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No. 6 (Royal Tour)
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The Maori Gave His Best
Visit of T.R.H. the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York

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Visitors to the Maori Reception, 1901 Photo: Turnbull Library



Early in March of the year 1901, the Hon. James Carroll, Native Minister, issued a circular to the chiefs and Maori tribes throughout the North and South Islands, calling upon them to meet at Rotorua in the month of June to welcome their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York, then about to leave England on a tour of the Colonies. As early as April negotiations were commenced for transport by horse, coach, rail and steamer. Men, young and old, and even women, sought temporary employment to earn a few pounds to take them to the land of Waiariki, for the moment made doubly attractive by the projected visit of Royalty. Chants that emphasized the points of a weighty speech in the runangahouse, short ditties that maidens carolled forth about the pa, war-songs that fired the hearts of warriors on the march—these were heard through the length and breadth of Te Ika-a-Maui, Maori poets vieing one with another to compose songs suitable for the occasion. Dainty fingers played deftly with raupo, and evolved the poi-ball. Old, scarred warriors waxed wrathful in heated debate over ancient wardances to be used in mimic warfare at Rotorua, the almost obsolete ‘peruperu’ that were wont to awake echoes in the New Zealand forests in the fighting-days of the past. Once more the Maori lived in the past. For a brief space the edge of the heavy curtain that screened it was raised, old memories revived, old chords were touched anew, and hearts thrilled and vibrated to the weird music of the dead ages.

This fascinating account of the Maori display given during the visit of Royalty to Rotorua in 1901 is taken from a very long account in Royalty in New Zealand, 1901 by J. A. Loughnan. There is evidence that a large part of the text reproduced below was written not by Mr Loughnan, but by Sir Apirana Ngata. We believe it is an important, if unknown part of his literary inheritance.


The Maori was—as the Duke had requested he might be when His Royal Highness should have the pleasure of seeing him—on his own ground; what is more, he was managing his own ground. It was the beginning of a new era, the keystone of which was that in his own capacity for improvement lay the future hope of

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the race. He was developing that capacity at Rotorua, and it was not the first time, as those familiar with his history know.

He laid off the camp, and regulated the building and the water-supply. He made the rules for its government, and the arrangements for their observance, finding a force equal to all requirements. He supplied the sanitary regulations, and saw that they were neither misunderstood nor evaded. All the authorities were of his own choosing, and all the experts were of his own race. The result was that with five thousand people (in round figures) in camp for a week or ten days there was no sickness, no discontent, no disorder, and not one case of drunkenness.


As it appeared within one week after the arrival of the first party—the Ngati-Kahungunu from Wairarapa and Hawke's Bay—the encampment formed a great semi-circle on the eastern side of the racecourse, midway between the township of Rotorua and Whakarewarewa. It was separated by a very wide belt of very short manuka scrub from a cleared space of ground in front of the Royal grandstand. The one wide and long street was flanked on either side by many scores of tents, and by large raupo whares; and from the main avenue there branched off various small lanes, forming the divisions between the camps of the different tribes. Some tribes were housed in large marquees; others were detached in sections, like a regiment of soldiers in a line, or a square of bell tents; others made themselves at home in the familiar raupo huts; and all were merry and good-tempered, in spite of the drizzling rain and the sulphurous gases that pervade the atmosphere of these regions at all hours, and are particularly offensive in the witching hours of night, just when creation seems to pause a space before ushering in the ever-recurring miracle of dawn.

An executive committee was formed by Sir James Carroll to advise him on all the more important questions pertaining to the control of the camp, and the arrangements for the grand display, and to make known his wishes to the assembled tribes. To them all doubtful points were referred. The staff consisted of Hone Heke, Member of Parliament for the Northern Maori electoral district; Te Heuheu Tukino, chief of the Ngati-Tuwharetoa; Hone Omipi, of the Ngati-Maniapoto, a man of advanced and progressive views; Ru Rewiti, of Ngapuhi, a scion of the great Pomare family, and husband of Wikitoria Taitoko, daughter of the late Te Keepa Taitoko (Major Kemp), of Whanganui; and Apirana T. Ngata, of the Ngati-Porou of the East Coast, a graduate of the University of New Zealand, and the organizer of the Young Maori Party of reform. These supplied the directing power of the organization of the camp.

There was an abundant supply of pure water, brought in pipes from the Rotorua system, with taps at various central points numerous enough to enable the occupant of every tent and ‘whare’ to supply his wants with no more trouble than the walk of a few steps with a bucket. The arrangements were all carefully overhauled every day, waste was strictly prevented, and instructions were issued—and obeyed—to boil all water before use.

All refuse in camp was buried every day in places especially set apart, and in manner specifically ordered. There was a liberal supply of disinfectants, which were freely served out and used. The other sanitary arrangements were adequate, and the camp was free of nuisances of every kind. All cooking was done in appointed places, and most of it in the wholesome Maori manner.

The camp was always clean and fresh at every tent and whare, whether by day, when the blankets were rolled up neatly and the tents and ‘whares’ swept and garnished, or by night, when the people were abed. Liquor was not allowed to be brought in by the Maori. Hawkers and peddlars were prohibited, and

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The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York during their New Zealand visit.
Photo: Turnbull Library

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roaming dogs were all seized, tied up, and fed till claimed by their owners.

Every morning at 6 o'clock the bugle sounded the Reveille, and there were services in various parts according to the rites of various denominations. From that moment the camp lived by rule: Breakfast at 8 (brought from the ‘hangis’); dinner at 1; tea at 5; and lights out at 11 p.m.

Lastly, for the enforcement of these regulations there was an elaborate list of penalties. Most of these were doubled in the case of repetition of the offence for which they were provided. The heaviest of all was deprivation of the right to see the Duke during the whole or part of his stay at Rotorua.

Looking into the sleeping-places, if you were privileged to walk around with Dr Pomare and Mr W. W. Hipango—full of responsibility—you saw the mirror of civilisation in abundan-

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Sir James Carroll, moving spirit behind the Maori reception. Photo: Turnbull Library

ce, and the comb and brush of cleanliness appeared to be the rule, not the exception. Various little knick-knacks drew attention to improvised toilet-tables; sheeting was by no means rare, neither were mats and other contrivances for coming between the ground and the foot of Maori nobility. Hangings were not infrequent, and decorations (of flower and foliage for the most part) were both abundant and graceful, telling unmistakably of dainty fingers, and eyes instinctively appreciative of form and colour.

The large number of Maoris coming from all parts met without friction (despite the provocations of tradition and recent wars); settled quietly to discipline without hesitation, and at their departure took with them to every part of Maoridom the principles of sanitary practice which have helped to secure the preservation of the race. It was a great opportunity for the Native Minister, for Dr Pomare, for the Young Maori party, and all concerned.


There was a curious mingling of the old and new. Deeply tattooed warriors, some of whom had witnessed a cannibal feast, rubbed noses with young men who rode bicycles and pounded the big drum in the brass band. In dress an effective compromise was effected. Over a creaseless frock coat fresh from the hands of the pakeha tailor a Maori mat was thrown, and a belltopper surmounted the combination. A high-born lady decked in silk of bright hues yet wore a ‘piupiu’ round her waist and a ‘heitiki’ round her neck. It was one huge fancy ball, full of fantastic anachronisms characteristic of a time of transition. The past was revived, and mingled with stately dignity in the whirl of the present, seeking to grasp the bewildering changes that a century of contact with civilisation had effected.

The sound of rehearsing was heard from early morning till far into the night. The large circus-tent that served as central rununga-house and town hall was engaged by each tribe in succession for the practice of its ‘peruperu’, ‘Haka’ or ‘poi’. In the early morning, before morning prayer and breakfast, the wardance parties, armed with ‘taiaha’ or ‘koikoi’, held practice in the cleared spaces among the manuka south-east of the camp, where experts keenly watched the ‘tutu-waewae’ or step, and the close ranks rent the still air with mad shouts in the wild excitement of the ‘peruperu’. Each tribe was careful to conceal the peculiarities of step and gesture on which it depended for success in the friendly competition with other tribes. The wiry Ngapuhi from the north were less jealous, for twice every day,

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when the weather and the ceremonies of the camp permitted, their ranks were formed at one end of the main avenue. There they crouched on the ground awaiting the challenge or ‘wero’, when presently a half-naked warrior leapt into the open with ‘taiaha’ at the charge, and as he turned the ‘taua’ or war-party rose, and with fierce yells gave chase. In their large marquee the combined men of the East Coast—the Ngati-Kahungunu, the Ngati-Porou and kindred tribes—held regular practice, once in the morning and once in the evening till nearly midnight. For hours the rehearsing of songs and postures would go on, and many a wild refrain was chorused to the accompaniment of resounding slaps, in unison, on the bodies of the ‘ope’. The arrival of visitors was the occasion for full-dress rehearsals out in the main avenue, by three or more parties in succession, while the observant spectators criticized the step and action of each, and turned aside into their tents to compare notes. Far into the night—for the special trains from Auckland did not arrive till a little before 9 o'clock—‘ngeri’ (weird songs) and the ‘heriheri-kai’ were heard, as parties from each division of the camp, with food for the fresh arrivals, wended their way to the central marquee, the receiving-tent. A foretaste of the feast of song and dance that would be spread before the eyes of Royalty was daily vouchsafed to the curious visitor.

And so, for nearly two weeks, the rehearsals went on. There was a babel of sounds, a constant repetition of ‘haka’ and song with fierce action, until every movement was perfect, and the choruses attained the highest possible volume of sound. There was no tiring, no consideration for personal ailments and inconvenience; for was not the honour of a great tribe at stake?


On June 14, at ten o'clock, the Royal coach started for Ohinemutu. The welcome party here was lead by Pokiha Taranui, of the Ngati-Pikiao, known better to the pakeha as Major Fox, carrying the sword of honour—a large, handsome claymore—presented to him by Queen Victoria for his brilliant services.

Kneeling, facing the Duke and Duchess, they swung their weapons in perfect time, chanting in perfect unison together, the chiefs marching up and down in front of the lines leading the measure with martial gesture. Old Pokiha brandished his claymore, and they shouted their words with stentorian power and unanimous emphasis.

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After the ceremony, the tribal presents were offered by Pirini Mataiawhea. The Duke and Duchess bowed low, and the Duke thanked the Arawa warmly for their gifts. Strolling back between the lines of the warriors, Their Royal Highnesses found old Pokiha seated on a chair, his exertions having been too much for him. The veteran at once stood to attention, and was presented. In the course of conversation he handed over his bright sword of honour for the visitors to admire, and when the Duchess, in her kindly way, found fault with him for

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Pohika Taranui (Major Fox)

coming out from his sickroom into the rigorous weather at his time of life, he proudly declared that his love for the Royal Family was so great he could not stay at home. No empty phrase this, for in a few weeks the loyal old soldier was dead.

He, too, made his present to the Duke, an ancient, elaborately carved ‘toki’ (adze) with greenstone blade, handing it to the Royal visitor with stately grace. The Duke, who was wearing in his hat a huia feather presented to him on his arrival at Tama-te-Kapua, accepted the ‘toki’ with cordial thanks, and kept it in his hand, not putting it with the heap of presents made by the tribe. The Duke wore the feather and carried the ‘toki’ throughout the Rotorua celebrations, the Maoris greatly appreciating this respect for the badge of chieftainship and for the weapon of many traditions.


The brawny warriors were in full war costume, their own buff relieved by the ‘piupiu’ round the waist, white ‘toroa’ feathers in their hair — all but the Ngati-Porou, who were in their white, purple and black. Their arms were spears, ‘taiahas’, ‘koikois’, ‘tewhatewha’, and ‘meres’. The chiefs, in characteristic array of rich feather cloaks and huia plume, carrying their ancient weapons proudly, were the great martial figures of the pageant.

In front of all, in the space between the pageantry and the stand, was seated the venerable figure of the veteran Pokiha Taranui wrapped warmly in rugs; on his shoulders a rich cloak of feathers, on which his full beard descended picturesquely, his head covered with a fur cap; at his side his great ‘taiaha’, ornamented with feathers and dogskin, his sword of honour in its red scabbard across his knees. On one side of him was the handsome model of Arawa canoe, which, with other gifts lying upon it, he was to present later on to the Duke, and on the other side stood his wife in rich feather mat and ‘piupiu’, with feathers in her hair. The ‘painful warrior famoused for fight’ sitting there broken and spent, waiting for the son of his King, gave a finishing pathetic touch to the scene.

The tribes gave the Duke their best in wardance, ‘haka’, ‘waiata’, ‘powhiri’, ‘poi’, and every dance and chant of their elaborate ceremonial of welcome. The manhood of Maoridom went through their dances, doing justice in whole-souled fashion to their various moods. They gave all the war-cries of their race, many ancient ‘waiatas’, laments on the death of the Queen, and verses composed for the occasion. ranging over a variety of subjects: war, welcome, politics; the relations of the races; loyalty to the Throne. In vehement, athletic action, frankness, detestation of the enemy, humour, pathos, courtesy, generosity of sentiment, and facility of expression, it was a splendid display of Maori manhood. The graceful ‘poi’ girls on the other side, a spectacle abounding in rhythmic accord of movement, in elegance of rippling words, in brightness of colour, in halo of twirling raupo balls, was a beautiful presentation of Maori womanhood. This mixture of martial manhood and feminine grace made a scene the like of which will never be seen in New Zealand again. Some invisible hand moved those masses of colour with kaleidoscopic rapidity, keeping the living picture ever restless, vibrating at one moment with the quiver of the ‘pois’, at another with the fierce whirl of brandished spears. Now the scene was dominated by coy glances from soft dark eyes and fascinating

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smiles, and now the leading note was of warriors frowning savagely in mimic war. Love succeeded battle, and war gave way to mirth, each time changing the broad face of the scene in a twinkling; and then the frenzied ranks subdued their wild song and action to the moderate stateliness of the ‘haka’ — ‘finest physical drill in the world’, as one of the soldiers in the Duke's suite put it — with military enthusiasm. And ever amid the yells of the ‘peruperu’ and the triumphant chorus of the ‘haka’, ever amid the broad humour of the chants and the playful musical phrases of the women, there was a note of sadness woven into the restless fabric of sound, just as the tone of mourning ran right through the ever-changing masses of colour. It was the ‘irirangi’, as the Maori calls it, growing fainter as the martial cries rose in volume, only to return as they fell away; and as the other sounds decreased it rose higher and higher, until it became the pervading wail of the tribes, the song of mourning for the Great Queen, the ‘tangi’ that every section in its turn raised with mournful cadence and sorrowful expression.


One of the great events of the day, this ceremony began very unceremoniously. An ancient warrior, leaving the ranks of his ‘taua’, marched solemnly up to the rail of the stand, flung a big flax mat, yellow and brown, and rustling, over the rail in front of the Royal Party, turned without further sign, and marched grimly back to his station. But no one had time to reflect other than that the reality of this very prompt politeness was greater than its appearance; for at once a stream of presents set in with a rush from all sides — mats, cloaks of fur and feather and flax, ‘piupiu’ and ‘korowai’ floated up in willing hands, and were piled in front of Their Royal Highnesses. The donors approached, making smiling obeisance, deposited their presents, throwing in a pleasant word of goodwill, and, departing, made a stream of diverging figures which, mingling with the stream of present-laden people converging on the grand-stand, filled the space in front of the ‘marae’ with a dense, hurrying crowd.

The feathers of these mats and cloaks were of the weka, the pigeon, and the kaka. The flax was made up in many ways, and the skin of the Maori dog (kuri), extinct for forty years, was much in evidence. The weapons were of a emery kind—ancestral ‘mere’ of ‘pounamu’ (greenstone), spears, ‘koikoi’, ‘wero’, ‘tewhatewha’,

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‘hoeroa’, ‘timata’, ‘taiaha’, ‘toko’ of the greenstone with rare carvings, ‘tiki’ and ornaments of every class, variety and degree.

Tribe vied with tribe to swell the crowd of donors; Hauhau warriors jostled fragile ‘poi’ girls in the throng; veteran and boy struggled along in equality of fervour. During the presentation an ancient chief, with orthodox and plentiful tattoo, made up for the bluntness of him who had set all these gifts in motion. He advanced bearing a priceless polished two-handed whalebone sword (‘hoeroa’), gave the Duke the magnificent bow of hospitality, together with the broad smile of kindness, and deposited the weapon with great reverence in his hands. His Royal Highness having reciprocated the courtesy, the old man retired backwards, smiling broadly and repeatedly bowing. He gave us the rare spectacle of courtesy not only spontaneous, but finished — a combination probably rarely found in any Royal or Imperial Court of the civilized world.

The gifts came from everywhere, and the Maori drew largely on his ancient treasures to furnish them. Moreover, many gifts were spontaneous — the chieftainess and other women suddenly tearing off their precious ornaments to lay them on the growing heap.


A shout and a call of ‘Haere mai’, a tumultuous waving of branches and poi-balls, a tremendous brandishing of weapons, greeted the approach of Royalty. As the party mounted the stand the Tuhoe drum-and-fife band struck up the National Anthem. At once the ‘poi’ ranks bowed to the knee, while the mass of warriors behind, with one stentorian shout, raised their spears and ‘taiahas’ aloft, then sank crouching on the ground. As the strains of the National Anthem died away the Ngaiterangi women advanced in two ranks—their two leaders, both men, one at each end and slightly ahead—to dance the ‘poi’. The right leader opened with a chant, and ere he paused to take breath the left leader caught the measure, and so the song alternated from right to left and back again. Between them the ranks, in perfect time, quickening as the measure hurried on, accompanied the song with the ‘poi’—the ‘poi’ of which the Maoris sing:

‘How my heart longs for the poi-leaf,
How beautiful a flower it is to grace
Thy breast; my love.’

The poi-balls twirled; the hands twirling them moved up and down, sideways, backwards and forwards, hovering now over the shoulders, now over and across the knees, the flying balls appearing to surround with a network of gossamer the bodies of the dancers as they swayed from side to side, lifting alternate feet and throwing them across gently in front with a lilting motion, giving the effect partially of a waltz step. The women were handsome and shapely; they waved with grace; they sang soft words of welcome with musical voice in exact accord of time, in a strangely attractive monotone; they did it with flashing teeth and smiling lips, and beaming great eyes, as they kept their ‘pois’ twirling and waving with daintiest play of arm and wrist, and the rhythmic swaying of bodies from side to side. Sometimes the song was of welcome, sometimes it saddened and slowed down to a weird lament for the Queen; again it quickened, with a note of triumph as the maidens bowed ‘Kia ora’ to the Duke and Duchess, and wished long life to the King and Queen far across the ocean; then it wandered gracefully over many appropriate topics. The effect was superb. The soft voices, the ordered motion, the bright colours of dress and mat and ‘piupiu’ moving with brilliant beauty, together with the white albatross feathers in the black hair, completed a singularly gracious, delicate example of the poetry of motion.

At length came the end, like the finale of some admired composition the approach of which gives the absorbed listener a pang of regret. As the ‘pois’ flashed overhead the command suddenly rang out. The poetry and the movement ceased at once, the flashing colours were still, the infinite variety of the faces gave place to a settled gravity, and in the same instant each poi-ball came down over the right breast of its owner, and was caught firmly in her left hand. Then the shining ranks bowed once more to the knee; a long, steady, courteous salute. Having bowed they filed off with dainty precision, disclosing the massed ‘matuas’ in the second line; and as they went, thunders of applause went with them from enthusiastic Royalty and all the assembled shouting people, pakeha and Maori.

The old Maoris say that the ‘poi’ dances of their time were even more effective; the strings used with the poi-balls being far longer; some six feet, and extending the picturesque gossamer effect of the twirling balls; the dancers being necessarily in extended order, and the display more imposing. The old dance was slower, and allowed more time for the display of grace and the elaboration of gesture. The ostensible object of the ‘poi’ from the first was to give graceful welcome to strangers (‘manuhiri’), visiting tribes, ‘tino rangatira’, and other persons of distinction. But gradually there grew up another object, which was to attract

(Continued on page 58)

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H.R.H. Prince Edward, Prince of Wales, in New Zealand (Turnbull Library).

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Welcome haka (Turnbull Library).

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Prince replies to Maori loyal speech, spoken by the Hon. Sir William Herries (on steps). Left of Prince on dais: Sir Maui Pomare (Turnbull Library).

1920—PRINCE OF WALES: H.R.H. Prince Edward, Prince of Wales, who visited New Zealand in 1920, met the Maori people at Rotorua on April 27–29. The Prince visited Ohinemutu, where a welcome address was given by Rangi Te Aorere and Kiwi Amohau. The Royal party also visited Whakarewarewa, where Bella Papakura and Miriam acted as guides, and the welcome address was spoken by Mita Taupopotei.

At the main celebration in Athletic Park, Sir James Carroll led the Maori welcome. The loyal address was spoken by Sir William Herries, Minister of Maori Affairs, and interpreted by Dr Maui Pomare. Guy Scholefield states that the number of Maori hosts on this occasion was 5,500, which might be slightly larger than the figure for 1901.

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Late Paul Thomas, wei [ unclear: ] known taiaha expert of Ngat [ unclear: ] Tuharangi (Turnbull Lib [ unclear: ] rary).

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Women ready for poi dance (Turnbull Library).

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Duke and Duchess of York. (National Publicity Studios.)

1927—DUKE AND DUCHESS OF YORK: Permanent monument of the visit to Rotorua of Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of York, later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, is the Arawa War Memorial, unveiled by the Royal visitors. Arriving by train on Saturday, February 26, 1927, the Royal Party was welcomed by the Rt. Hon. J. Gordon Coates, who had with him his colleague, Sir Maui Pomare. There was again a grand demonstration of Maori dancing at Arawa Park, chief marshal this time being Dr Peter Buck. On the Sunday night, the Duke and Duchess attended divine service at the beautifully carved Maori church at Ohinemutu. The service was conducted by the Rev. F. A. Bennett in the Maori language. The collects for the Royal Family were repeated in English.

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Canoe poi. (National Publicity Studios.)

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1934—DUKE OF GLOUCESTER: Another grand display of Maori dancing took place when His Royal Highness, Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, visited Rotorua on December 22, 1934, during his New Zealand tour. On this occasion the loyal demonstration was organised by Sir Apirana Ngata, H. H. Balneavis and Tai Mitchell. The loyal address was read by the Rt. Rev. F. A. Bennett, by then Bishop of Aotearoa, who also conducted a divine service for the Royal visitor at the Ohinemutu church. Although this gathering was somewhat smaller than those on previous Royal visits, there were still 2,000 Maoris fed and accommodated in and around Rotorua on this occasion.

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Duke of Gloucester with Guides Rangi and Bella. (Weekly News.)

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Duke meets Sir Apirana Ngata and Mita Taupopoki, paramount chief of Arawa tribe, in Rotorua. (Auckland Star.)


(Continued from page 24)

the fighting-men from other tribes, and invariably the best-chosen dances and the bestordered ‘pois’ kept the ranks of the ‘taua’ up to their full strength. To-day, of course, their ‘pois’ are no more than what they were originally intended to be, the women's portion of the ceremonial welcome of a hospitable, high-minded, and punctilious people.


‘Whiti! Whiti!’ cried the leader, ‘E!’ replied the throng; and as one man they rose, two hundred and fifty strong, and in front of each rank, at the chest, there appeared one long line of spears, held horizontally, every man grasping his own and his neighbour's. The effect was as if a tall pole were being handled by each section of the ‘taua’.

‘Tena i whiua!’ At the command the long lines of spears swung from left to right, while knee-joints were set loose, and the forest of feathers waved from right to left in movement opposite to the direction of the spears, the feet stamping and keeping time. The measured contrasting movements of the white feathers and the black spears, in perfect precision of time, pace and angle, were startling in their suggestion of machinery in motion, and enchanting at the same time by the singular grace of the combined individual action. As yet there was no fire in the action, for this was the preliminary to the great war-dance with which the Ngati-Porou were wont to strike terror into the hearts of their foes in all their wars. Presently the change came, sudden and fierce.

‘A ki waikurekure ha!’ It was a mighty shout, cutting sharp across the bugle-tone of the leader's recitative. It came with explosive effect of many detonations from the deep throats of the column, and was repeated three times. Simultaneously with the first syllable of the first roar the black spears, held horizontally in combination, rose in perfect lines of sections—rose as long, dark, vibrating crests, sweeping upwards and onwards in regular succession to their leader. They swung overhead to the full length of the arm; from overhead they swept down in majestic volume to the waist-level; and as they rose and fell they gave the impression of resistless force pressing forward. Three times they rose and fell, and all the while the strange electric insistent war-cry resounded, and the terrible ‘crescendo’ of stamping feet kept up its suggestion of remorseless pursuit to the bitter end. After the third repetition the horizontal thrust from side to side was resumed, and thus the demonstration went on alternately.



It is hard to state what was the characteristic of the admirable performance of these, the ‘tangata whenua’, who had vowed not to suffer defeat in the friendly rivalry on their own ‘marae’. In the volume of sound produced they were first, for theirs was the largest ‘taua’, and incessant practice had made their throats as of brass. They made a great impression. One picture lingered in the mind's eye for days afterwards, that of the venerable Pokiha Taranui (Major Fox), aged and dying, yet calling up his last reserve of energy—almost to the last flicker of life as it proved later on—to swing the big claymore, the sword of honour presented to him by the Queen, wildly before the wide front of his ‘taua’.


With the exception of the Tuwharetoa war-dance, which followed, the Ngapuhi performance was one of the wildest of that day. Each man strove to leap as high as possible, and exerted himself in every action to the utmost extent. And this marked the special characteristic of the Ngapuhi war-dances and hakas, for in them more latitude within obvious limits is given to individual effort, the Ngapuhi combining the emulation of individual against individual with that of tribe against tribe.


There is a marked difference in this tribe's method of dancing. Whereas all the others leap from alternate feet, the ‘tauas’ of Taupo spring from both at once. The result is a higher spring, heavier fall, and a pause between the two in mid-air, as though the ‘taua’ were on the wing—wherein lies the marked speciality of this tribe's ‘peruperu’. As the men rise, their feet, rising together, come into line with the bent closed knees, and give a grand uniform effect in the momentary pause in mid-air, every foot and lower limb in exact line.


Big, heavy men of magnificent physique, broad-shouldered, and strong-loined, they presented a striking contrast to their cousins, the Ngati-Porou, who were slim, active and wiry; and the appearance of their ‘taua’ was not so uniform. With similar words of command they rose to their feet with ‘taiaha’ lifted high to the right. They were a grand ‘peruperu’. With slower step than that of the Ngati-Porou, they leaped as high, shook the ground with heavier tread, and shouted with louder chorus.