Volume 15 1906 > Volume 15, No. 1 > The lore of the whare kohanga, Part II, Pregnancy, by Elsdon Best, p 1-26
The Journal of the Polynesian Society VOL. XV., 1906.
THE LORE OF THE WHARE-KOHANGA.
Part II. Pregnancy.
Rapou, a term applied to the first pregnancy of a woman, and to the woman herself at such a time. It is not applied to a second pregnancy, nor yet to the woman when pregnant with her second child. The term appears to denote the excessive tapu a woman of rank is under when with child for the first time, and would possibly be an outcome of the strict law of primogeniture recognised, and upheld, by the Maori of old. The first-born child of such a woman was a very tapu, and a very important person. After birth, the tapu would be lifted from mother and child by means of the tua rite. This ceremony would not take the tapu wholly from the child, but sufficiently so to allow of its being handled and nursed by other women.
When it became known that such a woman was pregnant with her first child, then the priest would make her tapu by means of a certain rite and invocation (Ka whakarapoutia e te tohunga kia tapu).
In former times, when a woman was rapou, she sometimes lived apart from others, but not so in all cases. Still, she would be under certain restrictions and rules during such period. For instance, she - 2 was not allowed to have her hair cut, lest the child be rehe (rehe=korehe=pukiki=stunted). There do not appear to have been any restrictions as to her food, although there might be certain foods she would have a distaste for at such a time, or, as the Maori puts it, the child might be afraid of certain foods, and hence the pregnant woman would also take a dislike to such foods, and decline to par-take of them. On the other hand, she might desire, or yearn (kumămă) for certain foods, which would probably be procured for her.
The following singular remark occurs in a native manuscript sent to me:—“A child is born. The elders go to see it, and one of them remarks—I raho pou tonu koe i te pouri; kua puta koe ki te ao marama.”
When a woman is pregnant, she often expresses a wish for some of the more delicate foods, such as birds, and such will be procured and prepared for her. If it is seen that she eats of the wings, neck, etc., only, it is known that the child she bears is a male. But if she eats the body of the bird, then, it is said, the child is a female.
In the story of Whakitapui, we read:—“Ka puta te hiakai taro o te wahine ra, notemea, e ahua ana tana tamaiti i roto i a ia.” The woman had a desire to eat taro, for her child was quickening within her. Be clear, it is the child in the womb who has such a desire for a certain food according to the Maori.
In many cases, when it was announced that a woman of rank had conceived, the people of the village would collect in the marae, or plaza, in order to congratulate her, her husband, and their elders, on the event.
Or, when a woman in that condition feels the child move within her, that is a sign of approaching bad weather, a rain storm is toward. A red or flushed face in a pregnant woman is said to denote that the child she bears is a female.
“A pregnant woman. She takes the child of another woman in her arms and nurses it—na, ka takatu tana puku, the child within her moves, which means that it is hostile to the child she is nursing. And she knows that, if the child she is nursing be a male, then her own will be a female. If a female, her own is a male.”
Supposing that there are two pregnant women in the district, one here, and another at a different village. When the latter woman begins to feel the pains of labour (whakamamae), the knowledge of it - 3 will reach the child in the womb of the woman here, and the child will move within her. Now, when that other child is born and the news arrives that it is, say, a male, it is then known that this one will be a female, and vice versa. Such are some of the singular beliefs of these people; we shall note many more such old-time ideas as we proceed.
The wairua (spirit) of a child is, according to several of my authorities, implanted by the male parent during coition. 1 “I think,” said a worthy old friend of mine, “that the wairua is implanted during sexual connection. We do not know where this spirit comes from, but I think that the spirit (wairua) of an ancestor may thus be implanted in a child, because see how often a child resembles a grandparent, or ancestor.”
If a whe (the mantis insect) is seen upon a woman, it is a sign that she has conceived and, according to which kind of whe it is, people know whether the child be a male or a female. There are two creatures termed whe by the natives. One is wingless, but is bountifully supplied with legs, and is often found on the manuka tree. The other has wings, and is found on logs, especially so on the prostrate trunks of tawa.
If a woman desires to bear a male child, having possibly already borne several female children, she will make it her business to be on hand when a birth takes place in the neighbourhood. If the child, when born, turns out to be a male, she will wait until the whenua, or afterbirth, has been discharged, and she will then proceed to piki the same, that is, she will stand over it for a while, with a foot on either side of it. This singular act is said to have the desired effect, it is termed piki whenua. Barren women also had recourse to it.
It has been said that the natives thought sterility to proceed from the woman, but it would appear that they recognised the fact that a man may be impotent, having noted childless women, supposed to be barren, bear children to another husband. At least, they admit now a belief in male impotency. (See Trans. N. Z. Institute, Vol. XIV. p. 471, for an able article on native sterility).
Sometimes a ceremony was performed, and karakia (charms, incantations) repeated, over a woman, in order to render her sterile, that she might cease to bear children. This, however, would not - 4 often be done. One Paora Horomata, of Tuhoe, was a famous adept at this rite (known as whakapa), but the karakia used by him was not ancient, being a part of the ritual of Hauhauism of modern times. His method is said to have been effective. Women who were tired of bearing children and wished to stop conception would go to him when near lying-in, so that they might give birth to the child at, or near, his home. He would be summoned at the birth of the child, and he would take some of the blood passed by the mother, which he would cast into a small fire he himself kindled, repeating at the same time his charm (karakia). He used no medicines in his method. I am, however, not clear that this was an ancient rite. It may be modern.
The Maori would appear to have grasped the idea of active and passive agents in generation, as in magic. He speaks of the male organ and its function as being the active agent in generation, and the female organ as being a whare moenga, i.e. passive, receptive.
As to the period of the year during which fecundations were most plentiful in former times, I have, as yet, no notes to put on record.
According to some native authorities, the sex of a child was determined after conception.
We will now proceed to view that singular rite of the pseudo-science of the tohunga, or priests, of old, known as whakato tamariki, a causing of children to be conceived. (To=pregnant, be conceived. whaka=a causative prefix). In this case, the desired conception is said to have been brought about by means of external influences, and the efficacy of the strange rite is still believed in by many of the natives now living. These influences were the invocations of the priest, and the mana (influence, supernatural power) of certain objects which, for want of a better term, I would call phallic, such as trees and stones. These objects appear to have been emblems of the generative power, or principle, in nature, hence the above term may be applied to them.
The following is one of the methods formerly employed in order to cause a woman to conceive, when she was apparently barren (pŭkŭpā). She would consult the village priest, who would give her instructions how to act. First she would obtain a handful of the fragrant grass termed karetu (Hierochloe redolens), and insert therein a portion of her paraheka or her tatea (see ante). She would - 5 then hand the bunch of grass over to the priest, who would take it to the wai karakia, or “sacred waters” of the village settlement, at which many different rites were performed. At that place the priest would perform his peculiar rite, repeating over the bunch of grass the following invocation (karakia) to cause the woman's sterility to fall away from her, and to make her conceive:—
“Ka whakato au i a koe ki a Papa-tuanuku
Kia puta mai a Papa-tuarangi
Kia niwha i roto i a koe
Kia puta mai i roto i a koe
Ko wairua whai ao
Ko wairua tangata
Ko Tu-ka-niwha, ko Tu-ka-riri
Ko Tu whai ao
Kia puta i roto ko Tu-mata-uenga
Kia mau ki te rakau
To rakau poto, to rakau roa
I puta ana mai
Ko Wahieroa na Tawhaki
Ka horohoroa i runga
Ka horohoroa i rarō
Ka puta ana ki waho ko Te Hapu-oneone
Ka whanau i roto i a te hapu
Na Tiki-nui, na Tiki-roa, na Tiki-apoa
Na Tiki-tahito, na Tiki-hou
Ka pa ki te ruahine
I a kahau ki waho
I a kahau ki uta
I a kahau matire rau.”
The above is the form of charm, or invocation, used should a male child be desired. If a female child is wanted, then instead of the name of Rongo-ma-tane, that of Rongo-mai-wahine is inserted, and the lines following it are altered so as to apply to a female, whose labours were dedicated to Hine-te-iwaiwa, that is, to weaving and the various domestic duties. Male children were dedicated to the service of Tu, the god of war.
When the marriage feast, known as the kai kotore, was held, the priest recited over the young couple an invocation termed ohaoha, in order to preserve their physical and spiritual welfare, as also to cause the woman to be fruitful. It often occurred that the sisters of the bride would decline to eat of the food of the particular oven termed the umu kotore, which was prepared for such relatives only, lest they become sterile (koi purua).
In regard to phallic trees. A famous one of these parts is a hinau tree, known as Te Iho-o-Kataka, which stands on a ridge in - 6 the forest at O-Haua-te-rangi, Rua-tahuna, near the Whakatane river. Native tradition asserts that one Ira-Kewa, who came to New Zealand in some unknown manner, before the arrival of the Matatua canoe, endowed this tree with its singular power. He placed upon it the iho, or umbilical cord, of Kataka, a daughter of Tane-atua. When Tane-atua, in after years, was exploring up the Whakatane valley, and performing some wondrous deeds en route, he happened to find himself upon the aforesaid ridge, and, being aweary, he sat himself down beneath this hinau tree to rest awhile. Observing that the tree was laden with berries, he stretched forth his hand to pluck some, when the fruit spoke softly, saying, “Kaua ahau e kainga, no te mea ko te iho ahau o Kataka”—“Do not eat of me, for I am the iho of Kataka.” Whereupon Tane left that fruit severely alone, which was doubtless a wise act on his part. Moreover, he placed on the tree the iho of another of his famous children, thrusting it into a crevice of the bark, repeating at the same time the following couplet:—
“Ko whakairihia ahau
Ka whakato tamariki ahau.”
(I am suspended. I will cause children to be conceived.)
“Hence the famed hinau at O-Haua-te-rangi became possessed of the power of causing children to be conceived. And ever has it been known as Te Iho-o-Kataka. And down through succeeding generations has the custom held of depositing the severed umbilical cords (iho) of our children at that tree. While from Tane-atua to myself are nineteen generations of men. When iho were deposited there, at that tree, they were wrapped in a piece of aute (bark cloth, made from Broussonetia papyrifera), or in leaves of the raukawa (Panax, an odoriferous shrub). And the eastern side of that tree, the side towards the rising sun, is its male side, while the western is the female side.”
When a woman did not conceive after marriage, and it was arranged that the virtues of the above tree should be utilised, she would proceed thither, accompanied by her husband and a priest or wise elder. If she desired a male child, she would clasp the eastern, or male, side of the tree with her arms; if a female child, then she would clasp the western, or female side. Meanwhile the priest would be repeating the necessary invocation, that the rite might prove successful. I am informed by the greybeards of Tuhoe that this was a most efficacious method of causing conception in a woman apparently sterile. Several persons of these tribes have been pointed out as having been born into the world through - 7 the agency of the hinau tree of Tane-atua, among them being Ramariha, Pahi, Tamarau Waiari, Hiriwa, and Te Ai-ra-te-hinau.
It is stated by the Ngati-Manawa tribe, of the Galatea district, that another phallic tree, named Te Hunahuna-a-Pou, situated near Te Horomanga-a-Pou stream, has similar virtues to those of Te Iho-o-Kataka. This tree has two large branhes, or divisions of the trunk, the eastern one being the peka tane, or male branch, while the western one is the peka wahine, or female branch. The husband here takes a twig or piece of bark from the male, or female branch, as desired, and places it under the body of his wife, before coition takes place.
Another account, however, shows a much more risky mode of procedure, as it relates that the priest would not allow the woman to see the tree, but made her approach it with her eyes closed, and she would embrace that part of the tree which she happened to encounter. One side of the tree was dry and dead, the other side side being still green and living. Should the woman chance to encounter the green, living side of the tree, she would surely conceive. But if she embraced the dry side, then would she still remain sterile. Evidently this was an inferior sort of phallic tree. I would beg to recommend Te Iho-o-Kataka.
Colonel Gudgeon mentions another phallic tree, named Te Puta-tieke, situated at O-tara, near O-potiki.
At Kawhia, on the west coast of the North Island, is a phallic stone, named Uenuku-tu-whatu, which possesses similar powers.
A noticeable feature in the modern life of the Maori is the ever increasing lack of fertility among the young women of the race. This is not so noticeable by the casual observer, on account of the custom which obtains among childless married women, of adopting one or more of those of her relatives whose quivers are better stocked. But when engaged in the task of making out the genealogies of all living members of the Tuhoe tribe, I was enabled to note the great number of couples, many of them young people, to whom no children have been born, from which it may be inferred that the above described rites and phallic emblems have lost their virtues in these days of the pakeha. The birth rate of the Tuhoe tribe is very low, and the cause of this decadence probably lies in the changes wrought in social conditions, etc., by the advent and settlement of Europeans in this land.
During the year 1904 only 63 births were registered as having occurred among the natives of the Matatua district, which includes the three tribes of Tuhoe, Ngati-Awa, and Te Whakatohea. The - 8 deaths registered for the same district during that period numbered 47. The native population of the district is about 4,000.
Whare ngaro. This expression implies the death of all children of a couple, leaving them entirely without offspring. The term is not applied to lines of descent broken through the infertility of women, or by a person not marrying. This affliction of a whare ngaro, or “lost house,” is said to emanate from dead and gone ancestors, or to have been caused by witchcraft. When parents lost by death their first child, they would get the priest to perform the tu ora (or kawa ora) rite over the next child born to them, in order that the threatened whare ngaro might be averted, and the child survive. In the Rua-tahuna district, of late, several women, whose children had died in infancy, and hence who feared a whare ngaro, were not allowed to eat of any food which had come from Rua-toki, inasmuch as the infliction is thought to have had its origin at that place. These women were afterwards taken to Rua-toki, where some rite was performed over them, in order that the cause of the children's death might be destroyed (ka tahuna ana mate e te tohunga—the priest destroyed those afflictions).
Sterility in women, which is termed pukupā, has come to be recognised as quite an institution among the Tuhoe women, nor does it appear that infanticide is practised, and abortion but seldom.
Before leaving the subject of sterility, there is one other item to be mentioned, and which, for want of a better term, I have termed sooterkin. This is an image, in human form, and usually made of wood, which barren women sometimes carried and nursed, as though it were a child. These images were often dressed up in native clothing, and were also adorned with ornaments. Among some tribes these little images were termed whakapakoko, a word meaning “image.” In some cases a stone was so dressed and carried as a sooterkin, and even potatoes were sometimes so utilised.
I knew a native woman on the East coast who, being childless, used to nurse a young pig in her arms, as a substitute. Wherever she went the little pig accompanied her, sometimes carried in her arms, at others it would be seen trotting along behind her.
It is stated, in several works on the Maori, that these images were looked upon as gods, and also, by some writers, that they were carried in order to cause the bearers to conceive. The natives of Tuhoeland, however, do not seem to have deemed them gods, nor yet believe that they held the power of causing conception. It seems to have been here simply the result of the unsatisfied mother instinct. In that somewhat untrustworthy work, “Te Ika a Ma ui,” the author speaks of these images as household gods, and seems to - 9 believe that they were carried for the same purpose that barren women of divers races carried, or invoked, the phallus, as a symbol of the active agent in generation.
Women who nursed and petted these singular objects were wont to compose and sing songs (oriori, or lullabies) over them, precisely as they did to children. When Maikara, a woman of Ngati-Manawa, of the Galatea district, cast about for an object to nurse as a child, she, like unto Rhea of old, selected a stone, over which she used to sing the following oriori, composed by herself for the occasion:—
“Mataotao ana te panga mai o te kiri- 10
O tenei tamaiti ingoa kore
I peheatia i puta ai ki waho
I whakawherakatia e taku potiki
Ki a Uruhanga, ki a Hika-waha
I to pouri kerekere
I te po roa i raru ai Wairaka
Kaore raia, E tama!
He mahinga kai ma taua
E tupu ai ki te ao
Naumai! Whakapiki whakarunga
To nohoanga kai te keu
Ki te tonga o Rua-wahia
Kia marama koe te titiro ki te mata kurae
Ka kokiritia ki waho ko Te Ngaere
Hoe ake ki muri ki to tuara
Te rongo kai i te oneone i waiho e o tipuna
Kai te umu e tao ano to koroua
Hokahoka i o waewae
I te tomokanga kai Tahau
Kai piki ke koe i O-rangi-taupea
Kai heke ke koe i O-tama-potiki
Kai whakahehengia koe e Marepa
E hara tena ma waho tonu
Ma te rerenge o Tu-whakahoro-ahu
Okioki rawa atu ko te taumata
Kati! Ko to kanohi e whai te titiro
Ki te hiwi ki te paeroa
E kumekumea ana to ngakau
E te roa o te whenua
Ui mai ki ahau, ko hea te maunga
I tiketike ki runga?
Ko O-porou, ko Puke-wehea
Ka papa takitini ki raro ki te oneone
Ka ahiahi to ra e haere ana
I te titahatanga ki Raumati-rua
Ko te ara ra tena, E tama!
I horahia mai ai te kura i te ruru
He taha raukawa na to kuia
I poua mai i te Tokari
Ko rurea koa i whakahaua i te ata
E kani nei te hau maranga mate
Ki to tuakana … na!
E tama … E!”
The stone used by Maikara as described above, was afterwards utilised as a mauri, and located up the Rangi-taiki river. A mauri is a sort of talisman which, by means of a certain rite, is endowed with a supernatural power to protect and preserve the vitality, productiveness, etc., of forests and streams, as also man. In Vol. X., p. 22, of the Journal of the Polynesian Society will be found a description of the mauri.
About five generations ago, one Moenga, a woman of the Tuhoe tribe, despairing of ever having children, selected a large potato (riwai), which she dressed and nursed as a child. However, in after days, she gave birth to a male child, and named him Tama-riwai (the potato-child), in memory of the sooterkin. And the “potato-child” developed into a famous warrior, who fought on the red fields of Orona and Puke-kai-kāhu, where Taupo and the Tiaki-tutu sank in death.
The following is another song (oriori=lullaby), composed by Harehare, of the Pu Taewa, and was also sung to a stone child:—
“E moe ana ano te kohatu i tona moenga … popo!
Naku i hiko mai … popo!
He matawara noku ki te whanau tamariki … popo!
Me kawe koe ki Hauturu-te-rangi … popo!
Ki te kahu whakatara i Opapa … popo!
Ka pa ianei ko te makariri … popo!
Me wheuru (? whakauru) koe ki te tama na Kahu-parawai … popo!
To tomokanga na ko te Kotipu … popo
To mania roa ko Kai-whitiwhiti … popo
Tena ra to tipuna Maoho-kai-tangata … popo!
E kimi ana i nga hikahikanga o Tangi-haruru
Ki to ingoa whakahuatia ki a Manawa-kahikatoa … popo!
Kahikatoa … popo!
Hai kawe i a koe … popo
Nga ngutu maioro ki Okarea … popo!
E tu i kona, ka titiro ki nga hau o te rangi … popo
Tenei ano au te takoto nei … popo!
Ko te Paki-o-hewa ka ahei ai … popo!”
Another woman of the district, being childless, selected a potato having singular protuberances, and, having fashioned the same into the form of a child, she dressed it up and suspended round its neck a scented necklet (hei tarata). This strange object she nursed, as a child is nursed, and sung over it the following song:—
“Aue! Aue!- 11
Pakipaki kau au ki te tuakiri o te whare
Kai hea te mea i huaratia
E taku kuru pounamu
Whakaputa, E tama! Ki waho ra
Tomokia e koe ki te whare
I to tuahine, i a Te Paina
Kia whakauhia koe ki te Rau o Papoua
Ka pai taku mea te haere
To pikitanga kai Wai-pokaia
Ka kitea mai koe e to papa
Hai karanga mai .. Naumai! E tama!
Tenei nga mahi a Rua kai ro te kete
Kihai i takiritia ki waho ra
Mau e ki hohoro te karanga
Nau mai, nau ake
Takahia te one ki Te Ara-aka
Ma Te Atiawa e whakatangi ki te rapa
Waiho e tohu, E tama!
Mo te kore i to iwi mokai
Ka riro te karanga pa wawe ki tawhiti
Ka papa takitini te taumata ki Kapu ra
Kati! Ka hoki mai taku mea ki ahau .. e!”
The following song was composed by a woman named Hine-i: turama, 2 who used to sing it to her “stone child,” as my informant put it. In after years it came to be used as a rangi poi, i.e., a time song for the game of poi:—
“E noho ana ano i tona taumata, i Tihei- 12
E papaki kau ana te paihau o te manu
Kei tata mai ki taku taha
E poi ana te tara i raro
Kia riro mai taku ipu kai ra
Ko Te Heuheu
I whakatapua ki te aha te hau tapa
Tikapo au anake e kai nei i te roro o Takeke
Kai atu, whakairihia ki te patanga
Kai atu patanga ko te kai ra i korongatia
Te ngakau ko Tukino
Kia utaina ki te tiwai, e hoe au ki tawhiti
Ki au i tauhou au ko Whakaari
Ki te puke tapuku Paepae-o-Aotea 3
Kia takahia atu te moana o Kupe
Ki Whangara ko Matioro
Ka toi au ki Hawaiki
Ki te kai ra i rauri (rari) noa mai
Te raweketia e te ringaringa
Me whakatangi te korowhiti ki Tauri-toatoa
Ki a Te Ngahue ki Matakawa
Ki a Te Pori-o-te-rangi
Ko te au ra i nohoia e te takupu o te Whai-a-Paoa
Kia ope noa te kutikuti
Kia ope noa te whakairoiro
Hai maru haerenga mo maua
Ko taku tamaiti poriro
Mo Tu-wairua, mo paki kau noa mai
E te ngutu o te tangata
Nau mai hoki ra, E te iwi!
Kia kite koe i te whare whanaunga tamariki
Ka whakaarorangi tenei ki Tikirau
Ki a Te Putahou
Kia tawaria taku tua
Ki te kope rawhiti ki tae iho
Me kore te matarae i Whanga-paraoa
Ko Te Wewehi-o-te-rangi
E aki kau ana te tai ki Ahuriri
Ka tika tutuki te koranga
Ki te kaha makau rau
Ki a te hoa a Tiki,
Ko te rawa hoki e Whata
I whakairia ai toku teke mai
Tutakina na mata kia karapipiti
Ako rawa ake ki te ai a te tui
Ko te ngutu koikoia
Na kete tahora mo kai
Toku whaea i riro atu na
I waiho ai hai hikihiki taua
Ki te ihu o Pana-nui
Ko te hapu pararaki to Peha taua
Te kiri wharauna ki te whare
Na to poriro au na
I moe atu aku kanohi ki a Tu-korehu
Ki te hunga nana i takitaki taku mate
Kia ea Wai-pohue
Kati ra te whakakeke na i te patanga
Huataki tini te hapai o taitai a Maui
Kia tihao atu te tihi ki Tongariro kia matotoru
E rua aku ringa ki te hara mai
Ki te aitanga a Tuwharetoa
Hai kai .. e!”
It is stated by some that the stone child in this case was a myth and that our friend Hine was a puhi, who, having misbehaved herself, fled to the forest in order to give birth to her child, where she was found by searchers, who overheard her singing the above song to her child, Tu-Wairua.
Abortion (Whakatahe or Kuka).
According to Maori belief, premature birth was usually caused by some infringement of the laws of tapu on the part of the mother, and for which she would be thus punished by the gods. When a woman, in former times, desired to procure abortion on herself, she would proceed to taiki the fœtus, that is, she would pollute a tapu person, as a priest, or one of her elders, by passing some cooked food over - 13 his garment, or his resting place. Or she might take a portion of cooked food to some sacred place, and there eat it. Such acts would, to the native mind, be deemed quite sufficient to cause a miscarriage. Generally speaking, when a woman noticed that she was papuni, i.e., that menstruation had stopped, and she knew that she had conceived, and, moreover, wished to procure abortion, she would probably proceed to some sacred place, as the tuahu, where priests performed various religious rites, and she would pluck some herb there growing and, applying the same to her mouth, would then cast it away. That would be quite sufficient, she has “eaten,” or polluted, a sacred place. The gods will attend to her case.
There is a considerable amount of danger to man attached to abortion, so say the Maori people, inasmuch as the fœtus is liable to develop into a most malignant demon (atua), which afflicts man grievously in divers ways, and is much dreaded. Such a caco-dœmon is termed an atua kahu or kahukahu. It is the spirit (wairua) of the fœtus which thus developes into a mischievous and dangerous demon. The term kahu is applied to the membrane which covers the fœtus, as also is whakakahu.
It is in this way. When a case of abortion occurs, the fœtus is taken away and buried. Now, should it so happen that a dog, or pig, finds, and resurrects, and eats the fœtus, then the spirit of the same will enter into the animal, which thus becomes an atua ngau tangata, or man-afflicting demon. Or this evil spirit may be conciliated by some person, and utilised as a war god. For an exhaustive description of such a development, see the Journal of the Polynesian Society, Vol. VI., p. 41.
It is singular to note that the spirit of a stillborn child is, to the Maori mind, always an evil one, and a power for evil only, never for good.
When a person is afflicted by one of these evil spirits, he hies him to the tohunga, or priest, who proceeds to exorcise the same by means of a certain rite and invocation. The afflicted person probably knows not what ails him, but, being ill, he consults the priest, who, being a seer, will soon locate the cause. He will then say:—“Your affliction is a kahu.” He will probably also know which woman produced that cause, and, on his asking her, she will admit it, and say that she buried it at a certain place, or threw it into a stream. The famous Tuhoean war god Te Rehu-o-Tainui was an atua kahu, which came from a still born child which had been cast into a stream, and was eaten by the small fish named titarakura. Hence that fish was possessed by the evil spirit, and no member of the Tuhoe tribe has - 14 since eaten of those fish, for they are tapu. The natives of this district are yet firm believers in these matters.
However, to cure the sufferer introduced above, the priest will go in search of a plant termed keketuwai, which is used as an ara atua, or way by which an afflicting demon is made to leave the human body. Placing this object upon the body of his patient, the priest will repeat a charm, or incantation, in order to force the evil spirit to quit the body of the sufferer:—
“Tenei to ara
Haere ki o tipuna
Haere ki o matua
Haere ki o koroua
Haere ki nga mana o o tipuna.”
This kind of charm is called a takutaku. It calls upon the demon to come forth from the sufferer's body, and betake itself to the outer spaces, to the realm of darkness, or its original place, or to those from whom it sprang. Here is another takutaku:—
“Haere koutou e patu nei
Haere i tua
Haere i waho
Haere i te Pu
Haere i te More
Haere i te Weu
E oho e nga atua whiu
E oho e nga atua ta
Haere i tua
Haere i te pouriuri
Haere i te potangotango
Ko rou ora
Ki te whai ao
Ki te ao marama.”
The tohunga will also proceed to the place where the fœtus was buried and there kindle a fire, over which he will repeat an incantatation in order to lay the evil spirit, and to render it harmless. He will also cook an article of food, usually a kumara, or sweet potato, at that fire. This he then proceeds to eat, and thus the evil spirit is tamaoatia, or polluted, rendered harmless, its powers to harm man are so destroyed. This rite is nowadays here termed a whakawhetia, a modern, introduced expression, and used in a very misleading sense.
The above rite was often performed over the fœtus as soon as it was buried, in order that the evil spirit be rendered harmless before it could do any evil, otherwise it might turn on the relatives of the woman and afflict them sorely. Prevention is better than cure.- 15
The spirit of such a fœtus may enter an animal, or bird, or fish, or insect. Should a moth (purerehua) chance to fly over the fœtus it would be entered by the evil spirit and that moth would then possess powers inimical to man, passing dangerous to human life. If the fœtus be cast into the water, it may be devoured by a fish, which would thus become a dangerous atua. Such animal, fish, bird, or insect, thus becomes the aria, or form of incarnation of the evil spirit of the fœtus.
In one case which came under my notice, a fœtus was buried under the perch of a captive bird, a tame kaka parrot. The evil spirit of the kahu entered the bird with the result that several people were seriously afflicted by it. Diseases of the eyes, and other troubles, were caused by that dangerous demon, a truly disreputable bird. When any person was affected by that atua, should he, or a relative, dream of seeing the bird with ruffled plumage (E whakakenakena ana), that was deemed a good omen for the sufferer, he would recover. But should the dreamer see the bird moving about, or with its feathers in a flacid, or ordinary, condition (mohimohi), that that was a bad omen for the patient.
To destroy the evil spirit of a human fœtus, some of the leaves in which food has been placed for cooking may be used as a covering for such fœtus when buried. This will have the desired effect. There is nothing so inimical to tapu, or supernatural powers, as cooked food, or anything which has come in contact with it
But in some cases these atua kahu were not destroyed, but were cultivated, conciliated with offerings, and developed into war gods, in order that their power might be directed against tribal enemies. Such was the origin of the atua (gods, demons) known as Te Awa-nui, Pare-houhou, Peketahi, and Te Rehu-o-Tainui, of the Tuhoe tribe.
The terms tahe, whakatahe, mate-roto, and kuka are all applied to abortion.
It does not appear that anything in the way of medicine was taken internally, in former times, in order to cause abortion, or to cure anything for that matter. But since the natives have observed the use made of such by white people, they have discovered (?) many cures, generally simple remedies, decoctions of herbs, etc., for most complaints, and also to procure abortion. A local native is famous for his skill in procuring abortion in this manner. Native treatment of disease formerly was essentially empirical, being based on observation and experience alone, or such afflictions were viewed as the result of witchcraft.- 16
The Whare Kahu (Fœtus House) and the Whare Kohanga (Nest House).
As already observed, a very considerable amount of tapu pertained to birth, and this led to the segregation of the woman, who, for the time being, was looked upon as being “unclean,” this being one of the meanings of the word tapu.
The usual custom, in former times, was to erect a small, temporary shed, at some little distance from the village, and to this rude shelter the woman proceeded, together with her attendant, when her time drew near. This shed was known as a whare kahu (fœtus house), sometimes termed whare whakakahu. It was an extremely tapu place, and no one save the companion (caretaker) of the woman, was allowed to approach it, except, of course, the tohunga, or priest. This was more especially the case if the woman were of high rank and a rapou, i.e., in the straw with her first child. When, after parturition, the woman was removed to the whare kohanga, her relatives and friends might visit her, so soon as the tapu was removed from mother and child. This whare kohanga, or “nest house,” as the term implies, was not a rude shed, such as the “fœtus house,” but a better built and more comfortable place.
A woman would probably be in the fœtus house but a night or two before parturition, and would then be removed to the “nest house,” together with her child. She would proceed to the whare kahu when she knew her time to be near, perhaps when the pains of labour began, or before. She might be one night in the fœtus house, or longer, especially in cases of protracted parturition (whakatina).
The caretaker appointed to look after the woman and take food to her while in the fœtus house, is also tapu. She must remain with her charge during the time she is tapu, and may not leave the place, nor visit the village, nor approach any place where food is cooked, nor even come near any person who is noa (common, void, not tapu). When food is prepared for the lying-in woman, it is carried by a noa person from the cooking place and deposited on the ground at some distance from the sacred precincts of the fœtus house, the bearer returning at once. Not until that bearer has retired does the kai tiaki (caretaker) venture to fetch it. She will get it and carry it to within some little distance of the whare kahu, and there deposit the same. The woman will then leave the shed and come to the place where the food is, and there eat it. But the food must on no account be taken near the shed or the child. For it is cooked food, the most polluting and degrading thing known to the Maori, dangerous to life and disastrous to man's physical, intellectual, and spiritual welfare. Should that cooked food be taken near the child while the - 17 latter was in the state of intense tapu, which obtained before the performance of the tua rite, then the hapless infant would be tamaoatia, or polluted. That is to say the sacred life principle would be so polluted and endangered, and the child's welfare probably be utterly ruined. For it would be exposed to all the ills which assail man, it would be lacking in spiritual, vital and intellectual power and prestige, open to the shafts of magic, the sport of the gods, the food of Hades.
And note that, when the food bearer brings and deposits that cooked food, the attendant is careful to wait until the bearer has retired before she goes for the food. There must be no suspicion of pollution of the tapu, no chance of any contact with ordinary people, no direct communication of any kind between the tapu of the fœtus house and that danger-infested world where cooked food and other dreadful things abound.
The term whare kahu or whare whakakahu is, to a certain extent, a figure of speech, inasmuch as, in fine weather, no shed at all may be erected, the woman giving birth to her child in the open. Nevertheless, the term would still be applied to the place, and the same intense tapu prevail. The whare kohanga is not nearly so tapu, as we shall see anon. It is not the place of birth, but a “nest house” to shelter mother and child after the intensity of the tapu has been lifted, and until the mother, together with her child, return to the common world. The “nest house” is made more comfortable because the woman stays in it for a much longer period than she does in the “fœtus house.”
Even now women are not allowed to give birth to a child in a dwelling house in a village, but go to a hut, or erect a tent, away from the village. It is deemed unseemly to utilise a dwelling house for this purpose, and not right that people should hear the sounds of parturition. It must be borne in mind that most dwelling houses are of a communal nature, and in no case is domestic privacy so obtainable as among white people.
Labour. Whakamamae. Whakawhanau.
Among native women giving birth is by no means the ordeal that it is to European women. It is surprising to white people to note how little fuss the former make over the matter, and how little it affects them in regard to the performance of their various labours. I have seen a woman go aside into the bush, alone, and shortly after return with her new born child, washed and wrapped up in one of her garments. A woman here went into the bush one day to procure firewood, and returned with a huge bundle of the same slung on her back. She walked into camp and squatted down that she might slip - 18 her arms from the swag straps, and so get rid of her burden. As she did so, her child was born. But she never turned a hair. Quickly undoing some hidden tie or button, she allowed one of her garments to slip down and cover the child, thus saving the situation beautifully.
A native woman never lies down when in labour, and cannot understand why a white woman should do so, saying that it is a most inconvenient and unnatural attitude to assume at such a time. In one case where native women of this district attended a white woman during her confinement, they tried to pursuade her to kneel in the native manner, but without avail. They were also surprised at the way in which their patient kept casting off all covering, and at her evident fear of results. In fact, they treated the whole affair with derision.
As already observed, a native woman thinks but little of giving birth to a child without any assistance from any person. Still she usually has an attendant, who is useful in cases of difficult parturition, which do sometimes occur. She kneels on the ground during her labour, and holds on, either to two stakes driven into the earth, 4 or to the knees of her attendant. The latter is the position usually assumed. The attendant squats down before the woman who rests her breast on the knees of the former and also clasps her tightly with her arms. The kneeling woman has her limbs apart and an old garment will be placed to receive the child. When the pains of labour (whakamamae) are severe, the attendant, who may be a woman, or, in some cases, a near male relative, as a father, will exhort the woman to be patient and brave (“Kia manawanui! Kia kaha te kuku i to manawa,” etc., i.e., advising her to take two short breaths and then a long one, to sustain the effort of expulsion). When there is much difficulty in parturition, the attendant, still in her squatting position, will press, or rub, her bare knees, with a downward motion, on the stomach of the labouring woman, in order to aid expulsion. In some such cases the child was pulled or eased out by the attendant. This attendant was sometimes changed in cases of difficult birth, as natives have a firm belief in “lucky” attendants. A woman's husband sometimes attends her, but if the birth is not easy she will tell him to retire and to send her a capable woman—a ka kitea te ngawari o taua wahine i tikina, a ka whanau te wahine ra. Ko te mea pai ma te wahine e whakawhanau.
“When a woman gives birth (whakawhanau) to a child, the first thing is the whakamamae (labour pains). The next is the ara (flooding before birth), and the next is the act of parturition. Then the sex - 19 of the child is noted. If a male it is termed a tama-a-roa (an expression applied to a male child, perhaps to the first-born only) and his name is Tu (god of war, for that term is used in connection with male children). But if a female, then she is a daughter of Hine-te-iwaiwa (the personification of the female principle in the genus homo, and of all labours, etc., pertaining to women) and the term O-tawaha is applied to her. O-tawaha is a pipi (cockle) bank at Whakatane, where women pass much of their time in collecting food.”
Another native, an elderly woman, said:—“In labour, the first thing discharged is the kouawai, a whitish, light coloured object, like an egg. Then comes the āră (flooding), then the child, then the parapara (discharge of blood), then the whenua (afterbirth), and then more blood. The āră is never absent. A child born feet first will prove to be unruly and troublesome.”
After parturition, a woman often betakes herself to a river or stream and emerses her body therein, lying on her back, and her attendant passes her bare foot downwards over the stomach, so as to assist in the expulsion of any whenua (afterbirth), or toto (blood clots).
The placenta, or afterbirth, is termed whenua. It has been described by natives as “He timatanga noho no te tamaiti.” 5 It is taken away from the village and buried, as it is looked upon as being tapu, as also is the place where it is buried, which is carefully avoided by the people. The village priest performed a rite over this placenta in order to cause the next child born to the woman to be healthy and vigorous, and to survive.. In olden times the new born child was often wrapped in fronds of the fern mauku (Asplenium bulliferum) previously warmed at a fire. Clothing was a scarce commodity among Tuhoe of the flaxless forest.
There is no special treatment of the mother, if she be affected by weakness after parturition, except to supply her with food. All these natives concur in saying that formerly women were very seldom ill during, or after, parturition. In olden times if, after birth, the passage was sore (mehemea ka maki te tara), a small steam oven (umu) was made, over which the woman sat, in order that the steam might effect, or assist, a cure—“hai whakapupu taua mea, hai whakaora.”
If a woman dies in giving birth to a child, an almost unknown occurrence, the child is given to a woman in milk to suckle and tend—Ka rōpētia te tamaiti. Rōpē=to tend carefully, nurture. If a woman dies undelivered, nothing is done to save the child.
The term parapara is applied to blood discharged during or after parturition, or in menstruation.- 20
Ewe. This term appears to be applied to the placenta among some tribes (see Williams' Maori Dictionary), but is not so used by Tuhoe, who do not apply it to anything discharged before, during, or after parturition. Here it is applied to the womb: “Ko te ewe, koia te nohoanga o te tangata, o ia tamaiti, o ia tamaiti, koinei te whare o te tangata.” The term eweewe-rau is applied to the whenua, or placenta, while eweewe means a blood relation.
Noho kahu. This term denotes the birth of a child still enveloped in the kahu, i.e., born with a caul. A child so born will, it is said, grow up pert and forward, and will be a famous fighting man.
“When a child is born, and is seen to be covered with a greasy substance (vernix caseosa), we Maori people say that that substance represents the food consumed by the mother, and also that the mother has not been so virtuous as she might have been.”
Some very singular traditions are retained by the Maori in regard to the Cæsarian operation having been performed in former times, but such are always located in some far distant land, inhabited by primitive people, who are often unacquainted with fire, or, if localised, are relegated to times long past away.
In cases of difficult birth, great faith was placed in charms and invocations. Such a charm would be known as a tuku, but they differed in their nature considerably. An interesting one will be found in Sir G. Grey's “Polynesian Mythology,” and in which occur the names of Hine-tinaku, and Hine-mata-iti. The former is the same as Pani-tinaku, she who gave birth to the kumara, and to whom various invocations were addressed, while Hine-mata-iti was a younger sister of Pani, and also the origin, or personification, of the kiore (rat). This tuku was used by Hine-te-iwaiwa when in labour.
In many cases of difficult childbirth, a woman would get her husband to wananga her ancestral descent, i.e., to repeat her genealogical descent from the period of Darkness, the beginning of things, down to herself. If this did not cause the child to be born, then the husband would repeat his own line of descent down to himself, and this was generally effective, or ought to be. For if the child was not born then, it was known that the woman's husband was not the father of the child. In such a case, the genealogies of suspected men would be repeated, until the right one was hit upon, when the child would at once be born. In some cases the woman volunteered the desired information, which greatly simplified matters, and shortened the proceedings. In this manner was Tutanekai, of Roto-rua brought into the world, as also Rangi-te-ao-rere, he who conquered the original people of Mokoia.- 21
Uenuku-rauiri, sister of Tuhoe-potiki, married and settled at Rangi-taiki. Here she became with child by a visitor, one Rangi-whakaeke-hau, of Rotorua, who, as he left her, said: “When our child is born, should it be a female, then name it after the rushing waters of Rangi-taiki; but if a male, then name it after the drifting clouds.” When Uenuku's time came, she was in sore trouble, and the wananga was resorted to. But the repetition of the genealogies of her husband and others had no effect. She was near death when she said: “Tena! Wanangatia a Rangi-whakaeke-hau.” This was done, and the child, a male, was born. Thus it was known that Rangi was the father of that child, who, in accordance with his expressed wish, was named “The Drifting Cloud.” And, in the days that lay before, that despised child became a somewhat dark cloud to his tribal enemies and made his name feared from Kainga-roa to the Sea of Toi.
It is difficult to assign a cause for this singular custom of repeating genealogies down from the gods of old, in order to render parturition easy. It may be connected with the universal system of ancestor worship which obtained among the Maori. They were also repeated during the marriage rite.
Among some tribes some singular beliefs obtain regarding birth, e.g., that female children are never born while certain winds prevail, and that some winds prevent any birth, be it a male or female child.
The iho or umbilical cord is tied, sometimes with a piece of flax fibre, and sometimes by means of an overhand knot. Again, I am told that it was a custom to tie the cord in two places and then sever it between the two ties. Should the severing be felt by the mother, it is looked upon as a bad omen for her.
The umbilical cord has three names applied to it. The end next the child is termed the pito, the end attached to the mother (? placenta) is called the rauru, while the middle portion is known as the iho. Should the cord happen to part (ka motu noa iho) towards the mother's end, such is termed a rauru motu (a broken rauru) and the mother's life will be in great danger, no one save a very expert tohunga (priest, wise man) can save her: “He rauru motu, kaore e pau katoa mai taua mea te rauru; na, ka reke te tamaiti, a ka pukiki.” A rauru motu is when the rauru does not all come away, hence the child will be stunted and puny. On account of this belief, a sickly or small person is often termed “a rauru motu.”
Another authority, an old woman, says:—“The cord is tied with a piece of flax fibre, and is cut at about four inches from the child's body. If cut too close to the child's body. there is formed thereon an unsightly lump. The end of the - 22 cord outside the tie dries up and falls off in about a week. Na te māhu i whakataka mai. It is carefully watched, lest it fall off unobserved and be lost, for this is the iho which is preserved and deposited at some special place. The cord is cut as soon as the child is born, and then the infant is washed. Were the cord not tied, a fluid matter would run, or be ejected, from the body of the child, and cause death. The cord is tied to stop (papuni) such a flow. Now, there are two whenua, the one in which the child lies, and the one which is attached to the womb. When that comes away it is still attached to the mother. It is attached by the rauru. If this be severed, then the mother perishes. So the whenua is held by the rauru, but it all comes away after a time, and, if spread out, is seen to be about two feet wide. This is termed the eweewe-rau or kawekawe-rau. In late times, since the Europeans have been here, we have used a certain decoction, which is drunk by women in order to cause the placenta to come away. It is made by boiling together leaves of the kopakopa (? Plantago major), clover and pororua (Sonchus oleracus) with some salt.”
The Maori was not acquainted with the function of the umbilical cord, but believed that the child received sustenance from the mother through the hollow part (wahi tamomo 6) of the top of the head. Natives like to see a well formed head, a long head of regular form. Of such it is said that it has been carefully toto by the mother (toto—to chip into form).
Te Iho-o-te-rangi (the iho of the heavens) is a name sometimes met with in Maori nomenclature. In Finnish mythology, the god Ukko, armed with a great bow of fire, stands on a cloud, termed “the umbilicus of heaven,” when fighting his enemies.
If the iho has a knotted appearance, it is believed that the next child born of the same woman will be a boy. The cord was cut with a piece of obsidian, by some old woman attending the mother, probably the grandmother of the child, or by the priest of the village, after which the child was washed. The term waituhi appears to signify the act of cutting the iho of the child. Waituhitanga=te tapahanga o te iho ki te whare whakakahu—the cutting of the umbilical cord in the fœtus house. Then the priest would perform the whakamoe rite over the child. Taking it in his arms he repeats a charm over it and then lays it down again. The following is a charm repeated over a male child, though apparantly not a whakamoe:—
Te kura i puta mai i Hawaiki- 23
Kia tuputupu nunui e koe
Kia tuputupu roroa e koe
E whana e koe ki uta
E whana e koe ki tai
E whana e koe ki te rangi nui e tu nei
Kia maia, kia toa,
Tau e riri ai.
Ko te rangi e tu nei
Ko te papa e takoto nei
Mau ka toa, kia toa koe
I te po, i te ao, i te marama
Mau ka hi te pewa
E hi te pewa
Whenua puritia, whenua kia mau
Ki tamoremore nui no Papa
He aio. Toro hei.
In regard to these rites, an old man said: “When the iho of a child is cut and arranged, then charms are repeated in order to cause intelligence, cleverness, a clear mind, to enter and abide with the child, as also to cause ignorance, dulness, etc., to be expelled and put away, like the severed cord.”
There were several ways of disposing of the severed iho. Sometimes it was simply wrapped up in a piece of an old garment and deposited at the wahi tapu, or sacred place of the village. Or it was buried, or put under a rock, or in a tree, near the village, or at a resting place on some track, or on a hill-top, or on a boundary of tribal lands, in which case it seems to have been believed that it protected, to some extent, both the land and the child. In one case noted by myself, the iho was buried on the summit of a hill near the mother's residence, and on land in which she is an owner, and a post set up to mark the spot.
When Pare-karamu, daughter of Paora Kingi, was born, her iho was buried at Pa-harakeke, on the tribal land of her people, and just on the boundary of the Maunga-pohatu and Tauranga Blocks. The place was marked by means of a wooden post, and is known as Te Iho o Pare-karamu. This post was ornamented with carving.
Many place names originated in this practice of so depositing the umbilical cord of children, such as Te Iho-o-Te-Ata, at Te Waimana. Te Iho o Kapuru is a place name at Maunga-pohatu, the iho of Kapuru, who flourished in that rugged land some seven generations ago, having been placed on a tree there. Te Iho o Tokotu is a tawa tree at Te Hue, where the iho of that ancestor was deposited. These iho or pito were usually deposited by the side of a path used in travelling, so that the place might thereafter be known as “The Iho of so-and-so.” It was one way of keeping one's memory green in the land, as adopted by a people possessing no graphic system. At Te Pu-kiore, near Tara-pounamu, is a beech tree where many iho were - 24 so deposited in former days, being thrust into crevices in the trunk thereof.
When the pito is severed, it may be disposed of at once or, if it is intended to deposit it at some distant place, then it will be kept until it is convenient to take it there. To preserve it, the cord would be placed in a tahā koukou, a small gourd in which was kept scented oil for dressing the hair. The oil preserved the cord from decay.
A totara tree on the Tahuaroa range, near my camp, was a famous urupa pito tamariki, or burial place for children's pito. Of this tree my informant says: “When the pito fell off, it was wrapped up and taken to that tree, where many have been deposited in former times. A hole would be made in the bark of the tree, into which the pito was thrust. Then the hole would be plugged with a piece of stone or, in the case of a chief's child, with a piece of the highly valued green-stone, or even with a worked ear ornament of the latter material. In olden days such trees were smeared with red ochre (kokowai). When we obtained European goods, then bright coloured strips of cloth and handkerchiefs were suspended from the tree. I have seen that tree so ornamented in the days of my youth. I saw a hat veil hung upon it, wrapped round a branch. But we do not do those things now. The bark of the tree has grown over the holes formerly made in it. These iho were often deposited at some taumata or resting place on a hill, by the side of a track, where people frequently passed. They were never deposited on flat land, but always at such places on ridges, places where all people liked to stay and rest (ka whaia ki te taumata e matiheretia ana e te katoa). Sometimes when the pito drops off, the mother will wrap it up and hang it round her neck. When the child begins to prattle (owhaowha), she will undo the wrapper, and if she has lost the pito the child will soon die. It is a sign. If not lost it is then taken away and disposed of.”
In the above case, the tree would be treated with regard, and ornamented according to native ideas, because of the tapu pertaining to birth and to all persons of good family, and as a general mark of respect, but it must not be imagined that such a tree was worshipped in any way. It was not a fetish, albeit a traveller would probably describe it as such.
The term iho, speaking generally, means the heart or kernal of anything.
When the pito of a child came away, a rite known as umu whangai was performed. It was a sort of offering to the tapu of the child (he whangai i te tapu o te tamaiti).- 25
Birth Marks, etc.
When the timuaki (crown, dividing place of hair) is seen to be high up on the head of a child, it is said to be a sign that the next child born to the mother will be a male. But if it be situated lower down, or towards the side of the head, then the next born will be a girl.
The natives believe that if a pregnant woman sees some object which attracts her attention, and if she laughs at it (or is interested in it) that object will be transferred to, or depicted on, the child, the embryo or fœtus will be impregnated with it. But this only happens when the woman has just conceived, not after the child is formed. Should a woman in such condition be struck with the appearance of a tekoteko (a grotesque carved wooden figure) and laugh at it, her child, when born, will be very ugly.
Congenital stigmas of this kind are said to be not uncommon. A woman here has a strand of reddish hair among her plentiful growth of black hair, and she states that it was caused by her mother seeing, and being struck by, or interested in some maurea (a reddish tussock grass) which had been brought from Tarawera (it is not found in this district), during her pregnancy.
Children are sometimes born with dark coloured patches, termed ira, on the skin. They may be large or small, and are usually on the thigh (perhaps buttocks), side, or breast. They do not disappear, but remain until death. A daughter of Tukehu had the whole of her chest so discoloured.
A child was born in this district still enveloped in the membrane, i.e., with a caul (noho kahu), had one side of the face much discoloured (pango—dark), but in this case the mark disappeared, and a dark patch then appeared on the child's breast.
When a child was born of a woman of rank in the tribe, the birthplace was often marked by means of a few large stones. For the place would be tapu and it was not desirable that people should trespass on the spot. On a terrace at Tuhua, in the Ruatoki district, may still be seen the stones which mark the birthplace of Te Umu-ariki, a famous chieftain of the Tuhoe tribe and who flourished some three generations ago.
Among some tribes it appears to have been a custom to bury the pito of a child and then plant a young tree on the spot. This tree served as a sort of mauri for the child, and by its vigorous or sickly growth betokened the vitality or otherwise of the child. This custom, however, did not obtain in this district. It is stated that at the birth of a Japanese baby a tree is thus planted and which must remain untouched until the marriage day of the child, when it is cut - 26 down and the timber thereof is transformed into furniture for the young couple.
Tapu of Birth.
As we have noted, a great amount of tapu pertained to everything connected with birth. Some first born children were kept strictly tapu from birth, and not allowed to carry food or to perform any labour whatever. This would apply to the first born male and female children of a chief's family only, but in a general sense a male is tapu and a female is noa, or common, i.e., void of tapu. Hence women are employed to take the tapu off, or make common, any tapu person or object. The adoption of Christianity put an end to the rites described in this paper, because such adoption implied the giving up of the gods of the Maori and the system of tapu, hence man became noa, common, his sacred life principle is defiled, and the rites of old have no longer any power, or influence. It is a very modified form of tapu that we see now. The tua rite, which is performed in order to whakanoa, or make common, mother and child, does not entirely remove the tapu from a first born child, but sufficiently so to allow of its being handled and nursed by women. If a male child is dedicated to the service of Tu, the god of war, that child remains tapu until his hands are soiled with human blood, i.e., until he has slain an enemy in battle.
We will now give some account of the tua and tohi rites, as performed over the newly born child, as also of certain rites and observances known as kawa ora, tu ora, mauri tūāpā.
(To be continued.)
1 See Journal of the Polynesian Society, Vol. IX. pp. 184–185.
2 Hine was the wife of Te Huri-nui, of Te Arawa.
3 The Paepae-o-Aotea is the name of a rocky islet near Whakaari, or White Island.
4 These stakes, termed turuturu, are about three feet in height. Either one or two were used.
5 A first abiding place of the child.
6 Wahi tamomo—fontanelles.