the annals of Tuhoeland, inasmuch as it possesses the singular power of rendering barren women fruitful. It came about in this wise: When Kataka, the daughter of Tane-atua, was born in Hawaiki, some seventeen generations ago, Irakewa took the iho (umbilical cord) of the child and came to Aotearoa (New Zealand) on a taniwha (sea-monster), and placed the iho on a hinau-tree near Ohaua. Later on Tane-atua arrived in the Matatua canoe and landed at Whakatane, in the Bay of Plenty. And it chanced that when Taneatua, while travelling in the interior, sat him down to rest beneath that tree and stretched forth his hand to pluck some berries therefrom, what was his surprise to hear a voice say, “Do not eat me, for I am the iho of Kataka, your child.” Upon hearing the voice Tane-atua refrained from eating the fruit of the hinau, and he then took the iho of another of his children and inserted it at the base of the tree (or suspended it on the tree), at the same time repeating this incantation:—
Ko whakairihia ahau
Ko whakato tamariki ahau.
(“I am here suspended that I may cause children to be conceived.”) ‘This is how this tree became possessed of the power of causing children to be born into the world. And the name of that tree has ever since been Te Iho-o-kataka, and the iho of our children have always been hung up in the same tree, even unto the days of the pakeha (white man). And before being hung up the iho is wrapped up in aute or raukawa (the paper-mulberry and Panax edgerleyi, a scented shrub), and bound round with aka (a climbing plant).
When a woman is pukup (barren) she goes to the hinau-tree and embraces it. But great care must be taken to comply with the due ceremonies, so she is accompanied by a priest, who during the performance repeats the necessary incantations. If she embraces the taha tane, or male side, that towards the rising sun, the issue will be a male; and a daughter is produced by embracing the female side (taha wahine), that facing the setting sun. The sex of the child is determined by the side embraced by the would-be mother.
The tohunga or medicine-man who revealed these secrets thus concluded his narrative: “Friend,” said he, “there are two men, Pahi and Ramarahi, now living at Rotorua, who were born through the influence of this tree.”
“Te Hunahuna-a-po is the name of another phallic tree, which stands close to the Horomanga Creek, some six miles from Galatea. According to the Ngatimanawa account this tree is also a hina, and has one dry side and one green. Should a wahine pukupa go to this tree to test its virtues, she closes her
eyes afar off, and approaches in that manner. She is very careful as to the manner in which she draws near to the talismanic hinau. ‘Kia kaua e haere Maori noa iho.’ She embraces the tree for a considerable time, and then, with her eyes still closed. she turns her back to the tree, that she may not see the part she has embraced. But it is not unknown to the priest who is watching her as to which side she has clasped. If she embraces the living side of the tree, then will she surely bear a child; but if the dry or dead side, no child will come to gladden her. There is a person living at Galatea who was born through the power (mana) of this tree, and his name is Te Ai-ra-te-hinau.”
Te Puta-tieke, a pukatea-tree near Opotiki, is also endowed with the same virtue.
The Maoris compare the placenta (ewe, whenua, puwhenua) to the earth, “the land of one's birth,” “exhausted land,” from which springs uho or iho, the umbilical cord, which appears to have been compared to the trunk of a tree (?) (cf. uho, the heart wood of a tree, the stem or kernel of fruit; tara-uho, the heart of a tree; iho, the heart of a tree, that wherein the strength of a thing consists), or to the long, fibrous root of a tree or shrub (cf. tangaengae, the navel-string; the middle part of the fibrous root aka). Tangaengae (myth) is a spirit standing at almost the lowest point of creation and helping to sustain the universe, the child being the fruit of the tree. At birth the placenta is carefully destroyed by burning, burial, or being thrown into the river or sea. This is done to prevent hostile sorcerers securing it and using it as a “bait” with which to kill or make sick the mother or child by sympathetic magic. The iho was also sometimes buried in a sacred place, and over it was planted a young sapling, either a ngaio (Myoporum lœtum), karaka (Corynocarpus lœvigata), or kahikatea tree (Podocarpus dacrydioides), which, as it grew, was he tohu oranga (a sign of life) for the child.* The umbilical cord of a chief's son was often placed under a stone or on a tree at the boundary of the tribal lands to maintain and strengthen the tribal influence over such a boundary. The iho of children of many succeeding generations might be placed in the same spot. The iho was sometimes placed in a tree, and that place would ever after be known as “the iho of So-and-so.” At Te Ariki is a tree in which the iho of a priest's child was placed, and the hole closed with a piece of precious greenstone. The latter addition enhanced the mana of the iho.†
Thus it is clear that the iho, or umbilical cord, was regarded by the Maori as being a structure of very great importance, being
[Footnote] * “Te Ika a Maui,” Taylor, p. 74.
[Footnote] † “Notes on some Customs and Superstitions of the Maori,” Best, Trans. Austr. Assoc. Adv. Sci., 1898.
severed at birth with much ceremony and priestly incantation, and afterwards carefully deposited in some special spot or common tribal repository. The iho was apparently supposed to retain part of the vital essence of the child from which it was taken, and this would influence the growth of a tree planted over it, or endue the object or place of its lodgment with mystic powers (mana). The tree Te Iho-o-kataka clearly gained its supernatural power from the iho of Kataka, the daughter of Taneatua, but it is not clear how the iho was regarded in this case. Possibly the umbilical cord attracted child-spirits desirous of becoming embodied in the fruit of the root or stem (iho) on which children grow. If so, naturally trees in which the iho of all the children of the tribe were hung would swarm with the unborn souls of children waiting for a suitable opportunity to render a woman pregnant, and thus pass from a spirit to a material sphere of existence.*
There seems to be no ground for regarding these conception trees as phallic symbols. For we have already pointed out that the Maori did not generally attribute conception to sexual intercourse, (?) but to supernatural influences. Te Iho-o-kataka gained mana from the iho of a female child, and it is owing to some obscure supernatural attributes of the iho, and not of the ure or tawhito, that this tree can make barren women conceive.(?)
“Another method of rendering barren women fruitful is by means of the magic rite called whakato tamariki (whaka, a causa tive prefix; to, pregnant).† The efficacy of this strange sorcery is still believed in by many of the natives still living. The sterility is overcome by the supernatural power of the all-powerful priest-physician, who would give his patient directions how to act. First she must obtain a handful of the fragrant grass termed karetu (Hierochloe redolens), and insert therein a portion of paraheka or tatea (semen and preputial secretion). This she hands to the tohunga, who takes it to the wai karakia or sacred pool of the village. There he performs his peculiar rite, singing over the bunch of grass the following karakia to cause the woman's sterility to leave her and to make her conceive:—
Ka whakato au i a koe ki a papa-tuanuku
Kia puta mai a papa-tuarangi
Kia niwha i roto i a koe
Kia puta mai i roto i a koe
Ko wairua whai ao
Ko wairua tangata
Ko Tu-kaniwha, ko Tu-ka-riri
Ko Tu whai ao
[Footnote] * This is not the native idea.—E. B.
[Footnote] † This item is from the Tuhoe Tribe,—E. B.
Kia puta i roto ko Tu-mata-uenga
Kia mau ki te rakau
To rakau poto, to rakau roa
I puta ana mai
Ko Wahieroa na Tawhaki
Ka horohoroa i unga
Ka horohoroa i raro
Ka puta ana ki waho ko Te Hapu-oneone
Ka whanau i roto i a te hapu
Na Tiki-nui, no Tiki-roa, na Tiki-apoa
Na Tiki-tahito, na Tiki-hou
Ka pa ki te ruahine
I a kahau ki waho
I a kahau ki uta
I a kahau matire rau.
“The above is the form of karakia used should a male child be desired. If a female child is wanted, then, instead of the name Rongo-ma-tane, that of Rongo-mai-wahine is inserted, and the lines following it are altered so as to apply to a female, whose labours were dedicated to Hine-te-waiwa—that is, to weaving and the various domestic duties. Male children were dedicated to the service of Tu, the god of war.
“When the marriage feast, known as the kai kotore,* was held, the priest recited over the young couple an invocation called ohaoha, in order to preserve their physical and spiritual welfare, as also to cause the woman to be fruitful. It often happened that the bride's sisters would decline to eat of the food of the particular oven termed the umu kotore, which was prepared for such relatives only, lest they should become sterile (koi purua).”
A sterile Maori woman sometimes made a whaka-pakoko-whare or small house, (?) adorned it with the family treasures, treated it with great reverence, and saluted it with endearing terms. This image, often a mere doll, she nursed in the hopes of becoming fruitful. They also, it is said, repeated special incantations, called uruuruawa, for the cure of barrenness. The Tuhoe natives called the images above referred to whaka-pakoko, a word meaning “image.” This image was in human form, and usually made of wood. In some cases a stone was so dressed and carried by the childless woman, and even potatoes were sometimes so utilised. Mr. Best knew a woman who, being barren, used to nurse a young pig in her arms, as a substitute. Wherever she went the little pig accompanied her, sometimes carried in her arms, at others it would be seen trotting along behind her. Fashionable women in Paris and New York similarly carry puppies and monkeys. It has been stated that the whaka-pakoko were regarded as gods, and also that they were carried
[Footnote] * See Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. xxxvi.
in order to cause the bearers to conceive. The Tuhoe natives, however, seem to have nursed them merely as the result of the unsatisfied maternal instinct. Women who nursed and petted these singular objects were wont to compose and sing songs (oriori) or lullabies over them. precisely as they did to children
Where ngaro is an expression implying the death of all the children of a couple, leaving them without offspring. This affliction of a whare ngaro, or lost house, is said to be caused by the evil influence of ancestral spirits, or is attributed to makutu (sorcery). When parents lost by death their first child they would go to the tohunga and have the tu ora (or kawa ora) rite performed over their second child, in order that the threatened whare ngaro might be averted and the child survive.
Maori women attribute sterility to the habitual use of fermented food, in the form of maize which has been steeped in water until putrid. This is purely a native idea, and one which they consider is confirmed by the fact that fewer fertile women are found among tribes where this food is a favourite article of diet. Consanguineous marriages are also productive of sterility, and Dr. Batty Tuke many years ago visited a pa (fortified village) on the Wanganui River, named Marakowhai, where out of a population of two hundred inhabitants only two fertile females were to be found. That sterility is frequently the result of consanguinity may be deduced from the fact that in many cases where childless women have subsequently formed connections with Europeans, large and healthy families have resulted. Prior to the advent of the whites, early and excessive venery was an important etiological factor, and after the arrival of the whaling fleets was added the potent influence of venereal diseases.
In 1845 Count Strzelecki* expressed the opinion “that when an aboriginal (Australian) female had had a child to a European, she lost her power of conception by a male of her own race, but could produce children by a white man.” Dr. Sarsfield Cassidy,† in a paper read before the members of the New South Wales Medical Council in 1898, supports Count Strzelecki's assertion, and declared that “it had been proved, by overwhelming evidence, that a healthy aboriginal male and female cannot beget children should the female have lived with, and borne children to, a white man.” Strzelecki's statement was generally believed years ago, and a recent medical work ‡ states that the Count “believed this to be the case with many aboriginal races; but it has been disputed, or at all events proved to be by no means a universal law, in every case except that of the aborigines of Australia and
[Footnote] * “Physical History of New South Wales.”
[Footnote] † Journ. Trop. Med., vol. i., p. 141.
[Footnote] ‡ “Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine,” Gould and Pyle, p. 89.
New Zealand.” Thomson,* however, knew several instances of Maori women having children with men of their own race after having had children by Europeans. And Professor Stirling† and Mr. Taplin have abundantly proved that Australian native women may have a large family of black children after having had one or more half-caste children. Thus it may be justly concluded that this idea is now entirely exploded, and the reverse a matter of notoriety.
The Maoris. whose whole life was so much influenced by omens, had several concerning pregnancy. For instance, if a newly married man, while sleeping sound at night, beholds lying on the ground human skulls ornamented with feathers, he awakes with the assurance that his wife will soon conceive. If the feathers are those of the huia bird, it is a sign that the child will be a girl; if those of the kotuku (a white crane), the dream prognosticates a male child.
The Australian woman when pregnant must not eat kangaroo, or eels, or birds. Melanesian women are afraid to eat double bananas when pregnant lest they should give birth to twins. Maori women, however, have all their longings and fancies gratified, in as far as food is concerned, during pregnancy; if she desires eels, or wild-turnips, or shell-fish, or what not, her whim is gratified, but not from any idea, such as prevails in Europe, that non-gratification of such would result in some evil or deformity to the child.
The pregnant Maori woman did not, like her Fijian sister, habitually take medicine during pregnancy to prevent irregularities during labour, or to facilitate the birth of the child; nor was she massaged for some months, as was the Tokelau woman, prior to the commencement of labour. Kava, and a special medicine called wai-ni-lutu-vata, or medicine for simultaneous birth, were taken in Fiji, and the woman was subjected to a curious manipulation, a form of vakasilima, to insure a rapid labour. The Maori had no knowledge of such methods of treating or preventing morbid parturition: if Nature failed her she had little to fall back on beyond the incantations of the tohunga. The only medicine they knew of for facilitating labour, and this was only occasionally used, was the nikau (Areca sapida). The pith of this palm was cooked and eaten for a few weeks by expectant mothers, it having the property of slightly relaxing the bowels, and is reputed to relax the pelvic ligaments.
“In former times, when a woman was rapou (pregnant for the first time), she sometimes lived apart from others, but not in all cases. Still, she would be under certain restrictions and rules
[Footnote] * Brit. and For. Med.-Chir. Rev., vol. xv., p. 524.
[Footnote] † Rept. Hom. Exped. Cent. Austr., vol. IV., p. 129.
during such period. For instance, she was not allowed to have her hair cut, lest the child be rehe (rehe = korehe = pukiki = stunted). She might take a dislike to certain foods, or, as the Maori puts it, the child might be afraid of certain foods, and hence the pregnant woman would also take a dislike to such foods, and decline to partake of them. On the other hand, she might desire, or yearn (kumaˇmaˇ) for certain foods, which would probably be procured for her.” (Tuhoe.)
“If she should desire birds, and these are procured for her, and she eats of the wings, neck, &c., only, it is known that the child she bears is a male. But if she eats the body of the bird, then, it is said, the child is a female. A red or flushed face in a pregnant woman also denotes that the child she bears is a female. If a pregnant woman nurses the child of another woman and the child within her moves, she knows that her own child is of the opposite sex to the child she is nursing. If a whe (the mantis insect) is seen upon a woman it is a sign that she has conceived, and, according to which kind of whe it is, people know whether the child is male or female.”
“If a woman desires to bear a male child, having possibly already borne several female children, she will make it her business to be near when a birth takes place in the neighbourhood. If the child, when born, is a male, she will obtain the whenua, or placenta, and proceed to piki it—that is, she will stand over it for a while, with a foot on either side of it. This singular act, termed piki whenua, is also had recourse to by barren women.” (Tuhoe.)
“Sometimes, though rarely, a ceremony was performed, and karakia repeated over a woman, in order to render her sterile, that she might cease to bear children. Paora Horomata, a Tuhoe tohunga, was a famous adept at this rite, known as whakapa, but the karakia used by him was not ancient, being a part of the ritual of Hauhauism of modern times. His method is said to have been effective. Women who were tired of bearing children and wished to have no more would go to him when near lying-in, so that they might give birth to the child at or near his home. He would be summoned at the birth of the child, and would take some of the blood lost during the separation of the placenta; this blood he would throw into a small fire he himself kindled, repeating at the same time his karakia. By this means his patient was prevented from any further conception. He used no medicines in his method.” (Tuhoe.)
It has frequently been recorded that parturition among primitive and uncivilised races is easier and more rapid than in
civilised countries. This rule holds good for the Maoris, with whom labour is soon over, and the mother almost immediately returns to her usual duties. According to one authority, labour seldom exceeds two hours; generally it is much shorter. After delivery, the woman proceeds to a stream and washes herself and her infant, and then returns home. A Maori woman, the bearer of a burden, with a party of travellers, was confined on the road; after the birth of the child she walked four miles, and next day fifteen. They rise almost immediately after the expulsion of the placenta. Sickness after parturition is rare. Many missionaries and medical men who have lived long among the natives have never heard of a Maori woman dying in childbed. A native chief, aged about fifty, told Dr. Thomson that out of a tribe numbering four thousand souls he could only recollect ten instances of women dying in childbed. This is about one death in three years out of two thousand women. The circumstances which caused death, the chief said, were hæmorrhage and cross-births.
In some Maori tribes, as soon as the woman finds her labour has commenced, she takes her rug and goes into the open air, into a quiet, retired place. If it is her first child a woman attends her; after the first child she goes alone, no one interfering unless assistance is solicited. In New Zealand, as also in many parts of Polynesia, the woman is often confined in some special house, often enough a very primitive and specially built structure, apart from the village or other houses. This whare the Maoris called the fœtus-house, or whare kahu, and it was held so very sacred that slaves and persons low in rank dare not come near it. The day after the child was born the mother and child were removed to the whare kohanga, or nest-house. Such a ceremony was, of course, restricted to the chiefs' wives. (Tuhoe.)
“When, after parturition, the woman was removed to the whare kohanga, her relatives and friends might visit her, so soon as the tapu was removed from mother and child. This whare kohanga, or nest-house, was not a rude shed, such as the fœtus-house, but a better-built and comfortable place.” (Tuhoe.)
“A woman would probably be in the fœtus-house but a night or two before parturition, and would then be removed to the nest-house, together with her child. She would proceed to the whare kahu when she knew her time to be near—perhaps when the labour-pains began, or before. She might be one night in the fœtus-house, or longer, especially in cases of protracted parturition (whakatina).” (Tuhoe.)
“The caretaker appointed to look after the woman and take food to her while in the fœtus-house is also tapu. She must remain with her charge during the time she is tapu, and may not
leave the place, nor visit the village, nor approach any place where food is cooked, nor even come near any person who is noa (void of tapu). When food is prepared for the lying-in woman, it is carried by a noa person from the cooking-place, and deposited on the ground at some distance from the sacred precincts of the fœtus-house, the bearer returning at once. Not until that bearer has retired does the kai tiaki (caretaker) venture to fetch it. She will get it and carry it to within some little distance of the whare kahu, and there deposit the same. The woman will then leave the shed and come to the place where the food is, and there eat it. But the food must on no account be taken near the shed or the child, for it is cooked food, the most polluting and degrading thing known to the Maori—dangerous to life and disastrous to man's future welfare. Should that cooked food be taken near the child while the latter is in the state of intense tapu which obtains prior to the performance of the tua rite, then the hapless infant would be tamaoatia, or polluted; that is to say, the sacred life-principle would be so polluted, and endangered, and the child's welfare probably be utterly ruined. For it would be exposed to all the ills which assail man; it would be lacking in spiritual, vital, and intellectual power and prestige, open to the shafts of magic, the sport of the gods, the food of Hades.”
“The term whare kahu, or whare whakahaku, is to a certain extent a figure of speech, inasmuch as, in fine weather, no shed at all may be erected, the woman giving birth to her child in the open. Nevertheless the term would still be applied to the place, and the same intense tapu prevail.” (Tuhoe.)
“Even now women are not allowed to give birth to a child in a dwelling-house in a village, but go to a hut, or erect a tent, away from the village. It is deemed unseemly to utilise a dwelling-house for this purpose, and not right that people should hear the groans of the parturient woman.” (Tuhoe.)
The Maoris had a famous mat called Takapau-whara-nui,* made from the scalps of fallen enemies. On this the great priests and ariki were begotten. Often some dry grass was used by the common people.
The posture assumed by the parturient Maori woman was that invented by the god Tura, or Grey-head. When his wife was about to be delivered he fixed two posts (turuturu) for her use. One, called Pou-tama-wahine (the post of the daughter),
[Footnote] * Takapau-wharanui is essentially a figurative expression, and is used to denote that a child was born in lawful wedlock. It implies that a special takapau, or sleeping-mat, was used during copulation. (I aitia a mea tangata ki runga i te takapau - wharanui.) It is more than doubtful whether any scalp mats were ever made by the Maori. They were not scalpers, but beheaders.—E. B.
he stuck securely in the ground in front of her; the other, called Pou-tama-tane (prop of the son), he fixed at the back of his wife. “Now,” said Wai-rangi, “the post or prop at your back is for you to rest against, and the prop in front of you is for you to hold on by, so that you may not be overcome.” According to another version of this myth, the god “fixed three posts, so that against one the feet could be pressed, and that the other two could each be grasped by either hand.” This mode so delighted the people that it has continued to be practised until the present time.* Sometimes the woman merely kneels down, with the thighs apart, and with the hands resting on a tree or branch; or she may kneel down with the body bent forward and her weight supported by two poles driven into the ground. The kneeling parturient woman is sometimes supported by another woman kneeling behind her and grasping her round the body; or the assisting sage-femme may place herself in front of her patient, and, while kneeling on one knee, use the other to massage, or press firmly over, the lower part of abdomen or uterus of the woman in labour. Sometimes, if there is any delay in the labour, the parturient woman twines her arms around the knees of an assistant in order to press them against the fundus of the womb. In cases of protracted labour violent pressure is applied to the abdomen, and Dr. Thomson saw a young Maori woman who was suffering from extensive ulceration of the muscles of the abdominal wall, which had come on after a protracted labour. He thought it might have been produced by too violent pressure.
Other methods were also used in the treatment of cases of protracted labour (nga wahine whakatina), the chief of which consisted in the repetition of charms and incantations to the god or goddess of parturition. In some cases, on the arrival of the tohunga he stepped over the woman, breathed on her, and afterwards, retiring to a short distance, sat down and repeated his incantations. If the labour terminated favourably it was looked upon as resulting from the influence of the medicine-man in averting the anger of the demons; but if it terminated fatally the tohunga was considered to have incurred the displeasure of the malignant spirits, and to have lost his influence (mana). Difficult labour was not attributed to mechanical causes or physical defects, but to the influence of evil spirits, and was treated accordingly. In the case of a chief's wife or any woman of importance, the seer (matakite) is called to discover by clairvoyance or other means the particular breach of the tapu law which is the cause of the trouble. The father of the child then plunges into the river, while the tohunga repeats his karakia, and the child will generally be born ere he returns. The Arawa Tribe used the following karakia in such cases:—
[Footnote] * From White's “Ancient History of the Maori.'
O Hineteiwaiwa, release Tu-huruhuru;
O Rupe, release your nephew.
The ancestors of the father were then invoked by name: first the elder male line of ancestors, commencing with an ancestor who lived in Hawaiki, and terminating with the living representative of that line. Then followed a repetition of the ancestral line next in succession, and the third in succession, if the child be not born; after which the tohunga addressed the child thus: “Come forth. The sin rests with me. Come forth.” And he then continued his incantations:—
Unravel the tangle, unravel the crime;
Untie manuka, let it be loosed.
Distant though Rangi [the Sky Parent]
He is reached.
If the child be not now released, Tiki, the demi-god, is thus invoked:—
Tiki of the heap of earth,
Tiki scraped together
When hands and feet were formed,
First produced at Hawaiki.
If the child be a male it will now be born; if a female, the mother's line of ancestors must be invoked.
Hineteiwaiwa, or, as she is sometimes called, Hinauri, or simply Hine, the sister of Maui, and the best-known of all Polynesian legendary personages, was always approached in times of painful or delayed labour, and one of the most ancient of Maori karakia is that which they use when seeking the aid of this good goddess of parturition. It is said to have been first used at the birth of her son Tu-huruhuru, many ages ago. As it is fully translated elsewhere,* I only give a portion of the incantation:—
Weave, weave the mat,
Couch for my unborn child.
Now I step upon the mat,
My child now one with myself.
Stand firm, prop of Hine-rauwharangi,
Stand firm, prop of Hine-teiwaiwa.
Chide me not in my trouble,
Me Hine-teiwaiwa, O Rupe.
Release from above your hair,
Your head, your shoulders,
Your breast, your liver,
Your knees, your feet,
Let them come forth.
The old lady with night-dark visage,†.
She will make you stretch,
She will make you rise up.
Let go placenta, let go membranes,
[Footnote] * “Maori Religion and Mythology,” Shortland, p. 28.
[Footnote] † Hine-nui-te-po, the mother of the female ancestors of mankind
The above karakia is still in use with the Arawa Tribe, and another frequently used is called tuku (to let go). Tura, the obstetric god, whose wife was the first woman delivered in the natural way (Cæsarean section being previously always performed), thus instructed his wife prior to her first confinement: “If your child is not born soon you must call Ao-nui (great world) and say, ‘One to that world’; Ao-roa (long world), and say, ‘One to that world’; and Ao-tauira (world of the disciple), and say, ‘One to that world.’ If then the child is not born you must call my name, and say, ‘One to Tura.’ “
“When there is much difficulty in parturition, the attendant, squatting before the patient, will press or rub her bare knees, with a downward motion, on the abdomen of the woman in labour, in order to aid expulsion. In some such cases the child is extracted forcibly by traction by the attendant midwife. The attendant was sometimes changed in cases of difficult birth, as natives have a firm belief in lucky attendants. A woman's husband sometimes attends her, but if the birth is not easy she will tell him to retire and to send her a capable woman.” (Tuhoe.)
“After parturition a woman often betakes herself to a river or stream and immerses her body therein, lying on her back, and her attendant passes her bare foot downwards over the abdomen and uterus, so as to assist in the expulsion of any fragments of whenua (placenta) or toto (blood-clots).” (Tuhoe.)
In Fiji the midwives introduce the hand into the uterus, and, flexing the fingers, clear out all the clots they find.
There seems to have been no special treatment employed in the morbid states which sometimes follow parturition. The Maoris did not seem to attribute such troubles to sorcery, as did the Fijians. The latter often killed the child if the mother showed any morbid symptoms after labour, so as to favour her recovery. They kept a still-born child in the house for several days so that the mother might speedily recover.
The Maori woman after labour is sacred (tapu), and remains so until the time of baptism, or, if there is any morbid condition present, such as unusual pain or hœmorrhage, she remains tapu and lives apart in the sick-house until well. Generally, however, only the wives of chiefs are subject to this rigorous custom. She is rendered noa, or the tapu is removed, by the priest repeating the tuapana karakia.
Soon after the birth of the child the woman is given a vapour bath medicated with the three shrubs mangeo, kohutuku (Fuchsia excorticata), and tataramoa (Rubus fustialis). This is done to promote the lochial discharge, or, to use their own expression, “to make the blood come from them.” They use this
generally twice—once soon after the child is born, remaining exposed to the steam for about the space of an hour, and repeat it for the same length of time on the following day; they also drink at the same time warm water in which a small fish, called mohi, has been soaked. This is, I presume, a substitute for chicken-broth or beef-tea, and is taken as nourishment. The wife of an ancestor named Uiroa brought forth a son, who was called Tahito-tarere. The people of Te-we presented warm water to her: hence this is provided by the relatives in all similar cases.*
If the breasts fail to secrete milk the woman sends her husband for the medicine-man, and the mother and child are carried to the sacred pool, where the tohunga dips a handful of weed into the water and sprinkles the mother and child with the “holy water.” The child is taken away from the mother by the priest-physician, who then repeats this invocation:—
Water springs from above give me
To pour on the breasts of this woman;
Dew of heaven give me
To cause to trickle the breast of this woman,
At the points of the breasts of this woman,
Breasts flowing with milk,
Flowing to the nipples of the breasts of this woman,
Milk in plenty yielding
For now the infant cries and moans
In the great night, in the long night.
Tu the benefactor,
Tu the giver,
Tu the bountiful,
Come to me, to this tauira.
After this the child is dipped in the water, and the mother and child are kept apart, in order that the incantations may take effect. The woman remains alone in her house, while the tohunga, seated outside, repeats his karakia. The tohunga also instructs the woman thus: “If the points of your breast begin to itch, lay open your clothes, and he naked.” Some time after her breasts begin to itch, and the woman knows that the karakia has taken effect. Soon her breasts become painful, and she calls out to the tohunga, “My breasts itch and are painful; they are full of milk.” Then the child is brought to the mother. Such is the power of the incantations of the Maori. If the mother has an insufficient supply of milk the child may be suckled by friends, and friends calling to see the lying-in woman, if they themselves were suckling a child, invariably gave the breast to the new child. Maori women who have never been pregnant occasionally suckle children. Dr. Batty Tuke† knew of one
[Footnote] * “The Ancient History of the Maori,” vol. 1, p. 33.
[Footnote] † Edin. Med. Journ., vol. IX., p. 726.
instance of this, “and was sufficiently well acquainted with the woman herself and family to be free from mistake or misinformation.”
The woman while nursing is tapu, and forbidden, under pain of death, to touch the food which she eats with her own hands; and women who violate this prohibition, by eating a piece of fern-root, for instance, in the mode forbidden by the law of tapu, have been immediately killed and eaten.(?)*
It is well known that a Tasmanian woman would kill her new-born babe to permit a favourite puppy being reared by suckling. The puppy was of greater value to the community of hunters than the babe. Maori women used frequently to be seen suckling a sucking-pig, either from affection for the animal or because they could not find children who required foster-mothers.
The leaves and bark of the native cedar, kohekohe (Dysoxylum spectabile), when macerated with water, were used by women who had lost their infants, to prevent the secretion of milk. Sore breasts were treated by the application of the oil of the titoki fruit (Alectryon excelsum), and the oil hinu-kohia, prepared by bruising the seed of the kohia (Passiflora tetrandra) into a pulp and heating the mass in a native oven, and then expressing the oil by pressure. “Another method of promoting lacteal secretion was to bathe the breasts with warm water. If this were neglected a serious condition termed u taetae would be set up in them.” (Tuhoe.)
Koro-kio-ewe was a deity who presided over childbirth, and did his worst to unfortunate females in that state. Taiepa, an infernal demon, was one of his attendants or assistants.
At the cutting of the umbilical cord just after birth certain ceremonies were performed. In the first place, the tohunga repeats a charm over the child at that moment. If it be a male the charm is as follows:—
Cutting to inspire you with courage to fight,
Cutting to give strength to wield your weapon,
Cutting to fill you with courage,
Cutting to make you till food to eat, &c.
And so on, enumerating the various duties and qualities befitting a male. If, however, it be a female, the charm is as follows:—
Cutting to make you weave the robe to keep you warm,
Cutting to make you till food to eat,
Cutting to make you hackle flax to weave with, &c
Umbilical hernia is common amongst Maori children, and seems to be due to the custom of twisting the cord, or to its being
[Footnote] * Women were probably tapu in this manner only with their first-born child.—E. B.
cut too close. The condition disappears as the child grows older. The Maori child, having been washed, has all its joints manipulated and bent, and finally, to add to its beauty, the nose is pressed flat against the face, a prominent nose being considered extremely ugly.
“The umbilical cord has three subdivisions. The end next the child is termed the pito, that attached to the placenta is called the rauru, while the middle portion is known as the iho (see ante). Should the cord happen to break towards the placenta end during labour, such is termed a rauru motu, and the mother's life will be in great danger—no one save a very expert tohunga can save her; the child also will be stunted and puny. On account of this belief, a sickly or small person is often termed a rauru motu. If the iho has a knotted appearance, it is believed that the woman's next child will be a boy. The Maori was not acquainted with the function of the umbilical cord, but believed that the child received sustenance from the mother through the fontanelles (wahi tamomo) of the skull.” (Tuhoe.)
The new-born babe, if a first-born child of a chief, is a very sacred object, and must first be rendered noa or free from tapu. The tohunga accordingly makes a number of clay balls, setting them in a row on the ground, and raising little mounds of earth near them; these mounds were named after the principal gods, and the clay balls were named after the ancestors of the child. The priest then takes a branch of the sacred karamu (Coprosma), ake, or other suitable plant, and, fastening a portion to the child's waist, repeats the appropriate karakia, called tuapana (which removes the tapu also from the mother, as already stated), and the ceremony is over. The horohoronga is part of a ceremony to take the tapu off a new-born child; it consists in preparing an offering by cooking certain food in three separate ovens, one of which is set apart for the family gods, one for the priest, and one for the parents. Girls were dedicated at their birth to Hineteiwaiwa, goddess of child-bearing and of all the necessaries of life.
Dentition is occasionally accompanied with irritation and convulsions, but the latter complaint is less frequent than among European children. The following charm is used by Maori mothers to hasten the process of teething:—
Growing kernel, grow,
Grow, that thou mayest arrive
To see the moon now full.
Come, thou kernel,
Let the tooth of man
Be given to the rat,
And the rat's tooth
To the man.
Twins (mahanga) and triplets have been known among the Maoris, but were not frequently seen, and three children born at one time have never been reared. Maori women often give birth to large families. One case is reported of fifteen children by one woman.
Premature labour and miscarriages were not uncommon; in fact, one well-informed medical man states that the latter were of frequent occurrence, many females suffering as often as from two or three to ten or twelve times. Whether this was the result of procuration, or simply accidental, he was unable to say; but he had strong suspicions that the former was frequently put into practice. The native woman, however, was subject to many accidental causes of such a condition. Dr. Dieffenbach stated that many children were still-born; but he suspected that in almost all these cases death was caused by the mother.
Various methods were resorted to to bring about the unnatural condition which was termed whaka tahe, mate roto (to die within), or tutae atua (lit. “excrement of the gods”). In some instances herbs were taken, such as a decoction of the kareao (Rhipogonum scandens); in others the desired end was obtained by pressing violently upon the abdomen with a belt; and, in addition, they had some instrumental method, but its precise nature is unknown. It does not seem to have been in very general use.
“According to Maori belief, premature birth was usually caused by some infringement of the laws of tapu on the part of the mother, and for which she would be thus punished by the gods. When a woman, in former times, desired to procure abortion on herself she would proceed to taikı the fœtus—that is, she would pollute a tapu person, as a tohunga, or one of her elders, by passing some cooked food over his garment or his resting-place. Or she might take a portion of cooked food to some sacred place and there eat it. Such acts would, to the native mind, be deemed quite sufficient to cause a miscarriage. Generally when a woman noticed that she was papuni—i.e., that menstruation had stopped, and she was pregnant—and desired to procure abortion, she would proceed to some sacred place, as the tuahu, where priests performed various religious rites, and she would pluck some herb growing there, and, applying it to her mouth, would then cast it away. This would be quite sufficient: she has ‘eaten,’ or polluted, a sacred place. The gods will attend to her case.” (Tuhoe.)
“A child born with a caul (noho kahu) will, it is said, grow up pert and forward, and will be a famous fighting-man.
The greasy substance (vernix caseosa) which often covers the skin of a new-born child is believed by the Maoris to be “food
consumed by the mother; and also it indicates, when unusually abundant, that the mother has not been so virtuous as she might have been.” (Tuhoe.)
Among some tribes some singular beliefs obtain regarding birth—e.g., that female children are never born while certain winds prevail, and that some winds prevent any birth, be it a male or a female child.
“The placenta has been described by natives as he timatanga noho no te tamaiti (a first abiding-place of the child). It is taken away from the village and buried, being tapu, as is also the place where it is buried, which is carefully avoided by the people. The village priest performed a rite over the placenta in order to cause the next child born to the woman to be healthy and vigorous, and to survive.” (Tuhoe.)
“In late times, since the arrival of Europeans, the Maoris have used a certain decoction, which is drunk by women in order to cause the placenta to be expelled. It is made by boiling together the leaves of the kopakopa (Plantago major), clover, and pororua (Sonchus oleraceus) with some salt.” (Tuhoe.)
“The natives believe that if a woman just pregnant sees some object which impresses her, or makes her laugh, then the child will be affected by this ‘maternal impression.’ For instance, should a woman in such condition be struck with the appearance of a tekoteko (a grotesque carved wooden figure) and laugh at it, her child when born will be very ugly. One woman who has a strand of reddish hair among her plentiful growth of black hair states that it was caused by her mother seeing, and being struck by, or interested in, some maurea (a reddish tussock grass) which had been brought from Tarawera during her pregnancy.” (Tuhoe.)
Birth by the Cæsarean Operation.—This method of delivering the child is not infrequently resorted to in civilised countries in cases where the child cannot be born alive in the natural manner. The operation was known to the Romans, but was not commonly performed in Europe until comparatively recent years. Felkin saw a case of the Cæsarean operation in Central Africa performed by a native. Maori tradition records the discovery of the Naku-mai-tore, or Aitanga-a-nuku-mai-tore, a fairy or elvish people, by the gods Whiro and Tura. They were peculiar in shape, their legs and arms being so short that they seemed to have no limbs at all. Their chests and waists were large and their heads were small. They were not human beings. According to Moriori tradition these creatures were Rupe's people. They were wood-pigeons (pare, or parea), and are said to have got their red bills owing to the stain of Hine's blood, in assisting to deliver her child. They haunted the leaves and
fruits of the kiekie (Freycinetia) and the wharawhara (Astelia banksii); they sat among the foliage, waving their hands and short arms. Their children were always born by the Cæsarean operation.
Tura, also called Wai-rangi-haere (demented wanderer), left Hawaiki, the cradle of the Maori race, and travelled by sea to Otea, in the interior of which country he discovered the strange fairies, one of whom, Turakihau, he made his wife, and in due course she conceived. He was surprised one day, when the birth of the child drew near, by finding his wife in great sorrow; and she informed him that she was weeping because of her approaching death, it being the custom of the country to deliver the child by cutting open the mother's belly and extracting the child by making an opening into the womb, the death of the mother being a certainty under the rude surgical instruments of sharp flint used by the midwives. Tura reassured his wife, and drove off the fiendish midwives, allowing the infant to be born in a natural manner. Thus Tura became a deity who was appealed to in cases of difficult parturition, his wife being the first person ever delivered in the natural way. Had Tura allowed them to follow their own practice the body of the mother would, after delivery, have been taken to the Wai-ora-tane (life-giving waters of Tane), and there washed and bathed until life came back again and perfect health was restored.
Another story* relates how Manini-pounamu went away to sea and landed in a strange land, where he took to himself a new wife. “After a time, when the woman had been enceinte for two months, a party of twenty women went to visit her. The purpose for which they went was to rip open the woman. They were sent away, and when they returned later on the wife said to them, ‘My husband would not consent to my child being cut out; he was very angry.’ To this the women replied, ‘But you will die.’ Then the woman fell asleep in her house, and whilst she slept the visitors cut her open and saved her child, but the mother died.”
In the traditions of the people of Niue Island we find the interesting legend concerning Gini-fale, often also called Matagini-fale or Gigi-fale. While sitting by the sea-shore she annoyed a whale, who in revenge swallowed her and swam away to sea. The monster became stranded on an island called Toga or Tonga, and Gini-fale escaped and got ashore. “The people of the island came down and found the woman, whom they took and cared for. She was a handsome woman was Gini-fale, and a certain chief of the island took her to wife. When the woman became pregnant, the husband used to cry every day. Gini-fale asked
[Footnote] * Journ. Pol. Soc., 1894, p. 103.
him, ‘What do you cry for?’ The husband said, ‘I am crying on your account, because of your child.’ It was the custom of that island to cut open the belly and then take the child out, but the mother died.”*
Thus it is clear, from Maori legend, that the New-Zealanders had at least a theoretical knowledge of Cæsarean section. We have no proof that they ever practised it on the living female, and, knowing their great aversion to surgical procedures of all kinds, we think they probably never did. It is, however, extremely likely that the operation was sometimes performed on the bodies of victims in the wholesale slaughters which occasionally took place in their old-time tribal battles. In the subsequent cannibal orgie, if a woman in an advanced stage of pregnancy was consigned to the ovens her child would, we presume, be removed by such a procedure.
There is no recorded case of Cæsarean section amongst the Polynesians or Melanesians, although the latter also have legends attributing the operation to mythical personages.
Pharmacy: Medicinal Plants.
Ranunculus rivularis. (Waoriki.)
The expressed juice, which has blistering properties, is used for rheumatic and other painful joint-diseases.
Clematis, sp. (Pikiarero, Puawananga, &c.)
The leaves used to produce blisters (counter-irritation).
Brassica oleraceœ. (Wild-cabbage.)
A hot decoction was used internally in cases of colic.
Drimys axillaris, Forst. (Horopito; Pepper-tree.)
The sap is used for the cure of skin-diseases and gonorrhœa. A decoction of the leaves (Maori painkiller) is often used by bushmen to allay abdominal pain.
Pittosporum obcordatum, Raoul. (Kohukohu.)
Used for itch, eczema of the scalp, and other cutaneous diseases. (See ante, “Skin-diseases.”)
[Footnote] * Journ. Pol. Soc., vol. xii., p. 102.
Pittosporum eugenioides, A. Cunn. (Tarata.)
A resinous balsamic gum obtained by making longitudinal grooves in the bark. Is used for foul breath.
Hoheria populnea, A. Cunn. (Houhere.)
The leaves, bark, and flowers (glutinous like the mallow) of this tree are used medicinally.
Pelargonium australe, Willd. (Kopata.)
A lotion prepared from the bruised leaves is applied to scalds and burns.
Melicope ternata, Forst. (Wharangi.)
The gum of this tree is chewed by the Maoris for foul breath. Care has to be taken not to confuse this plant with Wharangipiro (Olearia cunninghamii), the gum of which is a deadly poison.
Dysoxylum spectabile, Hook. (Kohekohe; Native cedar.)
The leaves and bark are used as a bitter tonic and stomachic. A decoction of these parts of the plant was also used to allay coughing, and to arrest lacteal secretion. The young bark is said to contain a bitter principle having tonic properties allied to quinine.
Alectryon excelsum, D.C. (Titoki, Titongi.)
The green oil extracted from the fruit is applied externally to wounds, sores, weak eyes, sore breasts, chafed skin in infants, bruises, painful joints, and into the ear to relieve earache. Taken internally it is laxative. The astringent red pulp is taken by consumptives to relieve blood-spitting. (See ante, “Pharmacy.”)
Coriaria ruscifolia, Linn.; syn. C. sarmentosa, Forst. (Tutu, Tua-tutu, Tu-pakihi, Puhou.)
Mr. F. L. Armitage informs me that this plant, although the most poisonous in New Zealand, is used in cases of sickness. For instance, a decoction of its leaves is given to patients suffering from dysentery; a mixture containing the juices of the pith is
used in insanity. The juice of the so-called berries (pakaraka) fermented with sea-weed (karengo) is taken to counteract the costiveness caused by eating totara, rimu, or karaka berries. From the leaves steeped in water with other plants is made a lotion used as an application to wounds.
Edwarsia microphylla. (Kowhai.)
An infusion of the bark of the kowhai and manuka trees is drunk for internal pains, and is applied externally for pains in the back or side. The inner bark of kowhai is used for hakihaki (itch).
Rubus australis. (Aka taramoa, Tataramoa; Bush-lawyer.)
The bark of this climber is boiled and the liquor taken as a purgative in cases of severe abdominal pain. If it does not act quickly, a decoction made from the tawhero is taken. It is also used in the vapour bath taken by women during the puerperium to promote lochial discharge. A decoction is taken to relieve dysmenorrhœa.
Geum urbanum, Linn. (Kopata.)
The astringent properties of the leaf are utilised in diarrhœa and dysentery, and are also chewed for foul breath (Armitage).
Acœna sanguisorbœ, Vahl. (Hutiwai, Piripiri.)
The leaves, boiled or steeped in hot water, are applied to open wounds, or rubbed on contusions. A lotion similarly prepared is applied to the external genitals (in women?) in cases of painful micturition (E. Best). The plant is also used medicinally by the South Island natives (Hooker).
Weinmannia racemosa, Forst. (Tawhero, Towai.)
The bark from the west side of the tree, from which the outer rind has been scraped off, is steeped in hot water, and the decoction taken internally as an aperient in cases of abdominal and thoracic pains.
Cercodia erecta, Murr. (Toatoa.)
A stiff - growing herb, used medicinally by the Maoris. (T. Kirk.)
Myrtus obcordata. (Rohutu.)
A preparation of the bark and berries is used by the Tuhoe natives in cases of dysmenorrhœa (difficult menstruation).
Leptospermum scoparium, Forst. (Manuka.)
The emollient, manna-like white gum (pia-manuka) is applied to scalds and burns, and is given to costive suckling infants. It is also taken by adults to allay coughing. An infusion of the bark is used externally and internally as a sedative. A decoction of the bark relieves diarrhœa and dysentery.
Metrosideros tomentosa, A. Cunn. (Pohutukawa; Christmas-tree.)
The inner tannin-bearing bark is used in dysentery. The honey obtained from the flowers is sucked through a reed by invalids with sore throat.
Metrosideros robusta, A. Cunn. (Rata.)
The flowers and bark used for the same complaints as pohutukawa. A lotion prepared from the bark is also used in ringworm, aches, pains, and wounds.
Metrosideros scandens. (Aka-kura.)
The sap is used by the Tuhoe tribes for weakness of the eyes (Best).
Passiflora tetrandra. (Kohia.)
The oil expressed from the seeds (hinu-kohia) is applied to chronic sores and chapped nipples.
Coprosma grandifolia. (Manono.)
The sap obtained from the inner bark is applied in cases of hakihaki—scabies (Best).
Brachyglottis repanda, Forst. (Rangiora, Pukapuka.)
The bark of this shrub and the tips of the branches on the west side of the plant are cut, and an aromatic gum exudes, which is chewed for foul breath. It may be first dissolved in oil, or may be kept soft in water.
Lagenophora forsterii. (Parani; Native Daisy.)
The sap was used for maoa (alveolar abscess) in the mouth (E. Best).
Sonchus oleraceus. (Tawheke, Pororua; Sow-thistle.)
Used medicinally (J. White). With clover and kopakopa it forms an ingredient of an ecbolic mixture (E. Best).
Geniostoma lingustrifolium. (Hanehane.)
Applied to a skin-disease of children (hawaniwani) (E. Best).
Ipomœa batatas, Lam. (Kumara; Sweet-potato.)
The whole plant is boiled and the liquor used internally for low fever, and externally for various skin-diseases.
Solanum laciniatum. (Poroporo.)
The inner layer of the bark is used for hakihaki (scabies), and the leaves as cataplasms for ulcers.
Veronica salicifolia, Forst. (Koromiko, Kokomiko, Kokomuka.)
This is perhaps the most generally diffused plant in New Zealand. It is also the best-known medicinal plant, being used equally by native and settler. Its well-defined astringent properties render it a valuable drug in dysentery and diarrhœa. A few of the young fresh leaves are chewed and swallowed, or, being pounded with a mallet, they are then boiled for two hours or less: the resulting decoction, after filtration, is taken internally for the above-mentioned complaints. Baber* found that an infusion of the dried leaves had no therapeutic effect, but that a decoction had. From this he supposed the active principle differed from tannin. The leaves and tender shoots are used as a poultice for ulcers and venereal disease. Koromiko is also used in the native medicated steam or vapour bath.
Rhabdothamnus solandri. (Kaikai-aruhe.)
The fresh leaves and twigs are used in the medicated vapour bath.
Myoporum lœtum, Forst. (Ngaio.)
The bark is chewed for toothache, the twigs and leaves to medicate the vapour bath, and the juice expressed from the leaves is applied to the skin to prevent mosquito and sandfly bites.
[Footnote] * “The Chemist and Druggist of Australasia,” 1886, p. 268.
Plantago major. (Kopakopa.)
“This plantain closely resembles the European, but is indigenous, and a valuable medicinal herb, well known to the Maoris. The leaves when boiled are used as an application for ulcers. The upper side of the leaf ‘draws,’ and when the wound begins to heal the under side of the leaf is used on it. The liquor in which the leaves are boiled is also used for scalds and burns, and as a uterine stimulant.”
Tetranthera calicaris. (Mangeo, Mangeao.)
Used in the vapour bath by lying-in women to promote the lochial discharge.
Atherosperma novœ-zealandiœ, Hook. (Pukatea.)
The inner layer of the bark of this aromatic plant is boiled in water, and the decoction thus prepared is applied externally to tuberculous and chronic ulcers, and various cutaneous diseases. A strong decoction held in the mouth relieves odontalgia, and is also taken internally and applied locally in syphilis.
Hedycarya dentata, Forst. (Kaiwhiria.)
Used in medicated vapour bath.
Piper excelsum, Miquel. (Kawakawa.)
The leaf and bark are used for cuts, wounds, cutaneous disorders, gonorrhœa, and in making vapour baths. The leaves are chewed for toothache, and the root for dysentery. A pulp of the leaves is applied to joints in rheumatism. A decoction of the leaves and young shoots is taken internally for abdominal pains. This plant does not possess the sedative and narcotic properties of kava (P. methysticum).
Podocarpus totara. (Totara.)
The smoke from the burning wood is used to cure paipai (a cutaneous disorder), and venereal disease in women. The outer dry bark is used for splints in cases of fracture.
Dacrydium excelsum. (Kahikatea.)
The leaf is used in the form of a decoction for urinary and other internal complaints, and in the medicated steam bath.
Podocarpus ferruginea. (Miro, Toromiro.)
The oil expressed from the drupes is given to patients recovering from fevers. It is also applied to the skin as an insecticide. The gum which exudes from the bark is applied to wounds and ulcers. A liquor prepared from the leaves and bark is taken internally for paipai (gonorrhœa) by the Tuhoe natives (Best).
Dacrydium cupressimum. (Rimu; Red-pine.)
This excessively astringent gum, obtained by making incisions in the bark, is applied to wounds as a hæmostatic. The inner bark is bruised to a pulp and applied to burns.
Phormium tenax, Forst. (Harakeke; Flax.)
The root is used as an anthelmintic and cathartic. It is applied to ringworm, and to the skin of young children to prevent chafing. The roasted root, beaten to a pulp, is applied to abscesses and swollen joints, in the form of a poultice. A decoction of the root with an equal portion of the juice of the kohia-berry is taken internally for flatulency. The alkaline gum is applied to wounds and burns, and is taken internally in cases of diarrhœa.
Rhipogonum parviflorum. (Kareao; Supplejack.)
A decoction is used for the secondary symptoms of syphilis, and to produce abortion. The young shoot is eaten to cure the itch (hakihaki); the long underground rootstocks skinned and then beaten to a pulp and steeped in water and strained, the liquor being used medicinally.
Cordyline australis. (Ti.)
A decoction is used by the Maoris for dysentery and diarrhoea.
Areca sapida, Soland. (Nikau.)
The slightly laxative pith is taken by pregnant women to relax the pelvic ligaments and thus facilitate parturition.
Hierochloe redolens. (Karetu.)
Used in the medicated vapour baths.
Arundo conspicua. (Toetoe; Feathery-grass.)
The feathery part of the plant is applied to wounds, acting mechanically as a hæmostatic. The ashes of the burnt plant
are applied to burns (i.e., charcoal poultice). In diarrhœa the lower part of the young undeveloped leaves are eaten. The Morioris also used the plant medicinally.”
Pteris aquilina, Linn., var. esculenta. (Marohi, Takaka, Rarahu, Rahurahu, &c.)
The root of this common fern is used as food for invalids, and it is always taken by persons going on a voyage as the best antidote for sea-sickness.
Cyathea medullaris. (Mamaku.)
The bruised pith is used as a poultice for swollen feet and sore eyes.
Cyathea dealbata. (Ponga.)
The pith of this tree-fern was used as a poultice for cutaneous eruptions.
Asplenium obtusatum. (Paretao.)
This fern was used in the medicated vapour bath.
Hypnum clandestinum. (Angiangi.)
This fern was dipped in water and applied to the affected parts in cases of venereal disease. It also served as a diaper for menstruating women.
Musci and Lichens.
Mosses and lichens found on trees, when dried and reduced to powder, are rubbed into the skin for various cutaneous diseases.
Laminaria sp. (Rimu-roa.)
A long marine alga which grows on the rocks on the seacoast. Its tender end is roasted and eaten as a cure for itch (scabies) and intestinal worms.
Laminaria sp. (Karengo.)
This seaweed, when fermented with the juice of the poisonous tutu, is used as an aperient.