Volume 86 1977 > Volume 86, No. 1 > Origin of a maramataka, by Charles Devonshire, p 81-84
                                                                                             Previous | Next   

- 81
ORIGIN OF A MARAMATAKA

In Elsdon Best's monograph Fishing Methods and Devices of the Maori 1 a maramataka is quoted, of uncertain origin, collected from a Rev Metara stationed at Otaki before 1918. The only clue given is that one Mita te Tai may originally have been the donor.

Some time ago, the Whangarei Museum received some diaries which had been written in 1913-14 by Ihaka te Tai, a blacksmith in the Auckland Railway Workshops during those years. While I was listing references in these for the museum, I came across evidence that the Bay of Islands was the district of origin of Best's maramataka, and that it and one in Ihaka's 1913 diary were one and the same originally.

Mita te Tai was Ihaka te Tai's father; he died on October 18, 1913. Ihaka's diary mentions him on a number of dates. He says on Mita's death: “Ka hinga nei taku matua, ariki, kai-tohutohu He uhunga te mahi.” (He was buried at Karetu, a few miles from the Rawhiti home.)

On August 7, 1914, is the diary entry “Ka tae mai Iehu Metara me tana wahine me ta raua kotiro ki konei noho ai mo tetahi wa.” (Iehu Metara, his wife and daughter arrived here to stay a while.) Then on December 1, 1914, we read of his departure. “Before retiring at 11.30 p.m. farewell speech to Iehu Metara and wife who has [sic] been staying with us since they came to Auckland.”

In the 1913 diary, the maramataka is carefully written in the spare end pages, with the remark “Koia enei ko nga mahi mo ia ra mo ia ra Kei nga Tohu e mau i mua o nga ra o te marama Na Nuutana Mapi enei maramatanga. 10/11/1902.”

So we have Nuutana or Nuutaua Mapi as the original donor of the maramataka in 1902, 2 and as there is no difference between the Fishing Methods version and this one, I do not think there can be any doubt that this is the origin of Metara's calendar. The writing style, which does vary as time passes appears to confirm that it was written before, not after, Metara's visit.

My thanks are due to Mr J. Donnelly of the Whangarei Museum, for permission to quote from the museum archives, to Mr F. Barrett of Ohaeawai for information about Nuutana Mapi, and to Mrs Clifford, Ihaka's niece, for checking details concerning the family.

- 82
FIGURE 1.
Maramataka in Ihaka te Tai's 1913 diary (Whangarei Museum).
- 83
FIGURE 2
Continuation of maramataka a in Ihaka te Tai's 1913 diary.
REFERENCES
  • BEST, Elsdon, 1929. Fishing Methods and Devices of the Maori. Wellington, Dominion Museum Bulletin, 12.

- 84 Page is blank

1   Best 1929:95. This maramataka is also discussed in Best 1922 The Maori Division of Time. pp. 23-4. Presumably Ihaka te Tai gave Metara additional information concerning it.
2   Nuutana Mapi is also known as a carver of the wooden headboards which are such a remarkable feature of Maori cemetries in Northland.