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THE Maoris as a nation, although religiously particular in handing down to posterity the genealogy of their ancestors, tracing their descent from the very canoe they arrived in, yet had little or no idea of time, one day being the same as another, --no day of rest, no Sabbath, no recollection of dates, no knowledge of their age. A curious instance of this occurred some years ago. I was in an auction room in Wanganui, where the old and venerable chief Pehi was sitting. He had isolated himself for years, as he could not brook the annoyance he experienced at seeing his country peopled by another race. Few had ever seen him, although he was the most powerful chief of Upper Wanganui. What had induced him at last to come out of his shell no one ever knew. But he had come down the river that day perhaps to judge for himself whether there was any probability of his yet being able to drive the pakeha into the sea. Be it as it may, there he sat, Maori fashion, on his haunches, covered up in his mat and blankets; and his venerable and commanding appearance so struck me that I asked a Maori who stood near him what age Pehi was. The Maori looked at the old warrior, and suddenly replied, "Two hundred." "What nonsense!" I said. "What age do you take me for?" He glanced at me up and down for a minute, and said, "One hundred." I consequently gathered that Pehi was twice my age. There was a calm nobility about the old chief, seldom seen amongst Maoris, which would have been instantly acknowledged at Home had he gone to England. Pehi's real age must have been nearly ninety. He had lived in the early times when the Maori race, prior to the introduction of Christianity into New Zealand, was of so lawless and turbulent a character that no tribe was safe from the depredations of his neighbour, although living on supposed terms of friendship. For so great was their love of war, their greed of country, and their intense jealousy of each other's Mana (power), that their whole lives were spent in circumventing or destroying the tribe who had either accumulated land, or increased in number.
The Maori of the period I am now writing of must have existed in constant dread of either losing his life or liberty, or of being despoiled of his territory, his wives, and children; for, if not killed in battle, he and they probably became slaves, and were used by the conquering party for the most degrading purposes.
However careful a tribe may have been not willingly to give offence they were always subject to the lawless acts of any individual member,
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as his deeds would be visited on the whole, no explanation being either asked or received, as will be seen on perusal of the many instances I relate, where a tribe living in fancied security have suddenly found themselves surrounded by an implacable enemy, and called upon to defend their lives and property, consequent on the act of an individual who, falling out with some of his own people, had in revenge slaughtered a man of a more powerful tribe, for the mere purpose of bringing down vengeance on his own hapu, and who were oftentimes nearly destroyed for an offence they as a body had nothing to do with, and, in some instances, perfectly ignorant of the crime having been committed.
There is an old saying among us "That's all fair in love and war." Whether the Maori adopts the former I cannot say, but, evidently he does the latter, as the following incident will show: --A merchant in the City of Auckland had employed a Maori as storeman for some time prior to the war breaking out, and being an active and steady servant, nothing occurred to mar the good feeling existing between master and man. But Tamati's tribe having joined the malcontents, Tamati himself disappeared one morning without any previous warning, to join in the general melee. After the war was over, the merchant who had taken an active part in putting down the rebellion, chanced to meet his old servant while walking down Queen-street, and the following colloquy took place Hullo Tamati, where have you been; have you been fighting against us?" "Yes," he answered, excitingly, while vigorously shaking his master's hand. "I saw you at Rangiriri, and tried all I could to shoot you. I had stolen up behind a flax bush within fifty yards of you", and twice I pulled the trigger, but my gun (no good) would not go off, and you walked away." He evidently had no ill feeling against his master, quite the contrary, but thought it right not to spare even him, in actual warfare, although he had received nothing but the greatest kindness from him.
This state of things Christianity not only softened, but soon put a stop to, by teaching them to hold each one answerable for his own actions, a doctrine the Maori readily embraced; and although they have accused the Anglo-Saxon race of introducing amongst them many things which, when abused, became hurtful to them as individuals, let it also be remembered that they brought with them the blessings of peace and protection to life and property, a blessing which as a nation they had hitherto been perfect strangers to. In corroboration of which the facts narrated in these pages will, I think, bear testimony.
January, 1885. T. W. G.
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The Aborigines of New Zealand.........9
Migration of the Maori Race..........13
Traditions of the Maoris............16
Noted Toas, or Great Maori Fighting Men ............22
Makutu (Witchcraft) ....................25
Causes of War....28
The Tapu, and Warlike Character of the Maoris......31
Maori Mode of Warfare .................33
Former Inhabitants of the Auckland Peninsula .....36
A Fragment of Early Days of New Zealand, in manuscript.......40
Destruction of Ngatiwhare............48
Raids of Ngapuhi under Hongi......50
Raids of Waikato under Wherowhero...... 57
Raids of Ngatiawa under Rauparaha......60
Te Wherowhero's Attack on Pukerangiora.........63
Defence of Te Namo by Taranaki and Wi Kingi............66
Fight at Moturoa.................73
Attack of Tangahoe and Ngaruahine by Waharoa .........75
The Last of the Old Tribal Fights ............81
The Chief Te Waharoa ..................84
Maori Customs and Superstitions............97
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