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No. 26 (March 1959)
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UENUKU OR KAHUKURA
THE RAINBOW GOD OF WAR
Being advice to young soldiers when going into action (Part I)

We are reprinting here a remarkable but little known essay by Tuta Nihoniho on Maori methods of bush warfare. Augustus Hamilton, who edited and translated the essay, called it ‘a mixture of exceedingly good advice to young soldiers and explanations of curious Native beliefs in divers omens’. It was published by the Government Printer in EFEA, along with an account of the Hauhau wars on the East Coast. Tuta Nihoniho was an officer in the Ngati Porou Native Contingent during these wars and therefore had plenty of personal experience of bush fighting.

He pukapuka hei tirotiro, hei whiriwhiringa, a hei ata whakaarotanga ma nga tamariki Maori o nga wa a muri ake nei, a tera pea te wa e whakaa-kona ai ratou ki nga huarahi o te pakanga. No konei ra, e nga tamariki Maori, mehemea ka uru koutou ki roto o nga pakanga a muri ake nei, kei wareware i a koutou to koutou tupuna, a Uenuku, te atua o o koutou tupuna, i kauria mai ai te Moana Nui a Kiwa e takoto nei.

1. Tuatahi o nga tohu hei tirohanga; ko nga whakahaere o nga mahi, me nga ahuatanga o te tangata i nga awatea; ko nga whakahaere o nga mahi me nga moemoea o te po; e kiia nei e te Tuaiho—E puaki mai ana te reo o tena rangi, o tena rangi, e whakaatu mohiotanga mai ana hoki tena po, tena po. I mua o to haerenga atu ki te whawhai, me whakaatu te waewae ki o wahine, ki o tamariki, ki o koroheke, ara he tutu ngarahu tona ingoa. E kore e ngaro i o wahine te titiro to waewae, te atatutanga, te korapatanga ranei; ka kitea e koe o wahine e ngangahu haere ana i te taha o to matua, o nga matua ranei, te hapaitanga a Tu-te-ihiihi, a Tu-te-wanawana, ka mohio tonu koe ka kai to waewae ki te whetu, ka ngau ki a Papatuanuku e takoto nei. Ka he ano to waewae, e kore koe e kite i o wahine e rere ana ki te nga-ngahu, no te mea kua tae ke te wai-mate kei a ratou, no ratou hoki nga toto i nga tane ka kawea ra ki roto o te pakanga riringi ai ki te whenua. Kaati, ka mohio koe kei te he to waewae, kia tupato, he atua, he taitahae, me tatari te wa me kore e pahemo taua he, a me ata titiro ranei ki to tupuna, ki a Uenuku, mana koe e whakahau, mana ranei koe e pupuri. Ki te kitea ia e koe ka tu ki muri o to huarahi atu ki to hoariri tiwhana mai ai, haerea, ko te wa tena e homai ai e te atua

 

This chronicle is intended for the perusal, study, and consideration of Native youths in the future time, for the time may come when they will be trained in the paths of war. Therefore, o ye Maori youths, should you take part in the wars of the future, be careful lest ye forget your ancestor Uenuku, the god of your forefathers, by whose help they crossed the Great Ocean of Kiwa that lies before us.

1.

The first item for consideration as an omen is in regard to the direction of affairs and the appearances or manifestations of man in the daytime, also the conduct of affairs and dreams during the night. For the Furthest One has said that wisdom is uttered by the voice of each day, and that each night declareth knowledge.

Ere you go forth to fight display your legs to your women, young folk, and old men in what is termed a war-dance. Your women will never fail to observe the omens of the dance—the correctness of attitudes or mistakes committed. When your women are seen by you advancing with distorted faces by the side of your column, or columns, the rising of Tu-te-ihiihi, of Tu-te-wanawana (the war god), you then know that your legs will assail the stars in the heavens and the earth mother below.1 But should you commit errors and not deport yourself correctly, then assuredly you will not see your women dancing and grimacing, because apprehension has seized them, for from them comes the blood of the performing men that is to be borne into the fray and poured forth upon the land. So then you are aware that an error has been made in your dancing, therefore be cautious

 
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to hoariri ki tou ringa. Kia tere to haere, ahakoa po ua, huka ranei, haerea, kia mau ra ano ia i a koe. Tena ki te tiwhana mai to tupuna i mua i a koe arai mai ai, auaka rawa koe hei takahi atu i a ia, me hoki koe. Ki te kaha tonu to hiahia mo te haere, auaka koe hei tomo atu i tona tiwhana-tanga mai, engari me huri to haere ma to taha maui haere awhio ai; kia rua, kia toru ranei nga ra e haere awhio ai koe, ka ahu ai ki te aronga ki to hoariri. Engari kia mau tonu o kanohi ki te titiro i nga putanga mai o to tupuna ki a koe, i te awatea ranei, i te po ranei; ko Tukorako hoki tona ingoa ki te po, ko Kahukura ki te awatea. Ki te arai ano ai ia i a koe, me tino hoki rawa koe. Ki te tiwhana mai hoki ia i mua i a koe, a ka tomo tonu atu koe, he aitua mou kei tua i a ia; he whakaatu kau mai hoki tana ki a koe, no te mea koia te kawenata mau tonu i waenganui i te atua me te tangata.

2. Tohu tuarua hei tirohanga; kia ata titiro ki te hiko, haunga ia te uira me te kanapu, ko te hiko hiko he toto rangatira e hinga i te parekura, i te waka tahuri, i te whare wera ranei, i te mate tupapaku ranei, a me whakamarama ake mo [ unclear: ] e taha parekura. Mehemea kei te noho rite nga taha e rua mo te whawhai, a ka tupono te hiko ki te puta, kia marama to titiro. Mehemea kei te wa ki to hoariri te hiko, a kei runga ranei kei nga maunga nunui o te taha ki te hoariri te hiko, a kei runga ranei kei nga maunga nunui o te taha ki te [ unclear: ] oariri te hiko, a kei to taha katau te rua o te hiko [ unclear: ] rere ai, ka mohio koe nau taua hiko i tuku

 
 

—it is a malignant demon (the devil to pay)—wait and see if the evil omen does not pass by; or look carefully at your ancestor Uenuku, who will urge you on or restrain you. Should he be seen by you standing in the form of a bow over the track behind you as you face your enemy, go on, for that is the time when your enemy will be delivered into your hand by the god. March swiftly, even though rain or snow assail you; go on, that you may lay hold of your enemy. But if your ancestor be arched in front of you to block your advance, do not by any means disregard him, but retire. If, however, you still have a strong desire to advance, be sure not to enter within his arched form, but turn to your left and proceed in a circuitous manner, taking two or three days to make such a detour, before you turn to advance in the direction of your enemy. Be your eyes steadfast to observe all the manifestations of your ancestor to yourself either by day or night; his name being Tu-Korako at night, and Kahukura in the daytime. Should he again block your passage, then you must absolutely return. If his bow appears before you and you adavnce and enter it, then misfortune awaits you beyond him. He is just showing himself to you, for he is the abiding covenant2 between the god and man.

2.

The second token to be studied is this: to carefully view the hiko (distant lightning), besides the uira and the kanapu,3 for the hiko betokens the blood of chiefs who are to fall in battle, or be drowned, or burnt to death, or die a natural death; hence it will be well to explain as to the field of battle. If the two sides are about equal for the coming fray, and the hiko lights upon the field, examine it clearly. If the lightning is in the region of your enemy, or on the great ranges in his vicinity, and the source from which it emanated is on the right hand, then you know that you yourself sent that lightning as a sympathetic greeting for the high caste blood; your enemies will soon fall beneath the shining sun.

But if the lightning is on the side toward you, or over your great ranges or sacred places, remember that you will fall before your enemy; therefore reflect and be wary: follow not the precepts of the ignorant, but rather those of the thoughtful; rearrange your affairs and postpone your attack, for you have chanced upon evil days.

3.

The third sign to be considered: Study carefully the flashings of lightning and the gleaming of the horizon, and list carefully to the sound of the thunder, whereby you will be able to detect the lucky sounds and the ominous ones, the hoarse rumbling sound, the sharp crackling sound, or the low continued muttering.4 If the thunder commences to sound above you and rumbles towards the region of your enemies, you know that it is your thunder directed by you. If the thunder gives

 
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atu hei mihi, hei tangi ki nga toto rangatira; o hoariri meake ka hinga i a koe i te ra e whiti ana. Tena mehemea kei te taha ki a koe te hiko, a kei runga ranei i ou maunga nunui, i ou tuahu ranei, e hiko ana, kia mahara ka riro koe i to hoarir [ unclear: ] , no reira kia mahara, kia tupato, auaka hei ta nga kuare, engari hei ta nga whakaaro nui, hokona te taima (wa) ma koutou, he kino nga ra.

3. Tohu tuatoru hei tirohanga; kia marama to titiro ki te rere a te uira me te kanapu, me to whakarongo ki te tangi a te whatitiri; e kore e ngaro i a koe te tangi kino, te tangi pai, te tangi pohutu, te tangi pakee, a te ngaruru-mai-rangi ranei. Ki te timata te tangi a te whatitiri i runga i a koe, ka haruru atu ki te wa ki o hoariri, ka mohio koe nau taua whatitiri. Mehemea e pakee ana te tangi a te whatitiri, e akiaki ana kia tere [ unclear: ] e whakaoti i nga mahi kua rite. Mehemea ranei e tangi pohutu ana, kei te ata haere te wa e whakaotia ai nga mahi. Mehemea ranei ko te ngaruru-mai-rangi, ara ko te tangi haruru anake, ka mohio koe kei te ata whakahaere te runga rawa i nga mea e whakaotia, he pai ranei, he kino ranei; no reira kia mohio koe ki te tangi a te reo, he pai ranei, he kino ranei. Ka pai te tangi a te whatitiri, he pai; ka kino, he kino, ahakoa mo te pakanga, mo te aitua, mo te tau, mo te wa ranei. E kiia nei e Hemi—No runga nga homaitanga papai, nga mea katoa e tino rite ana, he mea heke iho no te matua o nga whakamarama, kaore nei ona putanga-ketanga, kaore hoki he atarangi o te tahuri: e rite ana te rere a te uira, me te kanapu, ki nga whakahaere o te hiko, ka whero te kanapu, he parekura; ka ma, he mate tupapaku.

4. Take tuawha hei tirohanga: kia marama to whakaaro ki tenei taonga, ki te takiri. Mehemea ka makaia, ka whiua, ka ahatia ranei, to ringaringa, o ringaringa ranei; to waewae, o waewae ranei, to mahunga ranei, ki waho o to tinana, ka karanga koe ki o hoa, “E hoa ma! He tamaki toku.” Ka ki nga hoa, “I ahu ki hea?” Ka ki koe, “I ahu ki te maunga e tu mai ra.” Ka ki nga hoa, “Kei reira to taua hoariri.” Kaati, me ata tatari te whakahoki o to tamaki i muri mai. Ka kapu mai nga ringaringa, te ringaringa ranei; te waewae, nga waewae ranei, te mahunga ranei, o taua tangata, o ana hoa ranei, ngawari ana te kapunga mai ki roto, kua pai, kua pehia te tamaki; ka kiia tera he hau korero. Tena ki te mea ka riro ra te tamaki, i muri mai ka whakahokia kahatia mai te ringaringa, nga ringaringa ranei; te waewae, nga waewae ranei, te mahunga ranei, ki roto i a koe, i ahu mai i te aronga i haere ai te tamaki, ka karanga taua tangata, “E hoa ma! Kua hoki mai taku tamaki, he kaha, na te rae tangata i pana mai.” … Kia tupato, ka huaki i te ata, i te awatea ranei. He nui hoki nga tu ahua o te takiri; ka kaha, he tamaki; ka hotu whakarunga te tinana, he hotu; ka kokiritia tetahi mea i te Reinga, haere tonu atu hei takiri, ka kiia tera he tuhi. Mehemea ranei ka makaia e koe tetahi mea i a koe e moe ana, a haere tonu hei takiri mou, ki kiia tera

 
 

forth a crackling sound, it is urging the hasty completion of all matters agreed upon or arranged for. If its sound, however, is a loud booming or crashing, that counsels delay in the carrying-out of arranged plans. Or if it is merely the low rumbling sound, then you know that the Most High is carefully directing the conclusion of affairs, and the result may be good or evil; therefore be diligent in detecting the meaning of this sound—that of the good omen and that of the bad. If the sound of the thunder be propitious, then all will go well; if ominous, then misfortune is indicated, whether in regard to war, or omens, or the year, or a season. James says, “All good gifts come from above; all things really suitable emanate from the parent of enlightenment, who is changeless and casts no shadow.”

The flashing of the uira and kanapu is equivalent in meaning to that of the hiko—if the glare be red (vivid), it betokens death on the battlefield; if pale, a natural death.

4.

The fourth subject for investigation is this: Study carefully the subject of twitchings (convulsive starts, as of muscles of the limbs and body. If your arm or arms, your leg or legs, or your head be jerked or thrown outwards from the body, you at once call out to your companions, “O friends! I have had a tamaki.” Whereupon they will inquire, “In which direction?” You may reply, “Towards the mountain yonder.” Then your companions will remark, “Our enemy is at that place.” Now, after such an occurrence, wait quietly to see if your tamaki will make a return manifestation. If the hand or hands clutch, or the leg or legs, or head of that person, or of one of his companions, is jerked somewhat gently inwards, that is a good omen: the tamaki is repressed, and such an occurrence is termed a hau korero (the enemy is talking about you and discussing plans to attack you).

Now, if you have an outward tamaki (start), which is afterwards returned in a somewhat violent manner, whether by the arm or arms, leg or legs, or by the head jerking inwards from the direction in which the first convulsive start was directed, then the person experiencing such will cry, “O friends! my tamaki has returned in a vigorous manner, impelled by the brow of man.” Be cautious, at dawn or later the enemy will attack you.

There are many different manifestations of the takiri: a vigorous one is a tamaki; if the body heaves upwards it is a hotu; if one dreams of the throwing of some object (such as a spear) and it developes into a takiri, such an incident is termed a tuhi.5 If you dream that you throw an object, and have a takiri at the time, that is termed a maka, and it foretokens that you will soon go to the place you dreamed of as having been at when you threw the object. There are a number of takiri and taha kapakapa (the latter expression is applied to a twitching of the muscles of the side,

 
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he maka, a mea ake koe ka haere ki te waahi i makaia ra to maka i te Reinga. Ka nui nga takiri me nga taha kapakapa e pa ana ki te tangata; e kore e puta noa enei tohu, ma Tu-ka-riri ra ano, ma Tu-ka-nguha e whakaoho enei taonga, ka ara ai. Engari, e nga tamariki Maori, kei nga pakanga tuatahi he akonga mo koutou ki nga taha kapakapa e pa ki to taha maui, ki to taha katau ranei, ki o takiri ranei; ma tenei ka mohio koe ki nga putanga mai ki a koe a muri atu. He tangata ano kei te taha maui te taha waimarie; he tangata ano kei te taha katau te taha waimarie; no reira ko nga tangata tonu nona nga takiri, me nga taha kapakapa hei whakaatu i te tika, i te pono o o ratou takiri, me o ratou taha kapakapa.

 

or thigh, or shoulder) that affect man. These signs do not appear at random: it is only the prompting of Tu-ka-riri and Tu-ka-nguha (god of war) that causes such manifestations. But, however, my sons, in your first campaign you will acquire knowledge concerning the taha kapakapa, which may affect your left side or your right, as also in regard to your takiri: by experience shall you learn the meaning of these things as they affect you in the days that lie before. With some persons the left side is the lucky one, with others it is the right side that is lucky. Therefore it is meet that the persons who have the takiri and taha kapakapa should explain the correctness and truth of such things.

(To be continued in our next issue)

NOTES TO “UENUKU” BY AUGUSTUS HAMILTON

1 Your waewae (legs) will assail or overcome the stars and the earth. A curious expression meaning: On account of the correct deportment of those performing the war-dance (tutu waewae or tutu ngarahu), and the absence of any evil omens caused by errors of movement, &c., while dancing, victory is assured, the unattainable (by ordinary means) shall be attained. The stars in the heavens—not to be reached by human legs—are mentioned in a paraphrastic manner as equivalent to a numerous or brave enemy of the genus homo on earth. Neither can be conquered under ordinary circumstances, but the performance of the war-dance with absolute correctness and lack of all bad omens will mean that the gods are on your side, and that all things are attainable by you—heaven and earth are at your feet.

“Display your legs to your women”—i.e., strip and perform the war-dance.

2Te kawenata mau tonu.” The writer here makes use of the English word “covenant,” whereas he might have employed a Maori word that would have served much better. He means “the changeless sign,” or token. Tu-Korako is a pale (koma) bow seen at night.

3 Hiko, distant lightning seen flashing in space or darting from a mountain range in one bright flash or a blaze of lightning; kanapu, gleaming electric light at the horizon or on a range, giving two or three flashes in succession; uira, ordinary forked lightning.

The hiko is a token that, ere long, a chief will die. The place or direction from which the light flashes is termed the rua o te hiko, or the pu o te hiko. Compare the terms kotua, rua koha, and rua kanapu, used by some tribes. It is the uira that destroys man or tree, the hiko never does so. When the latter was seen, the old men would inquire, “Where is the rua of the hiko?” One would answer, “At such a place.” Then the old folk would say, “Alas! A desolate land,” and they would wail over the misfortune so soon to afflict the district foredoomed to disaster.

4 The writer gives three descriptive or onomato-poeic names for thunder, as folows: Whatitiri tangi pohutu, hoarse or crashing thunder, the sound of which seems to fill space; whatitiri tangi pakee, thunder giving a sharp, crackling sound; ngaruru mai rangi, low continued muttering or rumbling sound, seemingly afar off. In addition to such expressions as these, there were concrete special names for divers kinds of thunderstorms, and these are o used as to give the impression that each form of thunder was personified by the Maori.

5 Tuhi — to point out, show, &c.

A new branch of the Maori Women's Welfare League was recently established near Tauranga, called Ngaitukairangi league. President is Mrs Marama Dickson and secretary-treasurer Mrs Takahi Pene.

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Who wants to have a penfriend in Nigeria? We received a letter recently from Anthony A. Hok-unboh, c/o Mr S. O. Oke, Telephone Exchange, Post and Telegraph Department,. Badagry, Nigeria, asking our help to find him penfriends. He is very interested in the Maori people.

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The trend to learn the Maori language is rapidly on the increase. Adult education tutors report remarkable attendances, with 200 at Rotorua probably a record. Wellington stood at 120, Auckland at 110 last year. These figures were all great improvements on previous years.

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Two Taranaki primary schools celebrated their centenaries this year. They were the Bell Block and Omata schools, both established before the Maori wars. During the wars, both were closed for a while, but re-opened soon after.