Volume 14 1905 > Volume 14, No.3, September 1905 > Maori religion, by Lieut.-Col. W. E. Gudgeon, p 107-130
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HOWEVER great our astonishment at the intrepidity displayed by the ancestors of the Maori people, in their long voyages across the sea of Kiwa; and much as we may admire these instances of adventurous daring, we must never lose sight of the fact that these old time Polynesians derived much assistance from their religion.

A Maori firmly believed, not only in the power of his gods, but also in the ability of the tribal tohunga to invoke or even compel these gods to aid the tribe in any great undertaking; and from this belief it followed as a natural sequence, that if the tohunga declared the omens to be propitious, there was nothing that the warriors of that family would not attempt; for theirs was the faith that could remove mountains. Whatever our impressions of the modern Maori may be, there can be no question that during the continuance of their ancient religion, or, as they themselves express it, during the continuance of the măna-maori they were a most religious people. Indeed, their creed was nothing less than this: Keep the laws of the gods and live, break them and die.

With this preface to my subject, I will endeavour to show as far as may be done—in a work that does not profess to do more than give a popular sketch of Maori manners and customs—what this religion was before the arrival of the European with his disturbing theory of fire and brimstone.

In matters supernatural the mind of man follows much the same groove, be he Caucasian, Mongol or Maori; in each case he is equally - 108 open to receive religious impressions, though the form of the impression may vary considerably, in order to meet the laws of environment and satisfy racial instincts.

Among the Maoris there are traces of two religious systems, one of which is purely abstract in its conception of the Deity, and of a very exalted type, inasmuch as it attributes the existence of all things to the great god “Io.” The second is probably a later and most certainly an inferior conception, in which the powers of nature are personified in the persons of certain anthropomorphic gods, and it is this fact that constitutes the difference between the two systems. Io, the supreme creator occupies a position in the Maori Pantheon, apart from and superior to that of any other Maori deity; he is the great originator, the All-Father, who pervades space, has no residence, and cannot be localised. Here then we have a clear and reasonable conception of a supreme spiritual essence, or controlling power; of a deity who is practically unknown to the modern Maori, and it would seem not even dreamed of by the pakeha, since we are informed by Doctor Thompson and Mr. Shortland that the Maori has a very limited notion of the abstract. The conclusion arrived at by the latter is, that the Maori is unable to conceive any abstract notion, and hence the powers of nature were regarded by him as concrete objects, and designated as persons. This assertion I shall show to be without foundation, for the conception of Io in New Zealand and Tangaroa in the Pacific, is purely abstract. As to Io it is claimed that he dwelt in the expanse. “I noho i roto i te aaha o te Ao.” That he gave expression to the thought, that he might dwell without habitation, “noho kore noho a ia.” In other words that he might pervade space. Surely the abstract enters very largely into ideas such as these; but even admitting that the Maori capacity for the abstract is limited, we may still doubt whether we ourselves are much farther advanced in that respect. Anthropomorphism is not a peculiarity confined to the Maoris, and it seems to me, that with all our boasted civilisation our tendency is to revert to the worship of the graven image on the least possible provocation, even though that image may not be the golden calf. I may also point out that the singular tales told of the achievements of Maui-potiki and other godlike beings mentioned in Maori history are not to be taken as absolute statement of fact. I do not think that the learned men among the Maoris ever regarded these tales as being other than ancient myths, and it has always seemed to me that they were intended to convey some great metaphysical truth, which, however obscure at the present day, must have been clear enough to the tohungas of old days; though probably at all times obscure to their followers, for whatever his creed, when did a tohunga allow his fellow man to become more enlightened on any point than was absolutely necessary?

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It would seem that the name of Io originated in the East, since we are told that among the ancient Egyptians Io was the Lunar Goddess, and in the language of the Argives the moon itself. This is, however, by no means the only instance in which points of identity or resemblance may be traced between Maori tradition and the records of India or Egypt.

So exalted is the Maori conception of Io that it would seem that they had never deemed it proper to address their invocations to him. I cannot say that this was always the case, but most certainly Io has never been worshipped in any form during the Maori sojourn in the Pacific; nevertheless his name has been so venerated that it was never mentioned in a house. It is I think during this same period that the Maori has succeeded in evolving from his inner consciousness those inferior and anthropomorthic gods who are now held to be pre-eminently the guardians of the Maori people; deities who are not known out of the Pacific.

I cannot say that Io is known throughout Polynesia, for I can find no reference to that deity in any of the standard works on the Pacific Islands; this of course is not evidence that he is not known to the people, for the same thing might be said of the Maoris since the references to Io in any work on New Zealand are few, if any. Indeed it is obvious that the Maoris for reasons best known to themselves have carefully avoided all reference to this god. The Samoans ascribe to Tangaroa those divine powers which the Maoris claim for Io. Their tradition is that Tangaroa dwelt in the expanse, and that at this period there was neither sea nor earth, but only a rock or foundation, from which it was designed that all things should spring. Tangaroa is described as striking the rock which gave birth to the earth and then to the sea. Subsequently this mother of all things gave birth in succession to the fresh water, sky, immensity and space. Then came a boy, a girl, man, the spirit, heart, mind, and the understanding; these last four Tangaroa succeeded in combining in man and hence the intelligence of mankind. This tradition, it will be seen, differs greatly from that of the Maori; a fact in itself sufficiently astonishing and hardly to be accounted for seeing that the Maoris of New Zealand and the Samoans have only been separated during the last 500 years. These differences may however have originated in the fact that the Maoris have been more completely isolated during the last five centuries than any other Polynesian tribe, and have therefore retained their ancient superstitions intact, whereas the Samoans have mixed with those Polynesians who were in communication with the Melanisian people of the Pacific, and may possibly have adopted the theories of that race. To the Maori Tangaroa is merely one of the children of heaven and earth and has jurisdiction over the sea only; nor is he the greatest of the brethren by - 110 any means, though in all matters connected with the sea and it's fishes he requires grave propitiation, for the quarrel between Tangaroa and Tu-mata-uenga (the god of man) has not and never will end.

Among the Greeks, Latins and Germans the earth invariably received the epithet of Mother, and we learn from the mythology of the first-named people that Uranos (the Heavens) cohabited with Gæa and had issue, Chronos, Oceanos, Hyperion and the Titans, and that he subsequently took to wife Rhea, who bore him Hera, Hades, Demeter, Poseidon and Zeus (the Ruler of the Upper World). It is moreover clear that the Greeks reverenced and personified the vault of Heaven as the Supreme Being. In like manner the Maoris hold that Papa-tu-a-nuku was the mother of the gods, that is of a certain class of gods of whom Rangi (the Firmament) was the father. Therefore from Heaven and Earth sprang all things necessary to man, and incidentally man himself. In this myth we have probably the germ of all religious systems; born of the awe and perhaps gratitude which must necessarily arise in the minds of a thoughtful and observant people when contemplating the complex operations of nature. The religious system of the Maoris does not however in all cases follow that of the Aryan people; there are some very singular omissions; for instance, the Maori word ahi (fire) if not actually derived from the Sanscrit, is undoubtedly from the same old root, yet notwithstanding that nearly half of the old Aryan hymns are addressed to Agni. The Maoris do not appear at any period to have either reverenced or personified “Ahi,” and have indeed no very great respect for the sun himself, since all that we hear of Tama-nui-te-ra is that he was tied, beaten, and generally crippled by Maui-potiki in order to regulate the course of the sun and therefore the duration of the day.

The most universal of all religious emotions is perhaps the reverence for sun and earth, that is, the recognition of all male and female principle of life; and reference to the formulæ of creation, which may be found in the most ancient Maori chants, will show how thoroughly that people recognise the receptivity of the earth, and that its fertility was due to the warmth and moisture received from above. It is, therefore, as I have said, singular that the Maori should have little if any reverence for the sun, and that they should give all credit to Rangi (the firmament).

The chief lesson to be derived from Maori mythology is, that after Io had by mere force of his will started the powers of nature into action the world developed itself by evolution, light springing out of darkness. Perhaps the best Maori version of the evolution of the world is to be found in the “Ika a Maui,” a book written by the Rev. - 111 Richard Taylor. In this work several chants are given all of which are couched in highly figurative language, and embody abstract ideas which are little short of the sublime. The following is a specimen:—

The word became fruitful,
It dwelt with the feeble glimmering,
And brought forth night, the great night and the long night,
The lowest and the loftiest night, the black night and the night to be felt,
The night far stretching but not to be seen,
The night that might not be followed,
The night ending in death.

This may fairly be called the first stage of the earth's existence or chaos, the next stage is that of light:—

Begotten from nothingness, from nothing the increase,
From nothing abundance;
The power of increase and the breath of life,
Dwelt with the empty space and produced the Heavens above,
The Heavens floated above the earth and dwelt with the early dawn
And light appeared.
The Heavens dwelt with the glowing sky
And brought forth the sun which appeared as the eye of heaven;
Then the Heavens above became light and sent forth the early dawn,
The early sun, the noontide, and the blaze of day from the sun,
Then the Heavens above dwelt with the earth and brought forth
Ta-porapora, Tau-whare-nikau, Kukuparu, Wauwau-a-tea and Whiwhi-te-rangiora.

These last named children of heaven and earth would seem to be certain islands of the Pacific, the passage may therefore be taken to mean that these were the first lands to appear above the sea, but as the Maoris are much given to reproduce the names of their ancient homes in new lands, it may be that the reference here made is to their very ancient homes and may for this reason have a much deeper significance than we are aware of. Yet another of these ancient recitals, after describing chaos under the name of Te Kore (the void or nothingness) proceeds as follows:—

Nothing but hail dark in colour,
Hail dashing forth, hail destroying,
Hail melting and flowing beyond the dark places;
Thenceforth nothingness is finished forever,
The return from nothingness and it's power
And the pursuit of nothingness.
Meru the releaser from Hades,
Meru the releaser from the bonds of Hades,
Who alone can cause us to retrace our steps to the world,
To the ancient world that Death may not cleave to us.

In these chants I have followed the translations given by the Rev. Richard Taylor for I recognise that he collected these traditions at a period when he could and probably did obtain the services of the old - 112 tohungas to explain the highly figurative and obscure language used therein. But for this fact I should have been inclined to doubt the correctness of a translation which describes Meru as a breaker of the bonds of Hades. Whatever knowledge I have been able to collect as to the status of this deity is to the effect, that he was the guardian of Hades, namely the Reinga, from whence there could be no return. The old tohungas of the Maori people hold that had the man-god Tawhaki, when assaulted and apparently slain by his brothers, passed through the gateway of night, and entered Rua-ki-pouri, which is the entrance to the shades, he must of necessity have passed those ancient ancestors, Rua-toia and Rua-kumea, and had he done so he could never have returned to the Ao-marama (world of light). In such case he must have proceeded onward to Ameto, which is extinction. Now Rua-ki-pouri is the house of Meru, the portal through which the wairua or disembodied spirit must pass into the nether world; Meru and Kai-pono-kino are said to sit on either side of the entrance, while further back are Rua-toia and Rua-kumea, and these are the four evil spirits who prevent the wairua from re-entering it's earthly tenement.

All over the Pacific the name of Maru, Meru, or Miru, is either suggestive of death or at any rate of a future state. The Mangaians have traditions of a goddess whom they call Miru and they represent her as being deformed in figure and terrible to be looked on. She is moreover described as one who feasts on the spirits of the dead. The name of Meru would appear to be of great antiquity. Mr. Gerald Massey says: “A persistent Greek tradition asserts that the primitive abode of the Egyptians was in Ethiopia and mention is made of their ancient city of Meroe or Muru.” He adds also that the inhabitants of this city were called Sabaeans. North of the Himalayan range tradition has placed a mountain called Meru which is said to have been the birthplace of the Aryan people, and this same place is also claimed to be the centre of the Buddhist universe and to be surrounded by seven circles of rocks. It is these circles that are symbolised in the ancient temples and pyramids of Cambodia, notably in that magnificent mass of ruins known as Nakkon Wat, and it may be that we have here the idea that possessed the builders of those truncated and terraced pyramids of the Pacific, known to the Polynesians as heiao or marae. At the aforesaid Nakkon Wat the great temple is built on only three terraces, but the remaining terraces of that ancient city have each a sub-structure of seven terraces in order to correspond with the seven circles of Meru.

We learn from the Maori tohungas that in the beginning all that there was of life upon the bosom of Mother earth lived, if not in extreme - 113 darkness, at any rate in a dim twilight wherein the sun's rays never penetrated. The men-gods of that period were overshadowed by the near presence of the great Rangi, the all father, male principal, and origin of all life. Hence the children of heaven and earth were dissatisfied inasmuch as they had reason to believe that light might be obtained provided that they could permanently separate their parents. The situation was discussed and Tu of the fierce eyes proposed that Rangi should be slain. This proposition was opposed by Tane-mahuta and others of his bretheren who held that mere separation would meet the case. To this milder measure all agreed with the exception of Tawhiri-matea; his objections were however disregarded, and Tane-mahuta with his back on Mother earth and his feet planted firmly against the Heavens above, exerted his vast strength and forcibly separated his parents while his brothers fixed the props to keep them for ever apart. From this unfilial act arose the war of Tawhiri-matea against his brethren. Wind, rain, hail and snow beat upon them and they fled ignominiously; Tangaroa and his son, Ikatere, fled to the sea, the other son Tu-te-wanawana fled inland and became a lizard. Tane-mahuta transferred himself into the giant trees of the forest. Rongo-ma-tane entered into the kumara, and Haumia-tikitiki sought safety in the roots of the common fern (Pteris esculenta). Tu-mata-uenga alone of the godlike descendants of heaven and earth remained unmoved by this war of the elements, and against him even the anger of Heaven had little effect; but he was justly exasperated by the cowardly behaviour of his brothers, and therefore it was that he converted them into food for his own use and that of his descendants, and hence it is that man even to this day eats the fruits of the earth and the fishes of the sea. To the rebellion of these children against their august parents we may attribute the fact that we have death in this world; indeed the Maoris believe that it was Papa-tu-a-nuku (the earth) herself that caused man to return to the dust from which he was made, in expiation of the offence of Tu and his brethren. Having given this preliminary history of the children of Rangi and Papa I will now show in detail who they were, and also the part that each took in the economy of nature.

First among these deities in point of birth though not in reputation is Tama-rangi-tau-ke. This god is but little known except to the higher priesthood, and the reason is obvious forasmuch as the offspring of Tama are held to be the spirits of men. We can therefore understand that the ordinary untaught Maori would find it difficult to comprehend such a highly metaphysical view of this subject. It is moreover a fact that the higher knowledge was carefully retained within the ranks of the priesthood, and was not taught to outsiders. I may here mention that the Maoris maintain the right to claim their descent from several of - 114 the children of heaven and earth. From Tama-rangi-tau-ke, because of our spiritual nature, from Aitua because of our perishable nature, and hence it is that death by ordinary disease is called te mate o Aitu, in other words death of the flesh, a Maori recognising that the spirit cannot die. From Tu-mata-uenga we may claim descent because it was he who breathed the breath of life into the riverside clay and so gave life to Tiki. We have a right to claim Mako-i-rangi as an ancestor because of our descent from the Patu-paiarehe (children of darkness), and last but by no means least we may claim descent from Tangaroa by virtue of the fact that it was the karakia of his descendant Tinirau that caused Hinauri to give birth safely to Tu-huruhuru, from whom are descended Irakau and all those people of modern days whose boast it is that they are of the Kawei ika moana (genealogy of the sea fish). I will however admit that if I were to mention these things before a large assembly of modern Maoris, perhaps not one in a hundred would understand me. The spiritual nature of man is not now understood by the Maoris. How many are there that could explain the nature or origin of the Hau, the Mauri, the Wairua, the Hinengaro, the Mahara or the origin of the sacredness of the Ariki ? And yet of old the priests did understand and explain these abstract metaphysics to their tauira (disciples).

Aitua was the second child of heaven and earth and from him have originated all the misfortunes to which flesh is heir, and hence it is said that the offspring of Aitua is misfortune, and all that is perishable in man, and therefore, as I have already stated, the Maoris call a natural death “Te mate o Aitu.

The third child of these parents is the great god Rongo-ma-tane who has had altars erected in his honour throughout the islands of Polynesia where he is known under the name of Rongo or Rono; I have however been told that the proper name of this deity is Rongo-mata-kawiu. The Maoris hold that this god has supreme jurisdiction over all cultivated food, such as the kumara and taro, also over all climbing plants such as the aka (Metrosideros), the pohue (convolvolus) and piki-arero (clematis), and hence these plants are called the children of Rongo-ma-tane, which is but another name for this deity.

The fourth on the list is Tane-mahuta who is recognised as the guardian spirit of both forests and birds. The god Rupe who takes the form of a pigeon is one of his children, and all the trees of the forest are said to be the offspring of Tane, and therefore in old days when it was necessary to cut down a tree in order to make a canoe, or indeed for any other purpose, much ceremony was used and many karakias said in order to propitiate this deity whose children were about to be - 115 slain. Any default on the part of the workmen would be made manifest by the tree resuming its upright position without sign of injury just so often as it might be felled.

Ruaimoko is the fifth child of this family. He is the god of mountains and earthquakes and his presence is manifested in all the convulsions of nature. In the language of ancient Egypt the word Rua is said to signify the mountain; in Maori Ru is the earthquake, and the connection of ideas seems very plain in this instance. It is moreover worthy of note that the Aryans adored a blacksmith god, the personified thunderbolt which they called “Twachtrei,” and it would seem that the Maoris must at one period of their history have had a knowledge of this fact for they call thunder “Whatitiri” which is but another form of the same name.

Tawhiri-matea is the sixth on this list and he has măna over storms, wind, rain and floods; he alone of all the children of heaven and earth resented the separation of his parents and followed his father to the regions above, from whence he has consistently waged war even to the present day against all his brethren.

Ngana is the seventh son and from him proceeded the sun, moon and stars. Both in Egypt and Polynesia the word Ra indicates the sun and the sun god, but I have never yet been able to ascertain that the Maoris regarded Ra as a deity of măna, nor that he was reverenced in any form, although he is known as Tama-nui-te-ra (the great lord the sun).

Haumia-tikitiki comes next in order of birth and of this god it is said that his descendants are all of those plants which, though of natural and indigenous growth, are nevertheless used by man as food. More especially this deity may be said to be present in the root of the common bracken, which is known to the Maori by the name of aruhe.

Most famous of all this family is, however, Tu-mata-uenga (Tu of the fierce eyes) the Maori Mars, who had special jurisdiction over man, for by him was created Tiki the first man. Tu alone of his family has defied the power and malice of Tawhiri-matea, and has conquered and converted to his own use those of his brethern who deserted him at the time of the great fight; but great as his power and măna have been it must not be forgotten that he it was that brought death into the world in expiation of the sin committed when they rebelled against their parents. Last but by no means least of this family is Tangaroa, second only in importance to Tu of the angry face; he is the Maori “Poseidon” and his offspring are the fishes of the sea through his son Ikatere, and the reptiles of the land through another son Tu-te-wanawana. Very great reverence is paid to Tangaroa by the Maoris when engaged in fishing, and on no account is cooked food allowed to be taken in the canoe at such times, and even old pipes are forbidden. - 116 No matter how long the fishing might take, those so employed must fast until they return to the land, unless indeed they would eat their fish raw, a thing that many Maoris prefer to do. The Ngati-Porou, of the Kawakawa, and Hicks' Bay, when engaged in moki fishing will on no account permit the fish that they may catch be cooked in any manner other than the orthodox Maori oven, their impression being that any other method would be an insult to Tangaroa and therefore sufficient to prevent the fish from returning to their shores. I could hardly be accused of exaggeration if I were to say that the ceremonies and observances which require attention during deep sea fishing are at least thirty in number.

After the separation of Rangi and Papa, as already related, the former is said to have co-habited with Po (darkness) and had issue the following children:

Te Makoirangi, whose descendants are the Patu-paiarehe, the fairies or gnomes, the children of mist and darkness who dreading the light of day above all things, confine themselves to the gloomy forests and fastnesses of such mountains as Pirongia, Moehau, and Kaimanawa.

Po-whakarere-i-waho was the second child of this connection and from him has sprung forgetfulness and death, as also the Aroiroi, that is, the quivering heat of the sun that may be seen dancing over dry ground when there is but little wind. These things according to the Maoris are the spiritual essences of the god and therefore rightly described as his children.

So much for these godlike personifications of the external powers of nature. I will now speak of certain other deities who are known as the Kahui o te Rangi. Speaking generally it may be said that the modern Maori knows nothing of his ancient history or religion, that is, he is unable to give any connected narrative of either subject; worse still he is unable to explain passages and allusions which are of frequent occurrence in his old songs, and which are of very great interest to those who would learn something of the ancient history of the Maori, and from this it results that those who would enquire into and write upon such matters must perforce act as their own interpreters, and as a natural sequence are often mistaken. Mythological fragments may, however, be found which will serve to disclose the outlines of what was the old Maori belief.

I once heard a Maori—who like many of his race was an authority on the Bible—assert that there was not one single incident in the world's history as related in that book that was not also to be found recorded in Maori tradition. He gave many examples in support of his statement, but I regret to say that I did not take notes of the conversation, for in those days I was young and had merely a passing interest in Maori history. I do, however, remember that he gave a very - 117 good illustration of his views, and proved his assertion to the satisfaction of his audience. Among other matters mentioned was the “Deluge,” concerning which the Maoris have more than one tradition. My friend quoted the Tai o Ruatapu as the Noachian Deluge, but in this instance he made a very bad selection, for the Tai o Ruatapu would seem to have been a purely local flood caused by the anger of Ruatapu, who was not a very remote ancestor of the Ngati-Porou of the East Cape of New Zealand. He was also the ancestor of most of the people of the Cook Islands, and apparently it was at Rarotonga that the deluge took place, for Puke-hapopo, the hill to which Ruatapu recommended his people to fly for safety, is situated between Avatiu and Arorangi. This tradition is well known to the tribes of Rarotonga with, however, this difference, that Pupupoonga was the hill to which they were directed to fly, and that it was Uenuku, the father of Ruatapu, who warned them to take shelter on the hills.

The genuine Maori deluge was that of Tupu-nui-a-Uta and his son Para-whenua-mea. For eight long months these men are said to have floated on the surface of the water in a sort of primeval ark, while the rest of mankind perished miserably in the flood that had been invoked by the said Tupu in order to punish those men who at this period of the world's history had not only derided the god Tane, but had also rejected the teachings of certain deities of whom Tupu was the mouthpiece. Hence it was that the latter, moved by certain emotions of zeal and vanity which are occasionally dignified by the name of religious fervour, besought Tane to deliver the world from such unbelieving scoffers. The prayer was answered. Tawhiri-matea opened the flood-gates of Heaven and mankind perished in an entirely satisfactory and orthodox manner. Tradition relates that the ark grounded at Hawaiki, and that the first act of these pious survivors was to return thanks for their delivery from a watery grave, and an offering of seaweed was made to each and every important god to whom also rude altars were then and there erected. The ceremonies used at that time are performed even to this day whenever the members of the Whauwhau-harakeke tribe find it necessary to save their lives by invoking the aid of the sea Taniwha. On such occasions the men who are thus saved from drowning take pieces of seaweed inland and place them at the root of shrubs or trees, and at the same time gather a few handfulls of leaves and cast them into the sea, thus recognising the măna of the gods of both land and sea. To the Maori it is a matter of the utmost importance that he should at all times recognise the măna of the gods, for he realises that no man can look deeply into the future, nor can he forsee the course of events, neither also can he know the day that he may not again require the assistance of his gods. - 118 The most ignorant among them understand full well that so surely as the prosperous man forgets the existance of his gods, so surely will they forget him in his hour of need.

Maori tradition points definitely to the fact that the earth or at any rate those inhabiting the earth have on several occasions been partially destroyed, though it would seem not with the aid of water. In the days of Puta that man found fault with Mataaho and his tribe whom it is alleged were wanting in veneration for the gods, and finding it impossible to turn these misguided men from the error of their ways Puta struck the earth a sharp blow and it thereupon became convulsed and the majority of those living were swallowed up.

Still further back in the dim past we hear of one Wi, a very great prophet, who moved by love for his fellow men strove to lead Miru, the king of darkness, into the path of light; but finding that he had undertaken a task altogether beyond his powers he destroyed both Miru and his friends. This tale is somewhat apochryphal for the Maori Satan is still king of Hades, and so far as I can see has lost nothing of his măna even on this earth.

The Maori recognised that there was a period in the world's history when men as we now know them did not exist; had not in fact been created. Those who did inhabit the earth were of godlike origin and attributes with the single exception, that they were not superior to king “Death,” inasmuch that they were descended from those children of Heaven and Earth who had rebelled against their parents, and were therefore subject to the decree that in expiation of that offence they should again return to the bosom of mother earth. In all other respects they were gods having powers altogether super-natural and were known as the Kahui-o-te-Rangi. Such were Hema (who the Maoris delight to identify with Shem, the son of Noah), Whaitiri, Kai-tangata and Tawhaki, the last named of whom is said to have succeeded in climbing back into Heaven taking with him his stillborn child Te Makawe-nui-a-rangi. This child he wrapped in the sacred hair torn from his own head and then cast it out into the world in the hope that he would thereby induce a sentiment of joy and gratitude among the minor deities of this planet, for Tawhaki's offering was intended as a sacrifice to expiate the offences of the world below. From this tradition it would seem that the Maoris were not ignorant of the doctrine of atonement; but all of the tales told of these men-gods are equally sensible, some are whimsical in the extreme. For instance, we are told that the elder Maui who was also known as Rupe-te-rangi, for no conceivable reason changed his sister's husband, one Irawaru, into a dog, with the result that the wife, Hina-uri, actuated by that dual sentiment of grief and revenge which the Maoris call whakamomore, threw herself into the sea and there drifted about for three long - 119 months, until she was at last rescued by the sea spirits Ihu-atamai and Ihu-wareware. To these two deities she became enciente, and when her condition became known to the great Tinirau he sought her out and took her to his home. The birth of Hina-uri's child who was subsequently known as Tu-huruhuru was attended with both danger and difficulty until the sufferer called upon the name of Rupe, who came at her summons and instantly the child was born. It is said that shortly after birth the infant was delivered into the hands of Rupe who took it to Rehua (Jupiter) in order that the ceremony of tohi might be performed. He then returned the child to its mother, and subsequently both of them were taken to the eight heaven. From this boy Tu-huruhuru came the ancestor Mairatea, and after many generations Irakau who for the reasons above given is claimed as a descendant of Tangaroa, and hence it is said that the Waitaha tribe of the Piako River are of the kawei ika moana (genealogy of the sea fish).

The most energetic of this race of man-gods was the youngest of the Maui family, surnamed Potiki. Concerning this individual most marvellous tales are told; not only did he, like Orpheus, descend into Hades, but he is also described as regulating the course of the sun, and last but by no means least by the măna of his fish hook, made from the jawbone of his ancestress Muri-ranga-whenua, he fished up New Zealand from the bottom of the sea. Then, like Alexander the Great, finding no more worlds to conquor he endeavoured to persuade his brothers to join him in slaying their great ancestress Hine-nui-te-Po (the goddess of night) in order that death might be banished from the world. The conversation between the brothers on this occasion has been handed down by tradition and is exceedingly curious. Said Maui to his brothers “Let us rise up and slay our great ancestress, the great mother of night, in order that men may increase and multiply in the world.” The elder Maui answered “We shall never succeed in this undertaking; indeed it is probable that she who glitters on the horizon may slay us. Already thanks to your pranks we have on more than one occasion barely escaped the wrath of offended deities.” To this Maui-potiki replied “Yet will I undertake this great work unaided, for it matters little if I be slain; I was not suckled at the breast of our mother, but wrapped in her head dress, was thrown into the sea, and finally cast ashore by the drift of the waves. Thanks to the care bestowed upon me by the great Lord of the Heavens and our Lord the Sun I became a man, but who cares for death? I will go to the great forest of Tane and will there gather together a flock of birds, Tirairaka and Popokatea, who will accompany me in my undertaking since ye are all afraid.” Maui-mua answered him by saying “Let a man die as the moon dies, for that luminary returns again and again with renewed vigor, having bathed in the Wai-ora-a-Tane (the water of - 120 life).” Maui-potiki dissented, saying, “Rather let us die and become like our mother the earth to the end that those whom we leave behind us may weep over our bodies and lament our death.” With these words he went to collect his company of birds by whose aid he sought to overcome death, but his enemy, Tuhi-kai-tangata, was at hand, and as Maui entered the womb of night that man caused the birds to laugh and thereby awakened Hine-nui-te-Po and so cost Maui-potiki his life. But for this unfortunate occurrence, say the tohungas, Hine-nui-te-Po would have been slain, and from that time forth man would have lived forever.

Outside of these god-like personifications of the external powers of nature, there are deities of another class who are usually mentioned as the Kahui-o-te-Rangi (Heavenly Host). The origin of these gods is obscure, and I am compelled to admit that I cannot trace their descent. The most important of them are:—

  • 1. Tama-i-waho
  • 2. Tu-takanahau
  • 3. Kahu-kura
  • 4. Tungia-te-ika
  • 5. Tungia-te-po
  • 6. Tahaia
  • 7. Te Marongorongo
  • 8. Tara-kumukumu

These guardians of the tapu are not of equal rank, nor are they of the same disposition in their relations to mankind. For instance, Tama-i-waho is said to be of a kindly disposition and well disposed towards those who behave respectfully to him, but withal an angry god towards evil doers. According to the East Coast tribes his spiritual parents were Puna-hamoa and Hine-pukohu-rangi, and they moreover assert that he alone of the Heavenly host has earthly descendants. Chief among these are the Arawa tribes who still bear the proud appellation of Ngaoho or Te Heketanga - rangi (Migration from Heaven). The traditional account of this incident in Maori history is sufficiently curious to justify mention, though somewhat difficult to render into readable English. The desire to transmit descendants who should be in part human is said to have possessed Tama-i-waho when from his high place in the Heavens he watched Toi and his wife Kura-nui-a-Monoa conversing together upon earth. Moved by this desire he rendered himself invisible to mortal eyes and descending from above, drew nigh to the woman whom he touched with his hand. Kura would seem to have been sensible of some strange presence, for she remarked to her husband “It seems as though some man had touched me though his awe (astral form) had alone approached me.” Toi replied “Keep quiet and wait.” And so it came to pass that the next time that Tama drew nigh to the woman they succeeded in catching him, but in what manner this invisible spirit was caught is not explained; we may however assume that some very powerful karakia paralysed the god for the time being or perhaps made visible his astral shape, When Hine-pukohu-rangi saw her son a captive she swiftly descended and enveloped the earth in so dense - 121 a fog that she experienced no difficulty in rescuing him. The result of this heavenly visitation was that Kura bore a son who in recognition of his exalted rank was called Oho-mai-rangi and from him have descended all the Arawa people. Lest their should be any doubt on this point I give the genealogy:—

Family Tree. Oho-mai-rangi, Mutu-rangi, Taoanga, Tua-matua, Rakauri, Tia, Hei, Hou-mai-tawhiti, Oro, Nga-toro-i-rangi, Tapuika, Waitaha, Tama-te-kapua, Maaka

Tu-takanahau is a god swift to anger towards those who break the tapu, whether by eating food in the vicinity of the sleeping place of chiefs or tohungas, or by any unauthorised trespass whatsoever, such as walking on the borders of the kumara plantations of other men. In all such cases of infraction of the law of tapu Tu-takanahau will enter into the offender and destroy him, unless indeed the guilty party be conscious of his offence in which case he may perchance save his life by sending for a competent tohunga who could not fail to understand the symptoms, namely the unnatural distension of the patient's stomach, the same being an undoubted sign of the presence of Tu-takanahau, or indeed of any Maori god, in the human system.

The Maori tohunga is superior to his European confrere in this respect; that his treatment is more simple and he requires no drugs. In a case such as I have described his treatment would be somewhat as follows:—Firstly, he would take a hair from his own head and one from that of the afflicted man and joining them together would place both in the patient's mouth as a means of exit for the spirit, a sort of arch of Al Sirat. This done the tohunga would bite the sick man's head in order to deprive him of all măna for the time being and thus bring the patient more strongly under the influence of the tohunga; for it is truly said that a man without măna is subservient to all those who have măna. The tohunga would then take a branch of the karangu (Coprosma) and wave it over the patient with many exhortations to the god to come forth. The following karakia would be used:—

Tere o te kahui pae, tere o te kahui aparangi
Haere i o huruhuru, haere i o kaupehatu
Haere i o mahunu, haere i o pekemua, haere i o pekemuri
Haere i to waero, haere i to tinana, haere i to petipeti
I to rangahua, haere i to ahimoana, haere i to taitimu,
Puta i runga, maha i raro, ko te ara iti,
Ko te ara i hana i te hemorere, e kuhu, e naumai ki waho.

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I shall not attempt to give any translation of this karakia, but provided always that the tohunga himself has măna it is an invocation of great potency and sufficient to force Tu-takanahau to leave the man whom he had intended to destroy, and free the afflicted man from the presence of his able assistants Tungia-te-po and Tahaia who, but for the opportune aid of the tohunga, would inevitably have slain their victim in order to appease the wrath of the guardians of the tapu.

My readers will by this time have arrived at the conclusion that the religious convictions of the Maori differ very greatly from those of European nations and they may be summed up in a very few words. First, their conception of Hades is that of a place of gloom, rest and eternal monotony, rather than a place of punishment and expiation. Second, that offences against the gods are punished in this world and not in the world to come. Third, that they have never quite realised that offences against their fellow man were deserving of punishment at the hands of the gods, and it is this omission that is the weak point in the Maori system of religion.

Like the Brahmin the old time Maori believed that he had the power to overcome his enemies by the mere force of certain incantations which had been handed down to him from his ancestors and were addressed for the most part to the tribal god. The modern Maori does not now believe that he has this power, for he realises that however potent the karakia may be when uttered by a man of măna it is a mere empty form of words when there is no măna tangata to back it. He is too shrewd not to comprehend that the măna which had been the birthright of the Maori from the time of Tiki down to the advent of the Missionaries, left him for ever on the day that he deserted the religion of his forefathers and embraced Christianity.

Maori tradition establishes the fact that they had come to the conclusion that their deities could and would suspend the operation of the laws of nature at the will of any man who in the hour of need knew how to invoke the aid of the tribal or universal god of the Maori people—subject always to the extent of the măna inherent in the man who called upon them for assistance. Generally speaking the gods invoked would be those of the tribe such as Maru, Uenuku, Rongomai or others, who being deified ancestors charged themselves with the care of their descendants and specially guard the ariki, who is the eldest born of the direct male line in whose body the spirit of the divine ancestor is supposed to reside.

In the matter of war these gods are under the jurisdiction of Tama-i-waho who alone presides over the tapu, and as a natural sequence governs the destines of war parties. Of all things tapu nothing perhaps is so sacred as a war party, and nothing is conducted on sounder or stricter principles. The reason why this should be so is - 123 obvious, for from the Maori point of view the lives and fortunes of those composing the taua (war party) depend entirely upon the concurrence of the tribal god, who is supposed to combat above his people and contend with the war spirit of the opposing tribe.

The formal invocation used to obtain the favour of the gods for a war party is called an iho or iho taua, and on such occasions it is Tu-mata-uenga and the tribal gods who are invoked. These latter deities are numerous, each tribe or group of tribes having their own god. For instance, the Waikato, Ngati-Maniapoto and Ngati-Raukawa would call on Uenuku; the Arawa and Whanganui on Maru, the Ngati-Kahungunu and Ngati-Porou would invoke the aid of Rongomai or Tuere, while Ngati-Maru would call on Tu-kai-te-uru, and Tuhoe on Te Pou-a-tuatini. But whosoever the tribal god might be the concurrence of Tama-i-waho would be essential to the success of a war party, that is if they came from the East Coast tribes, but I am inclined to think that the votaries of Maru and Uenuku held all other gods to be inferior to these two. The words used in the iho taua of each and every tribe were not the same; each one used that form of words which experience had shown to be the most acceptable to it's guardian spirit, but whatsoever the form might be it's object was the the same, namely, to insure success. The Maoris say that the sign of success was Ka tara te karakia ka ngahau, he tohu ora tena. This may be translated as follows:—If the karakia is rythmic it is a sign of success. If any part of the invocation be left out or given in inverted order it is an omen of death or disaster which may not be disregarded, and therefore the war party if it should start at all must proceed with extreme caution in order that the results of this omen of ill-fortune may at any rate be minimised.

The ceremony by which a war party is rendered sacred and dedicated to the purpose which they have in hand is as follows: At the earliest dawn the warriors assemble by the side of some water— a running stream is preferred—for the purpose of the tohi or rite of purification. When all the warriors are drawn up in line, standing with one foot on the land and the other in the water, the tohunga takes in his right hand a branch of the karangu shrub and dips it into the water, he then waves the branch over the naked warriors so that not only every man but every weapon is sprinkled. At the same time he raises the chant “Wetea ki te wai, kia wetea,” which may be translated “Unloose the (sins) with water that they may be unloosed.” In this chant the whole war party joins and then if the oracles and omens—which have already been consulted—are favourable they start at once on their destroying career, slaying without fail the first person they meet for he is called he maroro kokoti ihu waka (a flying fish crossing the bows of a canoe). The victim's body would be immediately offered - 124 to the gods, and this ceremony could by no means be neglected, though it might happen that a man might meet his own father and have to kill him, for whatsoever the maroro might be, he or she was like Jepthah's daughter doomed to death.

To obviate the inconvenience and possible danger that might result from a too strict observance of this Maori rule of war, it was the custom to reserve at least one of the paths leading to or from the territory of any two tribes as a path of peace; so that even in war time it might be travelled with safety by those who, being nearly related to each party, could act as mediums of communication between the two tribes.

When the service on which the war party was engaged was one of unusual danger a victim would be chosen and offered up to the gods before the warriors left their village in order that the favour of those deities might be more effectually secured. In such case the offering to Uenuku would be a man, but to Maru a dog would be offered. In each instance the offering would be called a whangai hau (feed the wind), for the reason that the heart of the victim would be torn out and burned, to the end that the essence might be diffused in the upper atmosphere or hau and the gods fed thereby.

When the war party had accomplished the purpose for which it had set forth or perchance had been defeated in its attempts, it would return homewards, and when in the vicinity of their pa the chief of the party would send forward a messenger to warn the home-staying members of his tribe of his approach. Just outside the pa the warriors would be met by the chief tohunga whose duty it was to demand in a loud voice “E Tu! i haere mai koutou i whea?” The reply would be: “I te kimihanga i te hahaunga kai mo Uenuka.” (Oh, Tu from whence have you come? From the seeking after and searching for food for Uenuku). Then the tohunga would once more lead his warriors to the water, and by a ceremony similar to that already described, would remove from them the tapu of war. This ceremony would be performed as quickly as possible in order to prevent possible breaches of the tapu; such as the eating of food by any of the warriors before the sacred ovens had been opened, or the eating of food by the women and children before the men of the spear had been satisfied, or if we use a Maori expression, to prevent the women eating at the point of the spear. It was only when the last karakia had been said and the sacred kumara eaten that the warriors were declared free of tapu, and might eat and be merry with their wives and families.

Tu-mata-uenga was, as I have said, the deity who had exclusive jurisdiction over man, but he was not his progenitor; both however sprung from the same source, both derived their existence from the bosom of mother earth. It is not only in Genesis that we learn that - 125 man sprang from the earth; Maori tradition gives a similar account of our origin and has even preserved the incantations used by Tu on that memorable occasion.

The legend is to the effect that Tu-mata-uenga had seen reason to believe that the godlike race of beings who at that period inhabited the earth were unfit for the positions they occupied; he therefore resolved to make a man after his own image using the clay of the earth as the material wherewith to carry out his purpose. To effect this project he built an altar (tuahu) at Te One-potaka, a place situated in Hawaiki, that mythical home of the Maori people. The altar was a very rude affair, merely a mound of earth roughly scraped together. When it was finished the site was called Te Kauhanga-nui, and the alter itself Te Oropuke. In the mound of earth so made Tu planted two green branches of the koromiko (Veronica) both of which had the leaves and branches intact. The right hand branch he placed in the ground with his right hand and the left hand branch with his left hand. This was a matter of the utmost importance since these branches represented life and death, and even to this day bright are the prospects of a child who, after the tohi ceremony, finds that his tree of life has taken root and is growing vigorously. The great Nga-Puhi chief Tamate Waka Nene was an instance in point, for it is said that his tree of life grew, and hence his măna was very great. Tu called the right hand branch, or tree of life, “Oromatau”; the other he called “Oromania.” He then took para-uku (riverside clay) and mixed it, kneading it into the shape of a man, in other words into the image of Tu himself, and having done these things he lifted the clay, the head of the image in his right hand, and the lower part of the body in his left hand, and placed it on the branches of Oromatau and Oromania. This ceremony is still followed by tohungas when they perform the tohi rite over a newly born child, after the ceremony of the Ta-ngaengaetanga (invocation used when the first breath is drawn and the naval string cut). It is then that the tohunga lifts the child on to the altar, holding as I have said the head in his right hand, and repeats the tohi dedicating the infant to such work as the parents shall think fit and proper. Be it understeod that until this ceremony has been performed the child cannot be relied on to carry out any work however simple without making many mistakes. It sometimes happens that an infant is dedicated, even before it is born, to avenge some injury of very ancient date; an injury which has been borne in mind by the family, whose sacred duty it was to avenge it.

When Tu-mata-uenga had lifted the image of clay on to the altar he used these words, “Ko waenganui tenei wahi, ko te manawa, ko taku manawa, he manawa-tina, he manawa-toka, he manawa-keukeu-ora; ko tou manawa ko taku manawa, ko te manawa-tina, ko te manawa-toka, o Tu, o - 126 Tu-nuku, o Tu-rangi, o Tu-papa, o Tu-kerekere, o Tu-mata-uenga.” We may translate this speech as follows:—Within this clay are the organs of life, the organs of my life, the power of digestion and the enduring heart (the heart of the war god) and the beating heart of Tu (the circulation of the blood); thy powers are derived from me for they also are mine, they are the organs of Tu (under his various names). Then Tu breathed into the mouth and nostrils of the clay and instantly this inanimate effigy of a man was endued with life and sneezed. At this sign of life Tu used these words “Tihe mauri ora ki te Whei-ao ki te Ao-marama,” namely, Sneeze O spirit of life both in the outer world and in the world of light. The Whei-ao is all that portion of space which is held to lie outside the realms of this earth and which is therefore called the realm of life. Then Tu uttered another karakia of great power and the breathing clay arose and was lifted from the altar and then was used the karakia known as “Tawhiwhi-tu,” and when it was finished the created being was taken to the water at Te One-potaka where the ceremony of the tohi was performed, and from that time forth the clay became man and was given the name of Te Ahunga, or Tiki-i-ahua ki Hawaiki, that is Tiki who was formed at Hawaiki. Of all these things, says my informant, the most important is the fact that the clay sneezed, forasmuch as that sign of the power of the gods remains with us even to this day in order that we may be reminded of the great work Tu accomplished on the altar of the Kauhanga-nui, and hence it is that when men sneeze the words of Tu are repeated by those who are present, namely Tihe mauri ora.

Such was the origin of man, but there is a certain amount of obscurity over that of women, though there are traditions to the effect that Tiki's wife, Io-wahine, was made subsequently from the same material and by the same hands as Tiki.

I have always noticed a certain amount of hesitation in the answers of my tohunga friends when questioned concerning the origin of Tiki's wife. They all appear to realise that they ought to know something of this important fact, but many of them have said plainly that they did not know, while others have said that it was Io-wahine, and that they presumed that she was created in the same manner as Tiki. I have, however, always been impressed with the fact that they did not know, and am therefore not astonished to learn from Professor Giglioli, of Florence, that on the handles of certain carved paddles from Raivavai (one of the Austral Group) Tiki is there depicted as of the female sex. This is interesting and confirms my suspicion that Tiki was the principal of life in human form, complete in his or herself, and might therefore be properly represented as of either sex.

From the fact that all that is god-like in man is derived from the breath of Tu it results that the divine, spiritual and intellectual essences - 127 in mankind are both numerous and potent, and as a natural sequence the body being of mere clay is of little importance except as a shrine for the following spiritual or intellectual essences or attributes, namely the wairua, the hau, the mahara, the hinegaro, and the mauri, and last but by no means least the hereditary atua, who is known as the kumonga kai.

The wairua is the astral body which has a life of it's own independant of and apart from the earthly tenement. It is that which survives of the man after he has left this world and has entered the reinga or shades. I am by no means sure that the wairua itself has the power to return either to the Whei-ao or to the the Ao-marama, for I cannot remember an instance in which the return of the wairua from the shades to this earth is recorded. Indeed in the legend of Tawhaki already quoted it is expressly said that he could not possibly have returned to this earth had he passed the gates of night and entered Ameto. But if the wairua cannot return to the earth it is clear that the awe or shade of the wairua can do so, for my readers have only to consult that very amusing book “Old New Zealand” to learn how a tohunga called back the spirit of a young chief to speak to his wife and family.

Of all the spiritual attributes of man the most difficult to comprehend is that known as the hau; difficult because of the many abstract ideas conveyed to us by the way in which the word is used. For instance, we are told that the hau is conferred upon the child by it's elder relatives when they perform the ceremony of tohi, hence if there has been no tohi there can be no hau, and therefore it would seem that the tohi developes or perhaps creates the intellectual spark. If a Maori were to comment on any European child who had not been to school he would say that he or she had no hau. It is a perfectly logical conclusion so far as the Maori is concerned to say that the tohi produces the hau; because according to their own traditions the first man was merely clay until life and intellect was conferred upon him by the breath of the god, and the tohi is but a repetition of the ceremony performed by Tu, and therefore the Maori is justified in assuming that the child is mere clay until the tohi has invested him with the divine spark. Of a silent man or one wanting in energy it would be said that the man had no hau and from this we may infer that hau is also force of character. The Maori is not like a European, he does not readily credit a silent man with the virtues and good qualities which he never possessed.

Te hau o te riri is another expression used by the Maoris and it means the breath of battle; but in this case I think the word hau does not refer so much to the intellectual spark as to the wind.

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So also if a man received a present and passed it on to some third person, then there is no impropriety in such an act; but if a return present be made by this third party then it must be passed on to the original grantor or it is a hau ngaro. All of these matters are however merely introductory to the real, or at any rate, most important of the many meanings of this word. I gather that in the matter of witchcraft the hau is the actual essence of the man's life; hence if a lock of hair be obtained from his head in order to bewitch him it will contain his hau and in such cases it is called an ohonga. This is however but a vulgar form of bewitchment, for an artist in the black art can take the hau of a man's voice while he is speaking to him and then by the aid of ceremonies and karakias appropriate to the occasion, can cause the death of the bewitched one. Such a man can also take the manea or hau of a man's footprints, a method of destruction much used by the Ngati-Rakai of Akuaku who were the terror of the neighbouring tribes, so that strangers who had occasion to pass the pa of that people walked within the wash of the surf so as to leave no footprints.

The mahara is the power of thought, the reasoning faculty, and as such is a purely intellectual attribute, which though not born with the body yet developes with it, but nevertheless has an existence apart from that of the body.

The hinengaro is the mind or instinct and according to the Maori has an existence independent of the thought or reason, but I have never yet found a Maori who could explain the metaphysical aspects of the two qualities or show where they were antagonistic.

The mauri is the vital spark, and when a child has been baptised or to speak more correctly has passed the ceremony of the tohi, his mauri is sent for safe keeping to Rehua, in the eight heaven, but nonetheless if anything should startle man or woman it is said to be an oho mauri, an expression equivalent to our saying that one's heart has jumped into one's mouth.

The Maoris have singular ideas on the subjects of life and death, ideas which in many instances are derived from their earnest belief in the dual origin of man; that is, his god-like descent on the one hand from heaven and earth, by virtue of the breath of Tu, and the other lines of descent from the same source already mentioned, and on the other from Tiki the clay. A tohunga placed me in possession of their ancient view on this subject in the following words:—“The old conditions of man was such that he lived, died, and lived again. That is he was born into the world and grew old, but he returned again to childhood and became once more like a baby in arms. Then again he grew old and again renewed his youth but on this occasion he did not return to natural childhood but became an imbecile. On the fourth occasion the man it is said may renew his youth, but in this stage of existence he is - 129 a madman devouring his fish raw and eating the flowers of the forest trees for his food. The fifth stage of old age might be known by the fact that the man appears scarcely to belong to this world. He has it is true the body and appearance of a man but he is unable to speak and can but stare in a frightened manner at those whom he may meet. In the sixth and last stage of old age the man is no longer a human being, but has become a spirit, a patu-paiarehe, and that is his end.

That in old times a tohunga had the power to bring back the spirit of a dead or dying man from the gates of night, no reasonable Maori of modern days will doubt. For each one of those ills to which flesh is heir there was a karakia, which in the mouth of a competent man would hold back the spirit from the dread presence of Meru. I have the whole matter set forth in writing by a man who is thoroughly conversant with the subject, but unfortunately he has dealt with it in a manner highly metaphysical, so that in many instances it is difficult to discover his real meaning. His remarks are, however, delightfully quaint and simple.

As for natural deaths, which my friend calls Te hemo o Aitu, he says: “Do not delay the ceremony of the ‘Whakanoho manawa’ (The ceremony used by Tu to give life to the clay) beyond the first day after death or the man will not recover, but if the Manawa-tina be implanted in him he will recover,” and he adds, “When death is struggling against the sacred rite of Whakaora it will be well to use the karakia called Titikura.” As to injuries by fire he remarks “That when a man has been burnt he may be healed by the karakia called Whai, unless indeed he has been quite consumed in which case nothing can be done, because he has been eaten up by the fire of Mahuika. The remarks made under this head will probably be considered superfluous, but my friend has evidently considered it necessary to be very exact in his instructions lest the ignorant European should mistake his meaning or be misled by his explanation.

The Maoris hold that the sea has a mysterious power of preservation, or perhaps it may be that it is the taniwha of the sea who have this power, for on this point the Maoris are not explicit, but in either case we have instances of the power in Maori tradition. We are told that Taranga threw her immature child Maui-potiki into the sea and that he was subsequently washed hither and thither by the waves, apparently deriving great vigour from the process, for certain it is that he grew into a very famous man-god. In much later times we hear that Iwi-pupu, the mother of Kahu-ngunu, took her newly born son, Uenuku-titi, to the sea in order to wash him, and that he was there washed out of her arms by the waves and presumably drowned. Very long after this mishap, another child was born to the same woman, and was also taken to the water. While washing the infant, another - 130 child was heard crying on the strand, but the woman fearing that it was an evil spirit returned to the kainga and related the fact to Iwi-pupu who at once sent her people back to find the child. When the infant was brought to her, she unhesitatingly declared it to be her lost son Uenuku-titi, who, it would seem had been reared by the sea taniwha.

These are but two of many tales which might be related of the mysterious power of the sea recorded in the Maori tradition.

I will now speak of the kumonga kai to which I have already referred as being one of the spiritual attributes of man. The ariki of a Maori tribe is the senior male descendant of the elder branch of the tribe, that is, he is a descendant of the elder son of the elder son of each generation from the time of the original ancestor down to the present day. As such, he was of old regarded almost as a god, inasmuch as he represented all that there was of măna and sacredness of his tribe. That he should have been regarded in this light is not astonishing, for the Maoris believed he was something more than human, in that he was the shrine of an hereditary Atua, the guardian spirit of the tribe, and could therefore at any time communicate with the tribal gods. The mysterious măna of primogeniture is more fully recognised by the Polynesian than by any other people, and when we consider that to this feeling of veneration we must add the presence of the kumonga kai, we may be able to form some idea of the sacredness with which an ariki was clothed in the mind of all true Maoris. Such a man was not only tapu in person but he made everything he touched so dangerously sacred as to be a source of terror to the tribe. To smoke his pipe, or drink from any vessel he had touched, was death speedy and certain at the hands of the gods, who avenge breaches of the tapu. These terrors were very real, yet proud was the tribe who could boast that their ariki was a sacred man whose blood like that of Te Haramiti was so sacred that it might not be spilt even by his enemies.

In this chapter I have given a mere outline of the Maori religion as an introduction to another chapter which will treat of the superstitions of the same people, and it may well be that my readers will find that the two subjects so overlap that they might have been treated as one. On this point I leave each man to decide for himself.