W hat I believe to be genuine and authentic the collected publications of William Colenso

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Part II.—What I have gleaned since.

§ I. Positive (if such it may be called)!

I. Myths, or Legends.

1. The Myth of Ngahue.

IN all the legends and myths of the Maoris that I have heard recited, and taken down, and received from them in writing (including, also, those published by Sir G. Grey390), I have only once met with any mention of the Moa; and this is in the very ancient Mythe of Ngahue;391 who, it is said, visited New Zealand before the so-called migration hither from “Hawaiki:” therefore it is that I place this legend first in order. In this legend, which is a particularly interesting one, the Moa is mentioned twice; but then only in the most casual way—provokingly so! I shall just give here the two short sentences from that original Maori tale; as I intend translating the whole of this brief legend with explanatory notes shortly. Strangely enough, the translation of this tale given by Sir G. Grey (supra) omits one of those two sentences which mention the Moa, or I would willingly quote from his published translation.

Of Ngahue it is said, that he arrived in New Zealand and visited both Islands; and on his returning from the South, Arahura (= Westland), and on his way to the East Coast, Whangaparaoa (= Cape Runaway), “he killed the Moa at Te Wairere.”392 [81] On his return to Hawaiki he related that “he had seen the land containing the green jade stone and the Moa.”

2. The Legend of the Destruction of the Moas by Fire, etc.

A few years ago, while engaged in prosecuting my Maori etymological enquiries for the New Zealand Lexicon, I received the following from an old intelligent chief of the East Coast respecting the Moa:– “Anciently the land was burnt up by the fire of Tamatea; then it was that the big living things, together with the Moas, were all burnt. Two Moas, however, survived with difficulty that destruction—but only two; one of these lived at Te Whaiiti, and one at Whakapunake.393 The feather of this one at Whakapunake has been seen and found; it was preserved as a plume decoration for the heads of dead chiefs of note, when their bodies were laid out on a sumptuous bier for the funeral obsequies. The name given to that feather was ko-te-rau-o-piopio (= the special plume of Piopio). The forefathers of the Maoris heard of the Moa, but they never saw its body, only its bones.”

Falling-in lately with an old chief of the Ngatiporou tribe, from Tokomaru, near the East Cape, and enquiring of him, if he knew anything of the Moa? He replied, “No; all that was known by them was the old tradition from their forefathers, that the Moas all perished through the fire of Tamatea, save one which escaped to the mountain Whakapunake; where it was said to sit in its cave with its mouth open, and hence to live on air.”

Here I would observe, that Tamatea is a very ancient name in the New Zealand mythological history, and is frequently mentioned both in their proverbs and songs. It occurs, also, several times with varying suffixes full of meaning in their old astronomical lore (of which more anon). Tamatea is said to be one of the sons (or grandson) of Tato, who, according to some genealogies, was the fifth lineal descendant from the first man Rangi = the sky; their names are thus given together in one of their old genealogies:– “Now I will begin to rehearse the coming hither of Tamatea, his fathers, and elders; these are the names of his children, Rongokako, etc.; these are all the children of Tato.”394 And these are also said to have come hither in the waka (“canoe”) Takitimu. While another genealogy (that of the Hawke’s Bay tribe-Ngatikahungunu), commencing also with Tato, [82] gives his son as Rongokako, whose son was Tamatea, whose son was Kahungunu, and from this man (the founder of their tribe) down to the present generation are just twenty~one generations. In another old story we have the following:– “When Tamatea arrived, he burnt up the tangled mass of herbage and scrub from the surface, then it was that man, possessing useful land, dwelt and lived well.”

3. Of the “Feathers,” etc., of the Moa.

On my reading the first part of my paper on the Moa,395 a discussion ensued; when Mr. Locke, who was present, said that he had formerly heard when travelling in the interior among the Urewera tribe, a very similar relation from them in reply to his enquiries respecting the Moa; and that he had also heard more than once from the old chiefs on the East Coast, south of Hawke’s Bay, that they had themselves seen the feathers of the Moa, which were anciently used for head decoration. As this, about the feathers and their use, was new to me (as coming from these persons), I lost no time in making further enquiries in that direction, and the following (extracted from several letters) is the result:–

1. (May 7, 1879.) “This is a return to your questions concerning the Moa. I have made diligent enquiry of the chief Hawea and others. At that very time, too (when the letter arrived), the chief James Waiparera was here staying; he had come from his place at Patangata to conduct hither certain visitors from Rotorua and from Tauranga. They all heard me read to the chief Hawea your long letter of enquiries, even unto the end of it. Then they said, to take up each question separately; and this was also done. Then they all, including Hawea, said to me: Write to him (Colenso), and say, No man of old ever saw the Moa ; the last of men, perhaps, who ever saw the Moa, was in the time of Noah;396 because it was at the time of the overturning in the days of (or by) Mataoho397 that the race of Moas died, whose bones are now seen. The men of the after times did not (see it); the men also who preceded Wahotapaturangi398 did not see it, down to the times of Te Heheu; and now here also am I, an old man, relating this. All those men never saw the Moa, also myself I never saw it. [83] I cannot possibly tell a lie in this matter to thee (emphatic), and say, I saw, or I heard of it. Those men of olden time, as I have said, never saw399 the Moa—that is; its body, its size, its length, its height, its feathers—never once. No man ever heard of the taste of its flesh, and of its appearance; or of its fat, or its skin, or its being sweet or bitter to the taste.400 For if, indeed, those men of old had known anything of the Moa, they would have left that knowledge to be talked of and handed down to the men of after times. But inasmuch as those men of the olden time did not know, therefore it is most certain that these men who came after them did not know also. Again: you enquire, ‘How is it that the Maoris of to-day know these bones which they see to be of the Moa?’ According to my way of thinking, our old ancestors saw those said bones and called them so, and thus it is that we now know them to be such. But no man of old knew anything more of them, so that they knew it (as) food, or the real living appearance of its bones (when clothed with flesh), which are now seen by us bigger than those of a horse! Hawea also says, No man of old before the time of Wahotapaturangi knew anything of the food of the Moa, or of its habitat. This phrase, ‘the air-eating Moa’ (=te Moa kaihau), is only a common proverbial saying among us; it is often applied to a man; a man-moa is such-a-one who turns away from his food and lives on air. Again, with reference to the feathers of the Moa, it is said that the feather called the plume of Piopio (Te rau-o-piopio) is from the Moa. When the chiefs of the Maoris die, then this feather is stuck in their hair, and the body so decorated is placed on the raised platform (prepared for it), and the friends and visitors, on seeing it, exclaim, ‘Thou art good (or beautiful), O plume of Piopio!’ Here ends what was said by Hawea and his friends, visitors, about the Moa.”

2. (July 4, 1879.) “Referring to your further enquiries about the feather of the Moa, called the plume of Piopio, Hawea says,—there is no known body whence came this feather; the body in which it had been fixed was that of the Moa at the mountain Whakapunake; it was a feather from it. It was blown hitherwards by the winds, and, on its being seen, drifting, it was picked up. When a chief died, that feather was taken and used for head decoration while lying on the ornamented stage, or bier; and when the corpse was finally borne away, that feather was taken out of the hair and preserved for some other chief who should afterwards die. Hawea also says that the look of this feather was just like that of the Peacock, that it did not differ a bit in its glossiness and variety of colours, in its [84] length, and in its ocellated appearance; its great beauty altogether was exactly that of the feather of the Peacock.”

3. (July 18, 1879.) “This is in answer to your new and repeated questions to Hawea concerning the said. feather called Te rau-o-piopio (= the plume of Piopio) and To Kowhakaroro; this is what he says:– I will first speak of the body whence came that feather. I have heard formerly the old men talking and saying that the Moa fed on air (or wind); that it never walked about, but kept its head always turning. The Moa race was killed through the overturning of the Earth by (or in the time of) Mataoho; therefore it is that only the bones are now found. Another saying of theirs, that one Moa only escaped from that destruction, and this one dwells within the cave at the mountain Whakapunake; but this (saying) perhaps is false, and this is my reason for saying so:– In my time (early days) a travelling party went thither, and I saw how they were teased about it on their return. A feather, however, was found stuck fast on a white pine tree (Kahika), which was brought back. When Matawhaiti died, (the ancestor of Tukuwaru,401) this said feather was stuck in his hair, and it was afterwards reserved for that purpose of decorating the heads of deceased chiefs when laid in state upon the bier. I, myself, saw that feather on that occasion; and so did (many of) the men of Te Wairoa and of Te Whakakii (in Hawke’s Bay), they also saw it. That one feather bore two names—Te rau-o-piopio, and Te Kowhakaroro. It was like the feather of the Peacock, that is in its ocellated appearance; very likely if that bird, the Peacock, had been a native of this island, then that feather would be certainly said to be a Peacock’s feather. All those are Hawea’s words,”

4. (July 21, 1879.) “Shortly after my last letter to you was written, a visiting party arrived here from the neighbourhood of the mountain Whakapunake, and we again talked—about the Moa, on account of your enquiries. Those men say, in addition to what I have already informed you,—that the famed Moa of Whakapunake bore twelve of those beautiful round-eyed feathers, resembling those of the Peacock. From (signed) Hawea.”402

II. Proverbs.

1. He koromiko te wahie i taona ai te Moa.

The firewood with which the Moa was baked was of Koromiko (Veronica salicifolia). [85]

This is often said on seeing the hissing sap-like exudation issuing from the branches of the Koromiko shrub when fired, green or wet; which sap is also said to be the fat, or oil, of the Moa.

Note, here, the mode of cooking, as shown by the verb (tao), is that of the earth-oven or haangi; but the koromiko shrub is never used for such a purpose, the wood being much too small.

[I may here mention that the late Sir Donald McLean, who had kindly endeavoured in former years to glean some information for me relative to the Moa, in his travelling in his official capacity and meeting with the old Maori chiefs, told me that this common saying was all he had met with.]

But then a similar proverb, or saying, is also used concerning this very same shrub when burnt green, connecting it with Tutunui, the pet whale of Tinirau (which whale was killed and roasted and eaten by Kae, as fully related in their myths);403 namely—“Tena te kakara o Tutunui! = Excellent is the nice smell of (the whale) Tutunui (roasting)!

2. He mihiau te kowhatu i taona ai te Moa.

Mihiau was the (kind of) stone with which the Moa was cooked, or baked.

This apparently simple saying has given me a world of trouble. During several years I have been enquiring the kind of stone called mihiau, but with little or no success. One intelligent old chief only, seemed to know something about it; according to his statement, a mihiau was one of three sorts of stone anciently used for cutting and lacerating their flesh in times of grief, and death of relatives—waiapu, paretao, and mihiau—and all three were, I think, of a volcanic nature (Waiapu-obsidian), and therefore could not be used for common baking purposes; besides, their own highly superstitious fears as to any desecration of the tapu would have prevented their so using them. Has this any hidden, or obsolete, reference to the “fire of Tamatea” (supra)? which is said to have originated from the country near the burning mountain Tongariro.

Further, the name itself is a strange one. Etymologically it means—thy expressed grief after something dead, or gone; mihi = grief, or affection shown after something absent;404 au = thy, or thine; and as such the name would be a highly poetical one for a cutting bit of sharp stone used only for lacerating purposes on account of the departed.

3. Ko te huna i te Moa!

All have been destroyed as completely as the Moa! Said of a tribe—of a fighting party—of the people of a village—or of a family, when all have been surprised and killed—or carried off by death. [86]

4. Kua ngaro i te ngaro o te Moa!

All have wholly disappeared, perished, just as the Moas perished; none left! (A saying similar to the foregoing, and used under similar ciroumstances).

5. Na te Moa i takahi te raataa.

The Raataa tree (Metrosideros robusta) was trampled down, when young, by the Moa—hence its irregular growth. (The meaning being, early evil habits are not to be afterwards overcome. “Just as the twig is bent, the tree’s inclined.”)

6. Ko te Moa kai hau!

Even as the Moa feeding on air!

This saying, which is also very ancient, arose from the belief of the myth that the Moa (the one that had escaped from the universal fiery destruction) resided in a cave on the top of the mountain Whakapunake, with its mouth wide open; hence it is said to feed on the wind, or air.

7. He Moa oti koe, ina ka kore koe e kai?

Art thou, indeed, a Moa, that thou dost not eat?

8. He Moa kai hau!

A Moa living on air!

9. He puku Moa!

A Moa’s stomach, or appetite!

Those last four proverbial sayings, nearly alike in meaning, are used—(1) in banter of a man in health who has no appetite for food; and (2) of a woman who at meal times cares not to eat, through being very deeply in love—her lover being absent, or his person not agreeable to her tribe and family, and so her affections are crossed, etc., etc.

Of this latter we have a notable instance in Hinemoa, the woman whose name is handed down in a tradition of the olden time, as having swum in the night from the mainland at Rotorua to Mokoia, the island in the large lake there, to meet her lover, Tutanekai, the object of her desire. Hence, too, as her people suspected her, seeing she did not care to eat, etc., she got the provisional name of Hinemoa, which subsequently stuck to her; like many other names of very frequent occurence among the Maoris, through derision, accident, fault, war, etc. Hine = young lady, daughter of rank; and Moa = the mythical animal—i.e., the young lady who left her food, or lived on air (just as the Moa), on account of her love for her sweetheart.

Her name has been given to the Colonial Government steamer ‘Hinemoa.’

There is still, however, another meaning belonging to the words “He kai hau; namely, that it is the name of an ancient malediction or curse used by sorcerers; in which death is invoked on him who makes a practice of receiving gifts without giving any in return, so that he pines away and dies. This, in connection with the mythical creature the Moa, might [87] sometimes also have had something to do, among such a dreadfully superstitious race, with sudden and unaccountable loss of appettite. This remark, however, can only be fully appreciated and considered by those who well knew the ancient Maoris in their old times of superstitious fear and dread; when everything which happened and could not be satisfactorily accounted for, was immediately placed to the malevolence of some fancied supernatural demon (atua), or human sorcerer (kai-makutu).

III. Poetry.

1. In a long and ancient poem, or chaunt, called “the Lament of Turaukawa”—in the midst of many similar references to the oldest Myths and Legends—occur these lines: –

———– Kua rongo ’no au
Na Hikuao te Korohiko,
Ko te rakau i tunua ai te Moa
‘A rewa aana hinu.”405

I have indeed heard (from olden times),

That the Korohiko406 (shrub) was by Hikuao
The very tree with which the Moa was roasted
When all its fat was melted down.

2. A lament, or dirge, over the slain, concludes with these words: –

“Mowairokiroki, ko te huna i te Moa,
I makere iho ai te tara o te marama.”407

Very calm and placid now the raging billows have become,

Even as (it were) at the total destruction of the Moas,
When the cusps of the new moon dropped off and fell down (to earth).

3. In another song is a very peculiar reference to the Moa, such as I have never heard of or met with anywhere else, except in Hawea’s relation respecting the use of that one feather (ante). The song itself being very short, just one stanza, I shall give it in its entirety with an almost literal translation: –

“E! muri koe ahiahi ra,
Tango mai te korero, o namata,
O nahe rawa, o nga kahika;
E, kei runga riro,
Kei a Kahungunu;
Ko te manu hou nei e, te Moa,
Hei tia iho mo taku rangi.”408

Alas! afterwards do thou in the evening hours

Produce and begin the talk of old,
The story of the very earliest times
Of the great ancient men;
Thus let it be, begin with the very beginning of all,
[88] With the chief Kahungunu;
So that the bird’s plume here present,
That is to say of the Moa
Shall be stuck into the hair of my principal chief (or beloved one).

Meaning, the principal one spoken of, or being now bewailed.

I should say (1) that this song is not a very ancient one; (2) that it must have been sung by some of the Maoris of the East Coast, descendants of Kahungunu; (3) that Hawea’s statement throws great light on it; (4) that such a song would be highly suitable, and wholly in keeping with what would be sure to take place, as preliminaries, on the assembling together at the death of a chief,—say, the first day or evening of meeting; (5) that on such occasions the assemblage would begin with their tribal progenitor (Kahungunu) and come down gradatim to the one lately deceased (lying before them), who would thus have the last word; (6) that it is more particularly applicable (from the last two words) as a lament over a young person of high rank.

4. Another song from the East Coast concludes with this stanza:

“Tu tonu Puhirake, ko te Moa kai hau,
He whakareinga rimu ki o pou, raia.”409

Which, as the song is a peculiarly taunting one, may be thus translated: –

Poor betrothed beauty, there thou art alone and forlorn, standing continually in the midst of the dense thicket, even as the Moa feeding on air, thy posts (supports or fences) are only for the long, shaggy, ash-coloured, lichen to fly and adhere to, nothing more!

To the Maori those two lines possess a whole multitude of suitable images and ideas.

5. In an ancient dirge-like song, or chaunt,410 of great poetical depth and beauty, and very carefully composed,—often used in times of heavy disaster and death, the old and common proverbial saying already noticed,411 (“Kua ngaro i te ngaro o te Moa!”), is brought in with thrilling effect at the end of the third stanza.

Here I may mention that, in 1852, at a season of extraordinary calamity here in Hawke’s Bay, I both re-wrote (a-la-Maori) with variations, and translated into English, this composition; and on my reciting it, in Maori, before several chiefs who were assembled here from several places in the southern portion of this North Island (one of whom was the late Karaitiana), I was not a little surprised to find they could all join in many of its parts, including the ending of all its stanzas. I then discovered that it had long been a truly national poem (so to speak), and, like very many others [89] of their poetical effusions, altered from time. to time to suit the present occasion.412

I have carefully gone through more than 900 pieces of Maori poetry, including Sir G. Grey’s published collection, some of them very long (and not a few of them written coarsely in a wretched hand); indeed, I may say I have laboriously studied them all in the course of many years, and these few lines which I have here brought before you are all that I have been able to discover in them relating to the Moa—just those five small scant and antiquated sentences! There are, however, a few others containing the bare word “Moa,” but those are merely references to names of persons, or poetical contractions of other common words having in them those three letters, and possessing little or no bearing on the subject before us.

IV. Names of Places and of Men of the olden Time which contain the word “Moa.”

Of such I have obtained several; but—as I cannot, in a single instance, be sure of the word or term in question strictly belonging to the extinct auimal or bird Moa—I shall defer the consideration of this part of my subject to the second (or negative) head of this enquiry.

§ 2. Negative.

1. In all the many legends and myths of the Maori, some of which are of great antiquity—from before the time of their common genealogical period or beginning, commonly known as “Hawaiki,” or “no Hawaiki”—there is no mention of, nor reference to, the Moa, save that one solitary and brief intimation I have already quoted.413 And yet there were plenty of opportunities in them of bringing the living Moa prominently forward, if that animal were then known, or, at all events, of some casual allusion to it, or to their manner of capturing and killing it. As, for instance (among many others), in their several fables of birds, in which the birds converse one with another, etc., as may be seen in the Fable of the Great Battle of the Land and Sea Birds;414 in that of the Hokioi (another large and extinct bird), and the Kaahu (hawk); in the myths of the slaying of those several Saurian monsters;415 and in the old legends of Maui, and of Hatupatu and his brothers, in which the various birds are made to play such an important part;—those ancient stories are all silent concerning the Moa. So, again, where in them special mention is made of the food, particularly birds, to be found in plenty in certain regions; such as was said of the chief Takakopiri, in the legend of Kahureremoa—that “he was a great chief, and had abundance of food of the best kinds on his estates; plenty of potted birds of all kinds (pigeons, and tuis) , and kiwis, and kiores, and wekas, and eels;” [90] and again it is said, the question was asked, “What is the name of yonder mountain? and they answered, That is Otawa. And the young girl asked again, Is the country of that mountain rich in food? and they replied, Oh, there are found kiores, and kiwis, and wekas, and pigeons, and tuis; why, that mountain is famed for the variety and number of birds that inhabit it.”416

2. Further: with reference to the very great use of feathers as ornaments for the hair, which were greatly prized by the chiefs of olden days, there is also no mention, no allusion, however distant, to any feathers of the Moa in any of their legends; although there are plenty to the feathers of other birds, sea and land,—both as head decorations and as forming cloaks, for which latter purpose those of the Kiwi were commonly used. And from the now known fact, of the Moa being also a struthious bird and a congener of the Kiwi, and its common body feathers equally as well if not better adapted, being stronger and tougher, for the feather-cloaks of the ancient Maoris. How are those omissions to be accounted for if the Moa were known? Especially if (as Hawea says) that one feather he had seen was so surpassingly handsome! In the old Legend of Marutuahu we read of the killing of birds for food in the interior, and of the young chief, who had been out hunting and spearing birds, dressing himself finely in his cloaks and feathers, when, “after combing his hair he tied it up in a knot, and stuck fifty red Kaaka (= Parrot) feathers in his head, and amongst them he placed the plume of a white heron, and the tail of a huia as ornaments; he thus looked extremely handsome, and said to his slave, Now let us go: for he now appeared as handsome as the large-crested cormorant.”417

3. Their proverbs, too,—many of which are very old—contain no other allusion to the Moa than those few very meagre and misty mythical ones I have already quoted; and yet they deal largely with all Nature, animate and inanimate, known to the New Zealander; the various animals, particularly birds, coming in for a full share of notice; of those drawn from birds alone—their natural habits, powers, feathers, appearance, uses etc., I have collected nearly 70. Here, too, we find proverbs in plenty relating to food and delicacies,– especially to what, being wild, was obtained by hunting and snaring :—e.g.—

Haere i muri i te tuara o Te Whapuku,
Kia kai ai koe
i te kai whakairo o te rangi.” [91]

— When you travel, join yourself to the company of the great chief Te Whapuku, that you may eat of all the choicest delicacies (particularly game and wild fowl) ;—which delicates are stated to be (by an old Maori chief commenting thirty years ago on this very saying) “birds” (pigeons and tuis) “potted in their own fat in calabashes, parrots, and ground-parrots (kaakaapoo), rats, and eels, and berries of the tawa and hinau trees.”—Another pregnant omission!

4. If their old proverbs contained little allusion to the Moa, their old poetry contained still less (as far as is known to me.) And here I may also briefly mention two peculiar quaint poetical ditties of the old Maoris, both being long laments after nice and plentiful food formerly known and eaten; in which every chief article of pleasant food is severally noticed, together with its habitat. The one being a kind of nursery-song, chaunted to a child while nursing it; the other the lament of the chief Kahungunu (who lived twenty-one generations back), when away in the cold Patea country in the interior; in both of which, while mention is made of many birds, no allusion whatever is made to the big fleshy food-yielding Moa!

5. Moreover, while the ancient Maori possessed charms and spells, and prayers for luck in plenty for everything they did, particularly for fishing and fowling and the snaring of rats; and such, too, varied for every different animal whether of the land or of the sea; how is it that there is none for the Moa? which must by far have been the most difficult to catch or kill; or, at all events, by far the biggest game of all! Here we have, still extant, those charms and spells for being successful in taking the various birds—kiwi (Apteryx), kaakaapoo (ground-parrot), koitareke, (quail), weka (wood-hen), kaakaa (brown parrot), kautuku (white heron), huia (Heteralocha), kereru (pigeon), tuii (parson-bird), pukeko (swamp-hen), parera (duck), whio (blue mountain-duck), kawau (shag), and toroa (albatross)—besides the various petrels (?) taiko, toanui, tiitii, and oi; some of those charms being also of great antiquity, and yet there is none for capturing the Moa! This alone has ever been to me an unanswerable argument.

6. In travelling in the interior of this North Island—largely I may say—more than forty years back, I have often had pointed out to me the old land-marks of the game preserves of the ancient Maori, particularly of the ground game—as quail, kiwi, kaakaapoo (ground-parrot), and weka; and the mountain-passes where, in the breeding-season, the tiitii (petrel) was taken in a foggy night by firelight; and also the cliffs on rivers which were smoked and scaled for the fat young of the kawau (shag) ere they were able to fly; even then, at that time, some of those birds had become extinct (as, notably, the quail and ground-parrot), the young men had never seen them, but the old ones had, and caught and eaten them too, in great plenty; and [92] while they all knew them well by description and oft-told tale, there was nothing whatever known or rehearsed of the habitats of the colossal Moa, save the mythical dwelling of the only one on the top of the high mountain Whakapunake!

7. Further still, I think some notice, however slight, should be taken of the great predilection of the ancient Maori towards making pets of wild animals, even including those of the most extraordinary and bizarre kinds, as we may see in their ancient legends of “Kae and the Pet Whale of Tinirau,”418 and of “The Killing of Rataore,” the monstrous Saurian pet of the chief Tangaroamihi.419 Those stories, however, are both very old and almost prehistorical. Then we have the account of the tame lizard pet of the chief Kahungunu, named Pohokura, which was carried by him from Taputeranga, in Hawke’s Bay, to Te Awarua, on the western flank of the Ruahine mountain-range, near the head of the Rangitikei river (about twenty-one generations back), and got loose there, and was not recovered. This lizard pet is still believed by the old Maoris to be dwelling in those lonely mountain forests! Captain Cook and other early visitors tell us how very much the New Zealanders were addicted to pet animals; and, in my own time, I have known of their pet indigenous birds—parrots, paradise ducks, tuiis, ngoiros and karoros (two gulls), huias, and kautukus (those two last being kept solely for their long tail and wing-feathers). They also formerly petted extremely, and made great fuss over, the then newly introduced animals, as pigs, dogs, cats, and goats.420 The tuii (or parsonbird), which was a great imitator and dearly prized by the ancient Maoris, was even taught a song,421 which it spoke tolerably well; of such first-rate talking specimens, however, I have only seen two, and those more than forty years ago. Here again, reviewing the past relative to pet animals, [93] one is led to enquire,—Why, seeing we have such a long line of testimony from the earliest times as to pets among this people, why is it there is nothing said or handed down concerning the Moa?422

8. Lastly, there remain to be considered the several usages, or meanings, of this word: —Moa, in the Maori language—exclusive of the term as applied to the extinct bird, or rather (by the old Maoris) to its fossil bones; those may thus be classed:—1. Simply as a commoon noun for other things. 2. (still in its simple form) as an abbreviation of the proper names of other things, or of states of nature, or of persons. 3. As a name for places, and for men of the olden time, having also a word either prefixed or suffixed. 4. As a compound word used for names of things. 5. As reduplicated, and also with the causative particle prefixed.

(1.) The word Moa is also used for—1. That peculiar kind of boring instrument or drill423 with which the old Maoris quickly bored the hardest substances known to them, as the green jade-stone, the thick part of a common black bottle, etc. (this little instrument was also by some tribes called a pirori); 2. For a raised plot, or long ridge for cultivation in a garden or plantation (a northern word); 3. For a coarse-growing sea-side grass (Spinifex hirsutus), which is also called turikakoa,424 though this last term more properly belongs to its globular involucrate heads of female flowers, from the old use made of them; 4. For a certain kind of stone; or, for a layer or stratum of stone.

(2.) As an abbreviation; mostly, however, in poetry, and in colloquial language: e.g. –

1. “Horahia mai ano kia takoto i te aio

Moa’ i rokiroki.”425

(speaking of a very great calm).

2. For a person: –

“ Hua atu, e Moa,

Ka wareware ano
Ka’ te hapai mai.”426 [94]

Here, however, this may be the full name; though I doubt it.

(3.) 1. As names of places:—e.g.,

“Te Moa-kai-hau. (See Legends and Proverbs, ante).

“Te Kaki-o-te-moa = the neck of the Moa,

*Pukumoa = belly, or bowels (of the) Moa.

Papamoa = Moa flat; also, Spinifex flat.

Taramoa = Moa’s spur; also, Bramble (Rubus australis).

*Taramoa rahi = spur of the big Moa.

*Hauturu moanui = Hauturu big Moa:—i.e. possessing, or having had there, a big Moa. (There are several places named Hauturu).

*Moakura = red, or brownish, Moa.

Rauhamoa = said to be the name also of a bird.

*Moakatino = big, or fine, Moa or Moas.

*Otamoa = Moa eaten raw.

*Haraungamoa = Moa, or Moas, observed, or watched, or sought; or, the spot where the skin of a Moa was merely grazed, and it got off.

*Tarawamoa = stand, or stage, erected for hanging dead Moa.

*Moawhiti = startled Moa, or doubling Moa.

*Moawhanganui = Moa long waited for.

*Moawhangaiti = Moa briefly waited for.

*Moarahi = big Moa.

Moawhango = hoarse-sounding Moa.

2. As names of persons:– e.g.,

*Tawakeheimoa—this may mean, Tawake able to meet a Moa; or, Tawake for, or to be at, the Moa; or Tawake to yoke (i.e. hang, or put, a band, or rope around the neck of) a Moa.

*Te Kahureremoa—this may mean, the garment which fell off, or was thrown aside in fleeing from a Moa; or the garment of the person who ran on to, or over, a bed in a food cultivation (an offence); or the garment which was blown on to it.

Rongoiamoa,—the name of one of the men who is said, according to some legends, to have brought the kumara (sweet potatoe) to New Zealand. I have great doubts, however, of the termination of the word being derived from the animal Moa; it may rather be taken as amoa—carried on the shoulders; although the passive of that verb (amo) generally has the termination kia, sometimes wia; should it prove to have been derived from the Moa, then of course, it shows its high antiquity.

(Those three proper names are mentioned early in their history, and are all found in the two legends of Hinemoa, and of Te Kahureremoa; all three might also have been originally the names of ancestors in the long past!) [95]

*Hinetemoa,—derived like Hinemoa (ante) but having a different meaning.427

*Te Awheramoa,—this may mean, to surround a Moa or Moas, through going behind; or, to relate, or point out, the precise place where a Moa or Moas had been seen.

Raumoa = Moa’s feather: also, a variety of New Zealand flax (Phormium): also, a blade of grass (Spinifex).

Himoa = ? to fish with a hook and line having a bit of Moa’s bone (fossil) attached as a lure—as the Maoris formerly did at the East Cape.

Karamoa,—this may mean the same as Taramoa; the k being substituted for t, which is sometimes done.

(N.B.—Those preceding names of persons and of places have been obtained from all parts of the North Island.)

(4.) As a compound word for names of things, etc.; e.g.:–

Raumoa,428 ) names of 3 varieties

Kauhangaamoa, ) of New Zealand Flax
Karuamoa, ) (Phormium).

Hinamoa—a grub in wood, eating and making it rotten, and yet having a fair outside.

Rauhamoa—a large bird.

Taramoa, ) Bramble

Tataramoa, ) (Rubus australis).

Tautauamoa—a dispute about a piece of land or bed (moa) in a cultivation; a quarrel between a few of the same tribe; a private quarrel. [96]

Moai = peaceful, quiet—as the land in time of peace.

“Maimoa (v. and n.), = a decoy-bird—as a tame parrot, kept solely for that purpose; to decoy by means of a tame bird, or bait.

This is another highly peculiar word, deserving of notice. The term is composed of two words, mai = hither, towards, hitherwards; and moa = the name of the extinct animal. Is it possible that this word is derived from its very old original use as a term for the decoy for the living Moa? Nothing could have better expressed it. Maimoa = (come) hither Moa; or the means (whatever that originally was) of making the Moa to come towards its hunter or his snares, or the better to secure it.

Some forty years ago I found the word largely and comprehensively in use among the scattered Urewera tribes in the mountainous interior; it is also a general word.

*Taniwha-moawhango = a monster having a hollow cry like a hoarse Moa; or, a monster-like Moa with a deep, hoarse, grating cry.

Another very peculiar proper name, a relic of the olden time, carrying almost its own interpretation! At all events I can get no more. I have found only one old chief who had ever heard of the word, and that in his boyhood, but who could not explain it, save that that was the name of the creature, which was much feared (superstitiously). It is said that its hoarse, repulsive cry was heard always beneath in the earth (not unlikely some subterranean noise caused by volcanic action). Curiously enough, there is a river in the Patea country (interior) named Moawhango429 (= hoarse-sounding Moa). This river runs in some places very deep below in the earth far beyond the light of day, and there, perhaps, may have a hoarse, hollow murmuring. Thirty-five years ago I crossed this river more than once on long poles thrown across the narrow surface chasm; I could not see the water below in looking down through the rift!

(5.) As reduplicated, and also with the causative particle prefixed; e.g.:

Moamoa, ) Small spherical shining mineral

Hamoamoa, ) balls, the size of marbles, found in the earth in various places; as (by myself) near Cape Turnagain; perhaps iron pyrites.430 [97]

Whakamoa—to make up, or raise a plat, or heap of small stones or of earth; to make a raised bed of earth for planting, as in a food cultivation.

Whakamaimoa—to show kindness to rough, undeserving people; to make tame, civil.

Those several names of places, persons, and things, selected from a large number, would of themselves prove of great service to us in our researches if they could be depended on; as showing that, in some indefinite period in the far past, they applied to the animal in question. But in almost every case they may mean (or originally have meant) something else; for some of them may have had reference to a man, or men, named Moa; others (as Papamoa, Raumoa) to the sea-side grass called Moa, etc.

lt was a common custom with the Maoris (and it is not yet abolished—indeed, it seems of late, during the last 20-25 years, to have been strongly renewed), to name a child after some ancestor of the olden time, which was not infrequently repeated again and again in the course of succeeding generations, as may be found in their genealogical lists of descent—much the same as obtains among us. In some cases, too, the name of Moa, when derived from that of a man of ancient times, may have originally been only a part of his name—the beginning, middle, or ending431 of it, as the case might have been—having subsequently had something else added thereto, as is now still being done by them. Nevertheless I must, in all fairness, allow that it seems to me that such names of places, etc., all Moawhiti, Moarahi, Otamoa, Haraungamoa, etc. (which I have marked with an asterisk in the foregoing list), are derived from the animal in question, viz., the Moa, and that, too, when in a living state. And, if I am right in my deduction, or conjecture, such also serves to carry the age in which the Moa lived very far back indeed in the history of the Maori; as the names of places were before anything else with them, and were also never changed.432 And this will the more strongly appear to be the case, for, as [98] we have seen, apart from such we have no traces of the animal in question (save fragmentary and mythical ones) left in their language.

Additional Remarks.

A few other additional remarks I would also offer; gleaned, I may say, by the way we have come in our enquiry: –

1. The very peculiar names (Rau-o-piopio and Kowhakaroro) repeatedly given by the chief Hawea to that “one Moa’s feather” he had seen:—observe (1.) that such is not that of the bird itself; it is not here called a Rau (or Piki) Moa = the plume or fine feather of the Moa; while such is commonly the case with the feathers of other birds which are prized for head decoration,—which are always named after the bird itself; as, Rau (or Piki) huia = the plume or fine feather of the huia,—Rau (or Piki) kotuku = the plume or fine feather of the kotuku (white crane),—Rau parera = the plume of the duck, etc., etc. (2.) That the term Rau-o-piopio would properly mean—feather, or plume, of (the bird) Piopio; and there is a bird of that name known to the Maoris; or, rather, I should say, there are three! all widely differing from each other :-(a.) the New Zealand thrush (Turnagra crassirostris);—(b.) a small reddish bird;—(c.) a bird (unknown to me) said to have been a kind of ground game and largely used as food, but now extinct!433 Of these three birds I only know the first one, having both seen and heard it in the forests on the west side of the Ruahine mountain range, although it is a South Island bird, and but rarely met with so far north as Hawke’s Bay; it is also called by the Maoris korokio, and koropio; by this last name it is best known in these parts. As the first of these three birds (the thrush) is not unfrequently mentioned by the Maoris in their songs, owing to its cry (piopio), and also in their proverbs, I have made special enquiry, whether the said “one feather” bearing its name could have belonged to it; but met with a direct negative. Neither have I succeeded any better in all my endeavours to learn why that one feather should have obtained those two long names. (3.) The other term for that one feather, “Kowhakaroro,” has, curiously enough, a peculiar meaning, that is etymologically,—a reference to another bird, the karoro, or large white and brown gull (i.e., it may have had some such meaning). One meaning of the word kowha is,—favourable consideration, kind gracious words or dealings, a kind parting word, regret, a gift, souvenir, etc. And the karoro, with its long and melancholy cry, is also mentioned in their legends, as causing them, the old Maoris of ancient [99] days, to lament when they heard it;434 so that I can well perceive how those two words put together would form an appropriate name, among such a poetical and imaginative race, for such a feather only so used, viz., the last melancholy parting gift of the karoro. But still this may be fanciful on my part.

2. That “one feather” is also plainly and fully described by Hawea as closely resembling the tail-feather of the peacock. Now, here three things are observable :—(1.) That such is not the case with any Struthious bird known, especially with the remaining New Zealand one, the kiwi (Apteryx, sp.); (2.) that, curiously enough, a similar glowing description is also given of another extinct New Zealand bird of large size, viz., the hokioi; which bird, however, had been really seen by the old Maoris of the generation just passed away, and by them particularly described. It was said, by an intelligent aged Maori, seven to eight years ago, when writing of this bird:—“Our forefathers saw that bird of former days, the hokioi; we of this generation have never seen it, for it has become extinct, but only of late. According to what our forefathers have handed down to us, the hokioi was a very strong bird, especially on the wing; it was very much bigger and stronger than the hawk, with which, however, it was always at feud. Its habitat was on the mountains, never in the lowlands. It was seen by our fathers when flying, on its days of coming down, or flying abroad; but this was not every day, because its home was in the mountains. Its appearance or colour was red and black and white, having plenty of feathers; some of which were also bright yellow, like the colour of the flowers of the kowhai tree (Edwardsia), and some were glistening green, like those of the small parroquet; it had also a beautiful tuft, or plume of feathers on its head. It was a very big bird indeed.” (3.) If that “one feather” was not a stray feather from the recently extinct bird hokioi, which also lived away in the mountains,435—it may have been a feather from a Peacock, brought hither by those whaling ships from Sydney or Tasmania, which came here often early in this century to refit, etc., and who would have quickly known how very much handsome feathers were in request, both in New Zealand and in the other South Sea Islands; of which, indeed, the barter had been commenced in the very time of Cook,436 and of which those who came after him in those seas, of course knew.

Here I may also remark, that the old Maoris who first saw the Europeans, as a rule, named the new and strange things (especially animals) in [100] accordance with their own ideas respecting them;437 hence they called the horse, the kuri (or kararehe) waha-tangata = the dog (or beast) which carries a man, and this was the name by which the horse was long known in the Bay of Islands, where it was first introduced; so with the sheep which was called pirikahu (from its wool), and the cat = ngeru; while the fowls, which were given by Cook to the old chief who boarded his ship off Blackhead, on the East Coast,438 were called by them (in my time) koitareke pakeha = foreign quail.

3. In the proverbs I have quoted concerning the Moa, the first one runs,439He koromiko te wahie i taona ai te Moa;” and I have there said that the verb used in the proverb for cooking, tao (taona, pass.), is that which points out the particular mode, viz., baking in a ground oven; but here it may be observed, that the common verb for burning, tahu (tahuna, pass.), is of similar short pronunciation, and is also sometimes used for cooking, and such may have been originally here intended,440 as we find another analogous verb for roasting, scorching, tunu (tunua, pass.), is also used in those few songs441 in which the Moa is mentioned; this supposition is further strengthened by what is uniformly said in their legends of its sudden disappearance by fire. To this I may also add, that frequently in my early travelling in this country (some 45-46 years ago), my Maori companions, on nearing a pa or village among their own tribe (especially if emerging from a forest near), would call out, “Tahuna he kai and “Tahuna he kai ma matou!” instead of “Taona he kai,” etc., although this latter was intended (Bake some food for us); as the firewood in the ground oven must be first burnt (tahu) before that the food could be baked therein (tao).


It will, I think, be seen that I have written exhaustively on this subject, at least I have endeavoured to do so, and that for two reasons: –

1. I wished to tell all the little I knew—all I had subsequently gleaned since first publishing about the Moa in 1842; in hopes of others hereafter following up the quest. [101]

2. I have, in so doing, finished my work; I shall not again write on this topic.

For my own part I am, as I have long been, satisfied. My own fresh labours in this direction have only served the more fully to confirm me in my old views442 as to the very great antiquity of the living Moa in this North Island of New Zealand.

Few, very few, will be fully able to comprehend the immense amount of labour this enquiry has cost me; the amount of time, writing, and patient research consumed would be almost incredible, especially in my seeking after ancient names of places and of persons containing the term Moa,—and what a very small result! I have often been led to think of the amount of toil spent in obtaining two dishes for the banquet of Heliogabalus, viz.: of ostriches’ and nightingales’ tongues! and yet all devoured in an hour.

In fine, the conclusion I have come to is this: –

1. That the bird Moa (some of those of its genera and species) was really known to the ancient Maori.

2. That such happened very long ago, in almost pre-historical times; long before the beginning of their genealogical descents of tribes, which, as we know, extend back for more than twenty-five generations.

3. That this conclusion is the only logical deduction from all that I have been able to gather; whether myth, legend, proverb, song, or the etymological rendering of proper names of places, persons, etc.

I will conclude my paper in the highly suitable words of Tacitus, when writing on another celebrated bird of great antiquity, which had given him and other philosophers before him an immense amount of labour—I mean the Phœnix. Tacitus says: “In the consulship of Paulus Fabius and Lucius Vitellius,—after a long series of ages, the bird called the Phœnix arrived in Egypt, and furnished the most learned of the natives and Greeks with occasion for much speculation concerning that marvel.... But the accounts of antiquity are enveloped in doubt and obscurity ... whence some have believed that the present was a spurious Phœnix ... . These accounts are not entitled to unqualified credit, and their uncertainty is by the admixture of matter palpably fabulous: but that this bird has been at some time seen in Egypt, is not questioned.”443

Appendix II.

1. Of Dr. Ernest Dieffenbach’s opinion on the Moa.

Among the very few early scientific writers on New Zealand, who had themselves travelled in and partially explored the country, I may here [102] mention Dr. E. Dieffenbach, the Naturalist to the New Zealand Company. This gentleman was here in the years 1839-1841, and I had the pleasure of being acquainted with him while he stayed in the Bay of Islands, where, for some time, he lived next door to me. He saw and “overhauled” all my specimens (even then rich in shells, and insects, and ferns, and in geological samples), and many conversations we had respecting the Moa. In his work, in two volumes, on “New Zealand,” he twice mentions the Moa, but only in a very slight way; in fact, he, then, could not say any more, for he did not himself collect a single Moa bone, although he was industrious in obtaining all kinds of natural specimens. He saw, however, what few broken bones I had at that time, obtained from near the East Cape through the Christian Maori teachers, who had been sent there by us after our early visit made there in January, 1838. Dr. Dieffenbach thus alludes to the Moa in his work:—“The natives (of Taranaki) could not understand what induced me to ascend Mount Egmont; they tried much to dissuade me from the attempt, by saying that the mountain was tapu;444 that there were ngarara (crocodiles) on it, which would undoubtedly eat me; the mysterious bird Moa, of which I shall say more hereafter, was also said to exist there. But I answered that I was not afraid of those creations of their lively imagination,” etc. And again, in writing of “special changes in New Zealand,” he says:—“If a geological cause, such for instance as a diminution of the size of the island, attended by an alteration of climate and a diminution in the means of subsistence, has contributed to the extinction of the struthious Moa in New Zealand, and of the Dodo in the Mauritius, it is no less sure that, since New Zealand began to be inhabited by its aboriginal race, the agency of man has effected a part of that eternal fluctuation in the organic world, the knowledge of which has been one of the most important results of modern science,”445 And this is all he says! Some time after, however (in 1845), we find him reading a paper “On the Geology of New Zealand,” before “the British Association for the Advancement of Science,”446 in which he says:—“That he has examined into all the traditions respecting the existence of the Moa, or great bird of New Zealand, and concludes that it has never been seen alive by any natives of New Zealand; the rivers in which its bones have been found flow between banks from thirty to sixty feet high, and, as they are continually changing their course, the remains of the Moa may have been derived from tertiary fluviatile strata.”447 (Of course I cannot help thinking the Doctor was indebted to my published paper on the Moa for this information, as it is [103] given in almost my very words; nevertheless, if not wholly original on his part, I bring Dr. Dieffenbach forward as a valuable witness, and a supporter of my early published opinions).

2. Of the later opinions of Sir George Grey and of Mr. Weld (with others of lesser note), stated, or adduced, in some of the past volumes of the “Transactions of the New Zealand Institute.”

Having read them, I cannot allow this (my last!) opportunity to pass without briefly noticing them. Sir G. Grey is stated to have said that he had heard from the Maoris of their general knowledge of the Moa, and of its recent extinction, in common with some other birds; and Mr. Weld relates of a Maori informing him how the bird kicked like a horse, etc., etc. To me all this is easy enough. From January, 1838 (when I first heard of the Moa), down to 1842, and later, no man could possibly have done more than I did in my quest after it, and no man could have had better opportunities; by enquiry everywhere, personally, in travelling (and I, then, travelled largely); by letters to a distance, in New Zealand, to both Europeans and Maoris; and by Maoris (my own lads), returning to their homes in all parts from our Mission Stations at the north;448 and through many others of them whom we had redeemed from slavery and restored to their homes and tribes, and with whom I subsequently long corresponded; and, I again assert, that it was through me that the Maoris generally got to know of the Moa having been a real (or common) bird. I showed them, repeatedly, at the station, the plates in Rees’ Cyclopedia,449 containing all the Struthious birds, and told them of their habits, etc., and of my opinion of the extinct Moa; that information was carried almost everywhere (with, no doubt, many additions),—and that information, together with simple leading questions on the parts of the enquirers (especially when put by the Governor of the Colony, or by any superior,—which, according to Maori etiquette, would not be negatived even if wrong)450—and, also, with but a small knowledge of the Maori tongue on the part of the Europeans, fully explain all to me, and that very satisfactorily. Here, I cannot help remarking, in order to make things clear, that words would fail to show to the colonist of to-day—or (say) of the last thirty to thirty-five years—how highly different it was with the Maori before this Colony was established, and for a few years after; I mean, particularly, with reference to the making of those enquiries. They were carried everywhere throughout the length and breadth of the North Island; they were the constant theme of conversation among the Maoris, who then had little of a novel nature to [104] talk over,—increased, from the fact of rewards being offered for bones, feathers (if any), and for information.

Mr. Travers’ paper (compilation)451 I should not care to notice separately, were it not for a letter contained therein, written by my good friend Mr. John White. (I could only wish, in this as in some other matters, that Mr. Travers would write of what he himself knows of things). Some portions of Mr. White’s letter astonish me. For Mr. White had lived at the North among the Ngapuhi tribes many years (just as I had), and to that information said to be obtained from them he adds more—even to a Moa which was “killed” here in modern times “near to Waipukurau!”452 where I have also been living nearly forty years!! and where I had conversed with those old Maoris who saw Cook, but who knew nothing of the Moa! (I fear this Moa “killed here near to Waipukurau” was much like mine, which lived on Whakapunake, or that one mentioned by Dr. Dieffenbach as said to be living on Mount Egmont!) Yet, not only this last statement, but nearly all that Mr. White says is equally new to me. Now I recollect when Mr. John White came to New Zealand (a boy); it must have taken him some time to learn the language—before at all events he could talk clearly about such a highly recondite subject as the Moa, not being then particularly drawn thereto—and when talked of, I presume, such was only very occasionally, and then but slightly; whereas with me and others it was a matter of deep, extensive, and persistent enquiry extending over years. Remembering, also, how Dr. Dieffenbach and others453 laboured to glean something about the Moa in those same northern [105] parts before that Mr. White knew Maori,—I confess I feel strange. The only ready solution to my mind is that Mr. White in this matter has been half deceived; that is, he heard something long ago (just as Sir G. Grey and others heard it), and the rest has been in the course of many years evolved therefrom or added thereto, or both.

3. Of the Rev. R. Taylor’s statement, which he calls “An Account of the First Discovery of Moa Remains.”454

I have often of late read and considered with no small astonishment, what Mr. Taylor has here stated. I could enter into it fully, dissect it, and say a good deal upon it; but, as I have hitherto kept myself from doing so, I will still forbear. This much, however, I deem it right to say (bearing in mind the adage: “De mortuis nil nisi bonum,” to which I would add—vel verum),455 –1. If Mr. Taylor really made those early discoveries and in that way, why did he not make them known? Like myself, he, too, had been early elected a member of the “Tasmanian Society,” both of us together in 1841, with the Rev. W. Williams, and other residents in New Zealand;456 soon after which Mr. Taylor wrote a paper on the “Bulrush Caterpillar of New Zealand” (Cordiceps robertsii), which he sent to Tasmania, and it was published in 1842, in the first volume of the “Tasmanian Journal of Natural Science;”457 while mine on the Moa, though written early in 1842, was not published in that “Journal” until 1843, and that in the second volume: my first papers being on some of our New Zealand Ferns. 2. Mr. Taylor says, “The chief readily gave me the (fragment of a) bone for a little tobacco, and I afterwards sent it to Professor Owen, by Sir Everard Home; this took place in 1839... . I think I may justly claim to be the first discoverer of the Moa.”458 But in Professor Owen’s paper on the Moa, he gives verbatim Mr. Taylor’s letter to him, which he received through Sir Everard Home; it is dated “Whanganui, February 14, 1844” (five years after!) and in it, Mr. Taylor, in writing of his single visit to the East Cape with the Rev. W. Williams in 1839, on his first arrival in New Zealand, says, (after) mentioning his discovery of Moa remains at Whaingaihu –?Whangaehu, “I have found the bones of the Moa in this stratum, not only in other parts of the Western, but also on the Eastern Coast and at Poverty Bay; from whence in 1839 I procured a toe of this [106] bird.”459 This, however, is widely different, both as to date (of his first sending to Professor Owen), and also as to the extent of his “find” at the East Cape. He only specifies the so-called, “toe,” which is quite correct, as I had myself stated in my early published paper;460 he says nothing here, however, of “the fragment of bone;” nevertheless, he goes much further actually saying that “he had found bones in that same kind of stratum at East Cape and at Poverty Bay! All I can say is: If so, why did he not make them known? Mr. Taylor was well-known not to be at all backward in writing of every thing; and while at the North he had plenty of time to call his own. In this same letter to Professor Owen, (supra), Mr. Taylor goes on to say: “The Kakapo or Tarepo is about the size of a turkey, and from its habits, nature, and other circumstances, seems so closely to resemble the Dodo, as to lead me to suppose it is the same,” etc. 3. I well remember Mr. Taylor (with whom I was for some time on the most intimate terms of friendship),461 complimenting me highly on his receiving that part of the “Tasmanian Journal of Science” containing my paper on the Moa. [Those parts came regularly through my hands for distribution to the members residing in New Zealand, owing to my living near to the anchorage.] Whenever Mr. Taylor came from the Waimate to the Bay, he always called, and saw repeatedly all my collections, from which he obtained many specimens. Briefly reviewing the past, I cannot but conclude that Mr. Taylor’s memory must have failed him when he gave his last statement at Wellington, in 1872, in which, I think, many incidents of the past relative to the Moa, are jumbled together as to date and sequence; which, also, from the Editor’s note attached, seems to have been done rather hurriedly. At present I make no further remark concerning the many strange (? erroneous) statements with which his published works on New Zealand abound; on a future occasion, however, I may have to notice some of them.

4. Of a remark made by Mr. Vaux, in his paper, On the probable origin of the Maori race.” [107]

In justice to myself—if not also to Professor Owen and to Mr. Rule—I had intended noticing a statement made by Mr. Vaux in his abovementioned paper, in which he says that “Bishop Williams and the Rev. R. Taylor, in 1839, were the first to discover the remains of the Moa ;”462 but, owing to the great length of my paper, I am obliged to omit doing so; merely saying here that I deny it. My grounds for so speaking will be found in what I have already written upon it (supra). Mr. Vaux, evidently, had not seen my early-published paper on the Moa, neither those of Professor Owen, and of Dr. Mantell. There are also other matters of high importance in Mr. Vaux’s paper respecting the Maoris (for which he has mentioned me); to them, I hope to return ere long.

5. Of sundry early English published scientific testimonies.

In conclusion, I may be permitted to call attention to the following testimonies in connection with the foregoing; and I do so the more readily because they were all spontaneously given by gentlemen of the highest standing in their respective scientific pursuits, and written, and published, and spoken of publicly (in lectures, etc.) by them at a very early period.

I mean: –

(1.) Sir W.J. Hooker, K.H., etc., etc., the very eminent Botanist, formerly Director of the Royal Gardens at Kew, who, in the London Journal of Botany, for January, 1844, Vol. III., p. 3, mentions approvingly my paper on the Moa, and the bones I had sent through him, in 1842, for Professor Owen.

(2.) Professor Owen, F.R.S., etc., etc., the eminent Naturalist and Osteologist, who—both in his papers on the Moa (Dinornis), Zoological Transactions, Vol. III., part 4, p. 327,—and, also, in his kindly and of his own accord, republishing in the “Annals and Magazine of Natural History,” 1844, Vol. XIV., p. 81, my early paper on the Moa,—has borne a similar testimony.

(3.) Dr. Mantell, F.R.S., etc., etc., the celebrated Geologist and Osteologist, has also done the same, and that, too, at various times; particularly in his work entitled “Petrifactions and their Teachings, pp. 93, 94, and 487; and also in his very able and lucid paper (doubly interesting to us here in New Zealand), “On the Fossil Remains of Birds, collected in New Zealand by Mr. Mantell of Wellington,” published in the “Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society,” February, 1848, Vol. IV., pp. 225-241 (passim), where Dr. Mantell says:—“I do not deem it necessary to enlarge on the question whether the Dinornis and Palapteryx still exist in New Zealand; on this point, I would only remark that Mr. Colenso, who was the first observer that investigated the nature of the fossil remains with due [108] care and the requisite scientific knowledge (having determined the struthious affinities of the birds to which the bones belonged, and pointed out their remarkable characters, ere any intelligence could have reached him of the result of Professor Owen’s examination of the specimens transmitted to this country), has given, in his masterly paper before quoted, very cogent reasons for the belief that none of the true Moas exist, though it is probable the last of the race were exterminated by the early inhabitants of these islands.” (Loc. cit., p. 235.)


Napier, October 24, 1879. I was very much surprised this morning, on finding (and that by the merest chance, in looking into the “Index, Vols. I.-VIII.”) that Mr. Stack, of Canterbury, New Zealand, had some time ago written a short paper containing those passages from Sir G. Grey’s “Poetry of the New Zealanders” which I have in this paper adduced respecting the Moa. I had never before this morning seen Mr. Stack’s paper; no doubt this was owing to its being placed in the Appendix at the end of the volume,463 and to its extreme brevity. However, had I earlier seen it, I could not have accepted his translation of those passages referred to, still less his remarks thereon. New Zealand poetry and legends cannot be rendered by any Maori scholar in the South Island; besides, their myths and legends are not now to be found there in their integrity; indeed, such could not reasonably be expected among such a small remnant of Maoris living isolated among settlers.


1879 Contributions towards a better Knowledge of the Maori Race (continued). 464
Transactions of the New Zealand Institute 12: 108-147.

[Read before the Hawke’s Bay Philosophical Institute, 9th June, 1879.]

— “For I, too, agree with Solon, that ‘I would fain grow old learning many things.’” —Plato: Laches.

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