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planation of their views and intentions, frag- different note-books, and, before they could ments of ancient poems or proverbs, or made be given to the public, required to be careallusions which rested on an ancient system fully arranged and re-written, and, what was of mytbology; and although it was clear still more difficult (whether viewed in refothat the most important parts of their com- rence to the real difficulty of fairly tranzmunications were embodied in these figura. lating the ancient language in which they tive forms, the interpreters were quite at fault, were composed, or my many public duties), they could then rarely (if ever) translate it was necessary that they should be transthe poems or explain the allusions, and there lated. was no publication in existence which threw “ Having, however, with much toil acany light upon these subjects, or which gave quired information which I found so useful the meaning of the great mass of the words to myself, I felt unwilling that the result of which the natives, upon such occasions, my labours should be lost to those whose made use of; so that I was compelled to duty it may be hereafter to deal with the content myself with a short general state- natives of New Zealand; and I, therefore, ment of what some other native believed undertook a new task, which I have often, that the writer of the letter intended to very often, been sorely tempted to abandon ; convey as his meaning by the fraginent but the same sense of duty which made me of the poem he had quoted, or by the allu- originally enter upon the study of the native sions he had made. I should add, that even language has enabled me to persevere up to the great majority of the young Christian the present period, when I have already Datives were quite as much at fault on these published one large volume in the native subjects as were the European interpreters. language, containing a very extensive col. "Clearly, however, I could not, as Go
lection of the ancient traditional poems, revernor of the country, permit so close a veil ligious chants and songs of the Maori race, to remain drawn between myself and the and I now present to the European reader a aged and influential chiefs, whom it was my translation of the principal portion of their duty to attach to British interests and to the ancient mythology, and of some of their British race—whose regard and confidence, as most interesting legends.”—Preface, pp.iii.-X. also that of their tribes, it was my desire to secure, and with whom it was necessary that The book thus laboriously compiled I sbould hold the most unrestricted inter- and translated, we have read with un. course. Only one thing could, under such abated interest from beginning to end. circumstances, be done, and that was to ac
It is true that, as Sir Geo. Grey himselt quaint myself with the ancient language of remarks, the stories and traditions are the country, to collect its traditional poems
often puerile and absurd, but not more and legends, to induce their priests to impart to me their mythology, and to study their
puerile or more absurd than the stories proverbs. For more than eight years I de
and traditional mythology of our own voted a great part of my available time to
ancestors, whether Celtic or Saxon, or these pursuits. Indeed I worked at this
than those handed down to us from the duty in my spare moments in every part of
old Greeks and Romans. To the latthe country I traversed, and during my many ter especially we have become reconvoyages from portion to portion of the iso ciled from having bad them taught us lands. I was also always accompanied by from our boyhood as carefully as if natives, and still, at every possible interval, they had still been part of our faith, pursued my inquiries into these subjects.
and from their being embalmed in all Orce, when I had with great pains amassed
the graces of diction and elegance, a large mass of materials to aid me in my studies, the Government House was destroy
beauty and grandeur of language by ed by fire, and with it were burnt the mate
the most famous poets of the world, rials I had so collected, and thus I was left
If, however, the mythological stories to commence again my difficult and weary
of Homer, and Hesiod, and Eschylus, ing task.
or of Virgil and Ovid, were to be sim** The ultimate result, however, was, that ply translated into ordinary prose even I acquired a great amount of information on as they now stand, an educated man these subjects, and collected a large mass of who had never heard of thein before materials, which was, however, from the (supposing you could find such a permanner in which they were acquired, in a
son) would be moved to laughter by very scattered state — for different portions
their silliness, instead of being awed of the same poem or legend were often col
by their sublimity or pleased by their lected from different natives, in very distant parts of the country; long intervals of time,
beauty. Still more would this have also, frequently elapsed after I had obtained
been the case if we could have had the one part of a poem or legend, before I could
old original stories of the people, befind a native accurately acquainted with an- fore they had passed through the other portion of it; consequently the frag- alembic of the poet's brain. The dim ments thus obtained were scattered through old gods of Ethiopia and their rebel
lious progeny, who made their heaven “ Then spake Tane-mahuta, the father of on Olympus, are all mere overgrown forests and of all things that inhabit them, children, kissing or scratching, loving or that are constructed from trees, "Nay, or fighting, feasting or quarrelling, as
It is better to rend them apart, and the humour takes them. They are all
to let the heaven stand far above us, and the human beings endowed with superna
earth lie under our feet. Let the sky betural powers, which seem sometimes to
come as a stranger to us, but the earth re
main close to us as our nursing mother.' fail them just when they are most " The brothers all consented to this pro. wanted and most likely to be called
posal, with the exception of Tawhiri-mainto play. The whole heathen my- tea, the father of winds and storms, and he, thology is, in fact, a jumble of incon- fearing that his kingdom was about to be sistency and nonsense, with a mix. overthrown, grieved greatly at the thought ture of something worse, to which of his parents being torn apart. Five of really that of the Polynesian, as given the brothers willingly consented to the sepaus by Sir George Grey, seems quite re
ration of their parents, but one of them would spectable by contrast.
not agree to it. It is true that now and then we catch
“Hence, also, these sayings of old are
found in our prayers, Darkness, darkness, the traces of something more rational
light, light, the seeking, the searching, in that would appear to be dimly symbol.
chaos, in chaos;' these signified the way in ised, as in the story of Chronos (Sa
which the offspring of heaven and earth turn), or Time, eating his own chil,
sought for some mode of dealing with their dren ; but these instances are rare and parents, so that human beings might inobscure, and contain nothing. very crease and live. wonderful when their mystery is ex- “So, also, these sayings of old time, 'The plained. Against the ordinary run of multitude, the length,' signified the multithe heathen mythology, we would back
tude of the thoughts of the children of Heathe following one given us by Sir
ven and Earth, and the length of time they
considered whether they should slay their George Grey :
parents, that human beings might be called
into existence; for it was in this manner “Men had but one pair of primitive that they talked and consulted amongst ancestors; they sprang from the vast themselves. heaven that exists bove us, and from the “But at length their plans having been earth which lies beneath us. According agreed on, lo, Rongo-na-tane, the god and to the traditions of our race, Rangi and father of the cultivated food of man, rises up, Papa, or Heaven and Earth, were the that he may rend apart the heavens and the source from which, in the beginning, all earth ; he struggles, but he rends them not things originated. Darkness then rested apart. Lo, next, Tangaroa, the god and upon the heaven and upon the earth, and father of fish and reptiles, rises up, that he they still both clave together, for they had may rend apart the heavens and the earth; pot yet been rent apart; and the children he also struggles, but he rends them not they had begotten were ever thinking apart. Lo, next, Haumiu-tikitiki, the god amongst themselves what might be the dif- and father of the food of man which springs ference between darkness and light; they without cultivation, rises up and struggles, knew that beings had multiplied and in- but ineffectually. Lo, then, Tu-matauenga, creased, and yet light had never broken the god and father of fierce human beings, upon them, but it ever continued dark, rises up and struggles, but he, too, fails in llence these sayings are found in our an- his efforts. Then, at last, slowly uprises cient religious services : “ There was dark- Tane-mahuta, the god and father of forests, ness from the first division of time, unto the of birds, and of insects, and he struggles with tenth, to the hundredth, to the thousandth,' his parents; in vain he strives to rend them that is, for a vast space of time; and these apart with his hands and arms. Lo, he divisions of times were considered as beings, pauses; bis head is now firmly planted on and were each termed a Po; and on their his mother the earth, his feet he raises up account there was as yet no world with its and rests against his father the skies, he bright light, but darkness only for the strains his back and limbs with mighty efbeings which existed.
fort. Now are rent apart Rangi and Papa, "At last the beings who had been begot- and with cries and groans of wo they shriek ten by Heaven and Earth, worn out by the aloud, Wherefore slay you thus your pacontinued darkness, consulted amongst rents? Why commit you so dreadful a themselves, saying, “Let us now determine crime as to slay us, as to rend your parents what we should do with Rangi and Papa, apart? But Tane-mahuta pauses not, he whether it would be better to slay them or regards not their shrieks and cries ; far, far to rend them apart. Then spoke Tumatau, beneath him he presses down the earth ; far, enga, the fiercest of the children of Heaven far above him be thrusts up the sky, and Earth, It is well, let us slay them.' “ Hence these sayings of olden time, It
fies affrighted through his seas; but before be fled, his children consulted together how they might secure their safety, for Tangaroa had begotten Punga, and he had begotten two children, Ika-tere, the father of fish, and Tu-te-wehiwehi, or Tu-te-wanawana, the father of reptiles.
“When Tangaroa fled for safety to the ocean, then Tu-te-wehiwehi and Ika-tere, and their children, disputed together as to what they should do to escape from the storms, and Tu-te-wehiwehi and his party cried aloud, • Let us fly inland ;' but Ikatere and his party cried aloud, “Let us fly to the sea.' Some would not obey one order, some would not obey the other, and they escaped in two parties : the party of Tu-teWehiwehi, or the reptiles hid themselves ashore: the party of Punga rushed to the
This is what, in our ancient religious services, is called the separation of Ta-wbirima-tea.
“Hence these traditions have been handed down :-'Ika-tere, the father of things which inhabit water, cried aloud to Tu-te-wehiwehi, "Ho, ho, let us all escape to the sea.'
But Tu-te-wehiwehi shouted in answer, Nay, nay, let us rather fly inland.'
"Then Ika-tere warned him, saying, ' Fly inland, then; and the fate of you and your race will be, that when they catch you, before you are cooked, they will singe off your scales over a ligted wisp of dry fern.'
“But Tu-te-wehiwehi answered him, saying, Seek safety, then, in the sea; and the future fate of your race will be, that when they serve out little baskets of cooked vegetable food to each person, you will be laid upon the top of the food to give a relish to it.'
“ Then without delay these two races of beings separated. The fish fled in confusion to the sea, the reptiles sought safety in the forests and scrubs.
“ Tangaroa, enraged at some of his children deserting him, and, being sheltered by the god of the forests on dry land, has ever since waged war on his brother Tane, who, in return, has waged war against him."-pp. 8-15.
The sort of dim and misty sublimity with which this passage begins, and the sudden allusion to the every-day meals of the people, which seem to be the principal result of it, is very characteristic.
Neither is there anything in Ovid more delicate in fancy than the closing paragraph of this chapter, a literal translation into our rough tongue of the mellifluous syllables of the vowel-sounding Polynesian :
was the fierce thrusting of Tane which tore the heaven from the earth, so that they were rent apart, and darkness was made manifest, and so was the light.'
* No sooner was heaven rent from earth tban the multitude of human beings were discovered whom they had begotten, and who had bitherto lain concealed between the bodies of Rangi and Papa.
* Then, also, there arose in the breast of Tawhiri-ma-tea, the god and father of winds and storms, a fierce desire to wage war with his brothers, because they had rent apart their common parents. He from the first had refused to consent to his mother being torn from her lord and children ; it was his brothers alone that wished for this separation, and desired that Papa-tu-a-nuku, or the Earth alone, should be left as a parent for them.
** The god of hurricanes and storms dreads also that the world should become too fair and beautiful, so he rises, follows his father to the realms above, and hurries to the sheltered hollows in the boundless skies; there he hides and elings, and, nestling in this place of rest, he consults long with his parent, and as the vast Heaven listens to the suggestions of Tawhiri-ma-tea, thoughts and plans are formed in his breast, and Tawhiri-ma-tea also understands what he should do. Then by himself and the vast Heaven were begotten his numerous brood, and they rapidly increased and grew. Tawhiri-ma-tea despatches one of them to the westward, and one to the southward, and one to the eastward, and one to the northward; and he gives corresponding names to himself and to his progeny, the mighty winds.
" He next sends forth fierce squalls, whirlwinds, dense clouds, massy clouds, dark clouds, gloomy thick clouds, fiery clouds, clouds which precede hurricanes, clouds of fiery black, clouds reflecting glowing red light, clouds wildly drifting from all quarters, and wildly bursting, clouds of thunder storms, and clouds hurriedly flying. In the midst of these Tawhiri-ma-tea himself sweeps wildly on. Alas! alas! then rages the fierce hurricane; and whilst Tane-mahuta and his gigantic forests still stand, unconscious and unsuspecting, the blast of the mouth of Tawhiri-ma-tea smites them, the gigantic trees are snapt off right in the middle; alas! alas! they are rent to atoms, dashed to the earth, with boughs and branches torn and scattered, and lying on the earth, trees and branches all alike left for the inBect, for the grub, and for loathsome rotten
** From the forests and their inhabitants, Tawhiri-ma-tea next swoops down upon the Beas, and lashes in his wrath the ocean. Ah! ah! waves steep as cliffs arise, whose summits are so losty that to look from them would make the beholder giddy ; these soon eddy in whirlpools, and Tangaroa, the god of ocean, and father of all that dwell therein,
“ Up to this time the vast Heaven has still ever remained separated from his spouse, the Earth. Yet their mutual love still continues—the soft warm sighs of her loving bosom still ever rise up to him, ascending again, and the soft jelly-fish of the long sandy beaches rolled themselves round me to protect me; then again myriads of flies alighted on me to buzz about me and lay their eggs, that maggots might eat me, and flocks of birds collected around me to peck me to pieces; but at that moment appeared there also my great ancestor, Tama-nui-kite-Pangi, and he saw the flies and the birds collected in clusters and flocks above the jelly-fish, and the old man ran, as fast as he could, and stripped off the encircling jellyfish, and behold within there lay a human being; then he caught me up and carried me to his house, and he hung me up in the roof that I might feel the warm smoke and the heat of the fire, so I was saved alive by the kindness of that old man. At last I grew, and then I heard of the fame of the dancing of this great House of Assembly. It was that which brought me here. But from the time I was in your womb, I have heard the names of these your first-born children, as you have been calling them over until this very night, when I again heard you repeating them. In proof of this I will now recite your names to you, my brothers. You are Maui-taha, and you are Maui-roto, and you are Maui-pae, and you are Mauiwaho, and as for me, I'm little Maui-thebaby, and here I am sitting before you.'
from the woody mountains and valleys, and men call these mists; and the vast Heaven, as he mourns through the long nights his separation from his beloved, drops frequent tears upon her bosom, and men seeing these, term them dew-drops."—p. 6.
The legend of Maui, which follows this, is a very curious one, and seems to have concealed in it, in some places, some higher and better meaning than would be derived from the mere story. It begins quite according to our poetic rules, by bursting in medias res without any previous explanation or men. tion of who Maui was. One day Niaui asked his brothers to tell him the place where their father and mother dwelt ? The brothers say that they do not know, and do not care, and advise him not to trouble himself. He, however, persists, for he had found something out after he was himself discovered by his relations.
The tale then proceeds :
" When his mother, Taranga, heard all this, she cried out, You dear little child, you are, indeed, my last-born, the son of my old age, therefore I now tell you your name shall be Maui-tiki-tiki-a-Taranga, or Mauiformed-in-the-top-knot-of-Taranga,' and he was called by that name.”—pp. 17-20.
“They discovered him one night whilst they were all dancing in the great house of assembly. Whilst his relations were all dancing there, they then found out who he was in this manner. For little Maui, the infant, crept into the house, and went and sat behind one of his brothers, and hid himself, so when their mother counted her children that they might stand up ready for the dance, she said — One, that's Maui-taka; two, that's Maui-roto; three, that's Mauipae; four, that's Maui-waho ;' and then she saw another, and cried out, 'Hollo, where did this fifth come from?' Then little Maui, the infant, answered, " Ah, I'm your child, too. Then the old woman counted them all over again, and said, 'Oh, no, there ought to be only four of you ; now for the first time I've seen you.' Then little Maui and his mother stood for a long time disputing about this in the very middle of the ranks of all the dancers.
"At last she got angry, and cried out, Come, you be off now, out of the house at once; you are no child of mine, you belong to some one else. Then little Maui spoke out quite boldly, and said, “Very well, I'd better be off, then, for I suppose, as you say it, I must be the child of some other person ; but indeed I did think I was your child when I said so, because I knew I was born at the side of the sea, and was thrown by you into the foam of the surf, after you bad wrapped me up in a tuft of your hair, which you cut off for the purpose; then the seaweed formed and fashioned me, as, caught in its long tangles, the ever-heaving surges of the sea rolled me, folded as I was in them, from side to side; at length the breezes and squalls which blew from the ocean drifted me on shore
His mother, Taranga, then takes him to sleep with her, and treats him with peculiar favour, which makes his brothers jealous, and they murmur among themselves, but the elder says
“ Let us take care that we are not like the children of Rangi-nui and of Papa-tu-anuku, who turned over in their minds thoughts for slaying their parents ; four of them consented, but Tawhiri-ma-tea had little desire for this, for be loved his parents; but the rest of his brothers agreed to slay them ; afterwards when Tawhiri saw that the husband was separated far from his wife, then he thought what it was his duty to do, and he fought against his brothers. Thence sprang the cause which led Tu-matauenga to wage war against his brethren and his parents, and now at last this contest is carried on even between his own kindred, so that man fights against man.”—p. 21.
We are then told that Taranga, though always present at night with her children, was never to be found in the morning, or seen during the day, and that Maui is resolved to discover
the meaning of this mystery.
He In this form he enters the cave, and therefore one night, when she and all flies along an immense way, till “at last the rest are asleep, rises and hides her he saw a party of people sitting under clothes, her apron and belt, and stops a grove of trees," and his mother lying up the doors, and every chink of the by his father, and he perched in the house, so that it is kept dark, and his trees right over them. mother sleeps on till broad daylight.
He then threw down berries upon At last, jumping up, she discovers the them, and cooed among the boughs till trick, snatches up a fragment of an old the whole of the people, " chiefs and cloak, and rushes away. Maui creeps common people alike," began to pelt after and watches her, and sees her lift him with stones. He allows himself to up a bunch of rushes, and disappear be struck by a stone thrown by his fabeneath it, and on going to examine, ther, and came fluttering down and discovers the mouth of “a beautiful struggling upon the ground, and they open cave, running quite deep into the all ran to catch him; but lo, the piearth."
geon had turned into a man." Maui, upon this, applies to his brother for information as to the place
“ Then all those who saw him were frightwhere their parents dwelt, but is met ened at his fierce glaring eyes, which were red with
as if painted with red ochre, and they said,
• Oh, it is now no wonder that he so loug * What do we care about our father, or
sat still up in the tree; had he been a bird
he would have flown off long before, but he about our mother ? Did she feed us with food till we grew up to be men? not a bit
is a man:' and some of them said, "No, of it. Why, without doubt, Rangi, or the
indeed, rather a god-just look at his form heaven, is our father, who kindly sent his
and appearance, the like has never been seen offspring down to us; Hau-whenua, or gen
before, since Rangi and Papa-tu-a-nuku tle breezes, to cool the earth and young
were torn apart.'” plants; and Hau-ma-ringiringi, or mists, to moisten them; and Hau-ma-roto-roto, or
We then learn that a considerable fice weather, to make them grow; and Toua- interval bad elapsed since Maui had rangi, or rain, to water them; and Tomai- discovered the cave, and that his morangi, or dews, to nourish them: he gave ther had never renewed her visits to these his offspring to cause our food to grow, her children, for she with difficulty reand then Papa-tu-a-nuku, or the earth, cognises him, saying that “she used to made her seeds to spring, and grow forth, see one like him when she went to visit and provide sustenance for her children in
her chidren,” and recounts the history this long-continuing world.
to the rest. ** Little Maui then answered, “What you
We have then the following curious say is truly quite correct ; but such thoughts and sayings would better become me than
passage, in which there are several very you, for in the foaming bubbles of the sea remarkable allusions to old customs and I was nursed and fed; it would please me
ceremonies of the Maoris :better if you would think over and remember the time when you were nursed at your mo- " Then his mother asked Maui, who was ther's breast ; it could not have been until sitting near her, Where do you come from? after you had ceased to be nourished by her from the westward ?' and he answered, No.' milk that you could have eaten the kinds of 'From the north-east, then ?' 'No.' • From food you have mentioned ; as for me, oh! the south-east, then?' 'No.' • From the my brothers, I have never partaken either of south, then ?' 'No.' Was it the wind her milk or of her food ; yet I love her, for which blows upon me which brought you this single reason alone - that I lay in her here to me, then ?' when she asked this, he womb; and because I love her, I wish to opened his mouth and answered, “Yes.' And know where is the place where she and my she cried out, “Oh, this, then, is indeed my father dwell.'"
child;' and she said, 'Are you Maui-taha?'
he answered, 'No.' Then said she, “ Are you We are then told, incidentally, that Maui-tikitiki-o-Taranga?' and he answered, on his first appearance,“ he had
"Yes.' And she cried aloud, “This is, infinished his first labour," which was to
deed, my child. By the winds and storms transform himself into the likeness of
and wave-uplifting gales he was fashioned,
and became a human being; welcome, oh, all manner of birds, and that now he
my child, welcome; by you shall hereafter assumed the form of a most beautiful
be climbed the threshold of the house of your pigeon, " at which his brothers were
great ancestor Hine-nui-te-po, and death quite delighted, and they had no power shall thenceforth have no power over man,' left to do anything but admire him." - Then the lad was taken by his father to