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Shand Alexander 1911. The Moriori People of the Chatham Islands: their history and traditions. Memoirs of the Polynesian Society.

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Fishing and Hunting

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p.5 Diet of fish, shell-fish, eels, birds. "For variety they had Fernroot (Eruhe) and Karaka nuts (of which latter, in good seasons, they preserved very large quantities);"

p.6 The mehonui (kakapo) "kept its head continually on the ground looking for food, chiefly fernroot, which it burrowed for and dug out with its powerful bill, making, it is said, a rooting like a pig; "

p.7 "Beyond the fernroot, they had very few vegetable foods - only roots of the Toetoe, used as a medicine for sick persons; rushes (Wi), the heart of the Nikau palm (ritō), and the root Kakaha, called by the Māoris, Kowharawhara (Astelia banksii)." Also karaka..."Karakii... were used to induce a prolific crop. The kernels... were cooked in a native oven (umu), then put into baskets and stamped with the foot in water, to get rid of the outside pulp; after which they were steeped in water for not less than three weeks, to remove the poisonous elements..".

p.176 "Generally speaking the fern-root of the island is of a more fibrous and sourer character than that of New Zealand; the best in the island, it is said, grew at Kaiparakau, Waitangi."

p.101 Kahu brought the kūmara which would not grow. Knowledge preserved in a karakia, quoted in Shand. "Prior to [1836], on seeing potatoes brought to the island by the early ships, they said they were kūmara; also called pākamara

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p.8 The people originally made clothing (mats or weruweru) from scraped flax (muka). "and were fine in texture and warm; but, owing to the number of seals to be found there, this kind of clothing was abandoned and sealskin univerally adopted, so that the art of making the mats became lost." [Seals killed by English sealers]. "They then attempted to recover the art of mat-working, but at this juncture the Māoris arrived and taught them their own art." They also made use of a fine kind of net, Kupenga, as a substitute, manufactured from muka. Plaited a rough mat, a Tukou, "from broad strips of flax leaves, which on shrinking formed a very indifferent protection from the cold."

Description of marowhenua, war girdle, made of scraped flax. Also a tahei, made of muka.

Click to collapse Fishing and hunting Info

p.9. "... fishing nets (kupenga) of various kinds; seines (Kupenga-hao-ika), made of ordinary flax; Kupenga-kowhiti (shrimp nets), made of muka twine; Kupenga-titoko, a scoop net with a long pole for fishing on rocks in the surf, made of common flax; .. a deep-sea circular Kupenga .. suspended by four cords...on a rim of supplejack. These cords converged, and were tied to one long line, by which the net was lowered and hauled up. ... it was made chiefly of muka twine, but sometimes of ordinary flax, and was exceedingly effective, catching sometimes 15 or 20 fish at a time."

p.10 No suitable timber for canoes. Floor of rafts made from kōrari, with inflated kelp placed in the crate-like frame underneath for buoyancy. "They were large enough to carry 60 to 70 people." Various models described (p.11). keels made of matipou [Myrsine australis], carved sternposts of akeake.

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p.8 In kindling fire, "Inihina - Hinahina or Mahoe, in Māori - was considered the best wood for the rubber [the ure or pointed stick used to create friction on a piece of softer wood); but Karamu, Karaka, Ake, Rautini [Brachyglottis huntii], and Kokopere (Māori, Kawakawa) were used as the Kahunaki, or grooved piece of wood."

p.9 Tūpūrari, Tupurari, fighting pole, made of heartwood of akeake or houhou [fivefinger] . The tao (spear) made of tōtara driftwood. "It is also alleged by the old men that Totara wood was brought with them from Hawaiki."

p.10 "The Calabash.. did not grow on the island; the Morioris [carried water] in a Puwai, or horn-shaped utensil made of green flax leaves, such as the Māoris use for temporary purposes." (see also p. 111)

p.184 Mataira (matipou or Myrsine) wood preferred for cremation practised by a tribe called Te Harua (ie, not widespread practice).

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p.4 "... huts thatched with Toetoe (Arundo conspicua) and rushes. For the sake of warmth, the houses were frequently lined with the bark of the Akeake (Olearia traversii), the heart wood of which is very durable and the most valuable found on the islands."

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p.176 During a wedding ceremony - a thin rope of kāretu (Hierochloe redolens) was placed around the shoulders of the bridal couple and knotted to form a ring (henga). In the poem quoted by Shand that was recited at marriage feats, references are made to pūriri, (not known in Chathams), piripiri, tarata (taramea) and mokimoki.

p. 182 As love charm, a portion of the centre leaves or shoots of wharawhara or tarata were placed in a woman"s mouth when she was asleep, or a circlet of kāretu put where she might unobservingly sit on it - then charm recited.

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p.7 Karaka found not far from sea-shore on main island and on Pitt Island The Morioris say that Maruroa and Kauanga (brothers) brought the Karaka berry from Hawaiki in the Rangimata canoe, and planted it all over the island, the places where it was set being named.

p.106 The brothers had previously gone to the land of Tahiri, Irea and Momori called Hukurangi, who told them of Rekohu, or the Chathams, and from whence they brought the karaka, the kūmara or pakamara and the marautara.

p. 113 ..."karaka tree, which they called wairarapa, [planted] at a place called Wairarapa, as well as the marautara... on the coast near Te Ika-rewa, at Te Umumoki."

Click to collapse Traditions Info

p. 211 "When leaving te Pou-o-Kani [a place on the east of Lake Taupo] Kahu had brought with him the seed (? roots) of three different kinds of fern-root suitable for food, which were carefully placed in a calabash to preserve them. Some kūmara roots were also carefully packed, both kinds of food to be taken to the Chathams."

"They landed at a certain bay on the north coast of that island [Chatham], where they proceeded to build houses, using the deck-beams of kauri in their construction, and hence Hine-te-waiwai named the island Whare-kauri. The bay was named Kaingaroa in remembrance of the New Zealand plain of that name near their temporary home at Taupo. The seed-fern was then planted at a place they named Tongariro, after the mountain in the North Island of New Zealand".

p.100 "This was called Kahu's fern-root, and was known as such until after the arrival of the Māoris in 1836, when it was destroyed by pigs." p.101 "There was a difference between his fern-root.. and the ordinary kind. That of Kahu had a very light fibre (kaka), and when the outside rind was scraped off, was white and soft; it was evidently a finer variety, not having the strong yellow fibre of the ordinary kind."

The calabash with the "fern-seed" in it was called Te Awhenga. The tōtara bark receptacle with the kūmara was named Rangi-ura. "When Kahu found that neither his taros nor his kūmaras would grow, he exclaimed, "A! There is the food-producing soil at Ara-paoa! (South Island, New Zealand). I am wasting my time on this ocean rock"

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The Moriori People of the Chatham Islands: their history and traditions

Shand Alexander

Memoirs of the Polynesian Society


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12 June 2007
16 July 2020
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