Volume 26 1917 > Volume 26, No. 3 > Notes on the Ngati-Kuia tribe of the South Island, N. Z., by S. Percy Smith, p 116-124
                                                                                             Previous | Next   

- 116

IN 1894, when living in Wellington, a frequent visitor was old Eruera Wirihana Pakauwera, otherwise known as E. W. Kaipara. At that time the old man was about 76 or 78 years old, for he stated that at the death of Tama-i-haranui at the hands of Te Rau-paraha, in 1830, he (E. W. P.) was about 12 years old. He was a communicative old fellow in some subjects connected with his tribe, but would not be considered a first-class Ruanuku, or learned man. A great deal of information was nevertheless obtained from him by both Mr. Elsdon Best and myself, and particularly on the subject of the tribal songs of his tribe, Ngati-kuia, indeed he dictated to me some 150 songs of various lengths, which were written down at the time in Maori shorthand. Few of these songs, etc., have any interest. He had an astonishing memory for his native songs; it was only necessary to quote any one line, and he would immediately begin droning the rest of it. On other subjects—excepting that of bird catching—he was not well up, and his tribal history was extracted from him with difficulty, though the stories of Māui and Tawhaki were told fairly well; he had evidently learnt them by rote from the teaching of his grandfather Pakauwera, and was careful to repeat them in the exact words he had been taught.

He drew a very strong distinction between the histories of Māui and Tawhaki. He told the former story with glee, but for some time declined to recite that of the latter, though finally doing so, for, said he, “Tawhaki is a god, and all about him is tapu.” Needless to say, both are claimed by the Maoris as ancestors. Te Matorohanga, the Sage of our two volumes of “Memoirs” (Vol. III. and IV.), states that much of the story of Māui was a ‘winter night's tale,’ the common property of all, not like so many of their traditions as told in the Whare-wānanga, which were of a semi-sacred character. This is a distinction well worth noting.

At the massacre at Hikapu, in the upper part of Pelorus Sound, at its junction with the Kenepuru Sound, when Te Rau-paraha's and - 117 Pehi-Kupe's tribe nearly exterminated the Ngati-kuia (this was in 1828-29), E. W. Pakauwera, then a small boy, escaped with his father (Kaipara), and as they climbed a hill some distance from Hikapu the boy looking back saw the flames and smoke of their home arising to the clouds, and asked his father what it meant. “That is thy ancestor's bones burning at the hands of Ngati-Toa,” said the father. In this massacre his mother Kunari was taken prisoner by Te Whakarau, and was subsequently married to Apitia of Te Ati-Awa tribe, and lived for some time at D'Urville Island, subsequently at the Chatham Islands. She was, says her son, a very handsome woman; tall and well made, with long; chestnut-coloured curls hanging down to her waist.

Old Pakauwera was the head of his tribe in 1894, and lived near Canvass-town at the head of Pelorus Sound (or Te Hoiere, which is the Maori name of the Sound). He passed away some years ago. The following are some of the notes obtained from him; but the songs as a rule are not worth translating.

The Ngati-kuia (or Kati-kuia, as our informant always pronounced the name in accordance with the South Island change of the ‘ng’ with the ‘k’) derive their name from a woman named Wainui (kuia means an old woman), who was the wife of Koanga-umu, both of whom came to New Zealand in the ‘Kura-hau-po’ canoe together with Awaawa-wetewete-tapiki, who settled at Te Taitapu or Massacre Bay, South Island. The tribe claims that their ancestors came from Hawaiki (or Tahiti) in the ‘Kura-hau-po’ canoe at the same time as several other canoes as a fleet, and they made the land on the East Coast, ‘Kura-hau-po’ came on south, landing parties here and there, and eventually she went on to the Grey River on the West Coast, South Island, whilst ‘Taki-timu’ canoe proceeded down the East Coast. 1 Some of the Rangi-tāne tribe derive descent from the same people, and the Ngati-Apa tribe of Rangi-tikei, North Island, claim the ‘Kura-hau-po’ as their ancestral canoe. This means probably that Ngati-kuia are a branch of that division of Ngati-Apa which eventually settled on the West Coast of the South Island, and came to be known as Ngati-Apa-ki-te-ra-tō (or the Sunset Ngati-Apa). Pakauwera says they were also closely connected with the extinct tribe of Ngati-Tu-mata-kokiri.

The territories of the Ngati-kuia appear to have been confined to the water-shed of the Pelorus Sound, for on my asking Pakauwera whether their people had any tradition of the massacre of part of Capt. Fernaux's boat crew at Arapaoa Island to the west of Queen - 118 Charlotte Sound, he replied they had not, for that part of the country was held at the time of the massacre by Ngati-Apa, and that Ngati-kuia only owned Pelorus Sound and D'Urville Island (or Rangitoto).

Pakauwera says Ngati-kuia were ‘he iwi karakia,’ a people using many karakias (invocations, incantations, ritual, in fact), but not ‘he iwi makutu’—a people of sorcerers, like Te Ati-Awa of Taranaki.

Their only karakias were charms to cause the wind to cease, or to prevent the hapuku fish (gropher) biting their opponents' bait; but by using parapara-mounu (a special kind of bait) the fish still would bite. They were good fishermen. The following is one of their customs to cause the dangerous winds to cease, it is called a rotu: If a canoe were out at sea fishing, or for any other purpose, and a storm came on, the chief of the party would say to his wife, who would be bailing out the water of the canoe, “Whakaarahia te huruhuru!” (Uplift the hair). The woman would then pull out a hair from her private parts and hold it up in her hand with her arm stretched out at full length, whilst the husband would repeat a long charm. The hair of the private parts is said to have been placed there by Rangi, the Sky-father, the husband of Papa, the Earth. 2 This lock of hair was not an offering to Tangaroa, god of ocean. So says old Pakauwera. It was probably an offering to the Sky-father to propitiate him and thus cause the storm to cease. It is suggested that the first line of the karakia, quoted by John White in “A.H.M.” Vol. I., p. 107 (Maori), thus: “Huruhuru takiritia i Rarohara,” refers to the same custom, for it was used under somewhat similar circumstances. The charm or invocation recited by Pakauwera is lengthy and difficult to translate. It commences:—

Ko te huruhuru o Rangi, 'Tis the hair of the Sky-father,
Kia whakahinga—ā, Let it fall, ā!
Kia whakahinga ki te hau, Let it fall to the wind,
Kia whakahinga ki te tonga. Let it fall to the south (i.e. storm).

Like all Maoris Ngati-kuia were good fighters. Though we know so little of their history, one of their raids was mentioned by Pakauwera which has an interest as giving the origin of a mere, which is probably still with the Whanganui tribe.

In the times of his grandfather Pakauwera, he, Maihi and Te Wai-here led a war-party of Ngati-kuia from their homes at Pelorus Sound to attack the people of Kai-koura. The chief of the latter people was Te Koake, and in the fight that ensued he was killed and his people defeated. Among the spoils of battle was a celebrated jadeite mere named ‘Ohiwa,’ which was brought back to Pelorus - 119 Sound, and remained in the hands of the people for very many years. It was finally stolen by a woman visitor from Whanganui, and taken to that place. Said Pakauwera, “Major Keepa knows where it is.” It is described as being superior in beauty to any other mere in the country. It was in the keeping of Te Haere when stolen. The following is the saying about it: “Te Koake te tangata ko Ohiwa te rakau.” (Te Koake is the chief, Ohiwa is his weapon.)

About 1894, old Pakauwera dictated to Elsdon Best “The Story of Hine-popo,” which was published in this “Journal,” Vol. III., p. 101. The old man had a strong sense of fun, and some of his stories were really very amusing. The following is a specimen of them, but it ought to be read in the original to properly appreciate it:—


“Riia dwelt outside, at the mouth of the Pelorus Sound (Hoiere is the Maori name); his village fronted on the ocean itself, and fish was the principal food of the people. He had a great friend named Turia, who lived a long way up the Sound, where salt-water fish were not procurable as at Riia's home. Now Riia was the man who gave utterance to the following ‘saying’:—

Kei hea toku hoa a Turia, tē puta mai ki waho nei ki te matau whakaareare, ki te ngutungutu ki te wairore, ki te hau ki waho ra. E hara tau! he whakatangi tamariki.

(Where is my friend Turia, that he does not come outside here to the wide open space and taste of delicious fish, to the fresh winds of the sea. Thine is not a pleasant life, 'tis naught but child's work.)

The last sentence refers to the catching of pigeons, parrots, etc., for which the forests of Pelorus were celebrated. Turia enjoyed none of the delights of fishing, when fish took the hook every day of the year, whereas birds were only caught in their seasons, where food was plentiful and fish were constantly suspended on the drying stages, where there was plenty of hapuku (gropher) and koiro (conger eels), and all the fish of the sea.

Pigeons (preserved) are only eaten at night. After they are snared and placed in the papa-totara (or troughs made of totara bark), then may they be eaten in daylight, for the time of snaring has passed.

When Turia heard the ‘saying’ of his friend Riia, he said to his people, ‘What is the month in which fish are scarce?’ To this the people replied, ‘In Puwai-awa-tahi.’ (June.) So Turia remained at home always having in mind the saying of his friend Riia. When the month of May came, he arranged with all his men to proceed to the forests and commence bird-snaring. When they had snared a large number at the troughs, they were cooked and preserved in their own fat—there were 40 papa-huahua, or bowls of birds procured in this manner. On the completion of this work Turia said to his people, - 120 ‘All this food we will take outside to the sea, for this is Puwai-awa-tahi, the month of scarcity with the fish.’ All the people consented to this, and then they launched their canoes and proceeded to the home of Riia on the seaside, where they hauled them up on the beach and proceeded to build shelters for themselves, and then awaited, anticipating the usual presents of food to strangers from the people of the place. Nothing came, however, for the good reason the hosts had no food to give. On the third day Turia's party presented the whole of their 40 cases of preserved birds to Riia.

Now the man Riia on receipt of this handsome present was over-whelmed with shame, for this was the month of Puwai-awa-tahi, and no fish were to be procured to feed his guests with. So Turia presented his gifts, 40 cases; two of them he opened in the marae of the village so that his friend Riia might see their contents. And now all the people set to and had a feast, for the people of Riia had no food at all.

On the following day Turia and his people returned to their homes. After they had left, Riia and his people desirous of making a return present of food, and feeling much ashmed at failure in hospitality, went out to sea to fish. It was at the time of the tai-moi (neap tides), so they got none. Then they waited for the spring tides and tried again; but a storm came on, and Riia and his people were drowned; drowned in attempting to fulfil the meaning of his boast to Turia.

When the news reached Turia, he said, ‘Alas my friend Riia, who invited me to go outside to taste thy delicious fish, now thou art drowned in the very sea that thou boasted of producing abundant food. Farewell!’”

Another of the old man's yarns that he delighted in telling was as follows: Tari was a member of the Ngai-Tahu tribe that dwelt in the pleasant district of O-amaru in South Canterbury. He had a favourite saying, or boast, that was constantly on his lips. This was it:—

Ka haere i te whenua, ko au, ko Tari!
Ka whati i te parekura, ko au, ko Tari!
Of all great travellers, 'tis I, 'tis Tari!
He who puts the enemy to flight in battle, 'tis I, 'tis Tari!

Now, an old man named Te Iwi-kai-tangata and his son, had to make a journey, and Tari decided to accompany them. As they went along every now and then Tari would utter his boast, until the old man got sick of it. He carried a spear in his hand. At the third repetition of the boast Tari wound up by adding the words, “O Tari, of the great thoughts! O Tari, of the lofty ideas!” The old man Te Iwi-Kai-tangata was marching in front, the boy following Tari. The former - 121 turned round facing Tari and said, “E! koia ano?” (A! is it so?) and made a lunge at Tari with his spear, striking him full in the chest and flooring him. Tari arose and a fierce struggle ensued. Then the old man called out to the boy, “Do your part! spear him!” “Where? said the boy, “In the anus!” replied the old man. The boy did so and drove his spear into the vitals of Tari and killed him, and thus ended his boasting, whilst the old man and his son proceeded serenely on their way no longer annoyed with Tari's refrain.


The following is one of Pakauwera's stories—other versions of it have been given by Sir George Grey in his “Polynesian Mythology,” and by John White in his “Ancient History of the Maori.” The Rarotongan people are also acquainted with it, but have it in far more detail than the Maoris of New Zealand. An abbreviated edition of the story was published in “Hawaiki,” 3rd Edition, p. 202, as translated from the Rarotongan traditions. There is no doubt the incident of the burning of the Tihi-o-Manōno is historical, and apparently took place shortly before Manaia's migration to New Zealand, at a date which can be approximately fixed as about the years A.D. 1225 to 1250—See our “Memoirs,' Vol. IV., p. 127. The Moriori of the Chatham Islands also have their own version of the story, which will be found in our “Memoirs,” Vol. II., p. 67. The scene of the story is the Western Pacific, in the Samoan and Tonga Groups, and we may judge from the many particulars given in the Rarotongan version, that the naval battle took place off the Haabai Island of the latter group, the fleet of Whakatau and his friends sailing from Upōlu of the Samoan Group.

The following is old Pakauwera's version:—

This is a story arising out of the murder of Tu-whakararo, who was killed by the people of Te Tihi-o-Manōno. Whakatau-potiki did not see the murder of his elder brother, but was told all about it by their mother Apakura. Whakatau, was a very small man, indeed he was likened to a child of very few years. But he was a very learned and sacred personage who had acquired a knowledge of all the sacred ritual of his people; he understood all the karakia o te rangi (the ritual of Heavenly things—implying a full knowledge such as is expressed in our “Memoirs,” Vol. III.). He was called Whakatau-potiki in consequence of his small size (potiki, youngest, or little child). He was indeed the youngest child of his parents, and was called also Whakatau-pungawerewere on account of his small size. (Punga-werewere, a spider.)

It was he who avenged the death of his elder brother Tu-whakararo. When he heard of the death, he urged on his parents, the elders, and people of his tribe the necessity of avenging it. He said, - 122 “It will be for you adults to do the fighting, as for me I will go with you to bail the water out of the canoe,” he well knowing that his own powers would find a means of bringing the delinquents to account. All agreed to the proposal; and then the canoes were launched, the party embarked and away they paddled for their destination. (The Rarotongan version here gives the account of the muster of the forces on the beach, 500 in number, the description of their arms, and some of the leader's names.)

After the expedition had started, Whakatau's elders thought he had been left behind, for he was nowhere to be seen in the canoe. But he had reduced himself to the size of a spider (by his supernatural powers) and had hidden beneath the carved figure at the bows of the canoe.

So the fleet paddled on until they arrived off the home of their enemies. There they met a fleet of canoes belonging to Te Tihi-o-Manōno, and a great naval battle ensued, in which the latter were badly beaten. Whakatau, rising from his position, stood in the bows of their canoe and did prodigies of valour, aiding very largely in the discomforture of the emeny. All the enemy's fleet was destroyed except one canoe, which escaped owing to its speed, and landed its crew on the shore at their home.

Before leaving their home Whakatau had said to his mother Apakura, “You will not be in ignorance of our proceedings, for you will see the flames from Te Tihi-o-Manōno reflected on the clouds.”

The defeated people on landing fled to a large house where they lived, which house was called Te Tihi-o-Manōno, and there they assembled together with others who had not taken part in the fight, and began to describe the incidents of the battle and why they had suffered defeat. They said, “We have all been defeated and many are dead. There was one man to whom our defeat was principally due, a very small man, not at all as big as an adult.” They were asked, “How big was he? such as I am?” The reciter of the story replied, “Not so! a very tiny little man.” Then another man got up and asked, “Was he at all like me? my size?” The others replied, “Not a bit like you; a very small man indeed; no higher than this (showing his height, about four feet or so).”

Whilst this was going on Whakatau had crept into the house and heard all that was said by the tanga-whenua, or people of the place. He had (by his supernatural powers) decreased his size to that of a spider. One of the escapees from the battle seeing Whakatau, called out, “He was just like that thing which sits in front of me!” Whakatau jumped up, knowing that he had been recognised, and rushed for the door. In the meantime his companions to the number of two hundred had surrounded the house, and as soon as Whakatau was outside, they shut and barred the doors and window of the house, - 123 and Whakatau-potiki set fire to it. The flames rose up and reddened the sky, whilst all inside the house were burnt to death. The glare of the fire was seen by Apakura at her distant home, and she at once commenced to sing her paen of victory:—

Ko wai ko te ahi Whose was the fire
I hunuhunu ai te tau i a au. That burnt, for my loved one?
Ko ‘Uru-taki-nuku,’ 'Twas ‘Uru-taki-nuku’
Te rama a Whakatau The torch of Whakatau
I tahuna ai ra, With which was burnt
Ko Manōno-i-te-rangi Manōno-in-the-skies
Te ngakinga i te mate In avenging the death
No Tu-whakararo-e. Of Tu-whakararo, my son.

Pakauwera's history of the feats of the celebrated Polynesian hero, Māui, is somewhat bald in comparison with the other accounts that have been preserved; but they are nevertheless worth preserving because the series differs somewhat from other accounts, and it is by the aid of such differences when considered in connection with the various versions, that we may finally arrive at their true meaning. To this end Mr. Westervelt's collection of the numerous stories relating to Māui, published in his volume, “Māui, the Demi god,” will render the greatest assistance. There are evidently two heroes of the name of Māui, one whom we may distinguish as “Māui, the Demi god,” the other as “Māui, the navigator,” and it is from the latter and his four brothers that Maoris trace a descent—he flourished about fifty generations ago. The other, the Demi god, is vastly more ancient, a fact which will be recognised, when it is known that some of Māui's feats are to be found in the myths of the Indians, Scandinavians and other races.

The first of Pakauwera's stories of Maui belongs to the more ancient series. It is as follows:—


“Māui's first undertaking was in connection with the Sun and the Moon. He separated them off from one another, for the reason that had he killed the Moon right out, there would have been no light (at night). The Sun he also separated that off to give light to all parts, and so that there should be a distinction between summer and winter, and he thus separated them, and bound each one (to its own sphere of action).” The old man does not tell us the story of Māui's thrashing the Sun to make it go slower, which story I hold to be the mythical or emblematic account of the difference in the length of the days between a former and a more recent home of the Polynesians. The modern theory about the Moon, as enunciated by Major Dawin, F.R.S., - 124 (I think) is that it once formed part of the earth. The Maoris have hit upon much the same idea, but substitute the sun for the earth.


The following story must also be very ancient, and probably belongs to that class of myth which has been promulgated by the priesthood to conceal some esoteric meaning, of which several instances are known among the Polynesians. This is Pakauwera's story:—

“Māui and his brother Taraka (Northern Maori, Taranga, who, however, is usually said to be Māui's mother) dwelt together, but the latter more often lived with his mother. Taraka was a man. As they dwelt together in their home, their mother used to prepare food for them, and Taraka used to gobble up his food, so that Māui went short. On one occasion he said to Taraka, his elder brother, ‘Let us go forth to the pakihi (or open country).’ (Pakihi is a South Island word for the grass land.) Their mother asked, ‘Where are you two going?’ To which Māui replied, ‘We are going for a walk.’

So the brothers went off to the pakihi, and when they got there Māui said, ‘Let us sit down, for I feel unwell.’ After a time Māui said to Taraka, ‘Come and eat,’ and he forthwith fed his brother with filth, the latter thinking it was proper food.

After this Māui threw his brother down on the ground, and proceeding to transform his appearance, by pulling out his legs, and made him a tail, then the arms were lengthened so that they should be legs also; he made the ears erect, lengthened the head and made him a wide mouth, until he looked like a dog. Then Māui went to one side and called Taraka to come to him, but he would not come. Then Māui whistled, upon which Taraka followed him, … and then he gave Taraka the name of Irawaru, because he had turned him into a dog.

After Irawara had eaten some more filth, Māui returned home, and when his mother asked where his brother was, he replied that he would shortly return. So the old woman waited a long time, but the other son did not appear; she therefore said to Māui, ‘Your brother has not returned.’ Māui told her to call him which she did, but there was no answer. At last Māui said, ‘Whistle for him!” This the old woman did, and then the dog appeared, and when she saw that he had been turned into a dog she said, ‘O you have completely spoilt your brother!’ At which Māui burst out laughing.”


The next of old Pakauwera's stories refers to the first discovery of fire, and evidently this is very ancient, belonging to the same series as the foregoing, or in other words to the times of the first Māui. In our - 125 “Memoirs,” Vol. III., p. 178, it is suggested that this legend has reference to the discovery of fire from a volcanic outburst.

The following is the old man's story:—

“At this period Māui and his relatives lived in a certain house, and they were engaged in harvesting the kumara crop. But Māui himself remained always in the house (i.e., he did not assist in the work). All this time the brethren were indulging in feasts of the kumara, but they would not disclose to Māui whence they derived this food. Whilst his relations were engaged on this work, Māui was wondering where was the road to the place whence the kumara was obtained, for his brethren would not disclose it to him, and he could not discover it.

So Māui determined on a scheme by which he might find out all about his brethren and his parents' doings. They all slept together in one house, but the people always left for their work before daylight, leaving Māui asleep. One night he got hold of his mother's maro, or waist cloth, and hid it underneath him. When she waked up she could not find her maro and searched all over for it. When Māui saw her thus engaged he asked, ‘What are you looking for?’ She replied, ‘I can't find my kopa (another name for a maro).’ ‘Here it is,’ said Māui, and gave it to his mother. By this time day was breaking and things could be seen. His mother took the maro and went forth from the house. Māui followed her secretly and saw that she disappeared into the ground. ‘This then is the road,’ thought Māui, and he prepared to follow, first making use of his miraculous powers to turn himself into a sparrow-hawk, and then he flew off and down the place in the ground where his mother had disappeared, and soon discovered his brethren engaged in the work of digging up kumaras. Alighting on a tree, Māui imitated the voice of a bird and said, ‘Ko, ko, ko, ko.’ When the people heard this and looked up and saw a bird, they decided to kill it to eat; but do all they could they did not succeed.

After a time Māui changed himself back into human form and joined in the work of digging kumaras, at the same time reciting his Koko-kumara, or digging song, thus:—

Papa, papa te Whatitiri i runga,
Ko taua tini, ko taua mano,
Te wai o Huru-makaka,
Te tohi atu ki te wai o Tu-tau-araia,
Ka uhiuhia te kakara o Tai-porohe-nui,
I taku aro.
Whiua ki te whakarua koia,
Whiua ki te whakarua koia.
- 126

(This is part of a much longer karakia, or invocation, known to other tribes. The old man could not explain its meaning; the translation does not afford much light on the matter either. All connected with the kumara crop was very sacred. A free translation is:—“Crash, crash the lound thunder up above, it is the same numbers, the same thousands, the waters of Huru-makaka; perform the rite to the waters of Tu-tau-araia, the sweet scent of Tai-porohe-nui envelopes me. Cast (or direct) (the prayer) to the North West, indeed).

After Māui had changed himself into human form, he asked his mother, ‘What is that strange noise I hear?’ (i.e., the noise of a fire-burning). His mother replied, ‘What is that to you? It is your ancestor Mahuika.’ Māui then said, ‘Would it not be possible for me to go there?’ His mother replied, ‘Do not attempt it, you would be killed by your ancestor Mahuika.’

Nevertheless, Māui arose and proceeded to find out the source of the noise. Arrived there he found the fire of Mahuika burning, so he drew near to examine it, and said to Mahuika, ‘Give me also some fire.’ So Mahuika gave him some, and Māui started to return. Presently he came to a stream, into which he kourua (to thrust, a Ngati-kuia word) thrust the fire which was immediately extinguished. He then threw some water over himself, so that Mahuika should think he had fallen into the stream. On his return to Mahuika, he said, ‘Give me some more fire, that which you gave me went out when I fell into the water.’

By this time Mahuika began to see that he had to do with the celebrated individual whose deeds of deceit and daring were the common talk of everyone, and he determined to be equal with him, so he gave him some fire which would react on Māui himself and kill him. On securing this fire Māui again turned himself into to a sparrow hawk and flew off, but as he went some of the fire dropped and all the world caught fire, Māui himself getting burnt and barely escaping with his life, but succeeded in extinguishing the fire at last, by calling on the powers of the heavy rain, the snow, and thunder storm. But the seeds of ‘the fire of Mahuika’ remains in the trees kaikomako, totara and others. (These woods, and certain others, were used for procuring fire by friction.) After this Māui took on his human form and returned home.”


The following is probably one of the stories relating to the ancient Māui, and its meaning is equally obscure at present, but no doubt has an esoteric meaning. It may be the description of the catching of an alligator during the period the Polynesians dwelt in Indonesia, - 127 and we know it is about that time that one of the Māui family dwelt there.

“This is another story of Māui's doings. There is a certain thing that dwells in the fresh water, which is in the habit of eating men, that is, it is a taniwha (usually described as an immense saurian). When any one goes to fetch water, this creature seizes and eats him. Its name is Tuna (which is the common name for eel).

Māui boasted that he could kill this monster; but every one said he would not be able to do so. To this Māui replied, ‘It can be done by laying down skids, and there must be nine of them.’

So Māui went off with a man whom he pursuaded to accompany him, and there they laid down the nine skids leading up from the water. Then Māui said to his friend, ‘When the monster comes, you stand at the first, or lower, skid to entice him; but stand in a careful manner, so you are not caught. When it reaches the second skid, do the same, and so on to the ninth.’ When the man reached the first skid, Māui commenced to recite his karaka or incantation, as follows:—

Mata tuna ki te rango tuatahi,
Ko ira i, ko ira i, ko ira i, torowai,
Mata tuna ki te rango tuarua,
Ko ira i, ko ira i, ko ira i, torowai,

and so on repeating a couplet for each skid as the monster ascended, until he reached the ninth, and there Māui killed the Tuna.”


Pakauwera's next story of Māui, differs a good deal from that ordinarily given, and is difficult to follow, but was evidently told in the same words in which he had been taught. Hine-nui-te-pō—The-great-lady-of-night (or oblivion) was the presiding goddess in Hades, where she ruled with the god Whiro, the embodiment of all evil. (See a much fuller account in “Memoirs Polynesian Society,” Vol. III., p. 144).

“Then he listened; and looked also. Māui said unto his mother, ‘What is that which is kamu (the noise of the lips opening and shutting) there?’ When next morning came Māui said he would go and see. So he and his elder brother Taraka (who was turned into a dog, see ante) went off, and reached the side of the dwelling of Hine-nui-te-pō, where they found the door open. He entered by the (? her) head, dwelt in the eyes, then the breast; after all his chest had entered, then the arms, and down to the waist, the thighs and the legs, when he was laughed at by his companion Taraka, and so it was closed (presumably the thighs of Hine-nui-te-pō) and thus Māui died. If he had been able to come forth at the other end, mankind would - 128 never die, they would have lived for ever, both Maori and Pakeha (white-men).”


This last story of Māui has to do with ‘Māui, the navigotor’, as I hold, and is the Maori version of the story known to all branches of the Polynesians in much the same form, but usually much more briefly. Pakauwera says:—

“The above is the name of the fish hook of Māui, with which he fished up this island of Te Ika-a-Māui (The-fish-of-Maui, the North Island of New Zealand).

Now Māui dwelt at his home with his brothers and friends. On one occasion he said to them, ‘Let us all go to sea” (to fish); but his friends said, ‘No! we alone will go.’ Māui persisted, ‘Let me go also.’ The others replied, ‘No! you must remain ashore, you will be up to some mischief if we let you go.’

So the others went off to sea leaving Māui at home. They returned with an abundance of fish. On another day after this again Māui proposed, ‘Let us all go on to the sea,’ but the others gave the same answer and left Māui ashore. On another occasion the same thing occurred, this time Māui offering to go and bail out the water of the canoe. He had prepared his hooks and lines, which he had concealed in his clothing. But the brothers again refused their consent. Then Māui said, ‘If you let me go I will remain quite still and merely watch your proceedings,’ and then the others at last consented to his accompanying them.

So they all started and paddled their canoe out a long way to the usual fishing ground, and commenced fishing whilst Māui sat looking on. After a time the men wished to return home, but Māui said, ‘Give me some of your bait to put on my hook.’ But the others refused. Māui begged for some bait, but without success. Seeing this, Māui drew out his line and hook from under his garments, and having tied on some of the flower of the bulrush, with his right hand he smote his nose until the blood poured forth, which he smeared with his left hand on to the hook.

So Māui let down his line until it touched the bottom; at the same time the others kept saying, ‘Let us return ashore,’ these words being handed backwards and forwards between those in the bow and those in the stern of the canoe. Māui, who was sitting in the centre of the canoe, replied, ‘Wait! wait until the fish takes my bait.’ His companions called out, ‘Be quick then, and let us return ashore.’ Soon after Māui got a bite; he began to pull in; two long and strong pulls, and the line became stretched out straight and began to pull the canoe after it. The men shouted out, ‘O! Let go your line; it is an atua-tahae’ (a demon, a monster) but Māui replied, ‘A! But this - 129 is the very thing I came out for, I won't let go!” And he commenced his karakia as follows:—

Tina, tina taku aho! Be firm, be strong, my line,
Te ihi o te rangi, With strength derived from heaven,
Ko koe e mau mai na, Thou, who art firmly caught
Naku ano taku matau i ta! By this hook of my own making.

Then was Māui able to pull up his fish, and behold! it was the land. The houses were standing, the dogs barking, people sitting and fires burning! This was Te Ika-a-Māui (North Island of New Zealand). ‘That fish was not hauled up from this (North) Island, but from Aropaoa at the north end of the South Island; and hence is the ‘Kauae-o-Māui’ to be seen near Heretaunga.’” (i.e., the Cape south side of Hawke's Bay, where several little islets and rocks project from the Cape in a curve; supposed (by the Maoris) to be where Māui's hook and line fell. The translation is “Māui's jaw”—his fish-hook was made from a jaw-bone.)

The old man's story of Tawhaki must await until it can be dealt with together with others from various parts of the Pacific.

1   In this connection see “J.P.S.,” Vol. XXII., p. 217, on the question as to whether ‘Kura-hau-po’ canoe did, or did not make two voyages to New Zealand.
2   According to the teaching of the East Coast tohungas, the hair was taken from Punaweko, one of the offspring of the Sky-father, when woman was created. See “Memoirs Polynesian Society,” Vol. III., p. 140.