Hawaiki The Original Home of the Maori/Chapter 3

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CHAPTER III.




NAMES OF THE TRADITIONAL FATHERLAND.




Hawaiki.

With all branches of the race are to be found names of places, retained in the traditions, that refer to ancient dwelling places which were occupied by the people in the remote past—indeed the number of such names is very great, but only a few, comparatively speaking, can now be identified with certainty. Of these names Hawaiki—the Maori form of the word—is the principal, and is known to nearly every branch of the race, though it varies in form from island to island according to the changes that have taken place in the language since the dispersion. The universality of this name points to the fact that it is extremely ancient and that it was under that form the Fatherland was originally known. With many branches, it has now become synonymous with "Spirit-land:" the place to which the spirits of the dead pass as their final resting-place. In some parts it is said to be the "under world;" that is, beneath the present world of life. But here, I think, a confusion of terms has arisen in the use of the word raro, lalo, 'a'o which means below, but also means the west with all Central Polynesians. The very nature of the beliefs of the race as to the path of the spirit to its final home, encourages this confusion between the two meanings of the word. In all cases the spirit, whilst always passing to the westward, is said to go downwards, i.e., to dive into the sea, and then pass along to the sunset. It is in this manner that Hawaiki has come to be used for the place of departed spirits located underneath the earth. This latter meaning has been so firmly established in the minds of some collectors of traditions, that its original meaning has been by them overlooked; notably in the case of the late Rev. W. Wyatt Gill, to whom all Polynesian scholars owe a great debt of gratitude for his exertions in preserving the traditions of the race.

The universal belief in the passing of the spirits of the dead to the west, is to my mind a complete answer to those who hold that the Polynesian migrations were from the east. It is an essential part of Polynesian belief that the spirits rejoin those of the ancient dead and there dwell in a land of beauty and plenty, where the gods supply every want, and with whom communication is constant. The Polynesians would not locate this Paradise in the west, if their ancestral home was in the east. Whilst this appears to me unquestionable, it is undeniable that apparent traces of Polynesian influences are to be found on the coasts of America; but these, I hold, are due to expeditions that have sailed from Polynesia to the east, where some, probably most, of them settled and became absorbed in the races they found there. The traditional evidence of this contact with America is exceedingly meagre, but the discovery of Polynesian remains in several parts of South America,[1] the strong probability that Alaskan ornamentation owes much to this influence, seem to prove a former connection.

In the present state of our knowledge of the ability of the Polynesians as navigators—about which we shall learn something further on—it is useless for some writers to insist that the prevalence of the S.E. trade winds would form a bar to voyages made from Central Polynesia to the American coast. The number of easterly voyages on record from various parts and under all sorts of weather conditions is so large, that we must conclude these able navigators paid little attention to the trade wind if a sufficient object required them to face it.

Naturalists do not seem to have finally decided as to the original home of the kumara, or sweet potato (Batatas), but the evidence gathered by De Candolle seems to show that Central America is the part where it grows spontaneously, and therefore must be its native habitat. It is possible we may see in the following quotation from an ancient Maori chant, a reference to America in the land where the kumara grows wild:—

"Ko Hawaiki te whenua, e tupu noa mai te Kumara."

"Hawaiki is the land where the kumara grows spontaneously."

It is said in the above that "Hawaiki is the land;" but we need not be mislead by this; for, there is no doubt this name had become a synonym for all lands outside New Zealand not long after the settlement of the people here. If we could, however, find a country—say in Indonesia or that neighbourhood—where the kumara grows wild, it would with more probability be the Hawaiki referred to in the chant.

The Maori account of the origin of the kumara is briefly this: It is the offspring of Pani-tinaku, a woman, who is said to have been the wife of Rongo-maui, also called Rongo-marae-roa, Rongo-ma-tane, and Rongo-a-tau. Pani is said to have been the person who gave the food to Hawaiki; the food was the kumara; hence the name of Hawaiki, meaning plentiful food.[2] But the kumara appears to have been in charge of Whanui, which is a name for the star Vega, but quite possibly is also a territorial designation. It is also said that the root was stolen by Rongo-maui from Whanui. Another story is to the effect that Pani and her husband Tiki visited an island where the people had no kumara, and finding that food was scarce, he sent back his wife to another country called Tawai to fetch some for the people with whom he was staying. Tawai, here, may be the N.W. island of the Hawaiian group, now called Kauai, which until the last 100 years was called Tauai; but from the archaic nature of the tradition, I am inclined to think it is more ancient than the settlement of Kauai island. Rongo-māui combines the names of one of the great quartette of Polynesian gods—Rongo, with that of Māui, the greatest of all Polynesian heroes, often wrongly called a god, a claim to which he can be admitted only in the sense of being a deified ancestor. It is this Rongo (i.e. Rongo-māui) that is probably meant when he is said to be the god, or patron of all matters connected with cultivation. The attributes of Rongo to be found in the traditions of branches of the race outside New Zealand, preclude the idea that his ferocious man-eating and war-like nature as therein depicted, can ever have been represented in New Zealand by the god of peace and agriculture. Moreover it is suggested as a matter worthy of further investigation by those who have the time and the knowledge, whether Māui the navigator, the "fisher up of lands," is not in reality this Rongo-māui, and not the hero of the origin of the fire, who also thrashed the sun—that daring, impish, cheeky demon, so much appreciated by Polynesians. The Rarotongan account of Māui lends considerable weight to the idea that there was a navigator in ancient times named Māui, who visited some country towards the sunrise named Uperu (U-Peru). It may be altogether a too fanciful idea, to suppose that the above name is intended for Peru, for we do not know how old the name of the South American State is; but the kumara is said to grow wild in Central America, and the Quichua name of the root is umar. Māui or Rongo-Māui may have been the benefactor of his race by introducing the kumara to the knowledge of the Polynesians.

But to return to the westward flight of the spirit after death. At first sight it might be said that the Maori belief is contrary to that of other branches of the race, inasmuch as the spirits do not go to the west. But they go to the north-west—to Cape Reinga near the North Cape of N.Z. The explanation of this is simple. Starting from Central Eastern Polynesia, as the ancestors of the Maoris did when they colonised New Zealand, and having as they had very correct notions of orientation,[3] they would know full well that their S.W. course to N.Z. must necessitate the adoption of a different direction for Hawaiki—the spirit land—from that they held in Central Polynesia. And hence the spirits gather at Cape Reinga, as being the nearest point to the old "spirits' road," by which their ancestors' spirits went back to the spirit land. Colonel Collins in his "History of New South Wales" (published at the end of the 18th century) gives a sketch map of New Zealand drawn from information supplied by Maoris, who in 1793 were taken to Norfolk Island to teach the convicts how to dress flax. On this map is drawn the " spirits' road" which follows the ranges from the south of New Zealand to Te Reinga, near the North Cape. Many stories have the Maoris of the doings of the spirits on their way to the sacred Pohutukawa tree growing at Te Reinga, from which the spirits dropped down into the chasm that led under the sea to spirit land.

In Samoa we find the same ideas: the spirits travelled from the east by the mountain backbone (tuasivi) of the islands to the extreme western point of the group, where, at Fale-lupo, they dived into the sea on their way to spirit-land—in their case named Pulotu.

It was the same at Rarotonga, and Mangaia Islands; the spirits passed to the west, and there "jumped off" from the Pua tree and dived beneath the ocean on their way to Avaiki, or spirit-land, many instances of which will be found in the Rev. W. Wyatt Gill's works.

At the Hawaiian Group the spirits passed to the N.N. West, finally "jumping off" at the Leina-Kauhane at the west end of Oahu Island near the point called Ka Lae-o-Kaena.[4]

The Morioris of the Chatham Islands held a similar belief. In their case, the spirits left the N.W. point of the island at Te Raki Point on their way to the general gathering place with their ancestors at Hawaiki.

At the west end of Vanua-lava, the largest of the Fiji Islands, is a balawa tree (Pandanus) where the spirits depart for the ancestral home by passing into the sea. It will be shown later, how much the Fiji group has been connected with the Polynesian race, though the present inhabitants are a cross between that race and the Melanesian.

The natives of Mangareva Island, situated near the extreme S.E. end of the extensive Pau-motu group, and who are pure Polynesians, call the place of departed spirits Avaiki, and Tregear's dictionary of that dialect also states:—"Name of a place often mentioned in the ancient songs of the natives." But I cannot ascertain if the spirits were supposed to go to the west.

Although the present inhabitants of South East New Guinea are not pure Polynesians, there has no doubt in ancient times been an infusion of that blood into the people, together with some of their beliefs. Hence we find that the spirits after death went to the west, to Lavau, a name which I hope to show is as ancient as Hawaiki.

The above examples are taken from the principal homes of the race, and they all illustrate the one common idea that the spirit passes to the west to the ancestral home of the people. If enquiries were instituted in the other islands inhabited by the Polynesians, I have no doubt we should find traces of the same belief. Numbers of illustrations might be given from the ancient poetry of the Maoris of their belief in the return of the spirit to Hawaiki, the first home of their ancestors. Enough, however, has been said, to prove the belief of the race that their ancestral home was in the far west, and that Hawaiki was, if not the principal, at any rate one of its chief names.

At this date, and after so many people have studied the traditions of the Polynesian people, it would seem superfluous to adduce any argument in favour of the western origin of the race. But I notice that an Australian gentleman of scientific acquirements, has lately resuscitated the idea of an eastern origin. To those, like myself, who have studied the race, its language, manners and customs, and above all, its traditions, for over forty years, this idea cannot be admitted as valid. Dr. Lang of Sydney, was the first, I think, to originate this theory; but he based it on such ridiculous arguments, that no one knowing anything of the race could treat his work seriously.

With laudable pride and affection, with a strong belief in the sacredness, the beauty, the prolificness of the Father-land, the Polynesians have carried this great name Hawaiki in their wanderings, and applied it to many of their later homes. We thus have the following islands and places, etc., named in memory of it, or where a knowledge of it exists:—

Jawa, the Bugis name of the Moluccas (J. E. Logan).

Java, (Hawa)—see later on in reference to this.

Sava-i, a place in the Island of Seran, Ceran, Celam, or Ceram, Indonesia.

Hawiiiki and Kowaiki, at the west end of New Guinea (Dr. Carroll).

Savai'i, the principal island of the Samoan group.

Havai'i, an ancient name of Ra'iatea, Society group.

Havai'i, the original home or Father-land of the Tahitians.

Havaiki, an ancient name of one of the Paumotu group (? Fakalava).

Avaiki-raro, the whole of the Fiji, Samoan, and Tonga groups, according to Rarotongan traditions.

Avaiki-runga, the Society, Tahiti and neighbouring groups, according to Rarotongan traditions.

Avaiki, mentioned in Mangareva traditions.

Savaiki, a place known to the Tongareva Islanders.

Avaiki, a place known to the Aitutaki Islanders.

Avaiki-tautau, the ancient Rarotongan name (besides others) for New Zealand.

Havaiki, a place known to Marquesan traditions.

Havaiki, a place known to Easter Island traditions.

Hawaiki, a place known to Moriori traditions, and a place so named on their island (Chatham Island).

Hawai'i, the name of the largest of the Sandwich Islands.

Havaiki, a place on Nine Island.

Besides the above there are several places in New Zealand called Hawaiki: amongst others those where the altars were set up by the crew of the Tainui, at Kawhia,[5] and by the crew of the Arawa at Maketu, on their first arrival in the country. I do not include in the above list Haabai Island of the Tonga Group, for the Rev. Mr. Moultan, of Tonga—the best authority—does not think it has any connection with the name. It is possible that Ava, the kingdom of that name in the Malayan peninsula, may be connected with Hawa-iki, but we want to know first what language the name belongs to.

In Maori legends, it is clear that even this most ancient name of Hawaiki was applied to more than one place, or home of the people, and that their first home had several qualifying epithets applied to it; for we have Hawaiki-nui (the great Hawaiki), Hawaiki-atea, the meaning of which I apprehend to be Hawaiki-the-happy (atea enters as a descriptive word into several of the ancient names, as Wawau-atea, etc.), Hawaiki-roa is another variant of the name, meaning "the long, or extensive Hawaiki."

In some of these epithets of the ancient Father-land, it is clear to me that a continent rather than an island is referred to, and this is the description given to me of Hawaiki-nui, by Tare Watere Te Kahu, a very learned member of the Ngai-Tahu tribe, a people that have retained up to fifty years ago probably more of the ancient knowledge of the Maoris than any other. "Hawaiki-nui was a mainland (tua-whenua) with vast plains on the side towards the sea and a high range of snowy mountains on the inland side; through this country ran the river Tohinga." The Deluge stories of the Maoris are connected with the river Tohinga, showing how ancient Hawaiki is. The following names of mountains are also given by the Maoris as being situated in Hawaiki:—Apaapa-te-rangi, Tipua-o-te-rangi, Tawhito-o-te-rangi, Tawhiti-nui, and Hikurangi. These mountains are mentioned in another legend[6] referring to the Father-land in which it is named Te Paparoa-i-Hawaiki, or the "Great extending Hawaiki," again indicating a continent. Here—says the tradition—"was the growth or origin of man, and they spread from there, spreading from that Paparoa-i-Hawaiki, spreading to the islands of the great ocean and dwelling there." Hikurangi, one of the mountains mentioned above, is also connected with the Deluge legends, and its name has been applied by the race to several other mountains in their later homes, e.g., Tahiti, Rarotonga, New Zealand, etc. Hawaiki-atua is another name for the Father-land—Hawaiki-of-the-gods—where the gods originated from Rangi and Papa—the Sky father and Earth mother, and where is "the meeting place of gods and men," as we shall see later on—where spirits foregathered with their deified ancestors.

Mr. J. R. Logan, the Ethnologist and Philologist of Indonesia, has the following remarks bearing on the name Hawa-iki—vide "Journal of the Indian Archipelago," Vol. iv., p. 338. "The great island of Halmahera (or Gilolo) was in the oldest historical and traditional times, the seat of the predominant tribe which included Ceram in its dominions and had its chief colony there in the fine bay of Sawai. From Sawai, it is probable the principal of those migrations went forth, which spreading along the northern coasts of the Melanesian chain, at last reached and colonised the Samoan islands, and thence diffused the S.W. Indonesian races throughout Polynesia. The name of Sawai or Sawaiki, is literally Sawa-the-little, and Sawa is identical with Java; so that the name was first given (to that bay) by a Polynesian colony from Java; just as the modern name of a country on the south coast, Seran, Selan, Seram, Ceram, which Europeans have extended to the whole island—was bestowed by the Javenese colonists at a period when Singhalese seem to have been the leading Indian settlers or traders and civilizers in the Archipelago, if we may judge by many names of places, sovereigns, and chiefs, and by the histories of some of the Malayan races.

"The name Java, Jaba, Saba, Zaba, Jawa, Hawa, is the same word, which is used for rice-fields which are irrigated. The word is primarily connected with the flowing of water." (In a note he adds) "Sawa, Jawa, Saba, Jaba, etc., has evidently in all times been the capital local name in Indonesia.… The Bugis apply the name Jawa, Jawaka, to the Molukas."

The above quotation from Mr. Logan shows what an accomplished linguist and philologist considers to be the origin of the name Hawaiki (or Savaiki, for "h" and "s" are convertible letters, as are "w" and "v" in the Polynesian language) and his further remarks bear on one or more of the secondary Hawaikis, as we shall have to refer to later on. But the quotation is given here in order to assist in arriving at a meaning for the name. Mr. Edward Tregear has probably gone deeper into the origin of this and other names than anyone else, and briefly his conclusion is "That the names of the lands of Polynesian origin, such as Hawaiki, Yaringa, Paliuli, and Atia, are derived from words used for varieties of food, but primarily of grain. The grain-name was applied to barley, millet, wheat, etc., by the western natives, but to the rice by the people of India and the tribes moving eastward. It became in time not only a designation of the cereals themselves but of the soil in which they grew, and the methods of irrigation, etc." I cannot exactly agree with Mr. Logan that the iki in Hawaiki, means little, otherwise it would be—in Maori—iti, for the Maoris have not, like the Hawaiians, and some others, changed the "t" into "k."[7] It may be, that an "r" has been deleted, and the word might have been Hawa-riki, which of course means "little Hawa." But no Polynesian would, if this had been the case, use the form Hawaiki-nui (the great little Hawa). It seems to me more probable that the name may have been originally, Hawa-ariki or Hawa-the-regal, from ariki, eiki, aka-iki, etc., a high chief, king, firstborn, etc. Crawford in his "History of the Indian Archipelago," Vol. iii., p. 190, says: the name Java was derived from Indian sources, which is some evidence of it having been applied to some part of India itself, at one time.

However this may be, it seems clear, from the fact of finding this name widely spread in Indonesia, and from the other fact that it is connected with the origin of the race, we must seek some country further to the west than Indonesia for the original location of the name. Taken with the other evidence to be adduced, it apparently points to India as the Father-land of the race.




Tawhiti.

This name, under various forms according to the dialect in which it is found, is also a very ancient one, and like Hawaiki, has been applied to various lands occupied by the race. We have seen (page 47) that under the form Tawhiti-nui (or great Tawhiti) it was given to a mountain in the Paparoa-i-Hawaiki. This is probably the most distant locality in which it is found, so far as Maori history is concerned. I do not know if the name occurs in Indonesia. The next place we find it is as a name for the Fiji group, the proper spelling of which is Viti; under Viti-levu, it is the name for the second in size of the islands of that group. Coming to Samoa we find the name as Tafiti, or Tafiti-a-pa'au (the winged Fiji) a name given to the Fiji group. In the name of Tahiti Island it again occurs. In the Hawaiian traditions it is found as Kahiki (or, as it was originally Tahiti) which appears to be used both for Tahiti Island and for all the parts of central Polynesia known to the Hawaiians, i.e., from Fiji to the Marquesas, and some far more ancient place of that name, as in Kahiki-tu and Kahiki-moe (East and West Kahiki) which Fornander thinks are countries far to the west of Indonesia.

The Maoris of the East Coast have a saying which €ml)odies in a brief form, the stages of their migrations, e.g., they came from Tawhiti-nui, to Tawhiti-roa to Tawhiti-pa-mamao, to Hono-i-wairua, thence to New Zealand. It is difficult to locate these places, but they probably include Fiji and Tahiti, in both of which groups the ancestors of the Maori once dwelt. We next come to the name Tumuaki-o-Whiti (or Hiti) which is an expression used in the sacred chants of the Maoris and Morioris meaning the "Crown, or summit of Whiti"—Whiti being the same word as Tawhiti, for the ta is but a prefix. This expression is found in the karakias for the dead, where the spirits of the departed are sent off to Tumuaki-o-Whiti. It is a kupu nui, or word of great significance, having connection with their most sacred ceremonies; therefore, if Tawhiti-nui is a mountain in Hawaiki as has been said on a previous page, it would seem that this expression has reference to the summit of that mountain, to which the spirits of the dead went, and consequently would refer to some sacred mountain in the original Father-land. In a Moriori karakia, speeding the parting spirit on its way, we find it directed to the Tupuaki-o-Hiti,[8] to Hui-te-rangiora,[9] and it is well-known that the latter name is an expression for Paradise, the place of departed spirits, and synonymous with Father-land.

Altogether then, it seems reasonable to suppose that Tawhiti-nui, was a name for some part of the ancient Father-land; and that like Hawaiki it has been applied frequently to stages in the migrations of the race.

To those who have the means of following out the course of reasoning herein adopted in the identification of these ancient homes of the Polynesians, I would make the following suggestion as a possible confirmation regarding Tawhiti-nui as a sacred mountain in India. It is wellknown to all Polynesian scholars that Miru is the goddess of Hades, or the "Po," the place where departed spirits all go before arriving at Hui-te-rangiora, or Paradise. Now it may be that Miru = Meru,[10] or Mount Meru in India "the high Kailasa, the heaven of the Sivaites, the first great mountain (deity) of India * * * According to the Kishnu Puranā, the ocean fell on this Meru, and coursing down it, and four times round it, formed the four rivers of Paradise."[11] It has always been stated that the Maori account of the Deluge is connected with the river Tohinga which is said to be in Hawaiki. Can there be any connection between the Puranā and Maori accounts? and can the name of the goddess have become applied to the mountain? Again, the name Tohinga means the act or time of Baptism or cleansing according to Maori rites. Can this name be connected with the sacred Ganges, in which to this day devout Hindus bathe to cleanse them of their sins?




Wawau.

We next come to Wawau, the Maori form of this old name, which has evidently been a very ancient one referring to some distant land in which the ancestors of the Maoris once dwelt. It is to be found in some of the ancient chants, often with an adjectival termination, as Wawau-atea a qualifying term which is also applied to other old names, and the meaning of which I think is best rendered by "happy," "free from care," though it has also the meaning of "open," "spacious." The name often occurs in the karakia whakato kumara, or incantations said at the time of planting the kumara (Batatas). In another old chant descriptive of the original formation of various lands, it is coupled with Whiwhi-te-rangiora, a term synonymous with Hui-te-rangiora already alluded to as Paradise, thus showing it to be very ancient. Like other ancient names it has been applied as a place name to various stages in the migrations of the Polynesians. Fornander considers it to be identical with "Babao, an ancient name of Coupang, Isle of Timor; also a village and district there, and probably the name of the whole island before the Malays conquered and settled it, and named it Timor."[12] That there was such an island, or land, westward of New Guinea is shown by the fact that the spirits of the Motu people of New Guinea, went to Lavau, to the west; and the latter name, like Navau, is a mere variant of Vavau or Wawau. We next find it in the track of the migrations as an island now unknown, to the north of the Fijis, and in Vavau, one of the northern islands of the Tonga group, whose beautiful harbour of Niuafou is well known to tourists. In Samoa, so far as I am aware, it is not retained as the name of a traditional land, but it there means "old, ancient"—significant meanings which it is permissible to suggest meant originally, "Old as Vavau."[13] We must pass now to Eastern Polynesia to find the name again, and in Porapora of the Society group learn that the ancient name of that island was Vavau. It was from this Vavau, I have little doubt, that the ancestors of the Ngati-Whatua tribe of Kaipara came to New Zealand in their canoe, the "Mahuhu," long before the fleet in 1350. To the eastward of Tahiti, the name is found as Mature-vavao, the native name of the Actæan group, and in Vavau, another name for Rangiroa or Deans Island. Still further to the east, the Marquesans have recorded in their traditions the name of one of their stopping places, an island named Vevau, which apparently lies to the north of the Fiji group, and which I am inclined to identify with New Britain.

The Tahitian traditions mention a Vavau in connection with Samoa (besides the old name of Porapora) which is probably the Tongan island of that name—it is shown on Tupaea's chart, which that old Tahitian priest drew for Captain Cook in 1768. The name, as Wawau, was also known to Hawaiian traditions.

A Maori variant of this name is Ta-wau, and Ta-wawau, which is said in tradition to be an island near Tawhiti (or Tahiti) and is probably Vavau, or Porapora.


Mataora.

This name is found in Maori traditions, but is, I think, known only to the east coast tribes,—probably to the descendants of the old tangata-whenua alone. It is said to have been a very ancient dwelling-place of the Maori ancestors. It was this place they removed to after leaving Au-roroa where Tane and the other gods lived, and from Mataora they removed to Hawaiki-nui. The meaning of this name, is "living, lively, fresh-looking, pleasant, safety." I am in doubt as to whether this ever was anything more than an emblematical name for the father-land, expressive of the prevalent ideas as to the happiness and plenty prevailing there. It is not known to any other branch of the race, so far as I am aware.




Raro or Roro.

The above word enters into so many names of ancient places, that it probably had at one time the meaning of "land, region, country, etc.,;" of course Raro and Roro are identical—the change from "a" to "o" being very common in Polynesia—and is possibly connected with oro, which clearly meant at one time, a mountain, of which many illustrations might be given. The following names are given in Maori tradition:—Raro-whara, Raro-henga or Rorohenga, Raro-hana, Raro-whana, Raro-pouri, Rarowaia, and Rarotonga, which last is undoubtedly the island of that name, chief island of the Cook group. But it is questionable if this latter can be classed with the others, for we have the distinct statement in the traditions that its name was given by Tangiia (circa 1250) on securing directions where to find it, by going west (raro) and south (tonga)—the previous name was Tumu-te-varovaro. Raro-hana may probably be looked for in the far west, for it is connected with the story of the Deluge; but the others cannot be identified, unless we are justified in thinking Gi-lolo or Ji-lolo of Indonesia to represent one of them. But we do not know to what language Gi-lolo belongs—it may have been the original Polynesian name of that island, corrupted into its present form by the later occupants. Fornander identifies lolo-i-mehani, found in the Hawaiian traditions with Gi-lolo—lolo being the stem word of the name.




Other Ancient Names.

One of the oldest names for the Father-land is Nuku-roa, a name which in later ages, but still very long ago, was applied to New Zealand. The Maori traditions in which this name is found relates to the age of the gods, and, therefore, it is very ancient. Now, under the forms of Nusa, Nuha, Nuhu, Nuka, Nuku, Nu'a, Nu'u, we find this word extending from the coasts of Asia to the Marquesas group, in all cases with the meaning of "land, or island, or earth." In combination with "roa," it means the great land or long-land, evidently referring to a continent. The lesser of the two larger of the Ke group of islands west of New Guinea is called Nuhu-roa, probably a name given by the Polynesians; and the furthest east in which we find it is Nuka-hiva of the Marquesas Group.

Herangi, a name to be found in old Maori traditions, is probably identical with Hawaiian Holani and Helani, and Rarotonga Erangi-maunga. This, I agree with Fornander, is probably Selan or Ceram Island of Indonesia.

Taranga:—From the fact of this name occurring in the Creation legends it is evidently very old, and is no doubt synonymous with the Hawaiian Kalana, or Kalana-i-hauola, one of the most ancient lands known to that people, wherein was the "Fountain of Youth"—the Maori "Waiora-a-Tane."

The above are the principal names to be found in Maori traditions which relate to places where the people dwelt in remote antiquity. There are many others which refer to their later homes in the Pacific, some of which will be noted as we follow the course of the migrations. Before doing so it is necessary to note a few geographical names retained in the traditions of Rarotonga. The Hawaiians have many ancient names for various dwelling places of their ancestors, besides those mentioned herein, but they are not recognisable in the histories of other branches.




Atia-te-varinga-nui.

The above is the most ancient land known to the Rarotongans, and under the variation Atia, is the first name that is mentioned in their karakias—reciting the course of their migrations. It can be shown that one meaning of the word vari, which is the descriptive word in the above name, is mud, slime, earth, and the deduction might be drawn that it meant the origin of the race from the primitive earth. There is another and very interesting meaning of the word vari, which will be new to Polynesian scholars, and as it bears intimately on the origin of the people, it may be here stated. In one of the Rarotongan traditions it is stated that, when living in Atia, the common food of the people was vari, and this continued to be so until the discoverv of the bread-fruit and the ui-ara-kakano, the latter of which was discovered by one Tangaroa. The writer of the traditions from which this is taken evidently thought this word vari, referred to mud, as he calls it e kai viirii or disgusting food, evidently not knowing what the other meaning of the word is. Thinking there was a history in this word, and that it might be connected with pari, rice, I asked Mr. Edward Tregear to see what he could make of it, and this is the result: In Madagascar, the name for rice is vari or vare; in Sunda (Java), Macassar, Kolo, Ende, rice is pare: in the Bima tongue it is fare; in Malay it is padi and pari. It is stated that the Arabs changed the original Malay "f" into "p," so that originally the name was fari. It is sufficiently clear from the above that vari means rice, and the Rarotongan tradition is correct, though not now understood by the people themselves. It would seem from this that Atia was a country in which the rice grew, and the name Atia-te-varinga may be translated Atia-the-be-riced, or where plenty of it grew.

De Candolle, in his "Origin of Cultivated Plants," says that rice was known to the Chinese 2,800 years B.C., and that they claim it as an indigenous plant, which seems probable. Rumphius and other modern writers upon the Malay Archipalego give it only as a cultivated plant there. In British India it dates at least from the Aryan invasion, for rice has the Sanskrit name vrihi, arunya, etc. It was used in India, according to Theophrastus, who lived about the fourth century B.C., and it was grown in the Euphrates valley in the time of Alexander (B.C. 400). "When I said that the cultivation of rice in India was probably more recent than in China I did not mean that the plant was not wild there." The wild rice of India is called by the Telingas newaree (in which we recognise the word wari or vari; the Telingas are not Aryans). "Historical evidence and botanical probability tend to the belief that rice existed in India before cultivation," with much more to the same effect.

All this leads to the legitimate conclusion that rice is a very ancient food plant in India, dating certainly from before the time of Tu-te-rangi-marama, which we shall see was possibly about B.C. 450. I am inclined, therefore, to think that Atia-te-varinga-nui (Great Atia-covered-with-rice) supports the idea that the name refers to India.

As vari has then the double meaning of both rice and mud, it will be interesting to try and ascertain which is the older meaning of the two. As mud must have existed before rice was used, the second meaning is probably the more modern, and the Polynesians, on their first discovery of the rice, applied to it the name of the mud in which it grew. If this is true, it follows that the Polynesians were the originators of this widespread name of vari and its variants, and further, that they gave it this name when living in India, for it has never been attempted to be shown that the name was carried from Indonesia or China to India.

De Candolle and others say that rice is not indigenous in Indonesia, hence it probably came from India, and from what follows as to the discovery of the bread-fruit by the Polynesians, it seems to me a reasonable deduction that this people brought the rice from India and introduced it into Indonesia. Otherwise how could they have discarded rice after obtaining the bread-fruit if they had not brought it with them as it is not indigenous there? The bread-fruit is native to Indonesia, and does not grow in Asia. This shows that they had moved on from India to Indonesia (Avaiki is the place named, which I take to be Java), where they first became acquainted with the bread-fruit. It seems to me that, when the Polynesians left India, they bequeathed—as it were—their word for rice to the Telinga and other peoples they left behind. I claim for the Polynesians that they are the original owners of the name for rice, and that they cultivated it in India before the irruption of the Aryans into that country.

It will not be inferred from what has been stated above, that the Polynesians were the first to occupy Indonesia. It is clear, upon several grounds, that they were preceded there by the Papuans or Melanesians—branches of a Negritto race. It seems probable, from what is known of these people, that they also came originally from India, and it is possible that they may have introduced the rice with them, but until it is shown that they did so, and that they use the word vari for rice, it seems more reasonable to suppose it was the Polynesians—a race of a much higher standard of civilization. Judging from Earle's "Papuans"—a term he applies to all the Negritto people of Indonesia, wherever found—this people, although fond of rice, do not grow it, or only to a very limited extent; they obtain it now-a-days by trade with the Malays. The inference is that they were not a rice-growing race originally; had they been so, we should find them still cultivating it in parts of Indonesia where they have not been disturbed, such as in New Guinea, or even further afield, in the Solomon and New Hebrides islands. The Polynesians—a superior race— would find little difficulty in expelling the Negritto race, wherever they came in contact with them. No doubt they would often enslave them, and hence, probably, their references to the Manahune people, to be referred to later on. I assume that the Manahune were of the lighter-coloured Melanesians—or Papuans—not the almost black people. It is known that there are degrees of blackness amongst the race.

In connection with Atia, as being a name for India, I would say that, in the very old Maori traditions, is mentioned a name Otia, and Otia-iti, which I take to be variants of Atia. But we can gather nothing from Maori tradition as to the locality of these places.

Hawaiki p073.jpg

Andrews photo.

Ancient stone buildings at Ponape, Caroline Islands.

Although this ancient Atia was probably India, it is quite clear that it was known also as Avaiki and Avaiki-Atia; and, as in the case of Avaiki, they have probably applied that of Atia to some second country, or used it as a general term for Indonesia. This would seem so from the fact that voyages have been made from Avaiki-runga (Eastern Polynesia) to some place named Avaiki-te-varinga as late as the thirteenth century. We shall see later on that Tangiia, after his expulsion from Tahiti by his cousin Tutapu, went back to Avaiki-te-varinga to visit Tu-te-rangi-marama,[14] in order to obtain the help of the gods, who are said to have lived there. Although these are the words used, I am inclined to think he went to consult the priests of the ancient gods and obtain their counsel as to his future course. From that land he obtained a sacred drum, a trumpet, and learned a large number of evas, or ceremonial dances, which he subsequently introduced into Rarotonga, besides the mana or supernatural powers specially given to him by the gods. Judging from analogy, the mana would be in the form of potent karakias or incantations. It seems to me that India is too far off for Tangiia to have returned to. There is no doubt he introduced some innovations on previous customs from this Avaiki, wherever it may have been. Possibly the old keepers of legends used Avaiki here in a very general sense, as referring to the remote lands where the ancestors sojourned on their migrations.

In the name of Atia itself, there is a strong temptation to make use of the Tongan, Niuē, and Moriori pronunciation of the t (ch or j), and connect Atia with Atchin (which is pronounced and spelt by the Dutch, Atjeh). But Atchin is at the north-west end of Sumatra, and I think too far to the west for voyages to be made there from Eastern Polynesia. The second Atia is more likely to be the ancient name of some place in the Celebes, or perhaps Ceram. I am not aware if any ruins exist in those islands which might be identified with the Koro-tuatini, the temple built by Tu-te-rangi-marama, as referred to later on. We must not allow ourselves to think that this ancient temple is one of those in Java (also one of the Hawa-ikis), because it is known that they were built by the Hindoos in the sixth century, whereas the Koro-tuatini, if we may trust the genealogies, was created long before that. It may perhaps be suggested that the ancient ruins at Ponape in the Caroline group, so fully described by Mr F. W. Christian in his work, "The Caroline Islands," 1899, and said to have been built by a strange people coming from the south, are possibly the remains of the Koro-tuatini, built by Tu-te-rangi-marama. But I think there is nothing to justify this idea; the style of building (see illustration) is quite different from that of any of the erections made by the Polynesians.

Wherever this Avaiki-te-varinga may be, it is clearly not Avaiki raro in the Western Pacific, one piece of evidence of which is, that in returning to Samoa thence, Tangiia the Rarotongan voyager, first made the land (or the land first noticed on his return) at Uea or Wallis Island, directly west of the Fiji group. I have no doubt the country he visited was Java, Celam, or some of the other islands of the Archipelago.

So much for the geographical evidence of the ancient Father-land of the Polynesians. We will now proceed to show what some of the best informed have thought on this subject, and amongst them a learned and scientific observer who paid much attention to the question of the origin of the people; and in doing so, I make no apology for a lengthy quotation because the works in which Mr. Logan's papers appear, are extremely rare and indeed appear to have been quite unknown to many writers on this subject, amongst them most of those who are referred to below.


  1. The latest reference to this subject that I have seen is in a note to be found in Vol. xi., p. 49 -Journal of the Polynesian Society.
  2. Hamiora Pio's collection of Maori traditions, MSS. with the Polynesian Society.
  3. A very striking illustration of the powers of the Polynesians in respect to direction, is furnished by Captain Cook, who, on his first voyage took from Tahiti a native priest named Tupaea, with the intention of letting him see the wonders of the world. Cook states that after many months—even after having circumnavigated New Zealand, and passed up the eastern shores of Australia—if Tupaea was asked to point out the direction of Tahiti, he could always do so correctly.
  4. Journal Polynesian Society, Vol. xi., p. 192:—Leina-Kauhane is identical in meaning with the Maori Reinga-Wairua, and both mean the "Jumping off place of the Spirits "—Kauhane being equivalent to Wairua, or spirit.
  5. The first kumaras, brought in Tainui canoes, were also planted at Hawaiki.
  6. Journal Polynesian Society, Vol. 9, p. 218.
  7. This change—as to the Hawaiian Islands—is known to have taken place in the last few years of the eighteenth century—and, indeed, it is not quite complete yet, for the Kauai people of the N.E. end of the Archipelago still use the "t."
  8. Identical with Tumuaki-o-Whiti—the difference is merely dialectical.
  9. Sometimes called Whiwhi-te-rangiora, with practically the same meaning.
  10. In Polynesian, it is rare that "i" changes to "e," but instances are known
  11. Forman's "Short Studies, etc., p. 118.
  12. The Polynesian Race, Vol. 1, p. 10.
  13. Mr. John White gives the meaning of the word in Maori, as "oblivion," possibly derived from the same source as the Samoan word. But I do not know it with that meaning in Maori.
  14. There are notices in other legends of a man of this name living at the period of Tangiia, as well as in the ancient days.