Volume 93 1984 > Volume 93, No. 1 > The complementarity of history and art in Tutamure meeting-house, Omarumutu Marae, Opotiki, by T. Amoamo, T. Tupene and R. Neich, p 5-38
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Tūtāmure meeting-house (Fig. 1) at Ōmarumutu Marae near Ōpōtiki was opened in May 1901. Tūtāmure is the major ancestor of the Ngāti Rua people of ōmarumutu, one of the subtribes of Te Whakatohea. Mākeo (Fig. 2), the flat-topped fortress of Tūtāmure, (5) dominates the district about Ōmarumutu, also providing, as its name implies, a completely clear view of the Bay of Plenty as far as the horizon.

Ōmarumutu Marae is situated on the edge of the coastal terrace overlooking the sea, with White Island directly in front. Down on (10) the coastal flat below the marae is the three-acre ancestral cemetery of Ngāti Rua, known as Te Rangi-o-matanui. At the north-east corner of the marae on the edge of the terrace is the main ceremonial entrance, through a memorial arch erected in memory of Karera Waaka (Clara Walker), a chieftainess of Whakatohea.

(15) On either side of the marae (Fig. 4) are monuments to soldiers who fell overseas, while towards the terrace edge is a memorial to Te Awanui Aporotanga, Matanuku Whakatatare, Te Hata Raikete and Turikore Charles Frederick Leggett. The dining hall is named Hine-i-Kauia after the wife of Tūtāmure and is adjoined to the (20) Ōmarumutu War Memorial Hall which was opened on March 15, 1961. The War Memorial Hall is completely decorated inside with carvings, tukutuku and kōwhaiwhai, all done by local people under the supervision of Pine Taiapa.

Before Tūtāmure house, an earlier manuka and nikau house (25) with earth floor, called Ruatākena, stood on the Ōmarumutu Marae slightly to the east of the present Tūtāmure. Tūtāmure house itself is about 48 feet long by 24 feet wide with a porch

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(L-R). Mohiti Mio, Tuhi Tupene, Tiwai Amoamo and Peter Papuni in front of Tūtāmure house, Ōpōtiki. May 8, 1977.
Tūtāmure house looking inland to the conical hill topped with the terraced earthworks of the fortress of Mākeo, once occupied by Tūtāmure.
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about 5 feet deep. It has a carved koruru, amo, raparapa and a carved head standing in the centre of the porch where the original (30) paepae used to be. This head was said to be noa and could even be sat upon, as opposed to all the other tapu carvings. The koruru is Tūtāmure himself, the true right amo is Āmoa and the true left amo is Mataahi (Fig. 3). The house inside is panelled, with plain poupou and fluted lining in the ceiling. The rafters and the massive (35) ridge-pole are decorated with kōwhaiwhai in red and white. At the base of each rafter, beautiful expressive colourful paintings tell the history of the house and the Ngāti Rua people.

The two main builders and carvers of Tūtāmure house were Te Awanui Aporotanga and Tupara, assisted by Waiapu Te Tawhiro, (40) Raimona Papuni, Matiu Repanga, Morehu Heremia, Ponaho Porikapa, Tauha Nikora and others of the Ngāti Rua hapu.

Taken generally in order around the house, the figurative paintings explain the historical circumstances and events relating to the building of Tūtāmure. Beginning at the front interior of the house (45) on the true right (that is, looking out from within the house), the paintings on the first (Fig. 5) and fourth rafters (Fig. 8) show soldiers involved in the chase after Te Kooti. The second painting (Fig. 6) shows the men of Ngāti Rua felling trees up in the bush about Toatoa before the building of Tūtāmure. From that time, (50) this area has become known as the Ngāti Rua bush. By this means the Ngāti Rua raised £400 to build the meeting-house. Another bush-felling scene is depicted on the eleventh rafter (Fig. 15).

The fifth and sixth rafters on the right and left of the house bear paintings which are believed to be Maori kites (Figs 9, 10, 23, (55) 24). Ōmarumutu Marae was well known as a favourite kite-flying spot when the sea breeze swept in over the terrace-edge.

On the seventh rafter (Fig. 11), and on many others in the house, is a painting of a plant standing in an ornamental vase. These probably represent the types of forest trees that were being (60) felled in the back.

A frontal view of a European sailor appears on the eighth rafter (Fig. 12). This represents the Pākehā who, along with some men of Ngāti Rua, manned the tribe's own scow called “Kaikaahu”. At this time, the Ngāti Rua raised sheep and cultivated wheat, maize (65) and other crops on the 2000 acres of Ōpape No. 3 block. They had their own woolshed here also. “Kaikaahu” carried the Ngāti Rua produce from Ōpōtiki to Auckland. In Ōpōtiki itself, Ngāti Rua had a half-acre section of land with some buildings on it, which was used as a stopover when the people were in Ōpōtiki to load

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The frontal carvings of Tūtāmure house, removed for renovations. (L-R) Amoa, Mataahi, unnamed noa head, Tūtāmure.
The Omarumutu Marae with the Hine-i-Kauia dining hall and monuments on the marae. Tiwai Amoamo explaining a point in the history to Roger Neich.
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(70) their scow. This section in Church Street, Ōpōtiki, is still owned by Ngāti Rua. All the kauri timber flooring of Tūtāmure house was brought down from North Auckland on the “Kaikaahu”.

The thirteenth painting along the right side (Fig. 17) is a portrait of Awanui Aporotanga himself, while the next, final painting (75) on the right side (Fig. 18) is a portrait of Tupara.

Other portraits of men on the left side of the house (Figs 27-32) possibly represent those who assisted in the erection of the house.

The fifth rafter in on the left side (Fig. 23) bears a kite or coat of arms with a faint tattooed face showing through. A possible ex- (80) planation of this face was suggested in that one of the workers, Repanga Tupara, was injured during the bush-felling operation when a tree fell on top of him. A stretcher had to be improvised and he was carried back to Ōmarumutu. After treatment with Maori medicine he survived. The faint face may be a reminder of this accident.

(85) Tūtāmure's massive ridge-pole or taahu is shaped out of a single tree that was felled at Oiretiti, well inland from Ōmarumutu. Here the tree was semi-trimmed before being dragged by horses for four miles down the Te Wairoa section of the Waiaua River. They stopped for the first night at (90) Tokomanawa, the home district of Waiapu Te Tawhiro, one of the workers. The next day the taahu resumed its journey through Whataakao below Mākeo until it reached Te Paoro, at the mouth of the Waiaua River below Ōmarumutu Marae. Here they rested for another night. On the final day the huge taahu was dragged up (95) the old track which ran straight up the terrace bank to the marae. In those days, Ngāti Rua had many homes around the marae and all the people were assembled to welcome the taahu. The women danced a haka to encourage the workers as the taahu was edged up the final steep slope of its long journey.

(100) Now, the Ngāti Rua people have begun renovations on Tūtāmure house. The house will be raised, new foundations will be put in, the roof replaced, and the interior renovated. Money for these renovations has come firstly from funds raised and set aside by the Ringatu church over 50 years ago at Orangipakakino. Our (105) elders Tuakana Charles Frederick Leggett, Tu Pene, AmoAmo te Riaki, Himiona Kahika and many others contributed. Most recently, there have been contributions by the young people of Ngāti Rua now living and working in the cities. All the labour is being supplied voluntarily by the Ngāti Rua working in their holidays (110) and whenever time is available.

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Being well aware of the artistic and historical value of their paintings, the Ngāti Rua are also taking every care to ensure that (113) the paintings are faithfully preserved for all time.

FIGURE 5. Right side painting 1. Soldier in the chase after Te Kooti. Probably in the uniform of the Armed Constabulary.

FIGURE 6. Right side painting 2. Men felling trees in the Ngāti Rua bush. Note the elements of perspective and the portrayal of one instant of time.

FIGURE 7. Right side painting 3. European man and woman in dress of the period. Note the oblique profile of the woman's face.

FIGURE 8. Right side painting 4. Described by Tiwai Amoamo as soldiers engaged in the pursuit of Te Kooti. However, the uniform is that of New Zealand soldiers at the time of the Boer War.

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FIGURE 9. Right side painting 5. Two Maori kites above a coat of arms.

FIGURE 10. Right side painting 6. A Maori kite.

FIGURE 11. Right side painting 7. Plant in an ornamental vase. Thought by Tiwai Amoamo to represent the types of trees that were being felled by Ngāti Rua.

FIGURE 12. Right side painting 8. The European sailor employed by Ngāti Rua to man their scow “Kaikaahu”.

FIGURE 13. Right side painting 9. Plant in ornamental vase.

FIGURE 14. Right side painting 10. Plant in ornamental vase with “Tena koutou” printed in the curved design.

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FIGURE 15. Right side painting 11. Another bush-felling scene with perspective elements.

FIGURE 16. Right side painting 12. Plant in ornamental vase.

FIGURE 17. Right side painting 13. Portrait of Awanui Aporotanga, one of the main builders of Tūtāmure house.

FIGURE 18. Right side painting 14. Portrait of Tupara, the other main builder of Tūtāmure house.

FIGURE 19. Left side painting 1. Unidentified portrait.

FIGURE 20. Left side painting 2. A coat of arms bearing the words “Haeremai ki te whare”.

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FIGURE 21. Left side painting 3. Unidentified portrait.

FIGURE 22. Left side painting 4. Plant in vase.

FIGURE 23. Left side painting 5. Maori kite or coat of arms with a tattooed face showing faintly underneath. This is suggested to be the face of Repanga Tupara, who was injured during the tree-felling.

FIGURE 24. Left side painting 6. A Maori kite.

FIGURE 25. Left side painting 7. Plant in vase.

FIGURE 26. Left side painting 8. Indeterminate design.

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FIGURE 27. Left side painting 9. Unidentified portrait. Probably painted by the same hand as the portrait of the European sailor.

FIGURE 28. Left side painting 10. Unidentified portrait.

FIGURE 29. Left side painting 11. Unidentified portrait. The only painting of a person in traditional Maori dress.

FIGURE 30. Left side painting 12. Unidentified portrait.

FIGURE 31. Left side painting 13. Unidentified portrait.

FIGURE 32. Left side painting 14. Unidentified portrait. Note the oblique shoulders.

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Two recent commentaries on the relations of ethnohistory to anthropology and history have both remarked on the relative neglect of folk history as a self-contained system of knowledge and belief (Carmack 1972, Sturtevant 1968). They contrast this neglect with the frequent appropriation of fragments of folk history by historians and anthropologists to use as evidence for their own historiography. This neglect can also be contrasted with the intensive discussion devoted to assessing the validity of a wide range of types of oral traditions as sources for historical evidence, stimulated largely by the work of Vansina (1965, 1971). Consequently, this is the situation that Sturtevant had in mind when he described folk history:

The study of folk history, of the systematic and unsystematic knowledge of the past and the functions of historical tradition in a particular culture, is a form of ethnography. One of the principal ways in which the past influences the present is that ideas about the past — whether they are true or false is irrelevant in this context — are part of the present ideational system affecting present behaviour. Studies of folk history need not involve evaluation of the validity of tradition as historical evidence in the academic sense, although in fact most such studies have mixed these two approaches and have not clearly distinguished the description of folk history as a system of knowledge and belief from comparison of it with academic historiography (Sturtevant 1968: 462).

Defined as the view that a particular society has of its own past, folk history is an integral part of a group's culture and is to be studied as a special aspect of ethnographic reconstruction (Carmack 1972: 239). However, despite widespread acceptance of the central importance of this view of the past for informing and guiding present behaviour, Carmack and Sturtevant were hard pressed to find examples of studies of folk history. One aspect of folk history that has been investigated more frequently is a people's cultural concept of time, but to be truly effective such investigations also need to take account of the possible coexistence of various concepts of time and the ever-changing relationships between these concepts. Attempts to assign generalised concepts of “timeless”, cyclical and linear views of time to different levels of cultural evolution (Kirsch and Peacock 1970) are inadequate for our purposes here. More helpful in this regard are studies which examine the interaction and interdependence of myth and history, such as Finley (1965), - 21 who clarifies the need to define the scope and purpose of a society's “interest” in the past, Munz (1956) who describes “the distension of myth into history and the telescoping of history into myth”, and Andriolo (1981) who exposes the inadequacy of a simple myth/history opposition by considering the interrelationships of all terms in the myth/history semantic domain. Andriolo suggests that her general model of myth, representing the past in terms of field relations and replication processes (whereas history represents the past in terms of directional vector relations and differentiation processes), may have special utility for the analysis of literary documents in which mythic and historic cognition coexist. In a strong criticism of Vansina's “literalist fallacy”, Willis (1980) has demonstrated the need to analyse the cosmology generating the myth or folk history, before extracting portions of the narrative which appear plausible from our point of view.

These general comments on the study of folk history are directly applicable to the state of the study of folk history in New Zealand Maori research. Until very recently, research on Maori folklore has been dominated firstly by the search for the origins of the Maori (Sorrenson 1977) and secondly by the attempt to use genealogies to calculate absolute dates for their migrations to New Zealand and their subsequent activities before the arrival of Europeans. Detailed critical analysis of the sources of the migration traditions by Simmons (1976) has exposed the idea of a “Great Fleet” of canoes arriving in about A.D. 1350 as a European imposition and synthesis of widely dispersed regional traditions. The general acceptance of this manipulated synthesis by both Maoris and Europeans has severely distorted much of the subsequent scholarship on Maori traditions (Henige 1974). However, beyond any questions of historical authenticity, Orbell (1975) has briefly indicated the social, political and religious significance of each regional migration tradition for the tribe that owns it. Probably the most successful attempt so far to treat Maori folk history as a body of knowledge and belief is Binney's (1979) account of the millenial movement led by Rua Kenana, but she still felt constrained to encapsulate the portions of Maori folk history within an overarching European historical framework. Several field workers, including myself (Neich 1983), have used oral history about meeting houses as a source of fragments of “objective historical data” for comparative studies of meeting house arts and architecture, but nobody has examined one of these histories for its function and significance as an integral body of knowledge and belief.

As Kuschel and Monberg (1977:92-3) have commented, researchers under the strong influence of Vansina (1965) have been so concerned with the historical validity of oral traditions that they have neglected to - 22 explore the deeper messages that apparently “historical” traditions are being used to convey. And further, the decoding of these messages may take place on several levels of understanding, depending on the age, sex, linguistic competence and cultural background of the listeners. Therefore, before oral traditions are evaluated for their “historical” validity and cultural significance, they need to be viewed as messages transmitted between specific individuals, since their form and their validity are dependent not only on who transmits but also on who receives the message. This recognition of the positive role of the listener and audience in actually sharing in the creation of the form of the narrative in which it will be recorded also underlies Grele's (1975) description of the product of oral history interviews as “conversational narratives”. This product is conversational because of the relationship of interviewer and interviewee, and narrative because of the form of exposition - the telling of a tale (Grele 1975:135). Treating the meeting-house history as a conversational narrative, various sets of relationships need to be analysed. Grele (1975:136) lists these as the internal relationship of linguistic, grammatical, and literary structure within the text, the relationship of interaction between interviewer and interviewee in psychological and sociological terms, and finally, the relationships generated by the dialogue between informant and the historical interests of the interviewer and the dialogue between the informant and his own historical consciousness. Grele reminds us that the informant implicitly accepts his own views of historical processes as a given reality in his world, but this historical consciousness is only part of a much broader cultural vision and cognitive structure. To analyse this structure requires a very special type of reading, that method which Althusser has termed “symptomatic”. Lacey (1980) has used Grele's formulation to advantage in an analysis of Enga oral history sources as conversational narratives, stressing the dialogue and cultural interaction behind the production of the “text”.

The Context of the “History of Tūtāmure Meeting-house”

Defining the context of an item of folklore as the specific social situation in which that particular item is actually employed (Dundes 1978:27), it becomes necessary to note the differences between the context of collection and the normal context of use. The context of collection of this “History of Tūtāmure Meeting-house” would approximate the typical case when the history and importance of the meeting-house and its art have to be explained to interested European visitors, differing here only in the teller's concern that all details should be recorded accurately, since he knew that I was recording the history for the archives - 23 of the National Museum of New Zealand. The other typical case would be when the history was related to members of the subtribe assembled in the meeting-house for various community functions. On these occasions the history would be told partly in the Maori language and partly in English, or successively in both languages, for the benefit of younger tribal members who do not understand the Maori language. Details would also be deleted or expanded to suit the audience.

The history was related to me in English by Tiwai Amoamo on the site in May 1977. He used certain Maori technical terms that are commonly expected to be understood by Europeans interested in Maori matters and these are preserved in the text here. The actual wording of the text uses his vocabulary, but with some expansion into complete sentences by me at the request of Tiwai Amoamo, who planned to use the text for an article on the renovations of the meeting-house to be published in the local newspaper. This final text has been inspected and approved, with some corrections, by Tiwai Amoamo in 1983. Thus, in most essential respects, this text represents the things that Tiwai Amoamo believed were important for an understanding of the significance of this meeting-house. He also had explicit opinions about details that he felt were irrelevant in this context.

Tiwai Amoamo is a principal elder of the Ngāti Rua, aged in his early seventies in 1977. Therefore, he was not born until several years after the opening of Tūtāmure house. While relating the history to me, Tiwai often checked details with Tuhi Tupene, another elder of Ngāti Rua. Tuhi Tupene is a few years older than Tiwai. According to Tiwai, Tuhi Tupene learnt the history from his adoptive father, Matiu Repanga. Nowadays, Tiwai lives in Ōpōtiki, about 20 km away from the marae, as do many of the Ngāti Rua; but the marae and its meeting-house remain as a major focus of tribal life and aspirations. When the two museum photographers and I visited the marae in 1977 to record the house and its history, the house was in the process of being renovated, rendering it tapu to the presence of women. Therefore, although it was not requested, the female museum photographer refrained from approaching the house.

The Complementarity of Verbal and Visual Narrative in Tūtāmure Meeting-house

Tūtāmure meeting-house is one of a group of meeting-houses, built in the eastern areas of the North Island during a relatively short period between 1880 and 1930, in which several traditions of figurative painting replaced the usual relief carvings of tribal ancestors. This period also saw the development of elements of perspective in previously non-perspective - 24 Maori art. In the oldest surviving examples from the 1880s, traditional carving designs are transposed into painting but still preserve their basis in non-perspective, full-frontal and full-profile figures. This non-perspective basis still persists even when European motifs and content are incorporated into quite realistic representations of Maoris and Europeans. Thus heads are in full-frontal or full-profile, bodies show unnatural articulation as limbs are presented in their most characteristic aspect, and relative sizes of figures are used to represent hierarchy rather than distance in space. Ancestors presented in this mode still display a timeless relevance to the living and are spaced out around the meeting-house according to their genealogical relationships. But within a few years, oblique profiles appear, and there are attempts at portraiture of historically important people, scenes of landscape, and historical events. The development of a linear view of historical time is made explicit in some houses by about 1900 where each panel or vignette around the house shows a particular event in the history of the tribe, to be read progressively as one moves around the house. This new narrative art is always in various degrees of perspective. In other houses of the same period and sometimes in association with narrative scenes, still-life scenes of Victorian-style pot plants (often in perspective) are apparently used to convey meaning according to the symbolic values of the plants depicted.

Written text is often introduced into these paintings to make the time and space reference clear. All of these later features are present to some extent in the small paintings at the base of each rafter in the interior of Tūtāmure house. Although the identity of the painter or painters has not been remembered, it is almost certain that the paintings were done at the time the house was erected or very soon after.

In telling the history to me, Tiwai Amoamo commenced by welcoming us informally on to the marae; then, still outside with the geographical features in view acting as mnemonics, he related the first part of the history. After this, we moved inside the house and the history was continued as Tiwai led me from one painting to the next, generally in the order reflected in the history. Sometimes we would back-track or jump ahead, especially in order to clarify a point raised by me. These diversions helped to reveal that the geographical and archaeological features of the district, the buildings and monuments on the marae, and the order of paintings inside the meeting-house, all provided a progressive syntagmatic order to the narrative. I will also argue that these features provide the elements and relationships for the paradigmatic structure of the history and its significance.

Although this history is much fuller than most recorded histories of - 25 painted houses, Tiwai Amoamo would agree with me that some of the exact denotations and symbolism of the paintings in Tūtāmure house have been forgotten or have become confused. The art of figurative painting in meeting-houses did not require long training under the supervision of technical and ritual experts as did the traditional art of carving. Figurative painting did not have a long-established body of conventional symbolism that the student learnt and absorbed during his training, as happened in the training of carvers. Consequently, figurative painting was more of an individualistic art where the painter had more freedom to invent his personal symbolism. Some of this symbolism was learnt and transmitted by the community, but the more esoteric details were soon forgotten. Figurative painting in meeting-houses was also devalued as a non-traditional art during the 1930s and 1940s, under the influence of the Government-sponsored revival of traditional carving and non-figurative kōwhaiwhai painting. In many houses, figurative paintings were removed or painted over with traditional geometric designs, and their existence was forgotten by the local people. It is only very recently that official recognition and appreciation have encouraged the restoration and preservation of this art, but already much of the detailed symbolism has been lost. The unusually full history related by Tiwai Amoamo allows us to better understand meeting-house histories as a particular type of modern Maori narrative folklore, even in the more common cases where only fragments have been preserved.

The Meeting-house History as Part of Maori Oral Folklore

The Maori recognises an extensive range of categories of oral folklore, among them whakapapa (genealogy), karakia (ritual chants), whakataukī (proverbs), mōteatea (song-poetry), haka (verbal texts for posture dances), waiata-a-ringa (action-songs), whai-kōrero (speeches) and kōrero (stories). Metge (1976:2) has noted that the Maori operate several overlapping classifications of folklore rather than one comprehensive one. She instances the grouping of a wide range of stories together as kōrero tūpuna (ancestor stories) or kōrero o ngā rā o mua (stories of past days) contrasted by implication with stories of the present day. Within the category of kōrero o ngā rā o mua, Maoris distinguish kōrero o nehera or kōrero onamata which are “stories of ancient times”, in particular stories about or preceding the migration to New Zealand, whether concerning gods or men. A different distinction of stories may be made between kōrero pūrākau and kōrero pakiwaitara where pūrākau denotes serious stories about relatively recent subtribal ancestors and local legends, while pakiwaitara refers to amusing gossip and scandal. Another independent division of folklore is that into the - 26 kauwae runga (celestial lore pertaining to the gods, the cosmogonic myths, and the primal parents and their offspring) and the kauwae raro (terrestrial lore dealing with the migrations, historical traditions and tribal history).

Meeting-house histories could be regarded as a type of kōrero pūrākau, but elements of, and allusions to, many of the other categories occur in the meeting-house history. However, of much more importance than the mere identification of mythical and legendary elements and allusions in the meeting-house history, is the necessity to realise that this history can only attain its full meaning and significance when understood within the wider body of Maori myth and legend. As Munz (1956:3) says: “People who know of myths will never look at the totality of res gestae; or rather that totality can have neither interest nor significance for them. They may however begin to think historically in the sense that they distend the myth”. Munz explains how they do this by locating parts of the myth in time and space, then filling in the details with factual elements. Eventually this “distension of true myth yields a significant history”, in that the myths provide a framework of significance for viewing and selecting from the totality of res gestae. Thus Munz (1956:5) can assert that the elaboration of a historical narrative depends upon the pre-existence of a myth. As will be seen in the analysis of this meeting-house history, the paradigmatic structure of the history is inextricably integrated with and dependent upon the structure of the world created by Maori myth and legend. Therefore, any attempt to subsume this meeting-house history within the wider body of European history (which depends upon the European myth-view of events) about the settlement of New Zealand can only distort its true significance for the people who have maintained the history as a traditional body of knowledge and belief. Of course, in such times of rapid culture change and culture contact, one cannot simply assume that a meeting-house history is still attributed its significance in terms of the Maori myth-view of the world. However, some direct references and allusions to mythical and legendary elements or motifs do indicate that this history is to be understood within the Maori myth-view of the world. For identifying these elements, Kirtley's Motif-Index of Traditional Polynesian Narratives (1971) is of very limited use. As Kirtley himself comments (1971:vi), some texts from intensely collected areas such as New Zealand have been passed over, and this is reflected in the absence and vagueness of some well-known Maori narrative motifs.

The first allusion to a traditional motif occurs in line 9 when Tiwai makes special reference to the sight of White Island (Whakaari in Maori) about 50 km out to sea. White Island is an active volcano with its posi-- 27 tion clearly marked by a plume of white smoke and occasional darker clouds of ash. In Maori folklore, Whakaari has several very strong associations with Hawaiki. In Arawa tradition, Whakaari is one of the points marking the path of the warming fire sent from Hawaiki to save the exploring ancestor Ngatoro-i-rangi from exposure in the ice and snow of Mount Tongariro (Stafford 1967:22). In Mataatua canoe area traditions, the feared tohunga Te Tahi-o-te-Rangi was purposely marooned on Whakaari, and in one account (Phillipps and Wadmore 1956:29) the taniwha who rescued him was the same Tahu from Hawaiki who piloted the Mataatua canoe to New Zealand. Thus this superficially passing reference to White Island would seem to indicate the continuing religious significance of the canoe migration traditions and the significance of Hawaiki as the home of the dead (Orbell 1975:345). Funeral orations always finish by sending the dead away to Hawaiki to join their ancestors. This association is strengthened when we note that Tiwai's next point of reference (line 11) is the cemetery of the Ngāti Rua people, the most tapu area of any marae complex.

A second traditional motif is the attention devoted to the size of the ridge-pole of Tūtāmure house and the effort necessary to transport it to the marae (lines 85-99). Relative to many other meeting-houses, the ridge-pole of Tūtāmure is not exceptionally large, but this stress on the size and weight of the timber is a literary device to convey the symbolic importance of the ridge-pole. In other narratives, the ridge-pole of a meeting-house may be so heavy that it cannot be raised until the appropriate chant has been performed, in one case the canoe-hauling chant of the Tainui migration canoe (Mokomoko 1898), or the ridge-pole cannot be dragged along until men who have broken the tapu on sexual intercourse have confessed and been replaced in the hauling team. In symbolic terms, the ridge-pole or tāhu in Maori is equated with the tāhu of a tribal genealogy which refers to the stock ancestors of a tribe, listed in a single main descent line beginning with the founding ancestor. This explains the symbolic importance of the ridge-pole as a concrete representation of the lineage of the tribe, essential for validating claims to land ownership and political status. In this light, the journey of the tāhu from the bush lands of the tribe down the mediating river towards the sea and towards Hawaiki assumes a deeper symbolic significance which will be discussed below.

Toward a Structural Analysis of the Meeting-house History

In his structural analysis of the Asdiwal story, Lévi-Strauss (1973:158) provides a useful scheme of analysis that can be adopted for our purposes here. He distinguishes the four levels of the geographic, the techno- - 28 economic, the sociological and the cosmological, noting that the first two levels are “exact transcriptions of reality; the fourth has nothing to do with it, and in the third real and imaginary institutions are interwoven”. Although Lévi-Strauss does comment that these levels are not separated out by the native mind, his attempt to relate these levels to “reality” seems to introduce some unnecessary confusion. Granting that he is referring to the native conception of reality and not some ultimate objective reality to which he has privileged access, it is clearly useful to differentiate between sociological institutions which do exist in native society and those that have been invented or constructed by inversions and permutations for the purposes of the narrative. But to say that the cosmological level has “nothing to do with” reality, even the native conception of reality, is surely an exaggeration. In the case of this meeting-house history at least, treating “cosmology” as an ordered system of ideas about the universe (Oxford English Dictionary), I would maintain that it is the cosmological level of the narrative that reflects, and perhaps even helps to structure, the native conception of reality. Certainly, Lévi-Strauss and many of his followers have demonstrated that, while myth has its own logic, it is the mythic events that have established the world as the tellers know it. Furthermore, as Metge (1976:8) says: “This dimension of reality did not cease to be when the world as known to man was created, but continues to exist alongside (or around) it”. Insofar as the meeting-house history reveals its location in this mythic, ideal, eternal dimension of reality, then we are justified to consider the relations between the cosmological level of the narrative and “reality”.

Looking first at the geographic level of the narrative, the text makes explicit the typical orientation of a coastal marae on the narrow plain or terrace between the farmlands and forestlands of the tribe extending inland and the wide view of the Pacific Ocean seawards. This inland-seaward opposition provides the main axis of orientation for a marae, demonstrating the persistence of a widespread ancestral Polynesian distinction between the directions of tai (seaward) and uta (land-ward). The regularities of marae orientation within this distinction have been phrased by Austin (1976:233) in terms of enclosure and openness as follows: “The marae is located in the natural landscape so that it faces outward to open elements (sea, plain) and is backed by closing elements (hills, mountains, bush) and seems to run parallel to rivers. These landscape features appear to always relate to the marae and they have legends and stories attached to them which are frequently referred to by orators”. The Waiaua River, White Island and the fortress-hill of Mākeo are clearly such key landscape features of Ōmarumutu, locating the marae in a tradition-defined natural world. Being well known locally as a - 29 stronghold of Tūtāmure, the reference to Mākeo immediately sets the marae into a time reference as well, relating its significance to the time of such legendary ancestors. Austin (1976:233) goes on to comment that the closure of the natural landscape is reinforced by a meeting-house, the facade and porch of which are a restatement of the landscape relationship at building scale. Various statements about the direction that a meeting-house should face can then be reconciled by the general rule that houses face the openness. However, I would extend Austin's comment about the meeting-house as a restatement of the landscape relationships to argue that the actual architecture of the house in fact defines the directions of the landscape in which it occurs as “front” and “rear”. Without the meeting-house at the focus of the landscape pointing out where is “front” and “rear”, the notions of enclosure and openness would have little cultural significance. Hence the landscape of openness becomes the front, and the landscape of enclosure becomes the rear. The Waiaua River, which figures so prominently in the narrative (lines 89-93), has its source in the high inland mountains of the tribal territory, then traverses the farmlands of the people before reaching the sea close below the marae. I will argue that in this narrative, and hence in Ngāti Rua thought generally, the Waiaua River, running from the rear to the front, represents the major mediator between inland bush and Hawaiki-related ocean, between autochthonous land-based ancestors, and ancestors who arrived in the Mataatua migration canoe from Hawaiki across the Pacific.

Turning directly to the sociological level in order to elucidate this argument, it is first necessary to know that among the tribes that trace their descent from the crew of the Mataatua migration canoe, including the tribe of Te Whakatohea, a tribe is said to derive its mana, its prestige and nobility through the descent lines from the canoe people, while its land claims rest ultimately on descent from the aboriginal people of the land, in this case the Tini-o-Toi (the myriads of Toi the Woodeater). Among other tribes, those descending from the crew of the Arawa canoe for example, both territorial rights and inherited status depend on their descent from such land-claiming ancestors as Ngatoro-i-rangi (Biggs 1966:451). According to the Mataatua canoe traditions (Best 1925:135), only five of the crew of Mataatua settled along the coast near present-day Ōpōtiki and married into the Tini-o-Toi. Their children nearly all married into the Tini-o-Toi in the succeeding generations, to such an extent that Te Whakatohea are basically an aboriginal tribe with only a strain of canoe immigrant descent, although it is through this strain that the tribe has to derive its prestige and status. This difficulty is mitigated by the journey of the ridge-pole as the concrete representation of the lineage of - 30 the tribe from its source in the interior forest lands of the tribe, down the river with overnight stops at settlements of the people, until emerging with much ceremony and rejoicing at the site of the marae, the focus of the people's pride and prestige and their visible link with the source of mana from Hawaiki. In this way, the links of the Ngāti Rua people to their aboriginal origins were gathered together into the symbol of the tāhu as it passed through their lands and transported these associations to join with the mana from across the ocean. Hence, the narrative sets up the very powerful imagery of the ridge-pole as genealogical mediator travelling down the length of the Waiaua River as geographical mediator.

The mention of other geographic details in the narrative, such as the trade between Ōpōtiki and the large city of Auckland, and the tribe's ownership of land in the European town of Ōpōtiki (lines 61-73), clearly serves to demonstrate the participation of Ngāti Rua in the modern European world of commerce. Hence the connotations of such commercial relationships would seem to have cosmological implications, especially with regard to concepts of time, as evidence of new sorts of tribal activities in modern historical time. The European dress and hairstyles of most of the personages depicted in the interior paintings also serve to reinforce this link to modern times, demonstrating a careful observation of changing styles from the time of the chase after Te Kooti until the turn of the century. Similarly, the techno-economic details are introduced to mark a cosmological transition in the Ngāti Rua view of the world that the Tūtāmure meeting-house was intended to celebrate. Thus, the plank timber flooring of Tūtāmure house is contrasted to the earthen floor of the earlier Ruatākena (lines 24-26), the trees were felled and sold to raise money to build Tūtāmure house with imported flooring instead of using their own timber as would have been done in earlier times (lines 51, 71-2), and finally, Tiwai emphasises the modernity of the renovation plans (lines 100-113) thereby projecting the symbolism of the house as a celebration of modernity into the future.

Tūtāmure House as a Model of the Modern Ngāti Rua Cosmos

When understood as an entity, the structure of Tūtāmure house and its associated folk art and narrative folk history are seen to constitute a coherent model of the modern Ngāti Rua view of their world and of their place and time in that world (Fig. 33). Salmond (1978) has already suggested some of the symbolic associations through which a meeting-house constitutes a model of the traditional Maori cosmos. In the case of Tūtāmure meeting-house, this model has undergone various logical transformations in order to encompass and express changes in the tradi-

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Tūtāmure house as model of the modern Ngāti Rua cosmos.
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tional cosmos. These logical transformations display some interesting similarities and some significant differences to the transformations described by Kernot (1983) in the Ngatokowaru house at Levin.

The Maori view of time has been previously investigated, but never systematically related to their view of history and the significance of events in the past. It has been said that, in Maori thought, time is a continuous stream or sequence of events and processes, ordered simply by their relative position. There is no concept of an abstract absolute time, only a relative time or a qualitative description of periods. Time itself, then, is considered as something belonging to the action, not an external absolute (Marsden 1975:218). Thus “the actions of the kinship group are not only significant as true expressions of life in the ancestors, but also of life in the living; for the same life, the same mana is active through the history of the kinship group” (Johansen 1954:152). Or again, the Maori “thinks history because he lives history” (Johansen 1954:152). This means that the ancestors are still very much alive and relevant to Maoris in the present. They are often spoken of in the present tense, and support their descendants in present crises (Metge 1976a:70).

The structural analysis of the Tūtāmure house history will not contradict the view of time summarised above, but it will need to be modified to allow for two concepts of time coexisting, one relating to the timeless ever-present world of the ancestors, and another relating to the passing world of modern historical events leading into the future. The former is the world of myth and legend, constantly replicating itself and maintaining its relevance to the present, while the latter is the world of progressive directional history. Between these two concepts of time relating to two worlds is a boundary or threshold, a place of power and tapu where one does not linger. This outline of two coexisting concepts of time has arisen directly from consideration of the folk history narrative, aided by an awareness of the way in which narrative constructs its own time structures by relating events in configurations beyond the mere episodic dimension (Ricoeur 1980). However, several writers on Maori culture, from Thomas Kendall in 1823-24 (Binney 1980) to Metge (1976a:55-8), have described various states of existence recognised by the Maori. The correlations between these formulations and the one presented here are still unclear, but all three agree in contrasting a finite limited world of men and mortality with an infinite timeless spiritual realm. There are some indications in this text, and in wider studies of Maori culture, of the relevance of Bloch's (1977) correlation of ritual activity with cyclical time and practical activity with linear progressive time, and his contention that people with a strong social structure and ritual life live in a timeless present where the present is a mere manifes- - 33 tation of the past. However, the ensuing debate about Bloch's views (e.g., Appadurai 1981, Boudillon 1978, Burman 1981, Howe 1981) takes the question far beyond the scope of this study.

In terms of the structure of the meeting-house explicated in the history, the front of the house facing the sea is the region of timeless myth and legend represented by the non-perspective full-frontal carvings of the ancestors Tūtāmure, Āmoa and Mataahi. The heroic exploits of these three are well known to present-day Ngāti Rua. They all belong to the period before European settlement in the area. Tūtāmure, the ancestor with whom Ngāti Rua now most closely identify themselves, is a direct descendant through eight generations from Tauturangi, the captain of the Nukutere migration canoe which landed at Ōpape when this was the mouth of the Waiaua River (Lyall 1979:21). After his famous adventures against Kahungunu on the Mahia Peninsula, Tūtāmure returned home to marry Hine-i-Kauia, the daughter of Muriwai and niece of Toroa, the captain of the Mataatua canoe. Te Āmoa, a direct descendant of Tūtāmure, was the grandfather of Aporotanga, who was shot directly after the battle at Te Kaokaoroa in 1864 (Lyall 1979:123). Therefore, Te Āmoa was probably born in the later part of the eighteenth century. Mataahi was one of the main ancestors of Te Whakatohea and an ancestor of one of the main branches of Ngāti Rua (personal communication Tiwai Amoamo, April 19, 1983). Ruatākena, from whom Ngāti Rua receive their name, was commemorated in the name of the earlier meeting-house at Ōmarumutu Marae. Most genealogies (Lyall 1979:32) place Ruatākena two generations below Muriwai.

In the interior of the house behind the porch, all the personages and events depicted in the figurative paintings belong to the recent history of the tribe, to the period since the arrival of Europeans. These paintings are in various degrees of perspective, depicting events and people in European dress at instants in time, progressing in temporal succession and in configurational relationships (Ricoeur 1980) around the walls of the house. From a consideration of the semantic associations of key Maori words, Salmond (1978:10) found a link among the meanings of “front, past time, sacred place, seniority of birth” in contrast to the meanings of “hind part, rear, future time, noa, junior birth”. This opposition agrees closely with the placement of remote past time to the front of Tūtāmure meeting-house, and the recent historical past leading to the future at the rear of the house. In addition, the suggested extension of meaning for the regions of the house — to “sacred” and “seniority” in the front, and “common” and “junior” in the rear — - 34 accords well with Maori attitudes towards the two time concepts represented by these regions.

As a constructional member of the house, the ridge-pole runs the full length of the house, projecting through the transverse porch wall and ending at the apex of the house with the carved face of Tūtāmure. As a symbolic member, the ridge-pole as genealogical tāhu is itself a mediator, linking in unbroken succession the legendary ancestor Tūtāmure at the front to his historical period descendants and their activities at the rear, via the branches of the rafters. As heke, the rafters are also branching descent lines, bearing the painted portraits of Tūtāmure's descendants. The metaphor of the meeting-house as the body of the ancestor with the ridge-pole as his backbone and the rafters as his ribs leading down to figures of his descendants, his iwi, his bones, is also relevant here. Salmond (1978:9) has identified a series of Maori words relating images of hill ridges, lines and threads through a broad concept of mediation and linking, to express aspects of descent, authority and communication.

The symbolic passage for living members of the tribe between the world of myth and the world of history is the doorway to the interior of the house, traditionally recognised in all meeting-houses as a dangerous tapu threshold and boundary between two cosmological orders (Jackson 1972). In older, fully carved meeting-houses, the doorway lintel was surmounted with a carved panel called the pare. Always carved with a rigidly prescribed composition of splayed central figures and profile flanking figures with prominently displayed genitalia, the pare was acknowledged to be the most tapu carving of the meeting-house. Through its rich symbolism of female genitalia associated in Maori thought with death and the removal of tapu, the pare served to remove the dangerous tapu of people, especially strangers, as they crossed the threshold and entered into the body of the tribal ancestor, into the bosom and heart of the tribe. It seems highly significant that in Tūtāmure house, and in most other similar houses built at this time to mark the arrival of their owners in the modern world, the traditional carved pare has been replaced by a panel bearing the name of the house and the date on which it was formally opened (Fig. 1). Thus the boundary-marking role of the pare persists, marking the date when the Ngāti Rua celebrated their awareness that they had made the transition from the mythical/legendary world of their ancestors into the historical world of the recent past that leads into the future. Every time the people pass through the door beneath this dated pare, they are reminded that they are making the same transition continually in their daily lives. According to the theories of Goody and Watt (1963) and Goody (1977), - 35 additional evidence for the transition from a mythical view of the past to a historical view of the past might be found in the fact that the traditional carved pare conveyed its symbolic message by images while the dated pare conveys its message through the medium of the written word. For these theorists, the development of literacy encourages scepticism not only about the legendary past, but also about all received ideas of the universe as a whole. Literacy enables people to set the past apart from the present, and to examine it logically; thereby historical inquiry and the identification of relations of causality between historical events become possible.

It is important to realise that historical time and historical thought have not supplanted mythical time and mythical thought in the world view of the Ngāti Rua people. Both coexist simultaneously, and the people continually make the transition between them, albeit with some difficulties at the threshold; but it is still the mythical/legendary world that provides the ultimate meaning to Ngāti Rua life, in a sense encapsulating the world of historical time. In the view from his marae, and in the symbolism of his meeting-house, the man from Ngāti Rua is able to comprehend both worlds and bring them into focus.


I thank the people of Ngāti Rua for inviting us to record their meeting-house and for their hospitality at Ōmarumutu. I thank Tiwai Amoamo and Tuhi Tupene for telling the history to me. Tiwai also encouraged me to write my own interpretation of the history and gave me permission to publish it. I am grateful to Jean Stanton and Trevor Ulyatt for their photographic skills. Dave White and Mrs White assisted with arrangements and hospitality in Ōpōtiki. The first draft of my essay was written at the University of California, Berkeley, and I thank Professors A. Dundes and N. H. H. Graburn of that institution for their comments and encouragement. The period of study at the University of California was made possible by a New Zealand National Research Advisory Council Fellowship. Bernie Kernot, Sid Mead, Dave Simmons and Dave White have all provided helpful comments.

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