Go to National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa Go to Te Ao Hou homepage
No. 27 (June 1959)
– 64 –

UENUKU OR KAHUKURA
THE RAINBOW GOD OF WAR
Being advice to young soldiers when going into action (Part 2)

5. Take tuarima hei tirohanga: Ka haere koe ki te whawhai, a i te ra i whakatika atu ai koe i to kainga, kia mau ki nga take e whai ake nei. Tuatahi, kia pai te tahu i te umu o; kia maoa, he pai; ki te kore i maoa, he he, ara he aitua; kia mahara, ata whakaaroa. Tuarua, kia pai to haere, kauaka e arita, e whakahoki kupu ranei, e pokanoa ranei ki te mea a tetahi, te whai kupu ranei ki tetahi tangata. Kaua e pa ki nga mahi kino katoa, kei waiho hei take whakararu i a koe i roto o te whawhai; heoi mau ko te ngawari, ko te humarie, ko te rongo ki nga kupu tohutohu o te whawhai, ko te piri o te ngakau ki te atua hei awhina, hei tieki i a koe i nga wa o te he. I a koe e haere a matua ana to haere ki te whawhai, auaka e haere punui, engari kia whai toro, a mua, a muri. Ko nga toro o mua kia whai kiore, kia tokorua ki mua hei tirotiro haere i roto o nga rakau, o nga awaawa, o nga kohatu, i to hoariri. Auaka aua kiore e haere tahi, kia rima, kia ono tiini te matara o tetahi ki mua, o tetahi ki muri, kei kotahi tonu te hopunga i aua kiore. No te mea ko aua kiore he tangata kua tukua mo te mate; i wehea ai raua, kia mau rawa ake ai tetahi o raua, ka puta tetahi o raua, hei kawe korero ki te heteri (toro), ki te matua hoki, a mehemea ranei ka puta tetahi o raua, ka puhia mai e te hoariri, ka mate, ka rangona atu nga pu e te heteri (toro), e te matua, a ka haere mohio atu ratou ki te waahi i tangi mai ai nga pu. A, mehemea hoki ka kore he heteri, ara he toro, ki mua o te matua haere ai, ka haere matua tonu te haere, a tera pea kua hangaia mai e to hoariri nga pehipehi mou ki roto o nga maunga, o nga ngahere, o nga awaawa, nga apiti ranei; ka haere atu koe i runga i te kuare, kaore e mohiotia atu tera nga pehipehi mou te takoto mai ra, ma te waha tonu koe o te pu e whakamohio, mohio rawa ake koe, ka poto koe kei raro te ngau e te mataa.

He taonga nui te waha karanga i roto o te whawhai, ahakoa te tangi a te pu, ka mahia ake te waha karanga, “Kokiri ra— E! [Ka whakahua ki tona hapu, iwi ranei, i konei] Kokiri! Kokiri!” Ka whati ra to hoariri, ka whati, ka whati. Ka rongo te hapu, te iwi ranei, e karangatia ra te ingoa i roto o te whawhai, ka kaha nga uaua me te tinana ki te rere totoa ki te reo e karanga ra, te hapaitanga a te aroha, me te ngakau rite kia kotahi takotoranga ki te marae, hei korero whakatu ma te hoariri i te ao tu roa.

 

We continue in this issue the essay by Tuta Nihoniho on Maori methods of bush warfare. In the previous instalment the author discussed the preparations and the omens of ancient Maori war campaigns; here he concentrates on battle tactics. The essay is presented entirely as it was first printed in 1913, translated and edited by Elsdon Best.

BATTLE TACTICS

Fifth subject for consideration: When you go to the wars, on the day you start from your home abide firmly by the following items: First, let food for the journey be carefully cooked: if it turns out to be thoroughly cooked, it is a good omen; if undercooked, it is unlucky, an evil omen: think it over, consider the matter. Secondly, be discreet in your behaviour, be not irascible or prone to murmur, interfere not with others, or speak harshly to them. Have nothing to do with any undesirable or evil act, lest such afflict you when in action. Sufficient for you be tractability and a comely demeanour, also obedience to all directions in regard to the fighting, a cleaving of the heart to God that he may assist and protect you in the time of trouble.

When you are marching in a body to war, do not march in solid column (better to move in open order, and not in the foolish manner adopted by European troops), but have scouts out ahead and in the rear. And let the scouts in front have two kiore out ahead of them to search the forest, and gullies, and rocks for your enemies. See that those kiore do not keep together, but let one be five or six chains in advance of the other, lest both of the kiore (rats) be captured (5). Because those kiore are persons who have been handed over to death (i.e., have been assigned most dangerous duty) they were separated, so that if one of them be captured the other escapes to convey the news to the toro (scouts) behind and to the main body. Or, if one of them escapes capture, is fired on by the enemy and slain, the shots will be heard by the scouts behind and by the main body, who

 
– 65 –
 

He taru taha te mataa; me he mea ka kitea atu te puhanga mai, he titaha te karo, he tuku tetahi, he tarapeke tetahi. Engari kia mau tonu o kanohi ki te ngutu o te pu a to hoa i te wa tonu o te mura me te auahi, te timatanga ake o te puhanga; ko te wa tonu tena o te karo, huri ana to taha, hipa ana te mataa. Kia mahara ano i te wa e pupuhi ana koe, me he mea to hoariri kei ro pa, kei ro rakau, kei ro kohatu ranei, he mea pai mou te ahu i te oneone, i te kohatu, i te rakau ranei, hei parepare mou, hei arai atu i nga mataa a to hoariri, a hei pae takotoranga atu hoki mo au pu e pupuhi atu ai koe ki o hoariri. Engari, kia mahara ano koe ki te titiro i te hau o taua ra; mehemea kei to taha maui te hau, me whiu te ngutu o te pu ki te taha katau o to hoariri, ma te hau e pana haere te mataa o to pu, tae rawa atu ki to hoariri ka hangai tonu ki waenganui o to hoa. A, mehemea ranei kei raro o nga maunga te whawhaitanga, ka titiro ki te hau, me he mea he hau popoki iho i runga o nga maunga, me whiu te ngutu o to pu ki runga o te upoko o to hoariri, ma te hau e peehi whakararo te mataa o to pu, tae rawe atu ki to hoariri, ka hangai pu ki te poho, ki te puku ranei, he tuunga mo to mataa. A, me he mea ranei kei runga o nga maunga te whawhaitanga, me titiro ano te haere a te hau; me he mea e haere awhiowhio whakarunga ana te haere a te hau, me waiho tonu te ngutu o to pu i roto o nga kuha o to hoariri, ma te hau o raro, me te hiki a te paura, e hapai ake to mataa, tae rawa atu ki to hoariri, ka hangai tonu ki te puku, ki te poho, ki te upoko ranei he tuunga mo to mataa: Haunga ia te pipiritanga o tetahi ki tetahi, kaore he tirohanga

Picture icon

Photograph: Alexander Turnbull Library

 
 

will then know that the enemy is before them, and will warily approach the scene of the firing. Then, again, if there are no scouts out advancing in front of the main body, but the advance is simply that of a column, possibly your enemy has arranged ambuscades for you among hills, or forests, or gullies, or canyons, while you, advancing in ignorance thereof, will learn of them only by the sound of the guns; thus, when the knowledge is acquired, you are all prone on the earth under the biting of the bullets.

The uplifted voice (war-cry) is an important item in fighting. However loud the roar of the guns, let the shouting voice be heard, “Charge! O [mentioning here the name of the clan or tribe] Charge! Charge!” Whereupon your enemy will break, retire, fly. Likewise, the clan or tribe whose name is thus shouted out—both sinews and bodies will be braced to rush recklessly toward that calling voice—sustained by sympathy and a like mind that all should fall together on the field rather than be defeated or than disregard the cry, to remain hereafter a subject for the discourse of the enemy before the world.

Bullets may be avoided. If the act of firing is seen, then a swift turning is one mode of avoiding the bullet; to duck down is another; to jump upward another. It is well to have your eyes fixed on the muzzle of the gun of your opponent at the moment the flame and smoke appear, the very commencement of the firing; that is the moment to avoid the shot, turn swiftly, and the ball passes by. Remember also at the time when you are firing, and if your enemy is in a pa, or such cover as bush or rocks, it is a good thing for you to heap up earth, or stones, or timber as a breastwork for yourself, to ward off the bullets of your enemy, also to serve as a rest for your guns when firing at the enemy. Be sure to remember to study the wind at such a time, and if it is blowing from your left point the muzzle of your gun to the right side of your enemy (as he faces you), then the thrust of the wind will about bring the bullet of your gun in line with your enemy. If the fight is going on under hills, observe the wind, and if the wind is blowing downwards from the ranges line the muzzle of your gun on the head of your enemy, the wind will depress the bullet so as to strike him in the breast or stomach. Should the fight occur among hills, and the wind is an eddying-upward one, then aim between the thighs of your enemy; the upward wind, combined with the lifting force of the powder, will force the bullet upward so as to strike him in the stomach, breast, or head. In close combat, of course, there is no need to observe the above advice, for at such a time Rangi and Papa (the heavens and earth) have come together, and man partakes of his food of blood on the field of war. Hence the adage which says. “He puta taua ki te tane, he whanau tama ki te wahine” (“Fighting with man and childbirth with women”), meaning that a battle is the most dangerous, painful, and strenuous experience endured by man, as

 
– 66 –
 

ki enei tohu i runga ake nei, no te mea ka kapiti a Rangi raua ko Papa i tena wa; ka kai hoki te tane i tana kai, i te toto, i roto o te parekura. No konei te whakatauki e ki ra, “He puta taua (ara he parekura) ki te tane, he whanau tama ki te wahine.” Kia mahara ano, he kahawai te ika toto nui i whakaritea ki te wahine, a he reo mana, he reo aroha nui te reo wahine ki te karanga i roto o te whawhai. Me he mea hoki ka riro ma te wahine e tapa te whana o te riri, e kore e taea e te hoariri te whakahoki mai taua whana. He mea hoki, na te wahine i tautapa te riri, he pari hoki e rere ai ki te po nga wahine no nga tane.

Tuarua, ki te houia e te tane te rongo o te whawhai, e kore e mau, ka kiia tera he rongo tama-tane, he atua, he taitahae. Engari ka riro ma te wahine e hohou te rongo, ka kiia tera he rongo tama-wahine, ka mau te rongo, he rongo taketake. Kaati ake tenei.

Na, me hoki atu ano ki te ahua o to pupuhi atu ki to hoariri, i a koe i roto i o parepare, i roto ranei i to pa e pupuhi ana ki to hoariri, kia ata titiro ano koe ki nga pu whakamoke a o hoariri. No reira, ki te paku atu to pu, auaka koe hei titiro tonu atu ki te wahi i puhia atu ai to pu, no te mea kei te taumautia mai te auahi o to pu i te wa ano i puta atu ai te auahi o to pu. Ka tere tonu te paku mai nga pu whakamoe mou; tera pea ka rokohanga mai koe e nga mataa o aua pu whakamoe, e titiro atu ana ki te waahi i puhia atu ai to pu, a tera pea ka taweka koe i etahi o nga mataa o aua pu whakamoe. Engari ano, ka paku atu to pu, kia tere te tuku iho to mahunga ki raro o to parepare, kia mahea ra ano te auahi o to pu, katahi ka titiro whakamoke atu ai ki te wa ki to hoariri.

Take tuaono hei tirohanga. Me ata titiro ano koe ki nga tu o nga tangata i te pu, ahakoa i mate rawa, i kai-a-kiko ranei; a no te taha ki a koe, no te taha ranei ki o hoariri. Me he mea ka kitea kei te puku, heke iho ki nga waewae nga tangata i nui nga tuunga i te mataa, ka kiia he pakanga e heke ana, a me he mea ranei he nui atu nga tangata i nga poho nga tuunga i te mataa, ahu ake ki te upoko, ka kiia tera he pakanga e piki ana. Me he mea ranei, i a korua ko to hoariri e whawhai ana, ka titiro koe ki o tupapaku e hinga-hinga ana, me he mea e hinga atu ana nga pane o ou tupapaku ki te wa ki o hoariri, he tohu pai tena ki a koe, a muri ake ka ea te mate o aua tupapaku ou. Tena, ki te hinga mai ki te taha ki a koe nga pane o ou tupapaku, he atua, he taitahae; kia mahara, kei raru koe i to hoa a muri atu.

 

childbirth is the same among women. Bear in mind that the kahawai is the fish compared with woman (6); also that a woman's voice is one that has much power, and commands much sympathy in time of battle. For if a woman assumes the function of uttering the war-cries and calls to action, then the enemy will not be able to resist the charge, as it was a woman who gave the word of command to attack, for, of a verity, women are as a cliff over which men leap to death (7).

Again, if a peace is concluded in time of war by men, it will not be a firm or lasting one. It is termed a male peace, and stands for treachery, deceit, trouble. But if women assume the function of making peace, that is known as a female peace, and it will be a firm, durable one. Enough on this point.

Now let us return to the subject of your firing at your enemy from your breastworks or your pa; be careful to watch the gunfire of hidden enemies —snipers. Therefore, when you fire, do not stop to look at the place you fired at, because the smoke of your gun was being waited for when it appeared, and a return fire from concealed men will quickly be directed against the spot you fired from; so that, if you watch the place you fired at, you may be reached by bullets from those hidden guns, or you may be chanced upon by some of them. It is desirable, as soon as you have fired, to quickly duck your head down below your breastwork, and, when the smoke of your gun has quite cleared away, then you may look carefully out in the direction of your enemy (8).

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF WOUNDS

The sixth item for consideration: Carefully examine all gunshot wounds received by men, whether fatal or not, and whether received by men of your own side or by those of the enemy. If it is seen that most of such wounds are in the stomach or legs, that is a sign that the fight is waning; but if many men have been struck in the chest or head, then the fight is waxing and will not soon be concluded. Likewise, as you and your enemy are fighting, and you observe your wounded or dead falling, if they fall with their heads in the direction of your enemy, that is a good omen for you, for the death of your dead will hereafter be avenged; but if they fall with their heads towards your side, then it is a bad lookout. Be thoughtful, lest your enemy get the best of you ere long.

NOTES

(5.) Scouts.—When a war force was marching in dangerous country a party of about ten men was sent ahead to act as scouts. Two men of this party kept well ahead as feelers; they were termed kiore. One would range the bush or scrub on either side of the track, some distance apart, and one would be in advance of the other as they advanced, so that if one was killed or captured the other might have a chance to escape and warn his friends. He would fall back on the secondary scouts (toro), who would be advancing singly and carefully in advance of the main body. In some cases these scouts would then make a stand against the enemy until their main body came to their assistance; or they might lie in ambush for the enemy pursuing the escaping kiore.

– 67 –

(6.) “He ika toto nui.: He kahawai ki te moana, he wahine ki uta” (much-blooded fish are the kahawai in the ocean and woman on land) is an old saying. They are both sources of much blood.

(7.) “He pari hoki e rere ai ke te Po nga wahine no nga tane”: If their women are captured, or in danger, men will fight with reckless bravery to rescue them against great odds. They flow, like water, down to Hades over the cliff represented by their wives, mothers and daughters.

(8.) Whakamoke.—The modus operandi is as follows: One of a concealed force fires at the enemy and dodges down, while his companions hold their fire. The enemy then fire at the smoke of the above shot, whereupon those who hold their fire shoot at the smoke of the enemy's guns, or at their heads if visible. Briefly put, the meaning of whakamoke in gun-fights is “to conceal oneself and fire at the smoke of the enemy's guns.” In other cases it may imply lying-in-wait, &c.