When they settled in New Zealand, the Māori brought from the different islands from which they originated, a certain number of stories which they adapted to their new environment and developed. This is the art of Matakite divination.
As a noun, the word matakite designates a clairvoyant, any person supposed to possess second sight, a person who practices divination; also any act of divination, or any utterance that embodies a prophecy or augury. The terms mata and kite are also used separately to designate such an utterance, while matatuhi is used like ma takite, to define a seer. It is also used in an adjectival sense, as in he tangata matauhi (an oracular person, one who practices divination). Such a diviner is also called tangata titiro mata or tohunga titiro mata; in some cases the tirotiro mata form is used; matamata aitu also designates a seer. The word mata, in everyday language, designates the eye; kite means “to see, discover, perceive”; while tiro and titiro mean "to watch".
The Maori had, and have, a very strong faith in signs and omens. He likes to see meaning in dreams, in certain manifestations of nature, in the actions of animals, in everything his strange mentality could derive meaning from. To his oddly constituted mind, virtually every activity had a hidden meaning. Thus, to meet a felt need, and no doubt to enhance their own importance, some people set themselves up as seers, and their task was to explain all the signs and omens, also to practice divination by consulting the gods, and by other means to predict the future. There were certainly different grades of these seers. Some were just low-status tricksters, shamanic jugglers who performed sleight of hand and, by similar means, gained influence over superstitious spirits. Others, like the high-level tohunga, apparently despised the trading tricks of the tohunga kehua class and confined themselves to more reputable functions. These may also have been imposters, but at least their activities were more dignified than those of the ordinary necromancer. Some Europeans claim that some of the ancient tohunga possessed extraordinary powers – that they employed both ventriloquism and hypnotism in their performances; but these things are not susceptible of proof.
In his remarks on the native seers, the Reverend R. Taylor wrote: "The matakites, or seers, claim to do many supernatural things and conjure up their gods at will, but from my personal knowledge of many I am persuaded that they are ventriloquists. , and thus deceive the people; though in some cases they may deceive themselves with the idea that the god is within them; usually, however, they are gross impostors who only seek gain or influence through their supposed powers. However, it would be unwise to include all Tohunga Maori among the pranksters, and it is worth bearing in mind that the missionaries never acquired any knowledge of the higher phases of native beliefs and rituals.
Thomson, in his history of New Zealand, takes a different view and writes: “The New Zealand priests were not thugs; they had a superstitious belief in their own powers, combined with a healthy dose of cunning, and ventriloquism was practiced by them. for professional purposes. When asked to predict whether an expedition would be successful, they generally awarded victory to the strongest battalions. In these remarks, Thomson was obviously not referring to the lower class shaman, but to the upper class tohunga.
The oracular sayings made by the mediums of the spirit gods were treated with great respect by the Maori and were firmly believed in them. They were so believed in because they were believed to emanate from the gods, who granted these warnings to man through their human mediums. . It can therefore be said that divination was essentially part of the Maori religion. In some divinatory acts performed by these mediums, the outcome was as much a matter of chance as that of tossing a coin, but they contained no element of chance in native belief; they were manifestations of the gods who live forever. We will thus see that what would appear to us as a childish act would be of very great importance for a native. Survivals of these ancient pagan beliefs and customs are found in the highest forms of religion today.
Warning light Maori of good reputation was obliged to be extremely circumspect in his behavior. Since he was the human medium of an atua, he had to be very careful about his own status as a tapu. Any violation of the laws of tapu simply meant removal from the favor of the gods, in which two misfortunes would befall the unfortunate seer. First, he would be deprived of the power of second sight; he would also be reduced to a totally defenseless condition in what may be called a spiritual sense. His spiritual and even physical well-being was exposed to all sorts of dangers and, having lost the protective power of the gods, he feared that Whiro might strike him down at any moment, which means death. The first thought of a person thus placed was therefore to regain the favor of the gods, and this was effected by means of a conciliation called whakaepa. He made an offering to the offended atua, accompanied by a karakia, or ritual formula, a form of charm said to possess the power to appease the distant being. As an illustration of this kind of dilemma, we can cite the case of a seer who had the imprudence to lie down on the part of a house occupied by women, or to use a woman's garment as a pillow. The consequence of such acts is that the seer's tapu becomes polluted, and he is afflicted with the condition called kahupo (syn. hinapo) – that is, he becomes blind. Not blind as far as ordinary sight is concerned – this is expressed by matapo and kapo; but spiritually blind, meaning he is no longer able to see the warning signs of the gods and has lost his powers as a medium.
The explanation given above shows that divination was very important in Māori life and faith in omens was also strong. When a people believe that most trivial and natural activities are the result of superior intelligence, then apparently nothing is too absurd to inspire faith in the omens derived therefrom. The underlying belief in faith in insignificant actions indicating the tendency of future events, etc., is that the gods send warnings of future events to man in innumerable ways, and seers have the task of interpret the meaning of these warnings. The media used by the gods are somewhat surprising in their wide range and diversity, ranging from the appearance of stars to the muscular contractions of the human body; from thunder crashing through the skies to the appearance of a lizard in its path.
In many cases, the oracular words believed to emanate from the gods were revealed by the mediumistic seer in the form of a song. This applies to the most important subjects, and a number of these songs are now recorded. Such a song would be sung by the seer to the people, and accompanied by explanations of its meanings. In the event of an expected fight, the kite or mata – that is, the song of prophecy – was often adopted as the battle song for that particular expedition or engagement. It would be chanted like a peruperu or a ngeri, pronounced aloud, with vehement emphasis, and accompanied by the fierce, rhythmic gestures so dear to the Maori.
Another special feature of some of these prophetic statements regarding war is that of the daddy. This term designates an object that, according to the prophecy, must be seen, captured or killed in order to ensure a victory. This singular injunction of the gods sometimes led, as one can well imagine, to very extraordinary actions committed by an armed force. In order to illustrate this custom, we can cite the case of the prophetic song relating to an expedition of the Tuhoe tribe against the Taupo natives, a raid which occurred more than a century ago. This song was made known by an Uhia, medium of the god of war Te Rehu-o-Tainui, a famous seer from Tuhoe. The song was used as a war song by the warriors of this historic raid. It goes like this:—
Ko wai te waka…e?
Ko Te Hiahia te wak…e
Me he peke may at Te Kiore
Ki runga ki nga taumata or Uru-kapua ra
Ki reira tirotiro ai. E… ha!
(Which canoe is this? The canoe is "Te Hiahia". If Te Kiore was just jumping towards the ridges of Uru-kapua, then we would see.)
The explanation was that there were two dads connected to this act of divination. First, a canoe named "Te Hiahia" must be seen, and a man named Te Kiore, dressed in a red garment, must be found and killed, before victory can be won. To pursue any other course would ensure disaster for the expedition. No serious attack could be launched until the two dads were safe. Quoth Uhia: “Do the commandments of the atua [god], and nothing will remain but the birds that ever drift on the waters of Taupo-moana. Even so, the raiders marched to Taupo to avenge an ancient raid on their own tribal district and reached Orona, where the fortified village of Uru-kapua overlooked the lake. The group was under the command of Uhia, who, as Te Rehu-o-Tainui's medium, directed their actions. So for two days he did not allow any attacks, but simply ordered his warriors to repel the attacks of the local natives. On the third day, the raiders saw a canoe approaching the shore, and on board was a man wearing a red cape. Here at last were the two daddies of the prophecy, and, excitedly, the savage bushmen of Tuhoe leaped into ranks and thundered the roaring war-song of Te Rehu. As the echo of it echoed from the cliffs above the calm waters of Taupo, the dinghy ran aground, the raiders rushed into the fray, Te Kiore was. killed, and the canoe was secured. Knowing full well that victory was assured, our raiders then attacked and took Uru-kapua, then surveyed the trail back to their rugged mountain home. Wild-hearted joy was theirs, for Taihakoa's raid on Ruatahuna was avenged and, in the exaggerated parlance of the Maori, "only the drifting waters of Taupo-moana remained."
When the Wairoa people attacked Tuhoe of Ruatahuna, a Mohaka was their prophet, and in his explanation of the saying of the gods, he said that there were two daddies of the matakite, a lonely tree and a person with fair hair (urukehu) . these were to be seen, and the second captured, but not killed. During the first village attacked, a man named Matangaua was chased and caught near a lone tree on the Manawaru Range. As he was blond, the prophecy was well on its way to fulfillment, but the greedy raiders killed their captive, breaking the orders of the god of war under whose sway and tapu they were. Only disaster could result from such an act, and disaster soon followed offense, with Mohaka and his merry men being pursued to the Huiarau Range. Other examples of such prophetic visions and oracular words, with their accompanying papa, could be given, but the foregoing will suffice. It will be noted that all the commands contained in these oracles must be completely and literally obeyed, otherwise failure is assured.
It sometimes happened that a seer advised the people that victory was assured to him as long as he obeyed the instructions of the atua, but that he, seeing it himself, would perish. When Ngapuhi, during one of their southern forays, attacked Ngati-Awa at Okahu-kura, the latter's seer, a Tama-a-rangi, prophesied that the raiders would be driven back and that he alone would be slain. This, we are told, was the actual result of the fight. Colonel Gudgeon recorded another instance in which a Titau, a seer attached to the Whanganui native contingent, predicted his own death during the operations around Opotiki. When, with the fighting over, Titau was still very much alive and the force was due to return home the next day, his tribesmen looked askance at him. As the Colonel said, "We were to embark the next day, and if he was planning to die, time was very short, he would have to be smart about it – and he was." We are told that the worthy Titau set off in a canoe towards the ship which was to take the contingent home; that the canoe capsized in the waves, and those on board reached the shore safely – save and except the dignified Titau, who raised his arms and descended to Rarohenga in Hine-moana's cold embrace, proving thus the accuracy of its matakite. It was a case of death before dishonor.
When an ill-mannered seer or shaman became obnoxious in Maoriland, there was always an element of danger attached to the profession. Colonel McDonnell tells us of a Pero, who predicted, with great accuracy, the deaths of various people. Having been detected in an attempt to poison the Colonel himself, by means of strychnine, his oracular efforts were discouraged and he himself died shortly afterwards. This happened in 1860; and a few years later my very worthy old friend Himiona Titiku of Ngati-Awa shot a tribesman whom he suspected of criminal witchcraft designs against his child. Tikitu sought refuge among the bush people of Urewera, where he remained for some time, until he was handed over to Captain Preece. He wasn't hanged, which I'm really grateful for, because some three decades later he provided me with a tremendous amount of tribal and racial lore.
Polack and other writers have drawn attention to the trickery and deceit practiced by Maori seers, and no doubt much of this sort of thing was done. The upper class of the priesthood certainly included men whose activities were of a more genuine nature and who believed in certain things which we regard as nonsense. As to how far these men practiced deceit, it is impossible to say.
The art of seer was not reserved for the male sex, but the women who practiced this pseudo-science seem to have confined themselves to the lower branches of the art. Judge Wilson tells us that Chief Waikato Waharoa had a private priestess who dealt with the art of divination in connection with his man-murdering activities. Other authors mention having seen clairvoyants. In 1865, Maraea of Tuhoe acted as seer for the party of this tribe which fought Ngati-Manawa at Te Tapiri. No women, however, were admitted into the upper class of Tohunga Maori.
The Māori seer claimed in many cases that when he appealed to the gods in cases of divination, their response was communicated to him during the hours of sleep. At such a time, any dream would be taken very seriously, and meanings of grave importance would be derived from it. In some cases, a seer would become "possessed" by an atua during their waking hours and would frantically detail the result of such possession to people in the form of an oracular utterance. As observed, many of these were in the form of songs, which were often extremely vague in any hints made about the call. The gods were said to communicate with their human mediums in a whistling tone, which may be why the natives never whistled and disliked hearing Europeans whistle. Oddly enough, it was once an article of faith along the Scottish border that the word of spirits is a kind of hissing.
Any tohunga about to perform a divination rite would certainly fast until the end of the ceremony, and this was probably an important cause for such ceremonies to be performed early in the morning. A seer about to go into a trance state could fast for a much longer period. Captain Cruise, who sojourned in New Zealand in 1820, made the following remarks in his diary: "An aged woman, or sort of priestess, of the tribe of every warrior who goes to battle, abstains from food for two days , and the third, purified and influenced by the atua, after various ceremonies, utters an incantation for the success and salvation of him whom she is about to send into battle. It is doubtful, however, that there was much of this wartime divination as concerning one person; such acts were performed to determine the fate of the party or force as a whole. Other song illustrations containing oracular expressions can be found in Vol. 11 of the Journal of the Polynesian Society, p. 55 and following.
As to how far the hallucination entered into the incoherent speech and frantic actions of the Maori shaman, we do not know, but no doubt people were able to get themselves into such a condition with relative ease. The writer has seen Negroes from the Southern States acting and talking like madmen at their camp meetings, but not one iota more foolishly than some white people he has heard ranting at Salvation Army meetings.
The account given by Maning in ancient New Zealand of the raid of the Ngapuhi on Motiti illustrates well the dubious aspect of certain oracles rendered by native seers. In this case, the prophecy consisted of a brief phrase, namely, "A wasteland!" This was accepted by Ngapuhi as a very favorable omen – obviously the land of the enemy must be desolate; but the result was an absolute disaster for the raiding force, so obviously a misinterpretation had been attributed to matakite. A similar case was that of the Tuhoe contingent at Orakau. Omens favored them as an attacking party, but they made the mistake of holding the hastily built redoubt against an attacking force of Europeans. This mistake was, of course, their downfall. The attacking force certainly won the fight, but the enemy was the attacker.
A native who joined a party of northern natives who harassed Taranaki and the south in 1820 made the following remarks in recounting an account of the raid: "I saw our tohunga performing augury with the niu, and I so I approached. He taught the people the meaning of the signs of the niu. Then I saw the furrows dug in the earth by the stalks of ferns (niu), and learned their meaning, and the names of the hapu (clans) that would fall in battle after At the end, the priest spoke of in a frantic manner, and told the people how to behave, and talked about the countries we were to pass through. It was during the night, however, that the priest spoke with a particularly ghostly accent, but, as his voice was incoherent, I couldn't quite understand it all, nor did I know if our party should win. or die in the battles that were to follow. This account, from Maori Wars of the Nineteenth Century, by S. Percy Smith, shows that the questionable words of some seers were extremely confusing and difficult to understand. The niu referred to was a method of divination by means of casting sticks or short rods. The omens came from the way these sticks fell. There were several different ways to handle the sticks. The name niu applied to the sticks and the ceremony is interesting, as it seems to have been introduced from Polynesia, where the coconut is so named. In these islands, this nut was much used in divination ceremonies, as described in Mariner's account of the Tonga Islands. (See also Journal of the Polynesian Society vol. 1, p. 47.) In New Zealand, the word is used to mean "divination", as well as a specific term for the staffs referred to.
The following explanations of several methods of handling the niu have been taken from the writings and unpublished notes of the late Mr John White, author of The Ancient History of the Maori:
The expert planted two sticks in the ground in a vertical position and attached another stick to them in a horizontal position. He then took a koromiko (Veronica) wand to which was attached a lock of hair from the head of a tapu priest or chief, and repeatedly waved it over the sticks, while reciting a charm. Augurs were drawn from the movements of the hair, and as to whether or not it hit the horizontal stick. This was used to determine the fate of a proposed attacking party in wartime. One might assume that the result was entirely in the hands of the operator, but we are told that his every move was controlled by the gods; and who will say that it was not so?
Mr. John White told us that the sticks used in the niu were named by the tohunga who handled them, and that among these names were those of Te Ata-mounu, Te Manu-i-te-ra and Tongohiti. The atua, or supernatural being presiding over this divinatory practice, was a Korohahatu. The priestly adept, by means of a certain charm, caused this being to become a spirit dwelling in the staffs used, for the duration of the ceremony.
In a method adopted by these experts, the procedure was of the simplest nature. Two pieces of staff were purchased, one of which represented an enemy force, the other that of his own people, and over these he recited a brief charm, such as the following:
Kiamana and Korohaha do you
Korohaha matai taua
(This expresses the desire that the divinatory act be carried out by Korohahatu, the critical observer of the armed forces.) The manipulator then throws the two sticks on the ground. If one of them is then lying across the other, then the group represented by the highest stick will win the upcoming battle.
An even simpler method adopted in lesser cases was simply to clap the open hands together. Good or bad omens were drawn from the position of the fingers, whether they struck or interlocked. On this occasion, the following charm was repeated:
Tenei you nui ka rere
He niu na paki
Ko te he kia puta.*
(This outpouring proclaims that the niu instituted by Paki is about to be wrought, and asks that bad luck be clarified, or abolished.) This charm was also employed in cases where sticks were thrown, as described above . In the clapping of the hands, it was considered a good omen if the fingers interlocked, a bad one if they did not. People about to travel would perform this simple act to determine whether or not danger or trouble awaited them.
Another method, practiced by the Ngai-Tahu people of the South Island, was as follows: Three small branches were driven lightly into the ground at the sacred place of the village. One of them represented an armed force about to attack an enemy pa (fortified village), another represented this pa itself and a third the inhabitants of this place. The experts then waited for a bird to land on one of the twigs by chance. If one thus settles on the branch representing the war party, and if it falls by chance, the fact of its fall is taken to mean that the party will be defeated. If the branch does not fall, the party will be successful. Similar omens have been derived from the effect of a bird landing on one of the other twigs.
Here is another specimen of the charms used by niu augurs:—
Moko torotoro, moko torotoro
Kei haramai koe
Kei whakawareware i taku niu
The following is the most elaborate style of niu divination. This method was adopted in important cases, such as sending an armed force to attack an enemy.
At dawn, before any cooking fires are lit, the Priestly Expert goes to a small, crude shed located at the hamlet's garbage dump or heap, a shed erected by men who have killed enemies. There he spreads a mat on the ground and sits beside it so as to face the east. He has with him a number of pieces of the stem of the rarauhe (Pteris aquilina), each about 6 in. long, one for each leader of the party about to depart, and also one for each leader of the enemy about to be attacked. These sticks he holds in his right hand, then, with his left hand, he takes them one by one and lays them on the mat in front of him, naming each as he does after one of the chiefs above mentioned, until all are in a row in front of him. He then takes an equal number of such sticks and fixes them in the ground in an upright position, driving them through the mat, leaving gaps of space between them. These are given the same names as the corresponding sticks. He then takes the stick at the right end (#1 of the bottom row) and places it on the palm of his hand, which is open and with the fingers straightened, so that it rests in the middle of the hand , parallel with the fingers. He then extends that hand to stick number 1 in the standing row, which bears the same name, then withdraws it, extends it again, withdraws it again. He then raises this hand as high as he can, and repeats:
Ko Papa you have nuku
Ko Dad you tidied up
Ko Papa tu a whenua
Haere ki te riri mau.
He then lowers his hand and, with a quick jerk forward, throws the stick from his hand towards the No. 1 of the vertical sticks. If he passes to the right of No. 1, he is said to be outside and unprotected, which is a bad omen. If it passes between the vertical sticks 1 and 2, it is a good omen. All other sticks are tossed in the same way, and if the last toss goes left of #6, it is a bad omen. After completing this performance, the tohunga or expert throws the sticks into the dump.
Niu tuaumu. — Our expert then proceeds to the second part of his interpretation, known as the niu tuaumu. He procures a piece of staff for each leader who must remain in the village while the warriors are away on their raid, and an equal number to form a standing row. All these are named as before, and the same operation is performed, but the words repeated by the expert are these: "Tahuri ki muri, haere ki pa ka hurihia" ("Turn backwards, go to a fallen fort”). It also repeats the names of any tribes or clans that might possibly attack the home village during the war party's absence. As each stick leaves his hand, he repeats, "He aha tau, e te wahine?" (“What is yours, O woman?”), and also mentions the names of any tribes from whom help could possibly be received. In this case, the omens apply to an enemy attacking the home village. The word tuaumu seems to imply the weakening or deprivation of power. It applies to a charm to weaken an adversary or an enemy, as well as to the "kerchief" in the felling of trees.
The expert then raises the tapu, and the people can then prepare the morning meal. In this tapu removal ceremony, the expert draws a line on the ground, between himself and the mat, with his thumb, and also spits on or on the sticks, but we do not know exactly what these actions meant.
This final act of enemy-related ceremonial is known as niu tuaumu. The expert explains the result of his divinatory acts to people, and they are careful to keep all the instructions in mind, so as not to bring misfortune or disaster on themselves.
The sticks that are thrown are known as kaupapa, and to each is attached a small strip of Phormium leaf arranged so that a loop protrudes. When thrown, if this loop lands on the corresponding vertical stick, it is considered a lucky sign for the person or clan represented by that stick. If the thrown stick is likely to hit the straight one and fall with the loop down, this is a sign that the depicted person will die a natural death.
Niu kowhatu.—Another mode of divination, known as niu kowhatu, was practiced on the bank of a river, pond, or lake. Before surveying the warpath, the warriors accompanied their tohunga to the edge of the water. Each provided himself with three stones, one of which he threw into the water, one behind him and one above his head. As each man threw his stones, the expert would proclaim the announced omen. Augurs were derived from the noise caused by stones thrown into water: the louder the noise, the better the omen. Among the stones thrown backwards, those which tilted towards the left of the thrower announced bad luck, those which deviated towards his right were signs of good fortune. Those thrown up that fell in front of the thrower were lucky, those that fell behind him were unlucky. When all had thrown their stones, then the expert made a general decision, according to the total number of lucky and unlucky throws.
In his work Te Ika a Main the Reverend R. Taylor tells us that "In consulting the niu each had his staff, to which his own name was given, and in throwing the staff, if the one representing the consultant fell under the other, it was a sign of his death. »
Mr. Yate, a missionary who stayed in New Zealand in the "thirties" of the last century, gave the following account of a performance of niu, probably as practiced in the Far North. The interpreter cleared a small space, about 6 square feet, in a sheltered area. He procured a number of staves of equal size to represent the clans of both sides that would be engaged in combat. He planted the sticks upright in the earth, in two rows, and apparently but loosely, not firmly, inserted into the ground. He would then recite a charm on the sticks and wait for a wind to knock them down, or some of them. According to the way in which they fell, he drew his omens as to the fate which awaited the various clans represented. Any stick that fell backwards announced a clan in disarray. If one fell obliquely, then those clans would be "partially routed", as the writer puts it. Those who fell ahead represented the clans that would be victorious. Another method practiced, according to the same author, consisted in appealing to another person, ignorant of the arrangement of the sticks attributed to the different clans, and this person reversed the sticks at random. It is marvelous to see men believe in such a childish ruse, and this can only be explained by the fact that they firmly believed that their gods were behind all these functions; that the so-called oracles were manifestations of supernormal beings who controlled the destiny of man.
In November 1833, the Reverend AN Brown wrote the following: “Titore sat on a bank, recounting his exploits. …To their right were fourteen human heads, stuck on short poles…. Tohitapu… after addressing Tu (one of their gods) in a singsong tone, threw a piece of stick he had in his hand towards three heads of their friends, which Titore had brought from the south. The chiefs interrupted their conversation to see if the stick, around which he had tied a piece of linen, fell with the knot up or down. It was upwards, which they took for a good sign in case they returned south to do battle with their enemies.
In april 1831 Reverend R. Davis reported on another form of niu he witnessed. Two seers took part in this performance, which seems to have begun with the recitation of a ritual formula. Each then procured a cockle shell and they cut their hair, an act which entered into many native ceremonies. In a remote, well-sheltered place, they planted a stick and balanced two others on it. They then withdrew and were to return later to see if the balanced sticks had fallen off. If such sticks fall on the east side of the right stick, success is assured; if on the west side, defeat will be suffered.
The Reverend J. Buller, in his forty years in New Zealand, mentions a mode of niu which was possibly the same as that described by Mr. Yate: “Division was used to predict the results of impending action. No food was consumed. while these were being performed. Early dawn was Orthodox time. The chiefs on both sides were represented by as many stalks of ferns, and these were called by their names. Each rod had a strip of linen attached to it, while another set was prepared without the linen. They were all fixed in the ground. A stick was thrown across them, and depending on how the fern stalks fell were the odds of the fight.
In his history of Te Waharoa, MJA Wilson describes a mode of niu employed by a force about to attack a pa, or fortified village: "This ceremony was performed by taking a number of small sticks, each representing in the 'spirit of the tohunga a clan, and throwing them at random towards a small outlined space on the ground, which indicated the pa. The tohunga were able, by the way they fell to the ground and the directions they pointed, to predict whether an attack would succeed, and, if so, to allocate to the various clans the shares they should. take in the intended assault. »
The late Colonel McDonnell gave the following description of a niu performance: "If a tribe went to war, they would make gifts to appease themselves with the gods, through the priests, who would place a number of reeds in the ground, then, withdrawing a short distance, utter an incantation, then whirl short clubs among the reeds, and judge by the manner in which they have fallen whether the gods will crown the expedition with victory. »
In yet another method of this niu performance, the sticks appear to have been thrown all together. If they fell sparsely, the omen was good; if they are together, then trouble is ahead.
Tylor was of the opinion that ancient and barbaric divinatory functions could survive as games in civilized communities, which seems likely. Some of the forms of niu described above could certainly degenerate into a form of darts. It is a certain fact that many of our modern sports and pastimes are survivals of exercises and rituals from the past. Originally, they had a meaning and were held not only for useful activities, but also essential to the well-being of populations.
Polack tells us how he met a group of six natives about to perform a divinatory ceremony of the niu type. They were all naked, as was customary when performing what might be called a religious rite, and they were greatly relieved to learn that the traveler had not yet eaten. The operators fixed small sticks about 2 feet long in the ground, each representing a person. At the top of each staff was carefully balanced a small stone. After a while, the place would be revisited, and if all the stones were still in place, then the journey ahead would be accomplished safely. If, however, any of the stones had fallen from the sticks, then the people represented by those sticks would perish on the journey. On another occasion, this writer saw the same performance occur in order to determine the fortunes of war. In this case, twenty sticks were erected in two rows, one row for each tribe about to fight.
Missionary H. Williams tells us how, in 1832, he encountered natives handling niu sticks to find out the fortune of a canoe expedition. All the pundits engaged in the performance were in a state of nudity, and a stick about 1 foot long was erected for each canoe in the fleet.
Dr. Thomson, in his history of New Zealand, the best of earlier works on these islands, wrote the following: "Before the army took the field, the chiefs of the army, in order to instill confidence, asked the gods to say whether the expedition would be successful. This divine opinion was obtained through the priests in various ways. Sometimes sticks representing the fighters were planted in the ground, on which the priests performed certain ceremonies. Then the food was cooked for the gods and the army. from this the priests returned with the people to the place where the staffs were placed; and if the sticks representing the enemy had fallen, the gods were supposed to announce success; if not, defeat; in which case the expedition was postponed to a future occasion. »
In an article by Reverend TG Hammond published in Vol. 10 of the Journal of the Polynesisn Society, the author in mentioning the Mangaroa Stream, near Turanga-rere, says: "Where this stream turns in its course, the tohunga divined the omens by observing the course which the sticks would follow in the current, and advised the warriors accordingly, in regard to impending conflicts. However, this mode of divination by means of floating sticks was also practiced during the baptism of a child of rank, at least among the Kahungunu. This was for the purpose of determining the child's future fortune. Polack mentions that a person skilled in ariolation was sometimes employed to determine the sex and qualities of an unborn child.
Indigenous treatment of disease was empirical with a vengeance. Even herbal remedies were not used by the Maori practitioner, as he was the village priest, the shaman, and thus taught that all forms of sickness and disease emanated from the gods. Such afflictions were seen as punishments inflicted by the gods for offenses contrary to the laws of tapu, or were the result of black magic. Even in the latter case, the powers of magic that caused the affliction came from the gods. Thus, divination entered largely into the activities of the tohunga in the face of illness. His first objective was to determine either the cause of the attack, the victim's particular offense against the gods, or the name of the atua who so afflicts him, or that of the sorcerer whose knowledge of the black art was responsible for the affliction. Into the charm recited by the shaman priest would probably be inserted the names of certain atua, of certain offences, or of certain sorcerers, or a combination of these. If the patient gasped, or made an involuntary movement, or exhaled, during the repetition of the spell, then the person named or the offense mentioned at that precise moment was considered to be the cause of the person's illness. Thus the words "house", "bed", "clothing" would probably appear in the karakia hirihiri, or divinatory charm, diagnostic ritual. If the word "house" was indicated in the above manner, then the patient was known to have violated the laws of tapu with respect to a tapu house, and so on. The names of known wizards were mentioned and seen in the same way. In some cases, this ceremony was performed at the edge of a stream, and if the diviner found out that a certain sorcerer had caused the trouble, he would say, “That's…, I see him standing next to you.
In some cases, the tohunga attendant prepared a small umu, or steam oven, in which he cooked a small portion of food, over which he recited a charm that falls under the generic term of hoa. This charm had the effect of giving food (or ceremony) the power to manifest the death or healing of the patient. When the oven was opened, then, if the particular food on which the spell was repeated was found to be well cooked, the cure of the patient was assured. If, on the other hand, it turned out to be insufficient, then the victim would surely die. In the first case, that of a favorable omen, if the disease of the patient resulted from witchcraft, then the death of the sorcerer was considered as certain.
Another method, and apparently more frequently adopted, was as follows: the tohunga, or expert, sought out a flax plant (Phormium) and seized one of the young, undeveloped inner leaves. In doing so, he repeated the following spell:
A search, a search,
Search the earth, search the origin,
Seek the base, seek the unknown,
Look for the atua.
May it be effective!
He then removed the young leaf from the leaf fan. If the act was accompanied by a peculiar shrill sound which it sometimes causes, then one would know that the patient would recover. It should be understood that the charm has the effect of making this leaf a medium of the gods, so to speak, through which they made known their fiat to man.
The following illustration is of an East Coast method similar to the one above, but a small shrub has taken the place of the Phormium leaf. A curious form of divination was practiced within the Ngati-Porou tribe. It was used in case of illness, although its use was not limited to such cases. The method adopted was as follows: If a person suffered from disease, then someone would go and pass the mariunga to the priestly follower, who would go to the forest and look for a small shrub of karangu (Coprosma robusta) to use as a medium for ceremonial charm. Once found, he repeated these words over it:
Reveal the sign of death;
Reveal the sign of life.
He then gripped the stem of the shrub firmly with both hands and repeated another charm, after which he pulled the shrub up by the roots. If the roots came back intact, without breaking, it was a sign that the patient would recover; but if they broke and remained in the ground, then the victim would not survive.
What the mariunga may be is not known, but it was probably an object to represent the invalid's personality. The following is the original, as given by Tuta Nihoniho:
Me, he mea e pangia ana e te mate tetahi tangata, ka haere tetahi tangata ki te kawe i te mariunga ki te tohunga. Ka haere ia ki te rapa i tetahi rakau hei whakaari, ka kite ia i te karangu ririki e tipu ana, ka takutaku atu ia ki taua rakau, ara:—
“Tohungia te tohu o te mate;
Tohungia te tohu o te ora. »
I konei pupuri nga ringa ki taua rakau, ka karakia ano :—
“He unuhanga a nuku, he unuhanga a rangi
Ka unu i to peke mua, ka unu i to peke roto
Ka unu i to peke waimarie. »
Hei konei ka unuhia taua rakau; ki te riro katoa ake nga paiaka, ka ora te turoro; ki te motu atu nga paiaka ki ro oneone, kaore e ora taua-turoro.
Some of these shamanic experts, when called upon to cure a sick person, would first inquire about the affected part, after which they would affect to know the particular atua which afflicted the victim. He would then tear off a stem from the common fern (Pteris) and, if the rhizome of this broke with a clean break, the fact was considered a happy omen: the patient recovered. If, however, the fracture was jagged, then the outlook for the patient was only bleak. As he uprooted the plant, he repeated the words "To ara, to ara" ("Your way, your way"). He then carried the stem of the plant to the patient and, placing one end on the victim's head or body, he repeated "Naumai, haere!" Naumai, tahuti atu! Kua kitea koe! (“Now go! Now run! You are detected!”). The fern stem was believed to provide a path or pathway by which the demon afflicting the patient could leave his body. The wizard then recited another charm:—
Ngau atu ki te rangi
Ki nga poke ao
Ki te rangi tuatahi
Ki te rangi tuarua, &c., &c.,
Ki te rangi tuangahuru
Ki te wai ora to Tane.
(Storm the heavens and the clouds descend on the first heaven, the second heaven, etc., the tenth heaven, the wai ora of Tane.)
We show elsewhere the meaning of the last cryptic sentence.
Our practitioner then left the fern stem in place on the patient and proceeded to light the fire by friction, fire at which he roasted or heated a few leaves of puha, an edible plant. These leaves he brought to the patient and with them touched various parts of his body. Then, holding the leaves in his left hand, he sang:
Ka kai rangi nui, ka kai rangi roa,
Ka kai rangi pouri, ka kai te ao
Ka kai te kapua, ka kai te moana
Ka kai Papa-tuanuku, ka kai te Po
Ka kai nga atua, kakai nga tipua
Ka kai! Ka kai!
Ka kai te ra, ka kai te marama
Ka kai nga whetu, ka kai nga mano tini
Ka kai! Ka kai!
In this curious outpouring, the heavens, the earth, the clouds, the ocean, the underworld, the sun, the moon, the stars, the gods, the demons, etc., are called to eat, while the leaves are lifted. Another portion of food is now cooked, which the shaman takes in his left hand and extends to the east repeating a spell called taumaha, the conclusion of which is as follows:
Motu te upoko or te whaiwhaia
Motu te upoko o te kana kana
E kai hika, e kai ure
E kai te rangi nui e tu nei
E kai te papa and takoto nei.
This seems to denote the thwarting of the powers of evil magic and the participation of male and female elements in the work of restoration.
Part of the cooked food was given to the patient to eat; and cooked foods have a very disturbing effect on these demons and evil spirits, often banishing them.
If a patient appeared to be in extremis, the tohunga could recite a charm on them known as whakanoho manawa, which was believed to have the power to implant the breath of life in an apparently dying person. The restorative powers of this charm were believed to be amazing.
Post-mortem divination was by no means uncommon in Maoriland. It was practiced in order to determine the cause of death, and such ceremonies were often of a very singular nature, not to say absurd, from our point of view.
In yet another method, the divination expert planted a number of small branches in the ground, each representing a certain party, clan, or location. Thus, one can represent an attacking party, and the other the people to be attacked. The expert recited certain charms or incantations over these twigs, and these would have had the effect of causing them to move, or fall, or cause their leaves to fall, from which omens of events were drawn by the expert. Old Hamiora Pio, of Ngati-Awa, told the writer that many years ago he saw this ceremony taking place at Roto-iti, when he saw the leaves falling in numbers from one branch representing a clan defeated in the ensuing battle. The twigs used for the above purpose were called hau. In some cases, they were stuck in small mounds of dirt. A description given to the author is that of a very curious performance, and was as follows: Each clan was represented by a mound, in which a hau was inserted. A small piece of stick lay on the ground in front of each mound and pointed towards it. These sticks represent the attacking party, and the officiating tohunga, or seer, would then recite a form of charm in order to advance the sticks, each on its respective mound, and "attack" the hau thereof. I have collected some of these charms, but I cannot trust myself to translate them, because of the existence of archaic priestly expressions the meaning of which we do not know. (For an attempt to do so, see Journal of the Polynesian Society, vol. 11, p. 39.) We are told that after the seer repeated his magic spell, which prompted the gods to animate the staffs, so to speak, those one would see from the sticks moving towards the mounds. At the same time, as the sticks advanced, twigs of leaves were seen falling at the rate of one leaf for each man who would fall in the coming fight. It was the Raurau rite.
Lorsqu’une force ennemie s’apprêtait à attaquer la position fortifiée de Rangihoua, à l’embouchure de la rivière Wairoa, le voyant local, en vertu de son art, conseilla aux occupants du pa de le quitter et de se retirer à Whareokoro, un îlot du Rivière Wairoa. Ce conseil a été ignoré, avec des résultats désastreux. Il est imprudent de négliger les avertissements des dieux.
Un mode de divination très singulier était pratiqué occasionnellement lorsqu’il était souhaitable de savoir si une défaite ou le meurtre d’une seule personne serait vengé ou non. Le corps d’un membre de la tribu tué est étendu sur le sol au milieu de la place du village, l’expert sacerdotal se lève et entonne un certain rituel, puis, si le désastre doit être vengé, on verra le corps raidi se retourner lentement . Encore une fois, une méthode sinistre est décrite dans le vol. 24 du Journal de la Société polynésienne, p. 70. Un captif de guerre était étendu face contre terre, ses membres étaient attachés à des piquets enfoncés dans le sol, puis une lance lui était enfoncée dans le corps et dans la terre. Un voyant, récitant ses charmes, regardait les oscillations de la hampe de la lance tandis que le malheureux captif se tordait dans une horrible torture. L’oracle désiré dépendait du mouvement de la lance, de quel côté elle s’inclinait finalement.
Il a maintenant été assez clair que presque toute occurrence de résultat douteux pourrait être employée comme véhicule pour un oracle, et ainsi consultée en ce qui concerne la divination. Peu importait ce que c’était, la seule chose nécessaire était d’inciter les dieux à utiliser une telle activité comme moyen pour la manifestation prophétique. Ce mana était transmis au médium par la performance cérémoniale du voyant.
Polack nous dit que les voyants pratiquaient la ruse en manipulant des bâtons utilisés comme médiums ou véhicules de divination, et c’est probablement correct, du moins en ce qui concerne le grade inférieur du tohunga.
Le colonel Gudgeon nous parle d’un cas dans lequel une arme possédant du mana a été employée comme véhicule de divination. Si l’oracle était favorable, l’arme se retournerait lentement alors qu’elle reposait sur le sol. Une manière courante de prédire le résultat d’une entreprise était de s’endormir, puis de noter tout mouvement involontaire des bras pendant le sommeil. Cet usage était tout à fait une étude en soi, et exige la connaissance de beaucoup d’expressions curieuses. Un autre mode de divination consistait à faire voler un cerf-volant. Dans un cas bien connu, le cerf-volant s’obstinait à planer au-dessus d’un village où résidaient certains malfaiteurs, dont le voyant voulait savoir où se trouvaient. Polack mentionne un autre mode dans lequel un petit cercle était marqué sur le sol et un certain nombre de bâtons lancés en l’air, les augures étant dérivées des bâtons tombés dans le cercle. Le même écrivain nous dit que les Maoris cannibales tiraient des augures de l’apparition des intestins d’un corps qu’on découpait. Ce recours à l’haruspication était probablement le plus fréquent en temps de guerre. Il décrit également une autre méthode, le lancement d’un obus ou d’un bâton sur un certain nombre de têtes séchées d’ennemis tués à la guerre. Les têtes étaient placées dans une rangée et l’augure était dérivé de la position dans laquelle l’objet tombait par rapport aux têtes.
Dans certains cas, la divination se faisait au moyen du feu, c’est-à-dire en notant la direction que prenait la fumée lorsqu’un feu était allumé. Une bonne illustration de cette méthode est donnée à la p. 38 du vol. 11 du Journal de la Société polynésienne. À la p. 47 du même volume apparaît une description de l’ahi mahitihiti, dans laquelle il est montré qu’en faisant sauter ses combattants à travers les flammes d’un feu, un chef a pu savoir quels hommes tomberaient dans le combat à venir.
Dans les cas où les déclarations prophétiques ont été falsifiées par la tendance des événements, le voyant maori semble avoir été extrêmement ingénieux pour former des excuses. Le blâme était souvent attribué à une ou plusieurs personnes qui, disait-on, avaient transgressé une loi de tapu. Il y avait toujours une forme d’excuse à portée de main; et la crédulité de l’homme barbare est une quantité très étonnante.
Lorsque Tutamure a attaqué le fort de Maunga-a-kahia, il a dit à son frère de remplir d’eau un récipient en calebasse et de le jeter par-dessus la palissade. Le vaisseau n’a pas dégagé le haut des palissades, il est tombé à l’extérieur et s’est brisé. Cela a été accepté comme un gage que la place ne serait pas prise. Le colonel McDonnell nous parle d’un cas dont il a été témoin dans lequel un voleur a été détecté au moyen d’un roseau tournoyé entre les mains du voyant opérant; ceci étant un appareil très répandu.
Le colonel Gudgeon a enregistré comment Tipoki-o-rangi a été consulté ou manipulé afin de prédire l’avenir. Cet objet était une calebasse qui devint d’une manière inexpliquée le sanctuaire d’un atua. Un expert sacerdotal, médium humain de l’esprit demeurant dans l’objet, invoqua les pouvoirs de l’oracle, avec pour résultat que l’eau contenue dans la calebasse s’agita. Des augures ont été tirées de l’étendue d’une telle agitation – si de l’eau coulait sur le côté ou non, si elle coulait sur une partie du rebord seulement, ou sur plusieurs, ou tout autour. Il semble probable que la fraude chamanique soit intervenue dans de telles manifestations. D’une vérité, beaucoup de méthodes natives de divination dans les temps anciens étaient d’une nature extrêmement puérile.
L’exercice saltatoire hautement énergétique appelé tutu waewae par les Maoris, et « danse de guerre » par nous, était pratiqué comme un véhicule de divination. Lorsqu’il n’était exécuté qu’à cette fin, cependant, il était évoqué comme un turanga-a-tohu. Les experts ont observé avec attention la performance, pour noter si oui ou non des faux mouvements ont été faits par les danseurs, dans la mesure où de telles erreurs présageaient le malheur.
Nous avons enregistré deux prophéties remarquables prononcées par des natifs des générations passées concernant la venue future d’un peuple étranger sur ces îles. L’un d’eux a été enregistré par le colonel Gudgeon dans le Journal of the Polynesian Society, vol. 16, p. 65. Il s’agissait d’une déclaration prophétique faite par un certain Tiriwa, un prêtre-guerrier de la tribu Ngati-Apakura, et était la suivante : « Kei tua i te awe kapara he tangata ke mana e noho te ao nei, he ma » ( » Derrière les gens tatoués se tiennent des gens étranges qui vont encore peupler le monde ; ils sont blancs »). Si nous possédions la connaissance exacte qu’il s’agissait d’une déclaration authentique faite avant l’arrivée du capitaine cooking sur ces côtes, cela serait d’un intérêt extrême. Là entre cependant en jeu la question des voyageurs européens encore plus anciens qui ont navigué sur ces mers. Les indigènes de l’extrême nord ont vu les navires de Tasman, comme ceux d’autres districts, et un événement aussi étonnant serait assurément préservé dans la tradition, et pourrait conduire à des pensées qui ont apparemment suscité la remarque oraculaire ci-dessus.
L’autre exemple a été enregistré par MS Percy Smith dans son Maori Wars of the Nineteenth Century, p. 11, mais a été, j’imagine, recueilli par le regretté M. John White. Elle a été rapportée par un Pangari, de Hokianga, vers l’année 1820. Il a déclaré que la prophétie avait été prononcée par un Maoi des « jours d’autrefois », mais aucune preuve n’apparaît quant à la période réelle pendant laquelle il a vécu. Maoi appartenait à la tribu Ngapuhi et, lorsqu’il était proche de sa fin, il a déclaré: « Ce ne sera pas longtemps avant ma mort, ni longtemps après ma mort qu’un atua [être supranormal] viendra sur la crête de la vague, et kehua [des esprits, des apparitions fantomatiques] seront sur son dos. Cet atua ressemblera à un canoë en apparence, mais beaucoup plus grand, et naviguera sur tout l’océan. Il ne se trompera jamais non plus dans sa course à travers l’océan ; ainsi il après un long moment un autre atua apparaîtra ; il ressemblera au premier, mais tandis que le premier se déplacera à l’aide de voiles, le second le fera à l’aide du feu. Maintenant, il est possible qu’une connaissance traditionnelle des navires étrangers ait conduit à hasarder une déclaration quant au retour de tels navires, mais le présent auteur trace la ligne à un Maori de l’âge de pierre prédisant l’arrivée des bateaux à vapeur.
Encore une autre prophétie enregistrée par le colonel Gudgeon concerne un Rangi-tauatia, de Ngati-Porou, qui aurait prophétisé la venue des Européens, ainsi que des forces de raid de Ngapuhi de l’extrême nord qui ont ravagé le district au début du XIXe siècle. . Un point faible de toutes ces illustrations est que nous ne sommes pas informés de la période à laquelle les prophètes ont vécu, ce qui pourrait être fait avec une précision approximative au moyen de preuves généalogiques. L’énoncé particulier de Rangi-tauatia était le suivant : « Kia toro te pakiaka hinahina i runga i au, ka rongo ake au e mara ana, e kihi and » (« Lorsque les racines de l’arbre hinahina auront poussé sur moi, je puis écoutez le mara et le kihi »). Maintenant, le mot mara est une forme de salutation employée uniquement chez les Ngapuhi, tandis que kihi est utilisé pour décrire le discours anglais sifflant. Et le temps viendra où Ngati-Porou entendra trop le salut « E mara ! pour leur propre confort, et les gens au discours sifflant ont depuis longtemps envahi leur district.
La relation suivante est un récit de l’initiation cérémonielle d’un matakite, ou voyant, telle qu’elle était pratiquée par l’ordre supérieur des tohunga d’autrefois. Il a été donné à l’écrivain par un vieil homme de la tribu Kahungunu : Peut-être une personne endormie rêve-t-elle qu’elle voit l’esprit de son père, ou celui de son grand-père, ou de son propre enfant. Si ce fils, ou un autre parent, était une personne savante, et donc que ses parents survivants regrettaient beaucoup sa mort, alors la personne qui a vu son esprit pourrait désirer qu’il lui apparaisse à nouveau, donc il le saluerait au tohunga tuahu, ou les tohunga ahurewa (les deux plus hautes classes d’experts sacerdotaux), et à nul autre. Le requérant demanderait qu’on lui fît reparaître l’esprit du défunt, qu’il en fût protégé et aidé. Lorsqu’il interrogeait ainsi le prêtre, cette personne répondait brièvement à sa demande par « Oui » ou « Non ». S’il y consentait, il ajoutait : « Va, attrape un oiseau. Maintenant, l’oiseau à capturer doit être pris vivant et doit être soit un miromiro (Petroeca toitoi), soit un tatahore (Certhiparus albicapillus). Ainsi, le chercheur d’oiseaux passerait son chemin, et s’il sécurisait l’oiseau, tout irait bien; mais s’il ne parvenait pas à en attraper un, c’est-à-dire le même jour, il n’atteindrait pas son désir. S’il le faisait, il capturait l’oiseau désiré, puis il le transportait au tuahu (lieu sacré où les rites étaient accomplis) avant l’aube du jour. L’oiseau a été placé dans un panier ou un récipient de gourde de cérémonie, et là, il est parti. Le requérant fut conduit au bord de l’eau, où le prêtre accomplit sur lui le rite pur. Tous deux se sont dépouillés de leurs vêtements et sont entrés dans l’eau. Le requérant s’avança vers le côté droit du prêtre, passa derrière lui et prit place sur son côté gauche. Le prêtre demanda alors au demandeur : « Es-tu un whiro ou un ahurangi ? (c’est-à-dire « Êtes-vous de mauvaise ou de bonne moralité »), et le demandeur pourrait répondre, « He ahurangi tenei tama nau » (« Cet homme à toi est de bonne moralité »). Le prêtre serait un matakite (voyant) et saurait ainsi si cette déclaration était vraie ou non. Il se mit alors à psalmodier une certaine formule, formule qui avait pour effet d’abolir toutes les impuretés morales du requérant. Cela a purifié le requérant, pour ainsi dire – l’a absous de tous les dangers découlant de tout acte répréhensible qu’il aurait commis depuis son enfance.
Or, si le demandeur parlait de manière mensongère, cachait ses délits, comme le vol, ou la pratique de la magie noire, le prêtre détecterait la supercherie. S’il dissimulait ainsi un acte traître de meurtre d’hommes, le prêtre demanderait: « Quelle était la cause de la mort d’un tel? » S’il devait être vu par le prêtre que le requérant était une personne de mauvaises habitudes, pas de bonne moralité, il le renverrait avec colère. Si la personne était un homme de bonne vie, alors elle obtiendrait son désir. Le prêtre étendait alors sa main gauche vers la main droite du demandeur, et la main droite vers sa gauche, et chantait le rituel suivant :
Il ahurangi, e Io, e !
Tenei ka turuki atu
Kia turuki mai te ata a rangi o….
Kia whakaupa ki tenei tama tamaua prendre
Nau, e Io-taketake !
Il koronga ka tu ki a koe
Il koronga ka whani ki a koe
Kia urutu, kia urutaketake ki tenei tama
Il tama ahurangi nau, e Io, e !
Tawhia tamaua prend ki tenei pia,
Ki tenei taura na tenei tama
Kia mohunga ki mohikutu tenei tauira ki marae nui,
Ki marae whakapau tangata ki a koe, e Io, e !
(L’expression ata a rangi est utilisée pour désigner le wairua ou l’esprit de l’homme, et l’Être suprême de la croyance maorie, Io, est invité à faire en sorte que l’esprit du défunt demeure avec le demandeur. Le nom de la personne dont l’esprit est ainsi souhaité est inséré dans l’espace vide. L’accent est mis sur le fait que le demandeur est un ahurangi, ou une personne de bonne moralité. Il est un fait curieux et très intéressant que la cérémonie absolue effectuée sur les personnes sur le point de prendre part à certains L’accomplissement rituel ou religieux semble être la première introduction de l’éthique dans la religion de ces peuples barbares. C’est l’une des phases éclairantes des observances et des croyances religieuses maories qui jettent une telle lumière sur l’étude du développement de la religion. L’invocation ci-dessus est une formule de grande classe, comme le sont toutes les formules de ce genre qui s’adressaient à l’Être Suprême. Les termes pia, taura et tauira désignent trois niveaux différents d’apprenants du savoir ésotérique.)
Lorsque le prêtre eut terminé son récit, il dit au requérant de se plonger dans l’eau, et il garda toujours ses mains. L’homme plonge alors tout son corps dans l’eau. En sortant de là, le prêtre posa sa main gauche sur la tête du requérant, tandis que, de la main droite, il puisait un peu d’eau et l’aspergeait sur lui, en répétant les mots suivants :
Tapihai nuku, tapihai rangi
Ki un koe, e Io-matua, e !
Pas de tenei tama.
Alors qu’il terminait la répétition de ce qui précède, le prêtre dit: « Maintenant, quittez l’eau, mais n’essayez pas d’enlever l’eau qui s’accroche à votre tête ou à votre corps. » Alors que l’homme regagnait la rive, le prêtre plongea son propre corps dans le ruisseau sept fois distinctes. Il rejoignit alors le requérant, et tous deux retournèrent au tuahu. Là, le prêtre prit l’oiseau du réceptacle dans lequel il avait été placé et ordonna à l’homme de whakaha la tête de la créature. (Cette expression signifie « inhaler le souffle », et un tel acte dans les performances cérémonielles était un mode d’absorption de l’essence, ou tapu, ou mana d’une personne, etc.) Cet acte a été exécuté trois fois après quoi l’homme et l’oiseau ont été conduits à une hutte par le prêtre, et la porte fermée sur eux, l’oiseau étant autorisé sa liberté dans la hutte. Ainsi, après avoir enfermé l’homme et l’oiseau dans la hutte, le prêtre revint au tuahu.
Au lever du jour, l’homme ouvrit la porte de la hutte et laissa l’oiseau s’envoler ; il rejoignit ensuite le prêtre au tuahu. Maintenant, si l’oiseau relâché se trouvait être un miromiro, le prêtre demandait : « Est-ce que Miro est parti ? L’homme répondait : « Oui ». Alors le prêtre disait : « Agenouillez-vous » ; sur quoi l’homme s’agenouillait devant lui et le prêtre posait ses mains sur sa tête et entonnait la karakia finale, ou formule, qui dotait le sujet des pleins pouvoirs du voyant et de la pseudo-science de l’onirologie. Cette invocation avait été oubliée par mon informateur.
Toutes les karakia ou invocations liées à wairua tangata (l’âme humaine) étaient adressées à Io, l’Être suprême, et non aux dieux inférieurs, sinon elles n’auraient pas l’effet escompté : ceci à l’égard des prêtres du premier degré.
Le récit ci-dessus est de ce que l’on peut appeler une performance de grande classe, menée par un membre de l’ordre supérieur des prêtres sur une personne qui souhaitait devenir un voyant de rang supérieur. Aucun de ces prêtres n’aurait affaire à des jongleurs chamaniques de classe inférieure, tels que tohunga kehua. Un autre spécimen des formules chantées sur les soi-disant voyants et médiums est donné dans les addenda.
Le karakia suivant, ou chant rituel, est celui qui a été répété sur une personne afin qu’elle puisse être dotée d’une compréhension claire des questions spirituelles, et pour inciter les dieux à la considérer favorablement, à demeurer avec elle et à la traiter comme leur médium. C’est un spécimen de ce que l’on peut appeler la classe supérieure du rituel, comme on le voit dans l’invocation de l’Être suprême, Io, et dans la phraséologie employée. Une telle affaire n’était connue que de la classe supérieure des prêtres: –
Tau ake nei au i taku tau Ki nga mareikura, ki nga kahurangi
He tau na nga tuaiho He tahito huru nuku, he tahito huru rangi
Il tau na nga whatu kura
He tau na nga tahurangi Awhitia mai, tamaua mai ki tenei tama
Tenei to aro te turuki atu nei Kia aropiri mai ki tenei taura
Tenei to pia te whano atu nei Ki tenei tama … e.
Tenei à taura te whakamau atu nei ki à aro
Tenei au; turuki mai o mahara taiahoaho
Ko to aro, ko taku aro Turuki mai o mahara tipua ki tenei tama
Ko to manawa nguha ko taku manawa Turuki mai o mahara whatu kura ki tenei tama
Ko à manawa pore ko taku manawa
Ko to manawa nui ko taku manawa Turuki mai o mahara apa atua o nga rangi
Ka whakapau ki tenei tama
E Io matua … e … je. Ki au, ki tenei tauira
Turuki mai o mahara poutiriao ki tenei tauira
Tenei au he uriuri no nga tuaiho
Tenei au he hekehekenga iho no nga tawhito Ka ea, ka ea ki tenei tama, ka ea
Tenei au he uru tu, he uru tau
Tenei au he aro no nga tipua He uru matua ki a koe
Tenei au he pia ariki no nga apa rangi E Io matakaka … e … i.
E Ruatau … e … je.
Tamaua je roto o à pia
Tenei au to aro, he aro tawhito Tamaua i roto o tenei tama
He aro no nga apa tahurangi Tamaua i roto i te pu mahara
Il aro no nga apa a rangi Tamaua i te iho tu, i te iho taketake
Ka whakamau atu nei je te iho je te pu, je te weu ki tenei tauira
Ka whakapiri atu nei Tamaua kita, tamaua whita
Ka whakatata atu nei tenei tama ki nga tipua, Whitawhita ki tenei tauira.
Ki nga atua, ki nga whatu kura
Dans la formule archaïque ci-dessus, l’Être suprême est supplié de doter le sujet d’une vision mentale claire, d’une compréhension rapide et de le favoriser de toutes les manières. Certaines des expressions cryptiques employées ne concernent que des questions sacerdotales, et leur sens ne peut être que conjecturé, d’où une traduction serait faible.
Dans son ouvrage Le martyre de l’homme, Winwood Reade a le passage éclairé suivant : « Le sauvage vit dans un monde étrange, un monde de providences spéciales et d’interventions divines, qui ne se produisent pas à de longs intervalles et pour une grande fin, mais chaque jour et presque à Une douleur, un rêve, une sensation quelconque, un coup de chance ou de malchance, tout ce qui, en somme, ne procède pas de l’homme, tout ce que nous attribuons, faute d’un meilleur mot, au hasard, est par lui attribue l’ingérence directe des dieux. » Ici, nous notons l’attitude mentale des Maoris, et le passage peut lui être appliqué comme une explication de ses croyances à l’égard de la matakite.