The Wayback Machine -
Oceania - The Northwest Atolls and The Eastern Atolls by Peter Buck

hd_450a.gif (7537 bytes)



The following descriptions of The Northwest Atolls, The Eastern Atolls, South and South West and The Southern Angle are by Peter H. Buck and were recorded in his book: Vikings of the Sunrise, published by Frederick A. Stokes Company, New York, 1938
The sea seethes,
The sea recedes,
It appears, the land appears
And Maui stands upon it.
-Rakahanga Chant

Along the route probably followed by the earliest voyagers in the Pacific on their long sail from the Gilbert Islands to the Society Islands are the Phoenix Islands, where ruined temples of coral limestone are the sole witness of previous occupation. Farther to the southeast are the inhabited atolls, Manihiki, Rakahanga, and Tongareva (Penrhyn). As these small islands are low-lying and unattractive for permanent settlement, they were probably occupied only temporarily by the earliest people who cherished hopes and dreams of better lands ahead. However, when increased population at the center of Polynesia led to renewed exploration, the three atolls were repeopled from Rarotonga and Tahiti. Tongareva alone retains a legend of an early settlement that preceded the voyagers from Tahiti.

In 1929, I visited Manahiki and Rakahanga with Judge Ayson, Resident Commissioner of the Cook Islands, and members of his staff. We sailed from Rarotonga by the schooner Tiare Taporo, under the efficient command of Captain Viggo Rasmussen. At Rakahanga, Judge Ayson conducted a Court to inquire into the genealogies of the various families and the history of their ancestors, as a basis of the Court. I was allowed to sit in and obtain a complete set of the local lineages. Both Manihiki and Rakahanga are small atolls whose islets are set on a coral reef encircling an inner lagoon. Neither atoll has openings through the reef which will admit canoes. In order to land and to discharge cargo, the schooner lays off as close to the reef as is safe, and passengers and cargo are transhipped into outrigger canoes. The old type of canoe has completely disappeared and a modern form is made from imported sawn timber. Though shaped like a flat-bottomed boat with sharp bow and stern, the outrigger is retained. The natives paddle in close to the reef and wait patiently until the right wave comes surging along. They paddle vigorously, the wave lifts the canoe over the outer lip of the reef, and, if deep enough, floats it across the reef into the outer lagoon that stretches between the reef and the shore. If the wave is too shallow, the canoe grounds on the reef; the crew leap out and hold the canoe to prevent it from being drawn back by the suction of the receding wave. As the wave subsides, one may gaze fearfully down the vertical outer side of the reef and into the yawning gurgling chasm below. The newcomer is not reassured by tales of people who have been sucked down into coral caverns from which they never reappeared.

The islands rise only ten to twe4nty feet above sea level and do not support the food plants, animals, and raw materials used on the volcanic islands of central Polynesia. Our respect must be great for these early settlers, coming from the verdant lands of Tahiti and Rarotonga, who accepted these unfriendly isles as home and so quickly adapted themselves to an unfertile environment. There are no breadfruit trees, no bananas, plantains, sweet potatoes, yams, arrowroot, or cordyline, and no domestic animals on these atolls. Coconut palms grow luxuriantly and supply the stable vegetable food. A kind of taro termed puraka is grown in deep trenches or in wide, excavated areas which reach the brackish subsoil water. The fruit of the pandanus, seldom eaten on volcanic islands, is an important food on atolls. The fruit of the noni (Morinda citrifolia) is also used, but it is an ill-smelling food that can be rendered palatable only by extreme hunger. The wild hibiscus and plants of the nettle family that furnish cordage elsewhere do not grow here. Lines and nets are made of coconut husk fiber, and ordinary lashings from the skin of the midrib butts of coconut leaves.

One of my early lessons on adjustments to local conditions was obtained on watching a young man climb a coconut tree to get some drinking nuts. He cut the leaf off a young coconut tree, tore strips off the midrib, beat them against the trunk of a tree, and even chewed them to soften them. He tied the ends together with a reef knot and, looping this over this feet, speedily climbed the tree. Large timber was scarce, and before the introduction of sawn timber, the two kinds of trees suitable for canoes were split into planks so as not to waste any material by dubbing out trunks as hulls. The tools, as already mentioned, had to be made from tridacna shells, owing to the lack of basaltic stones. Clothing had to be made from coconut leaves or plaited pandanus leaves, for the paper mulberry which provided elsewhere the raw material for bark cloth does not grow on atolls. Even firewood was scarce; coconut shells, dry coconut husks, and the dry sheaths and racemes of coconut flowers were collected for the cooking fires.

Nature, however, was kind in providing a rich and varied fish supply, both in the lagoon and in the ocean beyond. Flying fish and bonito were plentiful. In the lagoon was an inexhaustible supply of shellfish in the tridacna and also the pearl oyster, if occasion demanded. Crayfish were numerous, and land crabs and coconut crabs enriched the larder. At Rakahanga we were given some coconut crabs, and when our hosts learned that I enjoyed the only part of the body that most strangers find too rich, they raised the taboo on catching crabs on a particular island. We hunted them there at night with torches made of dried coconut leaves bound together. After dark the crabs come out of their holes and wander around, even climbing up the trunks of trees. They are loathsome bloated creatures of a purplish blue colour with huge claws that will nip off a finger quite readily if it comes their way. Our hosts seized them expertly and, with a strip of coconut-leaf midrib, tied them in such a way that the claws were imprisoned and could not gape open for attack. We also fished by torchlight in the outer lagoon. Fish that were attracted by the light were speared or struck with a piece of hoop iron. Crayfish on the shallow bottom were stepped upon, then grasped with the hand, and turned belly upward to prevent their kicking with their powerful tails. Each man carried a basket tied around his waist in which to carry the catch. 

The same night, we went torch fishing by canoe in the inner lagoon. The expert fisherman stood in the bow with a long-handled scoop-net, while the torch bearer stood behind him. No matter where the fish appeared, on the surface, deep down, on the right or on the left, the net was plunged into the water and the capture was sure and unerring. It was all so easy and self-assured. One realized that a high degree of expert skill had necessarily been developed to make the most of the opportunities that nature had provided so sparingly in these less-favoured isles. It has already been related how Maui fished up the land, and, by stamping upon it during his fight with Huku, separated Manihiki from Rakahanga. The first human settler on Rakahanga was Toa, a defeated warrior who came from Rarotonga in about the middle of the fourteenth century. He had no interest in priestly ritual and did not erect the usual temple upon his arrival to thank the gods for guiding him safely to land. Apparently he was accompanied only by his own family, for he committed incest with his daughters in order that males might be produced to ensure the continuance of the human species on the island.

About one hundred and fifty years later, Tangihoro and Ngaro-puruhi voyaged from Rakahanga to foreign lands and Ngaro-puruhi brought back two stolen gods named Pua-renga and Te Uru-renga. He built a temple on Manihiki for the worship of Te Pua-renga and another on Rakahanga for the Uru-renga. These temples were thought to be the first constructed son the atolls. Ngaro-puruhi probably obtained these gods from some lesser priest in Tahiti, for had he been admitted to Opoa he would have returned with a richer ritual and a more detailed mythology. The major gods and heroes of the Cook Islands were unknown. Tangaroa, however, appears as the guardian of fire in the Underworld. Maui, as the grandson of Tangaroa, defeated him in a body-tossing contest and learned the secret of fire. A local embellishment to the tale tells how the two pet sea birds of Tangaroa stood on the under piece of wood to st4eady it while Maui worked the upper stick back and forth along the groove to make fire by friction. When Maui had finished, true to his impish nature, he ungratefully struck the two birds on the head with the charred end of the friction stick, and the family of those birds have borne black marks on their heads ever since.

After several generations the descendants of Toa developed into two groups, each with its own ariki chief, termed Whainga-aitu and Whaka-heo, terms which occur nowhere else. In the course of time, Manihiki was visited and planted with coconut trees, and an annual migration between the two atolls became established. Thus the coconut trees went unused, the ground lay fallow, and the crabs and fish were undisturbed during alternate years on each islands. The Whaka-heo leader had power over the elements, and in a fast double canoe he commanded the fleet during the voyages between the islands. In spite of his alleged divine power, accidents sometimes occurred due to unexpected storms encountered on the twenty-five mile voyage. After native missi9onaries became established in 1849, a number of lives were lost during a storm. The missionaries persuaded the people to split into two divisions and permanently occupy the two atolls by giving up the annual migrations. In spite of the abridged mythology and limitations due to an atoll background, the culture of Manihiki and Rakahanga is essentially related to that of central Polynesia. The dialect contains the wh sound instead of the Tahitian f and more nearly resembles the dialect of New Zealand than that of the Cook or Society Islands. The lunar calendar, in which each night of the moon has a specific name, is based on the pattern used in central Polynesia. Most of the night names are identical with those of Rarotonga and Tahiti.

Just before we left Rakahanga to go to Manihiki, the people gave us a farewell dinner in which every native food that an atoll can produce was placed before us. We were loaded down with presents of baskets, fans, bonito hooks, and everything that local technique and raw material could provide. From the inner leaflets of young coconut leaves, the women make the best hats in Polynesia, which are as fine as any panama hat. They also make beautiful mats from pandanus leaves. The gift-making was climaxed when women from each division of the village came carrying large mats and crying. "E 'Te Rangi Hiroa e! Teia to moenga" (O Te Rangi Hiroa! Here is a mat for you to sleep upon). No more kindly, more hospitable, and more lovable peo9ple can exist in the round world than the people of Rakahanga and Manihiki.   

We sailed for Manihiki to spend the night at the principal village of Tauhunu, but as we passed along the reef opposite the nearer village of Tukao, a boat came off with a message that my services as doctor were required ashore. Jude Ayson his two staff members, and I got into the boat, the messenger stating that we would be transported later by a sailing boat across the inner lagoon to Tauhunu. The patient was a girl who was not ill enough to warrant the interruption of our voyage. After some refreshment, her father said, "We had better go. The people are waiting for us." We were conducted to the village hall, where the entire population of Tukao had gathered. Amid smiles, greetings, and handshakes we were led to seats on the platform. An elder welcomed us to Tukao and regretted that our time was all too short for the village to entertain us in a fitting manner. I replied in our kindred dialect. The master of ceremonies stood forward and cried, "Where are the baskets?" Four women came forward, each with a bundle of plaited pandanus baskets made in the best style, laid them at our feet, shook hands, and stepped back with the smile of duty pleasantly accomplished. The master of ceremonies called, "The fans!"

Four women stepped forward, each with a bundle of fans of the typical Manihikian shape, plaited in twill from bleached young coconut leaves and fringed with the dyed bark of the tou tree. A handshake, a smile, and the four piles at our feet had grown.

"The fishhooks!" Four men stepped out with bundles of the pearl-shell lures used in catching bonito. I received an extra in the form of a large wooden hook used for catching the deep-sea Ruvettus or so-called castor-oil fish. An do, in response to the commands of the master of ceremonies, squads of four, with military precision, deposited specimens of their arts and crafts at our feet. Sennit cordage, samples of old-time plaited garments, hats, and large sleeping mats were added to the heaps. The people derived the greatest satisfaction from seeing the heaps grow, for they were vindicating the honour of their village by officially welcoming us and loading us with presents in a manner that could not be surpassed by the other villages. The whole reception had been planned beforehand, and the exaggerated case of sickness was the means of getting us ashore. At Tauhunu, we were the guest of the Government Agent, Mr. Henry Williams, who had Manihikian blood in his veins. He had set such a high standard of sanitation that the villages of the two atolls were the cleanest in the Cook Islands.

After a heavy evening meal, we went to the village hall in response to an invitation to an evening dance. Imagine our embarrassment when we found a table groaning under the weight of a banquet given in our honour. We groaned with the table as we took our places. The President of the Young People's Club made a speech of welcome, and, indicating the food on the table and the piles of husked drinking nuts underneath it, he invited us to partake of their hospitality. At last the dancing commenced. Captain Biggo, a past master on the accordion, proved a star performer in helping with the dance music. The young men of the club were dressed in white duck suits with black edgings to their coats and wore white shoes that were speckles with pipeclay. The girls in neat white dresses with frills and furbelows were dazzling. The program included old-fashioned European dances, such as the polka, mazurka, schottische, barn dance, and square dances, and these alternated with native dances put on for the guests. In no other island group have I seen a cleaner, more healthy-looking, and handsomer set of young people. They were courteous to a degree in the old-fashioned quadrilles and lancers, and they danced their own native dances with that perfect rhythm and grace of movement that is typically Polynesian. Here was a native people on a small atoll with limited resources, miles from the beaten highways of the world, thoroughly enjoying every moment of life. Has civilization with its heights and depths, its poverty and starvation, its aerial bombs, high explosives, submarine torpedoes, and lethal gas any greater happiness to offer than that now enjoyed by these simple people?

The next day, the Manihiki people put on some historic plays to rival those of their cousins in Rakahanga. Just before we left, the people gathered on the beach to bid us farewell. They sang hymns, and the native pastor conducted a short service in which he prayed that we might have a safe voyage to Tongareva. I glanced at the reverent congregation in their loom-woven finery, the pastor in the somber black trousers of his calling, and then at the Tiare Taporo outside the reef with its modern rig and auxiliary oil engine. The scene was modern, and yet the atmosphere throbbed with the spirit of the past. I closed my eyes and saw a gathering of people with clear brown skins shining through wreaths and garlands, a high priest making ritual offerings on a coral-graveled temple to the gods of the sea, and a great double canoe waiting to hoist its singular matting sail to bear adventurers to some far-off isle. The picture was blurred, for it happened so long ago.  

Tongareva, situated in latitude 9 degrees S. and longitude 157 degrees 10" W., is the largest and northernmost of the atoll islands under the Cook Islands Administration. It is composed of a ring of islands spread along a reef 40 miles in circuit with a contained lagoon of 108 square miles. Unlike Rakahanga and Manihiki, Tongareva has three passages through the reef that admit small vessels into the lagoon. The west passage is the largest, being 40 yards wide and 21 feet deep. Because of the entrance into an inner, sheltered lagoon, Tongareva has been selected as the place where the Cook Islands' trading schooners lie up for the hurricane season, extending from about November to April. Whatever gods there be harkened to the prayers offered on our behalf by the Manihikians. The Tiare Taporo made the reef at Tongareva to dock at the wharf at the main village of Omoka. The native population, which had heard of our coming, was massed in front of the wharf shed, and Pa, the oldest inhabitant, stood in front of them. As we stepped ashore, Pa held up his hand in a gesture that bade us halt. He recited an incantation to placate the unseen forces of the land and to remove the taboo of strangers. He then advanced toward me, saying, "According to the ancient custom of Tongareva, I could not come near you nor could you come near me until that was done." We shook hands and exchanged greetings in our respective dialects, and, though we may not have understood every word the other was saying, we knew that he was expressing the correct sentiments. The people came forward and shook hands all round. We had been admitted over the threshold of Tongarevan society.

Judge Ayson held a meeting of the Court the day after our arrival to inquire into the local genealogies, and again I was allowed to sit in. It is customary, before commencing the recital of a lineage, to chant an introduction. Tupou Isaia, one of the leading chiefs of Omoka, was the first to give evidence, and the following is an extract from his introductory chant:

Te lineage goes back,
Back to the period of the parent sky.
The descent traces back,
Back indeed to the line of Atea.
Bind the knowledge securely,
let the tying be firm,
Let the knotting be fast,
That it hold.
The lineage descends from a far-off age,
From the family of Iki,
From the children of Atea and Hakahotu.

Through the mythology of Tongareva has lost its details, the chant established the important fact that the primary creation parents were Atea and Hakahotu. Hakahotu is the local form of the Tahitian Fa'ahotu, who shares with Papa the functions of the primary female element. Hakahotu, which conveys the idea of development from a coral up-growth, has naturally been preferred to Papa, which conveys the meaning of a large earth foundation or stratum. Hakahotu belongs to coral atolls, and Papa to volcanic islands. The union of Atea and Hakahotu resulted in eleven off-spring, among whom were Tane, Tangaroa, and Rongonui, major gods of the Society and Cook Islands. The pattern thus definitely belongs to the theology that was dispersed from central Polynesia. The other children have a local significance, chief among them being Te Porourangi, from whom the human line is traced. An important ancestor was the voyager, Mahuta. He is stated to have lived in Rakahanga but, owing to domestic troubles, went to Tahiti, where he married the daughter of a local chief named tu-te-koropanga. Another voyaging ancestor, named Taruia, came to Tongareva, and he was held to be the same person as the Aitutaki chief who was tricked by Ruatapu. Taruia landed on the islet of Tokerau, where he built a marae and left a son, Titia, with some attendants to occupy the land. Taruia sailed to Tahiti where he met Mahuta and gave him the sailing directions to Tongareva. Mahuta sailed for Tongareva in his voyaging canoe Waimea, which was so large that on sailing through the western passage, which is forty yards wide, the outrigger float struck against a large rock that stood on the side of the passage. Very likely the wind or current caused the mishap. Mahuta was descended from Iki mentioned in the chant, and he is credited with introducing coconuts and pandanus.

The earliest human beings, descended from Atea and Hakahotu, had lived so long on the eastern islets of the atoll that they were held to have grown up with the islands from the time of Atea. Mahuta met these people on friendly terms and married his daughter Pokiroa to their chief, Purua. From Mahuta and Taruia to the year 1900 A.D. there are eighteen generations, thus placing the period of resettlement from Tahiti in the middle of the fifteenth century. In Cook Islands genealogies, Ruatapu, the contemporary of Taruia, lived a hundred years earlier. Probably the Tongarevan lineages have been shortened through defective memorizing. Short lineages indicate that genealogies are not important until the growth of population forces the recognition of social distinction and chiefs feel the need of long lineages to stress their position and descent from the gods. The descendants of Atea and those of the two voyagers, Mahuta and Taruia, occupied different islands in the atoll group and thus forme4d three distinct centers for development and subsequent distribution. As the population increased, all the habitable islands were occupied. The large island upon which Omoka is situated was settled at either end by two independent groups who spread toward each other until they met in the middle, where a boundary line was established between the two districts of Omoka and Motu-kohiti. Each district had its own chief and often fought the other. In sailing on the lagoon, I noticed a wide gap in the coconut trees and was told that it marked the land boundary between Omoka and Motu-kohiti. It seemed unnecessarily wide and a waste of land, but I was told that this wide strip had been established generations ago and that it either side planted any coconuts to diminish the waste of land, they were immediately torn up by the other side. A further attempt was regarded as an act of war, and hostilities ensued. Neither district had completely conquered the other, and so there is no general name for the island. What was the need for a general name to include two districts that had never combined?

In order to protect their coconut groves from theft, the people lived on their land-holdings situated throughout the various islets. After the introduction of Christianity in 1854, the people concentrated in villages built around the churches that were established on four of the islets. In 1864, the inhuman Peruvian slavers descended upon the atoll. Lured by lying promises of good pay and a sale return, the native pastors influenced the people to go abroad to earn money to erect better churches for the worship of God. At least 1,000 people left their homes and died in exile. The population was so diminished that two of the people dwelt in the remaining two villages of Omoka and Tautua. At the time of my visit, the village of Omoka was an architectural disappointment. All the houses were made of sawn timber, erected on piles and roofed with corrugated iron. My information on the building of houses was entirely oral. When I inquired about canoes, I found that they had been entirely supplanted by large sailing boats made from imported timber.

Is there no old hull or part of a canoe that I may examine?" I asked. "No," replied Pa, "the old canoes, after the sailing boats came in, were cut up to form piles for the new houses. The piles of this house were cut from an old canoe." A little comfort crept into my soul, and Pa and I spent the rest of the afternoon under that house. Pa lectured on each pile as he diagnosed it as part of a keel, hull plank, or wash-strake, and I with a measuring tape and a notebook, was glad of the crumbs that the gods had vouchsafed. Except for a picture drawn by Choris, the artist with the Kotzebue expedition in 1815, these house piles form the only material record of the old-time Tongarevan canoe. Much of my time on Tongareva was devoted to an archeological survey of the marae temples. Twenty-four maraes were known on the various islands, and their names were remembered. Mr. Wilson, Resident Government Agent, Phillip Woonton, local trader, Tupou Isaia, and two young men with tools, accompanied me in the survey. From Omoka, our base, we sailed to the different islands until we made a complete circuit of the atoll. The maraes were rectangular spaces, roughly 70 to 110 feet long by 60 to 100 feet wide. Rectangular pillars of coral limestone were erected at intervals along the four sides, and a curb of low coral rocks, about ten inches above ground, filled in the spaces between the pillars, defining he rectangular court. Most of the maraes were near the coast on the sea side of the island, with the back, marked by the highest pillars, toward the sea. Within the court and near the back line was a raised platform composed of limestone slabs set on edge in the earth to form a rectangular enclosure about two feet high and filled in with coral rock. The floor of the court was spread with coral gravel.

Beside the maraes, we saw numerous house sites on the different islands. The ground plan of the houses was defined by a low curb of coral limestone blocks set on edge to prevent the fine coral gravel used to carpet the floor from being scattered. The coral limestone used for the house curbs and the marae pillars has the appearance of a composition made artificially and hence has given rise to theories of an extinct civilization that used cement. If the authors of such erroneous beliefs had looked on the beaches of islands surrounded by coral reefs, they would have seen the natural strata of coral limestone from which the Polynesians cut their slabs. During the course of our explorations we came to the little islet of Te Kasi, which is shaped like a cone with a hollow in the center. This hollow is intersected by tracks of large flat stones, some of which extend over the rim and down to the water's edge. Beside the paths are small rectangular spaces covered with coral gravel in marked contrast to the ship, branching coral which has been washed over the islet by storms. A trader named Lamont, who was wrecked on Tongareva in 1853, saw the hollow with its radiating paths and wrote later that it must have been used for some peculiar ceremonies of an unknown nature.

Sitting on a smooth area within the hollow, Tupou Isaia said to me, "Te Kasi was a great camping place for fishermen. You may see from its position that you may fish in the sea, in the passage, or in the lagoon. The fishermen brought coconut leaves with them to make shelters against the sun, and they covered the floor with coral gravel so that they could lie down to rest without being disturbed by the sharp points of the branching coral. Even the thick-soled Tongarevans could not walk with comfort over the sharp points, so they made paths with flat coral slabs. You see the paths pass over the rim to the sea, to these northwest passage, and to the lagoon so that they could go comfortably to wherever the fishing was good according to the wind and the tide. Paths also extend on the fourth side toward the neighbouring islet in order that the fishermen could make their way to their shelters which were out of the wind within this hollow."

"Thank you," I said. "It is all very simple and real. There is no room left for mystery or peculiar ceremonies." I found here also that some of the people remembered me as a doctor, for they had been in Rarotonga during my first visit there, when I had relieved the regular doctor; so I held a sick parade in the mornings before starting my routine of ethnological inquiries. Husbands usually accompanied their sick wives to explain the patient's symptoms. One day a woman explained that she had a pain in her back. "No," said her husband. "it is in her chest." A heated argument followed as to the anatomical situation of the pain. "How long have you had it?" I asked in order to create a diversion. "It started yesterday," she answered.

"It started two days ago," asserted her husband with warmth. A violent altercation took place until at last the husband cried with an apologetic look at me, "Oh, what a woman! What a woman!" I remained neutral and produced a stethoscope to create a further diversion. I applied it to her back to the patient's evident satisfaction and then to her chest to the husband's grunted approval of "Yes, that's the place." Finding nothing wrong, I prescribed some cathartic pills, the most appropriate remedy that the limited medical supplies contained. To reward the husband for sharing so vehemently in his wife's symptoms, I gave him some pills also. At the next morning's parade, he reported that they had both recovered, but he asked for some more medicine in case of a relapse. The day for departure approached all too quickly. The village of Tautua, across the lagoon, invited me to visit them before I left. The population gathered in front of the chief's house. A tin plate was placed on a table on the veranda. The chief, holding his hand aloft, cried that all might hear, "Here are two pearls of perfect shape and colour. One of them is worth at least five pounds." He placed them on the dish and rolled them around with an expression of admiration that was not entirely simulated. "Now," he cried, "show your respect for your kinsman and your gratitude to your doctor by filling this dish with pearls that roll true." The people filed forward, unknowing the corners of handkerchiefs or opening match boxes, and deposited their contributions in the tin plate to the accompaniment of the running criticism of the chief. Some apologized for the poorness of their offerings but explained that they had had no luck. I felt mean, but I was bound hand and foot by the conventions of Tongarevan hospitality.

At Omoka, the people came to me individually with their contributions to the pearl fund. Pa said, "These are not so good as I would have like to have given you, but I am too old to dive now." I pressed his hand in thanks as I replied, "You have given me pearls from the depths of your wisdom that far exceed any pearls that could come from the depths of the sea. "In farewell, I rubbed noses with Pa and Ma whose wrinkled, kindly faces were but a transient link with the old order giving place to new. A boat load of green coconuts accompanied us to the ship. "To drink on the voyage," they said. As we steamed out through the western passage, I waved in farewell to a large rock sitting on the reef, a rock like a sentinel of the land, the rock that had caught the outrigger float of the voyaging canoe of the ancestor Mahuta. Although the Tongarevans are not as skilful in craft work as their southern neighbours, they are as honest and kindly within. The pearl necklace my wife wears I prize as a token of affection from kinsmen on a remote atoll set on the ancient sea road that led into the heart of Polynesia.


Grew up the land of Havaiki
With its king Rongonui;
Then grew up the land Vavau
With its king Toi-ane.
Then appeared the land Hiti-nui
With its king Tangaroa manahune.
- Tuamotuan Chant

I was born in the s0outh of Polynesia, lived in the north, worked in the west and center, but had never visited islands east of Tahiti. In 1934, after I had spent two years at Yale University as Bishop Museum Visiting Professor in Anthropology, Bishop Museum sent me to join its Mangarevan Expedition. A high-powered sampan, The Islander, and a small schooner, Tiare Tahiti (Tahitian Gardenia), had been chartered to visit various island groups east of Tahiti. The sampan party, under the leadership of Dr. C. M. Cooke, Jr., Malacologist at Bishop Museum, made collections of plants, insects, and land shells from islands not hitherto explored scientifically, and gathered an amazing amount of material new to science. The Tiare Tahiti for the use of the ethnologists, J. F. Stimson, K. P. Emory, and myself, met me in Tahiti in August, but, as it had to go into dry dock for repairs, I took passage on the trading schooner Moana to join my colleagues in the eastern Tuamotu.

On the second afternoon out from Papeete we passed Kahukura, the first atoll of the Tuamotu group. Over the near horizon peeped the tops of coconut trees. As we approached, the trees seemed gradually to stand up, until finally they came to rest with their bases wrapped round by the dazzling white coral beach. Other islets appeared over the horizon, curving off to follow the round of the great reef on which they are set. On the far side of the nearer islands lay the still, green waters of the lagoon, contrasting sharply with the deep purple of the outer sea. Beyond the green waters were indistinct specks, clumps, and lines of coconut trees, indicating other islands which complete the ring of an atoll. On the next afternoon, our captain pointed to some clouds to the southeast and said, "Anaa." I gazed at the clouds and at the surface of the sea, but there was no trace of land. I did not understand how an island could be seen in the sky when not visible on the sea, nor how clouds could be tethered like a captive balloon to mark the site on an atoll.

"How do you know?" I asked.

"See that green tinge on the clouds," he replied. "That is the reflection of the green waters of the lagoon of Anaa. The lagoon is shallower than those of other islands, and the water is greener. Anaa can always be picked by the green clouds so long as the sun is shining on the lagoon and a cloud is above." I looked at the cloud. It had a green tinge. Perhaps the keen-eyed Polynesian navigators could distinguish the fainter reflections of other lagoons - perhaps even when there were no clouds. Unfortunately they have not handed on to us these finer observations that guided them to success in their early explorations. We sailed alongside Anaa five hours later and went ashore in the schooner's boats, for there is no reef opening by which the schooner may enter the lagoon. A few native men and two Chinamen gave us a tepid welcome. While the captain attended to business, a companion and I walked along a cleared road connecting the outer shore to the lagoon shore half a mile away. On either side of the road were the houses that constituted the small village of Tukuhora. Nearly all the houses were made of scraps of boards taken from boxes and roofed over with rusty corrugated iron. A few houses were thatched with plaited coconut leaves which were attached to a single set of rafters by nails driven through the midribs of the leaves. I put my notebook back into my pocket with a sigh. On the lagoon shore, my eyes brightened at the sight of some outrigger canoes, but my hopes were quickly extinguished. The canoes had a straight fore boom fastened to the float with connecting stanchions and a slender, curved after boom which bent directly down to the float. The technique had been borrowed from Tahiti, and even the pattern of the lashing of the fore boom was identical with that I had drawn in Tahiti four years before. The native technique of Anaa had completely disappeared.

The people, while not exactly morose, showed none of the cordiality so characteristic of the Polynesian people. I found out afterwards that their lack of vocal expression was regarded by the rest of the Tuamotu as being peculiar to Anaa. "What about it?" I asked. "Well," he replied, "there are no torea on Anaa." On the way to Hikueru, we called in at the uninhabited atoll of Reitoru. The atoll belongs to Hikueru, and the chief of that island, who was a pasenger, gave the captain permission to get firewood for the engine. Not only did we acquire firewood, but also fish, which seemed in the lagoon, and many fledgling sea-birds from their nests in the low shrubs. In the old economic system of the Tuamotu, an atoll was allowed to lie fallow periodically, while the people migrated elsewhere, in order that the food supplies might increase on both land and sea. When we landed at Hikueru, the people lined up to greet us with the customary "Ia orana" and to shake our hands. They were clean, athletic, and good-looking. There were evidently plenty of torea birds on Hikueru. However, the houses and canoes at Hikueru were as disappointing to an ethnologist as were those at Anaa. Even the speech had been replaced by the Tahitian dialect, largely through trade and the universal use of the Tahitian Bible. The h and ng, present in the old speech, have been dropped. I created a certain amount of interest by using the Maori dialect in conversation, which was recognized as being like that of the old people who had passed away.

The chief's compound was a model of a complex household. The front wall was made of concrete surmounted at intervals with pairs of pearl shells for ornament. The side and back walls were neat picket fences. The enclosed buildings were small and simple, made of sawn timber and roofed with corrugated iron, all neatly kept and very clean. Besides the dwelling house, there were separate dining room, kitchen, bathroom, and latrines. No less than ten canoes were drawn up within the compound and carefully protected from the sun by coverings of coconut leaves and sheets of corrugated iron. The bathhouse was made entirely of corrugated iron with a spacious wooden floor. A capacious cylindrical can, open at the top and with a shower rosette attached by a short pipe to the lower end, was suspended near the floor by ropes attached to a pulley fixed to the roof. The handmaidens of the chief carried buckets of fresh water from the town cistern close to hand and filled the can. They then hauled the can upward to the requisite height, announced that the bath was ready, and departed. As a guest of the chief, I was privileged to use the shower, supplying my own towel and soap. I turned on the tap above the rosette and enjoyed one of the finest shower baths I have ever had. The towel was afterwards washed by command of the hostess. She expressed a wish to wash the clothes I had on, but as no suggestion was made as to what I should do in the interim of drying, I declined by saying I wished to watch the process of loading the boats with copra.

The copra, consisting of the dried chunks of coconut meat cut out of the mature nuts, was stored loose in various sheds. The trading schooner supplied the sacks, which were filled by the local workers and weighed in the presence of the ship's supercargo. The weighed sacks were thrown outside in a heap and were carried down to the landing about half a mile away, by natives of both sexes. The men carried a sack over their shoulder, but the women used two fairly large handcarts that carried several sacks. Two women pulled on the pole at the front of the cart and three pushed from behind. The carts rattled speedily along to the sound of laughter. It was fun and did not last long enough to become a labour. From the landing, men carried the sacks down to the boats, which were brought as close to shore as the depth of water would allow. When a boat was filled, her crew pushed off and rowed to the schooner, which tacked up and down just outside the reef.

We called at Maro-kau and landed a Chinese trader with his stock of goods at a temporarily deserted village, whose inhabitants were probably at some other islet preparing copra. The trader's goods were widely assorted, including bars of soap from New Zealand and pots of ginger labelled "The Product of China." At Tauere, the houses and canoes still followed the modern pattern. A young man took me to the marae of Ranghoa where the god Tahiri was once worshiped. A few stones marked the site, but my guide dug into the sand and produced a skull. From the ease with which he found the skull, I suspect that the temple was a show place for chance tourists. At Hao is a deep passage into the lagoon. The passage was named Kaki (Neck), and the current was so strong that the Moana had difficulty in making way against it. This was a great fishing ground for sea-birds, and the frigate hawks, like enemy aeroplanes, waited high above them. When the sea-birds obtained their catch and started for home, the pirates of the air swooped down on them. The frightened birds regurgitated the fish, and the swift frigate hawks caught the falling fish before they touched water. An old man, Te Uira, gave me the chant which the Kaki channel sings:

Kaki! Yes, I am Kaki,
The Neck with a narrow gullet,
Irregularly distended by the urge of hunger.
The interior of our ancestress Tiaki is empty.
My breath comes in short gasps,
So little time have I for rest-ah me!
My bowels churn as the troubled tides
Raise the surging waves along my channel.
My fish, swaying gently to the wavelets
On either side the current,
With hungry, upturned gaze,
Await the flotsam from the lagoon,
That seaward floats
Upon the surface of the stippled waters.
But what bird is that
Also waiting expectantly above?
Beware! 'tis the frigate hawk,
The bird of prey with the gleaming breast.

The Hao lagoon is one of the largest in the Tuamotu, and the islets of the far edge were but dimly seen as we sailed in to the main village of Otepa. From a distance the red-roofed houses of the village gave the appearance of a seaside resort, but on closer inspection the red colour proved to be not tiles but the rust of corrugated iron. The people of Hao were friendly and communicative and they evinced an interest in my dialect with retained the sounds k and ng which they had dropped. At Tatakoto, we picked up Emory and Stimson, and on the way to Reao to do field work, we landed at Pukerua. There the houses were made of native material. The canoes were built on a local pattern out of small pieces of plank sewn together with sennit braid. They were deep and narrow and were provided with a plank for an outrigger float instead of the usual thick timber in the round. The Pukerua and Reao people have a close affinity with each other, and in physical form they differ from the other Tuamotuans. They are shorter with short, broad faces and wide noses. It looks as if some other mixture of blood was present, but the analysis must be left to the physical anthropologists. Before reaching Reao, I received a wireless from Tahiti stating that the Tiare Tahiti would be some considerable time in dock. If we waited at Reao, the field work at Mangareva would not be done adequately, because of the lateness of the season. We changed our plans and went on to Mangareva.  Although the atolls I visited were disappointing in material things, Emory and Stimson had been able to gather what is probably the largest collection of myths, songs, and legends yet made in Polynesia. The Tuamotuans, like other coral islanders, lacked the variety of food and textile plants grown only in the fertile soil of volcanic islands. Due to the lack of economic appeal to white traders, they remained more isolated than their kinsmen on volcanic islands and retained many of the so-called "heathen customs" until a much later period. Finally missionaries and traders after copra and pearl shell invaded even these poor atolls, forcing the natives to share in the general change that has affect6ed the whole of Polynesia. However, some of the old men interviewed by Emory and Stimson had taken part in the ancient ceremonies on the temples and could give firsthand information about many things.

Apparently the Tuamotuans, whose material culture was necessarily poor due to a lack of raw materials, developed a particular feeling for poetry and an ability to express themselves in beautiful words. Living on coral islands and watching the constant movement of the waves, they set their thoughts to the music of the surf beating against the outer reef. The age-long music was personified as Orovaru, the Gushing-murmur-of-the-waters. Throughout Polynesia one of the most popular amusements was community singing, not only at public functions but at ordinary family gatherings in the evening. Once started, a group of singers would run through their entire repertoire, the adults refreshing their memories and the young people learning new songs by a process of absorption and the desire to be able to join in the chanting. As they grew older, obscure passages were explained by their elders. Thus the transmission of ancient lore was continuous from one generation to the next. European contact and conversion to Christianity generally broke this continuity, but the music-loving Tuamotuans continued to sing their ancient chants. Although temple ritual and prose teachings were abandoned, the old fagu chants still known today give a fairly adequate picture of the myths and concepts of creation that existed in the Tuamotu Islands before European contact. In addition to the major gods possessed in common with all Polynesia, each atoll had its own local gods who were deified ancestors. The myths go back to the Kore (Void), and the period of Cosmic Night finds expression in the familiar term Potangotango. The Great Source, Tumu-nui, brought up the sand from Hawaiki, the land below the sea, and caused it to reach the surface. It became a reef and, subsequently, an island. English prose cannot adequately convey the lilt of the Tuamotuan chant as it sings of "the growing sand, the rising sand, the lifting sand, the spreading sand, the sand that expands into land." 

The great nature gods of Opoa are richly represented in Tuamotuan myths. Many of the creation chants commence with Te Tumu-nui, the Great source, and recite a number of forms of Te Tumu. He occurs as Tumu-po (Source-of-darkness) contrasted with Tumu-ao (Source-of-light). Papa (Earth-foundation) is associated with Te Tumu. Atea (Space) appears in the form of Atea-rangi (Sky-space), who is above; and Fakahotu (Fructifier-of-the-soil) is below. In one myth, Atea-rangi mates with Atea to produce the gods Tane (ruler of things above), Tangaroa (lord of the ocean), and Rongo (patron of oratory and eloquence). This arrangement follows the early pattern that emanated from Opa, except that by some confusion Atea takes the place of Papa or Fakahotu in being mated to Atea-rangi. The compound name of Atea-rangi connects in thought the Atea of central Polynesia with the Rangi of New Zealand, who are the husbands of Papa, the Earth-mother. The gods in the period of darkness called in labourers to push up the sky sphere. Atea-rangi, and to uphold him in position. The people employed were the Ngati-Ru, the family of Ru, who are alluded to as Long Ru, Short-Ru, and Humpbacked-Ru. We have seen that Ru himself performed a similar task in the Society Islands, but desisted when he became humpbacked. In the Cook Islands, Ru was successful without any bodily ill effect.

Some of the fagu chants tell in detail of a conflict between Atea and Tane in which Atea gave in. This struggle occurs in the Society Islands myths, and the story is reminiscent of the New Zealand myth in which Tane took an active part in forcing Rangi (the Sky) up into his present position. Stimson has collected information from various sources on an attempt to establish a supreme creator in the person of Kiho-tumu. The struggle for supremacy has been seen in the Tahitian elevation of Ta'aroa and will be met in New Zealand in a similar treatment by some theological schools of Io. The widespread Tiki myth is known in the Tuamotu. The Hao version records that Ahu-roa, an ordinary man, married One-rua and that they had a male child, Tiki. Tiki married One-kura, the daughter of a human couple named Mati and One-ura. In other island groups, Tiki's wife was made from earth, and her name was usually Hina-ahu-one or some variant. Traces of the more general myth are seen in the inclusion of Ahu )to heap up) and One (Earth) in the names of Tiki's parents and also in the name of his wife One-kura (Red-earth). The later part of the story follows the general pattern in that Tiki seduces his own daughter by trickery and commits incest with her. Though they had children who doubtless became ancestors, the Tuamotuan story is unique in making Tiki merely a legendary character who is not credited as the father of mankind.

The Maui myth is recorded with much detail and local variations. Ataranga married Hava and produced Maui-mua, Maui-roto, Maui-muri, and Maui-taha. He then married Huahenga and had a son named Maui-tikitiki-a-Ataranga, the mischievous culture hero of Polynesia. This last Maui snared the sun, bested Mahuika, the god of fire, killed Tuna (Eel from whose head grew the coconut) to retake the woman Hina, and created the first dog. The dog story is interesting, for it indicates that though the Tuamotuans did not have the pig and the fowl, they had some knowledge of the dog. Briefly stated, Maui was married to Hina, who proved faithless by conducting a love affair with a handsome stranger named Ri. Maui found out, and one lazy afternoon he beguiled Ri into delousing each other's heads. As Ri lay comfortably stretched out on the ground with his head on Maui's knees, he fell asleep. Maui then applied digital traction to Ri's nose, ears, and spine. When Ri awoke he was not only anatomically transformed into a quadruped but he was evidently mentally transformed as well, for he became the ancestor of dogs. The myth naively continues that many people came to see the wonder Maui had performed. Maui and his four older brothers set out on a fishing expedition in an outrigger canoe named Taitai-arohia. Maui baited his hook with the crimson feathers that are usually associated with high chiefs and gods. It is little wonder that he hooked a marvellous fish. As he hauled in his line, he sang a vaunting song describing each item in his fishing tackle and the canoe equipment, which are given proper names. With the last haul, he chanted the final verse:


My fish is hooked,
It ascends to the World-of-light.
At last my fish
Breaks into view above the waves.
It is Tahiti.

The Tuamotuan Maui myth has affinity with the New Zealand myth in that Maui, moved by the sight of his wife's gray hairs, sought to gain immortality for man. He was told that he could prevent death if he exchanged the stomach of Rori, the Se-slug, for his own. He sought out Sea-slug in the shallow waters near the shore, but that obdurate individual refused to make the exchange. Maui thereupon seized him and, by squeezing his body, he made Sea-slug's stomach protrude. He vomited up his own stomach and commenced to swallow that of Sea-slug. The esophageal end of the stomach was just about to disappear when Mauis brothers, who had secretly followed him, called out, "Look at what Maui is doing." Sea-slug's stomach was ejected, and Maui replaced his own. The quest had failed. This was the last adventure of Maui-of-the-thousand-exploits. The most noted lineages of the chiefly families commence with a chant termed nanao ariki (to grope for the chiefly source). One of them runs as follows:


O my king!
I will grope down
Into the recesses of
My ancient learning and teachings,
Down to the Great Source, Tumu-nui,
The Lesser Source, all other Sources.
Let the south turn toward me,
Let the north incline toward me.
Papa, the foundation, was battered,
The Foundation was cleared,
From the Foundation sprang the lineage,
The lineage of Whom?
The lineage of my noble ancestor,
My ancestor Hiro.

Hiro, the great navigator of the thirteenth century, is a well-known ancestor. From him, twenty-six generations ago, the lineage is easily carried down to the present day. Some of the old chants are composed about individual atolls and indicate the affection of the inhabitants for their homes. The following poem collected by K. P. Emory is about the atoll of Raroia:


What is that canoe that hither sails,
overarched by the rainbow,
Encompassed about by white tern?
The land of Raroia is encircled.
This is Raroia, land of soft breezes,
From which sounds the lament of Marere-nui,
Softly sound the rustling coconut leaves.
Oh, how my land
Insipires love!

Many chants have been poetically translated by Stimson, but space forbids further quotations. In the wealth of myths and chants, there are a number of different versions of the same story and different explanations of obscure points. Even in ancient times, the learned people realized that the version of the ancient lore (vanaga) and the given explanation (korero) might not coincide. This doubt found expression the following verse:


Correct is the explanation, wrong is the lore,
Correct is the lore, wrong is the explanation.
Correct, correct is the lore,
Ah, no!
It is wrong, it is wrong - alas!

The chant at the head of this chapter shows that the Tuamotuans were acquainted with the islands of Havaiki, Vavau, and Hiti-nui. The fact that Hiti-nui is associated with the king Tangaroa-manahune, whom we have already met in Tahiti under the name of Ta'aroa-manahune, indicates clearly enough that Hiti-nui is Great Tahiti in the Society Islands and not a name for Fiji. Religious rituals were conducted on open courts with a raised stone platform at one end behind which was a row of spaced limestone slabs, somewhat similar to the religious structures of Tongareva. On the court itself were other erect limestone slabs that formed backrests for the principal chief and priest. The side and front boundaries of the court were not defined by any curb, as they were in Tongareva. The principal ceremony conducted on the courts was in connection with turtle feasts. When a turtle was caught at sea, a piece of the breast bone was immediately detached and offered with an incantation to the god Tangaroa. It is thus seen that Tangaroa maintained his position as god of the sea and of fishermen, as he did in the Marquesas and New Zealand. The turtle was taken onto the court and a ritual conducted during which the throat of the turtle was cut. A piece of raw flesh from the side was hung on a forked stick erected in front of the platform. Then the whole turtle received a first cooking in an oven near the court, after which it was returned to the court. It was cut up, and the principal chief and priest ate the heart and a flipper of the turtle on the marae. The cut-up turtle then received a second cooking after which the male population feasted near the court. Women were not allowed a share, as turtle meat was prohibited to them. As it was taboo and could not be taken back to the dwelling houses, any meat left over after the feast was placed upon a wooden platform near the cooking fire. If turtle were plentiful and much was left over, the men returned the next day and feasted on the surplus.

After completing my field study in Mangareva, I returned to Tahiti by the steamer Toia, which fortunately went through the Tuamotu by a northern route, introducing me to new islands. The Tuamotuan archipelago is extensive, stretching a thousand miles from Rangiroa in the west to the atolls near Mangareva in the east. In fact, the Mangareva group is usually included in the Tuamotu Islands, although they are of volcanic origin with a culture distinct from that of the Tuamotuan atolls. At Fagatau I had an experience which, though inconsequential, may serve to illustrate the genuine friendship of the Polynesians for all men, but particularly for those of their own race. We landed on the beach, and I shook hands with the usual group of people watching our landing. Among them were some old men, but I did not venture any speech beyond the Tahitian greeting of "Ia orana." The supercargo set off for the village a few hundred yards away, and I followed in his wake. A tall, handsome Tuamotuan of middle age fell into step beside me. As we walked along, he kept glancing sideways at me with a puzzled look. He was trying to diagnose what stock I belonged to, but he dared not ask a direct question in case I should happen to be Polynesian. No Polynesian of any birth can ask the question, "Who are you?" The person questioned might be a high chief, and the questioner would be overcome by shame for his own ignorance. In the Tuamotu, the old people might quote the following, which would have necessitated a genealogical recital in the old days:

Manuka is where questions are asked.
Visitors are journeying to Matahoa-a-Tane.
I ask a question of you,
Oh my high chief.
From whom are we two descended?

In order to break the suspense, I pointed to a tree and asked, "He aha te ingoa a tera rakau?" (What is the name of that tree?). The effect upon my companion was more striking than I had hoped it would be. He fairly jumped. His mouth opened, the name of the tree came forth, but his mouth remained open and his eyes bulged. Why? No matter how well a foreigner may learn a Polynesian dialect, he generally misuses a vowel or misplaces the emphasis on consonants. My companion knew that I came from the same stock as he did, but the problem was: Where from and who? After enjoying his surprise sufficiently, I said, "I am Te Rangi Hiroa." I knew that both Emory and Stimson had told some of their tuamotuan informants about me and that possibly this man might know the name. He seized my hand with a crushing grip and then dashed back toward the old men on the beach, shouting, "Fariua, O Fariua, here is Te Rangi Hiroa." An intelligent-looking old man detached himself from his fellows and hurried toward us. He shook hands very heartily and said, "Why did you not tell us you were coming?" I did not tell him that I had forgotten the particular atoll upon which he lived, though I did remember that he had given a wealth of information to Emory and Stimson on their previous visits. We went to Faariua's house and sat on his veranda talking. His daughter, who had also been an invaluable informant to my colleagues, sat with us. When the time approached for leaving, Fariua issued an order. A small boy disappeared and then reappeared with two live fowls. They were Fariua's gift to a kinsman from a distant land. We marched down to the boat landing with the boy carrying the fowls behind us. I said to Rarius, "Come out to the ship for a trip." I knew that the ship had brought cases of bananas and mangoes from Mangareva that were sold at the various atolls, where fruit, other than the coconut, did not grow. When the last boat left the ship, Fariua was accompanied by a case of mangoes and a case of bananas, which were my reciprocal recognition of his hospitality. We do not usually talk about these things, and I hope that Fariua will never see this book. Yet it seems to me that such minor personal incidents indicate clearly the spirit of Polynesian hospitality. Give and receive, receive and give, not for the material benefit but for the sake of one's honour.


 I asked an old man with gray hair and a wrinkled face, a question about the Polynesian idea of creation. He gave me a modern version based on Genesis. I tried to lift him over the intervening years by saying, "Yes, that is what you and I think now, but what did your ancestors think before the Bible was introduced?" With a deprecatory shrug of his shoulders, he replied, "How can you and I know what the heathen thought about?"

The early missionaries laboured to destroy belief in the Polynesian concepts of the world and the origin and power of the local gods. In this they were helped by the natives themselves who, eager to accept and adopt new ideas, broke almost completely with their old religion. Frequently when a chief accepted Christianity those who had opposed his temporal rule remained with their old faith. Bitter wars were waged for political as much as for religious reasons, and the converts took keen delight in destroying the temples and gods of their enemies. Priests and scholars who had accepted the new teaching refused to pass on the concepts and the legends of their old cult. This the continuity of oral transmission was broken. When questions were asked in after years, only scattered, dislocated fragments could be recalled. Many European missionaries recorded the principles the old religion, perhaps to show the church at home from what they were rescuing the heathen. Wherever white missionaries were stationed, a certain amount of information has been saved from the wreck. Ellis and Orsmond in Tahiti, Gill in Mangaia, and Laval in Mangareva are notable examples of missionaries who recorded invaluable information that would otherwise have been lost forever. However, native converts and pastors had no outside world to which to report and ruthlessly destroyed material objects and suppressed teachings which to them had no intrinsic interest. Hence it is that little information concerning the past has been preserved on islands which were converted by native missionaries and teachers. Extremely little is known of the myths and early traditional history of the Austral Islands, presumably because of the complete break in continuity that followed early proselytizing.

The Austral Islands - Rimatara, Rurutu, Tupua'i (Tubuai), and Raivavae - lie about 400 miles south of Tahiti. These islands are volcanic and continue the chain of the Cook Islands toward the southeast. Between Mangaia, the most easterly of the Cook Islands, and Rimatara is the small uninhabited atoll of Maria (Hull Island) which may have served as a landmark and resting place on voyages between the Austral and Cook groups. These volcanic islands with fairly high mountain ranges and fertile valleys were fit lands upon which the early settlers could develop the culture they brought with them. All the cultivable food plants, including the breadfruit and coconut, were introduced. From what little we know, it appears that the westerly islands, Rimatara and Rurutu, were influenced from the Cook Island and that the easterly islands, Tupua'i and Raivavae, had more contact with Tahiti in the north. The European navigators who first visited these islands toward the end of the eighteenth century reported a large and healthy population. They saw large double canoes, as well as outrigger canoes, made of split planks sewn together, also carved. The canoes were decorated with sea-birds' feathers held under the lashings of the topstrake in apparently the same technique as in New Zealand war canoes. They also had streamers of feathers hanging from the stern and bow pieces. The Raivavae paddles are often erroneously attributed to Mangaia in the Cook Islands because they have some decorative motifs that are similar to those on Mangaian ceremonial adzes. However, the Mangaian paddles are of quite different shape. Circles, curves, and female figures which occur on the Raivavae paddles were never used in Mangaian art.

Another extraordinary "curio" that is common in museums is the fully carved object labeled as a food scoop. It is made from a single piece of wood with the body shaped like an elongated bowl and the long handle shaped and carved like a paddle shaft. The manufacture of these scoops is probably post-European, for in the old Polynesian culture there was no use for a food scoop and such objects are found nowhere else in Polynesia. The method of cooking in the earth oven did snot permit of the making of the soup or stews. A friend has suggested that the natives got the idea for a ladle from visiting foreign ships, and, by combining a bowl and a paddle handle, produced as article which was popular in the European market. There is less recorded information about the Austral Islands than about any other inhabited group in Polynesia. In order to supply a serious want, the Bishop Museum's Bayard Dominick Expedition of 1920-22 included the Austral Islands and Rapa in its scope of investigation. Owing to irregularities of schooner service, the two western islands could not be visited but Robert T. Aitken was landed at Tupua'i and J. F. G. Stokes at Raivavae. Though valuable information was obtained by both field workers, the material relating to myths of creation and early settlement was found to be meager.

In Tupua'i, Hiro, the navigator so well known in Tahiti, the Cook Islands, and New Zealand, is mentioned as a visitor and an ancestor. In Raivavae, Hiro is an ancestor called Hiro-mata-atua (Hiro-of-the-divine-face) who married a woman named Evari'i, the daughter of the god Tane, by whom he had a son named Maui. In order to trace the relationship of Austral Islands gods and heroes to those in other parts of Polynesia, it is necessary to digress for a moment to mention the changes in the language and the local use of glottals. In the Australs the k and ng are dropped as in Tahiti. In Rurutu the h also is dropped as in the Cook Islands. Evari'i, through fusing two vowels and dropping a k, is really Eva-ariki (Eva-the-high-chiefess). Eva is the Austral Islands form of Eve, and I suspect that the name has been borrowed from Genesis to replace a Polynesian lady whose name had b3en forgotten. When the great demigod Maui can be given such a unique parentage, anything may have happened in the period of mental aphasia that followed the desertion of the Polynesian gods. Maui, in spite of his new lineage, was credited with several deeds belonging to his full list of accomplishments. In Tupua'i a fragment refers to Maui's building a temple, to his fishing up of various islands, and to his introduction of fire. He likewise snared the sun, but the tale is quaintly distorted.

Maui and his mother had no means of cooking their food so they put out their ration of taro for the sun to cook. The sun, however, travelled so quickly across the sky that when evening came the food was still uncooked. Maui and his mother ate it raw with the result that their mouths and throats were irritated. Chemists tell us now that taro contains crystals of oxalic acid which irritate the mucous membrane but which are broken down by cooking. Maui, irritated both mentally and physically, proposed to snare the sun with a strong rope and tether it until their food was cooked. His mother advised him to consult her father Tane, who lived somewhere in the upper spaces. Maui visited his grandfather and retailed his grievance and his scheme of snaring the sun whereby their food might be cooked. It will be noted that in many myths the story has been composed backwards. We naturally wonder how Maui knew that their food would be rendered more palatable by cooking. Perhaps the food had been cooked by the sun in the long days of summer and had not been in the short days of winter. The "perhaps" is mine, for the myth does not offer this suggestion. Tane, who had usurped the invidious position of Mahuika, god of fire, said, "Your scheme is altogether impracticable because the sun cannot be snared. The solution to your problem may be solved by a way other than that of attempting the impossible. I will show you." 

He took a piece of dry wood and broke it into two pieces. Leaving one piece stationary on the ground as the 'aunoti, he rubbed the sharp point of the other piece until a long groove was worn by the pressure. As the groove deepened, the fine particles of wood were collected in a little heap at the forward end of the groove. The movements increased in rapidity and the heat caused by the friction made the heap of wood dust smolder and smoke. Tane quickly turned the lighted dust onto a bunch of dry fiber that he had in readiness and, by waving the bunch to and fro, the fiber caught alight and blazed into flame. The lighted kindling was laid on the ground, small pieces of wood were deftly placed over it, and then larger pieces were added. Before Maui's startled eyes, the first fire he had ever seen blazed merrily. Take took hold of his grandson's hand and placed it briefly over the flame to instruct him in the properties of the new element that had been stored in the growing trees by the sun. Thus by the ritual of "Burnt fingers" Maui was instructed in the method of producing fire by means of the Polynesian fire plow. Tane proceeded with his instructions. He dug a shallow hole in the ground, built a fire within it, and placed stones as large as a closed fist above the wood. By the time the wood had burned down, the heat had been relayed on to the stones which became red hot. The stones were leveled to form a bed for the uncooked food which was placed upon them, and the whole was covered over with leaves. After some time, the leaves were removed and the food was found to be cooked. Thus was demonstrated the simple form of cooking oven that spread throughout Polynesia. Maui's problem was solved.

Tane said, "Return to the lower world and tell your mother how fire may be made and how food may be cooked."

Tane took pity upon Maui because of the long journey before him, so he placed Maui in a sacred coconut which he threw down from the upper sphere. The coconut sped swiftly through space and alighted at The Mahara on the island of Raivavae. It split open, and Maui emerged safely and returned to his mother, to whom he imparted the knowledge he had gained. Somebody is bound to ask why Maui's mother had not learned how to make fire from her father, Tane. The answer is simply that in the disruption of the ancient culture, the names of certain legendary characters have been displaced. By analogy with other Maui legends, it is clear that Maui's mother was not the daughter of Tane and that Maui could not learn the secret of fire from the great god Tane. Another fragment from Raivavae states that Tibauone marri3ed Hinahuone, the daughter of Tuareva, a king of the Underworld. Tihauone is a confused form of Ti'i-ahu-one (Tiki-ah-one) and is a distorted memory of Tiki, who is associated in the richer myths with the cre3ation of the first women from earth. The first woman made from earth was Hina, and her name is usually qualified with the worlds ahu (to heap up) and one (earth). The Raivavaean name of the wife of Tiki is Hina-ahu-one, which is proof positive that the old myth of human creation was once known in a fuller and richer form than is indicated by the abbreviated records. The names of Ta'aroa, Tane, and Ro'o occur at the beginning of genealogy lists but Tu is curiously absent. 

The temples of Raivavae, as described by Stokes, are numerous and unique in structure. They had the orthodox rectangular court, but the boundaries were marked by single lines of high basaltic slabs set close together. The middle slabs at the ends were ten to twelve feet high. On the outer side of the slab walls was a neat low curb formed usually of the red tuff. Between the curb and the wall, images of red tuff were set in the ground facing outward. Smaller subsidiary courts were built at the back of the main court. In the most elaborate temples, there was a long paved avenue, flanked on either side of basaltic pillars set at regular intervals, which led to the middle entrance at the front of the main court of the temple. When the temples were being used, they must have been an impressive sight, but unfortunately we have no information as to the form of ritual observed or even as to the names of the gods who were in residence. In all the temples examined by Stokes there was no evidence of any raised platform altar such as we have come to regard as a necessary part of the Polynesian structures. There is one exception, however, at the reputed earliest temple of Te Mahara, the place which served as a landing field for Maui in his mythical flight. It may be that this oldest temple retains an element of an early technique which, in the course of time, was abandoned for what became a local pattern. If people could evolve a local form of paddle design and carvings, why shouldn't they change the architecture of their temples?

In the other three islands, the temples are not only fewer but they do not seem to have reached the standard attained at Raivavae. There are no stone images definitely recorded from the other islands, but on Raivavae several images of red tuff have been found. These are female forms, similar in technique to those carved on the paddles, and may have been more ornamental than religious. Macmillan Brown, in his work already quoted, figures two large images, one 11 to 12 feet and the other 8 to 9 feet high, standing on their original site. The French warship Zelee tried to remove them but failed. Later the images were carried to Tahiti and erected on either side of the path leading to the Papeete Museum. There, in 1935, I was studying them on the morning that the round-the-world tourist ship Stella Polaris berthed at the Papeete wharf. Two American women who had been to the Museum paused to look at the images. One said, "They are similar to the Easter Island images." The other remarked, "I wonder where they are from?" I volunteered the information though we had not been introduced. The first lady transferred her attention from the images to me. With that admirable unconvention acquired by travel, she said, "You are a New Zealander."

"Guilty," I replied. With growing conviction, she pursued, "You are a Maori."
"Guilty again," I admitted.
She continued, "I heard a lecture in New York that was given by a New Zealander and he was a Maori." I ventured a guess and said, "At the English Speaking Union."
"Yes," she answered. "He was a doctor and his name was Doctor Buck."
"Is still is," I apologized. And so New York and the Antipodes were introduced to each other in Tahiti by a stone image that came from Raivavae.
The lack of images from Rimatara, Rurutu, and Tupua'i does not mean that they never existed. In 1836, a mission boat from the London Missionary Society's headquarters in Ra'iatea returned from Rurutu laden with "the gods of the heathen." They were publicly exhibited from the pulpit. One, named Aa (Ha), was the chief god of Rurutu. It was carved from wood in human form, four feet high, and the body and head were hollowed out and provided with a lid at the back. The cavity was found to be full of small gods. The missionary, John Williams, stated that no less than twenty-four were taken out, one alter another, and exhibited to public view. What happened to these works of art may be readily guessed; the souls of the wicked were burned in the Underworld, and the wooden gods of the Polynesians were burned in the up0per world. So far as I know, the large image of Aa was the only one saved, and it now had sanctuary in the British Museum under the name of Tangaroa-upao-vahu. The image is ornamented with small human figures cut in the solid on its face, body, limbs, and lid. Some of the figures have been carved with the head downward and present a somewhat ludicrous appearance. They remind me of the two tall panels in stone on either side of the entrance to Bath Abbey in England, which represent Jacob's ladder with the angels ascending and descending. The descending angels are upside-down like the inverted figures on Aa. Rapa, on the southeast radial from the center, is the most southerly island in tropical Polynesia and is sometimes included in the Austral Islands. Like the Austral Islands, Rapa had been so neglected that Stokes who went there from Raivavae, found the myths and traditions scanty and confused. The few fragments that were gathered are interesting as remnants of a richer oral literature that was not committe4d to writing by the early native missionaries who were preoccupied with spreading the new theology.
The Reverend Davies, who visited the island in 1826, stated that the religion of Rapa was the same as that of Tahiti but without the parade and show. There were no regular religious structures, but a few stones were regarded as sacred shrines with magic power. No images in stone or wood were found, but the gods Paparua and Poere were represented by material objects. Paparua, neatly made of coconut fiber in the form of a miniature cask two to three inches long, was consulted in war and sickness and was appealed to for turtle. Poere, a stone about one foot long planted in the ground, promoted the fertility of food and the maintenance of spring-water supply. He was evidently the god of artisans, for he was invoked at the launching of canoes and the building of houses. Offerings of fish were made to him to promote recovery of the sick. It may be that Paparua was reminiscent of Papa, the great Earth-mother, and that the Rapa people combined two Papas into the single god, Papa-rua (Papa-the-two). The Rapa dialect differs from that of the other Austral Islands in retaining the k and ng sounds but dropping the h. It has been so affected by late Tahitian contact that one wonders whether or not the god Poere should be Po-kere and thus mean "Dark-night." If so, the name may be a memory of the Cosmic Night that occurs in the creation myths of other islands. Certain it is that Te Tumu, Atea Fa'ahotu, and the great major gods - Tane, Rongo, and Tangaroa - are missing in Rapa.
There were a number of minor family gods, and the expression of their wishes or, perhaps, of the wishes of their human mediums conforms to the regular Polynesian pattern. there was apparently no organized priesthood, which may account for the meager mythology. The widely spread terms tohunga and taura, as applied to priests, are lacking in the dialect, and the local term of tangata-kai-pure (man-who-ate-prayers) seems an apology. Human origin, though abbreviated, in interesting. The first man to appear on Rapa was Tiki, who came from 'Avaiki. He married a woman of Rapa, who gave birth to two daughters. In the Biblical story of human creation, we learn that the primary couple had two sons, Cain and Abel. When Cain slew his brother, Abel, it seemed that the end had come, but Cain took unto himself a wife from the land of Nod, whereby the human species was continued. I have no explanation for the presence of a woman on uninhabited Rapa, unless Rapa may be a Polynesian form for the land of Nod. Tiki's two daughters, while stooping to gather clams, were touched by the burrowing organ of a clam, which represented the phallus of Tiki. They both became pregnant, and one gave birth to a son, the other to a daughter. The son, named Tama-tiki (Son-of-Tiki), married his cousin, and from them the people of Rapa were descended. In my creation myth that stops short at a single male and a single female, incest must occur. The Polynesians recognized this biological fact and, in the creation myths of most island groups. Tiki commits incest directly with a daughter. Rapa departs from the pattern in that the incest is cloaked through the medium of a clam. On Rapa, as in Rarotonga and the Austral Islands, we might expect to find a mention of the great navigator, Hiro. Although the local form 'Iro occurs, it is without clear detail. There seems little doubt, however, that Hiro was one of the outstanding navigators of the thirteenth century and that from the Society Islands he sailed to the various islands lying to the east, southeast, south, and southwest. Though he never reached New Zealand, his fame was carried to that far-off land by his descendants who emigrated from central Polynesia in the fourteenth century.


Though the myths and traditions of Rapa have been so poorly transmitted, it is comforting to find that Vancouver, who rediscovered Rapa in 1791, has a word of praise about material things. He was greatly struck with the canoes of that island, which carried crews of twenty-five to thirty men. They had carved stern pieces which were raised, and Vancouver wrote, "The mind is filled with admiration at their ingenuity and persevering industry" - rare words of praise to fall from the lips of a non-Polynesian. Rapa is too cold for the breadfruit, coconut, and plantain to grow. The pig, dog, and fowl were somehow left behind by the early discoverers, but the ubiquitous rat managed to stow away in some early ship. The food plants present include the taro, banana, sweet potato, yam, and mountain apple. Taro, fermented in pits in a manner similar to that used for breadfruit in the Marquesas, is the staple food. The fermented taro is cooked in wrapped-leaf packages in the earth oven and then pounded into a paste with stone pounders. The smooth paste is wrapped in ti leaves in bundles that look very like Christmas puddings. The bundles are hung up in the native trees and are a familiar sight in the village landscape.
The women outnumber the men and do most of the hard work, tending the cultivations, carrying home the supplies of food, and cooking. They even wait on the men at meal times and put the food into their mouths. Macmillan Brown, on seeing this usage, came to the conclusion that the men were taboo and could not touch the food with their own hands. This interpretation was evidently influenced by his acquaintance with a New Zealand custom in which individuals, owing to religious sanctions, might place themselves under taboo for a certain time. During this time, the taboo person could not touch food with his hands, as food was common (noa). He, therefore, had to be hand fed by a male or female attendant until the taboo period expired. In Rapa, however, the men were not taboo, as Brown stated, but were simply waited upon by their womenfolk, according to a usage that had been established locally. A similar usage existed in Mangareva. Rapa has suffered as much, if possible, from European contact as have the Marquesas. The island is small, being but 5.7 miles from north to south and 5 miles from east to west. It is indented by fifteen bays, of which Tairirau Harbour, on the east, penetrates beyond the middle of the island. Vancouver, in 1791, estimated the population at 1,300, and missionary Davies, in 1826, estimated it at 2,000. But the ship that bore the gospel to Rapa in 1826 also carried the germs of epidemic diseases. Moerenhout, who visited Rapa in 1834, stated that the population had been reduced to 300, as the result of introduced vene4real and epidemic diseases. As if their cup was not full to overflowing, in 1863 smallpox and cholera broke out aboard a ship that had been chartered to return people taken from Tonga, Tokelau, and Manihiki by a Peruvian slaver. The captain, to save his own worthless life and that of his equally valueless crew, dumped his sick freight on Rapa. The Rapa people died like flies, and when Hall visited the island a year later, the surviving people of Rapa numbered only 130.
In the halcyon days before European contact, the people of Rapa had adjusted themselves successfully to their peculiar environment. The cultivable lands were fully utilized in the growing of taro, and by the system of preserving the taro in pits the people were enabled to provide reserve supplies. The early families had developed into groups which became tribes and subsequently divided into subtribes. The tribes were named after specific ancestors with the prefix Ngate (Ngati) and Nai, on the same pattern as prevailed in New Zealand. As the population increased, conflicts occurred, as has happened the world over. The people built fortified villages on commanding ridges and mountain peaks, not only for defense but in order that they could overlook their cultivations and watch the neighbouring tribes. The razor-backed mountain ridges with steep subsidiary ridges leading up to them were ideal positions for defense, because they prevented a massed attack on the a wide front. A ridge with a peak was selected and the summit was levelled off to form the topmost terrace. The sides were cut down with digging implements of pointed wood and rude adzes of dyke basalt, until a second terrace could be formed of sufficient width to accommodate houses. The military architects of the day continued the plan of successive terraces which necessitated high walls at the back. The razorback on the ridge leading to the peak was levelled off and the sides were cut to increase the steepness against assault. Deep ditches were cut across the main ridge on either side of the citadel to improve the defenses. On the secondary ridges leading up to the main fort, further terraces were dug to provide house accommodation and outposts for defense. The back walls of the terraces, particularly near the citadel, were further reinforced with stone slabs carefully built in to protect the earth face against the detrition of wind and rain. Projecting stones formed footholds by which the defenders could retreat from terrace to terrace. Within the fort itself were hollows to catch rain as reserve water supply in event of attack. Each fort, however, had some near-by spring on the lower slopes, which were guarded.
On the topmost terrace of the citadel peak, the high chief resided. In war he was the commanding officer. An attacking party could advance by one ridge only, and from his vantage ground the chief could call up his forces to concentrate on the section attacked. Fighting was hand-to-hand, and thus the citadel which commanded all points of the compass was the ideal position for the commander of the defenses. The hill forts of Rapa, termed pare or pa, were qualified by maunga (mountain) or tamaki (war). It may be that the peculiar geographical formation of Rapa suggested this unique development of fortification. In principle the Rapan forts resemble the pa forts of New Zealand. Had it been my fortune to visit Rapa, I might, perchance, have sensed an affinity that personal contact may convey with more subtlety than the written words of others. The hill forts of Rapa were the material expression of a warlike people. the highest fort of Karere was at an elevation of 1,460 feet. A perfect model of defensive engineering was Te Vaitau at the height of 840 feet. I dreamed a dream about a stone stadium in the Marquesas, but I dare not dream again. Look at the picture of Te Vaitau, people its terraces with armed warriors, harken to the shell trumpets calling defiance, and dream of Rapa for yourselves.


My mother was a full Maori of the Ngati-Mutunga tribe of North Taranaki in New Zealand. She had the arresting name of Ngarongo-ki-tua (Tidings-that-reach-afar). I hope for the sake of her memory that, by gathering tidings from afar, I may be worthy the honour of being her son. She was the first-born of the senior family of the Ngati-Aurutu subtribe, and I absorbed pride of race from her. Her only brother was named Te Rangi Hiroa after an ancestor who had lived two centuries before. I was told that Hiroa was a contraction of Ihi-roa and that the name meant the Heavens-streaked-with-the-long-rays-of-the-sun. My uncle became seriously ill during a visit to a distant village and commanded that he be moved in order that he might die at home. Unfortunately he died on the way, and I was given my first name of Te Mate-rori (Death-on-the-road), a wretched name because "rori" is the modern Maori form of road. I was greatly relieved on reaching my teens to be given my adult name of Te Rangi Hiroa in more classical memory of my uncle.  My father belonged to a north of Ireland family that lived in Armagh, so I am entitled to his family name. I am binomial, bilingual, and inherit a mixture of two bloods that I would not change for a total of either. I mention this brief family history to show that from my birth I was endowed with a background for the study of Polynesian manners and customs that no university could have given me. My mother's blood enables me to appreciate a culture to which I belong, and my father's speech helps me to interpret it, inadequate though the rendering be at times.

My maternal grandmother was a wonderful old lady. She had lived so long that she had acquired more wrinkles than anyone I have ever seen. She had seen many of our tribe die, and she had mourned over them all. It used to be the custom when wailing over near of kin to incise the skin with a flake of obsidian so that the flow of blood and tears ;might mingle to the fullest expression of grief. Sometimes charcoal was rubbed into the cuts and left indelible marks. My grandmother's breast was covered with such grief marks, and for her very dear ones, she had made the record on her cheeks. I was particularly proud of her tattooing. She had the orthodox pattern for women on both lips and her chin was covered with an artistic curved design. But in addition she had beautifully executed double spirals on either nostril and short curved lines on her forehead that arched upward from the inner angles of her eyes. When I was chastised at home for some error in conduct, I ran away to the Maori village and took refuge with my grandmother. She told me tales of happenings in her girlhood, and I learned tribal history from her as well as from my mother.

When I went to Te Aute College after my mother's death, I spent some of my vacations with my tribe. In spite of the protestations of my relatives with houses of sawn timber, I insisted on sleeping beside my grandmother on the earthen floor of her native hut with its walls of tree-fern slabs. She grew her own tobacco outside her hut, and, as she smoked her pipe beside her charcoal fire in the evenings, she told her college grandson stories that it was a privilege to hear. She had been an eyewitness of so much that had passed that she belonged to another age. With each parting, she wept the longer, and we both realized that the end of our companionship was approaching nearer and nearer. She has passed away to join her daughter in the Polynesian spirit land, and I would that our myths of that land were true. Her name was Kapua-kore which means Cloudless, an apt name for one who in her long life brought no cloud of sorrow to any living soul.

After graduating in medicine in 1904 and spending a year as a hospital interne, I obeyed the call of my blood and joined the Government service as a Medical Officer of Health to the Maoris. I visited various villages and was received in all with the courtesy that still takes the form of old time ceremony.  The people gathered in the open space before the village assembly house, and tears were shed for those who had recently passed away. The Maori tangi (weeping) and the Irish wake are similar in fundamental principle, and on such occasions my two halves could unite as one. Species of welcome couched in archaic form were made by the local chiefs to which I replied as best I could. Five years' study at a medical school with a year in hospital had made a serious break in the continuity of my Maori education. My Maori words unconsciously flowed along an English channel of grammar, and I was horribly conscious that I was talking to my own people like a foreigner. The speeches were followed by the ceremony of pressing noses with all and sundry. This form of greeting, at one time universal throughout Polynesia, now survives as a regular custom only in New Zealand. It says much for oura generation that we never tried to evade the custom because we did not wish to give pain to our elders. After these nasal contacts, the taboo of the stranger was lifted and one could mix freely and talk informally.

The visitor was the guest of the village, and the best food was provided for him during his stay in the tribal guest house. Different districts have local foods which are a great asset to the people not only for their own sustenance but for the entertainment of their visitors. Fish, crustaceans, and shellfish in the coastal districts, eels and whitebait in the river regions, pigeons and parrots in the forst areas; all had their particular season when they were at their best. My own district was famous for the lamprey eels in June or July. The sea eggs (echinoderms) were fat at Te Araroa when the golden flowers of the kowhai blossomed in spring. Sharks came into the fishing grounds off the Taranaki coast when the new growth of bracken fern began to straighten out its curled shoots. I learned to know the food seasons of the various parts of the island, and I tried to make my visits of inspection coincide with the native food calendar, not only because I liked native foods but because native hosts were so genuinely pleased to lay before their guests the foods for which their district was noted. Economic embarrassment was avoided, and host and guest shared a common satisfaction. 

I early realized that to gain the interest and support of chiefs and leaders older than myself, I must overcome the handicap of youth by an exhibition of Maori scholarship that would not only earn their respect but indicate clearly where my sympathies lay. I commenced an intensive study of Maori mythology, legends, traditions, and the details of customs, manners, and etiquette. I learned the pattern of ceremonial speech and the forms of metaphor and simile that went with it. The more a speech is illustrated with quotations from myths and ancient traditions, the better a Maori audience likes it. Old songs and incantations with an apt bearing on the subject matter are necessary because a speech is regarded as incomplete without them. I was never good at rendering songs, but I acquired a host of chants and incantations to illustrate speeches. I combed the printed literature, and I learned at first-hand from the experts of various tribes who were only too pleased to impart their knowledge to an appreciative student of their own blood. With others of the younger leaders, I became a homemade anthropologist - not to obtain a university degree, but to gain an inner understanding of our own people in order that we might the better help them through the problems and trials created by civilization.

In the Maori houses of learning, the creation of the world was recorded in evolutionary stages in genealogies which were recited and taught by experts. Such teaching was referred to as the Kauae-runga (Upper-jaw), in contrast to knowledge of things terrestrial termed Kauae-raro (Lower-law). Things celestial commenced appropriately enough with the Void (Kore) and went on to the unknown, personified as Night (Po). Elsdon Best, in describing this early period, says, "The unknown aecons of time before the heavens, earth, and heavenly bodies came into being was the Po-intangible, unknown, unseen, unknowable. "The quotation sums up the position, but the Po period cannot be dismissed lightly by one general term. It was drawn out to a count of ten Nights or given various descriptive terms, such as Po-tangotango, Po-kerekere, and Po-tinitini, names that were used by the philosophers at Taputapu-atea in central Polynesia. The Unknown was followed by periods of growth that were expressed in terms of plant and human development. The botanical evolution was personified as the Tap-root, Side-roots, Rootless, Stem, Branches, Twigs, and Leaves. Human evolution was personified as Conception, Swelling, Birth, Mind, Thought, and Desire, which preceded the two primary parents, the Sky-father and the Earth-mother. We have already met the primary father under the name of Space rendered as Atea, Vatea, and Wakea. In New Zealand, he appears as Rangi (Sky) which nevertheless is Space. The primary mother retains her original name of Papa (Earth-stratum) which is qualified as Papa-tu-a-nuku, the Stratum-which-assumed-the-form-of-land.

Rangi and Papa clave together and children were born to them. Some recitals list no less than seventy children who were confined between the bodies of their parents, and the closeness of Rangi to papa precluded space and light. Some of the children, led by Tane, planned the separation of their parents in order that they might stand erect and that light might be admitted into their world. The plan was bitterly opposed by Whiro, who led the first conservative party in the South Seas. Tane's policy received the majority vote and was carried into effect. The Maoris seem to have lost Ru, the Propper-up-of-skies, so the task of pushing the Sky-father up into his present position devolved upon Tane. He tried pushing with his hands in vain, and then stood on his head and pushed with his feet. Trees, which are the children of Tane, represent the position of their parent, for Maori myth says that their heads are down in the ground and their feet push upward. By Tane's effort, the Sky-father was raised on high, the Earth-mother remained below, and light came flooding in the space between. The tears of Rangi fall as rain upon the bosom of the Earth-mother, and Papa's grief at their separation rises as mist. Some of the children of Rangi and Papa became the major gods of the Maori pantheon, as they were in other parts of Polynesia. Tane, the most powerful, presided over forests and bird life. Tangaroa was the god of the sea and fish. Tu had the portfolio of war. Rongo directed horticulture and peace. Raka gave way to the local Tawhirlmates as director of winds and rain. A department of uncultivated food to include the local fern root was created, and Haumea was placed in charge. Whiro, who led the opposition against the separation of Earth and Sky, went off in a huff to the Underworld to abide in the darkness that he preferred. The characters Te Tumu and Fa'ahotu, who were associated with other cosmogonies, are missing in New Zealand. Like their island kinsmen, the Maoris defied certain ancestors and created lesser spirits from family abortions and miscarriages as need arose. 

The creation of man was associated with the god Tane and with Tiki. In some myths, Tiki was the first man, but in others he was regarded as a personification of the procreative powers of Tane. Tane, having hung the stars in their places and given the sun and the moon their appointed courses, sought for the human element to people the earth. With the advice of his colleagues, he molded some red earth at Kurawaka into the form of a woman. The figure was vitalized into the first living woman and named Hine-ahu-one, the Earth-formed-maid. Ancient chants deal with the primary ignorance of the sexual act, but ignorance was eventually overcome and Tane took the Earth-formed-maid to wife. A daughter named the Dawn-maid, on learning that Tane was her own father, retired to the Underworld where she exercised a beneficent care over the souls of mankind who ultimately sought that place of abode. The evolutionary pattern described is simple and straightforward. It appears to have been th4 version evolved by the priests at the religious seminary at Opoa in Ra'iatea at the time that the Maori ancestors left the central area. But, just as the priests of Opoa later changed their theology to make Ta'aroa the Creator, so some of the schools in New Zealand also elaborated their beliefs to include a creator of all things. This exalted personage was Io, who created all the processes of nature and caused the already existing gods to be. He was given various titles of which Io-matua-kore (Io-the-parentless) indicates that he himself was the very beginning. The old theology had a sky of ten successive levels, but the new version added two more and placed Io in residence in the highest heaven. He was provided with a house named Rangiatea, and the assembly place before it was named Te Rauroha. A staff of Celestial Maids (Mareikura) was provided, and Guardians (Pou-tiriao) were appointed to the different floors which were given individual names. Messengers were engaged to carry on communication between the upper sphere and the major gods.

As the name Io has some resemblance to the Hebrew form of Jehovah, some have thought that the cult of Io was evolved after contact with Christian teaching. However, references to Io occur in the native literature that was composed before the Old Testament was introduced into New Zealand. An example is the lament of an old chief, composed over two hundred years ago for a favourite grandchild, in which he directs the path her soul should take:            

     Grasp with thy hand the guiding vine
     By which the god Tane ascended to the highest heaven,
     That thou mayest be welcomed by the Celestial Maids
     Assembled on the courtyard of Te Rauroha
     And so enter within the palace of Rangiatea.
     Then and only then shall all desire for this world cease,
     Ah little maid of mine.

In Tahitian myth there is an account of a war between Tane and Hiro. The Maori theologians have introduced this contest into the myth of Io. Tane set out to obtain the three baskets of knowledge from Io in the twelfth heaven, but Whiro by an alliance with Tawhiri-matea arrayed against Tane the forces of rain, hail, winds, and intense cold. He also let loose the various forms of disease grouped together under the name of Maiki. Tane overcame them all and so the knowledge of good, of evil, and of ritual were brought down to this world of ours and transmitted to mankind through the ancient houses of teaching. Passing on to the period of legendary heroes, we have the widespread story of the Maui family and the fishing-up of Mauri brothers. The youngest Maui by magic art caught his hook in the land beneath the sea. In spite of the protests of his brothers, Maui hauled up a huge land fish. The fish was the North Island of New Zealand, and the canoe was raised high on a protuberance that became Mount Hikurangi. Maui's hook is represented by the curve of the coast line of Hawkes Bay between Mahia Penninsula and Cape Kidnapper. The fish, termed the fish-of-Maui (The Ika-a-Maui, was likened in shape to a sting ray. The southern end represents the head, the western extension of Taranaki and the eastern extremity of East Cape are the two wings or flappers, and the thin part forming the North Auckland Peninsula is the tail. The seat of the British government is, oddly enough, situated at Wellington in the head of the fish. The parts of the fish are still used in Maori oratory. I belong to Taranaki, and the Ngati-Porou tribe of the East Coast used to welcome me as coming from the other flapper of the fish of Maui. I have heard members of Parliament being flattered with the sentence, "You come from the head of the fish where all wisdom lies."

The myth states that Maui left his brothers with the fish while he retu4rned to the homeland to get a priest to perform the requisite ritual over the new land. His brothers cut up the fish and, in its writhing under the pain of the surgical operation, the hills and valleys were created. Many hold that the earliest inhabitants of New Zealand were descended from the Maui family but, apart from the fact that the tale is a myth, it is difficult to understand how an early population could have arisen from a fishing expedition that was not accompanied by women. As in other island groups, Maui obtained fire from the Underworld and snared the sun. New Zealand legend has a quest for immortality which differs from the Tuamotuan myth of the sea-slug already related. Maui sought to slay Hi8ne-nui-te-po (Great-goddess-of-night) while she was asleep in her cave. He took with him a number of birds as companions. He enjoined upon them the necessity for absolute quiet while he entered into the body of the goddess to remove her heart and so end the cause of death. Unfortunately he committed an error of judgment in including the flycatcher, or fantail, in his retinue. This bird cannot remain still, and when it saw Maui entering the body of the goddess it twittered with laughter. The goddess awoke and Maui was strangled. An old lament says:

     Death overtook the leaders of men
     When Maui was strangled by the Goddess of Death,
     And so death remained in this world, alas!
I could throw a stone at the descendants of that flycatcher, but perhaps I had better not, for problems of over population might have arisen had the flycatcher not laughed. The real discovery of New Zealand is generally attributed to Kupe in about the middle of the tenth century. The legend states that he was so angered at squids that took his bait while fishing that he swore to kill their leader known as the Wheke-a-Muturangi. He chased the chief squid over the seas, and it led him to the south where he encountered a land with high hills covered with mist. He finally overtook the squid in the strait between the two main islands of New Zealand and slew it. He returned to central Polynesia and reported his discovery of land inhabited only by birds. The sailing direction in the lunar month of November-December was a little to the left of the setting sun. From various traditions, there is little doubt that subsequent voyages were made on these sailing directions that were handed down orally in central Polynesia. Some time after Kupe's discovery, people making a voyage between islands in the Pacific were driven out of their course by a storm and reached New Zealand. They became the first settlers and were subsequently referred to as the people of the land (tangata whenua). They had their women-folk with them, but any cultivated food plants or domesticated animals that they may have had with them were disposed of on the unexpectedly protracted voyage.

In the twelfth century, an ancestor named Toi sailed south from central Polynesia in search of his grandson, Whatonga, who had been blown away by an offshore wind during a canoe race in central Polynesia. Toi made New Zealand and settled down at Whakatane in the Bay of Plenty. Whatonga, who had landed safely at another Pacific island, returned home and in turn set out in search of his grandfather. He also made New Zealand and found his grandfather. Both Toi and Whatonga had set out on search expeditions with ample sea provisions but had taken no cultivable food plants to grow in a new home, no domesticated animals, and no women. They took wives from the previous settlers and became the ancestors of mixed tribes. In the fourteenth century, owing to conflicts in the homeland of Hawaiki, the Maori form of Havai'i, a number of voyaging canoes set out on Kupei's sailing directions with the definite object of colonizing the land that lay to the south. Most of the voyagers made their landfall in the Bay of Plenty near Cape Runaway in November or December when the Christmas trees (pohutukawa) were in bloom. One of the chiefs, on seeing the scarlet colour of these trees, took off his red feather headdress and hurled it into the sea, saying, "The chiefly colour of Hawaiki is cast aside for the chiefly red of the new land that welcomes us."

The leaders of the canoes and their followers settled on sections of the coast apart from each other so as to avoid the conflict that they had left behind them. These landing places formed centers of development and, as the groups increased and spread to meet adjoining groups, boundaries became established. The newcomers came into conflict with the first settlers and with the descendants of Toi. After many wars, the earlier settlers were absorbed into the more dominant groups of the later comers. The Maori people are grouped into tribes, which trace their descent and take their names from ancestors who came in the various canoes of the fourteenth-century migration. some claim that their chieftainship came from the later canoes but that their right to land was derived from the earlier settlers. The traditions and history of the earliest settlers have been overlaid by tales of the later arrivals, and honour and prestige is traced to the voyaging canoes. Pride in canoes finds expression in many songs of which the following is an excellent example:

     Behold Tainu, The Arawa, Mataatua, Kurahaupo, and Toko maru,
     All afloat on the ocean vast.
     The tree trunk was hollowed in Hawaiki
     And so Taki rume took form.
     A night was spent at Rangipo
     And Aotea took the sea at dawn.
     These are the canoes of Uenuku
     Whose names resound unto the heavens.
     How can their fame be e'er forgot
     When they float for aye on memory's tide!

Oh, poet's faith! How indeed, unless our blood becomes so diluted that it fails to stir at the sound of our own speech? The names of the seven canoes enumerated are famous, but others, such as Horouta, deserve their meed of praise. The fame of particular canoes depends upon whether or not they have been recorded in song and story by bards and historians. A continuity of dominant chiefs and supporters is further required to bring the record down to modern times. The Tainui canoe under the leadership of Hoturoa prepared to sail from Hawaiki on the Orongo night (27th) of the lunar month corresponding to October-November. But the old men advised Hoturoa to delay sailing until the stormy Tamateas (6th to 9th nights) of the following month had passed. Hoturoa replied, "I will sail out now and meet the Tamateas on the open sea." He surmounted all storms and trials to make safe landfall at Cape runaway. The Tainui worked north to what is now known as Auckland Harbour and paddled up the Tamaki branch. Scounts reported a branch of the sea stretching away to the west. The Tainui canoe was hauled over the intervening ridge into Manakau Harbour, sailed into the western sea, and worked south to Kawhia. Her descendants people the area from Manakau to the Mokau River in the south, and other branches spread east to the Thames.  In Hawaiki, a chief named Tama-te-kapua and his younger brother stole fruit at night from a tree that grew back of the house of the high chief, Uenuku. As a result of the theft, Tama-te-kapua and his people left on the Arawa canoe for the land of the high mists in the south. In the popular account, the fruit tree was said to be a poporo, which is a species of Solanum in New Zealand that has no economic value. Fortunately an ancient dirge records the original name of the tree:

     Sacred tree of Hawaiki
     That grew on the farther side of Great Tahiu.
     It was the kuru that shaded the house of Uenuku.

It is evident that the Maoris in their popular version had substituted the local poporo for the furuit tree termed kuru. No Maori could explain what the kuru was like, but in central Polynesia kuru and its dialectical forms is the name for the breadfruit. The breadfruit will not grow in ANew Zealand but in central Polynesia it is a most important food. Tama-te-kapua kidnaped a learned priest named Ngatoroi-rangi, and under his guidance the Arawa canoe made New Zealand at Cape Runaway. The canoe turned up the coast, its passengers landing at Maketu and spreading inland. The tribes that occupy the coast and the thermal district of Rotorua are descended from Tama-te-kapua, and those that spread farther inland to Lake Taupo claim descent from Ngatoroi-rangi. The tribes descended from the crew of the Arawa say that the carved bow of their canoe rests at Maketu, and the stern piece is formed by the mountain of Tongariro. The Mataatua commanded by Toroa paddled into a river in the Bay of Plenty and beached on the shore. The sea-cramped crew scattered inland to view the new land. Toroa's daughter, who was ill, lay down on the beach near the grounded canoe. The rising tide began to float the canoe away, tend the sick chieftainess said, "I must act like a man." Exerting all her strangth, she managed to prevent the canoe from floating away, and to record her action the river was named Whakatane (Act-as-a_man). The people in time spread along the coast to the historic landing-place near Cape Runaway and inland over the Urewera country.

The Tokomaru is my own canoe which left Hawaiki because of wars. One version of the tradition states that Manaia was the captain. An old song states that Tokomaru was owned by Whata, captained by Tama-ariki, and navigated by the priest, Rakeiora. The canoe made Cape Runaway, sailed around the North Cape, and beached at the Mahakatino River in north Taraqnaki. An assembly house named Marae-rotuhia was built on the bank of the river. The people spread from the Mokau River in the north to a boundary named Onuku-taipare, some miles south of the present town of New Plymouth. The southern boundary lay between the Tokomaru people and descendants of the Kurahaupo canoe, who took their tribal name of Taranaki from the native name given to Mount Egmont. The Tokomaru tribes united in the confederation termed Ati-awa, to which belonged my two tribes of Ngati-Mutunga and Ngati-Tama. The Takitumu canoe under Tamatea people the east coast of the North Island from Gisborne to Wellington. Parties crossed the Cook Straits and settled in the South Island. The Horouta canoe peopled the east coast from Cape runaway to Gisborne. The dominant tribe of Ngati-Porou take their name from their ancestor Porou-rangi, and the Ngai-Tahu tribe of the South island is said to be descended from Tahu, a younger brother of Porou-rangi.

The Aotea canoe came from Hawaiki, known as Ra'iatea to its present inhabitants but as Rangitea to the Maoris, who do not drop the ng consonant. The Aotea tribes carry the memory of the homeland in the saying, "We can never be lost, for we come of the seed that was sown from Rangiatea." The Aotea left in an off-season and was driven west to the Kermadec Islands, which were named Rangitahua. The Kermadecs are uninhabited, but a broken adz and some sling-stones found there bear witness to a Polynesian visit. The Aotea must have landed in the Kermadecs in March when the karaka (Carynocarpus laevigata) was covered with its golden berries, for the Aotea is generally credited with having introduced the karaka into New Zealand. The storm tossed crew of Aotea, after enjoying the ripe berries, probably took the kernels on to New Zealand only to find that the tree was a native of the country. The canoe landed at an inlet on the west coast of the North Island named Aotea after the canoe. The crew marched south to the Patea River, whence their desc3endants spread north to form the Ngati-Ruanui tribe and south toward Wanganui to form the Nga-Rauru tribe. The sea voyage was ;made the theme of a deep-sea chantey, in which the names of the canoe, captain, and steering paddle are recorded. The following translation was made by James Cowan.  


Aotea is the canoe,
Turi is the chief,
Te Roku-o-whiti is the paddle.
Behold my paddle!
It is laid by the canoe side,
Held close to the canoe side.
Now it is raided on high 0 the paddle!
Poised for the plunge - the paddle,
Now we leap forward.
Behold my paddle, Te Roku-o-whiti!
See how it flies and flashes,
It quivers like a bird's wing,
This paddle of mine.
Ah, the outward lift and the dashing,
The quick thrust in and the backward sweep,
The swishing, the swirling eddies,
The foaming white wake, and the spray
That flies from my paddle.

  The voyagers of the fourteenth century came to settle, and they probably brought all the available food plants of central Polynesia with them. However, they sailed to a cold land where the coconut, breadfruit, and banana would not grow. The voyagers to the south evidently feared the effect of the cold on their plants, for an Aotea legend states that Rongorongo, the wife of Turi, kept some sweet-potato tubers in a double belt around her waist to keep them warm against her body. This incident gave rise to an honorific name for the sweet potato, the "Belt of Rongorongo." Although the sweet potato, taro, yam, and gourd grew in the new land, they produced but one crop a year as against a succession in the tropics. Larger cultivations had to be made for the annual crop, and local need led to storage in underground pits or sunken houses with roofs covered over with earth. Such storage houses are absent in central Polynesia where the need did not exist. The sweet potato was the most prolific of the introduced plants, and its economic importance created a new ritual during planting. A god to promote the fertility of the sweet potato was added to the Maori pantheon and represented by images in stone. Even the ordinary digging stick was improved by lashing a carved step to it and carving the top of the handle.

The paper mulberry plant was introduced to provide bark cloth, but the plant did not thrive and bark cloth was not suited to a cold climate. The need for warmer clothing led to trying out the twined technique of fishtraps on a new fiber discovered sin the leaves of the native flax. Capes and cloaks were made with an outer thatch of flaxen tags that shed the rain like a shingled roof. Women with alert minds and skilful fingers invented a succession of improvements that resulted in a variety of garments. The early thatched cloaks remained in ordinary use, but dress cloaks with ornamental dyed cords, feathers, and coloured borders were produced for the upper classes. Women, in developing a form of finger weaving, blazed a trail that was to lead them far from the arts and crafts of their tropical homeland. One must be saturated with the atmosphere of tropical Polynesia to fully appreciate what the first Maori settlers lost and what they gained in their new country. They lost certain prolific food plants, and somehow the pit and fowl were left behind or died on the voyage. The dog alone of three Polynesian domesticated animals landed in New Zealand. The Polynesian name of the fowl, moa, was evidently applied to a large wingless bird which became extinct. The forests teemed with bird life and new processes were invented for catching, preserving, and storing. The decoy water trough, the carved snare, the bone-pointed bird spear, and receptacles for preserved pigeons are all local developments not known elsewhere in Polynesia. The rivers, lakes, sea beaches, rock reefs, and the sea all provided a supply of food that more than made up for the cultivable foods that would not grow in the cold climate.

The greatest wonder of all must have been the forest trees that grew larger than any others in Polynesia. The canoe builders must have gazed awestruck at the great trunks of the totara and the kaui pine. I can see them offering up a ritual formula to Tane and spanning the tree trunk with admiring arms. A practical geologists, they must have enjoyed cracking and testing rock until the best basalt indicated where adz quarries should be located. With larger and heavier adzes, the forest giants were felled and dubbed into canoe hulls. The dugouts could be made so wide that they floated like boats without need of a side prop, and so the outrigger attachment was abandoned. The Maoris had to adapt their houses to the climate of New Zealand. The simple structures of tropical Polynesia were of no used where cold winds had to be kept out, so they sank the floor below the ground surface and made thickly thatched walls to keep the houses warm. For large community houses the usual round poles were replaced by dressed timber. In central Polynesia, the artistic sense of the builders was expressed in lashing designs made with sennit braid. In New Zealand, the Maori craftsmen carved the main posts and the wall posts with conventional forms of the human figure. With an instinct for balance in art, they painted the upper woodwork of rafters and ridgepole with scroll designs in col9our and thus prevented carving from running riot. The decoration of the Maori community house followed a line of local development that was stimulated originally by cold. 

In addition to a rich supply of basaltic stone, New Zealand gave her settlers the gift of jade. It was found as boulders in the rivers of the west coast of the South Island, and that island consequently received the name of Te Wai-pou-namu (Water-containing-jade). Jame was used to make ornaments and short war-clubs that became priceless heirlooms, but more wonderful were the chisels and adzes that took an edge almost as keen as steel. The totara timber was durable but soft, and with good wood and excellent tools, the Maori carvers developed a craft into an art that was unique not only for Polynesia but for the Pacific. Our appraisal of Maori art motifs has been unduly influenced by the theory that they must have originated somewhere along the trail traversed by our ancestors in centuries gone by. We have given insufficient attention to the possibility of breaks occurring, due to lack of wood and stone and the necessity of developing other crafts. The time spent in the atolls of Micronesia would be long enough to erase the4 memory of former arts. The art of wood carving apparently made little progress in central Polynesia at the time of the dispersal of voyagers and settlers, else art motifs would have been shared by various islands in the same manner as myths, legends, religion, and the social pattern. The only motif that the Maoris appear to have brought from Hawaiki was the human figure with flexed legs and hands clasped on the abdomen. The manaia figure that has the appearance of a bird-headed man in profile has given rise to speculation as to its origin. The bird-headed man of Easter Island was derived there from the sooty petrel. The bird motif of the Solomon Islands with a scroll pattern of interlocking beaks was taken from the man-of-war hawk. In New Zealand, there is no myth extant as to what bird the manaia represented. Studies by Mr. Gilbert Archey, Director of the Auckland Museum, have shown conclusively, I think, that the birdlike appearance was produced by carving one half of a human head with the middle part of the upper lip unduly prolonged. The manaia was thus derived from a human figure and not from a bird. Evidence has been brought forward by Mr. Archey to show a local origin for the double spiral thqat plays such a prominent part in Maori art. The development of carving patterns influenced tattooing patterns, so that curved lines were used instead of the straight lines of central Polynesia. High chiefs did not deem it beneath their dignity to wield the mallet and the chisel. Picture the master craftsman before a large slab of wood on which the human figure has been roughed out with stone adzes - in his left hand a chisel of jade and in his right a mallet of whalebone. With such a field and with such tools, is it any wonder that he was able4 to execute work undreamed of  in his former home?

But the cold climate affected not only the raw material and its treatment, but also the man himself. He was imbued with a vigor and a stamina that developed during the process of adjustments to more trying conditions. He became more aggressive. The t5ribes built up a war record and kept an honour ledger. Victories were balanced against defeats, and each tribe stove to acquire a credit balance. There were no coconut or breadfruit trees to protect against theft, and the people congregated in villages for protection. The open village invited attack, and so the engineers selected hills and promontories in which nature aided the defense. Most Polynesians living on volcanic islands selected some natural spot difficult of access to which they retired for protection. The Tongans, owing to the lack of hills, dug trenches and built fences around defensive villages. The people of Rapa terraced commanding hilltops to form forts. It remained for the Maori to combine terrace, ditch, and palisade in his system of defense and to occupy such forts permanently. In times of doubt, sentries were posted in lookout towers. During the night, they recited watch alarms in a loud voice, not so much to keep their own warriors awake as to inform night attackers that the fort was on the alert. Though brief and cryptic in text, the alarms were nevertheless rich in imagery derived from natural surroundings. The following 4example translated by James Cowan belonged to a fort built on a cliff-girt promontory on the coast of Kawhia. 

O Soldiers of the fort, arise,
Lest ye go down to death.
High up, high up, the thundering surf
On Harihari's cliffs resounds,
And low the wailing sea
Groons on the Mokau coast.
But here am I, on guard,
Watching, seeking, peering,
As on those rugged rocks
The sea hauk sits
And watches for its prey.
Soon will the sun
Rise flaming o'er the world.

The cliffs of Harihari, to the north of the fort, jutted out into the sea and took the full force of the ocean breakers. The crash and roar symbolized war with the shouts of contending captains and the anguished cries of the wounded and the dying. To the south, the coast line curved in to form a sheltered sandy bay into which the Mokau River flowed. Though there was apparent peace, the unending moan of the waves against the sand represented the wailing of women, weeping for their dead. The last two lines are a prayer and a wish. Most attacks were made at dawn when there was enough light to see the battlements. The rising of the sun ended the watchman's vigil and ushered in a day of peace and life. The fortified village necessitated a departure from the religious pattern of Hawaiki. The sacred raised platform or ohu was detached from the open court or marae proper and relegated to the outside of the fort. In a secluded grove, the priest er4cted a stone pillar or a wooden post, and there, alone or with a few assistants, he took council with his gods. No multitude watched the proceedings, and therefore the ahu platform dwindled to a shrine, often represented by a natural outcrop of rock yet retaining the ancient name of ohu in the Maori form of tu-ahu.

The marae court was retained in the village as the open space where tribal gatherings were held. In place of the ahu platform, a large carved house was built that served as meeting house and gu4est house. The meeting house was usually named after an ancestor, and when the tribe met within its walls, they gathered within the bosom of their ancestor. The marae space in front received a name in important villages and was the center of social life. There visitors were welcomed, all important functions took place, the dead were laid in state, and the funeral ceremonies were held. Ceremonies were held on the marae by day, and in the evening they were continued within the tribal meeting house. In the Tuamotu, the spaced upright limestone pillars on the religious marae were named after ancestors, and in the Maori meeting house the spaced wall-posts, carved in human form, were also named after ancestors. In central and eastern Polynesia, the marae, because it carried a religious as well as a secular function, was dismantled and abandoned on conversion to Christianity, but in New Zealand, the marae still functions as the social center of the people. today, in spite of the breaking up of village life because the Maori population is engaged in farming and dairying, the meeting house and the marae remain the nucleus to which the scattered tribe returns to welcome visitors, weep for its dead, and discuss tribal welfare. May the marae long continue to function, for so soon as it is abandoned, so soon will the Maori lose his individuality.

The people descended from different canoes probably carried on culture differences that were brought from various islands in central Polynesia. When the seafaring men of the Pacific settled in New Zealand, they became landsmen. As they developed local traditions, they cut off forever the sea roads to Hawaiki. Yet the memory of a maritime past rings out in the welcome to visitors, whether they came by foot in the past or come by motor car in the present.

Draw hither - the canoe!
Haul hither - the canoe!
To its pillow - the canoe!
To its bed - the canoe!
To the place where shall rest - the canoe!
Welcome, thrice welcome!

 Having followed the Maori branch of the Polynesians to the land of high mists and indicated some of the problems that they overcame, let us leave their descendants to work out their own salvation in the firm conviction that the stamina and mentality inherited from their stone-age ancestors will enable them to make good in a changing world. Fate and the courtesy of American institutions have so ordered it that I take part in the task of gathering together and recording the fragments of Polynesian culture. I bid farewell to the land of my birth in the words of an old lament:


Alas, the bitter pain that gnaws within
For the wrecked canoe, for a friend who is lost.
My precious heron plume is cast on Ocean's strand,
And the lightning, flashing in the heavens,
Salutes the dead.
Where is authority in this world, since thou hast passed
By the slippery path, the sliding path to death?
Lone strands Whakaahu mountain in the distance,
For thou art gone, the shelter of thy people.
Flown has my singing bird that sang of ancient learning,
The keel of Tainui, the plug of Aotea,
Now bewailed by women's flowing tears.    
Beautiful lies thy body in thy dogskin tasseled cloak,
But thy spirit has passed like a drifting cloud in the heavens
All is well with thee who liest in state on chieftain's bier.
Ah, my precious green jade jewel, emblem of departed warriors!
The dragon emerged from his rocky fastness
And sleeps in the house of death.

The Center, Apex and Base
of the Polynesian Triangle

click here Jane's Polynesia Home Page
   click here Jane's Micronesia Home Page
  click here Jane's Melanesia Home Page
 click here Jane's Oceania Home Page    
Pacific Islands Radio Stations
Jane Resture's Oceania Page
Jane's Oceania Travel Page
(E-mail: -- Rev. 1st January 2005)