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Smith S. Percy 1897. The peopling of the north. Journal of the Polynesian Society supplements 6(1): 23-46; 6(2): 47-70; 6(3): 71-108

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Extensive kūmara growing in Auckland region. References also to taro plantations. A tract of land near Panmure was "celebrated for its growth of tupakihi, the plant which produces the poisonous tutu, from which a drink was formerly made, much esteemed by connoisseurs" (p.91)

Click to collapse Domestic Info

The chief Kahununu suspended mako teeth from his ears with aute bark and tied his hair in a topknot with aute. "His head was so big that a single length of aute would not go round it" (pp.44-45)

Description of making of mānuka spears, thrown using a whip-sling (kopere). ... "the Māoris formerly used as a defence against the kopere, or even ordinary spear-thrusts, a plaited band of prepared flax, about six inches broad, and often a kumi or ten fathoms long, called a kotara, which was wetted and then wound round the body. This was said to be quite impervious to spears" (p.75)

"There are (at least) four varieties of the hue: pare-tarakihi, pā-haua, whāngai-rangatira and rorerore." (footnote, p.56)

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"Immediately in front of the Rev. Mr. Puckey's residence at Kaitaia is an old pa of Ngati-Awa, where grows the scented moss called kopuru, which in former days was gathered by the native women, and worn around the neck in a hei, or little woven bag, to scent the person" (p.42)

Click to collapse Traditions Info

Kawerau tribe, said to derive its name from when a chief Maki, being pressed with hunger, stole some kūmara from another hapū. "The shoulder straps which he uses to carry off his spoil with were made of nīkau leaves (rau); hence the name kawe (to carry) rau (leaves)."

(p.35) A saying applied to the hue is: "Te kai pae kau a Rangi"

(foonote, p.56) Kaipatiki, near Helensville, has special interest attached to it because it is "te Tino o Kaipara" ("The very Kaipara"), the place from which the whole district takes its name. Smith suggests para refers to Marattia salicina, the root of which was considered a delicacy. He records an old saying that is supposed to record the delight this food produced in eating: "He aha to kai, he para to kai, ka taka ngā hua o te whakairo" (What is your food? (if) Para is your food, the pattern of the tattooing (on the face) will move)

(p.73) "... kūmara was a sacred food, and nothing connected with its planting or storing could be done without due form. The time for harvesting this valuable crop was denoted by the rising of the star Rehua (Antares), and soon after this was the time to expect warlike visits from hostile tribes, due to the fact of food being plentiful. Hence is the saying for this star, "Rehua kai tangata" (Rehua the man-eater)".

(p.80) When Pokere, a great chief of Ngāti Whanaunga, was captured and about to be put to death, he uttered the following; "He ahakoa au ka mate, tena te aute i whakatokia e au ki te tara o te whare" (Although I may be killed, there is an aute tree which I have planted by the side of my house"), meaning that some of his relations were left to avenge his death.

(p.102) The Auckland isthmus was covered in kūmara gardens. Thus the saying; "Kohi awheto te mara a Te Tahuri" (Collect awheto in the farm of Te Tahuri). i.e., nowhere else were there so many awheto, and therefore so many kūmara gardens. "The awheto",... is nearly extinct in new Zealand. It was a large green or brown caterpillar, about the size of a man"s little finger, with a spike on its tail, which fed on the kūmara plant, and which in former times it was the women's work to collect and destroy. ... "te awheto kai paenga" - a saying applied to anyone who goes round tasting the various dishes, derived from the habit of the awheto of eating round the leaves of the kūmara." (p.64)

Click to collapse Notes Info

See also Smith 1896. Smith translates information given by Patiki concerning the origins of Māori living at the North Cape. (N.B. Smith"s interpretation of Māori traditions are regarded today as unreliable).

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The peopling of the north

Smith S. Percy
Journal of the Polynesian Society
supplements 6(1): 23-46; 6(2): 47-70; 6(3): 71-108

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12 June 2007
20 July 2020
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