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.