MAORI FOLKLORE (Evening Post, 18 April 1923)

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maori folklore songs and poetry customs and fishing methods phonography and cinema records the government ethnological party consisting of mr j mac donald assistant-director dominion museum mr bldson best the well-known authority on maori ethnology mr johannes c andersen librarian turnbnll library and dr buck director of maori hygiene have just completed a month investigations in maori ethnology in the district north of gisborne extending to te araroa hicks bay the party made its headquarters at waiomatatini the home of the hon a t ngata about 90 miles north of gisborne photographs were obtained of the making of fishing-nets by the maoris methods of plaiting baskets and the preparation of decorative work tukutuku for the interior decoration of maori houses from waiomatatini the j party proceeded to whareponga a settlement about four miles north of waipiro there they met a great number of the elders of the ngatiporou people and spent a few days at that settlement photographs and cinematograph films were obtained of the kehe and koura crawfish catching the kehe aplodactylus mearidratus the marble fish or granite trout is usually found in the vicinity of kelp it is much valued by the natives a 6a food fish at this particular place on the coast the kehe is caught by means of a net dipped into the channels worn in the papa rock by the incoming and receding tide as a rule the maori women capture the koura or crawfish by wading into the eea among the rocks they dive between the rocks seize the crayfish by the back and deposit the fish in-a basket strapped to the waist at whareponga a number of phonograph records were taken of maori songs and speech visits were also made to other settlements in the vicinity of waiapu valley including kahukura and kangitukia the visitors proceeded to the north of the waiapu river where they were given a demonstration of the i maori method of catching the well known fish kahawai briefly stated this i method is is follows a long oval-shaped net about 15ft in length with a wooden bar running through the centre and a i handle at one end is taken into the water at the mouth of the river the native stands amidst the incoming breakers the fish rome in with the waves to reach the fresh river water and are captured by the thrusting of the net in the breaking waves a fishing surprise after getting some instructions from the natives in the art of netting the members of the party set up some traps in the rapids of the waiapu river the object was to catch kokopu but instead of capturing that fish they were surprised to find that in their net were no fewer than 42 specimens of a fish now rare in this part of new zealand the upokororo this fish eometimes called the new zealand grayling is a good eating fishmuch better than tho average new zealand fresh water fish ln appearance it is not unlike the english herring but somewhat thicker and measures up to 12 inches in length the catch c f the now rare upokororo was a great surprise to the natives and the lews spread along the coast from village to village in the seventies remarked mr elsdon best we used to catch these fish in the hutt paver but i have not seen i any of the fish recently in these parts 1 te araroa beyond the east c-tpe was next visited and while the party was there they had further demonstrations of the making of fish-nete and fish-traps one of the nets was 14 feet in diameter and wag capable of catching 3pveral thousand fish the maomao scorpis violaceus hutton was caught in lrge numbers in hicks bay with reference to the kahawai although not delicate eating-fish it-has been the cause of more deadly disputes over the ownership of portions of the sea and river estuaries than any other fish glorified cats cradle to th uninitiated the term stringgames or wha-i of the maoris may sound trivial and bring to memory the well-known pastime of english children the cat cradle it was however developed by the maoris in to a most extraordinary and intricate manner in respect to this art mr johannes andersen possesses more knowledge and isa-ble to set up more maori figures in this game than any native living the principal reason for the development at thu game was no doubt owing to the fact that the maoris had no written language and from a pastime it developed intoa close study resulting in the formation of numerous designs representing natural objectsome of them extremely intricate taking the combined efforts of several persons to set up tor instance there is the legend of tawhaki ascent to heavena very difficult design to complete in fact the natives devoted as much time and study to string games as some europeans do to the game of chess these games are also known amongst the natives of a number of tho pacific islands cinematograph pictures were taken of the various processes alluded to above and phonographic records were made of ancient ongs and poetry of the maoris those songs contain a great deal of historical matter and old-time tribal lore the nursing songs particularly included many references to old historical incidents j old times and newregret was expressed by nearly all of the elders of the ngatiporou people that such a visit was not made many years ago before the real men of knowledge passed away every year nmkea it more and more difficult to obtain reliable informatior concerning old times and historical incidents but in past days they had not the phonop-aph and movingpicture camera in the matter of wrlt f elbdd beat h in the field for some forty years and has done invaluable work the members of the pary were surprised at the wonderful avance made by the natives m some districts on the east coast in sheep farming and cattle raismg on modem method grateful acknowledgment is made of the hospitality extended to them by the hon mr ngate and for the assistance rendered i a mtohiable information was obtained from the older natives by mr elsdon beat and special mention w made of the lehu nukunuku who sun plied quite a budget of foi k cmyz customs tc he was the only na n iil the dwtnet able to pl ay thn n ur maori flute the koaua phos records were taken of hi flnte-pis poetry of ngatiporou the poetry of the ngatiporou like most maori poetry is chiefly lyrical and possesses the element of music the essence of song says dr t wi repa in its lorm of ode and elesnr it has been captured by the scientific phonograph the living voices of orae of tho j ngatiporous can now be heard whenever desired by asking the director of the dominion museum for their lecords after these persons have been caught in the net of taramainuku and their spirits have passed to the bright land of te reinga to rejoin those of their forefathers some living traces of them will be preserved for the benefit of their re lativee maori poetry is absolutely spontaneous the stanzas are not arranged in conformity with any recognised rule of versification it recognises but one law and that is the law of necessity there is no rhyme but as maori poetry is a transference into song of some prevailing emotion the metre is very true emotional urgency alone and the necessity for giving expression to that emotion are the two things that count in maori poetry some of the songs collected are very beautiful and disclose imaginative nights of the first degree it is in these songs that the maori language is seen m its simple p-urity and strength a collection of these songs will reveal many words that have been forgotten from the foregoing remarks it will be seen that the visit of this party of ethnologists to the bast coast has resulted in the recovery of much material that was on the verge of being lost from an ethnological point of view the mission was a success but in other directions the expedition has borne fruit the ngati-porqu have been suddenly aroused from his indifference of many years to take an interest in his own life story as a section of mankind forthose of this tribe who had already taken some part in collecting ethnological data much assistance and practical directions in field work has been afforded through conversations with the members of the expedition one great result of this mission is the enthusiasm which has been starred up amongst the older members of the tribo to furnish their own collectors with every available information they can give especially in respect of songs genealogy and history


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