Art. XLVIII.—Maori Food-supplies of Lake Rotorua, with Methods of obtaining them, and Usages and Customs appertaining thereto.
[Read before the Auckland Institute, 15th December, 1920; received by Editor, 31st December, 1920; issued separately, 12th August, 1921.]
Ngatoroirangi, the tohunga and navigator of the “Arawa” canoe, was the first from that canoe to explore the Taupo district. Kahumata-momoe, the younger son of Tama-te-kapua, also journeyed to Taupo. On his return to Maketu he saw Lake Rotorua and named it Te Moana-nui-a-Kahu (the Great Lake of Kahu). The real settlers were Ika, one of the crew of the “Arawa,” and his son Maru-punga-nui, who came via Lake Rotoiti, and who lived at Okapua, where there is a pool named Te Korokoro o Maru-punga-nui. The following genealogy will help us to follow matters :—
Ihenga, the grandson of Tama-te-kapua, to whom is given the credit of the discovery, did not come to the lake until Maru-punga-nui and his son Tua-rotorua were firmly established there. Ihenga had been away with his father and grandfather at Moehau, Cape Colville, and came on to Maketu after the death of Tama-te-kapua. There he married Kakara, the daughter of his uncle Kahu. According to Grey's narrative, he went out hunting in the direction of Lake Rotoiti. His dog went farther on and reached the lake, where it had a meal of fresh-water fish. On its return to Maketu, fish were seen in its vomit, and hence Ihenga surmised an inland lake or sea. It is curious, if his father-in-law Kahu had seen the lake, that a dog should be the first to inform Ihenga of its existence. Another version states that Tama-te-kapua, without seeing it, named it after his son. However, Ihenga set off and came upon Lake Rotoiti at a beach called Paripari-te-tai, where he saw the footprints of his dog. He returned to Maketu, organized a party, and came on past Rotoiti to Lake Rotorua, where he built a pa at Whakarongo-patete. His pool for
viewing himself, known as Te Wai Whakaata o Ihenga, is still to be seen. He came across the altar-place of Tua-rotorua at Utuhina, the stream by Ohinemutu. This he interfered with, and then ensued the bluff between himself and Tua-rotorua. He pointed out the cliffs in the direction of Te Ngae as his fishing-nets, hanging up in the sun to dry. To this Tuarotorua seems to have tamely submitted, in spite of the fact that he must have seen those self-same cliffs daily for some considerable time. Probably Tua-rotorua, not knowing how many men Ihenga had behind him, deemed it advisable to acquiesce; at all events, he withdrew with his people. Some time after, Kakara, wife of Ihenga, was killed at Owhata, and her entrails were caught on a post, or tumu, near Waiteti. This rendered the lake tapu to Ihenga, and he left the district. The lake is alluded to in song as Te Roto Kite a Ihenga (the lake discovered by Ihenga).
Taipari, of Ngati-Kea, composed the following lament for his child, who was fatally burned through accident:—
Te kiri o te tau e …
Ka ka i te ahi na Whanui na Raumati
I tahuna ai Te Arawa e …
Patua te kakara ki runga o Titi-raupenga kia Maka e …
Koia te hamama o Tia ki runga o Maketu,
Tika mai i kona e …
Na Owhakamiti mai te ara,
Ko te roto kite a Ihenga,
I ariki ai Kahu.
Taku totara whakarangiura e …
Tena ka tere ki roto o Aorangi e …
The skin of my loved one, alas !
Scorched by the flame,
Lighted by Whanui and Raumati,
Through which the Arawa canoe was destroyed. Ah me !
Send forth a sweet-scented savour to Maka at Titi-raupenga.
This was the call of Tia to Maketu:
“Come hither from there.”
The path led through Owhakamiti to Paripari-te-tai,
To the lake discovered by Ihenga,
Through which Kahu became high chief.
My totara that brightened the heavens
Has drifted away to Aorangi. Alas! Ah me!
The descendants of Tama-te-kapua now lived on at Maketu, until the time of Rangitihi, when they reinvaded the lake district. Some fierce battles were fought with the Kawaarero, descendants of Tua-rotorua, who inhabited the island of Mokoia. Finally the Kawaarero were defeated and driven out of the district. The island was then divided up between Uenuku-kopako (see genealogy) and Taketake-hikuroa. Uenuku-kopako held the Rotoiti side of the island, where there were no hot springs. Taoi, his wife, after childbirth, desired to bathe in a hot spring known as Waitapu, but Taketake-hikuroa objected to the trespass on his part of the island. Rangi-te-aorere, a noted warrior, who had taken chief part in the subjugation of the Kawaarero, took Taoi to the bath. Taketake-hikuroa, owing to this affront, left the island, thus abandoning his share, when the island was divided up among the three wives of Uenuku-kapako—namely, Rangi-whakapiri, Hine-poto, and Taoi. Through the descendants of these wives the threefold division was maintained to modern times.
With regard to Taoi, who came from Ngati-Maru, an interesting tale is told. There is a long shoal stretching from Owhata to Kawaha. The Maori have an idea that above this shoal there is a distinct ridge in the water, which is called Te Hiwi o te Toroa (the Ridge of the Albatross). Taoi was well tattooed on the buttocks and thighs (rape and puhoro). Uenuku, paddling over the ridge with his three wives, was desirous of letting his other two wives see Taoi's tattooing. He could hardly ask Taoi to expose herself to satisfy the curiosity of the others, so he arranged a diving match to see which of them could bring up a fresh-water mussel from the sandbank below. Taoi had ornaments of albatross-feathers in her ears. She stripped, uttered an incantation, and dived. First an albatross-feather floated up from below, and then Taoi broke the surface with a handful of sand. The purpose had been accomplished—the other wives had seen Taoi's tattooing. In memory of her deep dive the ridge was named, after the albatross-feather that had floated up, Te Hiwi o te Toroa (the Ridge of the Albatross).
In pre-trout days the lake teemed with food which to the Maori palate was far more appetizing than the introduced trout which has displaced so much of it. The varieties consisted of a shell-fish, a crustacean, and three kinds of fish : kakahi, the fresh-water mussel (Unio); koura, the fresh-water crayfish (Paranephrops); inanga (Retropinna richardsoni); toitoi (Gobiomorphus gobioides); kokopu (Galaxias fasciatus). Of these the most famous to outside tribes was the koura, which, though found in nearly all fresh-water streams, could nowhere be found in such quantities as at Rotorua. The kakahi had the greatest reputation locally.
The koura came in in October, and lasted from November to March. They ceased to be fat in April. Inanga and kokopu were in season from December to February, and perhaps to March; toitoi, from May to September. Kakahi were obtained throughout the year, but were best in the winter.
In the case of these food-supplies there was no significance in the days of the month, but they were affected by the winds. Certain fishing-grounds were good during certain winds, whilst others were useless. A good wind was that known as Hau-a-uru Tipoki, which lasted about three weeks. Then the Rauporua ground teemed with fish, and the netting could go on for the whole time without the supply becoming exhausted. The moment the wind changed the fish sought other grounds. It would be fitting, perhaps, to give the nights of the month according to the Arawa for the purpose of record :—
1st—Whiro. The moon is not seen.
2nd—Hohoata or Tirao.
11th—Mawharu or Maurea.
14th—Atua. Moon rises at sunset, and hence has a red appearance.
The old-time Maori, a careful and observant student of nature and all matters connected with food-supplies, soon ascertained the parts of the lake where the various foods were most plentiful and most easily procured. These spots became the fishing-grounds, carefully marked and jealously guarded by the various subtribes and families. They were given names, and the most famous were alluded to in song and story. Such were Kaiore, te whare o te koura, o te toitoi (the home of the koura and the toitoi), and Te Taramoa, where nets were drawn and tau were set. Patua-i-te-rangi, in a lament for Te Ao Karewa, who was drowned in the lake, sang as follows :—
E hine e Pare, e Pare kinokino kia au ki to kuia,
E kore korua ko to tungane e puta i Te Ponui-a-Rerenga.
E kukume ana te au o te taua ki o papa.
Na Ngati-Whakaue te riri i tuku atu kia hoki,
Kia ata noho e te tangata,
Kauaka e rere ki te tau poito.
Ki ta ia tangata kupenga ra.
Piki ake ra e hine
Ki o taumata e rua ki Taupiri ki Te Rewarewa,
Kia marama koe te titiro
Ki te moana ki o whaea,
E moe ake ra Te Ao i tona whare kinokino,
I te whare kai a te tangata, ko Kaiore,
Ko Kaiore tukunga porohe ki te parenga ki Te Taramoa.
Puruatia o mawhiti, he puru whare no Te Whakaruru e …
From the fourth line this may be translated roughly as follows :—
It was Ngati-Whakaue who turned back those seeking strife,
And (advised) that man should live in peace—
Not to meddle with the tau kept up by floats
Or with the nets of other men.
Ascend, O little maid,
The two summits, Taupiri and Te Rewarewa,
That thou mayest clearly view
The lake and your elders,
Where Te Ao sleeps in her house of death,
The house of the food of man, Kaiore—
Kaiore, where the toitoi traps are set in the direction of the shore, towards Te Taramoa.
Te Moari was famous as Te Moenga o te Kokopu (where the kokopu sleeps). The big drag-nets were used on this ground. Of the kakahi grounds the most famous of all was Tahunaroa, another famous one being Te Rau Tawa.
Landmarks.—Some of the grounds were located by sighting conspicuous objects ashore and getting a cross-bearing between two sets. The Tahunaroa ground, for instance, was picked up as follows : A line was taken from a large cabbage-tree on the lake-shore near Owhatiura to a small clump of trees known as Te-Rau-o-te-Huia, situated on the hills at the back of Owhata. Keeping on this line, the canoe paddled forward or back until a certain conspicuous slip in the Arikikapakapa Reserve, near Whakarewarewa, was in line over the top of some small islands, known as Motutere, n the lake-arm at the back of the present Sanatorium. The canoe was now on Tahunaroa, and down went the pole with the absolute certainty of striking bottom.
Other marks were the natural objects in the water, such as rocks. Such a one was Patuwhare, a rock off the shore of Mokoia, out from the
bath of Hinemoa. It is said to have split before the fall of Mokoia to the Ngapuhi under Hongi, thus giving ominous warning of impending disaster.
Tumu.—As, however, the grounds were not too deep, the commonest marks were posts called tumu. They served the double purpose of marking the ground and for the fastening of one end of the tau of aka vine which carried the fern bundles intended to trap the shelter-seeking koura and toitoi. They also marked ownership, and hence were often named after ancestors. The best woods to withstand the water were rewarewa (Knightia-excelsa) and kaponga (Cyathea dealbata). As most of the grounds were marked in this manner, the number of tumu in the lake was very considerable, and served to mark the boundaries of the various subtribes and families. They were especially numerous around Mokoia. The launches and punts used for carrying sulphur up from Lake Rotoiti were responsible for the disappearance of many. Such a plebeian fate befell Hinewhata, famed for having given breathing-time to Hinemoa in her famous swim to Mokoia, whither she was lured by her love for Tutanekai and guided by the music of his koauau.
Hinearanga marked the famous Kaiore ground already alluded to. Te Taramoa was also the name of the tumu which marked the Taramoa ground. Others were named Morewhati, Te Kopua-a-Tamakari, Te Moari (still standing), and Hinerimu.
Many tumu were carved, such as Te Roro o te Rangi, carved on the top to represent a human figure. It may still be seen. Tu te Whaiwha is still standing, but the part above water-level was knocked off. It is about 6 in. in diameter, and is surmounted by a modern sign. Rongomai was carved, and originally stood near Mokoia, but it developed wandering propensities (he tumu haere), and is looked upon as a taniwha.
Between Waimihia and Ngongotaha once stood four tumu, named. Irohanga, Te Huka, Potangotango, and Te Kaea. The origin of these names is interesting. In the genealogy given below the descendants of Tamarangi went to Waikato, whilst those of Kaimataia remained at Rotorua.
Te Kaea made an eel-weir in Waikato and named the paepae (one of the beams) after Manawa. The news reached Manawa, and, not to be outdone, he immediately named four tumu in the lake after Te Kaea and his three brothers.
The tumu against which the entrails of Kakara, wife of Ihenga, were caught was called Hakaipuku. Some tumu were forked, to distinguish them from others : such were Tapaeo and Nga-kuha-o-te-Hauwhenua.
From the above it will be seen that the tumu in the lake were used like surveyors' pegs in modern times : they marked off the parts of the lake that belonged to the various families and subtribes. Undoubtedly more of the lake was pegged off than the part in the immediate neighbourhood
of the shore, which proves how valuable it was considered as a source of food-supply. It was far more valuable to the old-time Maori than any equal area of land.
For use in the dredging operations to be described a special kind of rope was manufactured by which to draw the canoes carrying dredge-rakes or dredge-nets towards a driven-in pole to which an end of the rope had been attached. This special rope was made from the leaves of the cabbage-tree, or whanake. It was plaited in the ordinary three-ply plait, usually by old men sitting in the hot pools (waiariki). The hot water softened the leaves and rendered the work easier. The butts of the leaves were allowed to project slightly. In hauling on such ropes they were softer to the hands than the usual ropes, and the projecting butts gave a securer hold.
Methods of procuring Supplies.
There were four main methods of procuring supplies. There were probably minor methods by means of small traps and hand-nets, but the following were the methods of procuring in quantity: (1) Tau koura, for obtaining koura and also toitoi; (2) kupenga, or nets, for inanga and kokopu; (3) paepae, or dredge-nets, for koura; (4) kapu or mangakino, or dredgerakes, for kakahi.
1. Tau Koura.
The tau was, and is still, the favourite method of obtaining koura. The process depends on the fact that if bundles of fern are allowed to rest on the lake-bottom the koura swarm in between the leaves and rest there. Best* quotes the Rotoiti people as stating that the koura feeds on the nehu, or pollen, of the fern. The Rotorua people say that when the nehu is on the fern the koura are fat.
The fern (Pteridium esculentum) is carefully selected, being taken from certain grounds near the cliffs and high lands, never from the flats. There are famous fern-grounds, such as Kawarua, Te Tiepa, and Hauroro. Battles have been fought in ancient times for the possession of such grounds, thus proving the importance attached to the right kind of fern. As the Maoris said, the characteristics of such fern were he kakara, he ngawari, kaore e whati (it was sweet-scented, it was pliable, and would not break or snap). The fern was carefully pulled from the ground and left near the shores of the lake to dry—ki tatahi tahua ai—the drying process lasting about a week.
For each bundle about twenty stalks, with leaves intact, were selected. The stalks were all placed in the same direction, and after a long strand of the stem of a climbing-plant (aka) had been run down the middle of the bundle of stalks a finer piece of aka was bound round and round the stalks near the butts to keep the bundle firmly together. The aka, or climbing-plants, used were aka turihanga, aka puha, aka kiore (Parsonsia rosea), aka pohue (Metrosideros florida). The aka used to bind the stalks together was called, no matter what its botanical name, the aka tahua, from its function. The length of thicker and stronger aka was to form the line by which the bundle was to be fished up from the lake-bottom. It was called
[Footnote] * Elsdon Best, Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. 35, p. 77, 1903.
the pekapeka, and was of sufficient length to reach from the lake-bottom to the surface, where it was fastened to the aka tauhu, or simply tauhu.
The tauhu, or ridgepole, consisted of a stronger length of aka, about 2 in thick. One end was usually attached to a tumu, or post, marking the crayfish-ground, the other being fastened to a poito, or float. The pekapeka were attached along it at intervals of 10 ft. To prevent the line of the tauhu being altered by winds or currents, a punga (anchor) was often attached by a line to the tauhu.
The complete tau is shown in the diagram (fig. 1). When set on the koura ground the tauhu line is fastened at one end to the tumu at the water-level, and kept on the surface, like the top rope of a net, by floats. Every 10 ft. along its length a pekapeka line hangs down to the bottom of the lake, with a fern bundle attached to its end by an aka tahua. Into these bundles the koura make their way and await their fate.
Before, however, the owner of the tau can secure the trapped koura he must be provided with a korapa, or hand-net. The korapa is shaped somewhat like a tennis-racquet on a large scale, without a handle. The frame is made of toatoa wood (Phyllocladus trichomanoides), which has a-springy, elastic fibre. The two ends are brought round in an oval, lashed together, and strengthened by a cross-piece a few inches above this binding. A flax net, with very little bag in it, is stretched across the frame.
The process of securing koura by means of the tau is known as tata koura. If the owner of a tau invited you to accompany him to secure his catch he would say, Ka haere taua ki te tata koura (Let us go and tata koura). This is an idiomatic phrase that applies only to the tau. Having embarked on his canoe, he made his way to the ground and picked up the tauhu at the tumu, or post. He then hauled along the tauhu, hand over hand, until he reached the first vertical line, or pekapeka. He then drew up the pekapeka, evenly and smoothly. The koura lay in the leaves of the fern, and the movement, if not too sudden, had no disturbing effect upon them whilst the bundle was still in the water. Exposure to the air, however, was a different matter—as probably many of us will remember from our juvenile experiences in attempting to lure a fresh-water crayfish ashore on a bent pin baited with a worm : it will come to the surface clinging on tenaciously, but immediately it breaks the surface it lets go and kicks for the bottom again. The old-time Maori was acquainted with this
characteristic of the koura, and hence the invention of the korapa. Up came the pekapeka, hand over hand, until the butts of the stalks of the fern bundle appeared above the surface. Then the korapa was gently inserted between the fern bundle and the canoe. The butts of the stalks rested against the lashed end of the korapa just out of water, whilst the mass of the leaves of the fern bundle, still under water, rested against the submerged broad face of the korapa. The two were drawn up together, and just as the leaves of the fern were about to reach the surface there was a quick pull, with leverage against the canoe-side. In the latter stage of this pull the arms were assisted by the naked foot treading on the cross-bar of the korapa. The fern bundle left the water in a horizontal position with the korapa beneath it. The koura, kicking backwards for home, were intercepted by the net of the korapa, and shared the fate of those that the inner recesses of the fern bundle had lulled into false security. The korapa and fern bundle having been brought into the canoe, the leafy end of each stalk was carefully shaken until all the contents rested in the bottom of the canoe. The bundle was then returned to the water, and the canoe drawn hand over hand along the tauhu to the next pekapeka. In this manner the process was repeated to the end of the tau. By this time, if the season were good, the canoe would be laden to the gunwales.
In ancient times there were thieves, as now, and a good tau was liable to be raided. A thief was known as a korara, and, as he was generally in a hurry, he did not use a korapa, or net. In some cases the owner of a tau, to save himself from the depredations of these fresh-water pirates, would do without a tumu and floats, and thus allow the tauhu line to sink to the bottom. This procedure left no surface marks to serve as a guide for thieves. The owner, to ensure his picking up his tauhu, would mark the line of his tau by selecting landmarks ashore which would lie across this line. When he went to collect his catch he would paddle out till he picked up his landmarks, and then dredge across the line of his tau. This necessitated a dredge-hook, or marau, as part of his equipment.
The marau consisted of a three-pronged piece of wood, made from the part of a tree where two branches on the same level forked out from the trunk. A stone was lashed between two prongs, and a rope tied to the third or upper prong. With this dragged along the bottom, across the line of the tau, the tauhu was picked up, and the usual procedure carried out.
That the marau was necessary as a protection against thieves is proved by the song alluding to the Kaiore and Taramoa grounds. In it the poet states that men should live without creating trouble, and not meddle with the tau poito, or tau kept up by floats.
On some grounds, and in the appropriate season, the tau was also used to snare the toitoi, which took refuge in the fern bundles like the koura. When used in this way the tau was also called a porohe. In the song quoted above, the famous fishing-ground of Kaiore is alluded to as Kaiore tukunga porohe (Kaiore, where the toitoi traps are set). The Rev. Fletcher* records that at Taupo the tau was used for catching kokopu as well as koura.
Best mentions the fern bundle as being called a taruke at Lake Rotoiti. As he states, the taruke is a trap used for catching sea-crayfish. Probably the Rotoiti people have adopted this word from their coastal relatives.
[Footnote] * Rev. H. J. Fletcher, Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. 51, p. 260, 1919.
(2.) Kupenga (Nets).
Nets were used for inanga and kokopu, but toitoi were also caught in them. The same kind of net did for all. My notes are somewhat meagre, as these old flax nets have long since passed out of date, and no sample survives to enable a more minute description being given. The nets were several chains long, and some are reported to have taken as long as three years to complete. They were made in parts, different parts being often allocated to various subtribes. When these parts or sections were completed they were assembled and joined together.
The most important section was named the konae. This formed the middle section of the net, and when the ends were hauled in it formed the belly, which held the fish. It was the first section to be made, and was started by two or three skilled men. They worked on through the night and never slept on their work. In the dark the width of the mesh was measured by the finger-nail. Blind men have been skilled konae weavers. After some progress had been made, others joined in and the work went on quickly. My informants stated that an unskilled man could not get a strip of flax in, as the net was constantly moving.
On either side of the konae there was a section called the whakahihi. This had a coarser mesh, and served to drive the fish back into the konae. Anaha, the famous old carver at Rotorua, who was alive when these notes were taken, gave different divisions to the nets. He maintained that the sections next to the konae on either side were the upoko roto, then came the whakahihi, and lastly the matatu. Probably this applied to the very large nets, which would thus be made in seven sections The number of sections led to the following classification :—
Kupenga nui, with all the sections described by Anaha.
Koroherohe, a smaller net used at Mokoia Island for koura, toitoi, and inanga. This consisted of three sections, the konae and two whakahihi.
Pahikohiko, used near the shore, as at Rauporoa. In this net there was no matatu section at either end. A pole was fixed at each end and the net drawn without canoes, the inanga being driven into the net, or various shoals cut out.
The nets were, of course, furnished with poito, or floats, made from the whau (Entelea arborescens), and attached to the kaha runga, or toperope. The poito over the middle of the konae was of larger size, and was usually carved. In the large nets there were two additional carved poito, one on either side, situated at the junction of the whakahihi and the matatu. These carved poito often had names given to them. The central one was famous enough to pass into a saying—Te poito whakarewa i te kupenga (The float that lifts the net). Great chiefs were alluded to in these terms, for as the carved float of the konae lifts or supports the net, so the tattooed chieftain of old uplifted his tribe.
Karihi, or sinkers of stone, were attached to the kaha raro, or bottom line of the net. They were tied to the back of the line so as not to be worn by the sand.
The famous nets were named. Such a one was Tipiwhenua, which belonged to the Ngati-Pehi Hapu. It was 300 yards long without the end ropes. Another famous net was Te Whenuataua, belonging to Ngati-Tunohopu.
When the canoes came ashore with a good catch of inanga the womenfolk would be waiting with their baskets to obtain their share. In those
communistic days nobody went empty away, but, at the same time, a distinction was made in favour of the workers. One man usually doled out the fish in double handfuls. He had to be a just man who would not unduly favour his own relatives. More was given to the women of those who had got wet skins through working. The phase used was, Engari tena; he kiri maku (That one is right; a wet skin). On the other hand, when the womenfolk of a non-worker approached with their, baskets the cry was, Hirangi, hirangi; he kiri maroke. Hirangi means “not deep,” hence the significance of the phrase is easily understood : “Not deep, not deep; a dry skin.”
In netting inanga the large canoe which carried the net was called waka uta kupenga (the canoe which carries the net). This phrase was used for people of some importance. On the other hand, there were often small canoes towed along, into which the fish were emptied from the net. These canoes were used for fish alone, and were called waka kaitiiti. The name was often applied to persons of no importance.
Uhu and Waro, chiefs of the Ngati-Whakaue, were one day looking at a good catch of inanga where the few live fish on the surface were jumping about on the mass of dead ones below. One of them observed to the other, Kia pena pea taua mo te riri (Would that we were like that in battle). Their warlike spirit aspired to be leaping hither and thither over the heap of dead, slain by their prowess.
(3.) Paepae, or Dredge-net.
The paepae is a net that is dredged along the bottom to catch koura. In Bulletin No. 2 of the Dominion Museum there is one shown in fig. 64 and fig. 78. In fig. 78 Hamilton calls it a “roukoura, or dredge-net, from Rotorua.” The Arawa people of Rotorua call this net a paepae, never a roukoura. Rou means “to reach or procure by means of a stick or pole” : there is no pole used with this net, hence the name is inapplicable.
The paepae derives its name from the lower beam of the frame which carries the bag net. The one I saw in use was 10 ft. long and 4 in. wide by 1 ½ in. thick. The upper edges were rounded off. The timber used is manuka or maire. Holes are bored through to support the uprights, to be described later. Good paepae are carved at either end and midway, and sometimes half-way between these points.
The whitiwhiti is an arched rod of manuka inserted at each end into holes in the ends of the paepae beam. The paepae and whitiwhiti frame the opening of the net. To strenghten the whitiwhiti a number of uprights are let into the holes bored in the paepae and, passing behind the whitiwhiti, are firmly lashed to it. The pouwaenga, as its name implies, is the middle upright. It is stouter and stronger than the others, as the main rope is fastened to it when the net is being hauled. It is also grasped when lifting the net into the canoe. The measurements of these uprights are shown in the diagram. About 2 ft. 3 ½ in. on either side of the pouwaenga are the uprights named tangitangi. They are fixed in the same way as the pouwaenga, but are not so stout. In the angle between them and the lower beam, on the outer side, stone punga, or sinkers, are attached to the tangitangi. Six inches from either end of the lower beam are short uprights slanting outwards but fixed in the same manner as the preceding. They are named punga, because stone punga are attached to them, as shown in the diagram. Side ropes are also attached to them and led to the main rope, to which they are tied.
Ropes.—The main drag-rope is tied to the pouwaenga. The side ropes tied to the punga uprights are called tangitangi, the same name as the second set of uprights. They join the main rope about 4 ft. from the pouwaenga.
The net of the paepae has no special name. The one I saw had a 2 ¼ in. mesh. The opening of the net-was fitted to the framework of the paepae and whitiwhiti. From this opening the net gradually narrowed down to a point about 10 ft. 10 in. away. To this point was attached a piece of rope 7 ft. long, which carried the punga, or koremu (the stone sinker).
I saw Ngati-Uenuku-Kopako at Mokoia Island with a paepae of which the arch, or whitiwhiti, was composed of thick, plain wire. The paepae bar was 10 ft. 8 in. long, and extra uprights were inserted between the punga and tangitangi uprights These were called whitiwhiti, the same name as the arch.
Naming.—As in the case of other nets, good paepae, which caught large catches, were named after ancestors or near relatives.
Method of Dredging.—When collecting these notes we went hauling on the Moari grounds off Mokoia. The first procedure was to plant a long pole, called a turuturu, firmly into the bottom of the lake, on one edge of the rather shallow fishing-ground. A fairly long rope of whanake leaves was tied near the bottom of the turuturu before it was thrust down. It takes a skilled man to plant the turuturu. On touching bottom it is gently twirled with one hand, and gradually insinuated more and more deeply
until it is considered that it can stand the strain of having the canoe drawn towards it from the end of the rope. It will be noticed that the rope is tied to the bottom of the turuturu so as to take the strain and prevent leverage. If not skilfully and firmly planted, when a strain is put on it the turuturu comes up. This was considered an ill omen, and was called he take maunu (a loosened support), and in olden days the man who planted such a turuturu would promptly be struck with a taiaha or club. If he were man enough he would guard the stroke, leap overboard, and swim ashore, no matter how far.
The turuturu having been securely planted, the canoe paddled away from it. The whanake rope was paid out until the end was reached. As the canoe paddled towards the end of the rope a landmark was taken to keep the line of the canoe. The net was now put over the side. The sinker was lowered first and allowed to tighten up before the net left the hand. If this were not done the net would be liable to get twisted and the arch go under, causing the paepae to be dragged along upside down. This accident was called karitutu, and resulted in no fish being caught. On hauling up an empty net the disappointed fishermen would say, E, i karitutu ta taua kupenga (Alas, our net was upside down).
Enough rope was paid out to ensure the paepae resting on the bottom. The drag-rope of the net was then tied to the canoe. The canoe was hauled by the whanake rope towards the turuturu, and the dredge-net, tied by its rope to the canoe, was dragged along the bottom. The man hauling on the rope had the opportunity of “putting on side” by stretching out with full-arm reaches to grasp the rope and then straightening his back in a spectacular manner. This was the correct thing to do : Kia maro te tuara (Straighten the back). Either hand was used alternately, and the bight of the rope as it came in was dropped in a figure-of-eight coil—not in a single coil, as with Europeans. The canoe was not hauled too close to the turuturu, lest it should be loosened. When near enough, the rope was tied to the canoe and attention directed to the net. The experts could always tell as they hauled in whether there was a good catch. The weight of the crayfish caused the paepae to lift and the net to roll about. Ka tahurihuri te kupenga, he tohu kua mou te koura (When the net rolled about it was a sign that koura had been caught). As the net came up, the pouwaenga was grasped and the framework lifted clear of the sides of the canoe; the other parts were then drawn in.
If the net was filled with koura more than the span of the two arms it was an evil sign—he iro tangata. The tale would be whispered round the village, Ko te kupenga a mea, na te waha o te paepae i whakahoki te koura (The net of So-and-so, it was the mouth of the net that stopped the koura). This was a sign of death—an aitua, an inati.
The crayfish having been emptied out of the net, the canoe was paddled back to the end of the rope; but by carefully observing their landmark a spot was made for a few yards to the right or left of the last drag. This was done on each drag, so as to ensure the same ground not being gone over twice. In the old days a couple of drags would secure a quantity equal to the contents of a sack or two. Often there would be a dozen canoes on the same ground competing one against another.
Sometimes a canoe was tied to the turuturu and remained stationary whilst another canoe worked backwards and forwards to it with the drag-net. In this case there were two ropes tied to the base of the turuturu. One was drawn taut and tied to the bow of the stationary
canoe, and the other to the stern. The hauling-rope of the drag canoe was paid out from the stationary canoe. This brings up an incident that occured after the fall of Mokoia to the Ngapuhi under Hongi. The Ngapuhi, anxious to sample the famous koura of Rotorua, ordered some of their prisoners to accompany them to the fishing-grounds and drag for koura. A fishing-ground near the mainland by Te Ngae was selected by the prisoners. A large canoe containing the captors was fastened to the turuturu. One can imagine, in the light of what subsequently occurred, how carefully and firmly that turuturu was thrust in by the prisoners. The prisoners entered a small canoe with a dredge-net, and, paying off the rope, paddled off towards a point on the mainland. There were no Ngapuhi on this canoe, as, being unskilled, they did not wish to be in the way of the workers. As the canoe paddled away, its speed gradually increased, and on the end of the rope being reached, instead of pulling up, the rope was cast overboard and the canoe driven for shore at full speed. The Ngapuhi, with yells and threats, started to uproot the turuturu, but before they could get going properly the fugitives had landed and made their escape.
Dr. Newman, in his article “On Maori Dredges,”* quotes Mr. L. Grace as stating that at Lake Taupo, when using the hao, or toothless dredge, the rope was tied to a tree on the bank and the canoe then rowed out to the full length of a many-fathomed rope. In Lake Rotorua, where the fishing-grounds were some distance from the shore, the turuturu took the place of the tree.
Best mentions the paepae as being used to catch koura in the lakes by being dragged along the bottom. But though his article deals with the food-supplies of Tuhoeland, this remark follows after mention of fern being used to catch koura at Lake Rotoiti, and I take it to apply to the Lakes District and not to Tuhoeland.
(4.) Kapu, Mangakino, or Dredge-rakes.
It is curious that the kakahi, or fresh-water mussel, whilst the least appetizing of the lake food-supplies, is the most important in story, song, and proverb. For instance, there is an old saying—Tane moe whare, kurua te takataka; tane rou kakahi, aitia te ure (Man drowsing in the house, smack his head; man skilled in dredging kakahi, marry him). There is no exhortation of a similar nature applied to men skilled in netting koura, toitoi, inanga, or kokopu, and we must conclude that the prize for relish was awarded to the kakahi.
The dredge-rake may be described in three parts—the wooden frame, the net, and the pole or handle.
(a.) Kapu, Mangakino, or Wooden Frame.—The wooden frame carries the teeth of the dredge-rake, and to it are attached the net and the handle. It is called kapu or mangakino, and gives its name to the whole apparatus. Both Hamilton and Newman call it a roukakahi. This is a misnomer, as I shall point out later. The kapu, or mangakino, is always made of manuka wood, so as to stand the strain. By consulting the diagram it will be seen that it is made in two pieces and then lashed together above and below in the mesial line. Each part consists of a horizontal bottom beam, a bend, and an ascending upper arm.
[Footnote] * Trans. N.Z. Inst, vol. 37, p. 138, 1905.
The horizontal bottom beam is called the paetara (lower beam with points). It carries the wooden teeth, or tara, which are about 6 in. long. They are lashed to the under-surface of the beam with fine aka or with fibre of the Phormium tenax, and then a thicker piece of aka is woven in and out in figure-of-eight turns to finish off. The number of teeth are usually about two dozen. The two halves of the paetara are joined on a slant, and aka or fibre lashings passed through holes drilled on either side. The overlap in the paetara I saw in use was 17 in., and its total length 44 in.
The bend at the sides is called the kauae (jaw). Besides bending upwards, the kauae bends forwards and is continued on into the upper limb, or peke. The two peke do not come close together in the middle line, but are separated by a gap of from 1 in. to 1 ½ in. This point is about 10 in. above the bottom beam. These ends of the peke have holes through them for lashing purposes. From the front, the plane of the kauae and peke forms an angle of about 45° with the plane of the paetara and teeth.
About 7 in. above the lower beam a horizontal rod, called the paepae, is securely lashed at either end to a hole in the ascending limbs. As further support there are two vertical rods, called kume, about 1 ft. to the inner side of the bends. They are made of manuka, with a fork at the lower end. The fork embraces the lower beam from behind, and the rod passes behind the paepae and ascending arms, to each of which they are securely lashed. The two kume and the paepae rods thus brace and strengthen the wooden framework, or kapu.
(b.) Heheki, Or Net.—The net is a bag net with a 1 ¾ in. mesh and about 34 in. long. At the end away from the frame it is wider, if anything, than at its attachment. It is attached to the paetara below, and the upper edge comes up as high as the paepae above, but is not fastened to it. It has a string attached to this upper edge, which is drawn taut and tied to the lower end of the pole or handle. The net has a special name, the heheki. In Museum Bulletin No. 2 Hamilton quotes Best as giving the name of the dredge-rake used at Rotoiti as heki. The Rotorua people were very clear that it is the actual net that is the heheki. In fig. 76 of the above publication a dredge-rake is shown with a punga, or sinker, attached to the end of the net. This is incorrect, as there was no necessity for it in this position, the kakahi weighting the net back as they were dredged up.
(c.) Rou, or Handle.—The handle was called the rou. In order to drag the rake along the bottom the handle had to be from 28 ft. to 30 ft. long. It was not a simple case of getting the longest pole from the adjacent forest, as Newman* states in his article on Maori dredges. To get a pole of the right length without being too heavy or unwieldy, and yet with sufficient slimness and spring without being too weak, was the problem that faced the neolithic Maori. He solved it by joining four pieces together, thus obtaining length without excessive thickness. Of these four pieces the most important was the lowest, called the matamata. This was carefully sought for in the bush. It had to be a straight piece of toro (Myrsine salicina) or mapou (Myrsine Urvellei) of the right thickness. These woods are very springy, and will not break or snap. In the rou I saw in use the matamata was 12 ft. 4 in. in length and 3 ½ in. in circumference. The thin end was downwards, and near this end a groove was cut round, for a purpose to be detailed later.
The other three pieces were not so important, and the wood was not so carefully selected. The ones I saw were of-tawa (Beilschmiedia. tawa). The piece next to the matamata was named the whakatakapu. It was spliced to the matamata with an overlap of 11 in. and had the thick end down, and was 4 ft. 7 in. in length. The third piece was of the same length, and was called the whakangawari, and had an overlap of 11 in. The last piece was the one which was grasped by the hand, and hence was called the tango-tango (what one lays hold of). It was 9 ft. 6 ½ in. in length, and had the thin end uppermost, being here about 1 in. in diameter. The overlap with the whakangawari was 9 ¾ in.
The various parts of the rou were joined together as shown in the diagram, with a 9 in. to 11 in. overlap, by a double tie. These ties at the joints are called hotohoto.
When the dredge-rake was not in use the handle was untied, taken to pieces, and put in water to preserve it until the next season. In northern France the French farmers, after the pea crop is gathered, place the wooden stakes or pea-props in ponds for a similar reason.
Joining the Rou to the Framework.—The rou, or handle, having been completed, the lower end of the matamata is fastened to the kapu. It is passed down at the back of the two ascending arms (peke), and the groove already mentioned at the lower end is fitted on to the cross-rod (paepae) and securely lashed to it and the peke. The handle, peke, and kauae are now in the same
[Footnote] * A. K. Newman, On Maori Dredges, Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. 37, p. 141. 1905.
plane, and, as before mentioned, form an angle of 45° with the plane of the teeth of the rake. This insures the teeth gripping the sand or mud at the bottom when the rake is dragged.
The punga, or sinker, is then attached, not to the end of the net, but to the back of the matamata, between the cross-rod (paepae) and the ascending arms (peke), where in fact it is fastened to all three. Some fern is wrapped round the punga, before fastening, to save the woodwork. Its weight is about 6 lb. Should the weight of the sinker be insufficient, smaller sinkers, called potiki, are attached on either side of the main punga. It will be observed that the function of the punga has nothing to do with the net, but from its position at the lower end of the handle and directly over the middle of the frame it weights down the lower beam and causes the teeth to sink into the soft sand to scrape up the kakahi. The sinker described by Dr. Newman, in his article already quoted, as being flat at the base whilst the other side is rounded, was not so made that the broad flat surface should lie in the lake-mud, but that the flat surface might rest evenly against the back of the framework in the position described above.
Method of Dredging.—As foreshadowed in the proverb already quoted, kakahi dredging required great skill, or, as the Maoris say, He tino mahi tohunga. It was very difficult to get a good quantity, and the kuare, or unskilled dredger, was useless. It is said that skill descended in or was inherited by certain families. The Ngati-Pukaki were a skilled tribe. As there was so much talk about dredging, it is natural that a good deal of show was indulged in. The fisherman going out to the kakahi ground put on his best dress-cloak of dogskin or fine flax. The turuturu was driven in, and the canoe paddled off to the end of the attached rope. The dredge-rake was lowered over the left side of the canoe, and the end of the handle (tango-tango) held in the left hand. After feeling that the rake was on the bottom and that the teeth had gripped, the dredger would work towards the turuturu by successive pulls on the rope with the right hand. In olden days, when conscientious objectors were not even dreamt of, if a Maori held a stick in his hand and started moving it about his fighting-blood was speedily aroused. It is known of many a Maori of the old school, peacefully walking along with a walking-stick in the degenerate post-fighting days, that if he struck once or twice at a tree-branch or a piece of bracken an association of ideas seemed to stir the blood, and it was no uncommon sight to see him leaping about from side to side and going through all the strokes and parries of the ancient pastime. This would happen even with men using the ko in digging. So with the kakahi dredger: as he dredged along he had to move the handle from side to side; gradually the movement would excite him so that anon he was guarding and parrying with the handle of the dredge-rake, quite oblivious of the kakahi below. It was considered good training for war: hence my informants said, He karo rakau tonu te mahi (The method was just like guarding against a weapon). Probably some excitable warrior created a precedent and it became the fashion.
When a larger canoe was used there might be three or four dredgers all facing the same way, and were the angles of the handles of the rakes the same all would be well; but if one were different all would be wrong, and the rake that was out of line would immediately be drawn up, so that the fault might be investigated. The fault might be (a) the tying at the joints (hotohoto) of the handle, (b) the teeth of the kapu loosened or set wrongly, (c) more weight (potiki) needed. When the net became full the weight caused the handle to assume a more vertical position—ka tu te rou.
Whakaangi.—When a special demonstration was desired the method of dredging known as whakaangi was indulged in. In this it was necessary that a breeze should be blowing across the dredging-ground. Big canoes, preferably war-canoes, were dragged out, and the crew of fishers dressed in their finest array. They paddled up against the wind to the edge of the ground, and with dredge-rakes over the side drifted across the ground with the wind. No turuturu was needed. It was here, with their numbers and brave cloaks, that the tu karo, or sparring with the handle of the rake, was especially indulged in. Old men say that with several canoes vying with one another on the same ground it was a sight to stir the blood. Kaiore was a good fishing-ground for the whakaangi method, as also was Puha te Reka, belonging to Ngati-Whakaue.
Carving.—Good dredge-rakes are carved at the kauae and at the upper ends of the ascending arms. In some the mid-part of the ascending arms, where the paepae is secured, is also carved. Such a rake is shown in Museum Bulletin No. 1, fig. Lc.
Name of Dredge-rake.—The name roukakahi that has been applied to the wooden frame of the dredge-rake is wrong. The word rou as a verb means “to reach or procure by means of a pole or stick.” As a noun it means “a long stick used for the purpose of reaching anything.” These are the meanings given in Williams's Dictionary, and these are the interpretations of the word as used with regard to the dredge-rake by the old men of Rotorua. Rou, as a noun, is the name of the handle of the rake. Roukakahi, as a verb, is the process of procuring kakahi by means of a pole, to which incidentally the rake and net are attached. Williams gives as a second meaning to the verb rou, “collect cockles or other shell-fish,” and gives as his example, kei te rou kakahi. “Collect” is certainly the result obtained, but the true meaning of the example he gives is “procuring or collecting kakahi by means of something connected with a pole.” Pole is involved in the word rou. The frame of the dredge-rake is not a roukakahi, but a kapu or mangakino, as the Maori manufacturers state, and the correction should be made in our records. From a consideration of the meaning of the word rou we see that the paepae, or dredge-net, could never be called a roukoura. There is not the excuse for making a mistake as in the case of the dredge-rake, because the paepae was dragged by a rope, and there was no pole, or rou, used in connection with it. The hao, or toothless dredge-net, that Newman mentions as used in Lake Taupo evidently had a handle. There might have been some ground for calling this a roukoura, but there certainly was not as regards the paepae.
Mauri-oho-rere is the name of a rock within which Hatupatu, of ancient fame, sought refuge. It is not now seen unless before some disaster, when it is an ill omen, or aitua. If, whilst dredging for kakahi, pumice (pungapunga) was displaced from the bottom and floated to the surface it was looked upon as an ill omen. This particular genus of ill omen was named after the rock of Hatupatu, Mauri-oho-rere.
The supplies having been secured by the methods described, a few remarks about them as foods are necessary.
To any one who enjoys the shell-fish of the salt water the kakahi is very tasteless and insipid. This opinion seems to be shared by the present
generation of the Arawa people, for dredging is gradually being abandoned. In olden days, however, the kakahi was very important. It was used in the feeding of motherless infants where a wet-nurse could not be secured. The kakahi was cooked and the child fed with the soft paru, or visceral mass, which, further softened with the water retained in the shell, could be sucked like milk. Three or four kakahi formed a meal. Hence the Maori said, Ko te kakahi te whaea o te tamaiti (The kakahi is the mother of the child). Ka whakangotea ki te wai o te kakahi (It was suckled on the juice of the takahi).
The kakahi was often greatly desired by patients. When the eyes took on a deathly, unnatural white appearance it was alluded to as kua whakawai kakahi nga kanohi (the eyes have taken on a kakahi white appearance). Then the appropriate treatment was to feed the patient with wai-kakahi—the juice of the kakahi after it had been cooked in a hot spring. Smith* mentions these uses of the kakahi. If the patient could take it the prognosis was considered good. If the patient had been very ill and asked for kakahi it was looked upon as a good sign.
Kakahi were sometimes eaten raw. The opening of a raw kakahi has a special word, tioka. If a person desired raw kakahi for a meal he said, Tiokatia mai he kakahi (Open me some raw kakahi). If the kakahi were cooked, the word for opening was kowha. They might also be eaten underdone—that is, they were dipped into a hot spring for a few seconds. This just warmed the kakahi and caused the shell to open very slightly. This process was called whakakopupu. Hence the phrase Whakakopuputiamai he kakahi means, literally, “Underdo me some kakahi.”
There was, of course, the ordinary cooking, though the Maori never cooked their shell-fish until the shell was wide open and the contents shrivelled to the consistency of leather, as the European seems fond of doing.
The proper kinaki, or relish, to go with kakahi was the pohue, a kind of convolvulus. The kakahi after being eaten as food was always alluded to in the plural as nga kakahi.
The shell of the kakahi was used for cutting the hair of adults, and also the umbilical cord of a newborn child.
In addition to the proverb already mentioned, there is another drawn from the fact that the kakahi in moving about on the bottom of the lake forms a trail of curves and spirals not unlike tattooing or carving: Nga kakahi whakairo o Rotorua. This was applied to toa, or warriors, who dashed in and out of the war-party.
The kokopu and toitoi were eaten locally, and not preserved. The inanga and koura, on the other hand, were preserved, and, besides providing for local needs, were sent as presents and exchanges to outside tribes.
The inanga were dried by being spread out on the papa or rocky slabs rendered hot by the natural hot steam below. When dried they were called whakahunga, and were packed in baskets lined and covered with fern-leaves, and were then ready for storing or export.
The koura makes delicious eating, the flavour resembling that of large prawns. It has survived the introduction of trout better than its finny comrades, and to this day the tau koura still obtains good catches, though not comparable to those of times gone by. Curried koura is often included in the menu of the dining-room run in connection with the dances in the carved meeting-house of Tama-te-kapua at Ohinemutu; and during the
[Footnote] * T. H. Smith, Trans. N.Z. Inst, vol. 26, p. 429, 1894.
visit of the Prince of Wales to Rotorua koura, though late in the season (April), were supplied in the Maori canteen, to the delight of the Maori visitors. They are cooked in baskets in the steam holes, and it is interesting to see how neatly and quickly the local people get rid of the shell and expose the flesh. The abdomen, or tail, consists of seven segments, the hindmost, or seventh, being biologically called the “telson.” In the large sea-crayfish it is usual to separate this abdominal part and remove the exoskeleton, or tergum, from each segment in turn. With the small fresh-water koura, however, the Maori removes the tergum in one piece, without detaching the fleshy mass from the anterior cephalothorax. Grasping the cephalothorax with the left hand, with the right hand he first squeezes the sides of the abdominal segments. This loosens matters up, and, grasping the telson, or end segment, above and below, he squeezes it firmly. This pushes the flesh forward out of the end segment, and by now pulling backwards and slightly upwards the whole exoskeleton comes away. The carapace, or covering of the anterior part, is then flicked forward and upward and detached. The tail part and the viscera of the anterior part are taken in a mouthful; whilst the head, legs, and under part of the cephalothorax are rejected; Care must, however, be taken to avoid the bile-ducts, which show up black just behind the head. They are usually pinched off beforehand. One has only to struggle with a koura himself to appreciate the quickness, neatness, and ease of the above method in the hands of the cognoscenti.
For preserving purposes the fleshy tail parts, after being cooked, were threaded on a string of flax-fibre and dried. They were thus stored in long strings, shell-fish being preserved in a similar manner; and in condition they would keep for a year. The strings were packed in baskets. Eight baskets were called a rohe, which was equivalent to a sack.
Feasts.—At a large hui at Awahou in 1899 there were six hundred people present from the Bay of Plenty and East Coast. The gathering lasted a week, and koura was the chief food. A great present of koura was sent to Kawana Paipai at Wanganui in 1859, but my informants had forgotten the quantities. At the opening of Tama-te-kapua at Ohinemutu, in 1873, it is said that at the feast there were five hundred rohe of dried koura and inanga. As this would mean four thousand baskets, some idea can be formed of how the lake must have teemed with food and what an invaluable asset it must have been to the tribes fortunate enough to possess it.
The notes that form the basis of this paper were made at Rotorua some years before the war. I have to thank Mr. H. Tai Mitchell and his committee of old men who gave me the information for the purposes of record. A tau was visited and demonstrations given in the manner of using the dredge-net and the dredge-rake. My thanks are also due to Miss Preen for some of the photographs used to illustrate the text.