Page:Picturesque New Zealand, 1913.djvu/80

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40
PICTURESQUE NEW ZEALAND

make any efforts to form a nation. From the first every tribe, with occasional exceptions inspired by policy, lived and fought for itself. Changes of scene, of climate, and the possession of greater chances for development, did not modify the militant propensity of these barefooted colonists. They warred as they did in Hawaiki. Over all the land blood was spilled; whole tribes were destroyed, and cannibal feasts were common. Every able man was a warrior, ready at an instant's notice to exchange the peace of home for the strife of battle-field. On fortified hills the Maori ensconced himself, and there, day and night, watched and waited for his enemies; or, with spear, sword, club, and tomahawk, sallied forth for conquest.

Apparently the Maoris were constantly at war because they loved it, but John White says they did not, "though when once in it they are so proud that they cannot think of wishing or offering terms of peace." Undoubtedly the majority of Maori wars were due to violations of the Maori's code. Possibly no people had a nicer sense of honor, "in the old acceptation of the term," says Gudgeon, than the Maori. To him the slightest insult or injury "was unbearable, and therefore quickly avenged, even when the injured tribe was weak compared with the enemy." A single tribesman could start a war merely by a verbal insult. Even a fancied insult from a child has caused war.

A feature of Maori warfare was cannibalism, the worst stage of which was reached in Hongi's wars. Long