Volume 94 1985 > Volume 94, No. 2 > Two features of oral style in Maori narrative, by A. Thornton, p 149-176
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- 149

Two characteristic forms of the narrative style in ancient Maori myths are particularly striking. The first are repetitions, the second an apparent chronological looseness, if not disorder, also showing repetition of a particular kind. Both these features strike a modern reader as strange, if he does not actively dislike them, because in his literary culture of today they are considered to be faults. Although Maori myths have come down to us in written form, we can be fairly sure that they represent the ancient oral mode of story-telling. According to Biggs (1966:447), “many Maoris were literate in their own language and the material collected was, for the most part, written by Maoris themselves. These scribes wrote as they spoke. The new medium seems to have had little effect on the style or content of the narratives.”


Usually, Maori narrative proceeds very simply in a stringing-along, linear sequence representing events as they would follow each other in actual life. The movement is swift and terse.

Repetition is used to slow down the speed, and to allow space for waiting, looking, experiencing the passage of time or of the gradual development of an action. Time is felt to be long and wearisome when (in Hori Patara's story) Hinepoupou, abandoned by her husband Oriparoa, swims along in Cook Strait in order to reach him:

ka kau te wahine nei i Raukawa, te poo, te ao, te poo, te ao
‘she swam in Raukawa for many days and nights’,

or a little later:

he poo, he ao, he poo, he ao, ka uu
‘. . . while the days and nights passed, until she came to . . .’ (Orbell 1968:92).

What in English is indicated by “many” and “passed” and the plural, in Maori is brought home to feeling by the repetition which makes the listener (or reader) imagine the sequence of night and day, and night and day.

The power of repetition in Maori to express the experience of a long - 150 time is particularly striking in the Coming-to-be of the world in the narrative of Te Rangikaheke. The first two periods of time begin with a repeated phrase ko te poo, ko te poo and ko te kore, ko te kore (Curnow 1983:181 and 65); and both are followed by an enumeration of “nights” and “nothings” from the “first” (ko te poo tuatahi) to a “host of nights” and “nothings” (tuatini). This tremendous build-up of “nights” and “nothings”, which must have been most impressive in oral chanting, penetrates deeply into the chasm of time of old, when all there was was darkness and nothing.

Repetition of activities similarly expresses that something “is going on and on”, and the feeling conveyed by it may be one of frustration. In the story of Hinepoupou, as told by Tuiti Makitanare (Watson and Orbell 1983:20-1), her husband's and her brother-in-law's people are hard-pressed by a storm:

hoe noa te iwi, hoe noa, kore rawa i kaha ki te hoe ki uta
‘though they kept on and on paddling, they were not able to reach the shore.’ 1

Similarly, young Hatupatu, in Te Rangikaheke's version, is reduced to misery by the continued ill-treatment he receives from his brothers, as he eats meagre food outside the house by the fire:

me toona haere ki te taha o te ahi noho ai, me te tangi, me te kai, me te tangi, me te kai, ia rangi, ia rangi (Grey 1971:81, Te Rangikaheke MS.81:71).
‘so when the poor little fellow went and sat down by the side of the fire to his food, he every day used to keep on crying and eating, crying and eating, during his meals’ (Grey 1956:143).

But doubling may also express simply a long journey, as in the story of Hinepoupou and Te Oriparoa by Hori Patara:

haere tonu, ka mahue he rae, ka mahue he rae, ka tae
. . . ‘they made their way past headland after headland, then they came . . .’ (Orbell 1968:98/99).

Or again, in the same story, the threefold repetition of ka rewa makes visible to the imagination the great number of canoes putting out to sea:

Kaaore, ka aaio noa te moana, ka rewa, ka rewa: ka rewa ngaa waka o Te Oripaaroa me tana iwi tonu, he mano.
‘Kaaore! When the sea was quite calm all the canoes of Te Oriparoa put out to sea - a multitude!’ (Orbell 1968:94/95).

A repeated phrase is often followed by the particle aa. When, according - 151 to Te Rangikaheke, Maui urged his brothers to paddle further, they did:

hoe nei, hoe nei, aa, tawhiti noa atu
‘they paddled and paddled far out’ (Biggs 1980:par.13). 2

Here repetition in English readily produces the same effect as in Maori. But the result, namely that they were “far out”, is expressed more vividly in Maori. With aa, attention is halted, and stock is taken of the situation, “they were a long way out”. This combination of repetition and its result is particularly graphic when a gradual process is pictured, one which is watched with bated breath. When Maui throws his fishhook into the sea:

anaa, rere tonu rere tonu, aa ka tae ki te tekoteko
‘down it went, down it went, and — touched the carved figure on the roof’

One would have expected the hook to touch a fish. Again, when he starts to pull up his hook,

haere ake, haere ake, aa ka moorunga taua whare
‘up it came, up it came, and — on the surface was that house’ (Biggs 1980:par.15; A. T. trans.).

Again the catch expected is certainly not a house. 3

There is furthermore a Maori word naawai which specifically denotes ‘regular sequence of events’ (Williams 1971:219). When Maui and his brothers travel to the place where the sun rises, they only travel by night: 4

Ka haere raatou i te poo. A watea rawa ake, noho ana i te tahora. Poo iho, ka haere anoo. Naawai i taawhi, i taawhi, ka tae . . (Biggs 1980:par. 5).
‘They went at night. When it was day they rested in the wilderness, and as night fell they went on again (Biggs trans.), and so they continued to walk by night and rest by day cautiously, cautiously, then they arrived . . .’ (A. T. trans.).

Biggs' translation of naawai as ‘Next day they rest’ cuts down on the repetitiveness of the meaning of naawai. 5 Naawai precedes a repeated word in the phrase

Naawai i poo, i poo, aa, ka maarama
‘For a while it was night, it was night, then, the light came’ (Grey 1971:8; A. T. trans.).

In the story of Hinepoupou in the version of Hori Patara of the Ngatitoa tribe (Orbell 1968:116), the woman Hinepoupou, forsaken by her hus- - 152 band, seeks for an omen from a flower-stalk, which she throws in order to find out the right time for her to follow her husband:

Me te manu e rere ana taua reti; titiro tonu atu, naawai, naawai, aa, ka ngaro
‘Away it sped like a bird; as she gazed after it, it flew further and further away, and finally was lost to sight’ (Orbell 1968:90).

As the translation shows clearly, naawai picks up e rere ana expressing its regular continuation, and by being doubled brings home the very long distance of the arrow's flight. 6

A most powerful effect is produced by a piling up of repetitions in the story of Manaia and Ngatoro-i-rangi (Grey 1971:79). When the latter is in danger of being killed by Manaia and his men, who are spending the night in their canoes anchored near the island of Motiti (off Maketu), where Ngatoro lives, the great old tohunga conjures up a storm. Four times, the wild forces of the elements are enumerated, in varied sequence and with additions. Ngatoro calls up:

i te hau, i te ua, i te whatitiri, i te kanapu
‘wind, rain, thunder, lightning’.

Tawhirimatea, god of storms, lets loose the winds of Pungawere, ko te ua, ko te hau, ko te whatitiri, ko te kanapu, ‘rain, wind, thunder, lightning’. Ngatoro and his wife hear the coming forth o te hau, o te uira, o te whatitiri, o te ua, o te nganga, ‘of the wind, the lightning, the thunder, the rain, the hail’. At the time of parting between night and day, there comes forth te hau, te ua, te uira, te whatitiri me te ngaru katoa o te moana, ‘the wind, the rain, the lightning, the thunder, together with all the waves of the sea’. In the morning, the bodies of Ngatoro's enemies lie piled up on the beach. An oral declamation of this description must have been quite stunning. 7

Repetition is also used in Maori narrative to shape a series of events into a poetic structure. A good example is the description of preparations made by Maui and his companions for catching the sun. The following is Te Rangikaheke's text edited and translated by Biggs, apart from the translation of ka oti (Biggs 1980:par.5). I shall set it out in such a way as to show its form. What is bracketed was omitted by Grey (1971:13).

  • 1. Anaa, kei te hanga i te taiepa oneone, [ka oti,
  • 2. me] 8 ngaa whare raakau, ka oti.
  • 3. Kei te hanga [i te taawhiti, ka oti
  • 4. kei te hanga] i ngaa koro o te rore, [ka oti].
  • 1. ‘Now they built an earthwall, that was done,
  • 2. with wooden shelters, that was done.
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  • 3. They made the trap, that was done
  • 4. they made the noose of the snare, that was done.'

The original narrative is artfully shaped by means of repetitions. The activity of building or making (kei te hanga) is mentioned three times, the completion of a particular item four times, as the first act of building has two objects, the earth wall and the wooden shelters. As the brackets show, Grey cut out ka oti three times and kei te hanga once, and with it i te taawhiti presumably thinking that i ngaa koro o te rore would be sufficient. In this way, the occurrences of kei te hanga and ka oti have been reduced. This would no doubt be more pleasing to the European reader, certainly of 100 years ago. It is striking that Biggs translates ka oti differently each time. He obviously aims at a close, and yet “good”, English translation, and so avoids the literal repetitions of the Maori text. But the Maui story in its authentic form was not shaped for reading and writing, but for oral performance. It is powerfully rhythmical, and probably closer to Maori recited poems than to modern English prose. In our Maori text, it is precisely the repetitions which, stroke on stroke, hammer home the phases of constructing the trap in which the Sun will be caught. Ka oti as denoting the completion of some work or other is, of course, used often and anywhere, but it is not usually used with the craft apparent in this passage. 9

Like Maui's preparations for fettering the sun, the separation of Rangi and Papa is told in a repetitive, carefully structured sequence. The text has again been written down by Te Rangikaheke (GNZMMSS 43:893). 10

1. Aa, whakatika ana a Rongo-maa-taane,
ka wehewehe i a raaua, kore ake i mawehe.
2. Ka whakatika ko Tangaroa,
ka wehewehe, aa, kore ake i mawehe.
3. Ka whakatika ko Haumia,
peenaa tonu,
4. Ka whakatika ko Tuu-mata-uenga,
peenaa tonu.
5. Kaatahi anoo ka whakatika ko Taane-mahuta,
Ka whawhai, kiihai i taea, i taea e oona ringaringa.
6. Kaatahi ka panga toona upoko ki raro,
ko oona waewae ki runga.
Kaatahi ka mawehe a Rangi raaua ko Papa.
1. 'See! Rongo-maa-taane stood up,
tried to separate the two, they were not separated.
2. Tangaroa stood up,
tried to separate the two, see! they were not separated.
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3. Haumia stood up,
the same happened,
4. Tuu-mata-uenga stood up,
the same happened.
5. Then at last Taane-mahuta stood up,
he strove, it was not attained, it was not attained by his hands.
6. Well, then he put his head down and his feet up, then, Rangi and
Papa were separated.'

The gradual achievement of the crucial event in Maori cosmology of the separation of Sky and Earth is built up in such a way as to create the greatest possible escalation. It is constructed in a sequence of six events, grouped in three pairs, performed by five people, the first four actions by four people, the last two by Taane-mahuta. The motif-sequence, which appears five times, in each case proceeds in three steps: a god stands up, tries to separate Rangi and Papa, but does not succeed; finally, the god stands on his head, and succeeds. The first pair of events, namely the attempts of Rongo and Tangaroa, are told in practically identical words. The second pair, being the attempts of Haumia and Tuu, are told in identical words, but in a shorter form which emphasises the repetition. The third pair begins in a significantly different manner: kaatahi anoo 'then at last'. The god's “standing up” is expressed by the same words as before, but his “striving” or “struggling” (whawhai) is more forceful than the “trying” (wehewehe) of the other gods. The result is still a failure, but only a partial one: only a part of the god's body has failed, namely his hands. But “then he put his head down and his feet up”, and he succeeds. Even mighty Tane's hands are not strong enough for the cosmic task. But the head is the most powerful part of a body, human or divine, being charged with tapu. So it is the sacred head of Tane which in the end creates space for day and night, and the world of men.

The instructions which Kupe gives to Toka-akuaku, in the account of Himiana Kaamira of Te Rarawa (Biggs 1957:221-2, 237) about the final work on the Arawa canoe, are composed less dramatically, but with the weight of near-ritual solemnity through their repetitive composition. Toka has asked about the time when the thwarts (taumanu) 11 of the canoe were to be attached. Kupe answers with emphasis: “on the next 'fourteenth days' the thwarts of the canoe will be lashed.” Biggs (1957:237 n.15) comments, “The three nights on which the moon appears to be full”. Since, in ancient times, Maori time-reckoning went by the moon (Best 1959:7, 28), the time of full moon would be most significant.

The work to be done on that day is arranged in four parts each of which is introduced by a reference to those “fourteenth days” in a more or less identical phrase. The arrangement is as follows:

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ko te rangi anoo teeraa on which the battens were lifted into place and the two plumes of the canoe were fastened; detail about plumes; names
Aa, ko te rangi anoo teeraa on which the two lashings of the stern-post were bound; some detail
Aa, ko te rangi anoo hoki teeraa on which the plumed rods of heaven and earth were arranged
Aa, ko te rangi anoo hoki teeraa when the final names were given to each part of the canoe
Kaati teeraa. . .  

After this Kupe turns to the various spells, and the sequence is different. But the matter of the “day of the full moon” is brought up again when Toka-akuaku asks Kupe why they have to wait for that day, and Kupe explains that this custom is not recent, but “it is from the wide-spaced heavens and handed down to us. The word of your ancestors says, ‘do not pierce the hull of Taane until the jaw of Tamatea-kai-ariki (Tamatea eater of chiefs) appears above the horizon’. . .”. 12 The explanation given by Kupe shows that the fourfold, barely varied repetition of ko te rangi anoo teeraa is intended to express the great traditional importance of “that day”.

How would a Maori respond to the oral performance of this kind of repetitive passage? C. A. Wilson (1932:99) describes a young chief telling a story at night to Maoris sitting in “a room of the great meeting-house” round the fire. After hearing the stories written down by Wilson at the instigation of the chief's mother, Maewa Kaihau, the chief himself told a story which he asked Wilson to write down. Wilson writes:

He unfolded the story with all the art of the Maori, and was never interrupted; each hearer's body swayed to its movement, and as the hapless lover walked to his death and the waves drowned for ever his music and his life, tears streamed down their cheeks unchecked. They followed in spirit the wanderings of the bereaved wife. . . .

What is particularly noteworthy in Wilson's account is that, apart from the firelight and a candle beside Wilson himself, it was pitch-dark, since the night was stormy. This means that the whole effect of the story rested on the sound of the voice. There was no “acting” by the story-teller to support the oral performance visually. Furthermore, the telling of this story finished at two in the morning, and was followed by Wilson reading out what he had written down. This fits with precision into the - 156 oral performances of other cultures, where story-telling may even last from sunset till sunrise. 13

Returning to Wilson's description, we observe that “each hearer's body swayed to the movement” of the story, and the “movement” of the story cannot but be the rhythm of its phrases which is felt so intensely by the chief's listeners that they take part in it bodily.


The intense participation of listeners in an oral performance and the story-teller's response to it are also the underlying dynamic of the stylistic form to be discussed in the second part of this paper. I shall first describe it in brief examples, establishing its nature and fixing some terms for its description, and then proceed to more extensive passages.

A brief and clear example is found in the story of the Slaying of the Ngaarara-hua-rau by Te Whetuu o Taranaki (Biggs et al. 1967:36).

rokohanga atu e taua wahine e noho mai ana taua nanakia. Kaatahi ka haoa ki te hiku. Kaahore taua wahine i kite i te hiku. Ko te kitenga o taua wahine i te upoko kaatahi ka oma. No te omanga kaatahi ka haoa mai e te hiku. Tuu ana te wahine nei i waenganui o te nanakia nei.
‘That fellow was found sitting there by that woman. Then she was encircled by the tail. That woman did not see the tail, she saw the head, and then she ran. Because she ran, she was then encircled by the tail. The woman stood in the midst of this fellow.’

As soon as the woman of this story is said to have found the monster, the story-teller proceeds straight to the rather startling event that she was “caught” or “encircled” by its tail. This initial statement is then expanded by an explanation of what preceded, and indeed caused, her being encircled by the tail: she did not see the tail, but she saw the monster's head, and ran (away from it, of course, and so straight into the loop of the tail), and so “she was encircled by the tail”. The initial statement is then repeated with slight variation, “she was then encircled by the tail, the woman stood in the midst of this fellow”. After this, the story moves on to the woman being led to the cave of the monster.

This is not how a modern writer would tell the story. The extraordinary event of the woman being caught by the tail (!) of the monster is the final result of what happens. He would, in all probability, tell the events in their chronological order, leading up to that intriguing and terrifying picture of the woman being caught by the monster's tail.

The oral story-teller's intense eagerness responds to the intensity of listening which surrounds him, and he immediately indicates the whole of the story by telling the beginning and end of it in order to satisfy at - 157 once the desire of his audience to know what they are going to hear about. Then he elaborates “appositionally”, as we shall call it, on the detail of how all this came about. It is the participation in the intriguing or emotionally stirring detail in its full intensity that the listeners enjoy, whether happy or sad, as Wilson's description clearly shows. This “appositional expansion” is finally rounded-off by a return to its starting-point, the “initial statement”, as we shall call it, and from here the story-teller continues with his narration.

It is plain that “chronology”, in the strict sense of time flowing evenly from past to present to future, is irrelevant to this kind of story-telling. Hence the frequent complaints of Pakeha about “confusion” in Maori oral traditions! The precise opposite of the “appositional style” is the narrative method of a detective story, where ignorance of the outcome is crucial, and each clue must be given at the appropriate time in the unravelling of the puzzle.

The term “flashback” has been used by Jenifer Curnow (1983:75) to indicate the order of events in Te Rangikaheke's story of Maui. We shall see that what she refers to are two appositional expansions enlarging on past events. It would, however, be advisable not to use this term with reference to an appositional expansion. A “flashback”, properly speaking, belongs to a literature in which an abstract time-notion is taken for granted, and can therefore be disregarded for the sake of an artifice, or for the sake of play, or of experimenting with time.

The terms “appositional expansion” and “appositional style” have been preferred to using simply “expansion” and “expanding style”, because the stylistic phenomenon described here is quite definite and to some extent narrow. While “ap-position” means much the same as “adding” or “expanding”, the fuller term lends itself less readily to imprecision and vagueness.

There are two interesting examples of the appositional style in the story of Ihurahirahi. Mohi Ruatapu tells of how a child was sent by his parents to fetch water, and how he was drowned.

He tamaiti i haere ki te tiki wai, na ngaa maatua i tono. Ka haere is ki te kawe wai, ka haere te tamaiti ra, ka tae kei te wai (Orbell 1968:54).
‘A child went to fetch water, his parents sent him. He went to bring the water. That child went, he arrived at the water’ (A.T. trans.).

What is the relationship between the three occurrences of haere? The first sentence is the initial statement of what follows. Sentence two is an expansion giving the reason for his going. It moves into the past, that is to the action preceding the child's going, namely the parents sending him off. Sentence three returns to the initial statement, repeating it in similar form, - 158 “he went to bring water”. In the fourth sentence, “that child went”, the first part of the initial statement and of its repetition is picked up, and the story proceeds from here to tell in detail how the boy's errand ended in disaster. He was drowned, and his wairua became an evil spirit.

The story goes on to tell about Ihurahirahi who was possessed by the spirit of the drowned child:

ka haere mai ki Tokomaru nei, toona paa kei Oorangikupa, ka noho i reira, ka rere ki te moana. Ko taua paa he pari tiketike; ka haere te poorangi nei, ka mea te atua, he whenua tonu — kaaore ia i poharu ki te wai. Titiro tonu atu ngaa taangata o uta, e haere atu ana, ka ngaro atu i oo raatou kanohi. Kaaore, ka totohu kei te moana . . .
‘He came here to Tokomaru, his fortress was at Orangikupa, he lived there, he threw himself into the sea. That fortress was a high cliff, this madman went ahead; the spirit told him that it was all land and that he would not sink. The people on the shore watched him go, he was lost from their sight. Amazing! he sank down into the sea . . .’

In the first three simple sentences, the situation of Ihurahirahi is described, followed immediately by the astonishing and crucial event of the story, told baldly and without any preparation: “he threw himself into the sea”. A cluster of appositional expansions follows which in part explain, in part elaborate on the detail of, this event. The first expansion, “that fortress was a high cliff”, refers back to the previous mention of Ihurahirahi's fortress at Orangikupa, enlarging on its position high up above the sea. 14 Then the content of the original statement, “he threw himself into the sea” is told once again, now in full detail, the first part from the point-of-view of Ihurahirahi, the second part from the perspective of the spectators: “he went ahead”. This is explained by the statement that “the spirit told him that it was all land and that he would not sink in the water”. With a change of viewpoint, “the people on the shore watched him go”, and “he was lost from their sight”. What this meant to Ihurahirahi is expressed in the next sentence. The exclamation kaaore “expresses surprise, admiration or wonder” (Orbell 1968:121). To the people on the shore, it must have been obvious that the madman would sink into the water, but not to him, deluded as he was by the spirit. So the story returns from the spectators to Ihu himself. With Ihu's sinking into the sea, the tale returns to the initial statement of these expansions, namely, “he threw himself into the sea”. Now the content of this first bald and undifferentiated statement is richly unfolded in a variety of directions.

Once again, we observe a narrative style in which the outcome of events is reached quickly first, and then the way to that outcome is explored and savoured at leisure.

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Two appositional expansions occur in close succession in the story of the first incest between Tiki-tawhito-ariki and his sister, as told by Te Rangikaheke. Tiki, entranced by the beauty of his sister, goes to the seashore and fashions the shape of a man out of sand. Returning to the village, he finds the women urging his sister to marry a man whose beauty would match her own. Tiki reports that he has found such a man lying on the beach, and proposes that his sister, with others, go to the beach on a roundabout way which would take her to the exact spot.

Aa, haere ana raatou ki te whakatau i taua tangata nei. Ka mea atu a Tiki, “Kaua koutou e haere ma teenaa huarahi, erangi haere ma te huarahi aawhio. Kei te putanga atu ki taatahi o taua huarahi kei reira e takoto ana”. Aa haere ana ma taua huarahi aawhio (Biggs 1952:189).
‘So they went to meet the man. Tiki said to them, “Do not take this path but go the long way round, for it is where that track comes out that he is lying”. So they went by the roundabout way’ (A.T. trans.).

The unqualified initial statement, “so they went to meet the man” is complete in itself, and we tend to expect the sister and her companions to go forthwith. Instead, Tiki advises them to go the roundabout way. This is prior in time to their going, and defines more closely the track which they are going to take. Then the initial statement, “so they went”, is repeated and now qualified in “by the roundabout way”. The sudden movement into the past which is so characteristic of the “expanding” style, and so confusing in English, is mitigated in Biggs's translation, “So they went to meet the man, Tiki saying to them, ‘Do not . . .’”.

The starting-point of the continuation of the story is again the roundabout way.

Aa, haere ana ma taua huarahi aawhio. Ko Tiki i haere ma te huarahi poka tata. Ehara kua tae atu a Tiki ki te aahua oneone i apoapotia ra e ia hei tangata, kua takoto ki raro a Tiki. Kaaore anoo toona tuahine i tae noa mai he ara aawhio i roa ai. Tae tonu atu a Tiki e takoto ana anoo te aahua oneone i hangaa ra e ia. Ka tango atu ia, ka huakina ake ngaa kaakahu, ka takoto ia ki raro i taua aahua oneone nei. Huuhia iho anoo ngaa kaakahu. Kiihai anoo i roa kau iho, ehara, kua tae mai toona tuahine ki reira, . . .
‘So they went by the roundabout way. Tiki took the short cut. Behold, Tiki came to the sand formed by him into the image of a man. Tiki lay down underneath it. His sister had not yet arrived, the roundabout way being longer. As soon as Tiki came (to where) the sand-shape was still lying which had been formed by him, he took hold of (the garments), the garments were opened up, he lay down underneath that - 160 sand-shape. The garments were spread over again. It was not long, behold his sister arrived there . . .’

The sequence of the two events, of Tiki arriving at the sand-shape made by him, and promptly lying down underneath it, is the initial statement of his extraordinary manner of acting which is crucial for the story. It is elaborated twice, first by the explanation that his sister had not yet arrived because of the length of the roundabout way. If she had, he could not have done it. Next, the story-teller returns to Tiki's arrival at the place of the sand-shape, with some variation. The second event, namely his “lying down underneath the sand-shape”, is then fully elaborated: he took off his clothes, lay down underneath the sand-shape, and covered it all up with the clothes. Then the story moves on to “it was not long before his sister arrived”, which also picks up that first expansion, “the sister had not yet arrived”. The difficulty of this passage from the point of view of English is apparent in Biggs's translation (1952:185). The double “he had reached the sand (image)” remains awkward.

In the story about Tiki, the two events or motifs stated initially are repeated in the same order, so that the resultant form might be designated by a b a' b'. But the sequence of the motifs may also be inverted in the return, as in the next two examples.

When the burning of the Arawa canoe was avenged by the death of Raumati and his companions, the head of Raumati was taken by Hautupato to his village.

ko te upoko o Raumati i kawea e Hau-tupato ki toona paa hei tekoteko moo toona paepae whakahoro i toona kaainga, i whakamaua ki runga i te pou purutanga ringa o taua paepae hei tekoteko
‘the head of Raumati being conveyed by Hau-tupato to his village to serve as tekoteko (carved figure, image) for his latrine at his home (lit. “to free his home from tapu); it was fastened on the hand grip post of that latrine as a tekoteko’ (Best 1925:309/trans. 295).

Formally, the return of these two motif-elements of the tekoteko and the latrine results in a chiasmus: a b c b a.

In Grey's story about the high-ranking princess Te Kahureremoa, the young woman rejects the man her father has chosen to be her husband. When, all the same, she is still wanting to eat some of the fish provided by the rejected suitor, her father forbids it.

Heoi anoo ka mate a Te Kahu-rere-moa i te whakamaa, heoi anoo ko te mahuetanga atu anoo o te kete ika ra; mahue tonu atu, ka hoki te wahine nei ki roto i te whare tangi ai. . . . Ka tangi te wahine nei i roto i toona whare, he whakamaa nui (Grey 1971:120-1; probably - 161 GNZMMSS 58, Auckland Public Library).
‘Then Te Kahureremoa was overcome by shame. Then she dropped the basket of fish. Having dropped it she went straight into the house, and wept . . .’ (she thinks that she should leave her father; and she longs for Takakopiri whose nobility and wealth she has seen; his wealth, particularly the variety of food in his possession is enumerated; this is rounded off by a return to the situation within which these thoughts and feelings arose in her:) ‘this woman wept inside her house, her shame was great’ (A.T. trans.).

After this three-stepped return, the narrator moves on: “In the evening she was still weeping; when night came, she decided to run away.” It is interesting to compare Grey's translation (1956:203): “As she thought of all this, the chief's young daughter continued weeping and sobbing in the house, quite overcome with shame.” Here the narrator's presentation by “expansion” and “return” is changed into an objective temporal sequence exhibiting contemporaneity of two events, viz., weeping and thinking. The Maori text does not bear this meaning. The Maori story-teller describes the situation, explains and deepens the girl's sorrow, and rounds off by again mentioning the situation. Having explored its full emotional weight, he then moves on in his story to the next step. The form of this threefold return is once again chiastic: a b c d c' b' a'.

It is also possible for a particular story-teller to use the appositional form of narrative so frequently that it becomes a characteristic feature of his or her style. This is true of the style of the narrator in “Te Kahureremoa” (Grey 1971:120-5). 15

When Te Kahu has decided to leave, and everyone is asleep, she goes off.

ka haere te wahine nei, ka oma raaua ko tana taurekareka, ka haere Te Kahu-rere-moa raaua ko tana taurekareka (121)
‘this woman went off, she and her slave ran, Te Kahureremoa and her slave went off.’

The initial statement of Te Kahu's leaving is elaborated by the addition that “she ran” and that she had a slave as a companion. Her running remains an important motif throughout the story. It is striking that the slave is mentioned again in the return.

Urged to stay by other people,

kiihai i noho, haere tonu, to tama tuu ki roto, tana pai hoki. Ka haere te wahine nei. . . .
‘she did not stay, she went on, a great desire was in her heart, his excellence, too (or: her love, too). This woman went on . . .’.

The expansion gives the reason for her ceaseless moving on.

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Again, looking out over the land from Mount Hikurangi, she directs her gaze towards Otawa.

ka paatai te wahine ra ki ngaa taangata whenua e haere tahi ana i a raaua, ka paatai, ka mea. . . .
‘that woman asked the people of the land who were going along with the two of them, she asked, and she said . . .’.

The expansion explains how it was possible for the woman to ask local people any questions. They had obviously earlier joined her and her slave. A fact which has come about before the initial statement is told after it, by way of explanation, here rather surprisingly as a fait accompli in the present of the action.

Further on in the story (123), the two women hear the fluttering of a bird struck by Takakopiri's spear, and they follow the sound to that place (ki reira).

Kua noho ngaa waahine ra ki raro, rokohanga atu e takoto ana te kai nei a te kuukupa. Ka noho ngaa waahine ra ki raro.
‘The women sat down there, they found a number of pigeons lying there. The women sat down there.’

The fact that the women found the dead pigeons lying there is presumably the reason for their sitting down in that particular place. 16

Presently Takakopiri is described as climbing down from the tree from which he has been spearing the birds (123).

Ka heke iho te tangata ra, ko te here ka waiho kia rere ana, e heke iho ana te tangata ra, kua kite ake ngaa waahine nei. . . .
‘That man came down, he allowed his bird-spear to drop. That man was coming down, these women saw him, and knew him.’

The expansion about Takakopiri discarding his bird-spear indicates the reason for his coming down, viz. his change of interest from spearing birds to making the acquaintance of the foreign women.

The end of the story is festive and jubilant. The girls come to Takakopiri's home and sit down there (125).

Ka hui te tangata ki te maatakitaki, ka mahora te kai, ko ngaa kai o te maunga i mau ra i a raaua te tangata ra e wero ana, mahora mai, mahora mai te kai ma raaua, tuku tonu ake ma te apaarangi, kia ora te noho mai, te maatakitaki mai. . . .
"The people gathered to gaze. Food was spread out, the food of the mountain which the man [Takakopiri] who was spearing birds took in their company(?). It was spread out, spread out was the food before

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the two of them, and it was offered to the multitude to gladden their sitting there and their gazing."

In this instance, the appositional style is combined with the kind of repetition which enhances and emphasises, discussed in Part I of this paper. The initial statement “food was spread out” is elaborated by an explanation of what food it was, and then repeated twice to express the almost overwhelming hospitality and affection of these people; and this hospitality is also extended to the crowd. With the phrase “to gladden their gazing”, their purpose in coming (ki te maatakitaki) is picked up, which has now become actual: satisfied with food they sit there and gaze. The style of this story certainly has a quality of its own.

It is interesting to find that one and the same story may be told in a straight linear way, and then again with appositional expansions. In Te Rangikaheke's text (Curnow 1983:185), the narrative about the theft of Uenuku's breadfruit by Tamatekapua and Whakatuuria, which led to one of the battles at Hawaiki, is told with utter simplicity.

Hoki tonu atu raaua, tiimata tonu te hanga i ngaa waewae raakau mo Tama-te-kapua, aa, ka oti, kaatahi raaua ka haere i te poo, aa ka tae. Ka kite i te pooporo whakamarumaru o Uenuku, kainga e raaua, aa roa kau ake, ka hoki anoo ki too raaua whare. . . .
‘They went straight back [i.e. after the story of Hou-mai-tawhiti's dog being eaten by Toi-te-huatahi], and began building stilts for Tama-te-kapua, and when these were finished, they went off at nightfall and reached Toi's paa. They found Uenuku's sheltering breadfruit tree, and they ate fruit, and not long after, they returned to their house’ (trans. Curnow 226).

In this narrative, all the facts are told in sequence, but there is no explanation of why Tama should want to have stilts, until it becomes obvious that he needs them to pick the fruit from the tree. Nor is anything made of the “sheltering” breadfruit tree.

In Kaamira's story about Kupe, Tamatekapua's theft of the fruit of Uenuku's breadfruit tree is the cause of the “great war” (pakanga nui) at Hawaiki.

Ko te puutake o te pakanga na Tama-te-kapua. He taahaetanga naana i ngaa poroporo whakamarumaru o Uenuku. Ko ngaa poroporo nei he poroporo tapu. I tapu ai koia teeraa te nohoanga tuuturu o te kaumaatua nei. Ko te kaumaatua nei hoki, ko Uenuku, he tohunga, ariki tapu rawa. Na reira i tapu ai aua poroporo, na reira i riri ai te iwi ki a Tama-te-kapua.
I mahia e Tama-te-kapua he waewae raakau moona. I raa runga
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mai ia i aua waewae raakau i tana haerenga mai ki te taahae i ngaa poroporo nei. Ko teeraa tikanga hoki he whakanoa na teetahi iwi i te arikitanga o teetahi iwi. Na reira i riri ai. . . . (Biggs 1957:220).
‘The cause of the war was Tamatekapua. He stole fruit from the sheltering breadfruit trees of Uenuku. These trees were tapu. They were tapu, because the old man had his usual resting-place there. This old man was a priest, a sacred high chief. Therefore (na reira), these trees were tapu. Therefore (na reira), the people were angry with Tamatekapua.
Tamatekapua made stilts for himself. He was on these stilts when he went to steal the fruit. It was that method of stealing which was a destruction of the tapu of one tribe by another. Therefore (na reira), they were angry’ (A.T. trans. with the help of Biggs's trans. 235-6).

The initial statement is that “the cause of the war (pakanga) was Tametekapua”. This is explained in two expansions, in each of which an infringement of tapu by Tama is pointed out. The first is his theft of fruit from Uenuku's sheltering trees. This is further elaborated. His theft was heinous, because the trees were tapu; they were tapu, because Uenuku used to rest in their shelter (this picks up whakamarumaru); a resting-place of Uenuku was tapu, because Uenuku himself was highly tapu. The next sentence, introduced by “therefore” (na reira), refers back to the tapu nature of the trees, the following sentence to the initial statement about the cause of the war being Tama. While the “return” is not a literal repetition, it is a repetition in meaning. Also, the Maori word riri not only means ‘to be angry’, but also ‘battle’. The emotion and consequent action are not necessarily separate.

The second expansion begins without transition. It is concerned with the destruction of tapu by the use of stilts in the thieving. Why the stilts should have this effect I have not been able to ascertain. But the fact is plainly implied in the text. This second expansion is again rounded off with “Therefore (na reira), they were angry” which again returns to the initial statement. After this, the story moves on. 17

To what extent the story-teller merely catalogues the items of his tradition, or executes them in full, depends presumably on his situation, on the mood of his audience (if he has an audience, or imagines having one), and also on his own mood. This would account for the striking difference of style in the two versions of Tamatekapua's theft.

Finally, the narrative form described here can also determine the structure of larger story units. In the tale of Puukoroauahi (Orbell 1968:58-63), one important portion of the narrative is arranged in that way. Mohi Ruatapu, the teller of the story of Puukoroauahi, has shaped the events in three sections. The first sets the scene: young Puuko lives - 165 with his sister whose husband supplies this household of three with birds, but treats his young brother-in-law shabbily, giving him meagre birds and letting him eat in the smoke of the fire outside the house. The second section is the counter-achievement of Puuko in catching a great number of pigeons. In the third section, the tensions between the three people rise to a climax and are resolved. The husband, on his return, accuses the boy of having stolen the pigeons, but realises the falsity of his accusation when his wife takes him to the place of the catch, and is deeply shamed. The result is that he commits suicide, and the boy marries his sister.

It is the second section which is built on the appositional pattern. The events are told speedily and tersely, and only when the climax is reached are names and particular details added. After this expansion, the action proceeds from the point at which the expansion started. At the beginning of the second section, then, Puuko goes out trying to attract birds by imitating their calls, and he sees pigeons drinking from the stream (e inu ana i te wai). He makes snares and catches a great many birds. Then he asks his sister to bring baskets to gather them in. She is delighted at the huge catch and dances a haka of triumph. They collect the piles of birds, and there are in the end 170 baskets full of pigeons caught at that stream (ngaa kete o taua wai). Here the narrative, which up to this point has moved swiftly and concisely, stops and broadens into expansions. The initial statement is “that stream”, the one at which, at the very beginning. Puuko saw the pigeons drinking, where he erected his snares, and where he caught those many basketsful of birds. Everything that Puuko has done has centred on that stream. Why and how this could happen is explained fully, beginning with the name of the stream: “the name of that stream was Pouturu” (ko te ingoa o taua wai ko Pouturu). Since, as Johansen (1954:120f.) has demonstrated, the name of a person — and no doubt also of a thing of whatever sort — comprises part of the being, the nature, of that person or thing, the following expansion is an elaboration on the name, that is, the nature of that particular stream.

ko te kai a te kereruu he poowhatu; he poowhatu whero te poowhatu o taua wai kei runga i te pari. Ka mahara te manu he hua no te toromiro, ka hui teeraa ki te kai i te poowhatu. Ka maroke te korokoro i te horomanga i te poowhatu, ka rere teeraa ki te inu i te wai. . ..
‘the food of the pigeons were stones. The stones on the banks of the stream were red. The birds thought that they were fruit from the toromiro tree. They gathered there to eat the stones, their throats were dry from swallowing the stones, they flew there then to drink from the stream. . .’ (A.T. trans. with the help of Orbell's trans.).

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The extraordinary fact that the pigeons were eating stones is elaborated by the explanation that the stones on the banks of this stream were red. Such was the nature of that stream. What happens in consequence of this are the events preceding the pigeons drinking from the stream, told in forward-moving, that is, chronological order from the point-of-view of the pigeons: they thought that the red stones were berries of the toromiro, ate them, had parched throats, and flew to drink of the stream. Here, the story-teller arrives at the point where Puuko's exploit started: “he saw some birds drinking at the stream” (ka kitea e is te manu e inu ana i te wai). His exploit itself is then stated from the view point of the pigeons: “they died then caught in the snares”.

What has happened in this expansion is that the name and nature of the stream are indicated. The “pre-story” of Puuko's exploit is described, from the point of view of the pigeons, and their consequent death, which is Puuko's achievement.

What is the point of the detailed story about how the pigeons fared? The snaring of pigeons and other birds at a stream was a regular feature of classical Maori life (Best 1977:226ff.). More particularly, Best mentions several times that pigeons feeding on the berries of the miro tree (in our text toromiro tree) become thirsty and fly to any water where they can quench their thirst (Best 1977:231, 232, 239, 246). The snaring of birds beside a stream (wai taeke 234) is described in detail by an “old bush ranger of Ngati Porou” (242), which is significant in relation to our story being told by Mohi Ruatapu of Ngati Porou (Orbell 1968:59). The description in our story of Puuko's snaring of the birds is not detailed enough to make a comparison. But his snares are certainly made of the usual material, namely leaves from the cabbage tree (kaauka, Best 1977:235) and flax (237). The number of birds caught by Puuko, namely enough to fill 170 baskets is high, but not beyond probability. Best (242) quotes a Colonel McDonnell as saying about the Hokianga district that “the usual take, or harvest of birds in one month during the full fruiting of the miro in its season was from 4,500 to 5,000 birds, such as pigeons, parrots and tui”.

On this background of Maori traditional snaring of birds, the distinctive feature of the snaring of the pigeons in our story emerges. It is that the pigeons were not eating the berries of the miro tree, but red stones which they thought were berries, and that these red stones were found on the banks of this particular stream, the Pouturu. This confirms what has been said before, that the expansion about the red stones and the pigeons which enlarges on that peculiarity of the stream is an expansion on the nature or being of the stream, as contained in the name Pouturu.

Two more names follow, which in all probability refer to other - 167 natural features such as mountains, south of Mount Hikurangi, in the neighbourhood of our stream (Orbell 1968:60 n.3). This is a further elaboration of the stream Pouturu, in so far as it calls to mind its setting.

More names follow, but with a difference:

ko te tangata naana i kite ko Puukoroauahi
‘it was Pukoroauahi who found them there’.

In relation to Puuko, it is not his “name” which is introduced; it had already been mentioned at the beginning of the story, and probably refers to his being ‘encircled with smoke’ when he has to eat by the fire outside the house (Orbell 1968:58 n.1). But here his name appears as that of the man who “saw” the birds. This “seeing” or “discovering” a particular source of food, whether birds or fish, was always an event of the highest order. With the phrase ko te tangata naana i kite ko Puukoroauahi, the story-teller solemnly sums up and praises Puukoroauahi's achievement by which he, outdoing his sister's husband's prowess as a bird-catcher, becomes the hero of the tale.

Two further names are given, those of the sister and her husband:

ko te ingoa o te tuahine ko Puuhaaureroa, ko te ingoa o te taane ko Taranui-o-matenga
‘his sister's name was Puhaureroa, the name of his sister's husband was Taranui-o-matenga.’

Both these names have a meaning relevant to the story. The sister's name Puhaureroa is the name of a tree (Heimerliodendron brunonianum, Williams 1971:304), also called parapara, “the bird-catching tree” (Williams 1971:262). According to Best (1977:61), the puhaaureroa

is the tree often termed “the bird-catching tree”, of which we read in Cheeseman's Flora that “The fruits are so excessively viscid that small birds, such as the white-eye (Zosterops) and fan-tail (Rhipidura) are often caught and glued down by the feathers, and fail to free themselves”.

It is most appropriate that the sister's name, Puhaureroa ‘bird-catching tree’, is revealed at the moment that her brother has excelled by such a mighty catch. Her husband's name follows: Taranui-o-matenga. Tara or makoi denotes the barbed point of a bird-spear (Best 1977:158-9). Taranui means, then, ‘the great barbed point’ of a bird-spear, appropriate enough for a man supplying his family with food by spearing birds. But -o-matenga seems to be ambiguous. The ‘great spear-point of defeat’ or ‘of dying’, on the face of it, refers to the slaying of birds, but it may also hint at the man's own imminent death.

In the second section, then, of the story of Puukoroauahi the whole - 168 episode of his extraordinary bird-catch is told rapidly up to the climax, and is then followed by expansions on the nature of the stream and much else.

But the most ingenious and impressive use of expansions is made by Te Rangikaheke in his story about Maui. The tale of his exploits and his eventual defeat and death, as told by Te Rangikaheke, is much more than an enumeration of events arbitrarily strung together. It has a simple but clear and monumental composition. This structure is intact in the Appendix to Grey's Ko Nga Moteatea me Nga Hakirara o Nga Maori of 1853, but it is completely disrupted in Ko Nga Mahinga a Nga Tupuna Maori of 1854, which was followed by a translation of that text in 1855. I have used Te Rangikaheke's text, as edited and translated by Bruce Biggs (1980), and a photocopy of Te Rangikaheke's own manuscript (GNZMMSS 43).

Te Rangikaheke's tale about Maui is a description of his heroic deeds on behalf of mankind against three great elemental powers — against the Sun, against the sea as covering up the land, and against Hine-nui-te-po, the goddess of fire and death.

His first battle is with the Sun, because he rushes too fast across the sky, so that a day's span is not long enough for man to work for his livelihood. The Sun is caught, battered, and only released when he moves along at a moderate pace.

Maui's second exploit is fishing the land up out of the sea. He says about the sea: “The crest of the waves and the waves themselves are very powerful, but I have taken a certain fish out of its midst, a land-fish” (MS. 43:906). This “fish” is actually called Tangaroa at the end of the fishing episode, which is the name of the god of the sea (MS. 43:900; Biggs 1980:par.19; Grey 1971:17).

Maui's third exploit is his descent into the underworld to find his parents. This is the most complex part of the story, with two extensive expansions built into it.

Maui's last battle is with Hine-nui-te-po, the Great-Night-Woman. It is twofold. He attempts to deprive her of her possession of fire, but is only saved from being burned up himself by a mighty rain storm which exhausts her as much as it does him. When he seeks to reverse the process of birth, in order to gain immortality for man, he is crushed to death between her thighs.

It is Maui's search for his parents and descent into the underworld that will be discussed in detail.

The transition from Maui's second deed, fishing up the land, to his search for his parents is clearly marked and fairly abrupt. The fishing is rounded off with the phrase:

Ka mutu teenei Mahinga a Maaui raatou ko ana tuaakana (Biggs 1980: par.21).
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‘Here ended this deed of Maui and his brothers’ (A.T. trans.).

The subject-matter of Maui's third deed, the search for his parents, is stated immediately:

Kaatahi a Maaui-tikitiki ka ui atu ki oona tuaakana ki te waahi i noho ai too raatou matua-taane, wahine, kia whakaaturia atu ki a ia, a kia haere atu ia ki te rapu i taua waahi e noho nei raaua! Ka mea atu ki a ia: Aua hoki. . ..
‘Then Mauitikitiki questioned his brothers as to where their mother and father lived, that it might be told him so that he might seek the place where they dwelt. The reply was: “We don't know. . .”’ (Biggs's trans.).

The brothers then describe the strange behaviour of their mother, who comes at nightfall, spends the evening and the night in the house, and is gone by break of day. They see no way of finding out where she lives. Maui replies:

Aa, hei konei whanga ake ai
‘Stay home and wait!’ (Biggs's trans.).

This is a very strange thing for Maui to say. For, up to this point, his brothers have always accompanied him on his adventures. It suggests that Maui knows something about how this new task will have to be solved; in fact, he knows something about the answer to the question of where his parents are.

What follows is a very long expansion “explaining” or “giving the cause of” (ta te mea) why they should stay at home and wait for him to act. The reason for this injunction is that he has discovered something (taa te mea kua kitea ake e ia). This happened after (i muri iho) he found his mother and his brothers. The occasion had been when they were dancing (haka) in the house. This sequence of three events or motifs moves into the past, the remotest being the dancing. From here, the story-teller moves forward now narrating the three events with full detail in chronological order. When they were dancing (ka haka nei), young Maui sat behind them, and so on. The story is told fully of how he, by recounting the manner of his birth and upbringing, is recognised by his mother, given his full name, Maui-tikitiki-o-Taranga, and is taken by her, and eventually also his brothers, into the heart of the family.

This “recognition” is followed by the “discovery”. Maui experiences what his brothers have already told him, namely that the mother leaves at daybreak and returns at night. Where she goes to spend the day no one knows. Eventually Maui takes steps to find out. Taking his mother's kilt and belt off her, he stuffs up all the chinks in the window and doorway - 170 of the house, so that the mother does not realise the end of the night until it is broad daylight. Then she flees in desperate haste, and disappears under a clump of tussock. Since it is daylight, Maui can watch her. He follows, and discovers the hole going deep down under the tussock. This means that she has descended into the underworld, and spends the day there. Maui forthwith returns to the house and wakens his brothers, who get up with the sun standing high up in the sky.

After this extensive expansion, which covers a good deal of pre-story and culminates in Maui knowing where his mother goes, the story-teller goes right back to Maui's initial question to his brothers, and repeats it emphatically (MS.43:904):

Ka ui atu anoo taua nauwea nei ki oona tuaakana, Kei hea to waahi i too taatou matua taane, matua wahine. Ka mea mai raatou, Aua hoki. . .
‘That fellow really did ask his brothers: “Where is the place of our father and our mother?” And they reply: “We do not know. . .”’ (A.T. trans.).

They disclaim any obligation to love their parents now, but Maui loves his mother, because he lived in her womb. Therefore he is set on finding the place where they live. Full of admiration for Maui because of his catching the Sun and fishing up the land:

ka tonoa atu ia kia haere atu, kia rapu atu i oo raatou maatua. Kaatahi ia ka haere atu.
‘they sent him off to go and look for his parents. He went forthwith.’

Let us consider the structure of the narrative up to this point. The initial statement or point of departure is the question of where the parents live and Maui's strange injunction to his brothers to stay at home. The answer to the question, and the explanation for Maui's command to the brothers, is given in the long expansion discussed above. The events described in that expansion chronologically precede the initial question. When the question of where the parents live is mentioned a second time, this is the usual return to the initial statement after an expansion. So much for the stylistic form of the narrative. But there is another element in this repeat of the question. Now, that is, after all that is told in the expansion, it is plain that Maui knows the answer to his question, but, in a manner typical for his tricky character, he asks the question and behaves as if he did not know the answer. The fact that he knows the answer when his question is mentioned for the first time (since the explanatory events have preceded it) is not known to the audience at that point, and only dimly apprehended when he tells his brothers to stay - 171 at home. When Maui is represented once again as asking that question, his brothers, who have slept throughout Maui's discovery, are unaware of his trickery, but those listening can now fully appreciate the caprice of Maui's deceit of his brothers.

To sum up, while the narrative may seem confused, as an example of the appositional style it is in good order, although as yet incomplete. For there has been no return yet to Maui's command to the brothers to stay at home.

But before Maui actually goes off in search of his parents, as his brothers bade him do, the story-teller inserts another expansion to explain the manner in which he did go. Again the story moves into the past, to earlier events, namely Maui's first deed after he had been recognised by his family:

Kua oti noa ake ra hoki i a ia tana mahi maataamua te whakarite e ia, i muri iho i toona whakakitenga ki oona whanaunga ki te wharehaka, i te mea kaaore anoo te Raa i herea e ia, me te whenua i hiia, kua oti ake ia te whakaahua ki te aahua o ngaa manu (MS.43:905).
‘He had already completed his first exploit, namely changing his shape. This was after he had revealed himself to his family, and when the Sun had not yet been fettered, nor the land been fished up. He had completed changing into the shape of birds. . .’

This introductory passage, in itself, contains an initial statement (Kua oti noa ake raa hoki. . .), an expansion specifying time (i muri iho. . . te whenua i hiia), and a return (kua oti ia. . .). The expansion is concerned with the temporal relationship of Maui's shape-changing to the other major events in this story. I suggest that the interest in chronology evinced here shows the influence of European thinking on the mind of Te Rangikaheke. This is not surprising in an intelligent man who lived for years in Auckland writing down traditional stories of his people for Sir George Grey. This manuscript was probably written just before 1850. It is very unlikely that any story-teller would have produced this sort of chronological passage two centuries earlier. But for all his awareness of chronology, 18 what has mattered most to Te Rangikaheke is the composition of his story according to the oral, “literary” traditions of Maori myths. For Sir George Grey, on the other hand, this passage must have seemed an open invitation to reduce the apparently confused account to its proper, chronological (perhaps even “historical”?) sequence.

To return to the expansion about shape-changing as a whole, Maui changes into various birds, but it is only when he changes into a pigeon that his brothers approve and applaud him.

This applause is further appositionally elaborated: the pigeon's - 172 special beauty consists in the white patch on his shoulder, which derives from the kilt taken by Maui from his mother, and the black part on his neck, which is his mother's belt. Chronologically speaking, this “first deed” (maataamua) of Maui's would then have to be subsequent to Maui's deception of his mother and the discovery of her hole into the underworld. But this does not work, because after that discovery Maui immediately moves forward, in the narrative, to going down himself. In addition, the expansion on the beauty of the pigeon is rounded off by the words i mua teenei mahi aana, ‘this deed of his took place long ago’. The impossibility of finding here any chronology in the modern, quantitative sense is plain.

After the expansion on shape-changing, the story returns to the situation from which it started, namely the search for his parents which is the initial statement not only of this expansion, but also of the first expansion, in fact, the theme or subject of this whole section of Maui's tale.

Aa i toona rapunga nei anoo kia kite i oona maatua, ka haere hoki ia ki te whakarite i a ia ki te aahua o te kuukupa.
‘When he was indeed seeking to discover his parents, he went to turn himself into the shape of a pigeon.’

Appearing in the form of a pigeon, Maui is again approved by his brothers and his exact likeness to a pigeon is celebrated by a proverb. But this is only a “trial run”.

Next morning, the undertaking starts in earnest, with a speech by Maui to his brothers:

hei konei noho ake ai
‘stay at home and bide there!’

With these words, the story-teller returns at last to the beginning of the tale of Maui's search for his parents where he concludes, as we have seen, his first conversation with his brothers with the corresponding words:

hei konei whanga ake ai
‘stay at home and wait!’

Here it is at last clear why Maui has to go alone, without his brothers. Alone he must, in the shape of a pigeon, fly down through the hole, at the bottom of which he knows that he will find his parents. Sustained by the knowledge of his great deeds, the fettering of the Sun, fishing the land up out of the sea, he is yet aware that he might fail (rehea) in the present undertaking. But the brothers now fully approve of his going, and he goes, turns into a pigeon, flies down, finds his parents, is recognised, and stays with them.

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To sum up, the theme of Maui's third exploit, namely the search for and discovery of his parents, is stated straight away in his first question to his brothers. But before action in this direction is possible, two questions have to be answered by the story-teller: where in all the world must Maui search? And, when it is known that the place is the underworld: how can he descend down there? A “historian” would have described the events which provide an answer to these questions much earlier. But the oral story-teller tells them at the point at which they are relevant and indeed needed. It is this need which accounts for the two expansions within the tale of Maui's third exploit, the first containing the return to his mother and brothers, his recognition by the account of his birth, and the discovery of the hole into which the mother disappears each morning, and the second containing Maui's achievement of changing himself into a pigeon. A less accomplished story-teller than Te Rangikaheke might not have subordinated the story material contained in these expansions to the search for his parents. He might have given them an independent place. Both the recognition by his mother through his birth-story and the shape-changing into birds would have had enough substance and colour to stand on their own. But it is only by subordinating these events that Te Rangikaheke was able to shape his story of Maui as a whole with the grandiose simplicity that he did.

The nature of Maori oral style is, then, in the main paratactic, with the minimum of grammatical subordination. Statement follows on statement, in “stringing-along” utterances. But this does not mean that the procedure is without form, or the sequence random. Quite apart from such phrases as i reira, kaatahi and others which may organise parts of a tale, two different forms of parataxis can be distinguished which are inherent in the ways in which things said, or, to put it differently, units of content, follow on each other.

The first and very obvious form may be called “linear”. Events are narrated in the sequence in which they would have occurred. It is exciting through its simplicity and speed. We tend to call this sort of sequence “chronological”, which is perfectly legitimate, as long as we remember that, in the epoch to which these ancient tales and their style originally belong, “chronology” as an abstract scheme of quantitative measurable time did not exist. There were no watches, clocks, calendars, or centuries. Time was experienced as inherent in events. This underlies the use of repetitions, as interpreted in the first part of this paper. It was also inherent in the seasons, in the movements of the heavenly bodies and in the generations of the ancestors. 19

It is the second form of oral paratactic style which has here been explored in a number of selected examples, beginning with very brief - 174 utterances and moving on to ever longer passages. The crucial matter in the shaping of this stylistic form is, as we have seen, the oral story-teller facing his audience and responding to it. It is the psychological, or spiritual, relationship out of which the appositional style, with its initial statement, expansion and return, arises.

This form of story-telling has its own kind of dramatic suspense. There is here no “suspense of ignorance”, as Duckworth has called it (1933:108 and notes, 116f.), 20 about what is going to happen, because this is indicated at once (cf. above). When the outcome is known, then the answer to the question of how this came about in detail is eagerly awaited. Duckworth has called this the “suspense of anticipation” in contrast with the “suspense of ignorance”, that is, ignorance of the final result, characteristic for instance of detective stories. “Suspense of anticipation”, with its own particular forms in style and narrative structure, is characteristic of oral Maori narrative.

It appears that there is some inherent determinism in this connection between oral story-telling and “appositional style”, because the same stylistic form is found also in the Homeric epics in many examples small and big. 21 It is now, I believe, generally agreed that the style of those epics, whether they were composed orally or in writing, bears the features of an oral tradition. The reaction of Classical scholars to the apparent confusion in long “expanding” passages in Homer has not been dissimilar to that of Sir George Grey. For they have taken refuge in a variety of theories about the origins of such confusion, while Grey, a practical politician, has simply rearranged the events of the story. Either way does not do justice to the nature of traditional oral narrative, which has to be understood within its own living context of story-teller and audience.


I should like to thank Professor Bruce Biggs for allowing me to use his work on Te Rangikaheke's Ngaa Tama a Rangi and Maaui, Jenifer Curnow for permission to use her M.A. thesis on Te Rangikaheke, and the Auckland Public Library for sending me a copy of Te Rangikaheke's MS. (GNZMMSS 43) and permitting me to quote it for publication.

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1   Cf. Grey 1971:82 ka toha, ka tohe; Orbell 1968:96 kua rere i runga anoo (so fish) . . . puta ake e rua, puta ake e rua.
2   Cf. Grey 1971:104 hoe ana mai, haera ana mai, hoe ana mai, haere ana mai, aa, ka un ki Mokau; 81 mahi nei, mahi nei, aa, ka maha ngaa raa; 89 mau nei, mau nei, aa, whakatupuria noatia; 102 rere mai raa, rere mai raa, aa, ka paa mamao . . .; Biggs 1980:par.9 noho nei, noho nei, aa, roa noa iho.
3   Somewhat different Biggs 1970:4 Aa ka tupu nei ngaa uri o Tuu-matauenga, aa, nui haere, nui haere.
4   Cf. Grey's explanatory translation 1956:26.
5   Is i taawhi, i taawhi not better taken with naawai than with ka tae?
6   Cf. Orbell 1968:92 ka puta . . ., ka puta . . . Peeraa tonu, naawai, naawai, aa, . . .
7   Cf. also the repetitions in the description of a battle Grey 1971:88.
8   Here Grey inserts i.
9   Cf. Biggs 1970:3; Orbell 1968:38 and 78.
10   Cf. Curnow 1983:205-6. The text was edited and translated by Biggs 1970:1, but I have made a more literal translation for the purpose of this analysis.
11  Best 1925:89ff.
12  See Biggs 1957:238 for further detail and notes.
13   Thornton 1984:Ch.1, p.13ff.
14   Cf. Biggs 1957:221 description of the paa of Tamatekapua “appended”to account of his death.
15   The story is concerned with the ancestors of the Ngati-Paoa tribe, Simmons 1966:182. I owe reference to this particular story to Margaret Orbell.
16   I do not understand the change from kua to ka.
17   In the story of Kupe, Himiona Kaamira twice explicitly mentions a return in his narrative (ka hoki te koorero Biggs 1957:218,219), but these cases are different from a “return” after an “expansion”.
18   Curnow 1983:75, 104; but “chrnology” here is only concerned with “before” and “after”, not with time measurable in years.
19   Best 1959:10 and passim; Thornton 1962:106ff. on “time” in ancient Greece and Rome.
20   Cf. Thornton 1962:13; 1984:59 note 50.
21   Thornton 1962:chapters 1 and 2; 1984:ch.7.
22   I am not convinced by Jean Smith's argument about Tane “polluting” his head on the earth (1974:45). Hanson (1982:347, 356) has shown that the notion of “pollution” in women is not authentically Maori, but an importation from the Bible. I am very doubtful whether “pollution” is a Maori concept at all; all this needs rethinking.