Category Archives: Oceania


#20 The Secrecy of the Bones of a Chief
     (Laura C. Green and Martha Warren Beckwith, 1926)

In case of [the death of] very high chiefs, called “puholoholo,” or of hairless chiefs, called “olohe.” When it was certain that the spirit had entirely left the body and would not return, a shallow pit was dug, large enough to hold the corpse and lined with the leaves of amau or hapuu ferns or of the ti or banana plant. The body was placed within and carefully covered with leaves, and over the whole, earth was sprinkled to a depth of from six to twelve inches. A huge bonfire was then kindled over the spot and kept burning for about twelve hours, when it was allowed to cool and the earth removed. The flesh was then easily separable from the bones. The flesh and entrails were deposited in one calabash, the bones in another and two men carried both calabashes to a secret cave.

One of these men was selected to act as kahu or “keeper” for the cave, the other was destined as the moe puu (that is, “sleeping together,”) sacrifice whose blood was useful “to act as a barrier against evil which might touch the chief’s body.” The kahu stood without the cave while the other went in and deposited the bones. As he crawled out he was dispatched with a blow. Sometimes both the bearers were dispatched; often a number of retainers volunteered to die with their chief. Generally a lot was cast among the retainers by the relatives of the chief, and none but they knew who was destined for the sacrifice. The secret cave might be approached only by a rope over a cliff and, when the bearer was ascending, the rope might be cut at the top and his body be dashed upon the rocks below. So would the secret of the cave die with him.

The reason for this secrecy in depositing the bones of a chief was because of their value for making lucky arrows for rat shooting or hooks for fishing. . . For the bones of a chief to fall into the hands of an enemy for this purpose was regarded as an insult to the family honor; hence the precaution taken to conceal the place of their burial.

[#20] Laura C. Green and Martha Warren Beckwith, “The Secrecy of the Bones of a Chief”, “Hawaiian Customs and Beliefs Relating to Sickness and Death,” American Anthropologist 28 (1926): 181-182.

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#19 The Dying Maori Chief and his Old and Young Wives
     (Frederick Edward Maning, 1922)

My old rangatira at last began to show signs that his time to leave this world of care was approaching. He had arrived at a great age, and a rapid and general breaking up of his strength became plainly observable. He often grumbled that men should grow old, and oftener that no great war broke out in which he might make a final display, and die with eclat…. At last this old lion was taken seriously ill and removed permanently to the village, and one evening a smart handsome lad, of about twelve years of age, came to tell me that his tupuna was dying, and had said he would “go” to-morrow, and had sent for me to see him before he died. The boy also added that the tribe were ka poto, or assembled, to the last man around the dying chief. I must here mention that, though this old rangatira was not the head of his tribe, he had been for about half a century the recognised war chief of almost all the sections or hapu of a very numerous and warlike iwi or tribe, who had now assembled from all their distant villages and pas to see him die. I could not, of course, neglect the invitation, so at daylight next morning I started on foot for the native village, which I, on my arrival about mid-day, found crowded by a great assemblage of natives. I was saluted by the usual haere mai! and a volley of musketry, and I at once perceived that, out of respect to my old owner, the whole tribe from far and near, hundreds of whom I had never seen, considered it necessary to make much of me,—at least for that day,—and I found myself consequently at once in the position of a “personage.” “Here comes the pakeha!—his pakeha!—make way for the pakeha!—kill those dogs that are barking at the pakeha!” Bang! bang! Here a double barrel nearly blew my cap off by way of salute. . . On I stalked, looking neither to the right or the left, with my spear walking-staff in my hand, to where I saw a great crowd, and where I of course knew the dying man was. I walked straight on, not even pretending to see the crowd, as was “correct” under the circumstances; I being supposed to be entranced by the one absorbing thought of seeing “mataora,” or once more in life my rangatira. The crowd divided as I came up, and closed again behind me as I stood in the front rank before the old chief, motionless, and, as in duty bound, trying to look the image of mute despair, which I flatter myself I did to the satisfaction of all parties. The old man I saw at once was at his last hour. He had dwindled to a mere skeleton. No food of any kind had been prepared for or offered to him for three days; as he was dying it was of course considered unnecessary. At his right side lay his spear, tomahawk, and musket. (I never saw him with the musket in his hand all the time I knew him.) Over him was hanging his greenstone mere, and at his left side, close, and touching him, sat a stout athletic savage, with a countenance disgustingly expressive of cunning and ferocity, and who, as he stealthily marked me from the corner of his eye, I recognized as one of those limbs of Satan, a Maori tohunga. The old man was propped up in a reclining position, his face towards the assembled tribe, who were all there waiting to catch his last words. I stood before him and I thought I perceived he recognized me. Still all was silence, and for a full half hour we all stood there, waiting patiently for the closing scene. . . At last, suddenly without any apparent effort, and in a manner which startled me, the old man spoke clearly out, in the ringing metallic tone of voice for which he had been formerly so remarkable, particularly when excited. He spoke. “Hide my bones quickly where the enemy may not find them: hide them at once.” He spoke again—“Oh my tribe, be brave! Be brave that you may live. . . He continued—“I give my mere to my pakeha,”—“my two old wives will hang themselves,”—(here a howl of assent from the two old women in the rear rank)—“I am going; be brave, after I am gone.” Here he began to rave; . . .Then after a short pause—“Rescue! rescue! to my rescue! ahau! ahau! rescue!” The last cry for “rescue” was in such a piercing tone of anguish and utter desperation, that involuntarily I advanced a foot and hand, as if starting to his assistance; a movement, as I found afterwards, not unnoticed by the superstitious tribe. At the same instant that he gave the last despairing and most agonizing cry for “rescue,” I saw his eyes actually blaze, his square jaw locked, he set his teeth, and rose nearly to a sitting position, and then fell back dying. He only murmured—“How sweet is man’s flesh,” and then the gasping breath and upturned eye announced the last moment. The tohunga now bending close to the dying man’s ear, roared out “Kia kotahi ki te ao! . . . Then giving a significant look to the surrounding hundreds of natives, a roar of musketry burst forth. Kia kotahi ki te ao! Thus in a din like pandemonium, guns firing, women screaming, and the accursed tohunga shouting in his ear, died “Lizard Skin,” as good a fighting man as ever worshipped force or trusted in the spear. His death on the whole was thought happy, for his last words were full of good omen:—“How sweet is man’s flesh.”

The two old wives were hanging by the neck from a scaffold at a short distance, which had been made to place potatoes on out of the reach of rats. The shriveled old creatures were quite dead. . .

The two young wives had also made a desperate attempt in the night to hang themselves, but had been prevented by two young men, who, by some unaccountable accident, had come upon them just as they were stringing themselves up, and who, seeing that they were not actually “ordered for execution,” by great exertion, and with the assistance of several female relations, who they called to their assistance, prevented them from killing themselves out of respect for their old lord. Perhaps it was to revenge themselves for this meddling interference that these two young women married the two young men before the year was out, and in consequence of which, and as a matter of course, they were robbed by the tribe of everything they had in the world, (which was not much,) except their arms. They also had to fight some half dozen duels each with spears, in which, however, no one was killed, and no more blood drawn than could be well spared. All this went through with commendable resignation; and so, due respect having been paid to the memory of the old chief, and the appropriators of his widows duly punished according to law, further proceedings were stayed, and everything went on comfortably. And so the world goes round.

…In the afternoon I went home musing on what I had heard and seen. “Surely,” thought I, “if one half of the world does not know how the other half live, neither do they know how they die.”

[#18] Frederick Edward Maning, “The Head, and the Dying Maori Chief and his Old and Young Wives,” Old New Zealand: A Tale of the Good Old Times. Auckland: Robert J. Creighton and Alfred Scales, 1863): 62-63; 214-222.


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#18 The Spirit
     (Frederick Edward Maning, 1922)

These priests or tohunga would, and do to this hour, undertake to call up the spirit of any dead person, if paid for the same. I have seen many of these exhibitions, but one instance will suffice as an example.

A young chief, who had been very popular and greatly respected in his tribe, had been killed in battle; and, at the request of several of his nearest friends, the tohunga had promised on a certain night to call up his spirit to speak to them, and answer certain questions they wished to put. The priest was to come to the village of the relations, and the interview was to take place in a large house common to all the population. This young man had been a great friend of mine; and so, the day before the event, I was sent to by his relations, and told that an opportunity offered of conversing with my friend once more. I was not much inclined to bear a part in such outrageous mummery, but curiosity caused me to go. Now it is necessary to remark that this young chief was a man in advance of his times and people in many respects. He was the first of his tribe who could read and write; and, amongst other unusual things for a native to do, he kept a register of deaths and births, and a journal of any remarkable events which happened in the tribe. Now this book was lost. No one could find it, although his friends had searched unceasingly for it, as it contained many matters of interest, and also they wished to preserve it for his sake. I also wished to get it, and had often inquired if it had been found, but had always been answered in the negative. The appointed time came, and at night we all met the priest in the large house I have mentioned. Fires were lit, which gave an uncertain flickering light. The priest retired to the darkest corner. All was expectation, and the silence was only broken by the sobbing of the sister, and other female relations of the dead man. They seemed to be, and indeed were, in an agony of excitement, agitation, and grief. This state of things continued for a long time, and I began to feel in a way surprising to myself, as if there was something real in the matter. The heart-breaking sobs of the women, and the grave and solemn silence of the men, convinced me, that to them at least, this was a serious matter. I saw the brother of the dead man now and then wiping the tears in silence from his eyes. I wished I had not come, for I felt that any unintentional symptom of incredulity on my part would shock and hurt the feelings of my friends extremely; and yet, whilst feeling thus, I felt myself more and more near to believing in the deception about to be practised. The real grief, and also the general undoubting faith, in all around me, had this effect. We were all seated on the rush-strewn floor; about thirty persons. The door was shut; the fire had burnt down, leaving nothing but glowing charcoal. The room was oppressively hot. The light was little better than darkness; and the part of the room in which the tohunga sat was now in perfect darkness. Suddenly, without the slightest warning, a voice came out of the darkness. “Salutation!—salutation to you all!—salutation!—salutation to you my tribe!—family I salute you!—friends I salute you!—friend, my pakeha friend, I salute you.” The high-handed daring imposture was successful; our feelings were taken by storm. A cry expressive of affection and despair, such as was not good to hear, came from the sister of the dead chief, a fine, stately and really handsome woman of about five-and-twenty. She was rushing, with both arms extended, into the dark, in the direction from whence the voice came. She was instantly seized round the waist and restrained by her brother by main force, till moaning and fainting she lay still on the ground. At the same instant another female voice was heard from a young girl who was held by the wrists by two young men, her brothers. “Is it you?—is it you?—truly is it you?—aue! aue! they hold me, they restrain me; wonder not that I have not followed you; they restrain me, they watch me, but I go to you. The sun shall not rise, the sun shall not rise, aue! aue!” Here she fell insensible on the rush floor, and with the sister was carried out: The remaining women were all weeping and exclaiming, but were silenced by the men who were themselves nearly as much excited, though not so clamorous. I, however, did notice two old men, who sat close to me, were not in the slightest degree moved in any way, though they did not seem at all incredulous, but quite the contrary. The Spirit spoke again. “Speak to me, the tribe!—speak to me, the family!—speak to me the pakeha!”

The “pakeha,” however, was not at the moment inclined for conversation. The deep distress of the two women, the evident belief of all around him of the presence of the spirit, the “darkness visible,” the novelty of the scene, gave rise to a state of feeling not favourable to the conversational powers. Besides, I felt reluctant to give too much apparent credence to an imposture, which at the very same time, by some strange impulse, I felt half ready to give way to. At last the brother spoke—“How is it with you? —is it well with you in that country?” The answer came—(the voice all through, it is to be remembered, was not the voice of the tohunga but a strange melancholy sound, like the sound of the wind blowing into a hollow vessel,)—“It is well with me—my place is a good place.” The brother spoke again—“Have you seen —, and —, and — ?” (I forget the names mentioned.) “Yes, they are all with me.” A woman’s voice now from another part of the room anxiously cried out—“Have you seen my sister?” “Yes, I have seen her.” “Tell her my love is great towards her and never will cease.” “Yes, I will tell.” Here the woman burst into tears and the pakeha felt a strange swelling of the chest, which he could in no way account for. The Spirit spoke again. “Give my large tame pig to the priest, (the pakeha was disenchanted at once,) and my double-gun.” Here the brother interrupted—“Your gun in a manatunga, I shall keep it.” He is also disenchanted, thought I, but I was mistaken. He believed, but wished to keep the gun his brother had carried so long. An idea now struck me that I could expose the imposture without showing palpable disbelief. “We cannot find your book,” said I, “where have you concealed it?” The answer instantly came, “I concealed it between the tahuhu of my house and the thatch, straight over you as you go in at the door.” Here the brother rushed out,—all was silence till his return. In five minutes he came back with the book in his hand. I was beaten, but made another effort.—“What have you written in that book?” said I. “A great many things.” “Tell me some of them.” “Which of them?”   “Any of them.”   “You are seeking for some information, what do you want to know? I will tell you.” Then suddenly—“Farewell, O tribe! farewell, my family, I go!” Here a general and impressive cry of “farewell” arose from every one in the house. “Farewell,” again cried the spirit, from the deep beneath the ground! “Farewell,” again from high in air! “Farewell,” again came moaning through the distant darkness of the night. “Farewell!” I was for a moment stunned. The deception was perfect. There was a dead silence—at last. “A ventriloquist,” said I!—“or—or—perhaps the devil.”

I was fagged and confused. It was past midnight; the company broke up, and I went to a house where a bed had been prepared for me. I wished to be quiet and alone; but it was fated there should be little quiet that night. I was just falling asleep, after having thought for some time on the extraordinary scenes I had witnessed, when I heard the report of a musket at some little distance, followed by the shouting of men and the screams of women. Out I rushed. I had a presentiment of some horrible catastrophe. Men were running by, hastily armed. I could get no information, so went with the stream. There was a bright flame beginning to spring up at a short distance, and every one appeared going in that direction: I was soon there. A house had been set on fire to make a light. Before another house, close at hand, a dense circle of human beings was formed. I pushed my way through, and then saw, by the bright light of the flaming house, a scene which is still fresh before me: there, in the verandah of the house, was an old grey-bearded man; he knelt upon one knee, and on the other he supported the dead body of the young girl who had said she would follow the spirit to spirit land. The delicate-looking body from the waist upwards was bare and bloody; the old man’s right arm was under the neck, the lower part of his long grey beard was dabbled with blood, his left hand was twisting his matted hair; he did not weep, he howled, and the sound was that of a heathen despair, knowing no hope. The young girl had secretly procured a loaded musket, tied a loop for her foot to the trigger, placed the muzzle to her tender breast, and blown herself to shatters. And the old man was her father, and a tohunga. A calm low voice now spoke close beside me, “She has followed her rangatira,” it said. I looked round, and saw the famous tohunga of the night.

Now, young ladies, I have promised no to frighten your little wits out with raw-head-and-bloody-bones stories, a sort of thing I detest, but which has been too much the fashion with folks who write of matters Maori. I have vowed not to draw a drop of blood except in a characteristic manner. But this story is tragedy, or I don’t know what tragedy is, and the more tragic because, in every particular, literally true, and so if you cannot find some pity for the poor Maori girl who “followed her lord to spirit land,” I shall make it my business not to fall in love with any of you any more for I won’t say how long.

[#18] Frederick Edward Maning, Old New Zealand, a tale of the good old times; together with a History of the war in the north of New Zealand against the Chief Heke in the year 1845 as told by an old chief of the Ngapuhi Tribe, also Maori traditions. [Christchurch] Whitcombe and Tombs [1948].

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#17 Maori: Tupu and Mate
     (J. Prtyz Johansen, 1954)

There is a word which by its applications can teach us a great deal of what life is to the Maori. It is the word tupu, “to unfold one’s nature.”

When the world is used about diseases, war and peace, thoughts and feelings, the meaning is evident, that these things arise and unfold their nature. A name unfolds its nature (tupu) by spreading, a grasp by being strong. Below we shall examine the meaning of the special idiom: ‘ka tupu te mate, the insult was revenged,’ and see that actually tupu has the same meaning here. Apart from this expression these contexts are not of any particular interest. The peculiar play of the word is brought out much better in some place which we shall now adduce.

We learn that the world was created by some words which Io planted in it, and “ka tupu nei te ao ki te ao, the world unfolded its nature as the world.” What picture does the Maori see before him here? Are we to imagine the world arising from nothing, growing out of the words, or how? Another and more special myth of creation gives a hint: “Only now did the water unfold its nature (ka tupu te wai). It was Winding-stream, Dividing-stream, Overflowing-stream, Widespread-stream, etc.” A long series of mythical types with graphic names conjure up a picture in which the stress is not on the question whether the water arose on such an occasion, but on the fact that it showed a definite nature or character. This refers back to the former account of creation: to create (hanga, build, construct) is not the act of making things arise from nothing, but letting them obtain and unfold their nature, thus tupu. Tupu makes the difference between chaos and the world, every thing must necessarily tupu in its own way: “All things unfold their nature (tupu), live (ora), have form (ahua), whether trees, stones, birds, reptiles (ngarara), fish, quadrupeds, or human beings.” A stone will presumably tupu by being hard – the literature does not make any such statement, to be sure, but in support it may be stated that a pole does so by standing firm. In the case of the living beings it is not difficult to imagine the meaning.

This Unfolding is the essence of creation and must constantly be renewed by karakias (incantations). There is e.g. a kind which must be spoken “over the fishes, birds, and (any) food, in order that their tupu may be good,” i.e. in order that their growth may be good; for referring to living beings tupu means that they live and thrive according to their kind. Sometimes tupu will naturally be translated by ‘live’, e.g. when it is said about some maggots that they tupu on the fat of a corpse. But behind it is, of course, the idea of growth, and the stress may easily be moved to the positive, the display of force. The priest repeats karakias over the sick person in order that “the blood may be good, in order that the breath may return, the sinews may be good, the flesh tupu, namely in order that power may be given to the sick person.” Here we should, if anything, translate tupu by ‘recover’.

Both the power of unfolding and its peculiar character are brought out in a special way in the transformations reported in the legends. Firebrands from a fire were stuck into a river, “in order that these pieces of firewood might become (tupu) demons (kia tupu taniwha ai aua rakau).”

Referring to plants tupu of course means ‘grow’ if tupu is verbal, as a substantive partly ‘growth and thriving’ in general, partly the concrete result of growth, ‘sprout, shoot’. Here, too, we find that the word includes the unfolding as well as the character given by nature. If the kumara is not well looked after, ka heke te tupu, then its tupu vanishes, i.e. it does not thrive well. But tupu also includes the kind of the plant. In the legendary times, when the Maoris settled in New Zealand, there was a woman, Marama, who sinned by having intercourse with a slave. It affected her fields. Instead of the plants she had sown quite different ones grew up. This is expressed by the statement that their tupu failed (ka he te tupu), the stress being on the fact that tupu is thriving of a definite kind.

We have discussed tupu in these contexts in order with greater certainty to see what it involves when applied to human beings, by which on the one hand we find further corroboration of its meaning, and on the other hand gain some insight into what is meant by a man ‘unfolding his nature’ and hence what is the characteristic and significant in man – what life is as a value and not only as existence.

It is true that tupu may be found in a context so much faded that we shall simply translate the word by ‘live’: “My parents lived (‘tupu’) there; but in this way they maintained their right to the country so that even here the positive aspect of tupu is brought out faintly. Mostly tupu is more pointedly positive.

There is a proverb that “The smallness of man will grow (tupu); but the smallness of the adze is always small.” Here tupu clearly means ‘growing’, not ‘living’, only.

That children tupu of course means that they grow, but particularly that they grow up.

Adults may tupu as well. Maui’s descendants “tupued and multiplied.” The Maori is thinking not only of the quantitative aspect, that they multiplied, but of the qualitative aspect as well. This is evident from the following passage about some people who had been driven out of their own fortress, “and after the fugitive and surviving people had been assembled outside the fortress, only then the party tupued,” and they made a counter-attack. Their tupu thus only began after they had assembled and therefore must consist in finding power and courage. This is described picturesquely in the case of a tribe which has been defeated but rises again. It says: “But we tupued and grew strong, courage returned to the hearts of men and we again held up our heads and determined to take vengeance for our dead.” Tupu probably denotes that they multiply, but particularly that they recover courage and strength.

Used substantivally tupu means the natural unfolding, that is, for man, his life. That people die is tantamount to meaning that their tupu, their life, vanishes. On the other hand the reverse does not apply; for tupu is not only life as existence, but life as value as well. The grey hairs of old age, as Tura says, are “a sign that the tupu of man is dwindling, a sign of weakening.”

It is told about the first Maoris in New Zealand that they waged wars against the previous inhabitants and carried off their women and male children in order to use them as slaves. “This was the way in which the invading Maoris’ tupu increased.” This does not only mean that they increased in number and strength – as indeed they only did indirectly –; the context suggest that the narrator is particularly thinking of the fact that they won higher repute.

This aspect of tupu appears very clearly in the myth of Ruatapu, who was Uenuku’s (or Ouenuku’s) son by a prisoner of war. In spite of his low birth he was very haughty, so that one day his father, Uenuku, found it necessary to remind him of his position, saying: “My son, it is not correct that you should go to your elder brother’s house; for you are not a prominent man.” He said this “in order to make Ruatapu’s tupu small (kia whakaitia te tupu).” It is too little just to say that Ruatapu’s repute was to be reduced. It is life in him which is to be put down to the level where it belongs. It is not only the others’ valuation, but quite as much his own valuation of himself which is to be adapted. We cannot easily bring out this view in a better way than through the word ‘honour’.

Nor can we translate tupu differently in Heketewananga’s words to an old man whom he met with on a journey. The old man was sitting under a tree when Heketewananga caught sight of him. In his presumption he climbed the tree, made water on the old man’s head and said, “Ho! ho! you, down there, your chieflike honour (tupu rangatira) has vanished; my water has dripped on your head.”

On the other hand, honour can in no way be separated from repute. It is a weakening of one’s tupu to be refused at an offer of marriage. Repute and honour are one. Ponga indeed was a nobleman, but belonged to a lower line, “so his tupu was weakened by some of his companions’ tupu and influence (mana).” His repute is overshadowed by that of the nobler men, but it is an inner concern as well. The whole saga is a long illustration of Ponga’s modest tupu. There is something dispirited and passive about him. It cannot be said that he carries off his beloved, Puhihuia, from her tribe; it is she who goes away with him. It is she who is the nobler of them and who – although it is not stated anywhere – has most tupu. She, not he, stands out with courage and strength and advances their claim throughout the saga. The lesser tupu means less repute as well as less courage and less vitality.

In the saga about Ponga this is brought out only indirectly, to be sure; but it is seen the more distinctly and dramatically in other accounts. During a fight Pahau seized the head of Tamure, the enemy chief, forced it down, and made water upon it. There Tamure’s tupu vanished and with it his position as chief, and Pahau became chief of his tribe.

Life, strength, courage, honour, and repute thus are one in tupu. A fall in repute drags a man’s whole life down. When it came to light that Hotu had stolen something, he felt much ashamed and feared that by the scorn and derision of the tribe “his tupu would dwindle and thus the influence (mana) of his words.” His influence dwindles with his honour, and his shame penetrates into his soul until he collapses from within, gives up, and leaves his tribe, which had seen his theft. In this connexion it should be remembered what it means for a Maori to give up his kinship group; accordingly, he leads a dispirited life as a kind of small vassal under another tribe, which treats him with disrespect (he iwi whakaheke tupu tangata); Only much later, when his son found him, did conditions change.

A defeat will invariably be an attack on the tupu of a tribe. Here, inversely, it is the fall in the strength of the kinship group revealed in the defeat that drags courage and esteem down with it. When Marutuahu had defeated a tribe decisively, he allowed the survivors to live on their old land; “but their tupu was brought down (i wahakahekea iho te tupu); it was only left for them to look after the land and be cooks (i.e. a dishonourable occupation) and this reduction of their tupu has lasted right down to our day.” Thus they were allowed to exist, but only in order to lead a poor and dishonourable life. With their tupu they lost strength, courage, and repute together, and never recovered any of these qualities. There is good agreement when it is stated about Hape that he “took land and reduced tupus,” for these things generally go together.

The difference between a free man and a slave very clearly illustrates what tupu involves. The slave is a prisoner of war, whose tupu has been lost irrecoverably. It means exactly that his life is without value. His master may take it at will. The reflections of a Maori on the difference between the good old times and the times introduced by colonisation are characteristic. “In the old days,” he says, “if the kind of people… namely people whose tupu had vanished… if they did not obey their master’s commands, they were killed. But now you must not kill them because of the law (i.e. English law) although they still receive orders. In our day they may go on being conceited and impudent (whakakake).”

The grumpy old gentleman speaks the pure and unadulterated Maori truth. A slave is no real human being. He lacks that which is most important of all, life, i.e. the life which is of value, for he has no tupu. Law in its absurdity may protect his bit of life. But what is the good of that? It cannot restore his tupu to him. He is and remains a man without honour. The only thing the law can do to him is that it can make him whakakake, impudent and conceited. This is because tupu develops from within and is maintained outwardly. As we shall see below, mana can be given and taken; but nobody can give or take tupu; for it is life in man as it wells out from within exactly in man’s very nature, i.e. in vitality, courage, and honour, and asserts itself amongst other people as esteem.

Even thought one cannot give tupu to others, one may of course promote their tupu. The causative whakatupu thus means ‘bring up’. With a reflexive meaning it is nearly the same as tupu, but it indicates a more conscious effort. “Katahi ka whakatupu kuri te tangata ra: now this man transformed himself into a dog;” whereas “ka tupu kuri’ means ‘he became a dog’. About Tawhaki, who had been nearly killed, it says that he “had not suffered so much that he could not restore his strength (whakatuputupu) by means of an incantation (karakia).”

Tupu for man is his natural and characteristic unfolding of life, as firmness is to the pole and thriving to the plant. In the myth man comes into existence, i.e. obtains his nature (tupu) by Tane creating him. Here the same word, whaihanga, is used as is used about the building of a canoe or the like. It means that man tupues by taking form.

The distinctive character of man’s tupu pervades all. It does not appear in his form only, but in his honour as well. It is a deeply rooted peculiarity in the Maori that the high-born man will shun all that is connected with ordinary cooking. “The steam (from an oven) is something bad to a Maori; it reduces the human tupu.” This expression indicates that it is something special to human beings that their tupu will not stand steam from the oven; other beings perhaps may thrive excellently by it.

Again, each human being has its characteristic tupu different from all others. There are those whose “tupu has taken an adult form (kua ahua pakeke te tupu)” in contrast to children. Toarangatira and his brother were sons of a chief, but a little delicate. Therefore they were particularly well cared for by the tribe. Particularly Toarangatira was well fed because they saw that “he unfolded a brave nature (i tupu maia a ia).” The chief has a ‘chiefly nature’ (tupu rangatira), i.e. courage, strength, and esteem as suitable for a chief. In practice it appears by the fact that he can lead the kinship group or tribe by virtue of his personal qualities and his direct authority.

Tupu is used adjectivally, too, but as a rule only in connexion with a word which is the object of a genitive and only referring to something belonging to human beings. Within this narrow scope only the aspect of tupu is brought out which indicates a definite nature, as tupu (‘natural, characteristic’) very closely connects the object of the genitive with the latter: Tana tamaiti tupu ‘his own child’. Ko Whakauekaipapa tana tane tupu, he tane tahae a Tuwharetoa, ‘Whakauekaipapa was her actual husband, Tuwharetoa was a lover (a ‘thief-man’)’. Nga tangata e heke ana i o ratou whenua tupu ‘The people who emigrated from their native country’. Ka mahue te kainga tupu ona i whanau ai ‘He left his own village where he was born.’

Life in its essential meaning, life which is worth living, the strength and courage of life thus are identical with honour. Life and honour constitute an indissoluble whole: “tupu”. As regards the word this may only be quite clear in the case of the northern tribes: the experience itself is common to all Maoris; their actions show that life and honour are one.

So it may seem strange that at the translation of the Bible it was necessary to introduce foreign words for honour: kororia, honore from ‘glory’ (or ‘gloria’?) and ‘honour’. But the simple reason is that the Maori lacks a word for honour in itself. It only seems strange until we have seen that the weightiest words for the values of life, tupu, mana, and to a certain extent tapu, include honour, Honour is not isolated in language because it is not experienced at all as something which may be separated from the other values of life.

The weakening of life may be expressed by stating that tupu dwindles. The word mate, however, is used much more frequently; but this word by its scope refers back to exactly the same experience that vitality and honour are identical.

Mate is very nearly, if not exactly, the opposite of tupu. Starting from its use as a verb we may define mate as ‘to be insufficient’, which may be either ‘to be weakened’ or ‘to lack’. As a substantive the word correspondingly means ‘weakening’ or ‘lack’.

One may be in lack of food or drink; but it may also be a beloved one. If so, one may feel tempted to translate mate by ‘love’ or ‘in love’, but then it should be kept in mind that this is a shifting of the contents of the word; for one cannot mate (miss) a woman or man whom one possesses; for through the union the want is satisfied: “Ponga searched for a way in which to have satisfied the desire in his heart, which longed for this girl (e na ai te mate o tana ngakau aroha ki te kotiro ra).” This, indeed, does not prevent us still for practical reasons from often rendering mate by ‘in love’; but it is important to realize how the concept is changed thereby.

Just as mate to denote ‘lack, want’ ranges from slight thirst to the intensest longing for a woman, so in the meaning of weakening it denotes everything from a slight indisposition to death.

Applied to things and animals mate everywhere has a meaning opposite to that of tupu. The tupu of the moon is waxing, its mate is waning. The mate of the sea is being calm, that of the fire is to die away, go out. The mate of a fish is to be caught, that of a tree to be felled, that of work to cease, to be finished, etc.

What is most interesting, however, is the fact that mate, weakened, when referring to human beings is point by point the counterpart of tupu. Tupu may mean ‘arise, come into existence’ and mate may mean ‘to be dead’. Just as tupu includes the meanings of ‘thriving’ and ‘gathering strength’, so mate may denote all degrees of ‘being weakened’. The context must decide how bad things are. “If this man, Kairangatira, dies (mate), then this tribe is weakened (mate).” Thus mate is used about various kinds of weakness, e.g. birth pangs and the pain at being tattooed to more exactly that one is worn out by the pain. One is also exhausted (mate) by cold and rain. The word is further used about being paralyzed with fright and about being dejected with shame (whakama), a fact which we shall discuss in more detail below. Every defeat is a matenga, whether one is thrown in a wrestling match or is put in the wrong in a discussion. Mate thus is the opposite of the vitality and spirit contained in tupu.

Mate, however, is also the opposite of tupu when the reference is to honour and reputation. Mate is any insult and verbally means ‘insulted’. We saw above that the tupu vanished in the old man whose head was insulted by a younger man who made water upon it. Later this was described to the tribe as his mate.

It was an insult (mate) to Tamure that Pahau corrected a word in his incantation.

When Tuhourangi uninvited came on a visit in a period when food was scarce and thus forced Kapu to entertain him poorly, this was a matenga. Should it be considered a defeat or an insult? After all a decision of this problem is not very important, for there is no great difference. Killing, defeat, and insult are one and the same thing, viz. a weakening of life; and this weakening is in itself a step towards perdition and therefore in itself a serious matter whether great or small.

As life and honour are one, the Maori must guard honour as his life, and his life in honour. It is not strange that he is jealous of his honour; it is only saying in other words that he is fond of life. Any insult is a mate, a direct attempt on his life, whether it is his brother who is killed or a word is changed in his incantation. He cannot calmly submit to an attempt on his life whatever the reason. Therefore a mate is a mate. This is not a question of great or small, for any insult, great or small, is aimed directly at his life.

The peculiar thing about the Maori’s experience of life is that it is complete, indeed perfect. So it is, and so it must be. There are no departments in his life; he cannot, as a European, be a great man at the office and be henpecked at home. Life is a whole, therefore the whole of life is affected by an insult or weakening. The Maori may also term the insult a ‘making small’ (whakaiti), exactly because it makes the whole human being small.

A challenge is in itself an insult because it will leave a fall in esteem if it is not accepted. Therefore the chief acted very incautiously who said that “if Rauparaha ever dared to come upon his territory, he would rip his body open with a barracouta-tooth;” for no sooner had Te Rauparaha heard this than he at once set out from his island with a fleet and selected men and in practice disproved the incautious chief’s statement.

Life in honor is so precious that the Maori must necessarily be so jealous of his honour as to be nearly touchy. It is not necessary that anything depreciatory is said, the mere suggestion of it in a situation is enough. There was a woman who saved a boy’s life by pretending that he was a girl before her husband’s enemies; but this was also an insult to the boy for which they came to suffer. Presumably Taupori must also be called touchy, who was most exasperated because two fugitives had passed his fortress and sought protection in his neighbour’s. He sent for them and said, “Did you know that I was here for the express purpose of protecting Ngatata and his friends? Did you doubt my powers to protect your lives? I am in doubt now whether I shall not kill you both for the insult you have offered to me.” However, they succeeded in reassuring him. There were two chiefs who were partaking of a calabash with preserved birds. At last only one bird was left, which one of the chiefs took out, saying, “Here is a morsel for you and me, but as you have already seen it, I will do the eating.” But in matters of honour the Maori cannot take a joke, and this joke became the cause of a war.

We might continue quoting these kinds of examples indefinitely, but had better illustrate in more detail what on a more philological basis we have seen of the completeness of life, the fact that it includes courage, strength, and honour in one.

As a consequence a weakening (mate) affects life as a whole. This is by no means only a philological matter, but dead earnest. For the weakening has the effect that it may make the very will to live crumble away. MANINO e.g. mentions that he knew a man “who, having been for two days plagued with toothache, cut his throat with a very blunt razor,” adding that this kind of thing was not unusual. It is not the pain in itself which is decisive, for in that respect the Maori is not inferior to others, and there are instances on record of fantastic hardiness. No, it is the feeling of the weakening as a disease of both soul and body which eats away the zest for life, because there is no visible enemy from which he may demand satisfaction.

This is illustrated still more distinctly when we see what shame may effect in the Maori.

Life and honour are one. The Maori cannot segregate honour; hence it follows that any defeat is also felt in his honour and affects it. This does not mean that he cannot distinguish between an attack of a corporal kind and one which is directed immediately at his honour and thus drags down life. Both, indeed, are mate and the difference is rather superficial, but it exists and is acknowledged by the fact that an attack on honour is felt as shame (whakama). Even here the boundary-line is not well-defined; we understand that grey hairs are a weakening; but when Tura is ashamed of his grey hairs, it is presumably because the weakening of life drags honour with it. Otherwise the shame in nearly all cases is a direct consequence of an insult or a fall in esteem.

An open insult is not needed. Many a time shame rises in a man because the situation reveals that he is found wanting. If a man cannot serve food for his guests, and so is not equal to the situation, then ‘one is weakened by shame’ (ka mate i te whakama), to use a set phrase. When Marama’s fields failed because of her sin with a slave, she felt ashamed. Tama felt ashamed because he and his family at a dance were more poorly dressed than Tu-te-koro-punga and his family. Shame does not rise immediately from inferiority, but from its revelation. When his brothers laughed at Maui because he caught no fish, he felt ashamed, not because he was bad at catching fish, but because they laughed at him. It is the situation which immediately causes the shame. Ruawharo had long challenged his elder brother, Uenuku, by coming down to the shore when he landed his net and selecting the best fishes. One day Uenuku and his men turned Ruawharo over so that he fell into the net and was smeared with fish slime. “Then Ruawharo was weakened, he felt ashamed and wept and wailed.”

Whether the reason is that others ignore one, or one’s own offence, e.g. a theft coming to light, it is the degrading situation itself which causes the shame. Therefore it is unimportant whether a charge with theft is true or not if it cannot at once be averted. The charge alone causes the shame and its consequences follow without regard to guilt or no guilt. The saga about Hotu will take quite the same course whether the narrator believes that Hotu has committed the theft with which he is charged or not.

Presumably we understand the importance of the situation best of all – without regard to guilt – in the case of the shame felt when one’s modesty is insulted, or when, like Hinetitama, one has committed incest without knowing it.

Shame is an inner attack on man, but this is not to say that one need succumb to it. When Maru, whose father had left his home even before his son had been born, heard the other boys shouting after him, “Bastard, bastard! Where is your father?” he felt ashamed; but he stood his ground and finally sought out his father. In the same way Tukutuku, who wooed Paoa, overcame her shame when he pushed her hand away, and even in the end got him as her husband.

Finally the shame may be so small that we should rather call it modesty, as the one which Paoa felt when he was invited into a house full af women only; but he overcame his modesty (whakama) and entered.

Even though the shame may be overcome, it is always a danger, always a weakening. The chief who dropped his revenge with the words, “I leave it to shame to beat them,” knew very well what he was doing.

“Nothing is like my shame which makes me weak,
It is like a burning heat;”

so runs a song, and using the same simile Ngarue puts the action of shame before us with terrible clearness. His brothers-in-law had dropped some remarks to the effect that he was an idler. So Ngarue said to his wife, “Shame in me is great, it is like a fire burning in me. My love of you pales before the strength of my shame.”

Shame thus is a fire which makes everything else fade and scorches it away. But this is only to expatiate on what is inherent in the common Maori saying “Ka mate i te whakama, he is weakened by shame;” for as we have seen, weakening seizes the whole of life if it is not checked. The fatal thing about shame is that it is often due either to the revelation of inner defects or to a kinsman’s words, and therefore cannot be remedied.

So we witness how shame burns like a fire and scorches everything else away, –all that makes life worth living, strength, courage, and honour. With life also the love of one’s kinsfolk crumbles away, and thus shame has eaten the whole kinship I in man. Perhaps the catastrophe stops here, and what we hear about the effects of shame is only the consequences of it. Perhaps the destruction is not quite so great, but at any rate it makes man smaller, and it may happen as it happened to a chief who could not carry a fortress which he tried to storm and for shame of his powerlessness gave up his wives.

But in a way this was a mild case as compared with the great number in which the whole of the kinship I dies; for then the man, or rather his poor remnants, the individual I, leaves family and home and goes away into strange parts.

So when we see what may be the cause of this sad spectacle, what was said above is again corroborated. Any insult is a weakening. It is the situation which can produce the shame and thus all its consequences. Hotu felt ashamed of the charge of theft and left family and home without regard to the question whether the charge was true or not. Things are not different in the more mythical parts of the traditions. Whiro, who with full knowledge had had intercourse with his daughter-in-law, and Hinetitama, who discovered that her husband was also her own father, reacted exactly alike and fled in desperate shame.

We find that flight from the kinship group and the feeling of shame actually have common causes. There is Paoa, who could not serve good food for his guests, Kahurere, who was rebuked by his father, the woman who was charged with theft or was beaten by her husband, Tamaahua, who was mocked because he was circumcised, and in the myths the Tura mentioned above whose hairs turned grey to his shame, Whaitiri, who heard her husband say about her, “Her skin is like the wind, her skin is like the snow,”Rongoitua, who is mildly reproached, – they all feel ashamed and fly away from their kinship group and kinship I, or at least from a spouse. Whaitiri (Thunder) fled to heaven. This is not done by everybody; but after the beginning of the colonisation one might at least escape to America, as a Maori did out of shame because he could not pay for a canoe.

The flight in shame has also given rise to a saying: “Mahanga whakarere kai, whakarere waka, Mahanga who abandoned food and canoe.” Mahanga had drummed people together to drag his canoe to the water and provided food to feed them, but by ill luck the canoe was shattered. This was enough: “He could not even face his friends, or wait to partake of food, but started off at once,” He never returned.

All these instances corroborate what we have already seen: that a weakening is a weakening. If it is not checked, it is unimportant whether the cause is great or small. When the fire of shame has been lit, it must be put out or life is laid waste.

Against this background we understand still better the meaning of manaaki and the politeness and gentleness towards the kinship group which it involves; for just as manaaki unites the kinship group, so a thoughtless insult may push a kinsman out of the group.

Even towards strangers it may happen that the Maori shows the same delicacy, because he knows how serious an insult is. Once Te Popoki met with an unauthorized person, Whainu, who was setting bird snares in one of his trees. Te Popoki’s son told Whainu to get down, but Te Popoki, who thought that Whainu was miserable with shame (kua mate a Whainu), shouted to him, “Set your snares.” But – as it characteristically says – “Whainu had not strength enough for that, he was too much weakened (mate) because his encroachment had been seen and he had been told to get down; therefore he returned home.”

The Maori’s shame thus may destroy his relationship to those with whom he is living, mostly his kinship group, or in other words eat away the kinship I. This throws a certain light on the relationship between kinship I and individual I. The latter may, indeed, exist apart, but then certainly as a being with very little life, i.e. tupu. It shows how the glory of life, the value of life, courage, strength, and honour are inextricably bound up with the Kinship I and found in this. As tupu for the most important part is thus invested in the kinship I, this also shows how fundamentally important it is to the Maori, as tupu is something developing from within in each individual. This intimate connexion between kinship I and life is perhaps the most penetrating illustration that can be given of the significance and essence of the kinship I, when this is to be interpreted in a civilization which like the European is individualistic in its root.

Still the Maori – as we have seen – need not perish completely with the kinship I. As an individual he may maintain an existence among strangers, indeed, if he is of some prominence, he may attach people to him and obtain a kind of new I.

The family sagas bear witness to the great possibilities open to a prominent personality even when he was not backed by his kinship group. Several tribes might carry their origin back to such a lonely man, among them Ngati-Kahungunu, Ngati-Paoa, Ngai-Tahu, and, in a way, Ngati-Maru. Men in exile and illegitimate children play a statistically disproportionately great part in the traditions. They fascinated and interested the Maoris, who had a sense for the extraordinary effort necessary for the person with a poor or no kinship group to assert himself. A proverb says, “Ka mahi te moenga mokoi, bravo, oh illegitimate child, (many of whom were considered anxious to distinguish themselves, and make a name).”

But the interest in the self-made man is of the kind shown in the extraordinary. Indeed it was far from possible for everybody to found a new kinship group. We need only refer back (p.24ff.) to the inner and outer inhibitions which such a man has to fight, concentrated in the saying that he has no tikanga.

It is of course still more difficult for a slave to assert himself. Still, it might happen that a slave secured a position – evidence of how enormously plastic the Maori was in his social life (to the dismay of those who try to give a general description of this!). EARLE tells about a slave who enjoyed no small reputation because of his rare skill in tattooing. It even happened that a slave was admitted to the tribe and obtained a position as chief. Waharoa also had an extraordinary fate. Having been a slave from his second to his twentieth year he returned to his own tribe, was accepted by it against common practice and developed into one of the great chiefs of the 19th century. These cases are of interest because they throw light on the Maori’s respect for the great personality, but they are decidedly exceptions and should not blot out the picture of the slave or the exiled man as an unhonoured and irresolute nobody, who has half-way done being a human.

If only we adhere to the view that this is the normal, we understand that the Maori will many a time prefer death by his own hand to going into exile. Suicide in so far is on a level with flight, but it contains possibilities of a particular kind.

Whakamomori means being desperate, or doing a desperate deed. It may be that of leaving family and home, as has been mentioned above, but the word is used almost only about suicide.

Suicide thus is the extreme consequence of the fact that life is a whole and therefore stands as a whole or falls as a whole. Once again it is confirmed that there is no direct proportion between cause and consequences. Any weakening may without regard to magnitude hit home. Exactly the same causes may lead to suicide as to flight from the kinship group.

Still, suicide holds a special position in the case of ‘weakenings’ which do not immediately concern honour and where, therefore, the kinship I is not in the first place attacked. We have already heard about the man who cut his throat because he suffered from toothache. The typical suicide, however, is that of the widow. In the northernmost part of New Zealand it was nearly an institution. The consequence was, of course, that every decent widow made an attempt at suicide. In elderly widows it was undoubtedly at the same time the consequence of their inner ‘weakening’; but in younger widows it must have been a more complicated matter. Presumably they often felt driven towards suicide while at the same time they felt that life might still offer possibilities for them. The fact that suicide was an institution then decided the matter. But still there was more to it; for it was a common thing that the family kept an eye on the young widows and took care to save them before death supervened. Perhaps we are allowed to believe that the same young widows did not either make this too difficult. Such a rescued widow might face the world, for one thing; but something also happened in herself on account of the violent event. We have a record from a widow who tried to drown herself, but who was saved. It was certainly grief that impelled her, but when she was lying under water and the want of air oppressed her chest and she felt pain in the ears, her grief ceased and she wanted to live after all. She succeeded in doing so when some people came to her assistance.

However, this is a side track which does not concern the principal matter, that there is an inner weakening which eats life away from within, and that suicide is only a realisation of this. Therefore it did not always help, however much the tribe watched her. It might, indeed, prevent the suicide, but then it might end as in the case of Hauraki’s sister, who simply died of grief at the loss of her brother.

Sometimes the widower also did away with himself.

Turi killed himself by throwing himself down from a tall rock when his eldest son had died. BEST tells about a mother who shot herself when her son had died. Hongi tried to hang himself after his brother’s death,– to mention only some cases of similar reasons for suicide.

Love is also a mate, a ‘weakening’ or a ‘want’, – it comes to the same thing whatever we call it – and if this want is not allayed, there is a possibility that it may make life void, and make the unhappy lover do away with him- or herself.

Shame also often drove the Maori to suicide. A chief, Terekau, who was visited by some people asked his wife to cook some food for the visitors. She told him to do so himself. Soon after Terekau was found in a tree, where he had hanged himself. The debtor who cannot pay, and the woman whose modesty is violated, and many others whom shame fills – guilty or innocent – are found among the suicides. But the greatest expression of the fact that shame carries death, is found in the myth about Hinetitama, the primal mother of man, who war first begotten by Tane and since became his wife and by him gave birth to man. For when she realized that she was married to her own father, she was seized with shame and whakamomori by fleeing to the underworld, where she later under the name of Hinenuitepo has drawn her descendants down into the land of the dead. This is the reason why people die, and thus we see the terrible power of shame in the fact that the shame of the primal mother puts death for man into the world order. But the myth also shows something else, viz. that by founding the land of the dead Hinenuitepo holds fast to her kin, which she draws down to her.

This is ultimately what divides suicide from flight. By flight the Maori gives up his kinship I, but by suicide there is a possibility of retaining the connexion. It may perhaps be said that the Maori in suicide sacrifices his individual I in order to recover his kinship I. (In this connexion it may be pointed out that suicides were actually common). Unfortunately one must express oneself with a certain cautiousness; for the sources are not sufficient to give real certainty in this question where so many threads are twisted into a difficult psychological knot.

It is, however, possible to approach a little nearer to the matter by looking in more detail on the ways chosen by the Maori when he takes his own life. It may happen that he quietly hangs himself; but not infrequently he kills himself in such a way that it is felt that he asserts himself by doing it. An instructive story is e.g. that about the young

Te Aohuruhuru, whose modesty had been violated one night by her old husband’s guilty action. He, who was somewhat older than she, saw that in her sleep she had thrown off part of her blanket. He admired her beauty and put more wood on the fire in order that because of the heat she might get restless and uncover herself further. Then he awakened some other elderly men in the house in order that they might see her; but she awoke and felt ashamed. The next day her husband went fishing while she remained at home. In her shame she then decided to whakamomori, to take her own life, by throwing herself down from a tall rock at the coast. This is described as follows:

“Now she began to adorn herself; she combed her hair, she adorned herself with a fine cloak with a border and put feathers in her hair – feathers and down from the huia bird, the heron, and the albatross. When this was done she rose, went to the steep rock, climbed it, and sat down up there. Then the young woman collected her thoughts on composing a song which she might sing.

The words of the song were finished. Her husband and his comrades were paddling towards the shore. His canoe was close to the foot of the rock on top of which the young woman was sitting, and her old husband’s heart warmed at the beauty of his young wife. Then they heard the woman singing her song. They heard the words of the woman’s song. Listen! They were borne over the ripples of the sea, and when the sound struck another rock it was returned to comfort her. Indeed, the sound of her song came distinctly to her ear. It was like this:

Half uncovered I slept
When the fire was made to blaze
In order that I should throw myself about in my sleep,
And I was made ridiculous.

When she had sung, she threw herself down from the rock in order to destroy herself. There the old man saw her falling from the rock. He watched her clothes which gleamed white (?) as she fell.

Then their canoe headed towards the foot of the rock from which the woman had jumped; the men landed and when they had gone ashore they saw her as she lay there completely crushed.”

The whole account clearly shows that the woman made her death a point of honour. She adorned herself, she, sang, she did that intentionally before her husband’s eyes. In this way she recovers her honour and is remembered for ever so that the rock is still called “Te Rerenga-o-Te-Aohuruhuru”, ‘the place where Te Aohuruhuru jumped’. This memorial is an outward sign that she still lives in the kinship I from which she was separated by her shame and with which she was reunited in honour.

If we ask how her honour can rise, the answer must probably be that it does so because she avenges herself on her husband.

This story pictures the situation to us more vividly than any other, but as regards the aspect of vengeance in suicide others are cleare; GUDGEON tells how he once witnessed that a young Maori who had fallen out with his wife first wanted to throw himself down from a rock, but instead went openly into an English military camp and took two rifles. By doing so he fell into the hands of Gudgeon, who elicited the statement from him that he had counted on being shot, and his train of thought then was that this would force his tribe to seek revenge, which would not take place without also some of the tribesmen being killed; but through this he would be revenged himself.

The question as to what suicide involves then leads on to another: what is revenge?

When – as we have seen – a mate which is not remedied is a menace to life, a disease which in a short time can eat it away, then we understand that it is of vital importance for the Maori to seek healing of this disease. The remedy is revenge.

We are accustomed to consider revenge as a brutal manifestation of hatred, and I think we are right in so far as this is actually the nature of revenge with us. It is a different matter when we are faced with revenge in a foreign civilization, among people whose experiences are different from ours. Here the customary ideas do not help, we must patiently try to find out what revenge is among the Maoris.

Merely seeing what mate involves is helpful. It may be expressed like this: mate is a void in man, whether it is most in the character of an absorbing desire or an undermining of the zest for life. Revenge fills in this void, satisfies it, as the Maori may say: “Hauraki’s mate was not yet satisfied (na),” for which reason they set out and killed another man.

Revenge has a healing effect and makes the weakened person whole. How this is possible we may come to realize better by looking at the different variations of revenge found.

The normal revenge consists in killing one or more members of the kinship group that has offered the insult. It may be said with truth that revenge has two aspects: partly that the avenger asserts himself, partly that the insulter is hit. This division is justifiable because the Maori himself makes it, if not in thought, at any rate in deed. For he may very well avenge himself by killing people who have nothing to do with the insult, i.e. are not related to the insulter at all. Thus it is recorded of a detachment of Ngatipaoa that they went to war far away

35 AHM. IV, 188.

36 Grey, M. 118.

37 AHM. IV, 36.

38 AHM. V, 73.

39 AHM. IV, 44

40 E.g. JPS. 5, 166: ka whakatupu nei a Turereao I tana tamaiti…, a ka tupu, a, ka tangatatia…

41 Williams s. v. whakatupu.

42 AHM. I, 86.

43 AHM. I, 135.

44 AHM. V, 62.

45 AHM, IV, 144.

46 AHM. IV, 93.

47 AHM. V, 101.

48 The substantival use of tupu about human beings especially comprising honour is found with certainty only among the tribes in the northern half of the north island of New Zealand, viz. from Ngapuhi in the north down to and including the tribes Ngatihaua and Ngatitoa. In addition there are some scattered examples. From Tuhoe we have the compound tupuheke ‘lose tupu, i.e. honour’ (TNZI. 36, 65 Best). From Ngatikahungunu a proverb is recorded: “He taina whakahoki-tipu, taina whakahirahira, he potikikahiatoa!” (Lore I, 41): “A younger brother who violates tupu, who exalts himself at the expense of others; a crafty little brother”. (On kahiatoa or kahia a toa sec JPS. 37, 373). Thus tupu here includes honour, but the strange thing is that it reads whakahoki tupu instead of the usual whakaheke tupu. It might be tempting to correct this whakahoki into whakaheke if there were not in a Ngatitoa text a corresponding expression: ‘te hokinga o te tupu’ (AHM.VI, 28) with the same meaning of ‘reducing tupu’. As hoki means ‘(to) return’, these expressions with whakahoki must be interpreted in the way that tupu is made to make the opposite of its natural movement, which is unfolding, thus to be reduced. The expression ka hoki taku tipu (JPS. 17, 171) is presumably to be interpreted in the same way: “then my tupu decreases”; but the meaning of the passage is not quite certain. This interpretation is supported by a parallel use of hoki in connexion with ingoa (name): kei hoki te ingoa ‘lest the name suffer’ (Ngata, no. 13 = Grey, Mot. 117 from Te Arawa).

[#17]  J. Prytz Johansen, “Maori: Tupu and Mate,” The Maori and His Religion in its Non-Ritualistic Aspects. (Copenhagen: I Kommission Hos Ejnar Munksgaard, 1954), pg. 40-61. Footnotes deleted.

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#16 The Maori Myth of Tane The Myth of Rakuru



Tane took Hine-ti-tama to wife.
Then night and day first began;
Then was asked, “Who is the father by whom I am?”
The post of the house was asked, but its mouth did not speak;
The side of the house was asked, but its mouth did not speak (d).
Smitten with shame, she departs, and is hidden
In the house called Pou-tu-te-raki.

Whither goest thou, O Tane?
I am following our sister.
You, O Tane! return to the world to foster our offspring;
Let me go to darkness to drag our offspring down.
You take the mats of Wehi-nui-a-mamao
Called “Fish by the Land,” “Fish by the Sea,” “Cliff of the
Earth,” “Cliff of the Sky.”
You have also obtained the stars,
“In a Heap,” “Double Rim,” “Stand Erect,” “Weapon of War,”
“Eye of the King,” “The Collection of Rehua,”
To be rulers of the year;
And also the stars “Defiance to the Ashes,”
And “Cut into Pieces,” “Defy the Absconding,”
“Defy the Diminutive,” “Defy the Quiet Word,”
“The Warmth,” “The Heat,” “The Very Hot,”
Which were put to beautify Rangi,
That he might be comely;
Also the stars, “The Delight of the Dark One,”
And “The Delight of the Light One,” with
“The Branch Crossing,” and “The Fish of the Sky.”
Yes, my child.


The hosts of heaven called to Tane, and said, “O Tane! fashion the outer part of the earth: it is bubbling up.” Tane repeated his incantation, and went and formed the head, then the hands, arms, legs, and feet, and the body of a woman. There was no life in the form, and she adhered to the earth. Her name was Hine-hau-one (daughter of earth-aroma). Tane used his procreating power, and a child was born, which he called Hine-i-tauira (the model daughter). She was reared by the people to become a wife for Tane, and to him she was given. When Tane had been absent for some time she asked the people “Where is my father?” They replied, “That is your father with whom you live.” She was overwhelmed with shame, and left the settlement. She killed herself. She went down to the world of spirits by the road called Tupu-ranga-o-te-po (the expansion of darkness). Her name was altered and she was then called Hine-ti-tama (daughter of defiance). She was allowed to enter the world of darkness, where she remained, and her name was again changed, and she was there called Hine-nui-te-po (great daughter of darkness). Tane followed his wife, and on his arrival at the door of the world of darkness he found it had been shut by her. He was in the outer portion of the world of spirits when he heard the song of his wife, which she sang to him thus:—

Are you Tane, my father,
The collector at Hawa-iki, the priest of the sacred ceremony of the
Kumara crop?
My sin to Raki made you leave me
In the house Rangi-pohutu (Heaven uplifted).
I will disappear, and weep at
The door of the house Pou-tore-raki (heaven floated away).
O me!”


When she had ended her song she said to Tane, “Go you to the world and foster our offspring. Let me stay in the world of darkness to drag our offspring down.”

She was lost in darkness, but Tane lived in the light—that is, the world where death was not like the death in the world of darkness.

Tupu-ranga-te-po (growth of darkness) led Tane to see his wife, and opened the door of the world of darkness to allow Tane to follow her; but when he had seen the blackness he was afraid, and was not brave enough to follow her, and drew back.

[#16] John White, The Ancient History of the Maori, His Mythology and TraditionsWellington, G. Didsbury, government printer, 1887-90.

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#15 Cliff Suicide: The Privilege of Women
     (Te Rangi Hiroa [Sir Peter H. Buck], 1938)

Suicide took place among both sexes through jealousy, anger, and sometimes loss of power and prestige. Men took their own lives in preference to being killed by the enemy. In the coral atolls of the Tuamotus, both men and women committed suicide by jumping off coconut trees. In Mangareva, another method was provided by cliffs.

In the time of Te Oa, some of his daughters as well as those of Te Ma-tetama committed suicide by jumping off a cliff on Mount Duff. This form of suicide became known as rere maga (to jump off a mountain) and the particular cliff used by these women of high rank was termed Te Rerega-o-te-ahine (The Jumping-off-place-of-the-women). Commoners jumped off another part of the cliff. From the precedent set, the cliff form of suicide was supposed to be the special privilege of women, and men had to content themselves with jumping from coconut trees (rere eréi). There were exceptions, as when a party of old men jumped off a cliff in Akamaru to escape being killed by Apeiti. A fugitive chief also jumped off a cliff in Taravai because his son had been killed before his eyes.

A suicide that took place on Akamaru is recorded in the following song.

I will jump off, I will jump off,
Into the shadows of Korotutu
Where the sprinkling rain will
fall on my body.
I will jump off.

O rain forming flowers in the sky
Float away to the land of my
Husband [Maku-ariki].

I will go to join Mahine
For the sacred person of
Toa-te-etua was violated.


Mahine was probably a relative or a female ancestress who had passed to the other world. Toa-te-etua was the princess of Taravai who was violated and killed by Turia. In the song she is taken as the most illustrious member of the female sex who had been wronged.

[#15] Te Rangi Hiroa (Peter H. Buck), “Cliff Suicide: The Privilege of Women”, Ethnology of Mangareva (Honolulu, HI: Bernice P. Bishop Museum, 1938).

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#14 The Native Culture in the Marquesas

Coconut Rites for Suicide
Marquesan Legends: Tahia-noho-uu
     (E.S. Craighill Handy, 1920-21, 1923, 1930)

Coconut Rites for Suicide

The most approved of all marriages was between cross cousins, though this was not a fixed rule of marriage. For a man to marry his deceased brother’s wife or a woman her deceased sister’s husband was highly approved though not obligatory.

I was told in Pua Ma’u that a man and a woman who desired to make a proper marriage should be related in some way, for two reasons; first, in order to keep all the property of each within the family and to prevent its distribution; and secondly, so that a man’s wife could wash her husband’s waist cloth, or beat the cloth for his loin cloth. (None but a man’s relatives could touch his loin cloth.)

When a woman undertook to live with a man, she placed herself under his authority. If she cohabited with another man without his permission, she was beaten or, if her husband’s jealously was sufficiently aroused, killed. It often happened that later the man himself was killed for revenge by the woman’s family. I have been told that a native woman was, and is, always proud when her husband beats her, because by the strength of his jealousy is measured the strength of his devotion. If a woman was unhappy with her husband, she could return home or she could go to live with another man, in which case there would be likely to be trouble between the two men. According to Père Jean peaceful separation by mutual agreement was rare. It seems evident, however, from discussion of the matter with informants, that separation was common and violent results on account of excessive jealousy very uncommon. If a woman were overwhelmed with sorrow and jealousy on account of the unfaithfulness of a man, it does not appear that she would attempt to revenge herself either on the other woman or on her husband, but rather that her grief would lead to suicide by taking poison or hanging herself. Discussion of this matter with informants leads me to believe that such a course was by no means infrequent with women. Père Jean says that women sometimes followed this course with the intention of returning after death as vehine hae, or evil spirits, to haunt the surviving husband and his new wife.

According to Père Pierre, objects were cursed by being named either after the head, which was the most sacred part of the body, or after the private parts of a woman, which were the most profane. If a house were so named, its inmates could no longer live in it. If a dish, clothes, or weapons had been so cursed, they could no longer be used, but were thrown upon some sacred pavement. In like manner, the phrase to roro (your brain) was applied to persons or objects as a curse or an insult. This was not, however, regarded as being as potent as naming after the head.

When a woman desired to kill herself she accomplished it by means of the rite called niu vahi. She took a coconut to a sacred place and broke in into two parts, saying, “This part is for — [a god’s name], that part for my pudendum.” Her death would result from her having named one-half of the coconut for the god and the other for her private parts.

Marquesian Legends: Tahia-noho-uu

The name of the husband was Tuapu. Hina-te-ii was the name of the woman. The child had grown [in the womb] three months, when the husband went away and took a new woman. (This woman is not named). The woman with child, a daughter was born to her, Tahia- noho-uu by name. That girl grew. Her body was sweet scented entirely, even her urine was sweet scented, her ex- crement was sweet scented. As this girl grew the boys sought her favors. These boys carried the good word concerning the girl to another tribe. When the peo- ple had heard this good word about this girl, the father, Tuapu [who did not know it was his daughter] also heard, and desire came upon him.

Afterwards he went up to look at her. There was great famine in the land, and all the men had gone up on the mountain ridges seeking food yams and tree fern ; the old men were gathering ihi leaves in the valleys. In three nights the people would return from the moun- tains. When the vigorous men went up the mountains, the girl’s mother and her brothers, Namu and Tikaue, went up also. When Tuapu heard this, that the mother and brothers had gone, he came to the girl’s house. The girl looked at the man but she had no idea it was her father. She thought nothing unusual was going to happen to her. The father took the girl to him.

(The mother having returned is told of her daughter’s intercourse with the man, whom she recognizes from the description to be the girl’s father.)

The mother said to the girl, “You sleeping mat, you loin cloth, you dis- eased head ! !” And the mother took her robe, and went to bathe. When she was finished bathing, this woman put on her robe, put a sweet smelling wreath on her neck, took her ceremonial stafif, and her tortoise-shell crown, her ornament of white hair, and her fan different from all others. This woman departed, and went to her affianced husband. And she cried out loudly, “Tuia (affianced), he tuia!” Her former husband heard the voice of his woman, crying out to him. When she arrived at the house of the recent husband, he desired her. He pur- sued her far, and when he came up with her, he drew near to her, and she be- came very angry, and insulted her for- mer husband, “You sleeping mat, you woman’s loin cloth, you stench ! ! What do vou mean by lying with our daugh- ter?'” The father said, “Tut, tut, tut!” And the woman said, “Don’t talk back at me,” and she went after him, after her recent husband. The husband fled before her, and the woman took after him, and she caught her recent husband, and they went back up to their house. When they came up to the house the girl saw them and was afraid for she knew this was her man. The mother said to her daughter, “Here is your father.” The girl was ashamed.

They two (man and wife) went into their room. They did their work during those days, and stopped. When men would arrive at the house, their work was simply sleeping (they would find them all asleep). The woman (girl) was in the house, and never came out. One half of the house was occupied by the mother and the father the other half by the girl and her mother’s brothers.

Now this girl had no food. The wind only was her food. When the mother had heard that the daughter had lain with her father, she forbade the coming of any man again to her daughter.

The chief Tu-Tona was preparing for a voyage to Nukuhiva. The business of the uncles of the girl was searching all round Hivaoa for a handsome husband for her. Not a thing did they find, not a good man did they see. This girl then said to her uncles, “It would be well if you two would go to Nukuhiva and find a good looking husband for me.” Her uncles replied, “Yes, Yes.” The girl said to her uncles, “Prepare sweet scented things for me, red pandanus seed, phosphorescent fern (Ffungus) that smells sweet, pita stem, gardenia, mahatuhi and mahapoa leaves, wild ginger.” Then she said, “Climb up and get me two coco- nuts.” Then the girl said to the uncles, “Scrape well the meat of one coconut and put it with the sweet scented things.” The uncles set themselves to obtain these sweet scented things for the girl, sweet smelling necklaces of one kind and an- other, until they had brought together every kind of scented thing there was. They put them inside a vessel and cov- ered it over well. The girl then said to Tikaue, “Come here. Go and tell Namu to take that coconut that is not scraped.” Namu took the coconut. Then the girl said to Namu, “Split the nut on Tikaue’s head.” So Namu seized the nut ; one, two times he struck it on the head of Tikaue, but the nut did not break. But Tikaue’s head ached ! Then Tikaue said to Namu, “It will be a good thing for me to break this on your head.” The coconut passed into Tikaue’s hands, and he struck it on the head of Namu. And the nut broke. When they had broken it, the girl took one half and put it against her skin. When she observed that in whiteness her skin was like that of the flesh of the coconut, she said to her uncles, “The half like this coconut in whiteness, that is my half.” (When you find a man with skin as white as this coconut, that is my mate). The uncles replied, “Yes. yes.” [A play on the word vahana which means “half of a thing” and “husband”.]

Everything was ready. The uncles went to the chief, Tu-Tona. They said to the chief, “It would be well if we went along with you to Nukuhiva.” Tu- Tona replied, “Yes, yes.” Then he said, “Make ready your things.” Namu and Tikaue replied, “Our things are all ready.” Then they asked, “What night is it we start on this voyage?” Said Tu-Tona, “Hotu-nui [the fifteenth night of the moon] is the night.” The uncles returned to the house of the girl, and said to her, “The chief wants us to go with him.” The girl was pleased.

When that night came, that is Hotu- nui, Namu and Tikaue went to Tu- Tona’s. There gathered with them seven twenties of men at the chief’s house, the people who were to accompany the chief to Nukuhiva. The chief had one reason for going on this voyage, Namu and Ti- kaue had another. In the night of Hotu- nui the canoe set out and the mat sail was put up. As the canoe put out that evening the sea was calm. But the mana of that girl raised a strong wind, so that in a single night that canoe had arrived at Nukuhiva.

Then the report came in Nukuhiva, “Here is a strange canoe, with seven twenties of men on board” ; and the re- port, “It belongs to the chief, Tu-Tona, from Hivaoa.” The chief at Nukuhiva was pleased, and his people too. They cooked food, they cooked pig, they cooked poke, they cooked popoi — all kinds of food. Then the invitation went to the chief and his people. So they all went to the place of the chief at Nukuhiva. They feasted on the food at this chief’s.

Namu and Tikaue always had another thought on their minds. Their work was looking for a man with white skin. Not one did they see. Tu-Tona and his people were all sleeping together in one house ; but some of them kept amusing themselves with the food. That was fest- ival food, for they were making a great feast.

The Nukuhiva people were enjoying themselves being tattooed. Tua was the: night for the showing of the tattoo de- signs. They went to bathe at the third crowing of the cock. Namu and Tikaue were watching them all the time. As they bathed, the people made the sound of the poko. [Holding the left elbow crooked against the side, and clapping the right hand upon the cavity thus made.] But they did not see any lightning (light skinned youth). As dawn was approach- ing they heard another poko. So they went to have a look. Then they saw lightning, a handsome young man ! Ti- kaue said to Namu, “Go and get the gourd with the coconut in it.” Namu got it. He came with this thing, and the two of them went to this youth’s. Then said this handsome youth, “Who are you two?” “We are a couple of the men from Hivaoa.” The youth then asked, “What are you after?” Namu and Ti- kaue replied, “We came hither to look at you, and when we saw you we recog- nized you as a handsome youth.” Then Namu said to Tikaue “Come here.” Na- mu then took the coconut, and struck it on the head of Tikaue, twice he struck it, but the coconut did not break. When the youth perceived what they were doing, he thought that the nut could be broken quickly with a stone. He thought to him- self, “These must be a couple of fools”. Sick indeed was Tikaue’s head ! And the youth laughed. Then Tikaue said to Namu, “It will be well now if I try breaking it on your head.” So the nut passed into the hands of Tikaue, and he struck it on Namu’s head. The nut broke. When the white meat was put next the skin of the youth, just alike were the two in whiteness.

Then the youth asked, “What of it, this similarity?” Then Namu and Tikaue said, “This is the likeness of your woman.” The youth perceived that this was a very beautiful woman, so he said, “That is my woman, old fellows.”

Then Namu and Tikaue opened the vessel filled with perfumes. As it was opened, the sweet smelling things spread all about Nukuhiva. Heretofore there had been at Nukuhiva no sweet odors, none grew there. From the opening of this vessel perhaps seeds of sweet smell- ing plants fell, and since that time these perfumed plants have grown in Nuku- hiva.

The vessel was given to the handsome youth. The people from Hivaoa smelt the perfume. When Tu-Tona smelt it, he’ asked of Namu and Tikaue, “Does that thing belong to Tahia-noho-uu ?” They replied, “Yes, yes.” Then the chiefs of Hivaoa and Nukuhiva chatted together. The Nukuhiva chief said, “Now we know what a lovely odor it is. This dwelling where the strangers are staying is to be divided by means of a piece of tapa, and one half of it is to be for the use of this youth, while the other room will be for the strangers.”

In the morning the visitors put on their loin cloths and went to see the feast which was at the dance area. The drums were sounding, they were singing the ptie chant, dancing the haka. When the visitors were gone to see the feast, Tikaue and Namu and this handsome youth were still in their room occupied in bedecking themselves. The father and the mother of the youth had come to the feast to see their son, but he was not to be seen, he did not come right away. Then the three of them arrived, Tikaue and Namu and this beau, everybody at the feast saw him, he was like lightning, very hand- some, very sweetly perfumed, his dress scented throughout. They came from above and below when he came upon the dance floor, the sound of ‘ the drums ceased, all the festive folk stopped still, doing nothing but marvelling at this lovely j’outh. The women desired him ardently. Just two haka did this beau dance, one along one side of the dancing- floor, one along the other side.

Namu and Tikaue said, “Let’s get ready.” When the youth had gone, the vim of the festive folk was gone ; they said, “The beau has fled, who else is there to look at?” So the tribesmen went to eat the feast. By means of their power- ful mana Namu and Tikaue produced a great wind, the West Wind. The Hivaoa chief, Tu-Tona, said, “This wind is a good one for our departure for Hivaoa ; we can bear down eastward.” The tribesmen said to chief Tu-Tona, “Let us get ready, it’s a good wind.” The chief replied, “Then make ready, the food is all finished. In the morning we shall sail.”

Namu and Tikaue were making ready the things of the youth. They were al- ways thinking of something diff^erent from the rest of the tribesmen, always doing something different. That night all was ready for the departure for Hivaoa. In the evening Namu went outside and sang like a komao bird. When the folk inside the house heard the sound of the komao, they said, “Friends, it is dawn. So let us get ready to go.” But Tu-Tona said, “It is evening.” Others said, “The komao has sung.” Namu came into the house and Tikaue went outside, and then sang like a rooster. It was a real roost- er’s crow. Then the tribesmen said, “It is certainly dawn. Let’s go.” Namu and Tikaue said to the handsome youth, “Come, we will hide you in the canoe.” So they went, the three of them.

Later all the tribesmen came with the chief. They climbed into the canoe, and let out the mat sail. They shoved off and the canoe sped away. In the depth of the night they departed from Nuku- hiva. In the morning, when it was scarcely dawn, they came to Aihoa (on the northern coast of Hivaoa), and the wind dropped. Then they began to bail out the bilge water ; and they saw that there was yellow stain on it.

Then the chief said, “Oh Namu, oh Tikaue, what’s this on the bilge water? And what of your brother-in-law?” Ti- kaue and Namu replied, “Yes, yes.” Then Tutona was angry, and he said, “What do you conceal your girl’s husband for?” Not a word came from Namu and Ti- kaue. Then Tikaue and Namu revealed their son-in-law, and the tribesmen mar- veled greatly.

Then they paddled the canoe. In two strokes of the paddles the canoe was on the sand at Atuona. While the canoe was off Aihoa, Tu-Tona said to the hand- some youth, “Do you see that white thing?” The youth revealed himself flashing like lightning. The woman did likewise, from the beach at Atuona. Tikaue and Namu landed, the youth go- ing first.

The old man went behind him crying out, “The affianced, the affianced. The handsome youth of Tahia-noho-uu from Nukuhiva.” Crying thus they went all the way up to their house.

They arrived at the house. As they came close to the dwelling, the youth saw two women, both of them white, one just like the other, both of them beauties. The youth did not know which was his wom- an. The mother of his woman called out to him, and he called back. She said, “Come, come hither my son-in-law.” Then his woman rose and embraced her husband, and they pressed noses, and all went inside the house. After coming in- side the house, the woman took the half coconut, and touched him with it to see if he matched it in whiteness. Exactly like the half coconut was he.

Now the father of this handsome boy had been searching in Nukuhiva for his son. The folk of Nukuhiva said to him, “Your boy has been stolen.” For six moons this handsome lad lived with his woman. Then grief came upon him for his father and mother, and he said to his woman, “The time has come for me to go to Nukuhiva to see my mother and father.” The woman replied, “I am willing. However, you must come back in one moon. When one night beyond one moon has elapsed and you have not returned, I shall die.”

The husband re- plied, “Yes, yes.” The husband then went. With his ar- rival in Nukuhiva, his family was very happy. They said to him, “What is the new word from Hivaoa?” The hand- some lad replied, “I have found a beauti- ful woman. There is not a woman like her here in Nukuhiva.”

His woman was counting the days. Came the thirty days to an end, and this husband of hers had not come back. Then she wept for him. And spoke thus, “My husband does not come back.” Then said this woman to her uncles, Namu and Tikaue, “Climb the coconut trees, two trees, one for pani (scented oil for the head), one for hoho (scented oil for the body).” The uncles came with the nuts. Said that girl to them, “One scrape one nut, the other scrape the other.” The scraping (of the meat) finished, she made pani for her head with one nut. After- wards she anointed her body with (the oil from) the other nut. Then she said to the uncles, “I crave crabs.” [Kaki refers to the craving of a pregnant woman for a particular food.] She sent the uncles to get some crabs, because she wanted to get them out of the way. When she was alone, she wanted to hang herself.

As they were going to get the crabs, Tikaue struck his foot against a stone on the road. Said Tikaue to Namu, “Come on, let’s return. Our niece has strangled herself.” When the uncles arrived at the house, their girl was dead. When they saw that she was dead, each of them climbed a coconut tree, and each precipitated himself headforemost down upon the ground, for each had the idea of killing himself. But when they leapt, they did not kill themselves. They climbed the coconut trees again, flung themselves down again. They did not die!

Three nights after the woman had died, her ghost came to her husband in Nukuhiva. When the spirit of the woman came to her husband, he wept continu- ously. The woman said to her husband, “You are weeping mightily for me, my husband.” Then the husband saw his woman, and they embraced, and pressed noses, and wailed over each other. The husband said to his woman, “How did you get here?” The woman replied, “I who am here, my husband, have died.” Then the husband was seized with fear. He said “You can’t be dead. Your body is good.” “Nevertheless,” said the woman, “I have died. However, you must say, my husband, to your family that they are to collect coconuts, to grate wild ginger, to scrape coconut meat, to go in search of kaupe (Carissa grandis) flow- ers, to bring some kokuu (Indian lilac) fruits. All these things are to be put together and the juice from them squeezed into a trough.” When the mem- bers of the family had disappeared, look- ing for these things, the woman said to her husband, “Now shut off our room with a piece of cloth ; and tell them that after three nights they are to take away this curtain of tapa.”

When three nights had passed, the hus- band took away this piece of cloth, and the woman was alive. Then the family saw that this girl was alive again. When they had seen her in the room, they thought, “How did this new woman get here?” The husband said to them, “That is my work, during the three nights I made this room tapu to you.” His rela- tives marveled greatly at this very beauti- ful woman, and they were pleased. Then they knew for a fact that the woman of this handsome man of Nukuhiva was a beauty.

They lived together. In one moon a child was growing in the woman’s womb, in nine moons a boy was born. Tahia- noho-uu named it Tuapu. That child grew, another grew in the womb, and a girl was born. The mother gave it the name of her mother, ] lina-tai-ii. Again a child was growing in her womb, and a boy was born. It was given the name Te – poea – Hiva – Oa (The-beau-of-Hiva Oa). Again another child grew, a girl was born. Hers was her mother’s name.

When the first-born had come to the age of five years, Namu and Tikaue went in search of tortoises down in the sea. They wanted tortoises of that kind be- cause they were making a large stone platform in which to hide away the body of their girl who had died a long time before. [Tortoises were valued as offer- ings to the gods.] Now the soul of this woman who had died a long time be- fore in Hivaoa saw from Nukuhiva the work of Namu and Tikaue. Then said this ghost to her husband, “Now is ap- proaching the time of my death.” Then the husband asked, “What makes you know your death is near?” “I looked, my husband, and saw Tikaue and Namu in search of tortoise, and making a great paepae in which to put away my dead body.”

When the work on the paepae was fiinished at Hivaoa, and the tortoise had been found, the ghost of this woman long since dead said to her husband, “Now after three nights I am going to die. Now, my husband, when I am dead, bring to me the first-born child and put into his hands one piece of kava root, and one pig; give to the girl two pieces of cloth, to dry their tears for their mother.” The husband wept, because he knew she had taken no kind of sickness. He had seen that she had a perfectly firm body. He sought to find out from her what this was all about, her dying in three nights.

In the evening of the second day be- fore she was to die, she said to her hus- band, “Gather together, all of you, with the children, and put two children on one side of me and two on the other side, and let my husband stand at my head.” They all sat down and waited, and the woman lay down. The husband and the children were wailing. When the first cock crew, the feet of this woman dis- appeared. She then said to her husband, “Now my death is near. Take my legs.” The husband and the children reached for the legs and there were no legs. At second cock’s crow, half of her trunk disappeared. When full daylight vi?as near, the rest of her body disappeared, and only the head remained. Said this head to them now, “Enough, let us press noses.” And so the children pressed noses vvrith this head and afterwards the husband did the same. Then the husband twisted the hair of the head in his fingers (to hold it). Then said the head, “I am going to die, you cannot hold that hair.” When she died the head flew up on to a rafter of the house like a young green bird, and cried out, “Oe oe oe oe oe oe oe. The seeking hither of Namu and Tikaue for the soul of their niece, Tahia-noho- uu. Doing my work, going to seek my tortoise, building my paepae, carrying far my body to put it in this paepae. Oh my husband, greeting, and to our children.” Then this bird flew up on to the ridge pole of the house, and said to them, “Farewell.” They all wailed. They wailecf especially because they would not see the ghost (or corpse) again.

Three nights after the death of the mother, the children, with the tear dry- ing cloth, a pig apiece, with the kava, the woman’s dress, departed from Nuku- hiva. At Hivaoa no one knew whence they had come. Leaving Nukuhiva one morning early, they arrived at Hivaoa that very same morning. They went right up to the paepae of their mother. When they came near the paepae, the sister wailed, “Oh my mother, Tahia- noho-uu, e-e-e-e.” Now Namu and Ti- kaue, these two were in a house on the paepae. They were at work. The chil- dren climbed up on the paepae. This pae- pae was the kind that is very tapu, the kind that women should not climb up on. So when Namu and Tikaue saw a girl upon this paepae, they were extremely angry, and they took her and threw her off the top. Nevertheless, though they had been thrown off the top, the children kept climbing up. After being thrown off three times they stopped. The first- born, Tuapu, then said to Namu and Tikaue, “Why do you throw us off, I here am Tuapu, and this is my sister, Hina-ta-ii. We are bringing the kava root and the pig, gifts for our mother, and the cloth with which to dry eyes.” Then they wept.

Those two (Namu and Tikaue) then took the children, and placed them on their heads and wailed. Then they car- ried the two children to their grand- mother. It is ended. [Placing the children on the heads is a ceremonial custom by which children were honored and consecrated. Formal histrionic wailing was a sign alike of passionate joy and grief.]

[#14] E. S. Craighill Handy, The Native Culture in the Marquesas (Honolulu, HI: The Museum, 1923), pg. 100 and Marquesan Legends (Honolulu, HI: The Museum, 1930), pg. 26.

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#13 After Defeat in Fighting: Burying Oneself Alive
     (Ernest Beaglehole and Pearl Beaglehole, 1938)

There is no record in Pukapuka of pitched battles between opposing groups, or of warfare existing within the social structure of a definite institution. The atoll was too small, the total population too few, and the amount of available land too little for institutional warfare to have developed. Informants definitely asserted that warfare was unknown on Pakapuka. They were correct in one sense, but the existence of weapons and stories about fighting shows that the island was not always at peace. Fighting incidents in stories of the fighting at Waletoa, the fighting against Yangalipule to the fighting of Tuiva against the men of Yato, the fighting against Uyo, and the fighting of Te Nana in Yayake, reveal that such fighting was caused by violation of the tapu of the reserves, quarrels over food divisions, personal rivalries, quarrels over division of the reserves, and like matters. The fighting that occurred rarely rose above the level of brawling, but where a pitched hand-to-hand contest resulted, much blood seems to have been shed for little cause. The number of deaths in these contests seems to have been increased by the fact that losers habitually committed suicide by having relatives bury them alive.

Tuiva’s regency was in general a peaceful period. He realized that much of the trouble in the time of Alatakupu was due to the fact that the old men had found time hanging heavily on their hands and invented mischief to make life more interesting. Tuiva therefore refused to admit to the old men’s age grade any person who was not “crawling with age”.

It seems, however, that the comparative abundance following recovery from the effects of the seismic wave did not long continue, because the records speak of another famine in Tuiva’s period. It is likely that the population was again increasing faster than the food supply, necessitating more stringent measures than usual to control the food that all might have a fair share in it. Again it seems that Tuiva’s assumption of the regency was not without opposition. This was centered in the person of another Ngake man, Watumoana, a priest of the god Tulikalo, who dwelt mainly in the god house attached to the sacred enclosure of this god. Watumoana was jealous of the power of Tuiva and wished to procure some of this power for himself, or alternately to become regent of the island in place of Tuiva. The bitterness between the two men, based on their rivalry, only waited for some incident to bring them to open conflict. The story of their conflict is a favorite one of the Pukapukans. The account recorded by Talainga deserves reproduction in full because of the wealth of detail bearing on every aspect of Pukapuka culture:

Tuiva was a child of Taonge, one of the eight of Ngake. Matanga was his lineage. This was in the time after the law of pule pae. It was a period without a chief. Tuliayanga was dead.

Takitini was a Loto man of the Tua lineage. He had been ordered by Tuiva to guard the point of Utupoa against the group who went out along the Ngake reef and who might be up to mischief returning from Ko. It was a time of famine. The island had not yet developed well. The men of the island were few in number; they had been finished off in the pule pae.

The children of Tuiva went to grope for fish along the reef. Takitini watched them coming from the reef. Takitini ran forth, snapped his fingers on the tops of their heads, chased them so that they would go home. Takitini said disapprovingly, “The eyes of the thieves.” The children went, told Tuiva. Tuiva did not listen. Takitini was his brother. Besides, it was he who had placed him (Takitini) to protect the point at Utupoa. These were only the words of children.

Arrived at another day, Tuiva again chased his children, saying to them, “Why do you stay doing nothing? What about us, we are hungry. Why do you not go to fetch some food for us?” The children went again to the Ngake reef. They were seen again by Takitini. Takitini again went forth. He spanked them, spearing them in the ribs with his stick. He didn’t spear them really; he merely frightened them so they would not go again. The children complained again to Tuiva, “We have been whipped by Takitini; he speared us in our ribs with his weapon.” Tuiva again did not listen to the telling of the children. He thought again as he had thought before.

Another day still came. He chased his children, “Why do you only sit around making yourselves hungry? Why have you not gone to get food for us?” The children refused, “We certainly will not go. Takitini spoils our skins.” Tuiva objected, “Why should Takitini hurt you for no reason? I guess he was only frightening you.” His children disagreed, “No, indeed, he really whips us, breaks us to pieces.”

Another day came. The children went out. Takitini watched; it was clear that they were going to the reef, going on to Ko. Takitini ran to the children. He asked them, “Where are you going? You rascals, the eyes of thieves.” The children protested to Takitini, “Not at all, Tuiva sent us to get something for us.” Takitini answered, “What is Tuiva doing? The reserve, according to him, belongs to you, to be eaten only by you. You go back. Don’t you be stubborn. I shall whip you to pieces.” Takitini snapped his fingers on the backs of their heads, sent them to return home.

They invented their strange trick. They come, talking as they walked. They arrived at Te Walatapepe. One of the children among them suggested, “You make a fake, O Wakitula (the oldest); you are the one Tuiva favors. Pretend to have broken your arms and your legs; when we reach the place where Tuiva is, you cry out, pretend to be in great pain.” Finished the discussion, they wrapped the arms and legs and body of Wakitula in the “bark” of the vavai creeper, so that it would seem that these were parts hit by Takitini with his weapon, so that Tuiva would go to kill Takintini. Finished wrapping up Wakitula, they carried him. When they drew near to the place where Tuiva was staying, Wakitula cried, raising his voice high, “Awei, my arm is broken, and my side is pierced, and my leg broken. How it hurts! You carry me carefully, don’t shake.”

When Tuiva heard, he recognized that this was the voice of Wakitula. He looked out with both his eyes, the hand was hanging, the arms and legs were wrapped up. Tuiva became stiff with shock. He got up, seized his weapon and his spear. He did not question the children. Tuiva thought Takitini had struck him, from the reports of the children on the other days. The children only said to Tuiva, who was running with the weapon, “Your reason for sending us was not this.” Tuiva ran on. Takitini was staying in the space between Utupoa and the Motu of Te Tali. Takitini looked at Tuiva, who was running with the spear. Takitini did not know the reason Tuiva ran there. But indeed it was because of the deceitful trick of the children, which they had played on Tuiva. Takitini watched the spear of Tuiva shooting towards him from above him. Takitini warded off the blow with his stick. The hurling of Tuiva was mistaken. Takitini was a skillful person. Takitini ran away.

Tuiva chased him through the ngaya bushes of the place Te Kalele. Takitini climbed on top of the ngayu, came down in another place. He was speared by Tuiva from behind with his spear, tight in the side of the back. Takitini seized the spear, pulled it out, threw it at Tuiva. Takitini ran to Watumoana, who stayed in Te Newu. He crawled up to the front of his body. Tuiva ran there, flourished his weapon, he was going to hurl it from above. Watumoana objected, “What’s the matter? You do this for no reason? That’s enough. You have come to me here. You are not showing me proper respect.” Tuiva did not listen to Watumoana, “You get out of the way, just push aside, this man did not show respect for me and my children.” Tuiva speared Takitini, hard. Takitini died. If only Takitini had turned to explain to Tuiva. I don’t know, it is not known which was the man of the two of them who would get the worst of it, Takitini was a strong and skillful person. From his having killed Te Ki and Kaleva in Uta, his mind had been made dull. Then too Tuiva did not listen to the words of Watumoana. He had known that Takitini was strong, therefore Tuiva had taken revenge; he did not show respect.

Finished, Tuiva went back to his house, to his children; they were certainly all right; it was indeed only lies of theirs. Hence the saying, “The death-bringing lies of the children.”

Finished the death of Takitini, Watumoana went to the crowd of Yato, they were going to kill Tuiva. Watumoana was a man of Matanga of the sub-lineage Angialulu. These are the names of the Yato group: Uikele, Vakaua, Vakauli, Payaka, Te Kele, and Watumoana, a Ngake man. They talked in the evening. This was their talk, they were going to kill all the men of the island, so that they were finished; the women of Pukapuka would be for themselves. This was the further decision of theirs, they were going to make Tuiva the first, he was the strong man of the time. They were going to make the rest of the men last. Finished the discussion in the evening, they went to prepare, they girt on their malos, sharpened their weapons with pala jawbone knives, and did their other things.

Uikele went away to his and Matautu’s house. Matautu was the wife of Uikele. He climbed up on the platform, prepared his things. Matautu was sleeping below. His knife fell on the breast of Matautu.

Matautu asked, “What are you doing there? Aren’t these nights for the people to sleep?” Uikele did not answer. Matautu was figuring it out of her mind, “What is the thing of this group?” Finished the doing of Uikele, he jumped down, went to the place where they were gathering. When Uikele moved outside, Matautu also went to the side of their house. This was what Matautu figured out, “Isn’t this group going to kill the group of all the men?” Tuiva was a cousin-in-avoidance of hers. Besides, Katinga, the wife of Tuiva, was a blood-sister of hers.

Matautu went to Matala, where Tuiva lived at that time. She did not get right up to the house, she stood just at the side. She threw stones to the side of the house. Tuiva and Katinga were sleeping in the deep midnight sleep of the people. Tuiva was a person who slept wakefully, the sleep of the strong. Tuiva heard the stones rattling. He wakened katinga, “Just you get up to see what are the things rattling there.” Katinga stood up to look, “Nothing.” Katinga came back inside their house. Katinga said it was nothing, “It’s nothing probably.” They listened again, rocks were being thrown. Tuiva said again, “There they are rattling again. You get up.” Katinga got up again to look. Katinga again said to Tuiva it was nothing, “Why, there’s nothing.” Tuiva said, “Just walk out to the front.”

As to the doing of Matautu, she was sheltering in the back in case Tuiva got up, because they were cousins-in-avoidance. Matautu looked, it was katinga. She showed herself to her. Matautu said to Katinga, “Tell the group of all the men there, he is going to be killed by the group of Yato.”

Katinga came, told Tuiva, “Why, you are going to be killed by the group of Yato.” Tuiva listened, he did not delay. He got up, tore the net matting. He girt on his malo. He ran to his brother, Kilika. He went to Kilika, who was making pretty his voice (singing), he was lying chanting with his mates in the young men’s house (wale lopa). Tuiva objected, “While you make happy the voice, your death is being planned. Why, we are going to be killed by the crowd of Yato.”

Kilika listened to the speech of Tuiva. Kinlika arose, told his companions to come carry their fighting sticks. His companions arose, girt on their malos. Tuiva said to one pair of them that they come with him to trap fish at night, so that they would have some food to go with their talo pudding made by Katinga in the night. They went to the small channels; they got one net full with the net of laiva and vete and some other fish. They came, brought them to Katinga, who baked them in the night.

They prepared their weapons. Their food cooked, they ate their food. The night was cut into two (half gone). It would soon be dawn. The group went to search for the Yato group.

The six of Yato: the preparing of their weapons was over. They went to tie the several stone representations of the gods with coconut leaves, so that their going-out would be lucky. They went to Te Mangamaga and Talitonganuku, and Taua, and Mataliki and the other gods. They also went to collect the weapons in the several weapon houses of the various lineages and the weapons in other places.

The preparation of their things over, they went to kill Tuiva first. They came along to the talo garden of Valua. They came on to the Moru-o-Kaikole. A Man was steeping there, Tuanunui was his name. They struck him dead. They came to the reserve at Matala, to Tuiva. The man they had killed came to life again, he was brought back to life by the gods. It was not right for him to die, he was a man of their side.

They came to the house of Tuiva. They broke into the house. They had finished arranging this plan in advance. When they reached the house of Tuiva, they climbed on top, speared, struck with the weapons from on top. They thought Tuiva was inside. Why, no indeed, he was gone. They looked for him. They said, “He will pay for this, without a doubt. Where has he gone? Come, let’s search.” They went, searched in Ngake for Kilika and his companions. They looked there, they were gone. They said, “They have gone too. Who told?”

They went to search for Tuiva and Kilika. They searched at the point of Ngake, searched on, they were missing. Then too Tuiva and Kilika were searching for them in Yato. They went to look at the several god houses. They went there. They finished tying up their coconut leaf. They tore down the coconut leaf of the eight. They had also not yet seen them. They encircled the bush in the search. Dawn was quickening.

Meanwhile the group of Yato had also thoroughly searched through Wale. They didn’t meet the group during the night. Tuiva and Kilika reached the point in Ngake.   The Yato group also arrived at Walepia. Still they hadn’t been seen. Dawn was quickening. The skin of a man could be seen. They returned in their encircling search. Tuiva and Kilika returned to the shore of Paepae. The Yato group also came to the shore of Kailia. The crowd saw each other. Tuiva and Kilka saw from Paepae. They were seen by the Yato crowd from Kailia.

The crowds ran toward each other. Tuiva and Kilika ran to Wumalolo. Tuiva stamped, both feet were firm in the ground, the coral reached to the ankles. Kilika also stamped, firm. But he didn’t stand well (his feet were not planted deep in the sand). The Yato crowd was approaching. They were aiming the spear and their koko (throwing weapons). Kilika said to Tuiva, “O Tuiva, my standing is not right. I shall be badly hurt. Is it bad if we two run to Te Wunui? Besides, we are fast-footed.” Tuiva felt sorry for his brother, lest he be hurt dead. The two of the pair ran along Waula. One of their weapon carriers fell down. Yakilia was his name. He was speared from on top by the six of Yato. One of their own men, Uikele, warded off the blow with his stick. This was why he was saved by Uikele: Yakilia was a tuanga tau of his (a person whose village membership Uikele sponsored). Tuiva and Kilika arrived at Te Wunui. Kilika stamped, firm. Tuiva also stamped, it was not right. The talo bed was soft.

Tuiva had earlier informed Kilika that when he saw Puyaka he was not to hit him, for he was a man who understood the ancient stories and the various fishing signs, and the island genealogies and other things. That was the reason the Yato group was not finished off. This was the other: if the two of them had stayed planted in the place first stamped down by Tuiva, I guess it would have been only the wink of an eye for the (Yato) crowd to be completely finished. Because they took the fight to Wunui, therefore others lived.

The group of Yato arrived there. They hurled at each other with weapons. Tuiva threw first at Watumoana, who was their strength; he died. Puyaka, Vakaua, Te Kele were Kilika’s. Watumoana, Uikele, Vakauli were Tuiva’s. They threw at each other with weapons. When Tuiva looked at the weapon of Kilika, he noticed that it was turned on its side. Tuiva said to Kilika, “Why, I guess your weapon is tilting sideways, turn it straight.” The weapon of Kilika was straightened. Tuiva ran for Vakauli, he died. The dead were two in number.

Tuiva had not seen the flying-up of the spear of Uikele. He guarded himself, he was speared in the groins. He struck his club straight at the end of the spear to deflect it, but unsuccessfully. The point was broken off inside the groin of Tuiva. Tuiva was in great pain. It made him fall, he lay with his stomach on top of Vakauli, of his man who was dead. He bit on him. He only knew that he was going to die. There was Vakaua, he was standing turned toward Tuiva. He was going to hit with his club. The thing was that Tuiva was shielded by the women who crowded on top of Tuiva. Therefore the bad thrusts of Vakaua. Kilika, on the other hand, had washed his forehead, which had been injured, in the pool at Taumalanga, bandaged it with avlo bark. The voice of Tuiva shouted out to Kilika, “Kilika, oh, I am indeed dying.” Kilika jumped over, Vakaua was feinting over Tuiva. Kilika pierced him in the heel; he fell down on the base of his skull. Vakaua died. The dead were three in number.

Meanwhile Uikele had stayed off to the side. The other three ran up: Uilele, Te Kele, and Puyaka. They went to bury themselves alive. They buried their elders who had died first. Meanwhile Tuiva and Kilika were taken by the women and their weapon bearers to take care of their injured parts so that they would be all right. They were all right. They went to look for the group who lived. When they went there, they were already finished burying themselves.

Tuiva informed the whole island, “Listen you to me, O the island. Kilika shall have charge of the back of the island, while I stay in the central island and the point of the island to protect it, so that no bad ideas grow.” The people were to increase; the number of the men reached in the time of Tuiva to a thousand and one hundred. He also made as his old men’s group, men crawling with age; they were old men. Thus it has come down to the time of light now; no other fight has arisen.

Obviously Tuiva was a hot-headed man, led astray by his excessive feelings for his children. Where their welfare was concerned he had no mercy on his brother. He was undoubtedly at fault in violating the tapu of the sacred enclosure, where Takitini had taken refuge, and Watumoana was quick to take the excuse to alarm men from Yato in an attempt to wipe out Tuiva and his supporters, and incidentally to secure the women of the island for themselves—a characteristic Pukapuan touch. However, kinship ties cut across ties based on village groupings. Tuiva was informed in advance of the plot against him and managed, with the aid of his supporters, to defeat and kill the Yato men. Those not killed in the fight committed suicide by having their relatives bury them alive, a not infrequently mentioned method of self-destruction.

The name of the sacred enclosure of the god Tulikalo.

[#13] Ernest Beaglehole and Pearl Beaglehole, “After Defeat in Fighting: Burying Oneself Alive”, Ethnology of Pukapuka (Honolulu, HI: Bernice P. Bishop Museum, 1938), pp. 373-398.

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#12 Traditions of Niue
     (Edwin M. Loeb, 1926)

A very proud race, the Niueans were prone to commit suicide upon slight provocation. It was customary for the party defeated in war to jump off the cliffs, and not uncommon for the nearest relatives of a deceased person to kill themselves out of excess of grief. It is related that a father of a family having been drowned while fishing, his two sons waited until morning, and then jumped off the cliffs. Another story tells that the wife of a man named Tufonua died. His love for his wife was still strong, and he therefore determined to die so he climbed up a fetau tree thirty fathoms high. He leaped from the top, but landed unhurt on his feet. Tufonua thought that he had been saved by the interception of the gods, and he therefore went away in peace.

Shame was a common cause of suicide. Three women once made a suicide pact. One because she conceived out of wedlock, another because she was lame, and the third simply because she lived alone in the house of her brother. A young man committed suicide by eating fish which he knew to be poisonous. He did this merely because he had been “turned down” by some pretty girls. Suicide is rare at the present day.

It was a custom in the olden days to abandon the old in the bush. A temporary shelter was erected, and a small supply of food was left for the infirm person. This custom doubtless arose from the bitter necessities of warfare. This, however, is unusual. Nowadays, the old and sick are either cared for by their relatives or placed in the Governments hospital.

The Niue term for death is mate. The people usually say mate-popo (popo indicating putrefaction) since the word mate also indicates illness due to an accident or to warfare. The word gaogao also indicates sickness resulting from disease.

The mourning rites were held in a temporary house, called a fale-tulu. At the time of death all the relatives came together. This was called the putu. The relatives then held a tagi, or lamenting, which might last from fifty to one hundred days if the person lamented was of sufficient importance. During this time the relations from a distance came in and fought with the relatives close at hand.

In former times there was intense wailing and the singing of dirges and the men shaved off their long hair with a shark’s tooth. Nowadays the women have the long hair, and they often shave it off at time of mourning. Self immolation was never a custom but the people committed suicide through grief, as shown by the following story:

A man by the name of Ikihemata, in the olden days, had as wife Ligitoa. Once the man went fishing in the sea while his wife sought for snails on the reef. In the course of his fishing the husband caught a small fish [the telekihi]. This he brought up to his mouth in order to bite its head and thus kill it before placing it in his basket. But the fish managed to jump down the man’s throat, and commenced choking him to death. At this both the man and his wife lighted all their torches and attempted to relieve the situation. They were not able to do anything, and presently the husband breathed his last. Ligitoa was sorely grieved by the death of her husband, and she implored all her relatives to kill her, that she might die with her husband. Then her relatives killed her, and laid her beside her husband. It was thus that the woman showed the height of her devotion to her husband.

[#12] Edwin M. Loeb, History and Traditions of Niue. Honolulu, Hawaii, The Museum, 1926.

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#11 The Love-Sick of Vavau
     (Basil Thomson, 1886-91, 1894)

Another, Tuabaji, after resisting for years the teachings of the missionaries, brought about that dramatic conversion of the whole island to Christianity that seemed to the missionaries so striking an instance of divine interposition. The line was not extinct. Though Manase was governor under the king, a Finau Ulukalala lived in the person of an unwieldy man of thirty, a nobele of the House of Lords, it is true, and the king’s aide-de-camp, but in all other respects ignored by the Government. He was not a man of high moral elevation, nor could the missionaries point to him as a cheering instance of the efficacy of their work. He swore fluently in both German and English, and had a cultivated taste for strong waters. Finau was a ne’er-do-weel, but perhaps a scapegrace of the kind that is not past reform if intrusted with responsibility. There was no doubt about his being the hereditary ruler of the place: one might see that from the manner of the old men as he rode through the country. Surrounded by rowdy young boon-companions, holding no post that gave him a vestige of authority, he yet could not enter a village without holding an informal leree of all the inhabitants, while Manase the Governor might pass unnoticed. Possessed of such inherent influence, he was certainly worthy of trial as Manase’s successor if the king could be induced to dismiss so ardent a Free Churchman, and to appoint in his place the descendant of the chiefs whom he had dispossessed. Perhaps guessing my sentiments, Finau attached himself to me throughout this visit. He offered to escort me to the Liku, and as I could best enjoy the scenery of this weird place alone, I was at some pains to give him the slip. But though I rod fast Finau rode faster, and caught me up at that strange white burying-ground, hung between sky and sea at the precipice’s edge. He led me along the cliff to the open plain, whence, looking backward, one may see the hundred isles of Haafulu Hao spread out like a map. Leaving our horses, we crept together along the razor-edge that still connected a rocky pinnacle with the cliff from which it jutted. Clinging to the roots of a starving screw-pine, we knelt and felt the shaft twang as the great seas boomed into the caverns at the cliff’s base. We tried to shout against the roar of the trade-wind sweeping along the face of the rock-wall, but could not distinguish a word.

This place has been a favourite point of departure for the love-sick of Vavau who would escape their misery. Finau said that the body of a girl of Halaufuli, Who leapt hence into eternity a few months before, never reached the water, but was sucked inwards by the cliff, and so dashed to pieces on the sharp rocks at its foot. Whether the attraction of the cliff would always do this or not, death would be certain in falling from such a height, even if the body struck the water only.

And here let me digress on the subject of suicide. The rough average rate of suicide in the Pacific—the figures dealt with are too insignificant for unvarying accuracy—is about equal to the rate for the United Kingdom, viz., .006 per mille of the population; but since most of the suicides in Europe are committed under the influence of mania or extreme misery,—conditions that are generally absent in these favoured isles,—we may assume that the Pacific islanders have a predisposition towards self-destruction. The usual causes are lovers’ quarrels, and the fear of being neglected in incurable illness. In the latter case suicide is a mere survival of the old custom that constrained a sick man to importune his relations to strangle or bury him alive,—itself an evolution from an earlier time when the existence of a family depended upon its having no disabled members to protect. The lovers’ quarrels that result in suicide are quite as trivial as those of civilized communities. On the sudden impulse of some slight misunderstanding the distressed lover resorts to the picturesque but inadequate method of climbing to the top of a cocoa-nut-palm and jumping off, with the usual result of a broken limb, a reconciliation with the beloved object, and permanent lameness. Of late years the cocoa-nut-tree has became less fashionable for men who are in earnest. These generally prefer a precipice, or if their despair be of the more deliberate kind, poison, which, being a mere infusion of bark or leaves, must be drunk in such large quantity that it more often produces vomiting than death. The ancient mode of execution in Tonga—putting the condemned adrift in leaky canoes—still occasionally survives as a method of suicide. In February a schooner, bound from Niuatoburabn to Nukualofa, picked up a derelict canoe floating unharmed, with her paddles and baler in her, and a crumpled letter which ran as follows:—

162 78982

     810 6126 74 m2 127216 m2 892 162 9812 74 m2 m274 b4 810 m2 892 16274
16m807850 892 270

1820 2m454 m8 232

The schooner’s crew connected their discovery with the disappearance of two girls from Niua a few days before; but, not knowing the cipher, tbey brought the letter to the capital and handed it to Kubu. Takuaho at once declared it to be written in a cipher known to most of the younger generation of Tongans, and called the Kandi Teja cipher. He made a table thus—

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0

and the letter then read—

162 78982
Kia Tofoa
810 6126 74 m2 127216 m2 892 162 9812 74 m2 m274
oku ikai   te ma kataki   ma ofa kia   Foka te ma mate

b4 810 m2 892 16274 16m807850 892 270
be oka ma ofa   kiate   kimoutolu   ofa atu

1820 2m454 m8 232
koau   amele mo ana.

Which being interpreted, ran—

To Tofoa.

We two cannot endure our love for Foka; we would rather die. We send our love to you all. Farewell.

Amele and Ana.

It was a suicide. The poor girls had stolen the canoe, and had paddled themselves out of sight of land, and then having scribbled their letter to their friend in cipher; they folded it, wrote the address on the back, and jumped overboard. I never heard what part Foka had played in the tragedy.

Persons intending suicide have also learned a lesson from the method of executions in Europe. Strangling with a cord of ngalu was common among the Polynesians of the olden time, but they seem never to have thought of hanging, and the idea at once struck them as picturesque. Moreover, a man cannot very well strangle himself without help. A pretence of hanging is much resorted to by people who imagine themselves to be misunderstood, or who wish to frighten their friends into making some concession, because a dramatic effect can be produced with the least possible personal inconvenience.

Yet whenever confederates can be found to help, the South Sea Islander appears to prefer strangling to hanging. In Fiji a few years ago, when Australia was ringing with the achievements of the Kelly gang of bushrangers, a trader in Vanualevn, with the aid of a Sydney newspaper, was entertaining a gaping circle of Fijians by trying to make their flesh creep. In the minds of two of his listeners, youth from the neighbouring village, the seed fell upon a rich soil. Why should they be condemned to this life of spiritless toil in subjection to their chiefs and the Government, compelled to drudge in the fields and the tax-plantations, while the free, glorious bush lay behind them? If these foreigners, who could not exist without tinned meats, could live in the bush, how much more they who only wanted a wild yam or kaile roasted on the embers of an open fire? They could rob all the foreigners’ stores, and with the plunder tempt the girls of the village to come and join them, and they would eat tinned meats and turkeys and fowls every day without having to pay for them or work to make money. They discreetly opened their project to one of their friends, but when he understood the full daring of the scheme he modestly withdrew, in words that were translated by the magistrate who afterwards held the inquest as, “Pardon me, but this thing is beyond my capacity.” So the three went out into the bush alone. During the first week they robbed two stores, and stabbed an elderly German in the back escaping after each exploit into the impenetrable bush. They succeeded in establishing a real panic, so that none dared to leave the village alone; and the native police nightly thanked providence that they had not stumbled across them. When the magistrate reached the place a week or two later with a force of police, he found that the outrages had ceased, and that nothing had been heard of the daring bushrangers for more than ten days. Weeks passed, and the confidence of the villagers was so far restored that they ventured armed into their gardens believing that the bushrangers had gone to another part of the island. At last an old man, whose garden lay far afield, was drawn by the evidences of corruption to look into his yam-shed. Two bodies were there, decayed almost beyond recognition. One had a masi cord tied tightly round the neck, with both the ends free; the other had been strangled by a cord tied by one end to the upright post. Further search led to the discovery of a third body hanging by the neck from a tree. It was the poor trio, who had also found bushranging beyond their capacity. They got lonely, and longed for companionship to prop their failing courage; and when they could bear it no longer, and they had to choose between giving themselves up or suicide, they chose death by their own hands rather than by the unknown terrors of the law or the foreigners. So A and B put a noose round C’s neck in the old style, and pulled at the ends till he was dead. Then B tied the end of his malo to the post, wound it round his neck,

Tutawi The Hermit.

and gave the end to A to pull. And when A was left alone with none to help him, he climbed the nearest tree, tied his neck to a branch, and died like a foreigner. Their deaths were better planned than their lives.

To return to Vavau, from which I have strayed many degrees of longitude. Our ride now lay through the wild rocks, buried in flowering creepers that in 1810 were the home of Tutawi the hermit. At the beginning of the disturbances that followed the revolution of 1799, this man, weary of the violence of men and the perfidy of women, left his home secretly to live a solitary life communing with Nature and the spirits of the hauted Liku. The great war and the siege of Feletoa had raged within a few miles of his hiding-place unheeded by him.

[#11] Basil Thomson, Diversions of a Prime Minister (Edinburgh, Blackwood, 1894).

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