Volume 6 1897 > Volume 6, No. 1 > Notes and queries, p 37-38
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[96] Funafuti Atoll, Ellice Group.

We have received from the author, Mr. Charles Hedley, a very interesting little book of 71 pages, descriptive of the above island. Mr. Hedley gives a brief description of the whole of the Ellice Group, and then deals with the Zoology, Botany, Ethnology, and general structure of Funafuti. The inhabitants are probably Samoan in origin, with an admixture of Tongans. Mr. Hedley gives several of the local traditions as to their origin. The island—like so many others in that part of the Pacific—appears to have suffered from ancient times by the warlike incursions of the Tongans, who came in fleets of canoes and destroyed great numbers of the islanders, taking back slaves with them. The Worship, Burial, Domestic Life, Cultivations, Fishing, Hygiene, &c., are described at some length. Mr. Hedley is to be congratulated on having brought together here a large amount of interesting and valuable information on a little-known island. More books of this nature are wanted regarding other islands of the Pacific.—Editors.

[97] In Ancient Maori Land.

We are in receipt of a copy of a little book bearing the above title, written by our fellow member, Mr. Elsdon Best. The author has collected together here many notes of an historical character pertaining to Tuhoe-land and the Rangitaeki Valley, together with several of the old traditions retained by the tangata-whenua, or aborigines of those parts. These are well worth preserving, as they differ much from traditions collected in other parts, and tend to throw light on the original people found here by Maoris from Hawaiki. The pamphlet is published by Mr. F. F. Watt, of Rotorua. We advise our members to secure a copy.—Editors.

[98] Phallic Cult.

Will any of our members supply information as to whether they have ever noted anything of this nature amongst the Maoris? There are strong reasons for believing that something akin to this ancient form of worship existed amongst the tangata-whenua of New Zealand.

[99] Easter Island Inscriptions.

Has Dr. Carroll, of New South Wales, published any work on the hieroglyphical writings found at Easter Island? and is the connection of the former inhabitants of that isolated place with those living on the mainland of America fully established thereby? This question is rendered of greater interest from the fact that the inhabitants of Easter Island, when first noticed by European navigators, were found to be Polynesians, and closely allied to the Maori of New Zealand.—Taylor White.

[Perhaps Dr. Carroll himself will answer Mr. White.—Editors.]

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[100] “Ka pou-tu-maro te Ra.”

Prescott, in the “History of the Conquest of Peru,” page 54, says, “The period of the equinoxes they determined by the help of a solitary pillar or gnomon, placed in the centre of a circle, which was described in the area of the great temple, and traversed by a diameter that was drawn from east to west. When the shadows were scarcely visible under the noontide rays of the sun, they said that ‘ The god sat with all his light on the column.’” Different races of mankind may no doubt arrive at similar conclusions or trite sayings without any direct intercourse between such people, and especially when remarking on natural objects; Yet I would ask for a literal translation of the sentence Ka pou-tu-maro te Ra, used by the New Zealand Maori to denote “mid-day.” Dr. Shortland, in “Traditions and Customs of the New Zealanders,” page 222, gives the translation as “the sun stands upright as a post.” It seems to me that certain of the words in the Maori might be rendered otherwise, and so have a closer similarity to the Peruvian saying quoted above. Ra poupou is another term denoting “mid-day.” (?) Twenty-fourth day of the moon: He Tangaroa oroto. He ra pai rawa. He aho poupou. (?)—Ancient Calendar.—Taylor White.

[We think, in this case, that pou is the verb “to gush forth, to set down”; infact, to descend directly perpendicularly. Ex.: “Homai kia poua he wai kei aku kamo”—Waiata. Katahi ka poua nga kai. Tu-maro means “upright, straight”; hence the expression seems to mean, “The (rays of the) sun are perpendicular.” Aho has also the same meaning as “direct line” (as in aho-ariki, the direct first-born line of descent), and in conjunction with poupou, i.e., aho-poupou, seems to refer to the perpendicular rays of the sun.—Editors.]


We regret to announce the death of another of our members, in the person of His Excellency Sir J. B. Thurston, K.C.M.G., F.R.G.S., Governor of Fiji, who died at sea on the 8th February, 1897, whilst on his way from Fiji to Melbourne. Sir John had been suffering from illness for some time, and was on his way to Melbourne to seek medical advice. Our late member took a considerable interest in our proceedings, and has contributed some notes to the Journal. He was one of those capable administrators to whom the Empire owes so much.


The Polynesian Society sustains another severe loss in the death of one of its most learned and highly respected honorary members. Professor Hale was born in 1817 at Newport, N.H., and graduated at Harvard in 1837. He was the distinguished ethno-graphist and philologist of the United States Exploring Expedition to the Pacific under Commodore Wilkes in the early forties, and since that time he has occupied an almost unique position as a collector of languages and mythologies in North America. His eighty years of life have been filled with labour and honour, and from no part of the world will come more sincere expressions of regret than from his friends in New Zealand.