Volume 12 1903 > Volume 12, No.4, December 1903 > Notes on the art of war as conducted by the Maori of New Zealand: Part VIII, by Elsdon Best, p193-217
NOTES ON THE ART OF WAR, AS CONDUCTED BY THE MAORI OF NEW ZEALAND, WITH ACCOUNTS OF VARIOUS CUSTOMS, RITES, SUPERSTITIONS, &c., PERTAINING TO WAR, AS PRACTISED AND BELIEVED IN BY THE ANCIENT MAORI.
A WOUNDED person is termed tăotū or tuākiri (tu-a-kiri). The former was, I am told, the old term, used before the acquisition of guns (tao=a spear: tu=to be wounded). Tu-a-kiri is a modern term, adopted since the acquisition of firearms.
Natives have been known to recover from very severe wounds, whereas it is stated that half-castes often die of slight wounds. The natives tell me that it took several wounds to bring down a toa (a brave man). Te Puehu received six spear wounds at Papakai and then escaped by running. Kai-namu, of Te Arawa, was also wounded in six places at Te Ariki, all being bullet wounds, and yet lived. However, in the lack of information respecting the nature of these wounds, these cases are not of much interest.
Wounds were sometimes cauterised in order to stop the flow of blood. A piece of half dry pirita (supple-jack, a forest climbing plant) was ignited and used for the above purpose. Also all such crude attempts at surgery were accompanied by the reciting of karakĭa whakamăhŭ or invocations (spells) to heal.
Wounded persons were carried on an amo or litter, constructed of poles and lashings of flax or forest creepers. In desperate cases a length of pirita creeper would be fastened round the leg of the wounded person, and he would then be dragged off the field by such means until a litter could be made—a somewhat rough process for the unhappy man. A force must be in a bad plight indeed when they - 194 leave their wounded behind, for they would assuredly be eaten, and perhaps tortured before death. The latter does not appear to have been a common occurrence, but dreadful things occurred in cases of blood vengeance.
When the northern tribes were raiding Taranaki some of the warriors were wounded. These wounded were burned alive by their own people to save them or even their bones from falling into the hands of the enemy. These raiders were far within the enemy's country at the time, and could not encumber themselves with wounded men.1
I have heard of cases which occurred during their ten years' struggle against the English where, when a native was wounded severely, he would, with a final exertion of his strength, throw his gun back towards his friends, that it might not fall into the hands of the enemy.
In several actions between the Colonial troops and the rebels, after the latter had accepted the fanatical Hauhau religion (so-called), the latter considered themselves perfectly invulnerable to our bullets. Holding their right hand up, they would recite a so-called karakia of meaningless gibberish, and expect the bullets of the pakeha to be warded off by such means.
When Tuhoe marched to Waikato to fight the British troops a tohunga of Rua-tahuna gave them some bottles filled with a decoction of divers barks, roots, etc., which he informed them would render them impervious to pakeha bullets if they drank of it before going into battle. The simple warriors tried it at O-rakau, but it did not work properly, and many were killed, including several women.
In the case of broken limbs splints of manuka bark were used. These would be supplemented with a charm known as a hono, which is said to have the effect of causing the bone to join and heal. The following is one of the numerous charms, termed whai, for the healing of wounds:
Here is another:—
The name of another ancient and famous charm for healing wounds was Titikura. “Mehemea ka tu i te huata, ka hoaia ki a Titikura, kia ora.”2 This karakia is mentioned in the story of Rata in Grey's “Polynesian Mythology.”
When fighting away from their own homes the natives were accustomed to cremate the bodies of their slain, in order that they should not fall into the hands of the enemy. In the event of the body of a chief being thus cremated, the head would first be cut off and preserved and taken to the tribal home. Cremation of the bodies of the dead was a common occurrence, even in times of peace, probably more especially among people dwelling in open or plain country. There was ever the dread of a body being found and eaten by an enemy, or the bones thereof being fashioned into implements.
When Tu-Korehu attacked Tuhoe at Te Tahora, he lost Te Tiroa, a chief of his party. The body was at once destroyed by fire, lest it be devoured by Tuhoe.
When Nga-Puhi and other tribes, under Tu-whare, Te Rauparaha and other chiefs, were marching by the coast from Wellington Harbour to Wai-rarapa, they camped on the beach for some time in order to devour many bodies of the enemy whom they had slain. The effect was an epidemic in the camp, and two hundred of the invaders died of it. The whole of these bodies were destroyed by fire.
We have mentioned the preserving of human heads by drying. This is known as pakipaki mahunga, and the process is as follows:—An umu (steam oven) was prepared, heated, and covered in, save a small hole at the top, through which the steam rose. Over this aperture the head was placed, neck downwards, so that the steam should ascend and have the desired heating and drying effect. When - 196 severing the head from the body the skin was stripped off as far down as the shoulders, in order to allow for contraction, The brains, etc., were not scooped out; the hot steam alone did the work. In the case of a relative the lips were sewn together so as to cause them to retain a natural position, and if well done the remark “Me te kuku ka kopi”—like the closing of a shell—was applied to it. The loose skin was drawn tight and tied underneath to prevent it from wrinkling. Heads of relatives were thus kept for many years, and occasionally exhibited to be mourned over.
The dried heads of enemies, as a rule, had not the lips sewn; therefore they were parted in a ghastly grin. These heads of enemies would at times be taken out and stuck on short stakes (turuturu) in the plaza, where jeering remarks and speeches were made at them. If the teeth were white, even, and sightly, the expression “Me te niho kokota” was applied to the same, comparing them to a white shell.
Heads of relatives were often carried about for some time after death, and frequently wailed over. Heads of enemies were often placed near the ovens when women were cooking, as an act of degradation to the dead and also the living relatives, as nothing was so contaminating as cooked food.
Ngati-Ngahere, of O-potiki, were tired. They yearned for human flesh. Ngati-Ngahere said: “We will raid the rising sun.” They did so, and attacked Ngati-Kahungunu at Te Papuni, where they slew one Mahia. Makawe, chief of the invaders, speared one of his enemies through the body, and held him down with the spear while he reached for the patu in his belt to despatch him with. Before he could do so he was himself struck down and severely wounded. His party camped at Te Pa-puni.
Makawe drew near to death. He called upon his people to procure some human flesh as an o matenga (food for the death journey) for him. Enough said. His people attacked Ngati-Kahungunu at Puke-taro, slaying several. They returned to their chief, bringing with them the heart of one of their victims as an o matenga for Makawe. But Makawe, of the fighting Whakatohea, had already passed beyond the need of food.
The head of Makawe was cured by his people, who carried it in their wanderings to the east, where they fought at Tara-mahiti and elsewhere, afterwards returning to O-potiki.
Having won a battle, the conquerors would at once dry the heads of chiefs of the enemy who had fallen. These would be taken home and used as scarecrows, or kept to be reviled.- 197
When the kumara (sweet potato) crop was planted, and the priest repeated the invocations in order to produce a good crop, these dried heads were sometimes taken to the spot and placed on the borders of the cultivation. They had, in some manner, a beneficial effect on the growing crop.
Well tatooed heads of enemies were particularly desired. When Tuhoe marched on Te Arawa prior to the battle of Puke-kai-kāhu, one division advanced under Tangahau via Paeroa, where they defeated Ngati-Tahu at Te Kopiha. On arriving at Puke-kai-kāhu they found the main body busy drying the heads of the Arawa chiefs who had fallen in the fight. When Tangahau saw what finely tatooed heads they were he is said to have felt much abashed, as those secured by his party at Te Kopiha were very poor specimens.
When Ngati-Manawa were defeated by Tuhoe at Te Tapiri in 1865, the latter cut off the heads of Eru and Tamihana, of the former tribe. These heads were dried and taken away by Te Whakatohea, the eyes having previously been scooped out and swallowed by Kereopa, the infamous.
In the skirmish at Oharuna in 1869, Te Arawa cut off the heads of three men of Tuhoe whom they had slain, and stuck them up on a rock in the creek-bed. This is the last instance of decapitation in this district that I know of.
It frequently happened in the wars of old, that prisoners were compelled to carry on their backs to the homes of their conquerers the dried heads and flesh of their own relatives who had been slain.
Peace and peace-making is by no means a modern institution with the Maori. It originated in the mist-laden epoch when the sons of Heaven and Earth strove with each other. Rongo-ma-tāne was for peace. Had his appeal been listened to war would have had no place on earth; peace would have prevailed. There is a very ancient myth which describes how Tu-mata-uenga overcame Rongo, and how Rongo went to the whare patahi, to Marere-o-tonga and Timu-whakairia, in order to fetch the wananga, that peace might prevail. It is an old, old, story, and, I fear, now lost. The following is a fragment of an invocation pertaining thereto:—
“Te whare patahi-e hui te rongo
E hui te rongo, e puta mai ki waho.”
This myth is also referred to in an old waiata or song which was sung at times of peace-making. It was sung by Te Turuki (Te Kooti) during the late unpleasantness in Te Ika-a-Maui (North Island of New Zealand).- 198
“E mahi ana ano a Tu raua ko Rongo
I ta raua māra, koia Pohutukawa
Ka patua tenei, koia moenga kura
Ka patua tetahi, koia moenga toto
Na raua ano ka he i te riri
Ka tikina ki raro ra, kia Marere-o-tonga
E ora ana te wananga-e
Mauria mai nei ko te rongo-a-whare
Ko te rongo-taketake
Ki mua ki te atua
Ka whakaoti te riri-e.”
Rongo is looked upon as the origin, personification, or tutelary deity of peace. The word rongo denotes peace; hohou rongo = to make peace.
Haumia, Ioio-whenua, and Pū-tē-hue also made for peace, and upheld the peaceful art of cultivation as against war and strife. These peaceful precepts descended to Te Hapu-oneone and Te Heketanga-rangi. We still observe the fruit thereof in the world. Such is the salvation of man.
The terms rongo-taketake and tatau-pounamu are applied to a firmly bound, permanent peace-making. A weak or temporary peace-making, soon broken, is known as a rongo-whatiwhati. The former is quite an important ceremony, and is arranged by the leading men of both sides. A party of fifty or one hundred men would visit an enemy's country in order to make peace, and would be received with every evidence of fierce hostility, after the manner of the Maori. Then many speeches are made, threats are hurled at the visitors. After a while these actions and words of defiance calm down, and the two sides will probably hold a tangi and lament those who have been slain. Then a chief will arise and welcome the visitors: “Welcome! welcome in the light of day. Welcome, my brothers! Here let us turn to the peaceful ways of our ancestors. Let us walk in the light, beneath the shining sun of this day, etc., etc.” Then the kawa for peace-making are recited—
Then one of the visiting chiefs rises:—“Tau patu, me pa ki tua, me pa ki waho”—Let your weapons be turned in other directions. My brothers! The sun shines once more:— - 199
Another chief rises:—“Welcome! Welcome in the light of day.”
“Huia, huia te manu i uta ra
Huia te manu i tai ra
Te manu i te katoa
Te homai nei, te hoake
Ki te tuanuku, ki te tuarangi
Kia whangaia koe ki te hau no Tu
No waho, no Mataora
No te pupuketanga mai
I te po-uriuri, i te po tangotango
I a Rua te pupu, i a Rua te heihei
Mao ki uta, mao ki tai
Tu mai te toki
Haumi . . E!”
A chief of the tangata whenua (people of the place) rises:—“Welcome! My brothers, let us respect the good counsel of our ancestors. We enter the light, etc.
“He aea te hau e pa nei
He kari maranga hake
He pipi haerenga
Haere koe i runga, haere au i raro
Mou tai tu, moku tai kapua rangi
I te tai tuarua, i te tai tuatoru
Te Tai o Ruatapu
Tu mai te toki
Then the final karakia is repeated:—
Heoi!—Peace is firmly bound between the two tribes, and rongo aio (placid peace) prevails in the land.- 200
The rongo-a-whare seems to be when the leading chief enters the fort and meeting-house of the enemy, and peace is established by both sides discussing the matter and making the arrangements.
The following is sometimes recited by the tangata whenua:—
When Te Whiua, a chief of Ngati-Awa, crossed the land boundaries of Te Arawa in order to make peace with that tribe, the following was the karakia recited:—
Tatau-pounamu is a singular expression. The word tatau means a door; pounamu (greenstone) is used here because it was the most valued of materials to the ancient Maori. We use the term “golden” in a similar sense. The chief who was conducting the peace negotiations would, after he and his party had been welcomed, rise and say—"Karanga! Karanga! Tenei te haere nei, etc. Ta iatau tatau-pounamu ko mea maunga,3 etc. He would generally name some well-known hill or mountain as a tatau-pounamu.
After the war between Tuhoe and Ngati-Tuwharetoa, the tatau-pounamu was “erected” at Opepe, which “erecting” is, of course, purely a figurative expression, as much so as is the “jade door” which closes on war and strife.
When peace was made between Tuhoe and Ngati-Awa, after their long feud, Hatua of Awa said to Te Ika-poto of Tuhoe: “Observe the clump of bush which stands at Ohui, and which has been so reduced by fires. No fire in the future shall be kindled there. That is our - 201 tatau-pounamu. It shall be as a sanctuary, that even women and children may roam there and no harm shall come to them.” This again was merely a figurative expression. “The tatau-pounamu was raised at Ohui, where it still stands. It has not fallen, even unto this day,” which simply means that the peace has never been broken.
Puke-kahu, near Galatea, was the tatau-pounamu when peace was cemented between Tuhoe and Te Arawa after the fights that we have referred to.
When Tuhoe and the tribes of Waikare-moana and the coast, tired of their long and bloody war, they resolved to make peace. Hipara said: “I will give my daughter Hine-ki-runga, in wife to Tuhoe, as an ending of the war.” Nga-rangi-mataeo said: “Let us have a tatau-pounamu, that peace may never be broken.” Then (the hill) Kuha-tarewa was set up as a wife, and (the hill) Tuhi-o-Kahu as a husband. By the union of these two hills the tatau-pounamu was raised and war ceased—ceased—nor has it since arisen.
“Kei whati nga rakau o te tatau-pounamu i muri nei, kei pohehe koutou ki ngo ara korero a o koutou tupuna.”4
There is another expression that is often met with in Maori history, and which may be given a little attention.
In times long passed away, trouble arose between the ancestors of Tuhoe and the Tauranga tribe. The former raided that district in order to avenge the death of Mana-i-te-rangi. Four battles were fought and the woman's death avenged. Then peace was made. The word was “Kei pikitia te pikitanga i Arohena”—lest the ascent of Arohena (a hill) be trodden. This was equivalent to saying do not violate the peace now made. Nor was it trangressed until the time of Māro and Te Umu-ariki, who both fell on the field of Orua-matua.
When Tapoto was leaving Rua-toki, after much fighting against Tuhoe, he said: “Hai konei ra, te whanau e! I muri i a au kei pikitia te pikitanga i Wahipapa.” Farewell O people! Take heed, lest the ascent of Wahi-papa be trodden, after I have gone.” But the turbulent bushmen of Maunga-pohatu would have none of it. Tai-turakina called out: “Mau ano, ma tama-ngarengare e ki iho kia kaua e haerea?”—“Is it for you, the base-born, to say that it shall not be trodden?” When spring returned Tuhoe marched on the rising sun, and attacked Tapoto at Whakaari pa, where the majority of the Tuhoe force remained. But few survivors returned.- 202
He Waiata hohou Rongo. Na Te Turuki (Te Kooti).—A Song of Peacemaking.
“Tera te haeata ka rere te whakairi
Na runga ana mai o Tarakeha raia
Kai tua te kawau he tangata puku riri
Tenei te haere nei he maunga rongo
Akuanei au ka takahi i te one
Noho ana hoki au i Marae-nui ra . . e
Hai hapai kupu mahau, E Te Tatana!
Tu noa hoki au i te akau raia . . e
Nou tou pono, E Nga-moki!”
The Umu Hiki.
The singular rite known as umu hiki was performed in order to cause a people, whose presence as neighbours was not desirable, to rise and migrate to other lands. It was a most useful institution in war time—that is, if you possessed a priest of sufficient power to give proper effect to the spells uttered. In connection with the above are employed the two terms ue and hiki. Ue, or ueue, means to move, as a verb—to impel, to incite, to shake. Hiki has a similar meaning; it means to adjourn, transplant, start. “Mehemea ka patua taku whanaunga e tetahi iwi nui, ka uea e au taua iwi kia haere; he hiki tona tikanga.” If a relative of mine be slain by a numerous people, I impel that tribe to migrate (by means of incantations). It means to move them away. Here we see the probable origin of the custom. Were the offending tribe less numerous they might be destroyed in battle. Being a numerous people, however, it is wiser to call on the dread powers of the priest, that he may hiki those people and cause them to flee to foreign parts. The spell laid on the people causes them to become uneasy, nervous, and with little faith in their own power to withstand an attack. Mentioning this rite in narrative, a native will say—“Ka uea te pou o te whare”—i.e., the post (upright of a house) of the house was shaken—to loosen it that it may be easily removed. Not that such a post was really loosened; the expression is one of many singular idioms to be met with in the Maori tongue. The enemy were “loosened” in their hold on the district by means of the umu hiki rite. The ue described below throws some light on the use of the term “post of the house.”
The term umu means an oven—i.e., the steam oven of the Maori, being a hole dug in the ground. But the word is also used to denote various religious and sacred rites of the old-time Maori, as umu parapara and umu pongipongi. The word ahi (fire) is used in a similar manner. The origin of these two terms, as applied to rites and their attendant charms, spells, or invocations, I am convinced lies in the general introduction of fire into ancient Maori rites. The term hika—to generate fire—is also used in a like manner. But more of this anon.- 203
Two extraordinary actions in connection with the umu hiki have been explained to me by natives. One is that when a priest performed the umu hiki he dug a large hole in the earthern floor of his house and crawled down into that hole head first and recited his spells in that eccentric position, quite naked, with the exception of a girdle around his waist.
The other item appears in the following extract from the history of Maruiwi, a section of the ancient people of New Zealand, whose ancestor Awa, a son of Toi, migrated to Heretaunga and was the origin of Te Tini-o-Awa of that district.
In the time of the chief Maruiwi the tribe of that name left Heretaunga and migrated to Te Waimana district, near Whakatane. After some time they became involved in trouble with their neighbours. It was in this wise: The time arrived for the tapu to be taken off the kumara cultivations of Maruiwi. The priest prepared to perform that important rite. A human sacrifice was needed in order to give mana (prestige, power) to the ceremony. A visiting youth of the Whakatohea tribe was utilised for the purpose. Now there were two priests of the youth's tribe there who had come to assist in the ceremony of taking the tapu off the crops. A portion of the flesh of the youth was given to them to eat with their meal. When these two found that the youth Waeroa of their tribe was missing, they knew that it was he who had been slain as a sacrifice. They lost no time in acting. They took the basket of food and carried it to the latrine, where, grasping the uprights, they recited the incantation termed a hiki:
They then recited the spell or karakia known as ueue:
Then, taking up the basket of food, the elder held it over the latrine and, opening the bottom of the basket, let the contents fall therein.
Not long after that Maruiwi girded up their loins and fled the district, intending to return to their old homes at Heretaunga.
It fell upon a certain fine day that Paumapuku and Maiopa, of Nga-Maihi tribe, went forth across the fair lands of Kawerau in order to slay a neighbour, as a human sacrifice for the ceremony of taking the tapu off a new house. They were, however, seen and pursued by - 204 a party of people of those parts, and forced to fly. Maiopa was caught and slain, but his brother reached their home at Maui-wareware. As soon as he reached the opposite bank of the river he shouted out “Te whakaariki..e..e..e! Te whakaariki!”—a cry raised when a hostile force is seen advancing. Pau swam the river and joined his friends. The people collected in the large house, while Tamatea-pakoko (he who slew Tangiharuru, of the Pu-taēwa) climbed on to the ridge-pole of the house, where he recited the following:—
Meanwhile the enemy had surrounded the house. But as the reciter concluded his karakia Nga-Maihi poured forth and routed them.
The other form of the ue of which we spoke was performed on the occasion of a feast. When the guests arrived they would find a new house built for the occasion, and the people of the village drawn up outside it. The visitors entered the house and ranged themselves along the walls. Their priest, who accompanied them, would climb on to the ridge in the house and there recite the ue. As he reached the final word each man of the house seized the upright nearest him and tried to shake or loosen same. If anything carried away, that was an evil omen for the tribe who built the house. They will hiki. Not that they will move away in the body, but their minds and thoughts will hiki—i.e., become unsettled, and they will take no further pride and interest in that feast.
The Pa Whawhai or Fighting Pa (Fort).
The term pa means a fortified place. A pa maioro is a place defended by earthworks and palisades. A pa tuwatawata is one where palisades only are used. The earthworks or embankments are known as maioro usually, but the word manioro is employed by some of the peoples of the Whanga-nui district. In late times the term pa has been erroneously employed to denote an unfortified village, which should be styled a kainga.
If available the natives preferred to build their pa on hills, where they might escarp the slopes thereof, and thus render them exceedingly steep, and erect a strong palisading on the top of the scarp. A series of defences of this style would give the hill a terraced - 205 appearance, as often the ground between the top of an escarpment and the foot of the next one would be levelled for the purpose of building houses thereon. Many such terraced hills are seen throughout the country, many of them appearing most symmetrical and picturesque, such as the Rakei-hopukia pa at Te Teko. The top of a hill or even spurs of hills were utilised in the olden times when the only known missile weapons were stones and the throwing spear. Of course the weak point of these hill forts was the want of water, which has caused the fall of many such which could not be taken by assault. Water might, to a certain extent, be stored in troughs and gourds, but an invading force would sometimes draw its lines round a fort and camp there through all the changing months, until the weakened garrison capitulated or broke out in desperation to force their way through the investing lines.
These notes on the old native forts are very incomplete, inasmuch as Tuhoe were not a pa building people, trusting rather to the rough nature of the country which they inhabit. As old Tamaikoha once said to me: “The swift rivers and narrow cañons were my defences. The huge boulders and rock cliffs were my palisades.”
As I take it, the complete pa maioro or earthwork fort had three steep scarped faces and four rows of palisades, each defence having its distinctive name. The innermost palisading was erected on the top of the highest escarpment in a hill fort, another stood on the top of each succeeding one, and the outermost or lowest on the earthwork formed by the material thrown out from the escarping and the ditch or moat often made at the base of the lowest defence cut out of the solid. It may be observed that the term maioro, like the word moat, seems to apply equally to earthwork banks for defence or the dry moats which were usually formed between them.
In the case of a fort (pa) constructed on level ground, such were, if possible, built on a river bank, where such bank would be formed into one or more defences, and moreover a supply of water would be available. On the land side high embankments of earth were formed by excavating two parallel moats, or ditches, for the length of the face of the fort. Between these moats the earth would be formed and packed until a high wall, from ten to twenty feet in height from the base—i.e., the bottom of the ditch—was formed. Some of these defences were yet higher, especially in terraced hill forts. The outer palisading or tuwatawata was erected outside the outer ditch described above. Sometimes but one wall was thus formed, but often two or more such earthworks were so constructed, usually in parallel lines on level ground, but following the natural advantages of the ground in the case of a hill pa. On level ground the defences were often close together, and consisting of at least one heavy earthwork, two ditches, - 206 and two rows of palisading. We are speaking of pre-gun days, be it understood. Inside these defences were the dwelling-houses, food stores, cooking sheds, etc., of the occupants of the fort. Where the nature of the ground admitted of it, the houses were neatly arranged, each with its small plot of ground or yard fenced off and lanes or roads running between such fences throughout the fort. When members of different sub-tribes occupied the same pa, they appear to have had each their portion of the fort fenced off or protected by a row of palisades, and sometimes of earthworks—presumably a precaution in the event of inter-hapu quarrels. They would also serve to baffle and delay an enemy who had gained an entrance to the fort, and provide the occupants with supplementary lines of defence. A good illustration of a fort so divided with lines of palisades is the Umu-rakau pa of Ngati-Pukeko at Te Whaiti, where the sub-divisional lines of palisades may still be traced, while the O-te-nuku pa at Rua-toki is a good specimen of a fort so divided by means of earthwork walls and moats.
Many of these native forts were immensely strong and could scarcely be taken, save by surprise, when the occupants were off their guard or by means of a long investment until the defenders were reduced by hunger and thirst.
Take the case of a hill fort. A single line of defence might well consist of a steep scarp twenty feet in height, on the top of which would be a timber palisado defence constructed of heavy timbers set deep in the earth and bound together by means of rickers or saplings, used as lateral rails, and to which the palisades were lashed with tough forest creepers (aka-tea). Spaces were left between the uprights through which long spears could be thrust at any enemy who attempted to climb up the defences.
The height of the palisading would be from ten to fifteen feet. Add this to a steep scarp of fifteen or twenty feet, and it may readily be seen that, in the days of the rakau maori or native weapons, it was no slight task to overcome such defences.
The palisades of a fort are termed tuwatawata or wāwā. The innermost stockade of a complete pa of four lines of defence, was termed the părākiri or kiri-tangata or kotikoti. The next is the main defence, known as the katua. The next is the wita, while the fourth or outermost is termed the pekerangi or teki or kereteki, or tata, or aparua.
The space immediately outside a row of palisades was termed the kiritai or paekiri. It applied to the outer stockade only.
The moat or fosse was termed awamate. The ditch inside a palisade was called the whakaawarua.- 207
The entrance to a fort was termed the waharoa or kuwaha. The entrance was usually at one of the sides of the fort, but the Okarea pa near Te Whaiti had at one extremity a line of palisades running close to and nearly parallel with a perpindicular rock cliff. Where it approached to within a few feet of the cliff, there the entrance was made. Thus anyone entering the waharoa would necessarily pass along a narrow space before the main defences of the fort were reached. Another plan was to erect a covering stockade just within and opposite the waharoa or entrance, and which stockade had wings flanking either side of the entrance. Thus a person passing through the entrance could not proceed straight ahead, on account of the covering defence, but would have to turn to right or left, in fact to make a right-about turn, in order to get round the covering wings and enter the fort. This passage is termed the ahuriri or ngutu. The name waha-tieke is also applied to the entrance.
Family Tree. Stockade, Ngutu, Entrance
The tahitahi of a pa is the slope down from the outer defences the glacis. The moats were crossed on a couple of poles laid across and which were taken up when the entrance was closed.
As observed the stockades were composed of posts or piles of timber set in the ground in an upright position, and along which were lashed rails (huahua). As an additional means of strengthening the stockade, there were erected at intervals much larger and heavier posts, firmly set in the ground. They were often two feet in thickness. These large posts appear to have been known by the generic term himu. If, as often was the case, the tops were carved into figures of human form, or into a large round or oval knob, they were known as tukuwaru. When left perfectly plain, and in the rough, the term toto kau was applied to them, as an adjective; as a plain canoe, with no carved work about it, is termed a waka toto kau; or a plain house, a whare toto kau.
On either side of the waharoa or entrance, often towered such huge pillars, their tops carved into monstrous, half-human figures, of hideous aspect, with protruding tongues and gleaming eyes of paua5 shell. Or the entrance might be surmounted with a huge figure, through the base of which the entrance led. The Rev. W. Colenso has placed on record the singular effect produced at Waikare-moana - 208 by cutting the eye-holes right through such figures in the defences of a pa. In ascending the steep shore of the lake to gain the fort, the sky seen through these spaces had a singular effect.
If possible, timber of a durable nature was used for these stockades, totara, puriri, and heart of kowhai were thus often used. In the construction of the Waerenga-a-Hika pa at Turanga, many huge posts of puriri were used, the whole trunk being set up without being split or reduced in size. In after years, the peace of Rongo having settled upon the district, I utilised many of these timbers as straining posts for wire fences, and in squaring them into form, cut through many bullets which had just penetrated the thin covering of sap wood, a token of the stirring sixties, when Fraser and the Forest Rangers sent over a hundred Hauhau down to Hades at that place.
These native forts were sometimes termed kohanga, a word meaning a nest. For these strong redoubts were the nests which protected the people, in which they were reared to manhood, for the service of Tu; or to womanhood, to follow the arts presided over by Rongo and Hine-te-iwaiwa.
In building a fort, the old time Maori displayed that wonderful patience, continuity and diligence which was such a prominent trait in his character, but which his descendants have lost. He had no hardware store handy, whereat to purchase tools. Every implement used must be made by himself, from wood, or stone, or bone, and with the use of most sorry tools. The felling of a tree involved him in many days of strenuous labour, the carrying of firewood with which to keep a fire constantly burning at the base of the desired tree, the chipping off of the charred surface with stone axes, a weary task. In like manner the working of earth, especially of stiff clays, was most tedious. In building a fort he loosened the soil by means of a pointed stick, called a wauwau, it was lifted on rough wooden spades termed rapa waire (being made of the hard maire wood) and put in baskets in which it was carried to the top of the embankment and there padded into solidity. When forming ditches, in suitable soil and situations, a bank would be formed or left across the upper end, so as to collect and hold rain water. When a good quantity was gathered it would be let out, and materially assist the work, in sweeping out the loosened earth below.
The spaces between the walls or defences of a pa were termed tuku. In a hill fort a tuku may be quite a wide terrace; where houses are built; those of the leading chiefs will probably be found facing the marae or plaza. The highest part of a pa, and innermost, is termed the tihi (summit or citadel). When attacked the principal chief will probably take up his stand on the tihi, where he can command the fray. If - 209 driven from the outer defences the defenders fall back on the second line, and so on, and finally enter the defences of the tihi or citadel, where the most desperate fighting would take place, under the immediate command of the head chief. Many stubborn defences of this last defence are on record, where the garrison, turning in savage desperation on the investing enemy, have changed the fortune of the day at the last gate and expelled the attackers. When the Arawa league attacked the Taumata-o-Te-Riu pa at Rua-tahuna, they took the first tuku, but the sullen bushmen of Tuhoe held grimly on to the next defence and forced the attacking party to withdraw. I have heard old-timers say that if the outer defences of a fort fell and there was no influential chief to rally the fighters on the tihi, then that pa was lost.
To lash the rails of a pa in an incorrect manner was deemed an evil omen (aitua), a sign of coming misfortune.
When a new pa was built and finished, a rite was performed in order to take the tapu off it, similar to the one performed at the opening of a new house. Kumara (sweet potatoes) and a piece of the aka or bush creeper used to lash the palisades with were roasted and offered to the gods.6
Within these forts were erected lofty platforms, called puhara,7 on a level with the top of the palisades. On these was often stationed the watchman (kai-mataara), who would amuse himself during the lone night-watch by chanting watch songs (whakaaraara pa), which would notify any lurking enemy that the garrison were on the alert. These platforms were also utilised as fighting stages, on which warriors were stationed during an assault, and from which they cast down stones upon an attacking force, and lunged at them with long thrusting spears (huata roroa).
On this platform also was suspended from two uprights the pahu, or wooden gong, formed by hollowing out a piece of sound and clear matai wood. This suspended gong, or drum, was struck with a mallet or beetle of the same timber. The watchman would, ever and anon, strike it, and thus both friend and foe would know that he was on the alert.- 210
We give below a few of the old watch songs of the Maori:—
The word koko means to chaunt a watch song. It is apparently allied to ko, to sing as birds in the early morning. Towers termed taumaihi were also erected in a fort. Probably these were formed of earth. Such towers were sometimes constructed by an attacking force in order to enable them to command the interior of a fort.- i
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Williams' Dictionary, that most reliable work, gives also the following:—
In regard to the rangi or tower, some extraordinary structures of this kind were erected by sub-divisions of the Ngati-Awa tribe at the Chatham Islands, when after their conquest of that place, they turned and fought each other. For they had guns then and it seems to have been a race skyward between them, each wishing to command the other tower and pa.
The following historical item will illustrate the use of another style of rangi and also of the kotaretare8:—
The Siege of Operiki.
The Waikato tribes had lifted the southern war trail and, descending the Whanga-nui River in canoes, laid seige to the Operiki pa, which stands on the edge of the terrace above the river, about sixty chains up from the village of Koriniti, and on the left bank, the pa was protected on the river side by the perpendicular cliff above the river, where it was easy for the beseiged to obtain water by lowering a vessel from the cliff. The three land sides of the fort were protected by a heavy earthwork wall, still some twelve feet in height, and by the orthodox stockades of the pa Maori. The fort is in the form of a square of 113 yards.
The invading party was a strong one, and completely invested the pa. The siege lasted for many months, but the occupants of the fort, who were the Ngati-Pa-moana sub-tribe, had an abundance of food in store. At last the invaders bethought them of building a rangi. This was a huge structure, formed by making a framework of poles closely interlaced with pirita (supplejack), a forest climber of singular toughness. So closely were these interwoven across the framework that no spear might penetrate the same to injure those within it. This remarkable shield was entered, lifted, and carried forward to the defences of the fort by forty men, and was so constructed as to provide them with a strong shield in front and above. The idea was to enable the assailants to approach the base of the defences and there, under shelter of the rangi, to undermine the earthern walls of the fort.- 212
But the warriors of the Awa-nui-a-Rua were ready for them, and constructed a kotaretare. They placed long poles in a slanting position, resting on the stockade, so that the ends projected outwards and over the rangi. Having secured the poles so, men climbed out on them and cast down heavy stones and chunks of timber, so that the roof of the rangi was crushed in and shattered. Then, with their long thrusting spears, the men on the platform slew many of those within the rangi. This was a triumph for the besieged, and, as the enemy retired in discomfiture and took up a position on the slope above the fort, the warriors of Pa-moana, who crowded the fighting stages, roared forth, to the frantic yells of the crowded fort, the following ngeri or song of derision:—
The toka i Matai mentioned is a rock which stands in the river just beneath the pa of Operiki.
Reclining at mine ease on a grassy slope where the hosts of Waikato had gathered, I heard the chant of the old-time ngeri resound beneath the ramparts of Ope-riki, and from the forest range beyond the rushing waters of Rua came back the deep hoarse sounds in the weird jerky metre beloved of the Maori. But they were not the men of old who so chanted. They were the young, be-trousered men of the present generation, roused to enthusiasm in the deeds of their ancestors by the vigorous narrative of old Komene Papanui. And, looking downwards, I saw that the towering palisades and watch towers and fighting stages of Ope-riki had long disappeared, that the old pa was overgrown with timber, while sheep and cattle grazed within the grass-grown moat, and over the cliff-head poured the smoke of the white man's fire boat, as she glided past the rock of Matai and swung into her marks for the reach above, bearing to the sullen cañons and bush valleys of the interior the light and power of civilisation, forcing back and aside the primitive descendants of Aotea, who followed the water-ways of a great ocean in times long past away.
Old Komene informed me that once only did an enemy gain an entrance to the Ope-riki pa, and then they did not stop long. One wet, cold and dark night, a surprise party slipped into the fort and stayed to warm themselves at a smouldering fire. A woman heard them whispering together, and alarmed the people forthwith, who flew to arms and expelled the intruders.- 213
In attacking these forts, the assailants often separated into two parties, and delivered their attacks from different quarters. When a fort was attacked by a taua a toto or blood vengeance party, it was usual for the occupants of the fort to remain within their defences, as they would know that such a party fights with desperate valour. Otherwise it was a common thing for the defenders of a pa to sally forth and fight outside.
When about to attack a pa, it was an ancient custom to send forth a man, under cover of night, to obtain a piece of the aka used to lash the palisades with, or a some other portion of the defences. This was taken to the tohunga or priest of the attacking force, who utilised it as a māwe, which has already been explained, But methods of attack and defence of these native forts will probably be best explained by means of illustrations taken from actual war, historical incidents in fact.
When Waikato attacked Te Ruaki pa on the west coast, they tried direct assault, but were repelled by the garrison. They therefore closely invested the fort, and erected around it a strong stockade, so as to prevent the garrison from breaking out, and then for three months they sat down before that doomed pa, until it fell. Many were slain and many more carried off into slavery.
At this time the Taranaki and Nga-Ruahine tribes were living in two forts known as Wai-mate and Orangi-tuapeka, where the Waikato warriors proceeded to attack them. They were repulsed with the loss of five men killed, whose heads were cut off by the delighted garrison and stuck on the tops of the palisades of the fort as a cheering spectacle for their friends.
The main body of Waikato afterwards attacked Wai-mate pa, but leaving a party in ambush near the other fort. For they argued that the garrison of the latter would go to assist their friends at Wai-mate, and leave their own pa with few defenders, when it might be taken by the party aforementioned. The garrison did so leave their fort, but took the precaution of making the women and boys therein assume the rough cloaks or capes usually worn by men, and so show themselves to any enemy who might be lurking about. The ambushed party, believing the fort to be strongly held, refrained from attacking it.9
Fire was often employed as a destructive agent in the attack on a fort.
Nga-Maihi were living in their pa at Puketapu, when they sent a party to obtain fern-root at Titina-roa, where grew in abundance the mātā variety of that root, much used as food in former times. The - 214 Ngai-Tama-oki sub-tribe (also of Ngati-Awa) objected to this as a trespass on their rights, and forthwith attacked Nga-Maihi, but were defeated by the latter. The news of the fight reached the valley hamlets. It came to the home of Whakapa, of Te Pahipoto, as he was engaged making himself a new taiaha. He said: “Had I been there I would have slain Te Amo-pou with the tongue end of my taiaha and Te Hahae with the blade, and then have brought their hearts home as food for my child.” So saying, Whakapa called on his fighting men and marched on Puketapu (at Te Teko). They were seen by Nga-Maihi, who marched out of the fort to meet the enemy. Whakapa then advanced from his men, who were in column formation (matua), and Te Au-whiowhio left the Nga-Maihi column. The two met in the open space between the two forces, and there engaged in single combat (tau mataki tahi . Whakapa struck rapidly at Te Au with his taiaha, but the latter warded off the blow with his hoeroa and then, with guard and point, thrust the thin blade of his weapon through the ribs of his adversary before the latter could recover himself. So fell Whakapa of Te Pahipoto.
Various other branches of the Ngati-Awa tribe now rose and combined to attack Puketapu fort, which is some three or four hundred yards in length, and is situated near the Rangi-taiki river. The whole of the hill has been most strongly defended by three huge maioro and other smaller ones, not to speak of stockades.
However, finding the pa too strong to take by direct assault, as many other weary men of arms have found, before and since, the avengers of honour be-draggled elected to burn a passage through the colossal stockades. They succeeded in kindling a fire near the sea-ward end of the pa. But the gods who live for ever were against them. They thought the dense smoke would drive the defenders from that portion of the stockade and enable them to rush through the smoke and attack the garrison inside the defences. Not so. They had reckoned without their host, that is to say, without the chief and priest of the fort, Te Hahae of famed deeds, he who stood calm and unhurt upon the red hot stones of the fierce umu-taro, when he sent Ngai-Te-Rangi down to Hades by means of his dread powers.
For Te Hahae, the seer and magician, at once proceeded to call upon the child of Raka-maomao, that is to say, the south wind, which came rushing at his call and defeated the scheme of the attacking force by blowing the flame and smoke off the stockade. A fire was next kindled on the inland side of the stockade so as to obtain the services of that south wind. But Te Hahae rose to the occasion by calling upon and raising the Paeroa or sea wind, and the smoke and flames fell off to the westward.- 215
The war party then kindled a fire on the east face of the pa, and Te Hahae foiled them—on the west face, and he raised the wind which comes across the realm of Awa from the shining east. The fern and brush around the fort had now been all used as fuel. And still the pa fell not.
And so the fight went on, day after day, until the garrison came to suffer severely from thirst. Then Nuku bethought him of sending his son Tikitu through the investing lines in order to obtain water. For he was of noble blood, was that stripling, and of chief's standing in many hapu (divisions) of Ngati-Awa, hence the investing enemy, who were also of Ngati-Awa would not slay him. And Tikitu went, provided by the cunning Nuku with a bundle of gourds (rururu tăhā) or calabashes, as water vessels. Tikitu passed out of the fort and entered the enemies lines. On being asked his errand, he said: “I go to obtain water.” “For whom?” “For Nuku,” he replied. Enough said. He was allowed to proceed, to procure water and return with it, unmolested, to the fort. For Nuku, albeit an enemy for the time being, was closely related to the besiegers, and an influential chief of Ngati-Awa.
This went on for three days, Tikitu passing through the close drawn lines each day with his bunch of calabashes and returning with them full of water to the besieged. On the third day it struck the party that the water gourds were somewhat numerous to contain water for one man. They therefore stopped the youth and did proceed, with malice aforethought, to pierce the aforesaid gourds with their sharp pointed tokotoko spears, thus allowing the water to escape. One alone they left intact, as a supply for Nuku.
Attacks on the pa still continued but met with no success. Finding that their efforts were unavailing, the investing force called out to Te Hahae to deliver up to them the person of Te Au-whiowhio, he who had slain Whakapa. That unhappy individual was therefore handed over to the enemy who at once killed, cooked, and ate him. This man was given up to ensure peace, but the attacking force disregarded their promise and renewed the attack in order to slay Te Hahae, so as to thoroughly square the account, and again the attack failed.
Then the chief Rangi-ka-wehea took compassion on the luckless Nga-Maihi within the fort and cast about for a plan whereby they might escape from the fort and find safety elsewhere. He therefore induced his force to collect at one end of the pa and there perform a haka or dance. This was done at Muri-rotu. The beseiged, grasping their opportunity, left the fort by the other end, so as not to be seen by the enemy. As they passed O-tu-te-reinga, the chief Rangi-ka-wehea appeared and bid them farewell, saying: “E Koro ma! - 216 Haere ki tua na whakahehe atu ai. He kura kainga e rokohia.” (Farewell, O, Sirs! Go afar off that you may escape misfortune. A peaceful home shall be found). And then Nga-Maihi went forward on their way, and settled at Tauranga. None remained save a few whom Rangi-ka-wehea retained as beaters of aute, they being skilful in the manufacture of cloth from that bark. So ended that seige of Puketapu, though many another Homeric combat was yet to take place beneath those frowning ramparts in the classic land of Awa, in the years that lay before.
Long years after, when Te Rau-paraha raided the South Island, he took the Kaiapohia pa by means of burning the stockade thereof, the priests of either side endeavouring each to raise a wind favourable to their side, a dead calm prevailing; the besieged bethought them of firing the piles of brush which had been placed near the stockade, that it might be consumed before a wind arose. But as the fire burned up the wind arose and blew dead on to the stockade which was soon breached, and then came a slaughter grim and great, and a long train of captives was sent up to the north.
Again—The bushmen of Tuhoe rose in arms, under Te Rangi-aniwaniwa and other chiefs, and marched on the Oputara pa at Whirinaki, in order to square accounts with the Pu Taewa for the slaying of one Pare-uia. The war party camped at the clump of bush at Tauaroa, and discussed the attack. Te Whatae proposed to attack that night. The Rangi-aniwaniwa said: “Am I a low born person that I should attack an enemy under cover of darkness. No! We will deliver our attack when the broad daylight flashes down from Mount Tawhiuau.” Now Te Whatae noticed that in the fort the houses were thatched with toetoe leaves. He took his pauku cloak and placed it in the spring near the bush, so as to render it impervious to spear thrusts. Then he lashed together by their ends two long huata spears and fixed a torch to the end thereof. Then he generated fire, donned his pauku, kindled the torch and approached the stockade of the fort, amid a shower of missiles, darts and stones. Long spears were thrust between the palisades and lunged at him, but he succeeded in firing the houses within the pa which soon became untenable on account of heat and smoke. Then trouble came unto the Pu Taewa. When the sun rose next morning, it shone not upon Oputara, but upon a long line of bushmen ascending the range, each loaded with a swag of human flesh, as provisions for the journey which lay before them. For the bloodstained cloak of Pare-uia had been found at Oputara where it had been brought by Ngati-Mahanga. And the chiefs of Tuhoe said: “Men of Tarentum! It will take not a little blood to wash this gown,”—or words to that effect.- 217
Suppose a party are about to go forth in order to attack the fort of an enemy. The priest wishes to weaken the garrison so that the fall of the fort may be assured. He therefore proceeds to construct a small replica of that fort. That miniature fort is then “entered” or assaulted by the priest—i.e., he repeats a spell of magic in order to weaken the enemy and cause the fall of their pa. This replica of the doomed fort is termed a pa whakawairua.
One of the most singular methods of defence was that employed by Tuhoe when the news came that Ngati-Awa were going to send an expedition up the Whakatane Gorge in order to attack them at Rua-tahuna. Tuhoe collected in the fort known as Māna-tē-pa, near Tatahoata. This fort is situated on the edge of a terrace with a precipitous cliff on one side and the level terrace on the other. Across the terrace, through a white pine bush, ran the trail from the lower country by which the enemy would advance on the pa. Now at this time Tuhoe had obtained European axes, by barter from the coast tribes. They therefore evolved the brilliant idea of felling the bush on either side of the trial and allowing it to dry. Then when the enemy advanced to attack the fort, the bush should be fired in their rear, thus cutting off their retreat. However this wondrous scheme never was executed, although the bush was felled; for the invaders came no further up the valley than Huka-nui. While they were camped at that place, their chief, our old friend Tikitu, he who was water carrier at Puketapu, but now a renowned warrior, their chief was seated in camp engaged in scraping his taiaha, when one of his party cried: “O Tikitu! a man is descending the hill.” Looking up he saw Piki, a Tuhoe chief, descending the Rua-tahuna trail towards them. As Piki approached him Tikitu placed the bended forefinger of his hand beside his (own) nose. His party saw the sign and knew that it meant that Piki was to be spared and not slain. Tikitu said to Piki: “Farewell! remain here. As for me, I return from here, and close the door after me”—meaning thereby that he would not return to fight Tuhoe. And that remark remained as a tatu pounamu for this district.
(To be continued.)
1 This incident was related to me by Mr. C. E. Nelson.
2 If wounded by spear thrust the titikura ora (charm) was repeated in order to heal the wound.
3 “Welcome us. Here we come. Our tatau pounamu is such a mountain.”
4 “Have a care, lest the support of the tatau-pounamu be broken in after days, lest you forget the precepts of your ancestors.”
5 Haliotis, the abalone of the Californian coast.
6 A very old custom obtained formerly in building a new pa, similar to that used in launching a new canoe, when the vessel was dragged over the bodies of slaves. In the case of a pa slaves were often buried in a sitting posture, embracing the base of the main posts of the tu-watawata. Not many years since six skeletons were discovered in such position at the base of the posts of a large pa near O-potiki.—Ed.
7 The watch-tower of a fort was termed ahurewa by the N-Raukawa tribe.
8 Kotaretare compare whatare ‘to crane forward.’ Also tare and whakatatare.
9 See “History and Traditions of the Maoris,” by J. W. Gudgeon.