Volume 41 1932 > Volume 41, No. 163 > Notes and queries, p 237-241
                                                                                             Previous | Next   

- 237

[See illustrations at the end of previous article]

[467] Short Notes on two Maori Pa in English Museums. By H. G. Beasley, Director Cranmore Ethnographical Museum, Chislehurst, Kent.

THE following notes will probably interest both historians as well as ethnologists, and are intended as additional matter to the late Elsdon Best's monograph on the Pa Maori, published by the Dominion Museum in 1927, Bulletin No. 6.

Plate 1 illustrates a small wax model, 18 by 12 inches, now in the Cranmore Museum. At the time of its arrival it had on the inside of the case, in large white lettering, the words “Rua-Peta-Peta Pah.” This therefore represents the famous Pa of Rua-pekapeka, captured on 11th January, 1846, which closed the insurrection of Heke and Kawiti. Omitting historical details, which are accessible to all students, I would refer the reader to the plan of this pa, given by Elsdon Best on page 292. Comparison between these two plates shows that Elsdon Best's plan was made long after this model, and has to a great extent been reconstructed. In the model the branching roads are entirely missing as may be expected at the period of the capture of the pa.

The model, which is very nicely made, and cased up in a massive mahogany frame of early Victorian design, illustrates what the site actually was like at the time of its capture, and particular attention has been paid both to the lie of the land and the close bush which is represented by some hundreds of tiny tips of some shrub. The previous owners unfortunately retained no record of either the date or provenance of the model, so it may be assumed that to-day no records are available. It may be certain that considering the care with which the model has been constructed and joined with its old mahogany case, which is obviously contemporary, it was constructed by one who was actually on the spot at the time of its capture in 1846.

Plate 2.—This large model, measuring approximately six feet square, is also cased up in an old and massive Georgian glazed table-case, and is in the Museum of the Royal United Services Institution, Whitehall, London; it is by the courtesy of the authorities there that I have been allowed to have a draft made. No scale measurements appear so that the drawing is probably hardly accurate, for owing to the heavy sash-bars and other encumbrances a detailed sketch offers many difficulties. A search amongst the Institute's records reveals that this model was constructed and presented by Lt.-Col. Wynyard of the 58th Regiment in 1851. Unfortunately the name of the pa is omitted; but the date certainly indicates that, like the preceding, it represents an incident of Heke's war of 1845-6, of which the intervening space of five years would be easily accounted for by the period which would have passed until the return home of the 58th Regiment and the construction of the model in England. Alternatively the model itself bears a label carrying the date 1860-1, which in view of the Institute's records would certainly appear to be erroneous. Cowan's New Zealand Wars, vol. 1, page 71, mentions Lt.-Col. Wynyard - 238 as commanding the 58th at the capture of Rua-pekapeka, and it occurs to me therefore that these two models (based entirely on dates) may represent one and the same pa. 1 At this distance of time it would be difficult to arrive at any certain conclusion, but I do hope that some reader will be sufficienty interested to take up the enquiry, and throw more light on the actual locality of this pa. Although the authorities at the Royal United Services Institution disclaim any authenticity, the custodian who conducts parties around the museum recounts the story that the circular hole in the centre represents the mouth of a shaft which connected with a secret gallery giving access to the swamp outside the pa, and that it was by this means that the able-bodied defenders made their escape immediately prior to the final assault.

[468] Reburial at Little Papanui.

On June, 30, while excavating at Little Papanui, I unearthed a human skeleton. From the position of the bones it evidently was a reburial and a description may be of interest. The position is a sandy slope facing the sea and swept bare by the wind. The skeleton was about three feet from the surface and in clean white sand. Below this sand is a layer of midden-refuse varying from one foot to two feet in depth, about six inches of clean sand separated the skeleton from this layer. The bones of the arms and legs were lying side by side on the bottom with the bones of the hands and feet at either end. The pelvic bones were on top of the long bones and the vertabra arranged in position with the ribs on either side of the vertabra and the shoulder-blades in their place. The skull was at the end of the vertabra but sitting erect. The face was facing north-west and the forehead was thickly plastered with kokowai. Although the pelvic bones and the shoulder-blades were in their proper position the long limb-bones were flat underneath the pelvic bones and were in no way near their sockets. This horizontal position of the long bones and the erect position of the skull show it was a reburial. The limbs must have been detached from the trunk and laid in the ground first; then the trunk and finally the skull. The adherence of the red paint to the skull seems to indicate that the skull was bare of flesh when buried. About three years ago Mr. A. Gilmore found a human skeleton exposed by the wind about twenty yards from this one. The skull was lying on the surface a little distance from the rest of the skeleton, which was still imbedded in the sand. We dug up the bones and their position showed that the body had been trussed into a sitting or crouching position and the femur were in their sockets. This skeleton was facing the west.

On August 18th I found another skeleton in the same layer of clean white sand as the one found on June 30th, but the bones were much more decayed and were those of a much smaller individual, probably a woman. This skeleton was lying on its left side with the head due west and facing the north. The limb-bones were in their - 239 proper place and the body had not been disturbed since the first burial. It had been trussed up till it was no more than three feet in length. The teeth are much worn but show no signs of decay, and there is evidence of large abscesses at the roots. The first lower molars on both sides are falling over sideways in a similar manner to some in the Moriori skulls.—DAVID TEVIOTDALE.

[469] Personal.

Dr. Raymond Firth, who has for some time been acting in charge of the Department of Anthropology in the University of Sydney, has been appointed Lecturer in Anthropology in the Department of Anthropology, School of Economics, University of London. Dr. Firth undertakes his new duties at the beginning of 1933.

[470] Notes on the Moa-hunters. By D. Teviotdale.

I have received from Sir Frederick Chapman a series of notes on my paper “The Material Culture of the Moa-hunters in Murihiku.” They are of so much value that I hope you will publish them in the Journal. They are as follows:

Page 82, (1) Murihiku—the tail of the fish, extended far up beyond what we call Southland, certainly far beyond Otago Inlet and possibly beyond Banks Peninsula. I was told of a form of conversation, say in the Bluff-Riverton area, “Where are you going?” “I am going further towards the Head” (of the fish—i.e., up north).

(2) Kaikai Beach or Kai Kai Beach is more often called Kaikais Beach. It is not the Maori name, which is Takeretawhai. It was dubbed Kaikais Beach after a man who was nicknamed Kaikai by the whalers. His name is not known.

(3) Karitane Peninsula might prove misleading; the peninsula was never so named. The modern watering-place is sometimes so called. Buick in The Mystery of the Moa conveniently describes this site as in the Waikouaiti Estuary.

Page 83, (4) Castle Rock. There was a similar fissure some-where near Oamaru but I cannot say exactly where.

Page 88, (5) Eggshells. The collection of eggshells lodged by me in the Dunedin Museum all came from Centre Island, a small island in Foveaux Strait, where shells were very plentiful, but where it is certain there could have been no moas. Some of these egg-shells are remarkably well preserved. No doubt eggs were taken over for chiefs residing on that aristocratic spot. I also found considerable quantities of shell on the beach at Goodwood—down near the mouth of the Pleasant River.

(6) Chapman and Hamilton at Shag Point. Have Hamilton's notes and sketches been published? Elsdon Best and I went over them and may be said to have edited them. I should think that, when we were trenching there and I found the adzes mentioned in this paper and Hamilton found one and a piece of pounamu, we found that the ground to a depth of several feet in effect consisted of very dry but not friable moa-bones evidently broken for the marrow. Almost on the surface we found 17 necks with the heads on showing that the brain was not eaten. Hamilton told me that on a later - 240 visit he found far more—I think he said something like 50 or even more. These were on the flat ground on the near side of the trenching.

Page 91, (7) “Rapuwai and Hawea.” This is always a confused and confusing subject, but I had not before seen Rapuwai and Hawea mixed.

The yellow bluff near Puketeraki station is Pa Hawea. I asked Mr. Parata M.P. what that had to do with Lake Hawea? He said, “Oh the same people, they were some of my people, ” i.e., his branch of Kaitahu. I certainly place a wide gap between the almost mythical Rapuwai and Pa Hawea.

(8) Pa Waitaha is the undoubted name of the point of land on Otago Harbour where the late Mr. Basil Sievewright lived. I induced him to adopt the name for his house.

“The Waitaha slew the Moa” is an expression preserved by Canon Stack. They became a numerous people, colonizing the country far inland to the Canterbury Lakes.

Page 92, (9) Wetere te Kahu told me that Arowhenua (Horo whenua) was the southern limit of the cultivation of the kumara.

Page 93, (10) Survival of moa. I have always thought that the survival of a few—as in the case of the takahe—in remote parts of Otago, resulted in something like an extension of the traditional survival of the moa.

Page 94, (11) There is no doubt that good hard bits of moa-bone were picked up and occasionally used for fish-hook-points down to modern times. Mrs. Harper (nee Apes), probably born circa 1845, told me that was so, and I have found pieces of bone quite hard enough.

Page, 95, (12) Where-sites. Shallow depressions as described may probably still be seen in the gully behind Harper's house on the peninsula. I found them there a few years ago. Most of the level land of the peninsula was ploughed up by Bradshaw. People followed his plough picking up “curios.” Bradshaw owned a section, which became nearly covered with water, next to Sir Truby King's boat-shed. Bradshaw was living at Napier when Dr. King bought the land on which he built.

(13) Mr. Watkin's MS. ought to be published in an accessible form. It is very valuable. It was published by Rev. Rugby Pratt, in the Evening Star, Dunedin, beginning on 13th June, 1931.

Page 98, (14) Chapman's large adzes. Mr. A. D. Bell, of Shag Valley Station, has two adzes very like these; I do not know where they were found. These are a genuine time-mark showing that Waitaha possessed highly finished tools. Mantell says he never found greenstone in the middens attributed to Waitaha.

I have a note locating many Waitaha camps and villages in the MacKenzie Country. The Ngaitahu revisited these village-sites but never rebuilt the villages. Newcastle railway station is near the site of an old town, but of what period I do not know.

Addenda, (15) Rarotoka was a sacred place, a residence of chiefs. “It is Rarotoka the younger brother, Rarotonga the elder brother is away up in the Pacific Ocean, ” so said a Maori to me. I got a great deal of moa eggshell there; the birds could never have lived - 241 on so small an island: some of the shell looks quite fresh; the shell referred to is in the Dunedin Museum.

(16) The Lake country, “the freshwater sea, ” was a great home of the Maori until they heard stories of what their kinsmen could get from the white people at the “saltwater sea.” Then they migrated, leaving their stone tools behind them. These, in large quantities, were collected by Mr. Mitchell of Manapouri. The last permanent Maori residents in the lake area lived at Hawea. They fled to the sea when Te Puoho's invasion reached that lake. A few were captured by him. Rawiri Te Maire lived to tell me the tale.

This concludes Sir Frederick's notes. The Rev. H. J. Fletcher has written me as follows:

“I was very much surprised that you gave the honour of the first discovery of moa-bones in Otago to Dr. McKellar. If you will refer to page 137 of Shortland's New Zealand you will find there that the honour belongs to one of Johnny Jones' whalers. This was followed by Shortland's discovery of the deposit where at one time the Waikouaiti river entered the sea on the south of the Huri-awa Peninsula. Shortland's visit was in 1843.

I have long held the opinion that the larger species of moa have been extinct for many centuries. In the Rangitikei country I once found a fossilized piece of leg-bone in among the gravel of a gravel-pit. The gravel was under many feet of clay, and a forest centuries old had grown in soil on top of the clay. In the same valley many specimens of fossilized moa-bones had been found in sand- and shell-deposits when making road-cuttings. The sand and shell was the same to all appearance as that on the sea-shore to-day, but it was at an elevation of over a 1, 000 feet above the present sea-level, with from 15 to 20 feet of clay above it and the old forest above the clay. The smaller species seem to have survived until after the historic migration in the 14th, century. I see no reason to doubt the story told of the killing of the moa (otherwise kuranui) by the Takitimu people in Hawkes Bay soon after their arrival. On the west coast opposite Kapiti I once saw the outline of a moa skeleton on the hard clay. The bird had died and the body had been covered with the drifting sand; how long it had been there it is impossible to say, but the sand had travelled on and exposed the perfect outline of the skeleton as if drawn in chalk; the few bones left were so friable that they crushed easily in the fingers. A few years ago a surveyor gave some gullet-rings to me, which he said he had obtained from a cave near Kawhia. I still have two of them and even now if held between the fingers and thumb and compressed one can feel the spring in the bone, a perfect proof that the bird could not have passed away many centuries ago.”

With regard to Mr. Fletcher's first point, I may say that I obtained my data from Mr. Buick's book The Mystery of the Moa, where the honour is given to Dr. McKellar, but find that Mr. Fletcher is quite correct in his statement. I therefore ask you to publish his letter as the best way of correcting my mistake.

1   Mr. Beasley's conjecture is correct, as may be seen in a comparison of this sketch with one at page 72, vol. 1, of Cowan's New Zealand Wars.—EDS.