Volume 4 1895 > Volume 4, No. 3 > Notes and queries, p 206-207
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- 206

[74] Notes on a supposed early Mention of New Zealand in a Geographical Treatise of the 12th Century.

In the account of the Proceedings of the Otago Institute, at a meeting held March 16, 1870, (Trans. N. Z. Institute, vol. iii, part i, Proceedings, p. 65), it appears that the Vice-President, Mr A. Eccles, read a paper “On the Discovery of New Zealand.” He suggested that New Zealand had been visited before Tasman's time, giving the following as his grounds for so doing:—“The editor of the English Mechanic, (December 3rd, 1869, p. 279), states, in answer to a correspondent, ‘Urban,’ that various Arabic geographical works of the 13th and 14th centuries, many of which, having been translated, as ‘El Ideesee,’ by M. Jaubert, are to be found in the fine libraries of Vienna and Paris, as well as in the various Asiatic Ethnological Societies, both English and foreign, describe New Zealand as a large and very mountainous country in the farthest Southern Ocean, beyond and far south-east of both Ray (Borneo) and Bartalie (New Guinea), and as being uninhabited by man, and containing nothing but gigantic birds known as the ‘Seêmoah.’” Mr Eccles then gave the names of several foreign publications in which passages of the works are to be found translated. I have several times tried to get to the source of the information given above, but have always been unsuccessful. Within the last three months I wrote to the Librarian of the great library at Paris, enclosing the paragraph and asking for his assistance, but have as not yet heard from him. I have, however, just discovered the key to it, and by the insertion of this note in the Polynesian Journal I trust that we may soon have the passage supposed to apply to New Zealand published. The paragraph, after the words “13th and 14th centuries,” should read, “many of which have been translated, as those of El Edrisi by M. Jaubert, and are,” &c. El Edrisi is a well-known geographer of the 12th century, and his writings have been translated by M. Jaubert into French in 1840, as vols. 5 and 6 of the Recueil des Voyages issued by the Société de Géographic of France. It seems that in 1861 a number of oriental scholars arranged to undertake a new translation, each taking a separate division. According to the last edition of the Eneyclopedia Britannica, Central and Eastern Asia (which I suppose would be the section in which we are interested) was allotted to Defrémery. One portion appeared in 1866, but I cannot ascertain if any other part has since been issued. Perhaps some foreign members of the Polynesian Society may be in a position to forward a translation of that part of the work which is supposed to apply to New Zealand, and also that part in particular anent the “Seêmoah.” Possibly this may be our friend the “Simurgh” again—the “Roc” of the Arabian story-tellers. From the account given in the Encyclopedia, the general map of El Edrisi's work is published by Dr. Vincent in his Periplus of the Erythræan Sea. This is probably inaccessible in the colonies, but a sketch of the Australasian area would be of interest to us. The Bodleian contains a MS. of the work dated about 1500, which would give probably what is reqnired. The University of Jena has a MS. with a Latin translation by Velochius, not published. Although further research may possibly prove that there is nothing in the work relating to New Zealand, the investigation will be the means of settling a matter which has been an open question for a quarter of a century.—A. Hamilton.

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[75] Eating Worms.

Some years ago I happened to meet an elderly Maori man and two children, while I had in my hand a canister of worms dug for fishing. Showing the worms to my old acquaintance, I remarked that they were good bait for eels, but instead of assenting, he laconically replied, “Ka pai he kai.” Then suiting his action to his word, he took from the canister one of the largest worms, pinched off the tail, ran it between his fingers to discharge the inside, and popped it into his mouth, eating it with evident relish, while I watched him with much amusement. The effect on the Maori children was curious, their expressions of disgust being unmistakable. I could not understand what they said, but the words ka kino frequently occurred. I think this incident worth recording. The eating of worms is regarded as a disease; it would therefore be interesting to discover whether worms were used as food by the Maori in olden times. If they were, the behaviour of the children shows how soon an article of diet may become distasteful or even disgusting to those who have ceased to use it.—Joshua Rutland.

[76] Note on “The Song of Kualii.”

In the Journal, vol. ii, p. 169, line 306 of “The song of Kualii, of Hawaii,” is the following: “Ukanaopiopio, Moakuaalano.” Will some of our Hawaiian members oblige by giving an English translation of this? Piopio is the name given by the Maoris to a certain historical feather, said to have been that of the moa (dinornis.) In connexion with the above sentence I notice three misprints in the Journal. Lono=Maori Rongo, is spelt Hono. On page 177 is Uk i naopiopio, the steerers in the stern of the canoe (?). Moakuaalono, the rushing up of the waves, is compared to the rushing up of a game-cock to fight (?). The kiwi was, by the Maori, said to be “the hidden bird of Tane,” which would compare with “the fighting moa of Rongo,” if that is equivalent to Moa-kua-a-Lono.—Taylor White.

[77] Ancient Polynesian Chart.

We have received from the Rev. J. E. Newell, of Samoa, a very interesting photographic copy of an ancient Polynesian Chart, which we hope to reproduce in the next number of the Journal.—Editors.