Volume 46 1937 > Volume 46, No. 181 > Notes and queries, p 37-39
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[504] He-kiki-waka-taua.

Mr. W. O. Oldman writes: Regarding the he-kiki-waka-taua described by Mr. W. H. Skinner in No. 162 of the JOURNAL, I venture to point out that it has some resemblance to a very old Maori paddle in my collection.

Made of hard brown wood, leaf-shaped blade, inside surface distinctly concave along the whole surface, back is convex. A strong tapering ridge terminating in a parrot's head extends fifteen inches down blade, centre is bent in a very curious way, the end slightly widened out and thickened to half-inch. Round handle terminating in a boldly-carved mask.

Length, 84ins.; blade, 42ins. x 5¾ins. at widest; about ¼in. thick towards point; circumference of handle at junction with blade, 4ins.; mask, 4½ins.

The leaf-shaped blade and ridge are similar to paddle from south-east New Guinea and from Manihiki. I enclose photograph showing side view and end of handle.

[505] The Stone Anchors of the Matahorua, Tokomaru and Tainui Canoes.

Mr. A. P. Godber sends the following interesting note:


Kupe is an ancient navigator who is credited with the discovery of New Zealand. The date is uncertain, but it was probably about the year 1300∗1, when he came from Tahiti in the Matahorua canoe. The late Mr. Elsdon Best chronicles that the canoe was formed of three pieces, not let into one another as is the custom to-day, but butted together and lashed.

Two anchors were prepared, both having holes for attaching to the anchor-ropes. One of these anchors was formed of the stone known as tatara-a-punga, obtained from Maungaroa, a hill of Rarotonga. The canoe made land at, or near, North cape. Some place-names were bestowed upon parts of the East coast as the discoverers sailed along. Whanganui-a-Tara, or Wellington harbour, was entered, and further place-names given to natural features in that locality.

A stop was made at Porirua harbour, where the anchor-stone known as Maungaroa, was left. This is the anchor-stone illustrated, and it now rests in the Dominion Museum. For many years it lay on the beach, an object of veneration to the local Maori tribes. When - 38 the soldiers, at the time of the Maori wars, were quartered in the stone redoubt to the west of the present railway-bridge, they incensed the natives by chipping pieces from the tapu stone-anchor. Sometime later, several of the soldiers were drowned while crossing an inlet of the harbour. The Maoris considered that this was a judgment upon them for violating the tapu of the historic anchor-stone.


When this canoe, one of the fleet of 1350, came to New Zealand, Manaia was the captain. The vessel made land on the south shore of Tokomaru bay, East coast, named after the canoe. Coasting northward, the voyagers rounded North cape, and sailing southward down the west coast, ended their wanderings at the Tongaporutu river. The anchor-stone lay hidden at Mohakatino for several centuries. There was a grave danger that when its location should be again known it might be stolen, and taken away. The late Mr. Percy Smith, with Messrs. John Strauchon and G. Robertson, hid the anchor-stone, lest its Maori owners should be cajoled into selling it.

Years later, when its whereabouts was again known, Pakeha wellwishers of the Native race suggested that it find a resting-place in the New Plymouth museum. Although this idea was supported by some sections of the Maoris concerned, others desired such an historic relic to be kept in a location more intimate to themselves. A satisfactory solution seemed impossible, when the section favourable to placing it in the New Plymouth museum, took matters into their own hands and handed it to the authorities of that institution. Great was the indignation of the other parties, but the museum still houses the anchor-stone. A hole has been bored in the top of the stone to take the anchor-rope. The stone, of a whitish colour, stands about 3 feet high, and weighs between 3 and 4 cwt.


This vessel was a single canoe of the large sea-going type, and was one of the fleet of 1350. In company with the Arawa, a landing was effected at Whangaparaoa, in the Bay of Plenty. Dissentions between the crews of the two canoes caused Hoturoa, the captain of Tainui, to sail northwards. The canoe was portaged from the east to the west coast at Otahuhu. A long stay was made at Kawhia. The late Mr. Percy Smith says that one of the crew named Tara-pounamu had the canoe taken to Mokau, where he settled with his family. One of his party gravely transgressed, and when Hoturoa heard of this he had the canoe returned to Kawhia, where, according to Maori tradition, it lies buried, two stones marking the bow and stern. So tapu is the spot in Maori eyes, that digging operations to test the truth of the story, will not be permitted by them.

The anchor-stone was left at Mokau, in a cave on the north side of the river-entrance, and became lost to the Maoris. Years after, a Pakeha discovered it and took it away, hoping to sell it, but such an outcry was made that he returned it. Many more years elapsed ere this valuable and interesting object again saw the light of day.

- i
Old Maori Paddle in Oldman Collection
- ii
Stone Anchor of the Matahorua Canoe
- iii
Stone Anchor of the Tokomaru Canoe
- iv
Stone Anchor of the Tainui Canoe
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The Maori tribes interested held many meetings, and much argument took place as to its future and permanent location. The suggestion to present it to the Dominion Museum was over-ridden, in favour of fixing it upon a firm foundation, and at some spot upon their ancestral lands.

A cement canoe was shaped, the historic anchor-stone was embedded in it, and the whole placed within a small wahi-tapu (sacred place), about two miles north of Mokau. The main north road from New Plymouth to Te Kuiti skirts the hillside where the monument rests. If the Maori caretakers would affix a plate showing name and particulars of this anchor-stone, the interest of Pakeha travellers, and possibly Maoris also, would be stimulated. The photograph shows this anchor-stone to be quite different in shape from those of the Matahorua and Tokomaru canoes. Because of its peculiar dumb-bell-like shape it required no hole for attachment to the mooring-rope. One end of this would be securely fastened round the smaller middle diameter of the anchor-stone, which is of a dark colour.

1  There were probably two navigators of the name Kupe, the first discovering New Zealand about A.D. 925, the second visiting it about A.D. 1300, just before the sailing of “the fleet.” See S. Percy Smith, Hawaiki, ed. 4, p. 216.