The exhumation of the bones of the dead usually takes place about four years after burial. It, however, often occurs that the dead are allowed to accumulate for years, and then a meeting
of the peoples to whom such dead belong is called for the purpose of taking up the bones and conveying them to burial caves or trees. This ceremony has ever been deemed by the Maori an extremely important one, and those who disentomb the dead or handle their bones are under very heavy tapu until the ceremony is over and the tapu removed by means of the pure rite. It often happens that some of the dead have been buried for a space of time considerably longer than four years. Others, again, may not have been buried for more than half of that time, or even less.
Many people collect at the larger meetings held for this purpose, caused by different clans being related through inter-marriage. and by the fact that Natives enjoy these meetings on account of the facilities they afford for social intercourse. There is much wailing for the dead when the bones are disinterred. At an exhumation which took place in this district some time back there were five men engaged in disinterring the bones, under an elderly man who acted as tohunga (priest, adept). As the delvers took out the bones they were wiped with handfuls of grass by the principal person of the party, and laid aside in little heaps, the bones of each body being kept separate. One of the bodies, that of a child, had only been buried a few months, and many objected to its being disentombed, but they seem to have been silenced. This hahunga was a lengthy one, and continued for some time, hence the working party could not go foodless for the period of the ceremony, hence just before each meal they had to be cleansed from the dread tapu before they could eat. They went down to the riverside and immersed their bodies in the waters thereof each time; the karakia whakanoa, or cleansing invocation or charm, would complete the removal of tapu until they recommenced their task. In days of yore this ceremony was always conducted by the priests, assisted by their pupils (neophytes). The bones of each body were wrapped up and placed on a stage, termed a “whata puaroa,” or “atamira,” where they remained until all were disinterred, and were then taken away and deposited in the burial-cave. This latter task fell to the lot of the relatives of the dead.
The priests erected the stage on which the bones were placed, and also put them on it, repeating as they did so,—
Ka iri ki te whata no Hotu
Hotu tu nuku, Hotu tu rangi
Hotu tu kai tau.
Ka iri ki te whata
Whatu nui, whatu roa
Ka eke ki te whata
The following is a charm used by the Ngati-Awa Tribe at such times:—
Ka iri ki te whata
O Hotu nuku, o Hotu rangi
Hotu tapoa nuku, tapoa rangi
Tu kai ure
Kai ure te po nunui
Kai ure te po roroa
Hikitia mai to manawa o Tane
Are mai te mana o Tane
Kopia mai te mana o Tane
Ka ngau ki tua, ka ngau ki waho
The following is also from Ngati-Awa:—
Ka iri ki te whata
O Hotu nuku, o Hotu roa
Hotu tatakina te mata o Tunui
Hotu tukua mai te rehu tai moana
Ka whanatutu rangi
Te wehenga kauki
Ka iri ki te tarana o Tane-i-te-kapua
I te kapua nui, i te kapua roa
I te kapua matotoru
I te Tatau-o-Rangiriri
I tupu ki tua, tupu ki waho
Ka ea nga mahi, ka ora
Ora ki tupua, ora ki tawhito
These exhumation ceremonies are still conducted among the Tuhoe Tribe with considerable ritual. At one such which took place in this district a few years ago the proceedings lasted for two weeks. This was on account of two children having died at the village while the hahunga was in progress, which prolonged the function. Then might be seen on one side of the plaza a tangihanga, or weeping for the dead, in progress, lamenting the dead with tears and wailing, while just across the open square a number of Natives were enjoying themselves, making merry with song and dance and shrieks of laughter.
Persons of low birth were not allowed to take part in disinterring the bones of the chieftain class. Persons so engaged cannot eat or drink until the tapu is taken off them. The visiting peoples at these exhumation meetings bring presents, termed “taonga kopaki” (see ante), for the relatives of the dead.
Supposing that some Natives of another tribe, say Ngati-Awa, were to die among the Tuhoe Tribe and were buried there, when the proper time came Tuhoe would disinter the bones, and a party of them would carry the bones to the homes of the dead in the Ngati-Awa country. Those of the party who actually
carried the bones would be tapu. Others would be a sort of escort. Some women would probably accompany the party, and would act as cooks on the journey. The party would also take some presents, such as greenstone ornaments (the jewels of Maoridom), &c., for the relatives of the dead. Ngati-Awa would not make any return presents, but would act in a similar manner should any of Tuhoe be buried on their lands. Relatives of the dead retained the taonga kopaki. Some of Ngati-Awa might attend the disentombing of their dead by Tuhoe, or none of them might be present.
Many years ago a party of Ngati-Kahungunu Natives from Te Wairoa, while on a visit to Rua-tahuna, fell victims to an epidemic which ravaged that remote vale. Some years after the Wairoa people asked Tuhoe to disinter the bones and convey them to Te Wairoa. This was done, and the Wairoa Natives collected at one of their villages in order to receive the party. As the latter entered the village and marched on to the plaza, those bearing the bones were in a state of nudity, to show that the tapu was on them. They merely wore a rude maro of green branchlets fastened round the waist. Rumours were abroad that the Wairoa people were armed and were going to fire on the party—a most extraordinary thing to do under the circumstances, but the old-time enmity between the two tribes was still keen at that time. They may have suspected witchcraft (makutu) as the cause of their friends' deaths. Just before the party entered the village, an old woman, who was performing the powhiri (welcome) from a small hill hard by, called out, “Kia tama-tane te haere” (i.e., “Be cautious how you advance”), and Tuhoe thought that things were about to happen. However, nothing untoward occurred.
The funeral feast held at the hahunga (disinterment) of bones of the dead was an important affair to the Maori people, and was accompanied by much ritual, repeating of invocations, incantations, &c. For some time prior to the ceremony the people would be busy at cultivating extra food for the occasion, and also preserving various kinds, as birds and fish. As the time for the hahunga tupapaku drew near, all available kinds of fresh foods would be obtained for the ceremonial feast. These foods would be cooked in different ovens (steam-ovens), each one having its distinctive name, and its contents being for certain persons only. Some of these ovens were intensely tapu, as the small one for the chief priest, and that for the eldest son of the high chief's family. This feast was a part of the pure or tapu- lifting rite. All obtainable vegetable food, as sweet-potatoes, taro, greens, &c., were cooked in these steam-ovens (umu or imu), together with fish, birds, and, as a special luxury, the
fiesh of the Native dog. Rats were often preserved in fat and so eaten.
Among the Tuhoe Tribe there were six different ovens prepared for the pure function—i.e., for the general feast. The function itself was often termed “ahi pure” (pure fire), sacred fires being used in many Maori rites, which often are termed “fires,” as “ahi taitai” (the taitai fire or rite), “ahi rokia,” &c. The term “umu” (oven, steam-oven) is often used in the same manner, as also is its variant form “imu”—e.g., umu pera, umu pongipongi, imu kirihau, imu wa-haroa, &c. The ordinary term for a steam-oven is “hangi,” which, however, Tuhoe never apply to these sacred ovens, or ovens used in connection with their numerous religious rites. Such ovens they invariably term “umu.” The Ngati-Awa Tribe often use the form “imu.”
The following are the ovens used formerly among Tuhoe: (1.) Tuakaha (umu tuakaha): A small oven: it contains food for high priests only. (2.) Potaka (umu potaka): Contains food for the priests of lower standing. (3.) Whangai (umu whangai): For the ariki or high chief of the tribe, the first-born of the principal family, a very tapu individual. The most highly tapu of all the ovens: even the priests could not approach it. (4.) Ruahine (umu ruahine): Contained food for the ruahine only, an elderly woman who was employed in whakanoa, or tapu-lifting rites. (5.) Pera (umu pera): Contained food for the warriors, fighting-men who had been proved in battle, and termed “toa,” “arero-whero,” “ika-a-whiro.” This was a large oven, 10 ft. to 20 ft. in diameter. No women were allowed near it. (6.) Tukupara (umu tukupara): This was a very large oven (or ovens) in which was cooked food for the ordinary people—i.e., the bulk of the people.
A portion of the sacred food was eaten by the priests, and a portion, as we have seen, was offered to the dead. People had to be very careful in regard to the above-mentioned ovens and the foods they contained. They were tapu, and all rights pertaining thereto were jealously guarded. The last-mentioned (No.6) alone might be approached or partaken of by any person. Should a person approach the oven (or its contents) of the priests or ariki (matamua), there was trouble toward of a very serious nature. But to take of such a food and eat it, even the scraps from a meal, was an act of impiety dreadful to think of. If a common person, the offender might be slain, or he might die of fright if the act had been done in ignorance. Anyhow, it would need a priestly rite to save him from the anger of the gods. If eaten in ignorance, and a priest were called in, the latter would perform the diagnostic rite in order to ascertain the cause of the patient's illness. He would then say, “He popoa to mate
Nau i kai i te popoa.” (“Your complaint is caused by your having eaten of the popoa”). This “popoa” is a term applied to the sacred foods set apart for the tapu persons who take part in the disentombing ceremony. For another person to eat such food was a hara, and the act would affect his throat, which would contract, or seem to contain some obstruction. “Popoki” seems to be another name for the popoa—sacred food used at the hahunga tupapaku ceremony, as also that used at the rite to take the tapu off a new-born child and its mother. One authority, and a good one, says, “Mo tenei ingoa, mo te popoki ko te mea tuatahi i te haerenga ki te mahi kai mo te tuatanga—manu ranei, ika ranei, ka kawea ki mua ma te atua” (“In regard to this word ‘popoki,’ it is the first article of food obtained by a party who are collecting food for the tua rite over a child, be it bird or fish; it is taken to the sacred place and offered to the god”).
But we must lift the tapu from the sacred foods of the hahunga feast or black death will be our portion. The tapu is removed by means of a karakia (invocation, charm, &c.) called a “whakau.” This is recited by the priest, who takes a small portion of the food (as a single sweet-potato) and offers it to the ancestral gods, to give power, influence, to his invocation. He then takes a small portion of the food and holds it over the bulk of the foods to be freed from tapu, and repeats,—
To kai ihi, to kai ihi
To kai Rangi, to kai Papa
To kai tapu
To kai rua Koiwi
To kai awe
To kai karu
To kai ure pahore
To kai matamua
To kai rua tupapaku
Whakataha ra koe
E te anewa o te rangi e tu nei
He tawhito to tapu e homai nei
Kei taku ure
Na te tapu ihi, na te tapu mana
Hinga ki mua
Takoto ki raro
Ki to Kauwha
The priest then lifts the piece of food to his mouth and recites,—
E kai tatau, E kai! E kai!
Kai atu tatau ki nga ihi i te rangi
Kai atu tatau ki nga tapu i te rangi
Kai atu tatau ki nga ruanuku
Kai atu tatau ki nga rua Koiwi
Kai atu tatau ki nga ru
Kai atu tatau ki nga atua tapu
Kai atu tatau ki nga mana i te rangi
Mate rouroua tiritiria, makamaka
Kia kai mai te ati tipua
Kia kai mai te ati tawhito
E kai! E kai!
E horo, e horo o tatau kaki
Kia kai nuku tatau
Kia kai rangi tatau
Kia kai matamua tatau
Kia kai wahi tap
Thus is the tapu taken off foods and persons, and the assembled peoples may then eat. Should they eat of the food before the tapu is lifted from it, then such food would turn upon and destroy them—which means that the gods would destroy or afflict them sorely for having been guilty of a hara, or infringement of tapu. The whakau also lifts the excess of tapu from sacred persons, such as priests and ariki. Understand, the whakau is the highest order of such invocations, but it is only repeated over the most highly tapu food, as the above-described, or food which has been carried on the sacred back of a matamua (first-born of a high chief's family). The taumaha is another variety of such karakia, but it is recited over ordinary foods much less tapu than the above. This taumaha also removes the tapu from foods. The whangai is a kind of whakau. It is applied to food “fed” (whangaia) or offered to a god (atua), and over which a charm is repeated by the priest. If persons are going on a journey to places where they fancy they may be bewitched, they cook some food, over which the priest recites his charm. A portion of this food the travellers eat, and a portion of it they thrust into their belts and so carry with them. It will have the effect of warding off the shafts of black magic. When they return from their journey, and before they enter the village, the priest will take the tapu from them, or it might endanger their welfare, or even their lives. They are then free to go to their own homes. The whakau is nowadays often termed a “whakawhetai,” a very misleading expression.
A good authority informs me that, should a person in former days so forget himself as to eat of the umu whangai (No. 3), he would at once be slain.
In ancient times the flesh of the breed of native dogs known as ruarangi was much esteemed for these funeral feasts of the Maori.
A good deal of the above ritual is still retained at these functions among the Tuhoe Tribe.
Among the Ngati-Awa Tribe the following appears to be a list of the ovens used at the hahunga: (1.) Umu kaha: For the priest. (2.) Umu potaka, or umu kirihau, or imu tamaahu:
For matamua (see ante). (3.) Umu waharoa: For the bulk of the people.
The imu pararahi seems to be the same as No. 1. But my notes on Ngati-Awa rites are very meagre. Tutakangahau, of Tuhoe, says that the pararahi was an umu marae—i.e., for the bulk of the people. A Ngati-Awa member states that among that people women were not allowed to partake of the pure foods.
Caves and holes, chasms, &c., where bones of the dead are deposited are called “whara.” They are usually situated in very secluded spots, and are often most difficult of access. Some of these caves, situated in precipitous cliffs, have to be approached by ladders, or by a person being lowered from the summit of the cliff. One at Rua-tahuna can only be gained by climbing a tree, then laying poles from the tree-top to the ledge of the cliff-face where the cave is. Some, with small entrances, are blocked by means of stones. Some, again, are mere rock shelters, not true caves.
As the bearers of the bones of the dead proceeded to the cave or tree where the bones were to be deposited, a priest preceded them repeating the following (E haere atu ana ano, ka timata te karakia waere atu a te tohunga):-
Ka kimi ki hea?
Ka kimi ki uta
Ka kimi ki hea?
Ka kimi ki tai
Ka kimi ki te Po
Ka waere ma kereta
Ka waere ma kereti
Ka kitea mai te hau o te tipua
Te hau o te tawhito mai te rangi tu
Kai te kahui mate i te Po
Kai te kahui ora i te ao nei
Tena ka kitea koe ki tua
Ka kitea koe ki te whai ao
Ki te a
The bones of each person are made into a bundle, and are, or were, often smeared with red ochre (kokowai) before being placed in the cave. The party who carry the bones to the whara have to be whakanoatia, or freed from tapu, before returning home.
Among the Maori people, the elements of fire and water were the recognised purifiers of persons, objects, and places which were tapu (sacred, or unclean). Oriental peoples utilised them for the same purpose. In ancient Rome, on the return of relatives of the dead from the cremation of the corpse and the
Placing of the remains in the sepulchre, they “stepped over a fire and were sprinkled with water.”* Among the followers of Zoroaster water is the great purifier, but the urine of cows is also used for that purpose, and also as a charm against evil spirits.† A similar custom to the latter obtained among the Maori, as we will endeavour to show in the days that lie before.
A Native woman died recently at Ruatoki. She was, as is usual, placed in a tent to die, hence the cottage of herself and husband did not become tapu. They had another, a rude hut built of trunks of fern-trees, some distance away, where they lived when working in their maize-field, and in which they kept various cooking-utensils. Riding past the spot this day, I noted that the hut had been burned, with its contents.
Ahi mate (extinguished fire): This term is applied to a place where all the people have died, or are ill, and so cannot keep their fires going, as a place where an epidemic is raging. It is often used as is the “cold hearthstone” of Keltic peoples.
Whare ngaro, or whare mate: This expression implies a lost house—i.e., a lost line of descent, where all members of a family die without issue.
Marua matenga rangatira: The word “marua” is used to denote a land deprived of its protector, safeguard, counsellor, &c.; as when a head chief dies it is remarked, “Marua ana te whenua” (ara, kua kore he tino tangata hai arai i te kino, i te aha, i te aha, i te aha).
When a maori dies his children inherit his property. Weapons, implements, &c., of ordinary kinds would be shared, or all would use them, also clothing. But any specially prized or valuable weapon or garment (e.g., a dogskin cloak) would become the property of the eldest son, who would have the arranging of such matters. Such an article as a canoe would be used by all the children—He waka eke noa (any one can use it).
When Kahu-tatara was slain by Ruru at Pu-kareao the relatives of the dead man felled the trees at the spot where he was killed, as a tohu (sign, or memorial) for his death. When Te Ahuru, of Tuhoe, died at Rua-toki he was buried at Te Tawhero pa (fort). A dog burrowed his way into the grave. It was seen, pursued, and killed in crossing the Whakatane River. Hence that river was tapu for some time, the tapu being finally removed by Kereru te Rua-kari-ata, who drank some of the water during the ceremony.
Among Tuhoe, most ghoulish of cannibals, the body of a
[Footnote] * “Anthropological Religion,” p. 272.
[Footnote] † “The Story of Religions,” by E. D. Price, p.46.
person who died a natural death was sometimes eaten, if he was not a near relative.
When a loved relative, as a favourite child, dies it is a common thing for the child's property, clothing, playthings, &c., to be destroyed or given away. In the case of Marewa, cited above, this was done so completely that no article of hers remained, whereupon her grandfather applied to the master of the Native school that she attended for the child's slate, that her people might have something of hers to greet over and remember her by.
On the death of a chief of importance, one possessed of much mana (influence, prestige, &c.), social, intellectual, and spiritual— a person who would, of course, be highly tapu—a peculiar rite was performed in many cases by the eldest son of the deceased, in order that he might acquire the powers of his father. A part of this ceremony consisted in the son biting the ear, or big toe, of the corpse.
When Mahia, of Tuhoe, was slain by Te Whakatohea at Te Pa-puni those lands were made tapu, on account of a chief's blood having been shed thereon. This of course meant that no one might utilise the food-products of such lands. Some of the people living there did, however, eat of such foods. This being a serious violation of tapu, a party of Tuhoe marched on the Pa-puni and slew many of those erring ones.
When Ngati-Awa defeated Tuhoe at O-tu-kai-marama, near Te Teko, they captured alive both Wahawaha and Tipoka of the latter tribe. Before being slain the captives sang together a song of greeting, affection, and farewell to their tribe and lands. They were then slain by the widows of those of Ngati-Awa who had been slain by Tuhoe.
The Ngai-Tama clan of Te Whakatohea Tribe assisted in defeating Ngapuhi at Motiti Isle. They were under the chief Titoko, who brought to Opotiki a cannon which had been captured from Ngapuhi. This cannon was fired off whenever a chief died, for the Maori delights in making a noise at such times. A Native who had his horse drowned while crossing the creek near my camp at Rua-tahuna returned with his gun and fired several shots over the place where the animal perished.
Plumes of the huia and kotuku birds were used to decorate the heads of deceased chiefs as they lay upon the atamira. The Ngati-Awa people say that fine plumes of the moa were formerly used for this purpose. They were termed the “rau-o-piopio,” and grew under the “armpits” of the moa.
When in former times a man was lost and thought to be dead, the priest would perform a certain rite and repeat a charm to cause the bones of the dead to “resound,” so as to make
known their whereabouts. The bones of a murdered man were collected by a priest, who placed them in a heap before him. He would then proceed to whakatara the same—that is, to recite an incantation over them to cause them to give a sign to show whether or not the death would be avenged. A singular kind of divination this! Should the bones move of their own accord as they lay before the priest, that was deemed a tohu toa, a token of victory—the death would be avenged.
We have seen that lands were rahuitia, or placed under tapu, sometimes at the death of a chief. The same thing was done in regard to rivers, streams, and lakes. When Matiu's sons died, the Okahu Stream at Te Whaiti was put under tapu, as also were the Ngaputahi lands. Hence no fish, birds, or vegetable foods could be taken therefrom until the tapu was lifted.
In the case of an important chief or priest his tapu would be intense. At his death his son, or whoever prepared him for burial, would have to be extremely careful in his speech and actions. Any error made would cause his death—e.g., a mistake made in repeating a charm or invocation. Persons so deeply tapu could not touch food with their hands, and had to be fed by another person, or gnaw at the food on the ground, as a dog would.
A special person, termed a takuahi, was often employed by priests to kindle sacred fires and ovens for them.
For the bones of their dead to fall into the hands of enemies was a dreadful thing to the Maori, for that enemy would heap every indignity on such. Drinking-vessels were formed from skulls. In one such case in this district a man obtained an enemy's skull and grew in it a taro as food for his child.
Infringements of tapu were sometimes punished by a party of the tribe, often of near relatives of the transgressors, coming and forcibly seizing and carrying away the portable property of the latter, as food, &c.
When old Hakopa, of Te Umu-roa, died, which was on the 14th November, 1900, we did not hear of the death at my camp until the next day. But on the afternoon of the 14th my near neighbours, an old Maori couple, living 200 yards from my camp, came to my tent and asked me what I had called out for. On my replying that I had not called them they retired. Next day they came up and said, “We have just heard that Hakopa has died. Now, it was his wairua (spirit) that we heard calling out yesterday, and thought that it was you calling. Spirits of those recently dead often do these things.” When Natives are annoyed by such a spirit of the dead they proceed to banish it by cooking a potato, carrying it round the hut, and then eating it. Even the smoking of a pipe may have the desired effect.
We have noted that a large proportion of deaths were, in former times, ascribed to the gods, who thus punished the violation of tapu. Even those who were said to perish through witchcraft may come under this heading, for the gods imparted the power to such magic spells or charms. But many different causes were given in those days. Here is an example: When discoursing on the history, &c., of the tribe, should a person of the party condemn some statement made as being false, in order to make himself appear important, “two nights,” as my informant put it, “would not pass ere he died. For our ancestors would hear their tribal history condemned, and would slay the person who denied its truth. Such is the power of our ancient knowledge. Thus do our ancestors watch over and guard us.”
Death was not often allowed to interfere with important tribal duties. After Whitmore's raid on Rua-tahuna, Tuhoe gathered at Tahuaroa and decided to send Himiona te Pikikotuku to Roto-rua to sue for peace. He said, “How can I go? My wife is dying.” His wife at once said, “Do not think of me. Think only of the tribe.” So Himiona started for Roto-rua. As he was ascending the range above Pu-kareao he heard across the forest-clad hills the volleys which told him that his wife had passed away. But he trudged on, bearing the greenstone battle-axe “Hau-kapua” as a peace offering to the Government.
An old woman of the Ngati-Manawa Tribe, being near death, caused her people to place her on a sledge and drag her to the base of the range, near Horomanga Creek, dig her grave there and place her in it, where she died. She had told them before as to the day she would die.
When Mawake, of Kawerau, died his bones were placed at Waitaha-nui. Manaia found them and took the jaw-bone, from which he fashioned a fish-hook. When he went a-fishing with this hook all so gay a sign came to him : a fish called “aho” leaped into his canoe. Then the monsters of the deep rose and destroyed Manaia and his fellow-fishermen. Moral. Don't interfere with tapu objects.
The expression “mate a rakau” is sometimes applied to a natural death. It implies decay, or death as a tree dies—of decay, not by violence or magic spells. The terms “mate tara whare” (death by the house-wall) and “mate koeo” (also termed “mate aitu” and “hemo o aitu”) are also used to denote a natural death. “A, roa kau iho ano i muringa iho o taua taua nei, ka mate a Nahu. He tino koroheke a ia, a mate a rakau ai tona mate, ara i tae ano ki te wa e ruhi ai te tinana, a ka mate a ia.” (“Nahu died some time after that war expedition. He was a very old man, and his death was that of a tree—that is
to say, he had arrived at the age when the body becomes very weak, and he then died.”)
When Whitmore's column were marching on Rua-tahuna they attacked the Harema pa at Te Whaiti, slaying some of the inhabitants. Hence the place became tapu—not only the fort, but also the surrounding lands—on account of the blood shed there. Shortly afterwards some of the Ngati-Hine-kura clan settled on those lands, but were turned off by Ngati-Tawhaki because the tapu was still new. “Kaore e tika kia noho he tangata ki kona, engari kia mataotao nga mate” (“It was not right that people should live there until the deaths ‘cooled.’”).
Besides natural decay the Maori recognised three modes of death—mate atua, or death caused by the gods (deaths by witchcraft (makutu) may also be placed under the above heading, for reasons already quoted); mate taua, or death on the battle-field, is a third class; while accidental deaths and suicide may be called a fourth.
Many curious notes pertaining to death may be found in my Tuhoe notes included in the late Dr. Goldie's paper on “Maori Medical Lore,” in the “Transactions of the New Zealand Institute,” vol. xxxvii, as also in vol. xiv of the “Journal of the Polynesian Society.”
“Nga taru o Tura” (the weeds of Tura) is a term applied to grey hairs (of genus homo). The singular story of Tura and the coming of death may be found in vol. ii of White's “Ancient History of the Maori.” I have never obtained any version of this peculiar legend from the Tuhoe Tribe. As also the wai ora a Tane (the life- or health-giving waters of Tane) I leave for other pens to describe, my Tuhoean notes on the subject being meagre. Suffice it to say that the moon bathes in those waters of life each month, and so renews her life. Maui desired that man should do the same. Tane, the ubiquitous, appears under many names, as parent, origin, or tutelary deity, &c., of trees, birds, &c. Some Natives speak of Tane-te-wai-ora being a separate person, but it seems probable that there was but one Tane, who, however, assumed many functions under different names, like unto the god Merodach, of Babylonia.
Under the term “ahi parapara” we find some very curious rites and charms or invocations. The expression “parapara” is applied to many things—as remnants of clothing of the dead, the spittle of a living person, &c.—but always, I believe, bearing or implying the sense or state of tapu. Two of these rites were known as “ahi tute” and “ahi rokia.” They were utilised to whakanoa, or make common (to remove tapu, to purify), as, for instance, persons who had become tapu through touching or handling something belonging to the dead. Observe the terms
“ahi tute,” or tute fire, “ahi rokia,” or rokia fire: these expressions are really equivalent to “the tute rite” and “the rokia rite.” But in the performance of these rites sacred fires were kindled by the priest—kindled by the friction process, hence they were styled “ahi pahikahika,” or generated fires, for such sacred fires must be so generated by means of the ancient and primitive process of the Maori; they could not be kindled by means of a firebrand or coals from another fire, and to light them by such means from a cooking-fire would spell death for every person concerned. But note how the idea of the purifying effect of fire has been retained in all these Old-World customs and ceremonies.
The word “tute” implies a driving or thrusting away. The following incantation is to thrust away or fend off the hurtful powers of tapu, mana, and parapara—i.e., to make common and render harmless.
The Tute Charm. (Part only.)I ka ra taku ahi tute
Tute hoki tua, tute
Tute hoki waho, tute
Tute ka mania, tute
Tute ka paheke, tute
Tute ka whati, tute
Tute ka oma, tute
Tute nga tapu nei, tute
Tute nga mana nei, tute
Tute nga parapara nei, tute.
This was all that my informant could remember of this peculiarly worded karakia.
Here follows the rokia charm or incantation. The expression “rokia” or “roki” implies a lulling of the senses, a causing of forgetfulness, a dulling of visual and mental perception. Cf. the terms “rotu,” “roku,” and “roroku.” The rotu is a charm to put a person to sleep.
The Rokia Charm.Hika ra taku ahi e roki
Rokia i nga parapara nei
Rokia i nga tapu nei
Rokia i nga mana nei
Kia tae koe
Koi ihi, koi nana
Koi naunau (ngaungau) e roki.
“This ceremony is an ahi parapara. The rokia renders the parapara, tapu, &c., harmless—prevents them from turning to afflict man.”
A singular expression, overheard by myself one day: “The stones with which the body of Te Whatu-pe was cooked are
still weeping.” As usual I made inquiries, for you must be keen to catch and follow up such remarks if you wish to acquire the old-time lore and study the mentality of primitive man. Te Whatu-pe, of Tuhoe, was slain by a party of Te Whaka-tohea about five generations ago. His body they cooked in a hangi (steam-oven) and ate. It is said that the stones used to heat the oven are still weeping—that is to say, the fat from the cooked body is still exuding from those stones, but only when the descendants of Te Whatu-pe visit the place.
“Peka titoki” : An expression often heard when persons are speaking of death. The branch of a titoki tree (or, presumably, of any other tree) dies, decays, and is seen no more, but the peka tangata (human branch) decays and is seen again in his offspring. So-and-so is dead, but his children survive—apa he peka tutoki (if he were a peka titoki, then indeed he would leave no trace behind). The rendering given by Sir George Grey in his “Maori Proverbs” is different. The term “peka titoki,” he says, is applied to anything difficult to break, or to a people difficult to conquer. The titoki has a very tough, strong timber, resembling hickory.
The Maori was a believer in metempsychosis. When Hineruarangi, daughter of Toi the Wood-eater, of immortal fame, died, her spirit entered upon another earthly life in the form of a cormorant, which bird has since been the tribal banshee of the Ngati-Whare Tribe, of Te Whaiti. Whenever a chief of that people is about to die, or prior to a defeat of the tribe in battle, the bird appears flying above the village of Ngati-Whare at Te Whaiti. Another of their omens of a like nature is the playing of lightning on the mountain-peak of Tuwatawata. Each tribe of this district has its rua koha—principally high ranges or peak, to see lightning playing on which is believed to foretell the death of a tribal chief. Landslips are also looked upon in a similar manner.
Te Tahi and Te Putaanga, two ancestors of the Ngati-Awa Tribe, are said to have both reappeared as sea-demons (marakihau) after their death. They are represented among the carved ancestral figures in the Native meeting-house at Ruatahuna.
Spirits of the dead are said to sometimes return here in the form of butterflies or moths.* The spirit of a stillborn child may enter a bird, or fish, or animal, or insect, when it works havoc as a caco-demon.
Nga-rangihangu, an ancestor of the Ngati-Manawa Tribe, became a taniwha (water-demon) after death, and abode in the Rangi-taiki River at Raepohatu, near Te Houhi.
[Footnote] * Cf. beliefs of the Samoans and Niassans.