Volume 49 1940 > Volume 49, No. 193 > Review, p 160-171
TALES OF A LONELY ISLE, ROTUMAN LEGENDS. Translated by C. Maxwell Churchward. The Oceania Monographs, No. 4. Published by the Australian National Research Council, Science House, Glouester Street, Sydney, N.S.W., 5/-.
Tales of a lonely isle—Rotuma, north of Fiji, and 12 degrees south of the equator; yet the tales show that there have been wide contacts; how or when, who can say? There are always some of the race of the brothers Grimm, collectors ready to capture the bird of story that flies from lip to lip, changing its iridescences as its flies; collectors ready to make specimens; and though once collected the birds change no more, their iridescences are not lost, but are preserved to give pleasure for ever: that is, if the collector can set them properly. Professor Elkin in his foreword to the volume says these tales are excellent renderings: of Mr. Churchward he says: “He has succeeded in translating them into very readable English, and where, in order to do this, he has had to substitute an English idiom for the literal translations, he gives the latter in a footnote. Moreover, the legends as stories are good in themselves; indeed, some of them can take their place among the best of the world's legends and fables.” With this I agree; and I should like to express satisfaction at seeing the original Rotuma version as well as the translation: there will always be the temptation to master the original; for as translators know, and as readers may guess, there is an elusive spirit in the original which always escapes the translator; he presents to you the beauty of the bird; and something of its voice; in the original you hear the voice of its spirit; catch it you never can.
The mytho-historical legends which open the collection will appeal most to students; the rest of the stories will appeal to everyone who feels a response to the spirit of folk-lore, and those readers who know Polynesia even a little will constantly be pleasantly reminded of incidents, of characters, with which they are already familiar, showing that the people of Rotuma are in touch, even if in a hazy half-conscious way, with the ancient fount of story that is shared by all the races of Polynesia, and indeed of the Pacific.
In story 10, for instance, “The three brothers who afterwards became three stars, ” the familiar Maui-tikitiki-a-Taranga appears as Moea-tiki-tiki. His birth is like that of the well-known Maui, the seeking and finding of his father, his procuring of fire, his fishing-exploit; all are there, well-disguised, but recognizable through the disguise. In this story are named two birds that rouse New Zealand interest; the ve'a “a kind of bird, the bustard-quail(?),” which - 161 appears to be our once-ubiquitous friend the weka, and the katāe, a “Porphyrio of tremendous size,” which is reminiscent of our rare takahe. The three stars into which the three brothers (three Maui) transformed themselves were the three stars of the Belt of Orion.
No. 12, which tells of “The Giant who was outwitted by a boy,” is of the Jack and the Beanstalk variety, and it is told in a vivacious way which makes it highly entertaining; and we are reminded that the Maori experienced great pleasure when told this ever-verdant tale of childhood by the raconteur John White. No. 13 is a fellow, and here the Giant is outwitted by a woman.
No. 14, “The two Sharks and the disobedient Guest” is a strange medley. Here we meet with Tinirau and Kae, the place of the whale Tutu-nui being taken by the two sharks; and the New Zealand and Samoan versions of the story are blended, the Samoa incident of the crowing cock being taken full advantage of, its humour not losing in its transfer to Rotuma. The Samoa story of the rearing of Sina's eel also comes in in the rearing of the two sharks. Reading this story, you constantly catch glimpses of familiar friends through the changing expressions of a stranger.
In No. 15, “The Sisters who visited the Sky” you get reminiscences of the Maori Brothers who did the same—Tawhaki and Karihi, with the incident of the blind old woman counting her taro, and the restoration of her sight by Tawhaki; only here the blind tipua is a siamese-twin, a back to back, and the restoration of sight includes the melting of the coupling of the twins so that they get separate individuality as well as sight. In this story, too, is introduced the device of the sisters of Tinirau to make Kae laugh.
No. 16, “The Girl who lived in an Oyster Shell” introduces Tinirau, a popular Polynesian hero, as Tinrau; but Hina is not mentioned by name. The heroine, the pearl of the oyster, lived in a village which, when she migrated, migrated with her; and Tinrau sought her as Tinirau sought Hina.
No. 17, “The Sisters who changed themselves into Birds,” is a very good story, and interesting in may ways. The bird-disguise, the “falkeham” of similar Scandinavian story, is well introduced; and who will not at once be transported to “The Land East of the Sun and West of the Moon?” The names of the two sisters were themselves lyrics like the name of Sappho, Lalatavake and Lilitavake; reminiscent too of the rocks that were as snags to the fishing fairies—Tawa-tawauia-a-Teweteweuia. These girls were able to take on the forms of birds, and Lalatavake changed into a kura, “ a bright red kind of bird.” She flew off, and appeared to a young chief who, attracted, naturally followed her. She flew away home, ladybird like, and the young chief, whose name was again Tinrau, followed into the house after her, and there he saw her sister Lilitavake weaving.
“Excuse me,” said the man, “but I have come after my bird there in the ironwood tree.”- 162
Lilitavake curtsied, but did not speak, knowing as she did that it was her elder sister who had lured Tinrau to the house. Thereupon the man ceased chasing after the kura, and sat down instead, and asked Lilitavake if she would marry him.
“O Sir,” replied the girl, “but you must understand that I am the only person living here. If we get married, as you desire, who will look after you?”
But Tinrau at once sent his attendant to his father, the king, to tell him that he had found a wife. The king said to the attendant, “Go and tell Tinrau to bring his bride to be married to him here.”
So Tinrau told the girl, and she said to him, “All right, let us go to your home as you wish, but the idea of your wanting me!”
And so the bride and bridegroom proceeded to Tinrau's home, to be wedded there. But soon after the celebrations were over, the king got the idea that he would like to eat Tinrau's wife. “My son,” said the king to the prince, “I want to eat your wife.”
The prince then told his wife. “Lilitavake,” he said, “my father wants to eat you.”
The girl said, “All right Tinrau; but fancy the king wanting to eat me!”
“You will be killed the day after to-morrow,” said the prince.
But when the day was at hand on which the girl was to be killed and cooked, her sister (the elder girl) came on the previous afternoon. When she, Lalatavake, arrived, Lilitavake's husband had gone to have some kava at the palace. So the kura entered the house, shook out her feathers, and put them into a small basket. She then went into the bedroom, took her young sister, covered her up with a mat, hung up the basket of feathers above her, and began to walk to and fro in the house.
After a while, the kava-drinking at the palace being over, Tinrau came and began calling out, “Lilitavake!”
“Yes?” replied the elder girl.
“Why is it that you don't want any supper?” asked the prince.
The girl replied that she was not hungry. Upon this the prince went into the house, and then he and the girl went into the bedroom and lay down. And when he spoke to the girl he cried. But the girl, on speaking to the man, laughed. “What are you crying for?” she asked; “surely your father cannot really want to eat me?”
But the prince spoke to the girl, crying all the time, not knowing that it was a different girl he was speaking to. In the meantime his real wife was covered over with the white mat in the bedroom, weeping for the husband.
They all slept, and by morning the oven in which Lilitavake was to be baked was already alight. The unmarried girl then got up, - 163 gathered together the various mats, and threw them outside. As soon as the oven was red-hot, the prince came and called out to his wife, “Are you ready?” he asked.
“Yes,” replied the girl.
Immediately the prince called out to his men that his wife was ready. So the men came, and surrounded the house, and blocked up all the doors and windows. One of the men then ran toward the girl, but the girl fled into the bedroom, pulled down the basket of feathers, tipped them out, and immediately all the feathers took their place on her body, and she became a bird again. Flying out through the curved end of the house, she pecked at the white mat which had been put over Lilitavake; upon which the girl flew up, for she had turned into a tāvāke (tropic-bird). Away the two girls flew, leaving Tinrau and his men behind, while they themselves escaped and were never caught again.
A beautiful story; but there is a further beauty, good to contemplate, though it may be as elusive as the kura. The form assumed by Lalatavake was that of a kura, one of the noble words of Polynesia, always with the idea of a treasure; the form Lilitavake assumed wss that of a tāvāke (tropic-bird which is white, but for the two long red feathers in its tail). Yes; but the Maori name of the red-tailed tropic-bird is amokura.
It may be gathered what interest may be had in the perusal of this collection of surprisingly interesting tales.
—J. C. A.
BARTER AND COINAGES OF EARLY NEW ZEALAND, by Allan Sutherland, F.R.N.S., Hon. Secretary New Zealand Numismatic Society. Thomas Avery & Sons Ltd., New Plymouth.
On reading this recent work, one is surprised to realize that pirate gold and silver coins of Spain, as well as coins of several other foreign countries, were officially used in early New Zealand, and more than that, were listed in official returns and used officially by the first three Governors of New Zealand.
During pre-Hobson days, New Zealand was first a no-man's-land and then an any-man's-land where whalers and traders and adventurers of various nationalities met on more or less neutral ground, at a time when Great Britain was at war with her neighbours, France, Spain, and the tea-duty-incensed breakaway states in Northern America. At one time upward of 9,000 American seamen were engaged in whaling near or on the coasts of New Zealand, and these sailors, with men of other nationalities, were the first to introduce the romantic “treasure-chest” coins—the golden doubloon and the silver pieces-of-eight—which at that time were described as “the mightiest coins of the World”; and they certainly were the coins of the widest circulation. The coins of France and the East India Company, too, - 164 found their way to New Zealand and were freely used, particularly in the Northern area. To the Maori their value was at first largely ornamental rather than economic, and almost as many might be found dangling from the ears of the Maori as jingling in the pockets of the sailors and traders.
In the early trading-contacts between Maori and Pakeha, barter was the favoured method of exchange of goods, but the Maori soon began to realize the advantages of coins, particularly “torras” as he called American dollars and pieces-of-eight. Owing to the communal system of sharing goods with others of his own tribe, the Maori found that visible riches in the shape of goods were an embarrassment; and he was astute enough soon to learn the advantages of coins which could be secreted in belt or under blanket, to be spent at leisure and at pleasure, individually rather than communally.
The story of gift-exchange, barter, and the development of trading between the Maori and Pakeha from the earliest times, is described in this historical survey which presents, for the first time, a study of the impact of European methods of trading on the communal system of the Maori, and the evolution of the Maori in commerce during the first 100 years under British sovereignty.
Every event of major importance in the history of early New Zealand has been preceded by some form of barter, and the classical examples given in this work form attractive cameos of history arranged in historical sequence. Much original material is given from official archives of England and New Zealand, and from early diaries, and the survey, which is illustrated and admirably documented, offers another valuable contribution to Maori and Pakeha New Zealand history. Our copy is from Newbold's Bookshop Ltd., 289 George Street, Dunedin.
TIKAO TALKS: Traditions and Tales told by Teone Taare Tikao to Herries Beattie. A. H. and A. W. Reed. 163 pages. 17/6.
H. Beattie is an indefatigable collector, confining his energies more to the middle and southern part of the South Island, the country of the Ngatimamoe and later Ngaitahu. This latest book is the result of interviews with the chief Tikao, who, born in 1850, died on 11th June, 1927. His father was a lay-reader in the English church, and had learned none of the lore of his people.
I do not know how much of all this material is claimed to be now first recorded; but it must be pointed out that Tikao himself does not claim that he learned all the lore of his tribe, the Ngaitahu (he was under tuition only five years); he admits that there is much that he never learned, and that much he did learn he had forgotten. As regards the mythological material imparted by Tikao, there is far more, obtained from the Ngaitahu tribe, already on record, in the pages of John White, Wohlers, and Stack. In comparison with what is in White, Tikao's information is quite fragmentary. If Tikao could have added - 165 to this matter already known, the recording might have been worth while; but when he could not give as much—it is doubtful if he even knew what was on record—it seems hardly worth while to have recorded the fragments he remembered or half-remembered.
To be explicit. Tikao says: “I must admit that what I know of Takaroa is slight. It is said that he was originally a great fish or sea-monster like Tinirau, but I do not know the relationship between the two.” (p. 37).
Takaroa (that is, Tangaroa) was not a sea-monster, but was one of the sons of Rangi and Papa, and was the sea-deity; Tinirau was a well-known character in Polynesian story; he kept pets, and his chief pets were whales; and there is a wealth of story concerning him, and Kae, and other popular characters. One version of the story, obtained from Tikao's tribe, the Ngaitahu, fills nine pages in White (Ancient History of the Maori, vol. 2, pages 132 on); and there is a deal about Tangaroa, as a rival of Papa, also from the Ngaitahu, in the same work (vol. 1, chap. 2).
Ruaimoko Tikao designates a god of thunder and lightning; and he says: “Not much is known about Whaitiri, but probably he is a minor god, controlling thunder.” (p. 40).
Ruaimoko was the unborn deity of earthquake; and Whaitiri was the female deity of thunder, whose love for the mortal Kaitangata (because of his name) resulted in the birth of another famous hero, Tawhaki; and a great amount of detail concerning these popular characters, supplied by Ngaitahu, appears in the same work (vol. 1, p. 115 and the following twelve pages).
About stars Tikao says: “I am sorry to say that the ancient sky lore of our people has been forgotten, except a few fragments.” (p. 48); but there are some most interesting fragments in White, collected from the Ngaitahu (vol. 1, pages 52-53). Tikao says (p. 77) that in the old voyaging days the Maori did not steer by the stars; but we have many authorities who say the Polynesians did; Cook found they carried their complete nautical almanac in their memories; and see the article by A. Grimble, Gilbertese Astronomy and Navigation (J.P.S., 46, 1931, p. 197); in those islands there is no special name for an astronomer, and if you wish to consult such a person you must ask for a navigator; he is full of practical star-lore.
As regards Maui, Tikao gives his full name as Maui-tikitiki-a-Te Raka (p. 12), which name was translated as Maui-on-top-of-his-father's-head (p. 22). In White, we have the following, supplied by Tikao's people: Niwa-reka took Mata-ora as her husband, and begat Papa-ku, who begat Takataka-te-rangi, who begat Hine-ti-tama, who begat Muri-ranga-whenua, who begat Ta-ranga, who begat Maui-tiki-tiki-a-taranga; and in the myth as recorded in many variants, Ngaitahu among others, by White, we read much of the three Muri-ranga-whenua (the grandmother who supplied Maui with his fishhook), of Taranga, who wrapped him in her topknot, and of the freakish Maui. (A.H.M., 2, p. 62.)- 166
There is a suggestive remark in the note on rainbows which carries us right into the mysterious heart of Polynesian speculation and imagination: “In a double rainbow I cannot be sure whether the top or bottom arch was known as Kahukura; the other was called rokomai.” (p. 41.)
Whilst Kahukura is well known as the deity of the rainbow, or as the deity whose ahua (manifestation) was the rainbow, Rongomai (Tikao has this as rokomai a thing, not Rokomai (Rongomai, a person) is an even more shadowy figure. I had not before seen the suggestion that he was one of the two bows, but the suggestion is not inapt, for he was connected with the rainbow in some way. He introduced the kumara to New Zealand (to the people known as the Kahui-tipua, ancient inhabitants of the South Island). As they stood there a bright rainbow appeared to the people; suddenly it turned into a man, and Rongo with the kumara appeared beside them. There is much to be learned of Rongo, and this suggestion of Tikao is illuminating. It also calls to mind the fact that in central Otago is a name Nokomai, which it is said should be Nukumai: at the same time it has been observed that the name was pronounced sometimes Nokomai, sometimes Rokomai; and when asked which it should be, the Maoris would reply: “Nokomai—Rokomai—all the same.” Rokomai—Rongomai—here he is again; or an impersonating Jack-o-lantern. Kahukura was esteemed by Ngaitahu; at the foot of the Dyer-pass road, Cashmere, Christ-church, is a place called Te Iringa-o-Kahukura, meaning “the setting-up of Kahukura.” The Maori track from Riccarton to Rapaki over the hills passed this point, and here an image of Kahukura was set up on a post near the track, at the edge of the swamp which then extended to the base of the hills. At this offerings of bunches of leaves, or branches, would be left by passers-by.
Whilst the first half of the book is unsatisfying, it is otherwise with the second half, where Tikao speaks of everyday matters well within his ken. Here there is much to commend. He gives the origin of a name which I had known and wondered over for fifty years or so. From the survey maps I knew the name as Te Wai-waka-heke-tupa-paku, and understood the meaning to be “the stream where a canoe containing a corpse was seen floating down.” This never seemed satisfactory; had the Maori practised sea-burial it might have been understood, though the stream empties into lake Ellesmere and not into the sea. Later I learned that an “h” had been omitted; the name should be Te Wai-whakaheke-tupapaku, which made a difference, but did not explain. Now I learn from Tikao that it was not originally the name of the stream, but of a deep spring that gives rise to the stream. The spring was tapu, for it was used for water-burial; not sea-burial. The dead bodies, weighted with stones, were sunk in the spring, which seemed to be without bottom. Now the meaning was clear: “the water where the corpse was caused to descend.” There are many such springs in the district, though not used for the same purpose; it received the name Springs because of them: I have stood at the side of such; the wide hole goes down, down, till lost in darkness. They are tenanted by great eels.- 167
Again, Tikao has a most interesting note on that elusive word mana (p. 96), which means so many things, no Pakeha word being an exact equivalent, and no number of words an exact definition. The difficulty consists in the fact that whilst the effects of mana are physical, its origin is psychical. Tikao mentions the sacred fire, lit in a small hole in the ground, carefully covered up at the end of the ceremony calling for the fire. If anyone stepped over it, “he would fall stone dead. Its mana would kill him instantly … If a man dug up one, even a century later, its mana would kill that person.” (p. 96.) Both statements are true, but with one proviso; the man must know it was an ahi tapu (sacred fire). If he knew it—then, finis; but if he did not know it, the mana would have no effect until he did; but once he knew, then—kua mate katoa (stone dead). Mana and tapu were closely interlocked; so that when, through the missionaries and settlers, tapu was “washed out, ” mana became, so to speak, a wash-out. (see p. 97.)
From chapter 7 on, the book is of interest to expert and layman alike; the preceding chapters will interest the layman too, but he should be warned that fuller details by Tikao's tribe are on record.
An inconsistency may be pointed out—an inconsistency difficult to avoid when dealing with South Island Maori matters. Tikao's people first settled in the North Island; they were then Ngaitahu; but when they went to the south and came in contact with the Katimamoe (who were also in the North Island originally, when they were Ngatimamoe), they tended to become Kaitahu. On p. 50 the author has a note: “Gaitahu as well as Kaitahu is a common southern pronunciation of Ngaitahu.” So that all three sounds are heard; then why should Ngaitahu succumb and become Kaitahu? Would it not be better to keep the true original North Island spelling? Other words besides this name are effected. Tohunga is inclined to become tohuka; in the book it inconsistently appears as tohuka at p. 79, 80, 98, etc., and tohunga at p. 87, 114, and at other places, including the index. The confusion is apt to lead astray. Tikao speaks correctly of two primal existences as Maku and Mahoranui-a-tea (usually Mahora-nui-a-rangi)—Moisture and Great-expanse-of-heaven—whose progeny were Rangi and Papa, parents of the gods Tane, Rehua, and others. The author thinks that Maku should be mangu, darkness; but Maku is the form in the north as in the south: “k” has not taken the place of “ng”; and moisture and light or heat as the parents of all agrees with the Greek and other cosmogonies.
“Wh” is also inclined to become “w”; and Tikao says: “The, name Wakaraupo, or more correctly Whakaraupo …” (p. 105.) He says further that “whaka” means a harbour—and therefore, though he does not say this, the word should be “whanga” where the legitimate “ng” has taken the place of the illegitimate “k”; so Waka-raupo should be Whanga-raupo. The question is if it is not wrong to change the Ngaitahu “ng” and “wh” to “k” and “w” simply because contact with another tribe has caused a confusion which often leads to error, especially remembering that Katimamoe, whose name is - 168 usually so spelt in the south, also came from the north (prior to Ngaitahu), and that in the north they were Ngatimamoe. It will be seen how interesting the book is apart from its mythological shortcomings, and it is a pity that Tikao persisted in the opinion that the world, and the sky, are flat as plates (pages 9, 43), though he confesses he does not know how thick the plates are.—J. C. A.
THE GROWTH OF LITERATURE: vol. 3, by H. Munro Chadwick and N. Kershaw Chadwick. Cambridge University Press, 1940. 35/- net.
The subject of vol. 1 is “The Ancient Literature of Europe; vol. 2, “Russian, Yugoslav, Early Indian, Early Hebrew”; vol. 3, “The Tatars, Polynesian, the Sea Dyaks, African Peoples, and a General Survey.”
The particular interest to readers of this Journal will centre in the section on Polynesia, and this review is therefore confined to that portion, comprising pages 229 to 497. A huge area is included in this survey, extending 4, 000 miles from Hawaii in the north-east to Aotearoa (New Zealand) in the south-west, and 4, 500 miles from Fiji in the north-west to Rapanui (Easter island) in the south-east. An examination of the literature of the peoples scattered over this area shows that these peoples must have spread over the Pacific in very early times; for even after having been scattered for from 600 to 1, 000 years or more, the parallels, the identities, in names as well as incidents, show that the source of this common literature must be far back in time, and even at the time of scattering must have been very fully developed.
The authors say truly that “The ocean is the least effective of barriers, and in spite of the vast size of our area, the language and literature present on the whole great uniformity.” (p. 229). It has often been said that there is no incentive to learn any of the Polynesian dialects because there is no literature to justify the learning: it is being acknowledged more and more that there is a literature which, though once entirely oral, has been more and more recorded. Often, too, the native text is preserved with the translation, as in the Fornander and Emerson collections for Hawaii, the Kraemer for Samoa, the Bishop Museum Bulletins and the Journal of the Polynesian Society for Polynesia generally. A further fact emerges: the learning of one Polynesian dialect furnishes a key for the rest, for the letter-changes in the various dialects follow rigid and easily-seen law, so that knowing this law enables a student to translate a word from one dialect into most of the rest where the same word denotes the same object. Thus the Maori tangata (a man) becomes in Samoa tagata (in script only, for the g there represents the ng sound), in Tahiti ta'ata (the 'representing the dropped ng), in Hawaii kanaka (the k replacing the t and the n replacing the ng) and so on.- 169
The book does full justice to the Polynesians as navigators, though a slip has been made in saying that the Antarctic voyagers handed on “The traditions of the bull-kelp, icebergs, and walruses which they had seen there” (p. 230). There are no walruses in the Antarctic: it was seals they saw. The authors also do justice to the high intellectual development of the Polynesians (p. 231), and they quote titles or parts of stories such as the more or less fragmentary story of 'Olopana and Lu'ukia which in Maori is treated in great length and in great variety of detail in the story of Tu-te-koropanga and Rukutia. In these titles the letter-changes disguise, but do not hide, the names of the chief characters. Contrast with vigorous tales such as these the more fairytale-like stories of Rotuma, the poignant lyrical dramas of Mangaia, the bright nature-lyrics of the hula of Hawaii.
The authors use Paumotu as the name for that archipelago; but the name was, primarily at the request of the natives themselves, changed to Tuamotu, and has long been so spelt here and in the Bishop Museum publications. They speak of the long pedigrees “which extend back for many centuries” (p. 237), whose comparison, though collected in widely different areas, agree so closely as to leave no doubt of their authenticity. These pedigrees, and the genealogical tables springing from them, supply the place of dates; they form the framework upon which, in the minds of the listeners, the stories and histories of old are disposed, glittering in that framework like constellations in the heavens. We ourselves do not love the rigid framework of dates; we feel that dates can be manipulated: much more picturesque and not much less exact is it to say “in the time of the Conquest; of the Armada; of the Great Fire of London.” An ancestor like Hui-te-rangiora in his genealogical perspective is better than any date with its haughty presumption of exactitude.
Might it be suggested that it would help readers if words like aha alii (p. 239) were printed aha ali'i, The inverted comma indicates the catch in the breath heard in the spoken word which indicates that a consonant has been dropped—in this case k, alii or ali'i being, with its letter-change, the Maori word ariki, so often used in this book. On p. 246 the name Ra'iatea, printed with an apostrophe instead of an inverted comma, is the same as the Maori Rangiatea, the comma denoting the dropped ng, a catch in the breath taking its place.
“There does not appear to be any hard and fast rule as regards form between Polynesian poetry and prose.” (p. 239). No; but they may be readily distinguished; poetry is fuller of imagery, of archaic words and expressions, and is more emotional: this is in part recognized (p. 241). There is a surer rhythm in the poetry than in the prose, but metre does not enter until the song is an action-song, when it tends to become as regular as in all accentual poetry—in Polynesian the accents are supplied by the movements of hand, feet, head, body.
“Probably no race ever held its history in higher esteem than the Polynesians … The proportion of attention devoted to the events of centuries long past, and personalities long dead, is the more remarkable since these records have always been carried on without the aid - 170 of writing. Such a task could only have been accomplished by generations of specialists, saga-tellers highly trained in the art of memorizing as well as in their critical faculty. And such a class of men could only exist where their art was held in high esteem and supported on generous lines. We have seen that the very absence of written records has afforded one of the main incentives among Polynesian chiefs towards the support of their oral record-keepers. The result of this happy circumstance has been the production in Polynesia of one of the two finest oral historical literatures in the world.” (p. 260). This leaves little to be said regarding these fine chapters, which contain the heartiest appreciation of Polynesian literature I have yet seen; and they do not estimate it too highly. The trouble has been the placing of the material on record: first it had to be accurately received, then faithfully set down, then published. A good deal has been so published, original text as well as translation, especially since the Bernice P. Bishop Museum of Honolulu has sent so many expeditions into the Pacific gathering material, and publishing the same. The Pakeha is exerting himself to preserve something of that beautiful literature as utu for the destruction, by earlier Pakehas, of its creators; preserve it in its natural mellifluous tongue, wherein reside its colour, its fragrance, the breath of its spirit.
The farewell speech of Te Anu to the dead Hauraki is quoted, also the lament by his young wife (p. 265); and reading them I was reminded of a thought which struck me when I read Butler's literal translation of Homer's Iliad; “The Polynesians were nobler folks than the Greeks: a stone-age nobility, greater than that of marble and gold.”
Chapter 1 of the book is a good Introduction; chapter 2, Saga and Poetry relating to the Migration Period …; chapter 3, Non-heroic Saga, and Poetry relating to Legendary Characters …; chapter 4, Saga and Poetry relating to Divine Beings …; chapter 5, Poetry and Saga relating to unspecified Individuals; chapter 6, Dramatic and Ritual Poetry; chapter 7, Antiquarian, Gnomic, and Descriptive Literature; chapter 8, Recitation and Composition; chapter 9, The Tohunga, Kaula, etc.; Bibliography, 7 pages.
Every chapter is full of interest; too full for the comfort of a reviewer. It might be noted that in the Tawhaki (Ta'aki) cycle, Kariki as printed (pp. 271, 272), should be Karihi; cocoanut (p. 287, 288 note, etc.), should be coconut; Ongtong-Java (p. 289) should be Ontong Java; aorai (the clouds of heaven) (p. 301), clearer as aora'i= aorangi; “Tane (Kane—the name means ‘man,’ ‘husband’)” (p. 312); no, tangata means “man”; Tane means “male, ” or “man as Husband”; the forms tabu, taboo, and tapu all used, but the correct tapu oftenest, and rightly, for the Polynesian had no b, though the p made approaches to it when carelessly spoken; inuinu tai (p. 356) much better as inuinu ta'i=tahi (one), for tai has a definite meaning—sea, or tide.
There is a very good discussion of the Areoi Society, stressing the strenuousness of their training, the high aesthetic standard of - 171 their performances, the value and appreciation of these performances, the preservation by them of the history and literature of the region where they were so active (p. 429). It is noted that among the Maori poetic composition was especially common among women (p. 413). The name Topeora comes to mind in confirmation; a mistress of virulence and invective: the Polynesian did not so much mind being killed, but he strongly objected to being cursed and cooked—and Topeora had mana in all three directions, and was the composer and singer of many an uncomfortable cursing song.
A true word is spoken regarding the Mangaia death-talks: “Realism is … almost wholly eschewed, the ideal aimed at being a wistful and remote reflective attitude in regard to events well known to all.” It was not a dramatic performance seen acted before the spectators, but a mental performance taking place in the imagination, evoked by the solos and choruses, sp that each was his own interpreter of the drama, and never out of humour with the shadowy representation.
The authors call attention more than once to the similarity between Polynesian literature and the literature of early Japan. The book concludes with a fine summing-up: one is loth to leave it; the above appreciation must suffice.—J. C. A.