Page:Picturesque New Zealand, 1913.djvu/88

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46
PICTURESQUE NEW ZEALAND

to be at or near their zenith and the morning star must be seen when Toutouwai the robin caroled his first song of the day.

When the patient recovered, the tohunga was a great man. But when the patient died, there was weeping and wailing. Then it was the mournful tangi was held; then men and women came from far and near to condole with the sorrowing, to cry loudly, to feast even while their hearts were heavy and their eyes red with the deluge of many tears. Then were heard wild songs, then were seen frenzied dances, then flowed the blood of lamenting ones, usually women, who in their mad grief slashed their bodies and sometimes their faces. Sacrifices of slaves were occasionally made, that the bewailed might have attendant spirits. Sometimes even suicide was committed, as when the wives of a chief strangled themselves; and sometimes, too, wailing ones fell dead from exhaustion, and in Te Reinga joined those for whom they had so passionately mourned.

The tangi is generally observed among the Maoris even to-day. Still are heard, for days at a time, the moan, the wail, the startling outburst of pent emotion. Still tears flow copiously, noses are rubbed against each other in grievous salutation, and there are collected the great commissariat stores so indispensable where the hangi (oven) is necessary to the prolonged continuance of the tangi.

A modem tangi is a very lamentable event. The largest tangis are attended by hundreds of natives, as