Volume 64 1955 > Volume 64, No. 4 > The Dendroglyphs of the Chatham Islands, by Christina Jefferson, p 367-441
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- 367
“Was it praise or passion or prayer,
was it love or devotion or dread?”

I had for many years been interested in the Chatham Islands and in the bark carvings of the Moriori. When, towards the end of 1946, a visit to that territory seemed possible, I applied to the Canterbury Museum for something to do while there. Dr. R. S. Duff, who was then Acting-Director, suggested among other things the copying of the bark carvings, which he said still existed on the trees, and on which no complete work had been attempted.

It was a piece of work which appealed to me and I spent from 8th February to 3rd May, 1947, and from 27th October in the same year until the 11th May, 1948, a little over nine months at the Chathams. My chief concern was in collecting information about and in copying the glyphs carved by the Moriori, the people who were occupying the islands in 1791, when they were discovered by Lieut. Broughton, captain of the H.M.S. Chatham. The last of the race, Thomas Solomon (Tame Horomona Te Rangitapua), 1 died in 1933.

After long days in the open, days all lovely with sunshine, shadow and living things; after much search, much trial and much tribulation; after being stirred again and again by the discovery of carvings ever more astonishing, more outlandish and wholly unexpected, I arrived back in New Zealand with some sixty photographs, over two hundred finished drawings of the glyphs and copious notes. This work is the result of my observations and a summary of my findings.

My thanks are due to the late Magistrate, Mr. Ryan Holmes and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. David Holmes, Mr. and - 368 Mrs. Cannon, Mrs. Paynter, the late Mr. and Mrs. T. McClurg, Mr. and Mrs. Troy, Mr. and Mrs. Neilsen, Mr. and Mrs. T. Lanauze, Mr. and Mrs. Ousey, Mr. E. Lanauze, Mr. and Mrs. M. Lanauze, Mr. and Mrs. F. Lanauze, Mr. and Mrs. J. Gregory-Hunt, Mr. and Mrs. Black, Messrs. R. and G. Seymour, Mr. and the late Mrs. J. Goomes, Mr. and Mrs. Tewiata, Mr. and Mrs. R. Jacobs, Mr. and Mrs. G. Weisner, Mr. and Mrs. Charteris and the Rev. Mr. and Mrs. Aiken for their hospitality; to Messrs. Troy, F. Hough, J. Hough, S. Daymond, S. Hough, M. Grennell and D. Holmes for the use of huts and disused dwellings in their back country; to Mr. C. R. H. Taylor (The Alexander Turnbull Library), Messrs. John Harris and B. C. Dowling (Otago University Library), Mr. A. G. W. Dunningham (Dunedin Public Library) and their staffs for ready assistance and for the use of their libraries; to the director and staffs of the Auckland, Wellington, Canterbury and Otago Museums for photographs and permission to copy their carvings; to Messrs. Coulls Somerville Wilkie Ltd. and Mr. M. Conly for the facilities of their art department; to Dr. J. R. Elder, Dr. Leonhard Adam, Dr. H. D. Skinner, Dr. R. A. Falla, Dr. R. S. Duff and Mr. W. J. Phillipps for valuable advice, help and encouragement, to Eileen L. Soper for reading the manuscript, to Eana B. Jeans with whom I had some talk on the art of the Moriori, to Mr. Eugene Sansum of the Wellington Public Library for advice concerning the bibliography, to Mr. A. Hampton for advice about the map, and to Mr. Michael Barker of Woodbury, South Canterbury, for a drawing of a glyph.

I am indebted to my friend, the late Ngaria Riwai, Mrs. Martin, who claimed to be of three-quarters Moriori blood, for permission to publish her photograph; to her, Messrs. Willie Jacobs, Cleeve A. Cox and Joseph Goomes for much valuable information; to Mrs. L. K. Wilson of Pio Pio for permission to publish a pencil sketch by Miss Stoddart of a Moriori; to the Alexander Turnbull Library for permission to publish a photograph of a Moriori; to Dr. H. D. Skinner's work, “The Morioris of the Chatham Islands,” on which I have relied for much of my basic material and to Dr. and Mrs. W. J. Boroman for constant help and encouragement.

I have to thank the islanders for other things: cups of tea along the way, company for a brief mile or two on - 369 a lonely journey, a cheery word as we stopped to exchange news in passing, the giving of the time of day from their saddles as they drew rein for a moment beside my unfrequented hut, and an enquiry as to my need of essential things; matches, a piece of a new loaf, a chop or two, eggs, shellfish or a fat bird as they returned from hunting. They gave too, a direction here, and a warning there as I branched off on new and untried paths. These were some of the pleasures for which I am indebted to those warmhearted folks.


On arriving at Waitangi, the main port of the Chatham Islands, I made enquiries about the carvings of the Moriori. No one could tell me anything about them. They had been carved on the karaka (Corynocarpus laevigata) trees; but had gone long ago it was inferred. The trees had fallen, or the carvings had grown out, weathered by time and overgrown by moss.

One man questioned had seen some in a patch of bush on the north-east coast, twenty years before. There might have been four or five, he thought. He could not remember exactly what they were—“perhaps human figures.”

Two weeks after my arrival I saw my first Moriori glyph, an isolated one apparently, on a tree growing out of a shell-heap, beside the track to Kaingaroa. Its presence on that particular tree puzzled me when passing it time after time on my journeys; but it was not until two months later after much unsuccessful seeking that the shell-heap suggested some relationship with the carving. Immediate search proved that fallen trees nearby had been carved.

My next journey was to Taia on the edge of a lake. In a sheltered space surrounded by matipo (Suttonia chathamica) scrub, big old karaka trees, many with carved trunks, were growing. The place was on the landward side of sand-hills, some sixty feet high. The branches of the trees, interlacing, locked and levelled, by the constant wind from the sea, formed a ceiling. Spread about were five 2 shell-heaps and adjacent, two roughly circular clearings. My instant impression was that people had lived there. I had found a dwelling-site or “arbour,” to use Broughton's term, - 370 to describe the homes of the inhabitants at the time of his discovery of the country.

In all it had taken three months of strenuous journeyings and searchings merely to locate that, my first treasure-house of primitive Moriori art. The proximity of the carvings to old dwelling sites indicated by the shell middens proved an invaluable discovery. 3 To find the dwelling arbours though difficult enough was much less difficult than to find moss-covered carvings in the wilderness of a karaka forest, without any guide.

The presence of middens at a particular spot did not always indicate that glyphs would be found there. Many of the karaka that had once sheltered the people at such a place, had disappeared; perhaps each dwelling site did not support an artist or had not sufficient standing to have carved trees. The point of importance was however, that a dendroglyph was never found where there were no heaps of refuse shells. Thereafter on my journeys a stand of karaka, on the trees of which there might possibly be carvings did not excite my attention; but a raised heap of pipi (Amphidesma subtriangulatum) shells beside a bush track was an almost certain indication that search on nearby trees would be rewarded.

This Taia arbour proved to comprise eleven shell middens and forty-nine glyphs. On my return to New Zealand at this point, I had much to report and could look forward to having plenty to do on my next visit to the Chathams.

I returned with the Port Waikato, reaching the island early on the stormy morning of 27th October, 1947. How superior I felt in having gumboots, oilcoat and sou'-wester in a kit in the cabin with me, and attired in these I was able to land like an “old hand.” The ship made several attempts to tie up, sliding and heaving past the wharf and out into the bay again; but at last a rope was caught by the watchful wharfinger.

The first day was spent in much talk, the news being told back and forth. Then I made my preparations and was off on the old all-day trail, along the beach, up the road, - 371 over the “clears,” 4 across the lake and on and on, leaving miles of flat country behind me. In more talk to old friends at Kaingaroa another day was spent and then my job commenced.

At the Chathams, November and December are cold months and through the fringes of a patch of bush where there is little undergrowth, the wind rushes with biting force. Rough sketches of the carvings were made, my plan being to finish them in comparative comfort at my hut; but the subject matter was too new to me and so unbelievable. My data repeatedly appeared insufficient. Constant comparisons with the glyphs were necessary and it seemed, cold or otherwise, that the drawing would have to be done at the trees themselves. First the moss and lichen had to be scraped from parts of the carving covered with this growth, to bring into relief the original outlines. The glyph was then carefully viewed from above, below, from left and from right, in morning, midday and late afternoon lights. The carving prepared for reproducing, I would make a little fire near a stump and every now and then, would take a few minutes, leaning against the dry wood to warm my hands and feet.

Towards the end of January the weather became warmer. Walks to and from the arbours across sunny “clears” and along the bush tracks were an endless pleasure. There were always glimpses of a silent lake and long days in the peace and quiet of a forest glade were a great delight.

Food was a problem. I had not been used to carrying with me enough for several meals a day for a couple of weeks at a time. The growing season is late in the Chathams and vegetables are few in November and December. All my walks to and from my working place were searches for puha (milk-thistle) and watercress, but cattle like these too, and I had to be content with their leavings, an odd few leaves. 5 Everything had to be carried in a “splitsack” over my horse's back, and weight of food, sleeping-bag and clothing had to be considered always. Altogether, I rode over a thousand miles and spent seventy-seven nights alone in - 372 remote habitations. I do not know how many miles I walked.

On the other hand I had never been so close to the life of seashore, forest and lake in the spring of the year. I had not seen the little intimacies of bird life, nor witnessed their tragedies either. There was too the beauty of wild flowers, of the forest tracks, of colour and light in long stretches of “clears” and shore, the beauty of days of quiet sunshine and in the strange harmonies of raging gale and flying scud. All these were experiences not easily forgotten.

The two hundred and thirteen previously unrecorded glyphs, of which drawings were made came from thirty-two different sites; at Hapupu, Kaingarahu, Taia and Kairae on the east coast; Pinui on the north-east coast; Makeroa and Manauea on the northern coast; Mairangi and Tioriori on the north-west coast and Te Puinga on Pitt Island. These places are for the most part far away from the present centres of cultivation and are usually narrow strips of good land between sea and lake or between sea and “clears” so narrow or so far away from a centre, as to have been able to resist the depredations of settlers. 6 As many of the lakes are just inside the sand dunes, many of the dwelling places of the people are near both beach and lake. Some of these places are known by the names of the lakes on whose shores they are.


Apparently neither Broughton nor his men saw the carvings; but both he and Johnstone, the master of his ship, have recorded what they saw of the homes of the Moriori in their brief sojourn of six hours ashore at what Broughton called Skirmish Bay, now known as Kaingaroa Harbour.

Broughton (6, [p. 23] p. 84) says, “The woods in some spots had the appearance of being cleared and in several places between the hills, smoke was observed.” Again [p. 23] p. 87, “The woods afforded a delightful shade and being clear of undergrowth, were in many cases formed into arbours by bending the trees when young and - 373 enclosing them round with smaller trees. These appear to have been slept in very lately.”

On [p. 25] p. 89, he goes on, “On tracing some of the footpaths, nothing was discovered but great masses of ear shells and recesses formed in the same manner with a simple palisade as those seen on our first landing.”

Johnstone's journal (13, [p. 27] p. 505) says, … “whilst we were free from molestation [we] examined the skirts of the wood, where we found no other signs of habitation, than a small circle of clear ground sometimes fenced in by a simple palisade. In the centre of the circle was the mark of a fireplace and a great number of fish shells lay about particularly the earshell. This had no other covering than the growing branches of the trees.”

The tree in Plate I, has a piece of bark cut out to the sap-wood, the cut extending round the tree over a length of two feet six inches. Few trees had a second incision similar to that shown below the main one in this photograph. In many arbours trees are to be seen similarly treated; many with much smaller cuts and some with larger ones, up to over three feet in height and extending in one case to three-quarters of the girth of the tree. I was told that these are trees that the Moriori had ring-barked for firewood. This could hardly be so as the karaka on which they appear supplies poor firewood and the Moriori would not use it in the presence of abundant supplies of the better burning ake-ake and matipo. Moreover, these “cut-outs” are always about three feet from the ground at the height at which the smaller glyphs were usually carved. 7

One tree, Plate H, was found above a cleared roughly circular space, bending over, perhaps because of having had diametrically opposite excisions made in it similar to the excision in the tree in Plate I.

This tree, considering Broughton's statement, “The - 374 woods . . . were . . . formed into arbours by bending the trees when young . . . ”, may have been one that had been so cut for this very purpose. At many dwelling-sites trees are to be seen much cut about and their growth thus interfered with, and within a few yards of every group of middens or of sites with a single midden, is a roughly circular grassy space entirely free from forest growth. It may be asked why the forest has not claimed these spaces; but they are, and probably always have been, since the early introduction of stock, favoured grazing spots and beasts would nip off every forest seedling as it appeared. Moreover, the “clears” with their original covering mainly of flax and fern would afford poor pasture before introduced grasses became established.

It seems then that these dwelling-sites, the cleared spaces with the middens, and the carved trees near them, should be regarded as the “arbours” which Broughton speaks of. From within a few feet of every such place the trees of the karaka forest stand tall and straight with nothing on their clean boles other than the moss and lichen of centuries.


Dendroglyph culture is an ancient one and it may be fitting here to give some account of the word. It seems best in this memoir to follow the terminology of Etheridge who, speaking of the carved trees of New South Wales says (10, p. 1), “The term [dendroglyph] is a very convenient one to designate trees as a whole, the boles of which have been incised, carved or marked by a process of cutting in some fashion or other.

“It is the custom in some parts of the State to colloquially speak of these trees as ‘carved trees’ and the operation of so utilizing them is in some parts known at tattooing. The term is derived from the language of the ancient Greeks alone; dendro, a tree and glyph, a carving.”

Throughout this memoir, the carved trees will be referred to in a generic sense as dendroglyphs. Of the term “glyph” a term which Etheridge uses to indicate, “a carving as a whole on a surface from which the bark has or has not been wholly removed,” he says (10, p. 1), “Strictly speaking in archaeology, a carved figure or character incised or in relief.”

- i
Collected by Travers and published in Newzeland Inst. Trans., vol. IX, 1876.
- ii
Collected by Dandy, N.Z.Inst. Trans. vol. 34, Pl. V. 1901.
Collected by Skinner and published in The Morjaris, Fig. 2 p.5, 1928.
- 375

The dendroglyphs were first reported and drawings of the glyph first published in 1876 by Travers 8 (20, p. 15) who published seven line drawins, Plate M.

In 1901 Dendy (8, p. 15) published five line drawings, Plate N.

In 1903 Hamilton (11, pl. III) published one photograph, which is of a glyph now in the Canterbury Museum.

In 1928 Skinner (17, p. 5) published twelve line drawings, Plate Lb O 9 and a photograph (16, pl. 5) of a painting by Miss Stoddart reported to be in the Dominion Museum, showing a portion of the karaka forest with glyphs on two of the trees.

Skinner (16, p. 70) says, “In Hunt's biography the story of the murder of Menui's wife and child is told and Hunt records (12, p. 33) that Menui placed the bodies in a cave and afterwards carved figures of the two on a karaka tree.” This is the only recorded instance of carving having been carried out.

It might be wondered why the Moriori resorted to trees on which to practise his art. The Maori used for his carving the totara (Podocarpus totara) with its durable and easily worked timber; but this tree does not grow on the Chathams. The timber of the karaka is straight but was not used. That of the ake ake (Olearia traversii) seems to have been used by the Moriori for some purposes: eel slashers, barge-boards or house-planks, some carved ones of which are in the Dominion Museum are probably made of ake-ake. Most of these trees however, are twisted and gnarled and the timber though durable would present difficulty to the carver. There are few rock faces of a suitable nature in the islands and so the bark of the karaka served the purpose.

It may be however that tree-carving at a dwelling-site near their middens was part of the inherited culture of these people. Inclement weather at the Chatham Islands made forest dwelling desirable and the karaka tree was there at hand.

- 376

The glyphs were carved on karaka trees only, this having a thick, soft, but crisp bark, easily cut. At once there arises the question of the age of the carvings and the age of the tree when carved. No information as to the life of this tree is available. Clearly it must have been a fairly well-grown tree when the glyphs were made. The girth of carved trees is from under three to over nine feet.

Instances were found, however, where the tree had increased in girth and the cuts have expanded so much as to be no longer visible, or a limb or one side of a face was wider than the other because of this subsequent growth. In 30, a gap showed in the outer lower “branches” of the “tree” to the right of the illustration, and their inverted V-shaped terminations appeared a foot away from the rest of the “branch.” A buttress had filled out and the new growth had parted the carving. This glyph is reproduced as it was considered it looked originally. While the girth has advanced, 10 the height of the glyphs would seem to have remained the same as when carved. Few glyphs were so high that difficulty was found in reaching their top-most part when measuring them. The carvings came in a few cases to within a foot or less of the ground, so that all growth upward since the glyphs were made has been, as is usual, in the upper part of the tree.

It might be expected that a primitive people would have some concern for the direction faced by their carvings. It seemed possible that either the east or the west might have some significance for them. Skinner (16, p. 60) says, “The spirit immediately after death departed from the body to the main ridge of hills, along which it passed to Perau, 11 the most westerly point of the island.”

In most cases the direction in which the glyph was facing was taken. When it was a multiple glyph with figures around the tree, the direction was taken of what seemed the most important part of the glyph. If it included a human figure, then the direction that that figure was facing was the direction recorded. If there were two or more human - 377 figures in the glyph, then the direction faced by the more or most important of them was that noted.

Of two hundred glyphs taken at random, the following are the percentages facing in the different directions:—W.: 17½%; N.: 16½%; E.: 12½%; S.: 12½%; N.W.: 11%; N.E.: 10%; S.E.: 10%; S.W.: 10%. West and north show the highest number, and it is perhaps of some slight significance that in the intermediate directions, north-west has a little increase over the others; but the difference is so small that it seems that direction did not matter. What did appear was that the carvings in the main faced the centre of a group of middens and were all round it. Few faced away from it, and in one arbour of forty-five dendroglyphs or carved trees where there were two middens each containing three heaps of shells, only one glyph faced outwards. At any arbour having a midden of only one heap of shells the number of dendroglyphs was small; perhaps only from two to five or six.

The question of the age of the carvings was carefully investigated early in my enquiry. Skinner in 1924 says (17, p. 6), “I do not think that any of the tree trunk figures seen are much older than a century.”

Suggestions that the glyphs were the work of Europeans need not be taken seriously. The evidence that they are the work of the Moriori is not only intrinsic; but we have the testimony of Mrs. Martin's grandfather, Ropiha.

In April, 1947, the old lady told me that Ropiha showed her carvings in the forest saying, “These are your people. These are the work of your ancestors. Look after them. Do not let the pakeha touch any [more].” 12 This would be sometime between 1885 and 1895. At the Chathams eleven persons whose ages were between seventy and eighty-five years, were questioned. All but two who had been taken there in their first years, had been born at the islands. Without exception the old people interviewed were definite in saying that the carvings were very old, made before the Maoris, some 900 of them, came to the Chathams in 1835, after which they asserted that the Moriori had, “no homes,” that they were “chased away.” We know that many were - 378 killed and that later, sickness and hopelessness accounted for more. The old order changed. They were dispersed and made the slaves of dominant and exacting usurpers who took possession of the most favoured Moriori food producing places; places most desirable to the Maori also, whose reason for invading the Chathams was because of the abundance of food to be had there.

It is probable that after their dispersal, the age-old confidence engendered by the accustomed surroundings of his traditional culture was lost and bewilderment overtook the Moriori. The people lived no longer in their previously organized bands, in settled places in the bush beside the lakes and near the shores. They had “no homes.”

Early records picture them at the beck and call of their masters. We can imagine that in such a state their reason for carving and even their will to do so, disappeared.

In June, 1949, in reply, through a third person, to a letter from me, Mrs. Martin wrote to say that she could remember when she was a young girl, Ropiha going to the bush to carve on trees. He would go without breakfast and would not partake of food until he returned home. He would take as much as two months to do one carving. He was then an old man and very lame. Unfortunately the bush Mrs. Martin referred to has since been cleared. This is a matter of regret, as a comparison of carvings made by so outstanding a Moriori as was Ropiha in his day, with carvings made beyond the memory of any folk now living would have shed light on the effect of a different culture on the art of a primitive people.

Mr. Jack Hough, about ten years older than Mrs. Martin, said, “Ropiha did not carve. He was only a poor old man.”

Mrs. Mataira said she did not know of Ropiha having carved on trees. She is about eight years younger than Mrs. Martin. Ropiha lived at Wairua, Mrs. Mataira's home, all her childhood and young womanhood until he died. He was supposed to have been about twelve years old when the Maori came in 1835.

In New Zealand, seventeen persons between the ages of seventy and ninety-one were questioned. These had either been born at the islands or had spent many years of their early lives there; but none was able to throw any light on - 379 the subject of the age of the carvings, other than that they were made long ago by the Moriori and not by the Maori or by anyone else subsequent to European settlement. Ten persons said that the carvings were regarded with awe and avoided by many of the inhabitants of the islands: ten said that they themselves had not been interested in the carvings and had not taken any notice of any that were to be seen alongside the bush tracks.

Hamilton (11, p. 12) says, “Most other specimens Travers has seen have had the figure indicated by incised lines and are probably much more modern than the one figured . . . For a photograph Plate Lb [of the one referred to in the previous sentence] of one of the oldest and most characteristic, I am indebted to Mr. I. J. Kinsey.”

Though these remarks are interesting, the glyphs, 67, 68 and others carved by this method showed no sign of being any older than any other glyph seen during the present search.


Different methods of carving are clear; both V-shaped and semicircular cuts being used. In general the main lines are incised to a depth of from one-quarter to three-quarters of an inch; but some, amongst them, 2 and 20, are carved to a depth of one and a half inches. It is usual, particularly in the face, to find that incised lines are separated by untouched bark. In some cases two features adjoin each other without any intervening piece of virgin bark. Then one of these features is usually carved more deeply than the other as is what may be meant for the nose in 15 or the eyebrows in 11.

In some glyphs, as 22, however, where a patterned hollow beneath the eyes, the nose, lip and perhaps on out-thrust tongue all touch one another, a slight ridge in the bark shows where this occurs.

Another method is seen in the large leaf-looking object to the left of 34, where the whole surface of the bark is scraped off and different depths cut in it perhaps to show shadow. This is referred to as etching. The decoration of the body in 22 is etched in this way. A pattern inside the etching follows its outline and is scraped more deeply. Where - 380 the etching touches the legs a tiny ridge is left. In 60a the face is etched and the features with the exception of the nose-incised in the usual way.

An interesting difference in method is seen in a group in which the bark is cut out in oval shape, round the figure to the sapwood and the trunk exposed, giving the glyph a cameo-like appearance. The bark that is left thickens as it heals and the figure is thrown into high relief. As four out of the fourteen glyphs of human figures seen at the Auckland, Dominion and Canterbury Museums 13 are of this type, one wonders if early collectors considered it an unusual one. Two, 67 and 68, are included in this memoir. It seems strange that, while the bark of the figure in 68 has rounded, that in 67 has remained flat. The photograph 67a and 67 are of the same glyph. Only six carvings of the human figure made by this method were seen in the present search.

Many of the zoomorphic figures were made in this way and some fine effects achieved in 72, 85, Plate J and others. The shape of the body is incised, exposing the sapwood and head, tail fins, flippers and wings carved in the contiguous bark. Such figures could possibly be classed among the X-ray type, the bodies, perhaps, being intended to show the parts used as food.

A method similar to this is used for depicting the faces only, of a small group of human figures, e.g., 58, 60b, 61, 62, 63 and 64. Irregular forms are roughly gouged in the sap-wood and look as though intended for facial features; but more gouges than seem necessary are usually made and in most cases without results even faintly recognisable as human features. It is noteworthy that they are to be seen only at Makeroa on the north coast. Blank featureless faces are to be seen in other arbours carved in the usual way and are not to be confused with this Makeroa type. It sometimes seems that in other glyphs where this blank face is used more attention is meant to be paid to other points in the glyph than to the face.

The term “cut-out” is used for regular and irregularly shaped carvings more or less rectangular in form and always excised to the sapwood. Their widest part is always round the tree. They vary in size from about five by eight inches - 381 up to the size shown in Plate I. They may have been intended to represent larger fish, sea creatures of the sunray or dolphin type.

The name eel is used for forms bent and curved as though wriggling eel-like. This form is always incised. The term fish is given to cod and flounder-like forms, almost always cut out to the sapwood. Many of the small figures comprising a glyph seem, perhaps, to have been intended to represent eels or small fish and other birds.

Considerable skill and artistry were developed, allowance seeming to have been made for the change likely to be wrought in the design by the callusing action of the bark. Occasionally the sapwood itself is cut as are the bars in the fine fish, 48, the lines to show the backbone in 85a and the gouges in the top right-hand figures in 7 and 8 intended perhaps to represent feathers.

Unexpected treatment is seen in 65. The part below the breast of the bird seems to have been artificially raised and is cut swiftly away to show the bulk of the bird as though resting on the water; while the area below the bird, shown by the darkened triangle, recedes to ordinary trunk level. The Moriori may have known the secrets of grafting.

Sometimes it is not the lines intended to show the figure that are cut out, but the spaces in between as in the decoration of the body of i in Skinner's group. In this bars forming the pattern are left in relief in the virgin bark. This method of throwing the main part of the figure into relief is seen in Plate La and in a glyph in the Auckland Museum; but in these the bark removed has been etched, not cut out. None of this etched type were found in the present search.

The glyphs seem to have been carved with a sharp instrument, presumably the stone adze, toki. In most cases the edges of the carvings are clean and even and the curves and angles neatly executed. In others the execution is not so good, lines being uneven and the edges ragged. In a small number the work seems careless and to have been carried out in a perfunctory manner. Perhaps in these the lines had not been carved deeply enough for the callusing action of the bark to have taken effect.

Varying depths of cutting are used to show gradations of shading as in the eye in 21, where it is seen lightly etched. In the centre of this etching is the deeply gouged iris and - 382 within it a more deeply gouged oval intended perhaps for the pupil, the whole having an intaglio-like effect. In some glyphs depicting birds as 69a and 70 the depths of carving show the forms of the bodies.

In my drawings the depth of all cuts or etched parts is shown by the heaviness of my shading. The glyphs in the forest, covered with moss and lichen are well preserved and easy to copy. Those in the open, exposed to sun and wind have enlarged and widened beyond the confines of the original cuts and curiously have the appearance of having faded. As is to be expected in old trees, the bark is often broken or when a cut on the side of the tree exposed to the sun has grown out, parts of the carving are lost. These glyphs are hard to copy, for the lines are often difficult to follow.

Where this occurs, those parts of the drawing have been left unfinished; but where the incised lines are complete, they are completely outlined in the drawing. In 23, where the design at the base of the figure is perfected with lines shallower than those immediately above, the shallow lines are shown in the drawing more lightly shaded than those more deeply carved.

Through their having been done on the flat, the drawings lose some of the effect that is evident in the glyphs when they are seen on the trees against the background of bush; but many of the glyphs are so large as to extend round the trees they are on, and to get the whole picture a flat drawing was necessary. On the other hand, because of irregularities in the bark, patches of moss, lichen and decay and the incidence of small young growth, many glyphs are not so clear or so even in outline on the trees as they are in the drawings. Detail was a most important consideration and as much of this is not seen in a photograph, the best method of reproducing the glyphs was by means of flat drawings.

Whether the Moriori intended everything carved on any one tree, as one picture is not clear. In some, as 100, that certainly seems so.

Excepting in a few cases all carving on a tree is shown as one glyph and in all cases, except where it is stated otherwise, the drawings are one-fifth of the size of the glyph. The reproductions, however, are reduced still further; but - 383 measurements are given which indicate in each instance the original size. Where there is more than one carving to a glyph, the width taken is from the outside edge of one carving, right round the tree to the outside edge of the last piece of carving including the width of any portions of carving in between. The height is the distance from the base of the lowest piece of carving to the top of the highest piece in the glyph. The letter “H” is used for height and “W” for width where measurements are given.

The heights of the trees on which the glyphs were carved were estimated and are in the possession of the Polynesian Society. Below some drawings no measurements are given as these glyphs were copied towards the end of my stay when time taken in measuring would not have been so profitably spent as in copying more glyphs.

For the line enclosing the facial features the term “head-line” is used. Though in many cases in the discussion of types of glyphs or parts of them, every one of the type has been mentioned, this has not always been done, preference being given to certain selected ones.

Many of my quotations from early writers on the Chathams are from extracts given in full in Skinner's works which are more easily accessible than the works of the writers themselves. The first number in my bracketted references refers to the place of that particular writer in the bibliography. The number in square brackets refers to Skinner's page.

In all my questioning care was taken not to expose myself to the pitfall of the leading question. My companion of the moment was allowed to do the talking and he or she prompted occasionally after the subject was introduced with an odd suggestion only, or a casual remark.

After being some three months at work I began to wonder if a stain had been painted into the cuts after the carving was done, so dark and definite were some of the lines, even though the bark on dead trees was nearly rotted away. This artificial darkness had been noticed at the Dominion Museum in the glyphs acquired by it before the beginning of the century, for records concerning them say that the cuts had been “burnt in.” I do not think that this was so. It would be difficult, on an upright tree to burn the surface of spongy bark holding much moisture. I consider - 384 that they were darkened in the way suggested. The artificial colouring used perhaps made the incision impervious to outside infection and had an interior toxic effect on the bark tissue bordering the incision that perhaps stimulated the growth of scar tissue and helped to delay decay.

In some glyphs where the work seemed careless, the lines may not have been carved deeply enough for callusing to have taken place, or if staining did have the effect suggested above, the seemingly careless work may have been left unstained.

Some glyphs in the Canterbury Museum have been stained recently so as to photograph more clearly. Four have had the lines of the glyphs darkened, while a fifth and perhaps a sixth have had the bark around the form of the glyphs stained to show the figures in relief. The figure in 24a was chalked for the sake of clearness in photographing. On a few glyphs that have been photographed in recent years by islanders at the Chathams, chalk or whitewash has been used to give better results.


The glyphs fall roughly into four groups:—

  • 1. Human figures.
  • 2. Zoomorphic representations.
  • 3. “Trees.”
  • 4. Weapons and fashioned objects.

Of these, carvings of the human figure predominate. In the two hundred and sixty-two glyphs considered in this work, two hundred and four 14 representations of the human figure are shown. These embrace:—

  • (a) Many which islanders termed “whakapahoho,” figures having a certain commemorative significance;
  • (b) Some which were considered by five islanders to represent definite individuals;
  • (c) Figures carved in cameo-like relief; (see Plate Lb).
  • (d) A group with almost blank faces cut out to the sap-wood;
  • (e) Headless anthropomorphic figures.
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Many trees with horizontal belts of carving, having a chain-like effect, were found. They seem to have been formed by making a cut down, with the adze held at a low angle, and by turning the tool round to make a similar cut up when a chip would be freed. These were said to have been made when a tree was to be felled and so I called them “scarf marks”; but they are displayed, in so many instances in conjunction with noteworthy glyphs that it seems that they had some particular significance in the glyphs themselves and were not carved for the purpose of scarfing the trees. Numbers 8, 40 and 107 figure good examples. Some trees were found with no carving on them, other than belts of these marks, completely, or part-way round the trunks. None were cut right through the bark to the sap-wood.

Some subjects are depicted many times, and one of these, parturition, is shown in three different ways:—

  • 1. In this group a smaller face is shown at the base of a larger figure, e.g., 11, 12, 13, 14, 16 and perhaps 61.
  • 2. In group two, a smaller figure seems to grow out of the head of a larger one, e.g., 15 and one in the Dominion Museum.
  • 3. The third type is represented by only one figure, “h” in Skinner's collection in which an extension of the body-line divides to show increase.

The methods of showing the sex of the figures are interesting. Sometimes this is clear; but in many cases it is difficult to decide which sex is intended. In many no indication at all is given and in some there seems an unusual intermingling of both characteristics.

In 13, one indicating parturition, and 74, are projections on each side of the body-line above the arms. These projections are identical with similar lines on human figures painted on bark baskets by Australian natives. Baldwin Spencer (18, pp. 420, 421) says these lines are meant to denote the breasts of the female. Number 11 shows similarly curved marks for both figures; but they are turned in a different direction from those in 13 and 74 and are below the arms. These it seems may have the same explanation as those in Spencer's figures and as may the smaller triangular designs projecting from the body-line just below the face in 81a.

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Among all the glyphs found, no two were alike. In several cases, however, two or more seen in the same vicinity were similar and it seemed that they might have been carved by the same artist.

In 1 and 2, extensions of the head-line form the arms and extra forms, branching from the place where the legs join, enclose the bodies and add decoration to them. Similarities are seen in the position of the facial features of 4 and 5 in the type of face of 3 and the top right-hand figure in 6, in the zoomorphic tapestries 7 and 8 and in the group showing parturition, e.g., 11, 12 and 13. The group showing pelvic designs 35, 36, 38 and 39 are all on adjacent trees at a Hapupu arbour, which is the only one where this type of design was found. There is too, striking similarity of pattern in the glyphs at another bower in the same district; 21, 22, 23, 24 and 25, all bearing the marks of the same careful workmanship in similarly decorated faces and finely designed bodies.

The Moriori was aware that normally the elbow pointed backwards and the knee forwards. In his usual delineation of the human figure the upper arm is inclined downwards and outwards and the forearm upwards and outwards. The upper leg is inclined upwards and outwards and the lower downwards and outwards, so that the body is seen in general in a squatting position, with the arms from the elbow, held up. This was perhaps due partly to the Moriori's anatomical knowledge of the human frame and partly to the demands made on the artist in his portrayal of a full-face figure and the necessity he felt to show as much of it, in some cases, as he could. The body was trussed for internment and it may have been his familiarity with this shape that led to his use of it as the standard form for representations of the human figure.

The knee is usually in a direct line just below the elbow, and the upper parts of both limbs enclose a kite or lozenged-shaped space which represents the body. A few glyphs depart from this arrangement. Sometimes the knee and elbow meet but generally they are separated.

For whatever reason the human figures were carved on the trees the craftsman used them as a vehicle by which he showed his love of design and ornamentation. Four main types of decoration are used:—

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  • 1. Ribs attached to a central vertebral line.
  • 2. The body only, ornamented with varied forms or motives.
  • 3. Ornament in addition to that in “2” in the angle of the arms.
  • 4. Pelvic decoration alone or in conjunction with some of the marks of the other type.

In considering the first type, what seems the vertebrae may sometimes be meant for the backbone of a fish or sea mammal. This is seen in 27, 41, 42 and 43, and others with ribs attached; but in this discussion for the sake of convenience, what may be intended for a backbone is referred to as the body-line. Skinner (16, p. 67) says, “The line which passes from the neck to the junction of the lower limb emphasizes the body but does not represent it.”

Only those lines that extend from the body-line opposite, or nearly opposite each other are regarded as pairs of ribs.

Forty-seven glyphs follow the first type of decoration and show rib formation ranging from one pair only, in several glyphs, to an old partly obliterated carving which has eleven ribs on one side. In many glyphs there are different numbers on each side of the body-line, and in some the ribs on one side slope upwards and those on the other downwards.

Of twenty-eight figures with regular rib formation:—

  • 2 figures have 1 pair of ribs.
  • 2 figures have 2 pair of ribs.
  • 5 figures have 3 pair of ribs.
  • 9 figures have 4 pair of ribs.
  • 5 figures have 5 pair of ribs.
  • 2 figures have 6 pair of ribs.
  • 2 figures have 7 pair of ribs.
  • 1 figures have 8 pair of ribs.

In these glyphs, sixteen pairs of ribs are indicated sloping downwards and eleven pairs sloping upwards; in one showing parturition three pairs slope in an upward direction and three pairs in a downward direction; in another the ribs stand out horizontally and four glyphs have a different number on one side from that on the other. Number 112 seems to have six pairs of ribs and there seems to be an attempt to show the curve of one pair and the attachment - 388 of another two, to the front of the framework as well as to the spine or body-line. In “d” of Dendy's group is seen a somewhat similar attachment of ribs one to another. What may be intended to represent spinal processes are seen above one pair of the ribs of 112. Many of these glyphs come into the class called X-ray carvings.

Many fine glyphs are patterned like type 2. In several the lower arms and legs are discarded and what is left is the kite-shaped body of 21. This the carver decorates with bars curved upwards or downwards, e.g., 107 and 77. Of 105, Mrs. Martin said, “A place to put a baby in,” but who knows that it is not a formalized picture of the baby itself, in its swaddling clothes of flax and feathers wrapped round and round conventionally with binding bands. In 21 and 23 the body is designed with graduated oval and triangular blocks. A lozenged pattern fills the body spaces of many, while 22, 108 and 109 and others have sacs neatly designed to fill the space. Number 25 is more realistic, the sac being connected by what seems a tube with the lower as well as the upper part of the body.

Several as 36, 75, 94, 101, 108, 109 and 114 follow type 3 and show between the upraised arms, decorations which may symbolize the lungs. In 108 these decorations follow the design in the body space each having their topmost edges notched irregularly.

The glyphs like type 4 show splendid pelvic decoration in 35b, 36, 38, 39a, 39b, 39c and 39d, the angle between the upper and lower leg being filled in simply in some cases with a vertical bar, similar to that used in some, in the angle of the arms. In others is a beautiful conventional design perhaps suggested by the arrangement of the pelvic bones.

The decoration of many of the human figures is outside the above types. In 102 the body of the figure is net-shaped, lozenged and bar-decorated. The figure depicted in 113 has a rotund, lozenge decorated body and a gable-shaped head. In 37a and others, pectoral as well as pelvic decoration is seen, and the net decoration between the legs of 140 reminded some of the elderly folk on the island of Moriori matting, they told me. That some of the bands of the decoration are narrower than others seems worth noting.

The method of depicting the head is usually by employing a heart-shaped motive with a well-defined V above the - 389 eyes and a pointed chin. With the exception of the kura decoration, little account seems to have been taken of any part of the head above the eyes.

This heart-shape is the conventional one; but some of the heads are represented otherwise. The heads of 111 and of what seems a child in 14 are domed while the head in 46 is rectangular. In 92 and others the domed effect is turned into a piece of simple decoration. The divergence continues and the dome is raised until in 79c and 106 and others the head becomes pointed. In 3 the top of the head is depressed and slightly concave, while two V's are seen in this part of the head-line of 87. Some have been given a straight lower line instead of a pointed chin. Several, as 84 and 96 seem to be shown in profile.

In some the head-line is not joined to the chin, but continues and is turned back to make the arms, as in figures 1 and 88d. Many heads are not joined to the body and many occur without any body at all. In several the head-line is not joined at the top, a gap showing where the V is usually found.

Some have no limbs and in 83 is seen perhaps some similarity to the god-stick of the Maori.

In 65 and 66 from adjacent arbours knowledge seems to be shown of the curve of the bones of the face, giving to it, its roundness. In one, 5, the body-line continues up through the centre of the face and in 4 and 16a the head-line does not form the usual V between the eyes; but one side of it continuing downwards, divides the face septum-like to the chin. In some, a reptilian look is seen. Others have a feline look with eyes sharply oblique and sometimes low set. Uusually in this type, however, they are set high in the face, the V of the head-line is wide and the sides of the face are taken down sharply from it. Examples of this type are the lower right-hand figure in 40 and the lower figure in 76. In some what seems a beard is perhaps indicated.


The arms with the hand are as a general rule in three parts. The arms of most of the figures project either from the head-line separately, from the trunk or body-line itself or are fused with the trunk, all leaving the head-line together - 390 at its base. The upper arm is usually taken down at an angle, bends upwards at the elbow and ends near the side of the face, about halfway up it, in various types of hand. Some few, 59, 74 and 76 are taken straight up from the body-line with little or no bend at all. In some the head-line extends down and then turns back in short arms, the extension serving as the upper arm. Some glyphs dispense with arms altogether. Numbers 81a and 86 each have a short arm with a hand protruding from one side of the head, while 87 has two such members, one on each side of his head. Some figures have upraised arms only and no hands and of these many are of the headless group. Unattached forms of suitable length and in apt position serve perhaps as arms in the design of 80. In 79a, 82 and 88c the upper arms turn down instead of up and in 49 the arms end in what seem fists.

The arms are for the most part of the same width all the way through and have no special effort bestowed on them, though some have one or both forearms thickened as though to represent muscular-looking arms. There is usually a tapering before the hand is reached. An elongated process from an elbow is seen in both 28a and 115, while 63 has two projections, one from the elbow and the other from slightly above it on the other arm. There are V-shaped gaps in the elbows of some few and in the straight arms of 59 what seems the elbow is indicated by a jutting angle halfway up. Some figures, e.g., 2, 21, 22 and perhaps others seem to have one or both hands held with the palm facing upwards.

The number of fingers to a hand shows much divergence. Three fingers are the general rule; thirty figures show three on each hand, four figures two on each and six figures, four on each. A striking assymetry is noticeable in thirty-five of the glyphs; the number of fingers on the two hands of the figures is not the same. In nine figures no fingers are indicated.

The proportion of fingers to toes seems worthy of note and one finds that only seven figures have three fingers on each hand and three toes on each foot, while two figures have two of each on both hands and feet. The extremities of six figures accord in design, the hands corresponding with each other as to the number of fingers and the feet corresponding with each other as to the number of toes; but in every case there are one fewer toes than there are fingers.

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The representations of legs, feet and toes show considerable divergence also. In most cases the legs branch out exactly opposite each other from the body-line mainly at its base, and the upper leg continues up towards the angle of the arm at the elbow as in 42, making with the downward inclination of the upper arm as in 107, the lozenge-shaped space. Generally there is a gap between the knee and the elbow; but sometimes they are deliberately joined as in 4 and in one of the figures of 35.

Occasionally, as in 75, the legs leave the body at different intervals. Many have no feet, though in some a widening at the termination of the leg suggests feet. Many glyphs have no body-line to which the legs can be attached, so they are placed usually in such a position, as to carry out in part the common lozenge design. Then some legs, as those in 111, differ again, being placed nearly horizontally, probably for the sake of the design of the body. In some, 82, 101 and 112 one leg is entirely detached. In 23 and some of the figures whose bodies follow the typical anthropomorphic pattern the lower legs turn upwards, a matter perhaps of orderly design again. Some like 114 have an extension to one leg, while glyphs 64, 115 and 116 have one leg only or one, and part of one. Number 49 has curious bulbous feet that match his fist-like hands.

An interesting figure is 55 in which the inner toe on each foot is extended to make a neat wide belt, perhaps just to round off the figure tidily; and at the same time to make a place to take the important member indicated by the exact circle within the belt.

Variety as to toes gives twelve figures with toes on one foot and none on the other. Some have two toes on each foot but they differ in shape; seven figures have two the same on each foot. Seventeen figures, including the two headless ones, have three on each foot and the feet of two figures each have four toes.

Above the toes of both feet of 100b are two spur-like projections, while 13 and 65 have similar projections on one foot only. Three of the four feet of 21 and 22 are curiously formed and one is sickle-shaped, while all mentioned in this paragraph remind one more or less of abnormalities mentioned by Dieffenbach and Baucke. Dieffenbach (9, [p. 35] p. 195) says, “An excess of toes so as to have six or more - 392 on each foot is not very uncommon.” Speaking of what he considered two different types of people, Baucke (17, p. 17) says of one, “They had short legs with enormous calves and wide inturned sickle-curved feet.” Of the other type he says, “The feet were still in-curved, sickle-shaped and narrow.”

One shows the toes in a more natural position on the remarkably realistic feet, which are complete with heels, each foot pointing outwards.

The knees supply some variation and interest. Usually they are simply rounded; but knees of 12, 16b, 24 and 108 have V-shaped cuts which give them a jagged appearance. Some of the knees are slightly concave. Some of the figures have slightly thickened thighs and in an occasional one the calves bulge.

In 21 the knee is sloping and wider than is generally so. The subject seems to be sitting with knees wide apart and the feet indrawn. There seems an attempt here to show light and shade in the delineation of the legs. On the other hand it may be an attempt to show the bones of the legs, an X-ray glyph akin to those commented on by Dr. Adam. (2) The feet with two toes are, in some cases, formed like the tail of a fish.


Opportunities for observation of the human face under widely diverse conditions were ever present for the primitive Moriori artist. He had seen it lit by beams of light falling through the windy spaces in the karaka roof, illuminated by the flickering light of a fire or dimmed in the subdued gloom of the forest glade. He had seen the deepening shadows extending from mouth to nose, from nose to eye, lengthen with the ready gusty laughter. The roundness from nose to ear was the roundness of the tree before him. On its round and receding surface, with his inward eye informed with the light and shade seen on the faces of his fellows, it can be imagined he worked. The reality was everywhere at hand, and within him the mass of convention and form borne along by his ancestors, mingled with, “the quips and cranks and wanton wiles” of his own individuality.

From this grew perhaps what are called, in this memoir, shadow-lines and shadow-spaces; simple ones such as those beneath the eyes in 22 and spaces that fill almost the whole - 393 face, as in 12a and 13a. In 21, 23 and 25 the spaces are well conceived and very ornamental. In 77 and 94 lines and spaces are spread over the face with grotesque effect. In 93, with the use of these devices there seems an attempt to show the roundness of the cheeks and to show too, the light striking them in both this one and in 94. A different manner in doing so is used in each of them. In 21 the depths of carving in the shadow-space show the contours of the face.

The nose is indicated in unusual, but effective ways in which the shadow-spaces seem important. Sometimes a trim geometrical piece of bark is left within the shadow-space for this member, as in 12a and 60a. This triangular form for the nose is seen several times. In some glyphs the nose is shown in relief, the best examples being 21, 22, 78 and 117b. In 1 and 74 two neat lines that are directed upward in an angle, either form the nose or enclose it.

Some noses are depressions of the head-line between the eyes, deep as in 59 and 102 and less so in many. Often the depression is pointed. In 107 and 109 a sunken part of the shadow-space, immediately below the depression in the headline, helps to form the nose. A more pronounced nose of this type is seen in the sharp narrow V of 25, 108 and 114. These seem inspired by the beak of a bird and the expressions on the faces of these glyphs in some way strikingly resemble the expressions on the faces of the mollymawk (Thalassarche eremita) and of the weka (Gallirallus australis), both familiar to the Moriori. A band of darker feathers extends from beak to eye in both these birds, giving a serenity; soft, but clear-cut that seems matched by the formality of the design that fills the faces of these glyphs.

Early writers emphasize the Jewish appearance of the Moriori. Hunt (12 [p. 35] p. 34) says, “They have hooked noses, indeed they bear a most remarkable resemblance to the Jewish race.” From T. H. Potts (14 [p. 36] p. 160) we have, “the somewhat fleshy nose was curved with a fullness of form, that is characteristic of the Jewish people.” Tregear, who visited the island in 1888 says (21 [p. 36] p. 75), “but the hooked nose . . . is here very common and in some cases exaggerated to portentous dimensions.” From Shand (15 [p. 36] p. 2) comes, “their noses often being strongly hooked.” The old lady in Miss Stoddart's sketch, D, has a somewhat Jewish appearance.

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Considering this testimony, the pointed noses, extending in one case over the upper lip, in the much decorated faces of glyphs 21 and 23, are interesting. However, 23 is the glyph in which the likeness to a bird's beak seems most noticeable. On the other hand Dieffenbach (9 [p. 35] p. 195) speaks of the nose [being] flat and clumsy, and Skinner (16, p. 38) says, “The curved so-called ‘Jewish’ nose is undoubtedly part of the ideal of masculine beauty in widely separated areas of the Pacific and is often strongly emphasized in masks, for example those of New Ireland and New Caledonia.”

The design of the mouth shows many variations. The simple upward curved line is the commonest. Sometimes the mouth, curved or horizontal is carried across the face and joins the head-line as in 35a. At other times it is a curved or horizontal piece of bark left in a shadow-space, e.g., 12a, 12b and 13. The wide O or open space of another shape is a favoured method of showing this feature, 35b and 38 being good examples. Those of 36 and 97 are more elaborate and more finely executed ones. In glyphs 16a and 20 the mouths are of the same kind; but in one it is bisected by the body-line and in the other by the head-line. Sometimes the mouth appears most realistically carved. One wonders if in attaching what seems the mouth to the body-line in 19 and 59, the artist intended to show the connection between it and the gullet.

Skinner (17, p. 4) mentions having dug out two skeletons with the skulls attached. He says, “In the mouth of one of the two—an immature individual—was the skeleton of a small rat, apparently the pre-European species.” The design of the mouth in 102 is perhaps meant to portray some similar idea. Certainly the expression of the face seems one of pleasure and satisfaction.

The eye is represented in many different ways, the Moriori evidently realizing that this feature is as important as the mouth in revealing expression and emotion, and in many interesting and well executed glyphs, though the nose and mouth are left out the eyes are included. There is much diversity in its style and position and there may have been prejudice in some cases against having both eyes similar.

One is made entirely different from the other or placed in a different part of the face rather than opposite the other - 395 as would be expected in a full-face figure. The eyes are sometimes made the only feature of the face or are left out altogether. Seven faces have no eyes. In two of these, 110b and 123, a mouth adds a certain expression. In two others, another curve below the curved head-line balances it neatly. In a glyph similar to 39a the head-lines confining the face are so wide and dark and the mouth and nose take up so much space, that the pale bark left shows up on the dusky bole of the tree by contrast, like eyes. The methods of fashioning the eye were many:—

  • 1. A usual one is a more or less circular ring of bark cut out, to leave a roughly circular virgin piece within it for the eyeball.
  • 2. Some go further showing a dark dot inside the light piece of bark.
  • 3. Some of this type are more elaborate still and show a light ring between two dark ones, the whole enclosing an inner white portion as in 94.
  • 4. In some the head-line is widened where the eye is to be placed and an untouched piece of bark left within it for the eye.
  • 5. A simple method is a piece of bark scooped out as in 17. The hollowed depression thus formed was probably darkened artificially.
  • 6. This method is varied by a piece of bark being cut out more deeply about the centre of the original shallow etching.
  • 7. In two cases, 49 and another, the eyes are very large, almost circular, with no outside ring other than the space left between them and the head-line.
  • 8. Several show one of the eyes with the addition of one or more small shadow-spaces. Sometimes in those of this type if, for some reason the surface near the eye has been etched, then the small shadow piece left is of virgin bark.

In view of the statements of different observers the almond shape used for the eye in 6a, 6b, 21, 81b and 105 and the heaviness of the upper part of the eye in 101 and others are interesting. In Skinner's work (16, p. 18), in discussion of the Maruiwi, appears, “One authority quoting Whatahoro's material says, ‘They had flat faces and overhanging - 396 eyebrows . . . They had curious eyes like those of a lizard.’” In a photograph, Plate E, published by Potts (14, p. 160) of a Moriori who visited Lyttelton in 1874 this reptilian eye is very marked. 15 Of this man the same writer (14, [p. 36] p. 160), says, “The brows are prominent, the eyes of an almond or elliptical shape . . . the eyes, which show a contemplative watchfulness.”

Dieffenbach (9, [p. 35] p. 195) says, “the eye was narrow.” Hunt (12, [p. 35] p. 54) says, “They had almond shaped eyes and hooked noses.” Shand (15, [p. 36] p. 2) says, “Their eyebrows which are straight like the Maoris'—never oblique.” The remarks of the last three men are of the Moriori people.

Number 105 is skilfully carved. The head-line is narrowed above the eyes, and the upper edge of the ellipse of the eye cut straight to leave the desired width between eye and head-line. Tiny rectangular scraps of bark have been left cleverly within the darkened area of the ellipse for pupils. These morsels of bark are still living and give to the glyph a sense of life and being, greater than that experienced in contemplation of most of the others, a sense which was to me strangely moving. In 90 the eyes are like the flat disclike eyes of large figures from the New Hebrides.

Number 21, with an intaglio-like eye, gets its effect from three depths of carving and the eyes of 55, 111 and many others remind one instantly of the shell-centred eyes seen in the carvings and masks of many Pacific peoples. The eyes in 65 and another similar one, are peculiar. The artist is perhaps trying to show in these, the light striking the eye or perhaps the half-closed eye of a dead animal or bird.

A definite feature is the more or less triangular shaped form above the eye. Sometimes it is deeply incised as in 24, or a piece of bark is left for it above the eye as in 77. Sometimes the eye—or perhaps the orbit—as in 105, 93 and many others, has its upper roundness straightened and the space partly triangular, between this and the head-line is intended, perhaps for the eyebrow or for the portion of tissue between the eyelash and eyebrow (including the eyelid), seen most clearly as triangular when the brows are raised. In some cases the angle of the depression between the eyes - 397 is more acute than in others. The head-line here, is taken out sharply on each side of the face and is pointed above the eyes. The intention in these cases seems to have been to leave a triangular space above the eye or to give a feline look, as in 76 and in the small figure in 40.

It seems remarkable that ears are not shown; but perhaps they are indicated in 47a, 109, 29, 22 and in the fantastic forms standing out from each side of the head in 21. In 36 fish-like objects project from the place where one ear would be expected and the familiar bird patu from the other.

Johnstone, the master of Broughton's ship (13, [p. 36] p. 506) says, “We saw no perforation either in their ears, nose, or any other part of the body.”

“The Morioris,” says Shand (15, [p. 123] p. 2), “as far as can be ascertained, did not bore the ear, or wear any ear ornaments.” In spite of this ear, pendants seem to be suggested in many glyphs. In some, what seems a beard is possibly indicated.


Of the two hundred and four human faces seen in the glyphs dealt with in this discussion, seventy-three are shown with a form of head-dress. Broughton (6, [p. 122] p. 91) says, “The young men had it tied [their hair] up in a knot on the crown of their heads, intermixed with black and white feathers.” Shand (15, [p. 122] p. 2) says, “The men wore a top-knot (hou) in which the hair was gathered together in a bunch on the top of the head and bound with string. This top-knot was adorned with an awanga, an ornament in the shape of a small kite. This was formed of a groundwork of prepared flax (muka), on which were neatly bound in rows, the light red coloured feathers of the parrakeet (kahariki) and which tapering off to a tail, was bound on to the hou in front above the forehead. The awanga was also called a kura. Plumes called piki-toroa, made of albatross feathers, were also worn on the head, stuck in front of the hou.

Skinner includes a photograph (16, Pl. I), included also in this memoir, of four Moriori B and says (16, p. 122), “The ornament worn by Taylor, the third from the left, appears to be an awanga.” In the story of a legend of the people, Shand tells (15, [p. 123] p. 140) of a treasure-basket - 398 called pute-a-kura, and when one of these was opened by a party of marauders it contained, “eighty kuras.” Another feather ornament, in another story told by Shand, was made of red feathers also and called a rauira. He says (15, p. 140), “Hine's rauira flashed and the children's rauira flashed.”

Of the three names, kura is the one which has become commonly used by ethnologists of New Zealand for this feature. One of Dendy's and two of Skinner's drawings show the kura. Kura are also seen above three of the anthropomorphic figures and adorning some of the faceless figures.

The Moriori showed much ingenuity in carving this head-dress and in the wide variety of some twenty different styles, 16 only seven are repeated; to the extent of only five in one group and just two and three in others. Twenty-two are joined to and are part of the head-line and fifty-one are from one-eighth to two and a half inches away from it. Many are beautifully and appropriately carved to accord with the plan of the glyphs they adorn, e.g., 21, 23 and 81b. One glyph, not included in the memoir, wears a tall double kura. Most are greatly stylized though some are perhaps more realistic and number 49 may be an attempt to show a feather decorated kura, while that of 47, two in the Canterbury Museum, and others may be intended to represent the piki-toroa worn in front of the hou of the men.

One wonders which sex wore this head-dress. According to Broughton and Shand it was the men who did so; but there is Shand's story of Hine and some children wearing the rauira and the name Hine seems one reserved for women throughout Polynesia. Number 13 of the parturition group wears one and 29, the most feminine looking of all the glyphs, wears an elaborate, four tiered kura. Perhaps the honour was reserved for notable persons of both sexes: perhaps some form of it was worn by all on festive occasions. Perhaps it was merely a memory of something added by the carvers of earlier days.

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Skinner notes these figures (16, p. 68) and speaks of the tendency in general of the head to degenerate and disappear. Certainly a number of glyphs include what must be regarded as a type of human figure. These show this headless trend. For example, in 7b, 45, 46 and others, are seen representations of arms or legs or of both arms and legs and a body-line; but with little suggestion of a head.

Some, as 124a, have instead of a head, a tapering extension of the body-line, suggesting a lizard inspiration. Several have a group of from two to six finger-like projections instead of this extension. In 46 the extension takes an angled turn to the left of the anthropomorphic figure. The same thing is seen in 98b while 127b shows what might be intended for a kura.

A photograph of one of these figures is in the possession of the Canterbury Museum. It seems similar to 127b; but has a lozenge decorated body. Unfortunately it has not been photographed so as to show whether or not it had a kura. However, a fine kura is seen on one of these figures in a photograph in the Auckland Museum.

These figures are of several types and show much variety. In two of them the female sex is indicated. Though several stand alone on a tree, generally these anthropomorphic figures appear with other figures or motives. Sometimes they are shown in what seem hunting scenes or with another single figure as in glyph 127. When this is so there seems almost some intimate connection between the figures or between the headless one and the rest of the glyph.

The figures shown in 56, 79a, 88c, 115 and others are interesting in that the head is separate from the body and what passes for the body is carved in the typical anthropomorphic pattern, some lizard-headed, some arrow-headed and some with the body-line projecting between the legs or ending in a simple wedge formed by the joining of the legs. The arms of some of these anthropomorphic bodies such as those in 79a and 88c suggest wings.

Note.—A type that commands attention in four glyphs copied in 1952 along the Hapupu Flat consists of three large fingers, thrust fanwise from behind the central object of the glyph and dwarfing all other interest, dominates the glyph, as in 131. Number 132 was copied in this year also.

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A different type again is to be seen in the Rangitai bush. This one has three members projecting from each end of a heavy body-line. Two of these figures appear in each of two glyphs. In one the anthropomorph is more than three times as large as the main human figure and holding a heavy spear with a captive bird at its feet, it gives to the glyph an intensity, striking and dramatic.

There must have been some reason for giving some anthropomorphic figures the typical lozenge shaped body of the human figures, decorating it and adding a kura. By these means individual ones would seem to have been raised perhaps to the standing of a person.

In 98 a half figure is shown. The Maori would seem on occasions to have carved a half figure in lieu of a whole figure, knowing that the half figure repeated with its members facing the other way completed the figure. This glyph perhaps indicates that the Moriori also was aware of this fact.

Some of the figures bear a marked resemblance to the dancing figures in the rock drawings of Canterbury. Certain ones resemble figures in the rock engravings and cave paintings of the aborigines of New South Wales (5, pp. 52 and 62).

Simplification seems the ultimate tendency of artists everywhere and in all ages. The use throughout the Pacific of a simplified figure 17 in different forms as a decorative motive is wide-spread and though it is not surprising to find this figure appearing in the art of the Moriori, yet it seems often to go beyond decoration and mere pattern-making, and to be an important part of the story which many of the glyphs seem designed to tell. If this is so, one feels that this headless anthropomorphic figure could not have been used for reasons of simplification only, for it is seen in many different forms some more elaborate even than the human figure with which it is portrayed.

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The Lozenge.

The lozenge is the motive most used by the Moriori. Skinner (16, p. 71) mentions that a settler of standing told him that lozenge patterns seen by them both at Taia bush were the work of Europeans. He goes on to say however, “This was quite unexpected as they resemble fairly closely the rectilinear designs on the Moriori flute and on the toggles.”

It was expected when this quest began that the glyphs would be of human figures only and caution was exercised in copying a pattern based on this motive; but it appeared regularly at every dwelling-site and formed the decoration of so many glyphs, that there is no doubt as to its being the work of the Moriori.

Sometimes a pattern based on this motive stands alone on a tree or is just scratched in the bark rather than carved. One glyph shows a double width of the pattern. On two large trees, both seven feet in circumference this design is carved completely round and down the tree to a depth of two feet six inches. One little piece of this kind, much finer than usual and showing smaller lozenges is to be seen low down on a buttress near to the ground.

The bodies of several human figures and the glyphs 103 and 104, which perhaps represent fish nets are decorated in this way. Number 51 and the unusual bird figure 91 are decorated with the same pattern.

In 32 and 60 the lines enclosing the lozenge have either pointed or rounded ends. In some glyphs where similar designs are seen, the lozenges are arranged in neat descending order.

The Circle.

The circle is little used; but is seen perhaps as the navel in that delightful figure, 55 and in 79, in the centre of a cross, cut deep into the sapwood of the trunk. The concentric circle seems indicated in the forms of some faces and some eyes of glyphs not included in this memoir.

The Ellipse.

The elliptical form is used in different ways. In one fine glyph a large ellipse fills the body space. It is seen - 402 several times as an isolated piece of decoration as in the finger of 79b. In 50 and in another glyph not included, half the ellipse is cut deeper and is much darker when seen from a distance than that of the other side. This effect is distinctly striking in the genitals of 108, one part of which has received this unusual treatment. In 2 and 88b it helps to ornament the neatly balanced designs and in 39 an ellipse is the culminating centre of clever pelvic decoration.

Small Roughly Circular Forms.

Small pieces of bark cut out in more or less circular form and appearing in the carvings as dots seem important, though it is difficult to assign a reason for them. In 49 dots, perhaps representing feathers, form the decoration of the kura.

Segments of Regular Shape.

Solid forms of regular shape are seen and seem just neat pieces of apt decoration; but the one below the headline in 57 and the pear-shape in a similar place in 63 are perhaps intended to represent the Adam's apple.

A Head-shaped Device.

A device in the shape usual for the heads of the glyphs is seen many times in varying forms. Three appear alone with no other carving on three separate trees, one at Pinui and the other two at Hapupu arbours. It, together with a spear is seen sometimes in small arbours as the sole carving on a tree. It seems the same device with slight divergence that forms part of the picture in 40, 76, 81 and others.

It, like the usual head, has a depression in the centre of the upper part of the line; but has no facial features and has sometimes a rounded lower line instead of being pointed. This feature below the main figure in number 61 seems perhaps to indicate parturition.

A Half-Moon Form.

The central design in number 119 is outstanding and unusual. It is like a series of hooks or footprints and was the only one of its kind found. Its roughly semicircular part is seen too, in the ornate pelvic decorations of 39a and 39b, all three trees being close to one another. It forms the base of the cat-like figure in number 40.

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The Chevron Motive.

The inverted V form on the right of one of the “trees” in 30 and in the upper central part of 45 are reminiscent of the chevron motive of the Maori.

A Strange Device.

A strange device is the spreading conical form which appears at the bases of three glyphs. In two of them it is rounded at one end and narrower at the other. In 110 it points to the left of the figure and is separate from it. In 90 it points to the right of the figure and is part of it. In 101 it narrows at each end and is shown as a facial feature. In this form it appears separately, below an elbow and again at the base of a glyph in the Auckland Museum.

A Curious Eye.

A stem on which is a rounded ornament suggesting an eye is seen in 64, 68, and in another glyph not included.


Pleasing arcs at the bases of the bodies of 1, 2, 81a and 114 complete the designs. Sometimes one arc only is used and sometimes odd but appropriate forms serve as in 74.

The Cross.

The cross is seen frequently and is found standing alone in 79 and 88. In 71 is a fine one with a fish form deeply incised into the trunk. In 78 the cross is used with precise effect as part of the design and in one glyph is used for the toes.

The Wedge or Arrow Form.

The wedge shape is seen in many of the glyphs. The arms and legs of the headless figures are sometimes joined to each other in this form. The anthropomorphic figure in its extreme simplification is often little more than a wide wedge with a body-line, like the one in glyph 7.

The Ziz-zag Motive.

The zig-zag motive appearing in some glyphs not included has its counterpart in the art of many parts of the Pacific.

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Straight Lines.

Straight lines are seldom used. Number 81a has a T-shaped kura. A handsome kura with horizontal bars at each side of it is seen on a glyph in the Otago Museum. The lines which indicate the mouths of 35a, 81a and three of Skinner's figures are horizontal. Straight lines enclose the face of 46b and a similar line is seen in the face of 79c.

The Spiral.

Examples of the spiral form are seen in only four glyphs, one in the ovoid koropepe 18-like bird form, 91, and at the side and separate from the main figure in 84. The second example is similar to ornamentation appearing on carved Moriori house planks in the Dominion Museum. These are shown by Skinner (16, Pl. VI). Of this type of ornamentation he says (16, p. 127), “The coil or spiral in its simplest form seems to represent an animal, apparently a snake with open mouth.” In 100b the head-line is cleverly turned in and a neat curl like a fern frond forms the eye. In two features of another glyph not included, this same unfolding frond is seen.

A Curious Hand.

A feature of six of the glyphs is what appears a hand pointing to the right in one case and to the left in the other five. Those in 10 and 14 have five fingers having the appearance perhaps of small fish. In two of the figures, the “hand” has four fingers and in one the three fingers are like talons.

This “hand” one authority considers is connected with earlier representations of a crocodile figure shown in a drawing in the Otago Museum, from Ley's Cave, drawn by Elmore and featured by Skinner (16, p. 67, Pl. I 8c). The “hand” in some cases is perhaps like the crocodile's claw.


Birds and fish, both realistic and stylized, provide as interesting carvings as any found. Many, e.g., 48, 69, 70, 89 - 405 and a medallion-like group in a glyph not included stand out in their grace and workmanship. Fish seem to swim and birds seem to fly round the trees on which they are carved and many of the bird glyphs show a sureness of line, such definite intention and such an ease in execution that is unexpected in the work of a primitive man working with stone tools.

Six bird designs of possibly a traditional type 20 are well carved. All have graceful necks and narrow tapering heads. Suggestions of a crest, a hooked beak, a pouch, toes or claws, are seen in different ones. One has a tiny tail, short and upturned, in another a row of dots follows the line of the breast. In four of them the breast is a continuation of the neck; in two what seems a staff or spear serves as the line enclosing the breast. A series of bars varying in number from three to twelve represents, as in 118, 120 and 123, perhaps feathers or perhaps ribs.

A rallene type of bird, the mehonui (Diaphorapterix hawkinsi), lived in earlier times on the Chathams. Its neck was said by White (22, p. 166) “to be as long as a man's arm.” While the mehonui may have suggested this long-necked glyph, it more probably originated as a memory of the sacred frigate bird, which is used as the motive for much of the decorative work throughout the Pacific.

If the body of the bird in this glyph were narrower and if it were placed horizontally, it would bear a resemblance to the bow piece of a Moriori raft canoe, waka korari, in the Canterbury Museum. Comparison of 118 with a reconstructed model of this bowpiece, 122, to be seen in the same museum, shows this likeness more clearly; but the sweep of neck and of head of the birds in the glyphs is much less gradual than in the corresponding features of the canoe prow. In every case the heads in these glyphs are turned to the right.

A drawing of a bird, 121, is included by Skinner. Of it he says (17, p. 6, Fig. 3b), “This bears a general resemblance to a Moriori canoe carving. Dr. Ellison held the view that this [bird] represents the moa.” The moa, however, never lived on the Chathams. This drawing is of a rock carving in the cave, Te Ana a Nunuku on the main island. It is interest- - 406 ing that the head of the bird in this carving also points to the right.

Many of the zoomorphic glyphs seem to be groups of fish, as 72 and 85. The curious medleys, 7 and 8, contain two fabulous creatures, half bird and half fish, the sapwood carved as with feathers, and a fine seal-like figure. A group of what seem to be seals comes from Pitt Island. The fish creature 99 has an appeal of its own. Many groups of bird forms contain some fine carving. Glyph 91 has a parrot look and the four-footed animal in 24 has a bird-like head.

Groups of what seem trees form the whole subject or part of it in numbers 30, 31, 32, 33 and 34. They are perhaps meant to be the spines and ribs of mammals or the backbones of fish—these and other hybrid carvings, probably a kind of punning with forms, rather than with words.

Weapons and some unidentified objects appear alone and in some of the glyphs. In 46 are two fashioned objects. The broad form is like the wide eel slasher which the Moriori used. In 97 the right arm itself is in this slasher form, another one hangs from the elbow, while the left arm holds up what seems still another slasher.

The four straight staff-like objects of 73 and similar ones of varying length in 8, 44, 100 and many others are perhaps spears. In 40 both figures hold up what seem weapons and from the left ear of 36 protrudes the familiar bird patu, or perhaps the hand is meant to be holding it up. A fine harpoon with five prongs on each side of a central stem appears in one glyph and 54 Mrs. Martin said, was a hook used when hafted on to a pole for pulling down the branches of kopi 21 berries. Sometimes she said the roughly fashioned rooted end of a matipo sapling was used. Several glyphs of what were perhaps meant to be fish-nets similar to 103 and 104 were found, some more conventionalized in design than others. No suggestion can be obtained as to the use or meaning of 51. 22

It seems odd that objects of such every day necessity as dwellings and canoes do not appear on any of the carved trees seen.

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Many curious glyphs depart from the common run, and for several, not included in this memoir, there seems no explanation. Two, 128 and a similar smaller glyph are puzzling. They may symbolize the human form or may be in some way related to sets of bands that were used by the Moriori.

Hunt (12, [p. 109] p. 34) records, “The only garment worn by them in early times was made from the leaves of flax split into three or four strips and interwoven into each other like a kind of stuff between netting and cloth with all the ends which were eight or nine inches long hanging down on the outer side. It was suspended from the shoulders like a cloak, tied round their neck and extended a little below the knee. In addition the females girded their loins with a band of plaited flax.”

Shand (15, [p. 109] p. 8) reports, “A kind of belt made of muka was worn together with the marowhara or war girdle which was put on before going to a fight (so-called) . . . The marowhara was made of scraped flax, not scutched like muka, and was about five yards in length, worn cris-crossed over the shoulders and round the waist with the ends ultimately brought through the tahei or girdle, to allow of one end hanging in the front and the other at the back and coming nearly to the knees. These were supposed to be worn by people of rank.”

In the larger glyph there seem two sets of bands, which while differing in detail are almost identical in pattern. The smaller glyph follows a similar style in its main features and in detail as well.

Skinner (16, p. 110) says, “Broughton, Johnston, and Biscoe, all mention the small neatly woven mat which passed under the crutch and was attached in front and behind to a belt.” It seems that the four-sided attachments to the ends of the bands could be intended to represent in a conventional way, the small, neatly woven mat that these early observers reported.

On the other hand were several figures which consisted of a wide V with a vertical line hanging from each arm of the V. Eyes are seen sometimes in the angles thus formed; but sometimes there is only one eye. Glyph 128 may be an elaborate form of this apparently simple human figure. Two - 408 other figures in glyphs not included have bands hanging from the sides of their heads.


Skinner has discussed fully (16, p. 71) the different reasons that have been put forth as to why the glyphs were carved. He concludes that, “they are purely commemorative and . . . they are comparable with the carved ancestral figures in Maori guest houses.” Hunt (12, p. 33) gives the only recorded instance of carving having been carried out. This was at Pitt Island where Menui, after the death of his wife and child was said to have carved two figures on a karaka tree presumably in remembrance. This story helps to support Skinner's opinion. On the other hand the great numbers of anthropomorphic and of zoomorphic forms can have had no part in this theory of commemoration.

Some colour however, is lent to the theory in the interesting information given to me about the word whakapahoho by an islander whose mother was considered to be well versed in the lore of the islands. He said that the word was used for carvings supposed to be of certain individuals but no attempt was made to depict their real features. Instead, some of the weapons carved in conjunction with the figure, certain marks or forms contained in the glyph or some rendering of a limb or of a facial feature, indicated what manner of person he was. These characteristics pointed to some foible or idiosyncrasy by which the person was remembered, or bore some resemblance to the man as he had been. This was done in such a way as to make it quite clear to any of the people, which person was meant by that particular carving.

This word, “whakapahoho,” was mentioned to two old ladies and both tried to translate it with, “statue,” “monument made of wood,” “something in memory of a person,” and the word “wood” kept coming into their efforts. When the carvings were brought into the discussion they said, “Yes, it can be used for them; it could mean them.”

Dr. Skinner considers it may be the same word as the Maori “whakapakoko,23 which Taylor mentions. He says - 409 (19, p. 211), “Whakapakoko or images were little more than wooden pegs with a distorted figure of the human head carved on top. The images were used by priests in conjunction with their karakia.24

While there is no credible suggestion that the glyphs were worshipped or used in ritualistic practices it is possible that they figured in the varied circumstances of Moriori life, thus making the task of reconciling the two words or finding a likeness in both their application and their origin not a difficult one.

Some light was perhaps shed, one afternoon in Mrs. Martin's cottage, on the second group of human figures, those said by islanders to represent definite individuals. After we had enjoyed a cup of tea, the old lady was shown a collection of sixty of the drawings. No remarks were made by me, no questions were asked by either of us and no suggestions were made.

She gave polite attention to them and remained remotely indifferent until we came to the one numbered 20, when her attitude changed and she showed interest and animation. Treating this one and those that followed as if they represented persons known to her, she viewed them with much deference making precise remarks.

At 20 she said, “An important person,” at 21 with added emphasis, “A very important person,” at 22, “A lady,” at 23, “Yes! I think that is a lady.” Number 24 did not please her very much and she just nodded slightly. At 25, she smiled. These were people she seemed to know. She held up the drawings as we would do photographs, turning them this way and that to let the light fall on them from different angles. At 26 she was indulgent and remarked, “A pretty little thing,” at 27 she was somewhat rueful and shrugged lightly as much as to say, “There are people like him in this world”; at 28 she was very pleased, seeming to regard the figures with affection and satisfaction as she said, “Husband and wife.” She considered 29, holding her - 410 head now on one side and then on the other, saying appreciatively and with real tenderness in her tones, “A nice face, a very nice face.”

It must be remembered that to regard these figures as portraits would not present the same difficulty to the mind of a primitive person as to our minds. This group of glyphs from and including 20 to 29, excepting 26a, were all found on trees close together at a Hapupu Flat dwelling site, not very far from where Mrs. Martin had lived as a child, though I do not think that there is any likelihood of her being familiar with them in any way or her having even seen them on the trees.


In the life of the Moriori, the bird seems to have been of much importance. Skinner (16, p. 125) mentions that representations of birds are seen in six different associations: those carved on the limestone shelters, those carved on house-fronts, those carved on canoes, the bird-shaped weapons, the bird-shaped pendants and the sticks carved with likenesses of birds used in burials. Among the glyphs appear many realistic and many stylized bird forms.

A story, told to me several times, was of a man named Moe, who lived by the Whanga Lagoon and who when he wished to visit some other part of the shore, could assume the shape of a bird and fly there.

In separate conversations with four old people my attention was taken by their constant reference to birds when speaking of the Moriori. The late Mr. Willie Jacobs lived from infancy at the Chathams. He was eighty-four years old when he died and had been regarded by visiting scientists as a worthy observer. He spoke of the Moriori as being “like birds.” “They were always singing,” he said, “and sang as soon as they woke in the morning.” He had heard this singing when as a young fellow he had stayed in their dwellings. A Moriori used to thatch his father's house regularly, living with them when he did so. This man always sang when he woke and the song he sang was always the same. Jacobs sang the song for me several times, emphasizing again and again the high, drawn out, bird-like note on which it ended.

Mrs. Mataira, a woman of sixty-six years and of part - 411 Moriori blood, lived in her childhood at Wairua, one of the three Moriori homesteads. Five of the last Moriori lived there during that time. When speaking of these folks she spoke much of their crying and singing. “Yes!” she said, “You would hear them singing up in the corners of the room, in the mornings in the dark. One began and then they all sang for a little while. I do not know the words they sang; but I used to know the tune.”

Mrs. Martin said, “They were like birds. They lived in the bush.” All these people showed in their conversation a conviction that what they said was real and at the same time, they showed an exasperation, at their inability to explain further what they knew. 25

Mr. Cleeve Cox, the eldest son of one of the earliest settlers, and a nephew of Shand's, is now an old man. He had lived at the Chathams from infancy until recently. Asked if he ever enquired of the Moriori people what the glyphs meant, he replied, “No! but my uncle did. He often asked them and they told him they were birds. ‘Birds,’ they said. That's all he could get out of them. Birds!” he added, “and the fingers were like claws.” Questioned further about this he said, “Yes,” and his Scottish tones held disgust at such feckless, foolish folk. “I've seen the carvings plenty of times and many of them had fingers like claws.”

Interesting here and already referred to are what seem spurred feet, beak-like noses and wing-like arms. In 125 the “wings” are more realistic and one seems actually an extension of one of the arms.

Primitive peoples often identify themselves with species of wild life which they habitually kill for food, regarding those members still left living as their kinsmen. Desiring to preserve their kinsmen's goodwill, primitive men endow the wild things with human attributes and man with the form of the wild, not distinguishing sharply between man himself and members of the wild species. Sometimes species whose goodwill it is desired to retain are honoured in the person of a single individual. In 86 is perhaps an individual - 412 so honoured. His legs though thick are bent and a little like those of a bird. The feet seem clawed and one, clutching what seems an egg, is a reminder of the manaia figure of the Maori. Number 95 has a bird-like head 26 and what seem meant for the arms are perhaps like wings. 27


The most striking feature of the dendroglyphs is the ribbed representation of the human figure. It seems that the artist begins by carving the model naturally from some given angle. He then adds to it for some reason of his own, other parts which he knows to be there; but which he cannot perceive with his physical eye. These belong to a type of primitive representation termed “X-ray” expression, which Dr. Leonhard Adam calls “intellectual realism” and which he says “reaches its highest development in the X-ray drawings of Australia, Melanesia and the coastal regions of British Columbia and Alaska.” (Prim. Art, 1, p. 26), and is a circum-Pacific feature occurring as far west as Siberia.”

The natural inference in connection with this Moriori figure is that it originally represented the trussed dead body, buried in a sitting position in the sand dunes. Exposed to the elements and to birds of prey it was soon denuded of its fleshy covering and the skeleton was revealed. Number 75 shows the gullet perhaps and others, parts considered necessary. In 108, 109 and others, a sac, perhaps representing the internal organs, is added. Between the arms are further sac-shapes, perhaps representing lungs; all of these, parts of the body which he cannot see with his ordinary optical vision. In 25 the sac seems to have been given an entrance and an exit taking the representation of invisible parts a step further. The delineation of the eyes in many of the glyphs may show the X-ray method, particularly those of 59 where perhaps the bones of the orbit are intended to be represented.

The line dividing naturalism and stylization comes soon. Perhaps certain features, the ribs for instance tended to be - 413 over-emphasized, naturalism was abandoned—forgotten, and the ribs became decoration merely as, e.g., numbers 41, 42, 43 and others.

One outstanding point of ethnographical interest is the similarity of many of the Moriori glyphs to those done by the aborigines of New South Wales (5), (10).

The New South Wales glyphs have the same framed appearance as the “cameo” type of the Moriori, the bark scar being rounded and much swollen; but the glyph is deeply and boldly incised in the sapwood. They were carved for several purposes and are known by names suited to those purposes, the two most common being the teleteglyph carved near a bora 28 ground and the taphoglyph carved on trees at a burial ground. While the teleteglyph showed naturalistic representations of the human figure, fish, lizards, snakes and weapons, the designs of the taphoglyph seem wholly geometric, the lozenge motive being largely used and mainly in concentric patterns.

The human figure is seen occasionally, showing the head and body, but in a highly stylized form. Dr. Adam says (2, p. 2), “Possibly they represent a later stage, whereas your Chatham Island pieces may be regarded as a more primitive stage.”

It seems that the taphoglyphs were intended to mark the burial place of some notable man. “There seems only one record, says Black (4, p. 18) of a woman's grave having a marked or carved tree near it.”

This art of the Moriori would seem to have been concerned mainly with hunting and figures of a commemorative sort. It embraces many forms from realism and naturalism in the portrayal of birds, from forms highly stylized to the extreme simplification of the headless anthropomorphic figures. It shows a feeling for design, an idea of law and order and a fine sense of pattern in relation to space.

The work of the Moriori seems to have had elements in common with that from which the ultra-modern artist has sought his inspiration. In the enigmatic 92 a fine degree of repose and composure has been captured with seemingly little effort. The sense of motion is striking in 115 as the little thing runs, her hair streaming in the wind. In 110 - 414 the pair might be enacting a farewell scene, “a” is seen full face as if remaining, while “b” has turned partly away as if about to depart. What may be some portions of his dress seem to be flying behind him. Number 126 tells his story with utter simplicity and the economy of effort in this, and in many others of the bird figures strongly recalls some contemporary schools of art.

Then the artist has discovered how to express smiling and pleasure in his subject as in 117 and how to depict him using his eyes all in a very human fashion.

While it is difficult to reconcile much of his realism with the instinctive expression which seems to inform most of his work, we perhaps do seem to find at times an artist whose power of observation are becoming more acute than those of another. Perhaps this realism is a product of a school that had gained impressions from more recent contacts with other cultures and perhaps this same school when faced with the important task of depicting ancestors, as those of 21 to 29 at a Hapupu valhalla, fell back on time-honoured, age-old forms.

What we are seeing now is but a remnant of his latest work. One wonders if a study of his earlier pieces would have shown some relationship with still earlier forms from other marginal Polynesian areas. Unfortunately no specimens of his art were collected by the first visitors to the Chathams and those of Travers are too few in number for any study along these lines to be made. In his long journey through the Pacific the Moriori was exposed to many cultures; and in his sojourn in the Chathams, of many hundreds of years, he perhaps used the old motives and long remembered forms to embellish and adorn the newly acquired idea of the human frame. In so doing he has developed types of his own delightful but often bizarre.

Very little has been recorded of the Moriori; but through odd stories that have trickled down to us, we gain the impression of a people, perchance in some moments priest-ridden, again filled with strange inexpressible fears; but happy, laughing people at other times, loving the sunshine, the exercise of their individual skills and of their natural functions and entering with gusto, spurred by necessity, into the joys and triumphs of the chase. Thinking of them thus one feels that much of what might be wondered - 415 at, much of what we might try to guess the meaning, is perhaps just an odd laughing whimsy, a capricious fancy, a grace-note even; added in the same spirit as the postures, supplied by the silly, sometimes lewd and humorous fool at the end of a line in a Maori dance; the comic touch giving relief to a serious performance.

At the Chathams I watched the dancing of island girls in Maori dances. Suddenly in the posturing of one thinner than the others, I saw what it seemed to me the Moriori had seen. Her movements lacked the orthodox grace and softness of her more plump and pliant sisters. Hers were sharper, abrupt, perhaps even grotesque; but rhythm and harmony were there and a strange attraction and beauty linking her actions momentarily, not with the attitudes of any one of the incised figures; but with all the movement fleeting yet still stationary on the carven trees in the forest.

While I was riding along, birds would fly past, turn, wheel and on again. They would be tossed high by the gale or dashed low near the ground. In an instant there would flash before me motions of which I had been faintly aware in the carvings on the trees. In the same instant that the motions impressed themselves on my mind, they were gone. One felt that one was seeing what the Moriori had seen and seemed to have attempted to depict.

On many nights and more than once each night at Taia, a shag in play flew up from the lake, over the rise and disappeared. In a few minutes he was back again, sailing down the sloping airways with unmoving body. A small soft tilting of the wings adjusted him now, and then again to the wayward movements of the evening breeze and then he was out of sight behind the trees.

These and countless other kindred sights were commonplace to the Moriori; simple incidents which formed a large part of his environment. His reactions are found portrayed with delicacy and grace and with a skilful combination of truth and convention on the grey bark of the karaka trees.

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The broad result of a brief summary of these observations is the dominance in the glyphs of the human figure. Bird, fish, artefact, eel, “tree” and seal forms come next in that order; but it must be noted however, that a collector, at first meeting with the carvings tends to copy or photograph forms of the human figure in preference to other pieces.

Number of glyphs considered 263
(a) Previously published 28
(b) Stored in museums 17
(c) Photographed by persons on the island 5
(d) Copied by author 213

The methods of carving are four in number:—

  • (a) By incisions in the bark only.
  • (b) By the cameo method.
  • (c) By the etching method, thus showing the figure in low relief.
  • (d) By a combination of (b) and (c) or of (a) and (c).

The simple incised method is the most usual with zoomorphic forms often carved by the cameo method with details of the figure incised or etched in the surrounding bark.

Four main types of decoration of the human figure are used:—

  • (a) Rib decoration.
  • (b) The decoration of the body-space.
  • (c) Either (a) or (b) with decoration between the arms.
  • (d) Pelvic decoration.

These types overlap in many cases. Much space-filling is seen in the face, perhaps influenced in the former by some recognition of shadow, and in the body also.

The lozenge is the decorative form most used, perhaps a derivation from the conventional lozenge shape of the body. Realism is seen in a few birds; but in the many different types of glyph, there is evidence of a mass of conventional form which appears with variation in widely separated parts of the islands.

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The heart shape for the head is the usual one. For the fingers and toes three is the number most used. A noteworthy point is the large number of figures which show one hand or foot different from the other. This prejudice against having the opposite feature, limb or side of the glyph the same as the other is distinctly marked. Another outstanding feature of the glyphs is the hybridization of forms.

Considering the decimation of the trees in the existing arbours and the area of forest that has been felled at dwelling-sites formerly used by the Moriori, the number of dendroglyphs, when this culture was at its prime, must have reached many thousands.

The 213 glyphs copied do not include, in most cases, all that were seen in a particular arbour. At some dwelling-sites where most of the trees had fallen or had been felled, those collected are all that remain; but at others all that there was time to copy.


As the close of the shipping season drew near, my work had to come to an end and with it my wandering nomad existence up and down the coasts, week after week, month after month; of a few days here or two weeks there, with an odd excusion in between for food and for the company of my fellows.

The comforts of my temporary habitations were few. In those days a fireplace indoors was a blessing; but some shelters were without even that. Some had no table, others no window or bed. Some huts were unlined; the doorstep in others was the only place on which to sit.

This mode of life was certainly primitive, one in keeping with the object of my quest; but in each of these dwellings there soon grew the comfort of familiar corners, and each soon acquired the attributes of home! All these abodes were in places where a rude brown folk once had lived. Daily my feet followed the same paths trodden by theirs. To and fro mine went, backwards and forwards across the open spaces where their old folk had sat nodding and scolding, where their children had played. In the mists of sunrise I would try to glimpse their wet bodies come glistening up over the sandhills, their dripping kits heavy with the morning's - 418 spoil. In the evening I would try to imagine the murmur of voices or the lusty echoing laughter drifting along from the forest glades; but no sound, no vision, no sense of their passing was vouchsafed me.

They are gone and the place thereof shall know them no more. At the islands their dendroglyphs alone remain, mute reminders of the culture of this almost forgotten folk.


Three more visits were made to Chatham Island, from 29th November, 1949, to 8th January, 1950, from 26th November, 1950, to 29th January, 1951, from 10th November, 1951, to 5th February, 1952. During these periods seventy-two nights were spent alone in a tent, huts and old dwellings, and I rode over seven hundred more miles. Two hundred and thirty-seven carvings were copied, making four hundred and fifty during the five visits.

One exciting moment was the finding, at Mairangi ride, about two miles from Wharekauri homestead, of a glyph, Plate Ne, copied by Dendy over fifty years before. The tree is now split; but the bark is still living. Up and down the coasts and along the tracks, the middens told of the many people who had lived there and gradually it seemed to me that it might be well that such proof should be set down. Two hundred and four single middens or groups of middens were observed, each group or single midden denoting an arbour. The details of these are listed in Appendix B. One hundred and nineteen had carvings near them. A map seemed necessary to show where the arbours were for many are now made known only by the piles of pipi shells swelling above the grassy sward. Since my first visit in 1947 many dendroglyphs have disappeared; trees destroyed during farm work or fallen to earth through decay. Others, stripped of their bark by winter storms, have lost the glyphs that were carved on them.

Where the middens occur regularly along a level stretch of country such as those that are to be seen along the Hapupu Flat or those in the Rangitai Bush, a rough estimate of the distance between them was taken by stepping. In - 419 every case the stepping started at the outside edge of the last shell heap in the group of middens and stopped at the edge of the first heap in the next group, so that the measurements do not include the distances over which the middens are spread.

At the sites of one hundred and thirty-two arbours grass or weed is growing over the middens and it is not possible now to see how many shell-heaps there were. In Appendix B an asterisk appearing after some of the numbers in the shell-heap column shows that all the heaps in that site cannot be easily counted.

Where possible the names of the localities in which the middens occur are given; but for some arbours the general name of the place is used and a compass direction or a number added to indicate the arbour more particularly. A narrow tract of country stretching from the Hapupu Hut northwest, between strips of bush is referred to as the Hapupu Ride. The few miles between this hut and Lake Rotorua are known locally as the Hapupu Flat. A fence divides the area roughly in two. For my own convenience I called the country from the fence to Rotorua, “Rangitai” after a lake nearby.

The arbours might have been listed alphabetically but a beginning was made (see Appendix B) with the first one, Hapupu hut, from which carvings were copied in 1947. Those up the ride, then those from the hut along the flat are next dealt with. From there the survey is taken back to the Hapupu sandhills near the hut and continued southwards to Manakau. Returning to 79 near the Hapupu fence account is taken of the arbours along the north-eastern shores of Hanson Bay to Point Munning. From that point it goes along the north coast, over to the west coast, proceeds along Petre Bay and southwards to the Awatotara Stream. From number 185 arbours found inland and two on Pitt Island are treated. These are all the sites of Moriori occupation seen; but there are probably more on parts of the coast not visited.

The size of the middens is worth noting. Shell-heaps are up to twenty feet long by eighteen feet wide. One, on the Hapupu Flat, was excavated for farm purposes to a depth of five feet without its base being reached. In many - 420 instances these heaps lie across the bush tracks which sometimes rise gradually to as much as two feet above the general level as the tracks traverse the heaps of shell. 29

During my 1947, 1948, 1949 and 1950 visits I wondered constantly where, in many places, the Moriori had obtained his drinking water as there is comparatively little sweet water on the island and many of the dwelling places are as much as two miles away from good fresh water. It was not until my latest visit when I saw with what unconcern some islanders, when camping, used for cooking and making tea, surface water from a swamp or much discoloured peat water from a spring, that the reason for arbours being in certain places was seen. Thereafter to look around for the swamp or damp hollow near to a newly discovered arbour added interest to my find. Many of the shell-heaps lay almost on the edge of a swamp or a dew-pond, the distances from these, measured in two cases, being only six and nine feet. Karaka trees were necessary for the position of an arbour; but the deciding factor was nearness to drinkable water. So, though karaka was abundant in many sheltered spots close to food sources, the absence of water fit to drink made them unsuitable as places for arbours. This is the explanation in some instances why my search during my first three months' stay through tracts of forest growing on hillsides was unsuccessful.

The regular series of middens along the Hapupu Flat and the large concentration of them at Manauea are due presumably to the presence of surface water. At the present time during a wet season only, there is near the Hapupu Hut a large pool from which stock drink. From this pool a marshy depression parallel with the coast reaches some two miles to Lake Rangitai. Islanders say that the country is much drier now than it was. The felling of the bush and the trampling of stock would help to bring this about. Doubtless in earlier times this depression would hold much water and would supply the people from all the Hapupu arbours. At Manauea, swamp and marshy ground with a few small holes cover an area about twenty chains long by about two - 421 chains wide. Round this place are twenty-six groups of middens. See Plate S.

A further visit was paid to the Chathams from 10th December, 1954, to 7th June, 1955, when eleven more arbours with ninety-nine more dendroglyphs were found.

In the larger arbours a smaller shell heap is sometimes to be seen a little distance away from the main group. In one such case the carvings show a different and less elaborate character from those in the larger group and the off-shoot seems a separate entity. Mrs. Martin told me that when the eldest son married he left the family circle and established a cooking and eating place of his own a short distance away. This could not have been true in every case but it is possible that there is some reason for one and sometimes two smaller shell-heaps adjacent to a group of larger middens. Mrs. Martin's statement may provide the clue.

Baucke too, speaks of the son moving away from the parental board on marriage; but throughout the years many groups of families must have used the same middens and it must have been rarely that a new one was established. Unfortunately at most of the arbours where such an arrangement of heaps was seen few or no trees remain and it was not possible to follow up the idea that a smaller heap of shells providing for a new group of people started off with carvings of a less highly developed nature.

Another arrangement of heaps in a straight row is seen in four arbours. Five heaps are spaced approximately each sixteen feet apart with, at right angles from one of the end ones, a further heap sixteen feet from the main row.

The Hapupu Ride was ploughed in 1951 and four groups of middens were bared. The heaps in one group were arranged as just described. Alongside each one of the row of five heaps of shell was a blackened circular area, probably the site of the cooking fire.

The distance of some arbours from the sea is noteworthy. The Wairua ones are as much as two miles as the crow flies from the shore. About the same distance had to be covered before the karaka groves of Te Awanuinga were reached across the peat swamp. At these and other inland arbours the same large heaps of shell are to be seen as at those near the coasts. Possibly the coastal sites became crowded and some of the folk had to move further afield.

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Whether the people lived continuously at the same arbour is not definitely known. In 1952 Mr. James Eyles of the Canterbury Museum excavated a midden to a depth of four feet when he came to marine shingle. This midden consisted of three layers of paua shell separated by three layers of soil and ash. He states that this may show three distinct stages of occupation. On the other hand he says the Moriori may have visited the place periodically, taking all the paua to be found on each visit, cooking and drying them, and returning only when there would be a fresh crop of the fish. It is possible that with severe picking the beds may not have recovered for some time.

The Moriori have been spoken of as “seasonal nomads, migrating regularly to places where food was plentiful.” In addition to the large Whanga Lagoon, small lakes occur throughout the whole island and no place is far distant from the seashore. The necessity for migration would not appear to have been very pressing.

The middens are always composed of the shells of the kind of shell-fish found on the nearest coasts. Thus along the shores of Kekerione, the eastern and northern beaches are piles consisting almost wholly of pipi shells. Along the rocky coast from Ngaio to Te Awatotara mounds of paua fringe the shore. Near Taupeka and Tioriori 30 the middens contain besides pipi, tiari, the ridged blue and purple mussels (Aulacomya maoriana and Mytilus planulatus), pupu (Cookia sulcata and Modelia granosa), limpet (Cellana chathamensis) and kina, the sea-egg or shell urchin (Evechinus chloroticus). At Tioriori too are raised mounds, twelve to fifteen inches high, among the fern at the edge of the forest. These, islanders say, are the remains of hundreds of kaeo or sea tulip (Boltenia pachydermatina), highly thought of as an article of food by the Moriori. One wonders why a separate midden was necessary for this refuse.

Many birds must have been eaten; but the middens show no trace of their bones. Dr. Falla says that the presence of peat in the forest soil might account for the more rapid decay of the bird bones as compared with the shell. On the other hand, many bones and almost complete skeletons of birds 31 that are now extinct, were found embedded in - 423 the sand in eroded and wind-swept places near to the sea-shores. The skeletons seemed without only the leg bones and those of the feet. Together with these were pipi and other shells used for food; fish-bones, cooking stones, chips and flakes of the harder stone found in workshops, as well as many artifacts, adzes, fish-hooks, bird bone stringers or spears, all evidence of Moriori occupation. There were, however, no groups of large middens at these places as in the forest arbours. The areas are roughly circular and immediately outside them, the eroded parts at the same level are of clean sand, free from bones, stone or shell.

One informant told me of the Moriori method of preparing birds for cooking. The flesh with the legs was removed in one piece, leaving the rest of the skeleton with the head and neck intact, to be discarded. Perhaps birds and the kaeo were each eaten in places apart from the arbours. These places just mentioned must not be confused with the large middens on the high dunes above the beaches, middens which seem to have been built up within fairly recent times and which show no trace of ever having been lived at. They occur in many parts; along the Kekerione Beach, between Matarakau and Taupeka and along Hanson Bay between Te Awapatiki and Okawa. These middens occur singly or in groups of two and three between the belts of karaka forest and the sea. Southwards from Taia South, are thirteen groups of them in a half mile stretch of dunes. In 1951 Mr. G. Neville, at that time Commissioner at the Chatham Islands, speaking of his search for artefacts stated that none were ever found in these dune middens, though, with the shells; the bones of seal, of large sea-birds and the vertebrae of blackfish (Globicephala melaena) an occasional rough blubber knife is seen. These may have been Maori middens. If they were those of the Moriori it is interesting to note that part of his food was eaten at the sea-shore where it was found and part taken to his dwelling places in the forest. There may, however, be some explanation for this other than reasons of hunger or convenience.

Southwards from Te Awapatiki along the seashore great heaps of shell protrude from beneath the peat, and seem to have extended seawards from the present shore line. These are probably of Moriori origin built up when the present peat beds were karaka forest.

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As in the earlier of my visits single carvings became individual things, so later the arbours themselves stood out with their special characteristics. There were differences in the type of glyph as well as in the conception of idea; differences somewhat suggestive of those apparent in the work of schools of modern art: grimness at the Hapupu Hut arbours, frankness at Taia, humour at Makeroa and dignity along the Hapupu Flat.

The types of carving at the various arbours are by no means uniform. In general at the larger ones the majority of the glyphs are of human figures; but in the smaller arbours the glyphs are mainly of the zoomorphic type.

At Hapupu S. 1, of forty-five glyphs all excepting three include human figures. The exceptions are all patterns based on the lozenge.

At Hapupu Flat 4, all of the glyphs are of human figures and are all on big, old, decayed and broken trees sheltered by a second growth of matipo, so that originally there were most likely many more dendroglyphs at this arbour. It is interesting to note that all excepting one of these figures are carved without any separate additional marks. Three worthy informants said that they were intended to represent definite individuals.

In the three main arbours at Taia, on only nineteen of the seventy-five carved trees are there glyphs not including human figures. The exceptions are bird, fish, eel, seal and spear forms, two net forms, “cut-outs” and a head device.

Of the ninety glyphs at the large main Makeroa site seventy-six depict human figures.

At Kairae North arbours however, zoomorphic figures predominate. Of the fifty-seven glyphs there, human figures are seen in only fifteen. No reason is apparent why the types at this place should depart from what seems to have been the general rule for the larger arbours.

At these, Taia Main, Hapupu S. 1 and Makeroa, few anthropomorphic figures are seen; only one at the largest Hapupu site, none at Taia, and one, not of typical pattern at Makeroa where the faceless figures may have served instead of the headless ones of other centres. From an absence of anthropomorphism at Taia the type gradually increases as

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- iv
PLATE T. Some forms and motives seen frequently.
Family tree. 1. Skua bird form., 2. Upright bird form., 3. Squatting bird., 4. Perhaps simple anthropomorphic type., 5. Tall bird form., 6. Hawk form., 7. House-plank form., 8. Pigeon form., 9. Lozenge type., 10. Diving bird form., 11. Long bird form., 12. Traditional eel form., 13. Traditional bird form., 14. Tennant's Lake bird form., 15. Flying bird form., 16. Form at base of tree.
- 425

one travels north along the east coast, and westwards along the north coast until at Manauea, as many as six anthropomorphic figures are seen on one tree and at Tioriori the glyphs on six trees close together, each include more than one of these figures. Thus it would seem that anthropomorphic figures are found more often where the zoomorphic ones outnumber those of human figures. At Kairae are three of the headless ones; but it must be remembered always that at no arbour would the number of carved trees now be as great as when the Moriori was living there.

Some arbours seem devoted almost solely to one type of glyph. At Moreroa Sandhills was a pretty arbour where many trees have now been cut down. Ten dendroglyphs still remain there, and on nine are glyphs of “houseplank” bird forms, see 132. On one tree are carved five of these forms, three in one-piece and two others further round the trunk. On only one tree is another form, that of a fish.

“Cut-outs” are found in general at most of the arbours; but are uneven in their distribution. At Kairae are seventeen, six of them large like the one in Plate I. At Matarakau Coast 3, all excepting one of the eighteen glyphs there is a large “cut-out.” The odd one is again of a fish form.

Additional examples of the more outstanding glyphs were found. Notable amongst these were five glyphs with feet carved realistically, seven more carvings showing birds of the “traditional type” at a Hapupu South arbour, twelve more examples of parturition at north-west and Hapupu Flat arbours and another cameo glyph similar to 68. Eight more samples of the head device, five, each the only carving on the tree and three with spears alongside them were also found. Two glyphs with faces in profile but with both eyes showing were seen at Kaingarahu.

A type of carving seen in many arbours is a band usually about a foot wide etched right round the tree, seemingly by removing only the thinnest layer of the bark's surface. This glyph always has in it upright cuts which have so grown together that it is not possible to see what is intended by them.

The lozenge device is seen many times either as a decoration or in a patterned series standing alone. Sixteen human figures, one bird, a stylized figure—perhaps of a fish and a net form all decorated by this motive have been found. Few - 426 arbours are without some form of this decoration which in its single unit typifies the conventional shape of the trussed body.


The group of drawings, Plate T, gives the main types of bird forms seen. The names given to them are those that grew in my mind as I made copies of the original carvings. It seemed the obvious intention of the artist in some instances to represent in a stylized way different local types of bird life and these formed the basis of classification. Where no resemblance to any known species was clear, certain forms were classified according to the position or action represented. In some cases, however, the carving, seemingly of a bird, conformed to neither of these classifications and had to be given an imaginative name.

Skuas are to be seen on Pitt, Big Mangere and South-East Island preying on chickens and small birds. One, watched for two hours, scolded and screeched at another almost unceasingly. With feathers puffed and enraged mien, this bird suggested the name for T. 1. The form termed “houseplank” birds, similar to those carved on planks in the Dominion Museum, seemed to me to depict the shag, but one opinion favours the penguin. An occasional single carving shows this form more realistically. Then with neck bent and the body carved with graceful and flowing lines it seems more shag-like. This bird shape is always shown in relief against the bared sapwood of the tree. Most often what is intended for the tail, the beak and the feet are left attached to the bark surrounding the cut-out piece; but sometimes the tail and feet only are joined to the encircling bark and sometimes only the feet as in 132.

One beautiful glyph at Matarae shows two “houseplank” bird forms, breast to breast with beaks touching like some of the carvings in the Moreroa rock shelters. This rare find was of the cameo type, the forms of the birds being seen in an oval frame of swollen but attractive, lichen-bestrewn bark scar. They stand on a rectangular pedestal of bark, their feet fused with it. Another pair of birds was also placed facing each other, close together, just below a human figure at Henga; but was incised and the carving of the birds followed the lines of the buttresses of the tree.

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Ngaria Riwai (Mrs. Martin).
- vi
A group of Moriori. From left Ropiha, unknown woman, Taylor, Punipi.
A group of Moriori including Irawanu Tapu who was Shand's informant.
- vii
Sketch of Moriori woman by Miss Stoddart. Matire died at Hawaruwaru.
- viii
Te Karaka Nga Munanga Pawa (Shand). Chudleigh's diary gives Timoti Wetene Tara. 8 April, 1881.
- ix
A shell midden in the bush at Hapupu.
- x
Dense roof of interlocked karaka branches.
- xi
A leaning karaka tree at Kaia, perhaps deliberately cut by Moriori to bend over to make an arbour
- xii
“Cut-out” in Kairae bush.
- xiii
This bird form at Makeroa is held by a human figure whose head-line, eyes and an arm can be seen. The hand holding up the bird is lost behind the bird figure.
- xiv
This bird form at Tennant's Lake has been achieved easily and simply.
- xv
Two glyphs in Canterbury Museum.
- xvi
Glyph 67.
- xvii
Glyph 82.
- xviii
Arbours at Manauea.
- xix
FIG. 1., FIG. 2.
H. 3 ft. (91.5 cm.), W. Bark broken., Measurements not taken. About same size as Fig 1.
- xx
FIG. 3., FIG. 4.
—3 ft. 4½ in. (102.7 cm.), W. Old tree. Right side of glyph gone., —H. 2 ft. 7 in. (78.7 cm.), W. 1 ft. 5 in. (43.1 cm.)
- xxi
FIG. 5., FIG. 6.
—H. 3 ft. (91.5 cm.), —H. 2 ft. 9½ in. (85 cm.), W. 3 ft. (91.5 cm.).
- xxii
FIG. 7.
H. 4 ft. 3 in. (129.6 cm.), W. 3 ft. 1 in. (94.1 cm.)
- xxiii
FIG. 8.
H. 4 ft. 2 in. (127.1 cm.), W. 3 ft. 6 in. (106.75 cm.)
- xxiv
FIG. 9., FIG. 10.
—H. 2 ft. 9½ in. (85 cm.), W. 1 ft. 3½ in. (39.5 cm.), —H. 2 ft. 8½ in. (82.46 cm.), W. 1 ft. 9 in. (53.3 cm.)
- xxv
FIG. 11., FIG. 15.
H. 2 ft. 11 in. (88.3 cm.) H. 2 ft. 1 in. (63.4 cm.), H. 3 ft. 6½ in. (107.9 cm.) W. 1ft. 11½ in. (57.1 cm.)
- xxvi
FIG. 12., FIG. 13.
H. 3 ft. 6½ in. (107.9 cm.) W. 2 ft. 1 in. (63.5 cm.), H. 4 ft. 1 in. (139.7 cm.) W. 2 ft. 6 in. (77.5 cm.)
- xxvii
FIG. 14., FIG. 22.
H. 3 ft. 4½ in. (102.7 cm.) W. 2 ft. 1½ in. (69.6 cm.), H. 3 ft. 8½ in. (112.9 cm.) W. 2 ft. 2 in. (66 cm.)
- xxviii
FIG. 16.
H. 4 ft. 9½ in. (146 cm.), W. 3 ft. 3½ in. (100.5 cm.)
- xxix
FIG. 17., FIG. 18., FIG. 19.
—H. 2 ft. 7½ in. (80 cm.), W. 1 ft. 3½ in. (39 5 cm.), —H. 2 ft. 8½ in (82.4 cm.), W. 1 ft. 0½ in. (31.7 cm.), —H. 2 ft. 2 in. (66.7 cm.), W. 1 ft. 3 in. (38 cm.)
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FIG. 20., FIG. 23.
H. 4 ft. 4 in. (132 cm.) W. 3 ft. 1 in. (93.9 cm.), H. 3 ft. 8 in. (111.6 cm.) W. 2. ft. 2½ in (67.3 cm.)
- xxxi
FIG. 21.
H. 4 ft. 4½ in. (133 cm.), W. 2 ft. 11 in. (89 cm.)
- xxxii
Glyph 24.
- xxxiii
FIG. 24., FIG. 26.
—H. 3 ft. (91.4 cm.), W. 3 ft. 4 in. (101.3 cm.), —H. 1 ft. 8 in. (50.8 cm.), W. 1 ft. 3 in. (38.1 cm.)
- xxxiv
FIG. 26a., FIG. 25., FIG. 27.
—H. 2 ft. 10½ in. (87.6 cm.), W. 2 ft. 0½ in. (62.2 cm.), —H. 2 ft. 6½ in. (77.4 cm.), W. 1 ft. 6½ in. (47 cm.), —H. 3 ft. 2 in. (96.4 cm.), W. 1 ft. 6 in. (45.9 cm.)
- xxxv
FIG. 29., FIG. 31.
—H. 3 ft. 9 in. (112.5 cm.), W. 1 ft. 6 in. (45.9 cm.), —H. 3 ft. 11 in. (119.3 cm.), W. 2 ft. 10 in. (86.3 cm.)
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FIG. 30.
H. 4 ft. 2 in. (126.9 cm.), W. 4 ft. 4½ in. (133.2 cm.)
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FIG. 28., FIG. 32., FIG. 33.
—H. 2 ft. 3 in (68.5 cm.), W. 1 ft. 11½ in. (59.6 cm.), —H. 2 ft. 3½ in. (69.8 cm.), W. 1 ft. 9½ in. (54.6 cm.), —H. 2 ft. 2 in. (66 cm.), W. 1 ft. 5½ in. (44.4 cm.)
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FIG. 34., FIG. 35., FIG. 37.
—H. 3 ft. 11½ in. (120.5 cm.), W. 3 ft. 6½ in. (107.9 cm.), —H. 4 ft. 4 in. (132 cm.), W. 3 ft. 1 in. (93.9 cm.), —Less than one-third real size.
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FIG. 36., FIG.38.
—H. 3 ft. 9 in. (114.2 cm.), W. 2 ft. 2 in. (71.4 cm.), —H. 3 ft. 8 in. (111.7 cm.), W. 1 ft. 7½ in. (49.5 cm.)
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FIG. 39. FIG., 40.
H. 1 ft. 10 in. (55.9 cm.), W. 3 ft. 3 in. (99 cm.), H. 4 ft. 6 in. (137.2 cm.), W. 3 ft. 8 in. (111.5 cm.)
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FIGS. 41, 42 and 43.
—Measurements not taken.
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FIG. 44., FIG. 45.
—H. 3 ft. 10 in. (116.7 cm.), W. 2 ft. 1½ in. (64.8 cm.), —H. 4 ft. 1 in. (124.5 cm.), W. 2 ft. 0½ in. (62.2 cm.)
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FIG. 46., FIG. 47., FIG. 49.
—H. 3 ft. 7½ in. (110.4 cm.), W. 1 ft. 10½ in. (67.1 cm.), —H. 3 ft. 6 in. (106.6 cm.), W. 2 ft. 0½ in. (62.2 cm.), —H. 2ft. 9 in. (83.75 cm.), W. 2 ft. 1 in. (63.5 cm.)
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FIG. 48., FIG. 50., FIG. 51., FIG. 53., FIG. 56.
H. 5 ft. (152.2 cm.) W. 1 ft. 0½ in. (31.6 cm.), H. 2 ft. (61 cm.) W. 1 ft. (30.5 cm.), About 1 ft. 6 in. (45.8 cm.) high., H. 1 ft. 9½ in. (64.6 cm.) W. 3½ in. (6.8 cm.), H. 1 ft. 10 in. (57.8 cm.) Not drawn to scale.
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FIG. 52., FIG. 54., FIG. 55., FIG. 57., FIG. 58., FIG. 59.
—H. 10½ in. (26.6 cm.), W. 1 ft. 4½ in. (41.9 cm.), —H. 1 ft. 8 in. (50.8 cm.), W. 8½ in (21.6 cm.), —H. 1 ft. 1½ in. (34.3 cm.), W. 11 in. (27.9 cm.), —Not to scale., —Not to scale., —Not to scale.
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FIG. 60.
H. 4 ft. 3½ in. (130.7 cm.), W. 4 ft. 4½ in. (133.2 cm.)
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FIG. 61.
H. 1 ft. 9 in (53.3 cm.), W. 1 ft. 3 in. (38.1 cm.)
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FIG. 62., FIG. 63., FIG. 64.
—H. 3 ft. 1½ in. (95.3 cm.), W. 1 ft. 2 in. (33.4 cm.), —H. 3 ft. 7½ in. (110.4 cm.), W. 2ft. (60.9 cm.), —H. 3 ft. 4½ in. (102.8 cm.), W. 1 ft. 4½ in. (41.9 cm.)
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FIG. 65.
H. 2 ft. 11 in. (88.8 cm.), W. 3 ft. 6½ in (107.9 cm.)
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FIG. 66., FIG. 67., FIG. 68., FIG. 69a., FIG. 69b.
—H. 2 ft. 9½ in. (85 cm.), W. 1 ft. 4½ in. (41.9 cm), —H. 1 ft. 10½ in. (57.1 cm.), W. 1 ft. 3½ in. (39.3 cm.), —H. 3 ft. 1½ in. (95.2 cm.), W. 1 ft. 8 in. (50.7 cm.), —L. 9 in. (22.8 cm.), H. 5 in. (12.6 cm.), —L. 1 ft. 5 in. (43.1 cm.), Width of body 6 in. (15.2 cm.)
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FIG. 71., FIG. 72., FIG. 73., FIG. 74.
—H. 2 ft. 10 in (86.3 cm.), W. 1 ft. 2 in. (35.58 cm.), —H. 1 ft. 11½ in. (59.6 cm.), W. 1 ft. 3½ in. (39.5 cm.), —H. 2 ft. 7½ in. (79.9 cm.), W. 1 ft. 0½ in. (31.7 cm.), —H. 3 ft. (91.4 cm.), W. 1 ft. 1½ in. (34.2 cm.)
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FIG. 75., FIG. 76., FIG. 77.
H. 2 ft. 9 in. (83.75 cm.) W. 1 ft. 0½ in. (31.8 cm.), H. 2 ft. 6 in. (76.1 cm.) W. 1 ft. 6 in. (45.6 cm.), H. 2 ft. 4½ in. (73.6 cm.) W. 1 ft. 4 in. (40.6 cm.)
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FIG. 78.
H. 3 ft. 4 in. (101.5 cm.), W. 2 ft. 7 in. (78.7 cm.)
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FIG. 79.
H. 3 ft. 7½ in. (110.5 cm.), W. 3 ft. 1½ in. (95.2 cm.)
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FIG. 81.
H. 3 ft. 1½ in. (95.2 cm.), W. 3 ft. 10 in. (116.8 cm.)
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FIG. 80., FIG. 82., FIG. 83.
H. 2 ft. 10 in. (86.3 cm.) W. 1 ft. 10½ in. (57.1 cm.), H. 2 ft. 11 in. (88.8 cm.) W., H. 1 ft. 5 in. (43.1 cm.) W.
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FIG. 84.
H. 4 ft. 10½ in. (148 5 cm ) W. 11½ in. (29.2 cm.)
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FIG. 85., FIG. 86., FIG. 87.
—H. 1 ft. 9 in. (53.4 cm.), W. 1 ft. 9 in. (53.4 cm.), —H. 2 ft. 6 in. (76.1 cm.), W. 1 ft. 11½ in. (59.6 cm.), —H. 1 ft. 3 in. (38.1 cm.), W. 1 ft. 6 in. (45.7 cm.)
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FIG. 88.
H. 4 ft. 6 in. (137.2 cm.), W. 3 ft. (91.4 cm.)
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FIG. 90.
H. 2 ft. 10½ in. (87.5 cm.), W. 1 ft. 8 in. (50.7 cm.)
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FIG. 91.
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FIG. 92., FIG. 93., FIG. 94.
H. 2 ft. 10 in. (86.3 cm.) W. 2 ft. 1 in. (63.4 cm.), H. 3 ft. 2½ in. (97.8 cm.) W. 2 ft. 1½ in. (64.8 cm.), H. 3 ft. 1 in. (94 cm.) W. 1 ft. 8½ in. (52.1 cm.)
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FIG. 89., FIG. 95., FIG. 96.
—About one-fifth real size., —H. 2 ft. 6 in. (76.1 cm.), W. 1 ft. 3½ in. (39.3 cm.), —W. 8½ in. (21.6 cm.)
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FIG. 97.
H. 4 ft. 3 in. (129.4 cm.), W. 2 ft. 2 in. (66 cm.)
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FIG. 98.
H. 3 ft. 8 in. (111.6 cm.), W. 1 ft. 9 in. (53.3 cm.)
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FIG. 99., FIG. 103., FIG. 104.
—H. 1 ft. 5 in. (43.2 cm.), —H. 1 ft. 10½ in. (57.1 cm.), W. 5½ in. (13.9 cm.), —Slightly less than one-fifth real size.
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FIG. 100.
H. 5 ft. 9 in. (175.2 cm.), W. 3 ft. 4 in. (101.5 cm.)
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FIG. 101., FIG. 102.
H. 1 ft. 10½ in. (57.1 cm.) W. 1 ft. 4 in. (40.6 cm.), H. 2 ft. 7 in. (78.7 cm.) W. 1 ft. 0½ in. (31.7 cm.)
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FIG. 105., FIG. 106., FIG. 107.
H. 2 ft. 3 in. (68.5 cm.) W. 1 ft. 1½ in. (34.2 cm.), H. 2 ft. 7 in. (78.7 cm.) W. 1 ft. 9 in. (53.3 cm.), H. 2 ft. 8 in. (81.2 cm.) W. 1 ft. 10 in. (55.8 cm.)
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FIG. 108., FIG. 109., FIG. 110.
H. 3 ft. 1½ in. (95.4 cm.) W. 2 ft. 1 in. (63.5 cm.), H. 3 ft. 2 in. (97.2 cm.) W. 1 ft. 7 in. (48.2 cm.), H. 2 ft. 10 in. (86.3 cm.) W. 2 ft. 1 in. (63.5 cm.)
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FIG. 111., FIG. 112., FIG. 113.
H. 2 ft. 5 in. (74.2 cm.) W. 1 ft. 5½ in. (44.4 cm.), H. 2 ft. 11 in. (88.8 cm.) W. 1 ft. 6½ in. (47 cm.), H. 1 ft. 6 in. (45.6 cm.) W. 1 ft. 1 in. (33 cm.)
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FIG. 114., FIG. 115., FIG. 116.
—H. 3 ft. (91.4 cm.), W. 2 ft. 0½ in. (62.2 cm.)., —H. 2 ft. 4 in. (71 cm.), W. 1 ft. 6 in. (45.6 cm.), —Not drawn to scale.
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FIG. 117., FIG. 118.
—H. 1 ft. 11 in. (58.4 cm.), W. 2 ft. 9 in. (83.8 cm.), —H. 3 ft. 3 in. (99 cm.), W. 2 ft. 5 in. (73.5 cm.)
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FIG. 119.
H. 3 ft. 6½ in. (107.4 cm.), W. 5 ft. (152.3 cm.).
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FIG. 120., FIG. 121.
H. 3 ft. 6 in. (106.6 cm.), W. 2 ft. 5 in. (74.9 cm.)., From 16, p. 6
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FIG. 122.
The reconstructed prow of Moriori raft canoe in Canterbury Museum. From Canterbury Museum.
FIG. 123.
H. 4 ft. 3 in. (139.6 cm.), W. 4 ft. 7 in. (129.4 cm.)
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FIG. 124.
H. 5 ft. (152.5 cm.) W. 2 ft. 1 in. (63.5 cm.)
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FIG. 125.
H. 2 ft. (60.9 cm.), W. 3 ft. 1 in. (93.8 cm.)
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FIG. 126., FIG. 127.
H. 2 ft. 6 in. (76.1 cm.) W. 1 ft. 7½ in. (49.5 cm.), H. 2 ft. 8 in. (81.2 cm.), W. 2 ft. 8½ in. (82.5 cm.)
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FIG. 128.
H. 3 ft. 11 in. (119.3 cm.), W. 3 ft. 6½ in. (107.9 cm.)
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FIG. 129., FIG. 130.
—H. 1 ft. 7½ in. (49.7 cm.), W. 1 ft. 2 in. (35.5 cm.), —H. 2 ft. 10 in. (86.3 cm.), W. 1 ft. 3 in. (38 cm.)
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FIG. 131.
H. 3 ft. 3 in. (98.9 cm.), W. 5 ft. 6 in. (167.5 cm.)
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FIG. 132.
H. 3 ft. 6 in. (106.75 cm.) W. 1 ft. 3 in. (38 cm.)

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The pedestal-like piece of bark was seen at the bases of five cameo carvings of birds. It was in each case three inches high by two and one-half inches wide and its sides were always straight and regular. By its use the figure was not separated from the bark of the tree and so received a supply of sap.

The form T. 11 was found at the side of human figures in five different glyphs. It may perhaps be a bird form or may be intended to represent a weapon.

Three glyphs, see T. 4, the only carving on their trees are of two simple lines only. A fourth one has what seem ribs, suggesting that a simple anthropomorphic figure was intended in each case. A bird form with lozenges, intermingled with the lower part of the fourth glyph add interest to it. The four were found at Kairae, Manauea, Kaingarahu and Rotorua; one at each place.

A glyph which appears several times is of a group of three lozenge-shaped figures, see T. 9, carved to the sapwood. There are never more than three in the group and each of the two lower ones is always larger than the one above it.

In several glyphs a carving of a human face comes to within a foot or eighteen inches of the ground and seems part of a gap at the base of the tree. At first this gap was thought to be a natural split in the trunk; but was seen so many times in the same shape and as in T. 16 with a carving immediately above and slightly to the side of it, seemingly part of it, that the break was thought perhaps to have been caused artificially. If, however, the rent were a natural one, it may have been thought necessary or of advantage for some reason to place a carving above it.

The many differences of idea in the carving of bird forms in different places showed well in the diving group. In some cases of other incised bird forms a narrow piece of live bark is left between head and body to form the neck. In others the body only is etched and the head shown in outline. Sometimes a bird form is inset within a fish form and in two glyphs a small bird is inset within the base of a larger one.

Some fine bird forms seen only once each suggest no particular type. A bird form above the head of a human figure kura-like, must surely in the mind of the artist have - 428 added something to the figure beneath it or have itself, in being placed in that position been given a greater dignity.

Birdflight, the term used for the numbers of dark marks seen around the figures in glyphs 100 and 129 have a place with many human figures. Longer grooves gouged in similar positions seemed perhaps to suggest the movement of small fish.


It seemed at first hard to believe that the Moriori meant to represent the doings of his hunters and the results of their chase; but after finding many carvings showing the human figure handling a spear which had been driven through birds or through a sea creature, it seemed the undoubted intention of the artist to portray fragments of real life. Five glyphs show birds impaled on the point of a spear and one carving shows a human head pierced through by this weapon, held by the hand of a large figure alongside it. In all, thirty-five of what seemed scenes were found, though many more of the glyphs may have been intended to show actual happenings.


Zoomorphic glyphs outnumber those of human figures by one hundred and seventy-six. They can best be considered and their numbers understood in relation to the daily life of the Moriori, a life, in the absence of any form of agriculture and with few vegetable foods, almost wholly dependent on birds and food from the sea, lake and shore.

Baucke speaks of a certain intimacy with birds on the part of the Moriori who (17, p. 378), “knew the habits of worms, birds, fish and trees because these were the media of sustenance and must be studied to secure them. Because they fled his capture, they must fear him hence they must also have passions and emotions like his own; ergo they were his distant kin . . .” (17, p. 362). “For according to his animistic personation of the inanimate and anthropomorphic idealism all live things had a patron spirit whose wrath must be placated every time man interferes with or transgresses this patron spirit's rites . . .” (17, p. 382). “Though according to his visionary classing—these were his kin—while birds were on the wing, out of his reach he could address them in terms saintly and decoying, he enhaloed them with tapu so sacred that the transgression of the smallest brought

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retribution sure and swift yet once brought to hand no more callous and merciless than he.”

These statements then, and the evidence noted earlier would seem to point to some form of bird cult among the Moriori people.


The glyphs appearing in this memoir come from the following places:—

  • TAIA—1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 26a, 74, 75, 86, 87, 92, 93, 94, 99, 103, 104, 108, 109, 112, 114, 126, 129.
  • HAPUPU—16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 31, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 44, 45, 46, 47, 49, 54, 73, 77, 80, 81, 88, 97, 107, 113, 119, 123, 130.
  • MAKEROA—41, 42, 43, 48, 50, 55, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 67, 83, 91, 101, 102, 105, 111, 116, 117.
  • MANAUEA—14, 33, 34, 53, 56, 57, 69, 70, 72, 84, 89, 96, 100, 115, 118, 120, 127, 128.
  • KAINGARAHU—30, 51, 95.
  • KAIRAE—68, 85.
  • MAIRANGI—65, 66, 71, 79, 98.
  • PINUI—78, 90.
  • RANGITAI—131, 132.
  • TIORIORI—15, 106, 124, 125.
  • PITT ISLAND—32, 52, 76, 82, 110.
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- 436
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  sheets 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Totals.
4 No. of heaps of shell to each arbour 53 63 60 53 62 50 36 30 407
7 No. of dendroglyphs to each arbour 122 222 131 114 311 60 100 85 1145
8 No. with human figure 54 90 63 39 126 7 16 15 420
9 No. with more than one human figure 11 16 8 8 22 1 1 3 70
0 No. of cameo human figures 10 3 0 0 6 0 2 0 11
11 No. of anthropomorphic figures 6 14 0 7 9 3 11 4 54
12 No. of bird forms 19 59 21 20 47 17 49 35 267
13 No. of ‘house-plank’ bird forms 2 9 0 0 6 3 15 4 39
14 No. of ‘traditional’ bird forms 0 7 0 0 6 0 0 0 13
15 No. of Tennant's lake bird forms 3 2 0 2 2 2 2 0 13
16 No. of upright bird forms 0 4 3 2 3 2 3 2 19
17 No. of squatting bird forms 2 1 1 0 3 0 1 0 8
18 No. of diving bird forms 0 1 0 1 6 0 2 0 10
19 No. of tall bird forms 3 2 1 0 3 2 1 0 12
20 No. of bird of birds with open mouth 2 0 1 2 5 1 1 0 12
21 No. of flying bird forms 1 1 0 1 3 0 0 2 8
22 No. of swan bird forms 0 1 0 1 2 0 0 0 4
23 No. of duck bird forms 0 0 1 1 1 1 0 2 6
24 No. of pigeon bird forms 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 3
25 No. of skua bird forms 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 2
26 No. of penguin bird forms 0 0 2 0 3 0 0 0 5
27 No. of hawk bird forms 1 7 1 0 5 0 0 0 14
28 No. of bird flights 1 3 2 0 10 3 3 4 26
29 No. of eel forms 8 15 2 6 7 2 4 6 50
30 No. of ‘traditional’ eel forms 0 2 0 0 2 0 1 0 5
31 No. of fish forms 16 24 26 26 51 18 29 35 225
32 No. of seal forms 2 6 5 2 5 0 1 2 23
33 No. of spear forms 4 18 8 7 11 0 4 2 54
34 No. of ‘cut-outs’ 11 40 17 16 48 8 13 14 167
35 No. of scarf marks 7 10 4 8 16 5 5 9 64
36 No. of lozenge devices 6 17 4 11 21 2 1 2 64
37 No. of head forms 2 3 2 2 5 1 1 0 16
38 No. of ‘trees’ 5 5 0 5 5 0 0 2 22
39 No. of ‘scenes’ 5 9 1 4 10 1 4 2 36
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  • 1. ADAM, Leonhard. Primitive Art. 150 p., 32 pl., 38 fig. Penguin England. 1940.
  • 2. — — Letter to author, 27th Aug., 1948.
  • 3. BALFOUR, Henry. “Some Ethnological Suggestions in Regard to Easter Island or Rapanui.” Folklore. Vol 28:356-81, 1917.
  • 4. BLACK, Lindsay. Burial Trees. 8 p., 24 pl., 1 map, 2 diag., being the first of a series on aboriginal customs of the Darling River Valley and Central New South Wales. Robertson & Mullens Ltd. Melbourne. 1941.
  • 5. — — Aboriginal Art Galleries of Western New South Wales. 20 p., 64 pl., 2 diag., part 3 being a continuation of a series on the aborigines of the Darling River Valley and of Central New South Wales. Printed by J. Roy Stevens. Melbourne. 1943.
  • 6. BROUGHTON, Lt.-Commander William Robert. “Log Book of the Tender Chatham.” British Museum Manuscript Nos. 1742-1751, 1791-1795.
  • 7. DEIGHTON, Samuel. “A Moriori Vocabulary.” Appendices to the Journal of the House of Representatives. G—5. 1889.
  • 8. DENDY, Arthur. “On Some Relics of the Moriori Race.” New Zealand Institute Transactions. Vol. 34, pp. 123-134. 1901.
  • 9. DIEFFENBACH, Ernest. “Account of the Chatham Islands.” Royal Geog. Soc. Jour. Vol. 2, pp. 195-215. 1841.
  • 10. ETHRIDGE, Robert. “The Dendroglyphs or Carved Trees of New South Wales.” 104 p., 39 pl. New South Wales Geological Survey Memoir. Ethnological Series No. 3. Govt. Printer. Sydney. 1918.
  • 11. HAMILTON, Augustus. “Moriori Carvings on the Trunks of Karaka Trees.” New Zealand Institute Transactions. Vol. 36, pp. 11-13 for 1903.
  • 12. HUNT, Frederick. Twenty-five years' Experience in New Zealand and the Chatham Islands—an Autobiography. Edited by John Amery. 64 p. Wellington. W. Lyon. 1866.
  • 13. MCNAB, Robert. Historical Records of New Zealand. 650 p. Vol. 2. Wellington. Government Printer. 1914. 2nd Ed. 1866.
  • 14. POTTS, Thomas Henry. Out in the Open. 301 p., 1 pl. Christchurch. Lyttelton Times Company Limited. 1882.
  • 15. SHAND, Alexander. “The Moriori People of the Chatham Islands; their History and Traditions.” Polynesian Society Memoir. Vol. 2, 218 p., 3 pl. 1911.
  • 16. SKINNER, Henry Devenish. “The Morioris of Chatham Islands,” Memoir Bernice P. Bishop Museum. Vol. 9, No. 1, 140 p., 35 pl., 36 figs., bib. of 87 items. Honolulu. Published by the Museum, 1928.
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  • 17. SKINNER, Henry Devenish and BAUCKE, William. “The Morioris.” Memoir Bernice P. Bishop Museum. Vol. 9, No. 5, 44 p., 8 pl., 7 figs. Honolulu. Published by the Museum, 1928.
  • 18. SPENCER, Baldwin. Native Tribes of the Northern Territory of Australia. xx, 516 p., 36 pl., 1 map, 92 figs. London. Macmillan & Co. Ltd. 1914.
  • 19. TAYLOR, Richard, Rev. Te Ika a Maui or New Zealand and its Inhabitants. xv, 713 p., front., illus. London. William McIntosh. 1870.
  • 20. TRAVERS, William Thomas Locke. “Notes on the Traditions and Manners and Customs of the Mori-oris.” New Zealand Institute Transactions. Vol. 9, p. 15-27. 1876.
  • 21. TREGEAR, Edward. “The Moriori.” New Zealand Institute Transactions. Vol. 22, pp. 75-79. 1889.
  • 22. WHITE, Taylor. “On the Poua and other Extinct Birds of the Chatham Islands.” New Zealand Institute Transactions. Vol. 29, pp. 162-168. 1896.
  • 23. WILLIAMS, Herbert William. A Dictionary of the Maori Language. Polynesian Society. 5th Ed. Wellington. Government Printer. 1917.
1   In my first enquiries about Thomas Solomon, this name was used frequently. Baucke (17, p. 383) also used it, but his death certificate gives his name, Tame Horomona Rehe.
2   More middens were seen there later.
3   Later, Dr. Skinner (16, p. 71) was found to have stated “. . . the figures are to be seen scattered round the old centres of population and in close proximity to the sites of dwellings.”
4   This term is used at the Chathams for open peat moorland of which there are large areas, covered mainly now with bracken and sedge; but earlier with flax (Phormium tenax).
5   In later years the young growth of the large leafed nettle (Urtica australis) was found, when boiled, to be good eating and when no other “greens” were to be had I could usually find some of this.
6   In earlier times before sufficient land had been cleared and grassed for grazing, much of the karaka was felled to provide food for stock which like the thick leaves. Later and still today ake ake (Olearia traversii) and matipo are used for posts and battens for fencing.
7   In January, 1951, it was suggested to me that the “cut-outs” are places from which a glyph had been removed. If this was so, a steel axe would have been used and the marks made by this tool are sometimes seen on trees in the karaka forest. The lines left round the tree by an axe are even in outline and not waved as in this “cut-out” and the slope of axe marks is uniform from the outer surface of the bark to the sap-wood of the tree. The unevenness of the lines round this “cut-out” would suggest that it was done by a stone adze. Moreover, axe marks are to be seen cracked and dry, conditions not found in the surfaces of the lines and edges of a glyph.
8   These were collected by Mr. H. H. Travers who, on his father's behalf, in 1871 and on later occasions visited the Chathams looking for natural history specimens. It is not known who did the drawings, presumably the son.
9   Skinner also published three drawings in “The Morioris of the Chatham Islands.”
10   It is possible that the increase in girth enhanced the gracefulness in outline of many of the glyphs.
11   This name would seem to be Operau.
12   Some trees with carvings on them had been cut down for museums; others are said to have been sent to auction rooms in Christchurch.
13   Those in the Otago Museum were acquired much later than those in the museums mentioned.
14   In this computation each face in a glyph has been termed one representation and each anthropomorhpic figure has been counted as one as well, though in many of the glyphs these headless figures are indicated by little more than a hand and an arm or a leg and a foot attached to a body-line.
15   See also Plate La.
16   In 1951 and 1952 I wondered if the bird and eel forms carved kura-like above the heads of human figures, as in 40 and 84, were intended, not merely as a variation of the more formal kura but had perhaps a symbolic purpose. In all, eight figures with bird forms in this position were found, and seven figures with eels used in the same way were also observed.
17   Balfour in “Some Ethnological Suggestions in Regard to Easter Island or Rapanui,” says, “Just as in the Marquesas, Hawaiian Islands, and many other Pacific groups one finds local schools of art producing their own fanciful anthropomorphic types.”
18   A koropepe is sometimes explained as a bird's head with a spiral tail. Williams (23, p. 170) says, “2. A spiral ornament of bone or greenstone.” The spiral is not always of circular form in all koropepe. Two in the Dominion Museum are ovoid in shape.
19   Recent anthropological opinion in New Zealand favours this spelling which is that used by British writers, the spelling of the word with an “i” being the American way.
20   Six more of this type were found later.
21   This is a Maori word used for the berries of the karaka tree. It is not included in Deighton's Moriori vocabulary (7).
22   It seems possible that there may be anthropomorphic intention in both 51 and 54, or that in 54 is seen a symbolic form of the artefact. In a later search a similar carving was found, though it was not of such graceful form.
23   Williams (23, p. 296) gives the word “whakapakoko” as “1. Mummy; 2. Image. ‘whakapakoko rakau or pou whakapakoko,’ a post with a carved top used for purposes of incantation.”
24   Williams (23, p. 115), “1. n. Charm, spell, incantation; particularly the ancient rites proper to every important matter in the life of the Maori; 2. v.i., Repeat a form of words as a charm or a spell; 3. v.t., Repeat an incantation over a word or a thing. Sometimes with the name of the spell added.
Note.—The application of the word to public worship is modern.
25   Shand in a letter dated 4th October, 1889, in the Dominion Museum, speaks of “figures on karaka trees which they allege to be birds but look more like figures of men or intended for such, as well as many of the same carvings as above,” i.e., “sickle-like shaped figures” on the limestone cliffs at Moutapu.
26   Later, two more figures similar to this one and a glyph with two figures similar to the one in 86 were found.
27   Balfour shows two bird forms, 15, Plate 1, which have wings similar to what seem arms in 95.
28   The term is used for the cleared circular area on which the initiation ceremony, the bora, takes place.
29   Taia 6, 20 ft. by 18 ft.; Taia 7, 20 ft. by 11 ft.; Rangitai, 13 ft. by 11 ft. The length and breadth of the group of six large middens at Taia were not measured, nor were the individual heaps themselves; but the distance right round the outside of the area covered by them was three and one-half chains.
30   The shores at these places are rock-bound.
31   The bones of a rat also, were found in numbers at these places.