It is extremely difficult to draw the line of demarcation between original Maori patterns and those of post-European date. The Maori patterns already described are very simple, and the same motive is used in regular sequence throughout the field of the panel. In the case of the house Te Paku-o-te-rangi at Whanganui, already mentioned, though there are two motives on the one panel, they are separated into definite areas by vertical stakes (tumatakahuki) and an arrangement of coloured rods. The post-European panels are more complicated, have more than one motive, and are combined less uniformly, though they may be symmetrical in one or more directions. From these distinctions it will be seen that the two classes conform to J. L. Myres's* definition of patterns and designs: “If a motive, or any combination of motives, is used in regular sequence it forms a pattern. Motives combined less uniformly compose a design, which may be symmetrical in one or more directions, or otherwise adapted by the balance, rhythm, or porportion of its parts to decorate a given field, more or less spacious, but of definite shape.” Though the terms may have been used somewhat loosely in this article, for practical purposes we may say that the old Maori work consists of patterns, and the post-European of designs.
The second distinguishing feature of post-European work, in many panels, is the introduction of non-Maori motives. By the arrangement of lines and spaces the Maori geometric combinations went as far as chevrons, triangles, and lozenges. The conservatism of his art prevented him from going farther, though other geometric figures could easily have been produced. With the advent of the European other motives were introduced, such as squares and octagons. Once the old patterns were departed from, lines and spaces were combined in various ways and obeyed only one rule, that of symmetrical balance in a horizontal direction. In some panels we can see where the craftsman, through a miscalculation, did not get his design quite
[Footnote] * Notes and Queries on Anthropology, p. 203. Royal Anthropological Institute, 1912.
symmetrical laterally. Many of the post-European designs are rendered still harder to distinguish by the fact that in some of our best existing carved houses the panels were stitched by skilled Maoris, who gave them old names and maintained that they were original Maori designs. Some of them have old Maori patterns included in part of the panel. The application, however, of the above two points of distinction, and careful cross-examination, shows that the Maori craftsmen were probably unconsciously influenced by modern conditions. Their idea of good work was to make the designs as complicated as possible. The retention of some original Maori motives as part of the design, and the application of some old Maori name, made the new design an original Maori one in their minds.
There are several of these designs amongst the Arawa and East Coast people, but they are absent from the conservative Whanganui. A few have been selected to illustrate this class, and the names given are translated from the original manuscript written by one of the old men who assisted in making the designs. They may be roughly classified into—
Designs with an original Maori motive forming part:—
Designs with non-Maori geometrical figures :—
Designs with Maori motives not hitherto used:—
Designs in which the names are purely fanciful.
An excellent picture of post-European designs, taken from Porourangi, on the East Coast, is shown in Hamilton's Maori Art, part 2, plate xiii, fig. 2.