Art. XLVI.—Maori and Maruiwi: Notes on the Original Inhabitants of New Zealand and their Culture; on the Question of how that Culture affected the Later-coming Maori; and on the Existence in these Isles of Customs, Arts, and Artifacts not traceable to Polynesia.
[Read before the Wellington Philosophical Society, 27th October, 1915.]
The student of the history, customs, and arts of the Maori of New Zealand must recognize the existence of some interesting problems connected with those subjects. He knows the Maori to be a member of the far-spread Polynesian race, speaking a dialect of the racial tongue. He knows that the Maori came to these isles from Polynesia in past times, and that he kept up communication with the northern isles apparently for some centuries. He also knows that the natives of those far-scattered groups and lone islands were a fairly homogeneous folk in regard to their various arts and customs. But when examining those of the natives of New Zealand he must necessarily be impressed by the fact that in these islands there existed certain customs, implements, and arts not traceable, apparently, to the kindred peoples of Polynesia. It is the desire of the writer to draw attention to some of these discrepant features, and to throw thereon such small rays of light as may be gathered from observation and native tradition.
In the first place, it may be stated that no attempt will be made in this brief paper to uphold any special theories as to origins, or to make arbitrary remarks on any of the debatable subjects discussed herein. There is by no means sufficient evidence available to justify any person in assuming such an attitude. The small amount of such evidence here brought forward may enhance to some extent the interest of these matters, and serve to direct attention to some hitherto unexplored fields of inquiry.
The Original Inhabitants of New Zealand: Their Origin, Physical Peculiarities, and Culture.
The amount of information available under the above heading is, unfortunately, very limited, and soon quoted.
According to Maori tradition, the first inhabitants of New Zealand were a people of unknown origin, whose racial or tribal name, if any, has not been preserved. The Maori knows them as Maruiwi, which name is said to have been not a tribal one, but merely that of one of their chiefs at the time when the Maori from eastern Polynesia arrived on these shores. The first of these Maori settlers are shown in tradition to have reached New Zealand twenty-eight to thirty generations ago. At that time the Maruiwi folk were occupying many portions of the North Island. They were the descendants of castaways who had reached these shores in past times, and landed on the Taranaki coast. They had been driven from their own land by a westerly storm. Their home-land, according to the accounts given by their descendants, was a hot country—a much warmer land than this In appearance these folk are said to have been tall and slim-built, dark-skinned, having big or protuberant bones, flat-faced and flat-nosed, with upturned nostrils. Their eyes were curiously restless, and they had a habit of glancing sideways without turning the head. Their hair in some cases stood upright, in others it was bushy.
When, during the fighting on the East Coast in the “sixties,” native prisoners were sent down to Chatham Isles it was noted that some of the women of No. 4 batch, who came from Tarawera and Te Whaiti, much resembled Moriori women in physique, and more particularly in their frizzy hair of Fijian appearance. A member of the Ngati-Awa. Tribe there remarked, “They are exactly like Moriori women.” A few of the Tuhoe hill tribe seen by the writer at Te Reinga in 1877 had the same Fijian-like heads of hair.
The culture plane of these Maruiwi seems to have been lower than that of the Maori of Polynesia, so far as we can gather from tradition. They are said to have been ignorant of their own lineage, a sure mark of an inferior people in Maori eyes: “They were an indolent and chilly folk (kiriahi), fond of sitting round a fire. They slept anyhow, and in summer-time went almost naked, wearing merely some leaves. In the winter season they wore rough capes made of the fibrous leaves of toi (Cordyline indivisa), of kiekie (Freycinetia Banksii), and harakeke (Phormium). They were improvident in the matter of food-supplies, and did not construct good houses, but merely rude sheds that our ancestors called tawharau. On account of these peculiarities of those people our ancestors called them, in contempt, kiri whakapapa and pakiwhara. It is also said that Maruiwi had overhanging or projecting eyebrows, and were thin-shanked: an unpleasant and treacherous folk. Our ancestors from Hawaiki and Rarotonga were given some of these women as wives when they first arrived. Later-comers asked for them; in yet later days they took them, enslaving women and young men. They always selected the best-looking women as wives; and those women approved of it, for the Maori men were much better-looking than their own, and more industrious. Now, as time rolled on and generations went by, the mixed folk became numerous in the land, the result of the Maori taking Maruiwi wives. Then troubles between the two peoples became frequent, Maruiwi stealing from our folk and murdering them. At last it was resolved to exterminate them, and they were attacked in all parts. War raged all over the island—a war of extermination against all of Maruiwi not connected with the Maori. Thus were they slain at Te Wairoa, Mohaka, Taupo, Rotorua, Maketu, Tauranga, Tamaki, Hauraki, Hokianga, Mokau, Urenui, and all other places where they lived. Thus originated the famed saying ‘Te Heke o Maruiwi,’ as meaning death. But ever were spared those living with the Maori people. Some of the survivors of Maruiwi are said to have fled to forest ranges in the interior. Some fled to Arapaoa from Taranaki and Te Whanganui-a-Tara (Port Nicholson). These were attacked by the party of Tama-ahua that was going south to seek for greenstone. The survivors of Maruiwi fled to Rangitoto (D'Urville Island), where they were again attacked, and many women captured. The last seen of the remnants of these folk was the passing of six canoes through Raukawa (Cook Strait) on the way to Whare-kauri (Chatham Isles). Such is the story of the folk to whom this land belonged, and it is known that all of us are descended from Maruiwi—from those women taken by our Maori ancestors.”
Such is the account of Maruiwi, though much abbreviated, preserved by oral tradition. We here have, if reliable, a description of a people much inferior to the Maori in appearance and general culture. We are also told that the thick projecting lips, the bushy frizzy hair, dark skin, and flat nose often seen among the Maori are derived from Maruiwi. The writer has seen many natives showing these peculiarities among the Tuhoe Tribe; and we know from the traditions of that tribe that some of the Maruiwi
folk at one time lived at Te Waimana, in their territory. Another tradition of much interest has been preserved by the Ngati-Awa people of the Bay of Plenty, to the effect that about five hundred or more years ago a canoe reached Whakatane with a number of black-skinned people on board. Presumably these were waifs from some island of Melanesia—possibly Fiji or the New Hebrides, or even New Caledonia, where the natives used double canoes. Forster's description of the natives of Malekula, as seen during Cook's second voyage, reminds us of the Maruiwi of Maori tradition. He remarks, “They were all remarkably slender, and in general did not exceed 5 ft. 4 in. in height. Their limbs were often indifferently proportioned, their legs and arms long and slim, their colour a blackish-brown, and their hair black, frizzled, and woolly…. They had the flat broad nose and projecting cheek-bones of a negro, and a very short forehead…. All went stark naked…. Their ugly features and their black colour often provoked us to make an ill-natured comparison between them and monkeys.”
Forster remarks on the superiority of the natives of the adjacent isles of Tana, &c. One of these, Futuna, we know to be inhabited by people speaking a dialect of the far-spread Maori tongue.
The evidence of language has now to be considered, as also that of a less direct nature regarding the culture of the aborigines. Of the language of the aborigines we know very little. We have some place, tribal, and personal names preserved in tradition which are said to have pertained to the aborigines. These names are undoubtedly Maori, or, at least, Polynesian; and if preserved in their correct form, then these Maruiwi must have spoken a tongue closely allied to the Maori dialect of the Polynesian. language. Among these names are the following:—
|Te Tini o Tai-tawaro||Names of tribes.|
|Te Tini o Rua-tamore|
|Te Tini o Te Wiwini|
|Maruiwi||Names of persons.|
It is plainly seen that these names are Maori in form and sound; and if original personal names, then the bearers thereof must have been a Maori-speaking people. Here we have something approaching a paradox, for if the physical appearance and culture of Maruiwi were such as described in tradition it is most improbable that they spoke a purely Polynesian tongue, no Polynesians answering to such a description.
In addition to the names given above we have a few words of the Maruiwi tongue also preserved:—
|Kohi mai||Haere mai||Come hither.|
These three words are said to have been from the vocabulary of the Mamoe Tribe of aborigines, of the Napier district. The following Maruiwi words have also been preserved:—
|Punui o kana||Tangata nui||Big person or important person.|
|Nakua||Tena koe||(A salutation).|
|Kohai rahu ?||Ko wai koe ?||Who are you ?|
|Papau aka||Ka pai koe||You are agreeable.|
|Hine a waihi (?)||Kotiro or||hine Girl.|
|Pakaraka mai||Oma mai||Run hither.|
Here we have words simulating Maori in sound and form; also a few resemble some Maori or Polynesian equivalents. Kohi mai, carrying the same meaning of “Come hither,” is an expression of the Moriori folk of the Chatham Islands, as noted in Deighton's Vocabulary Kana and hakana bear some resemblance to kanaka, the Hawaiian form of tangata— person. Punui contains the Maori nui—big; kohai is near to Maori ko wai—who. Hine is Maori for “girl,” while mai (hither) is a common Maori form. The other terms do not resemble any known Maori forms The two words for “woman” are peculiar; and waihi might perhaps be compared with Maori wahine, but mahau, as meaning “woman,” is quite unknown to us. The question of the authenticity of these terms is one that can scarcely be settled, unless they are encountered in the vocabularies of one of the islands of the Pacific.
There is one point of view that should not be neglected in connection with this subject. We have noted that these so-called Maruiwi words resemble Maori in form and phonology. This seems an important point, until one remembers that any isolated folk of the culture stage of the Maori would, necessarily and inevitably, so treat any foreign word that it would conform to their own usages of sound and pronunciation. Thus they would convert any sound foreign to their own tongue into the nearest equivalent they might possess. Hence the sound of “I” would be replaced by “r,” “s” by “t” or “h,” “b” by “p,” and so on. Should any word end in a consonant, then a vowel would be placed after the consonant. Had we left these islands after having introduced new objects and ideas, the Maori would not now be able to transmit our names and words so borrowed in their correct form. A horse would be hoiho, scriptures would be karaipiture, measure would be mehua, and mantelpiece would have become manataiapihi. Thus the so-called Maruiwi words that have been preserved may or may not be the original forms used by the aborigines. The evidence of place-names is on the same footing, indeed, there is considerable doubt as to which were original names. It is quite possible that some unusual forms, such as Nuhaka and Mohaka, are “Maorized” forms of Maruiwi names. At least we can say this much: that, taking the circumstances into consideration, the evidence of language, in the matter of the origin of Maruiwi, is not to be relied on.
The PA Maori, or Native Fort.
There is one matter in connection with the Maruiwi aborigines that seems to show that in one direction at least they may have exhibited intelligence of a fairly high order. Tradition states that they constructed hill forts, and mentions those of Okoki, Pohokura, and Urenui, in northern Taranaki, as having been occupied by them. The writer has carefully examined those forts, and found them to be of a type common on the Taranaki coast—small hills of which the sides have been excavated into terraces. Those terraces were protected by lines of stockading along their outer edges. Fosses and ramparts formed only a small part of the defences of this type of fort. As these places have been occupied by the Maori for centuries, down to the nineteenth century, they may not now present the same features that they did when occupied by Maruiwi: the style of defence may have been altered since that time.
This brings us to the question of the origin of the pa maori, or native fort. In the North Island are the remains of thousands of old-time fortified places, mostly hill forts, exhibiting an advanced knowledge of the science of fortification on the part of those who formed them. Some are of great size, and must have accommodated thousands of persons; some are very small; the greater number are of medium size. The terraced hills, the fosses and ramparts (presenting scarps in some cases of 20 ft.), the double and treble systems of circumvallation, the ingeniously contrived earthwork defences for weak places and entrance passages—all these are of much interest, and well worthy of study. Where or how did they originate?
We know that the Maori who settled in New Zealand came from the eastern Pacific area; we know that no such remains of fortified places are found in that area. A few stone-walled refuges exist on the lone isle of Rapa. The Tongan fortified places were based on those of Fiji, but the Polynesian was not a fort-builder. Apparently the only place outside the North Island of New Zealand where hill forts, the defensive works of which were fosses, ramparts, stockades, and fighting-stages, were numerous is the Island of Viti Levu, in the Fiji Group.
Did the local type of forts originate here? If so, was it Maruiwi or Maori who was responsible for them? We know that the Maori was a fighter before he came to these isles; that he fought in the open in Polynesia, as he always preferred to do here down to our own time. The first Polynesian that brought a party of settlers to this island was Toi, who lived at the Ka-pu-te-rangi Fort, at Whakatane, according to all traditions. Did the Polynesian become a fort-builder as soon as he stepped ashore here? Did he evolve the idea of an earthwork fort out of his inner consciousness, or did he adopt a Maruiwi custom? The origin of the pa maori is a field for inquiry.
There is another subject that carries an element of interest. Though cannibalism was practised in some isles, yet it was no universal Polynesian custom. In the Society Group, whence the Maori of New Zealand came, it was rare, and it horrified several Tahitians who sailed on Cook's vessels in the Pacific. How is it that our Maori has become such a pronounced cannibal in these islands? No such a condition of general cannibalism—of its becoming such a common practice—is known among Polynesians of the south-eastern area. In order to find the eastern limit of this custom
as a common habit we must turn to Fiji, in the Melanesian area. It is fairly clear that the Maori did not bring this shocking custom in any excessive form with him to New Zealand. Did he borrow it from Maruiwi? Tradition shows that the aborigines were of a lower plane of culture than that on which the Maori stood. The Maori immigrants took large numbers of Maruiwi women, first as gifts, afterwards by force: such a wholesale system of intermarriage must have had some effect on the culture and customs of the intruding people. Knowing as we do the effect of such a crossing of peoples, does it not appear probable that some of the Maruiwi customs were followed by the mixed folk that succeeded them? Was cannibalism as a common custom so acquired by the Maori? The dreadful Maori custom—or, at least, occasional habit—of kai pirau was also a Fijian custom—the exhuming and eating of buried human bodies.
We are aware that the practice of human sacrifice was followed in eastern Polynesia, and probably the Maori brought it with him to New Zealand. There is, however, some evidence to show that in former times two singular examples of this custom obtained here that we cannot trace to the former home of the Maori: these were the burial of human beings at the bases of the main forts of the stockade of a pa, or fortified village, and also at the bases of posts supporting a house. There are several allusions to the latter custom in Maori tradition, and, curiously enough, there is proof that in many cases some other object—such as a bird, a lizard, or a stone—was so buried, the human sacrifice being omitted. It would be interesting to know whether or not the depositing of a stone, &c, was the more modern custom, such objects serving as substitutes for a human sacrifice. Or were both forms of the ceremony practised during the same period? There is a certain amount of evidence to show that such sacrifices at the completion of a new fort or superior house, and perhaps also of a new canoe of the larger type, were practised at one time, but that in later times they became much less frequent, if, indeed, they did not entirely cease in some districts. Again, the custom of human sacrifice, or at least of slaying a person, at a certain ceremonial performed over the first-born child of a family of high rank does not seem to have been practised by the Takitumu tribes, as it was among some others.
The allusions in tradition to the burial of a human being at the base of a house-post are but few, and there is no record, so far as the writer is aware, of such an occurrence in late generations. One case, in which the mother of a child so sacrificed was a Maruiwi woman, hence probably a slave wife, occurred about two hundred and fifty years ago. Although Maori tradition says little about this custom, we do know that in Fiji the burial of human beings at the bases of house-posts was a custom of the natives.
In regard to the burial of human beings at the bases of stockade-posts, we know of no tradition concerning this custom, and no old natives questioned on the subject know anything about it. We have, however, some very direct evidence in the fact that the remains of such sacrifices have been found in one locality. The Tawhiti-nui pa, or fort, at Opotiki is said by natives of the district to be a very old one. It was occupied by members of the Toi tribes (a mixed Maori-Maruiwi folk) when the last Maori immigrants arrived here from Polynesia some twenty generations—or, say, five hundred years—ago. All signs of stockades have long since
disappeared from Tawhiti-nui, leaving only the earthworks. When, some years ago, these earthworks were being levelled in order to facilitate farming operations, the workmen found remains of the butts of the main posts of the old stockade within the ramparts. At the base of each of these post-butts were the remains of a human skeleton.
Now, this is the only case in which such remains have been discovered, so far as we are aware; but it must be borne in mind that such earthworks are not often removed. Most of such fortified places are situated on hill-tops; such earthworks are not likely to be removed for any purpose. Tawhiti-nui is situated on the brink of a ploughable terrace. Maori tradition tells us nothing of this wholesale sacrifice of human life at the building of a new fort. It was evidently a ceremonial practice, connected with some idea of securing good luck for the fort and its inhabitants. Such an offering to gods or demons is quite a different thing from the slaying of a single person in order to give éAclat to a function, as not infrequently occurred among the Maori. It is most improbable that Tawhiti-nui represents an isolated example of such a singular ritual performance; such offerings must have been a customary procedure among former inhabitants of New Zealand. Were the folk who made such a wholesale sacrifice of human beings Maori or Maruiwi? If Maori, then presumably he did not bring the custom with him from eastern Polynesia, for he did not employ stockades there. Again, if this custom was universal at one time in New Zealand, it certainly was not practised in late generations, not even in the Opotiki district. Why was it discontinued? The following account of Fijian human sacrifice at the building of a new house is taken from “At Home in Fiji,” by C. F. Gordon Cumming: “A series of large holes was dug to receive the main posts of the house; and as soon as these were reared a number of wretched men were led to the spot, and one was compelled to descend into each hole, and therein stand upright with his arms clasped round it. The earth was then filled in, and the miserable victims were thus buried alive, deriving what comfort they might from the belief that the task thus assigned to them was one of much honour, as ensuring stability to the chief's house. The same idea prevailed with respect to launching a chief's canoe, when the bodies of living men were substituted for ordinary rollers.” (For “rollers” read “skids.”)
On the death of a Fijian chief his wives were strangled and buried with him. Something similar obtained among the Maori, though here it seems to have been voluntary on the part of the widows—in fact, suicide. Was this a general Polynesian custom, or was it practised in eastern Polynesia?
The Maori adopts certain Maruiwi Weapons.
While engaged in discussing matters pertaining to war, let us inquire into the origin of three Maori weapons not employed by him in his former home in eastern Polynesia. It is distinctly stated in Maori tradition that the huata, the hoeroa, and the kurutai were Maruiwi weapons, and that they were adopted by the Maori. The first of these is a very long spear, in some cases 20 ft. in length, pointed at one end and having a knob at the other. It was used principally in defending and attacking fortified places. The hoeroa is the curiously curved weapon made from whale's bone that is said to have been sometimes thrown at an adversary and recovered by means of a cord. It is also known as a tatu paraoa and paraoa-roa. The kurutai is a short striking-weapon of stone, in form something like a wahaika, and of which specimens are seen in the Dominion Museum. These weapons
appear to have been found at the Chatham Isles, and some are reported from the South Island. It must, however, be stated that natives do not agree as to which weapon was called a kurutai. Some seem to apply the name to the patu onewa.
Maruiwi are also said to have used throwing-spears, a form of fighting-implement but little favoured by the Maori; as also the whiuwhiu, or spear thrown with a whip. This latter weapon was adopted and used by the Maori, but not to a great extent. It was used principally in an attack on and defence of fortified places.
Was the Bow used by Maruiwi?
There are a few fragmentary items preserved in Maori tradition in reference to a weapon employed by the Maruiwi aborigines that are of much interest. An old Maori graduate of the whare wananga, or school of learning, in describing the Maruiwi folk and their habits and customs, at Wai-hinga in the year 1860 mentioned the weapons used by those people, concluding with the words, [ unclear: ] “I waieware ake i a au tetahi o nga rakau a nga iwi nei, he pere, whakawhana ai te manuka hei pere” [ unclear: ] (Overlooked by me was yet another weapon of those peoples, a pere; a piece of manuka was bent as a means of projecting it) Now, pere is a name applied to anything in the form of a dart or arrow. Pere and kopere are both applied to the dart or spear thrown with a whip. Both words are also used as verbs, meaning “to propel or cast, as a pere.” They seem to be used only when some instrument of propulsion is employed; the casting of a spear with the hand, minus any aid, is described by the word whiu.
Here, then, we have a statement that the aborigines bent a piece of the strong and tough wood of the manuka in order to gain a propelling force for an arrow-dart.
Another learned man of last century—Te Matorohanga, of Wai-rarapa—in describing the Maruiwi folk, made the following statement. “Na taua iwi tenei hapai rakau te tarerarera i te tokotoko, te patu kurutai, me te kopere, he mea whakawhana ki te rakau, he kiri kuri te aho” (Employed by that people was the custom of throwing spears—the kurutai striking-weapon, and the kopere, which was projected by means of a wooden implement, the cord being of dog-skin). Here we have a fairly clear statement that seems to refer to the bow and arrow, a dog-skin thong being used as a bow-string. The two usages of the word whakawhana call for close attention. Firstly, we have an allusion to the missile spear, mentioned as though it were a usage not commonly employed by the Maori. Now, in the casting of the whip-thrown spear no bent wooden implement was employed, nor were the means of propulsion acquired by a recoil or spring impulse; hence the above account cannot apply to this method. Moreover, the very next sentence spoken by Te Matorohanga dealt with the whip-thrown spear, as follows. [ unclear: ] “Tetahi he whiuwhiu te ingoa, he mea here te aho ki te pito koi o te rakau, ka whakatakoto ai ki te whenua, ka takiri ai, ka rere taua rakau, ka kaha te rere me te tu ki te tangata” [ unclear: ] (Another was called a whiuwhiu; the cord was tied to the pointed end of the weapon, which was laid on the ground and jerked suddenly, the weapon flying off and striking a person with great force).
In these sentences quoted above the double meaning of the word rakau has to be borne in mind. It implies, in the first place, any form of wood or timber, from a wand or small twig to a giant forest-tree, and as an adjective it means “wooden.” It also means a weapon: all weapons are rakau, whatever the material may be.
Here we have two statements made by two different old men, acknowledged as being well versed in Maori tradition. Both seem to allude to the bow and arrow as having been known to, and employed as weapons by, the aborigines of New Zealand. One other item may here be mentioned—namely, the bow now in the Dominion Museum, having been deposited by Mr. Tregear. This bow was found by persons engaged in excavating a draining-ditch north of Auckland, and is said to have been found about 2 ft. below the surface. It closely resembles those from the New Hebrides in the Museum. How long has that bow been so buried, and to whom did it belong? This query will never be answered; if it were, then probably a new chapter of the story of man in these isles would be opened.
It may be asked, How is it that the Maori did not adopt the bow and arrow as a weapon, if it ever existed here, as they adopted other Maruiwi weapons? Now, the answer to this query illustrates a very singular trait of Polynesian character. The bow has been known to the Polynesian for many centuries, and he has frequently come into contact with bow-using Melanesians, yet he has ever steadfastly refused to adopt it as a weapon. He has used it for killing game and in archery contests, northward to the Hawaiian Group and eastward to Tahiti, but never as a weapon. And that is the reason why he would not adopt it here—that is to say, if he really had the opportunity to do so. When the Maori fought, he loved to feel his weapon bite into the skull of his enemy; he felt the keen joy of the fighting-man as he thrust his slim spear-head through the fish of Tu.
That is how the bow has been forgotten by the Maori people, and why the natives of Cook's time were ignorant of it. The knowledge their ancestors had of it was preserved only in old, old traditions handed down orally from one generation to another by the wise men of the whare wananga, the trained and close-lipped record-keepers of the Maori school of learning.
As an illustration of how a people may possess the knowledge of usages among a far-distant race, we may note a remark made by a native of the Marquesas Isles, away off in eastern Polynesia, to Porter, an American voyager of the “twenties” of last century. This was to the effect that far away across the ocean, in a southern land, dwelt a black folk who used the bow and arrow as a weapon.
Stone Implements of Unknown Use.
On the coast of the Bay of Plenty have been found some curious stone implements quite unknown to the present Maori inhabitants of the district. These objects are carefully fashioned flat stone discs, resembling a cheese in form, but much smaller. The only known objects in Polynesia which they resemble are certain stone discs formerly used by the natives of the Hawaiian Isles in a game called maika, resembling our game of bowls. These objects have not been found in any other part of New Zealand.
Artifacts not traceable to Polynesia.
Another singular stone instrument of unknown use has been found in the Bay of Plenty district, several specimens being known. In form this object may be compared to a flattened tipcat, a wooden item beloved by ungodly boys, who utilize it for the purpose of destroying windows. In cross-section it is almost diamond-shaped, and each end tapers to a point. This implement seems to be quite unknown to natives, and absolutely nothing is known as to its origin or use.
Yet another stone object, of which a number have been found on old village-sites, is what the writer usually refers to as a stone spool. It bears a resemblance to a couple of cotton-reels placed end to end. These implements are about 3 in. in length, and are very carefully fashioned and finished. A hole is bored axially through the middle, as though for the insertion of a cord, and one side is flat. The outstanding rims or ends and intermediate projections are notched on their edges. A fine specimen found by Captain Bollons is of black stone, and has a very fine finish, it has five projections adorned with notches. Another, at Whanga-nui, is of greenstone; another was found at the Chatham Isles. All have been made with much care, and at the expense of considerable time and labour. Their use is unknown, though some absurd guesses have been made in that direction.
The only object known to the writer as resembling this spool implement is an object of similar form worn by women (Mohammedan presumably) in Cairo, and probably elsewhere also. This is so worn as to cover the nose, and apparently has some connection with the veil worn by such women. The New Zealand object is so carefully finished that it can scarcely have been a tool, as some suppose, but may have been a pendant. Its form is a most singular one. The Maori can tell us nothing concerning it.
In addition to the above there are other manufactured objects of stone and bone in museums and private collections, the names and uses of which are unknown to the Maori. If these various objects were made and used by Maori folk it seems singular that all knowledge of them should have been lost. In this connection I do not refer to the younger generation, but to the old grey-heads who take pride in preserving knowledge of the customs of their ancestors.
Stone Adzes of New Zealand.
In common with all other branches of the Polynesian race, the Maori hafted his timber-working stone tools as adzes, not as axes. In connection with these implements there is a peculiar and unusual element to which attention does not appear to have been drawn. In the northern Pacific area we find at the Hawaiian Isles a well-defined type of stone adze possessing an angular tang, easily recognizable wherever seen. In the eastern Pacific we find at the Society Isles another well-marked type of peculiar form, marked by excessive thickness in comparison with its length. At the Cook Isles also we have a definite form of these tools. In the Fiji Group—Melanesian in name, but with a considerable mixture of Polynesian blood in its eastern area—we find two leading types, one of which is circular in cross-section, a form that found little favour among Polynesians. All of the above forms differ widely from the thin-bladed stone tools of the Solomon Isles and New Guinea.
Turning now to New Zealand with some expectation of finding one or two local types of stone adzes, it is somewhat surprising to find that our collections cannot be reduced to two or even four common types. We find here a considerable number of forms illustrating widely different types. We do not see a common form of cross-section among our specimens, as we do among those of the Cook, Society, Hawaiian, and other groups. In New Zealand we note numbers of implements in which the cross-section is rectangular, triangular, oval, ovoid, or subovoid, &c. We find a long narrow form, some thin, some remarkably thick; a flat, wide, comparatively thin type; a short form, thick and carrying an abrupt blade-angle; a form with angular tang, another carrying a curious shoulder-ridge across the
upper end of the back of the blade; as also others. We see specimens with parallel sides, others narrowing from cutting-edge backward to the poll, with many other forms. The one form lacking in adzes is the truly circular cross-section, though it is found in small stone tools of the gouge or chisel type. A curious and persistent form is one that presents an extremely narrow face, a narrow cutting-edge, and wide back, the cross-section being subtriangular, the use of which is by no means clear, and, indeed, most puzzling even to us old timber-workers.
This diversity of form in these stone implements of New Zealand is a subject of some interest, and worthy of study. It seems a pity that no effort has apparently been made to make collections of the stone implements of the various island groups, the possession of which would be of much value in the future, when a close study of such artifacts will assuredly be made. The variety of types among our stone adzes awaits an explanation.
Wooden Coffins, or Burial-chests.
The most interesting of late discoveries of Maori antiquities is assuredly that of the finding of a number of old wooden coffins in the North Auckland district. It seems strange that no specimens were found in earlier years, and that so many have come to light lately. Apparently they are confined to the northern part of the island. They were used not for containing the body, as with us, but merely as a receptacle for the bones after exhumation. They have been carefully fashioned out of durable timber, and show highly curious carved figures of archaic design—designs often differing from the Maori forms known to us, but presenting the well-known and far-spread three-fingered or three-clawed hands that have caused so much conjecture. Some of these coffins are large enough to contain the bones of an adult when the cleverly fitted lid at the back is in place; others are so small that the receptacle would contain only very small objects. Possibly the latter were used for the preservation of some particular tapu bone, such as the manu tu (a small bone at base of skull), or the iho (umbilical cord) of a child of high rank. The fact that these coffins were fashioned with stone tools enhances their value to a marked degree.
Information as to the age of these coffins is by no means satisfactory, but the character of the carved designs upon them certainly denotes a considerable age. Any statements made by the younger generation of natives as to their being only a few generations old may be disregarded. The durable heart-wood of which they are composed might endure for centuries in a favourable situation, such as a dry cave. Hence it is possible that these coffins were made by some of the old tribes of the northern districts, of whose origin we have no definite knowledge, but who must have carried Maruiwi blood in their veins—descendants of the aborigines and the intrusive Maori.
In three branches of decorative art we find the Maori utilizing designs that at once strike us as differing widely from those employed in Polynesia. The branches alluded to are the arts of wood-carving, painting, and tattooing. Professor Rivers has drawn attention to the fact that whereas Polynesian art is essentially rectilinear, that of the Maori of New Zealand is curvilinear. This dictum is borne out by the evidence of carved implements from Polynesia, and illustrations of similar objects to be found in many works. In Melanesia we encounter both of the above forms. A comparison of Maori
tattoo-patterns with those of Polynesia, particularly of the Marquesas Group, serves to mark New Zealand forms as emanating from a different source. The writer has seen no series of illustrations of tattoo-patterns of Melanesia. Is there any series of designs in that region in any way resembling Maori forms? The tara whakairo was known in New Zealand and Fiji, but is not reported from Polynesia. In regard to the designs adopted by the Maori in his wood-carving, some of which are intricate and involved, we look in vain to Polynesia for archetypal forms. These designs bear not the impress of modern development; their general aspect is archaic, and often highly conventional. It seems probable that in some cases they are symbolical, but, unfortunately, no attempt was apparently made to gain an insight into this branch of Maori knowledge while the men who possessed such knowledge were living—a remark that may be equally applied to Maori star lore. It is certain that some of the grotesque semi-human figures, such as the Marakihau and Kekerepo, bear names found in Maori mythology. One outstanding fact is that the Maori did not attempt to represent his gods in his publicly exposed wood-carvings. Of the great number of carved figures in human form to be seen in the first-class house, not one of such figure represented a god, though heroes and mythical creatures were so shown. The carved figures on the slabs of house-walls represented ancestors. In two cases we can trace designs to Melanesia—those of the scroll and the manaia—while another resembling the puhoro is also to be found there. Professor Haddon, in his work “Evolution in Art,” speaks of the occurrence of scrolls and spirals in New Guinea, and remarks, “I suspect that most of the Oceanic wood-carving is due to Melanesian influence.” We can trace some of the wood-carving patterns of the Maori to Melanesia, but not, so far as the writer is aware, to Polynesia. In the textile art of the Maori we certainly encounter rectilinear designs, often largely made up of various dispositions of the triangle. Presumably this is owing to the difficulty of forming curved lines in the curious style of plaiting (not true weaving) employed by the natives of New Zealand. Wherever the Maori used chisel or brush he indulged in curved lines. A trained artist has suggested that the Maori was unwittingly influenced by his surroundings—that the rounded contours of foliage masses and other natural forms caused him to evolve in these isles those curvilinear designs for which his decorative art is remarkable. The writer is unable to discuss this subject, owing to his utter ignorance of this phase of culture; but if analogous conditions obtained in Polynesia, then the rectilinear art of that region would demand rectilinear contours in nature.
We know the curved lines of Maori patterns of painting, as seen on house-rafters, canoes, &c, many depicting graceful and pleasing designs of a superior type. We know the curved-line designs in his tattooing and carving. We also know that the Maori came from Polynesia, that he speaks the Polynesian language, and that he retains many Polynesian customs and myths. Did he, as he stepped ashore here, relinquish his artistic designs, and proceed to evolve others of a totally different type, or did he adopt them from a people already in possession of these isles?
Another interesting object not traceable to Polynesia is the heitiki, a highly prized pendant of singular form known to us all, usually fashioned from the intensely hard nephrite, or greenstone, a task demanding a great expenditure of time and labour. The curious form of this grotesque image is not without its meaning, and tradition states that it originated in very far-away times—in fact, in the days of the gods. Was this archaic form
evolved here, together with decorative art-designs, weapons, forts, and other things mentioned above?
This paper has now been carried far enough, intended as it was merely to draw attention to some interesting subjects for inquiry and discussion, most of which have received little attention, and present some curious discrepancies.
The field of inquiry is a wide one; its exploration would call for many correspondents. There are many subjects that might repay research, in addition to those already given. For example: Did the excavated house-site obtain in Polynesia, as it did in New Zealand, and as it does in the Torres Group (where it could scarcely be made necessary by coldness of climate)? Why does the Maori carry burdens strapped on his back, and why did he discard the balance-pole of his former home? How comes it that his system of numeration is apparently a compound of two forms, and that he has several distinct series of month-names? Why did the year commence among some tribes with the heliacal rising of Matariki, the Pleiades (as it also did in the Cook Group), and with that of Puanga, or Rigel, among others? Whence the confusion in the number of the heavens? And … But kati noa iho, lest weariness wait upon the answers. The queries put have been numerous, and followed by no intelligent explanation; that portion of the task is calmly left for the consideration of others in the days that lie before.
“Mo a muri mo a nehe.”