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JOURNAL OF THE POLYNESIAN SOCIETY.

SUPPLEMENTARY DATA RELATING TO

THE ANCIENT WAITAHA IN THE HOROWHENUA

TE WHANGA-NUI-A-TARA AREA, NORTH ISLAND,

New Zealand.

BY G. LESLIE ADKIN

(Received by Editors 7th February, 1950.)


CONTENTS

INTRODUCTORY

RANGE OF WAITAHA OCCUPATION IN HOROWHENUA

A PA OF THE ANCIENT WAITAHA

EVIDENCE OF WAITAHA OCCUPATION AT PORIRUA AND WELLINGTON HARBOUR

WAITAHA VERSUS TANGATA-WHENUA

RELICS OR ARCHAIC CULTURE IN WESTERN WELLINGTON AND CULTURAL LINKS WITH NORTH AUCKLAND

PERIOD OR THE ANCIENT WAITAHA IN HOROWHENUA INTRODUCTORY

In this paper are presented additional evidence of and relating to the sojourn of the ancient Waitaha people in the territory of south-western Wellington during their progressive migration down Te Ika-a-Maui-the North Island of New Zealand.

Since the completion in 1941 of the manuscript of material published in December 1948, in the present writer's volume entitled Horowhenua*, important supplementary information concerning the ancient Waitaha of the North Island has come to light. With one slight modification this supplementary material has strengthened, in a manner pleasing to the author, a number of tentative conclusions which had to remain tentative for lack, at that time, of sufficient confirmatory evidence, but now appear to be satisfactory established. As a matter of fact much of the additional data about to be submitted was actually in existence then, but in one important instance had not been revealed, and in other cases remained uncollected or not fully elucidated until after the completion of the manuscript of the larger publication.

This explanation of the position will serve as an introduction to the presentation here of the additional material bearing on the subject of the earliest human occupation of New Zealand- cumulative evidence that appears to strengthen, indeed confirm, the thesis of an earlier migration through and cultural occupation of the North Island. To doubt this now would make necessary the assumption that the ancient Waitaha of the South Island migrated thence to the North Island, and there left traces of their distinctive culture from Cook Strait to North Auckland Such a view seems paradoxical, nor does an early visit, in defiance of tradition, of the migration under Rakaihautu to the North Island prior to its affirmed arrive] at and settlement in the South Island appear possible.

Horowhcnua: It's Maori Place-names and their Topographic and Historical Background, by C. Leslie Adkin. Wellington, Department of Internal Affairs. Po1ynesian Society Memoir, No.26. 1948.

The present writer has given archaeological evidence (Horowhenua pp.117-118) of earlier Waitaha occupation of the North Island preceding the traditional separate occupation of the South: Tradition has it that two canoes

The Matiti and the Uruao-brought the earliest inhabitants, the Waitaha, to New Zealand. The Uruao canoe, under the command of Rakaihautu, is declared to have populated the South Island, and this presumably gives to the Matiti canoe (of which no traditional information remains other than its name and the identity of its people) priority as the vessel of the original North Island immigrants. The occurrence in the North Island of a predominance of archaic antiquities as compared with similar material in the South furnishes well-founded evidence of an earlier human occupation of the former; reference to some of the previously recorded archaic objects from Western Wellington coastal region will be found in a later section.

RANGE OF WAITAHA OCCUPATION IN HOROWHENUA

In Horowhenua, p.80, it was suggested, on the evidence then available, that the ancient Waitaha occupation of the district was confined to the open coastal belt and that it was unlikely that the then densely forested hinterland was traversed or utilized by this people. As is often the case with such tentative conclusions based on negative evidence, this has been found to require some modification. It can now be recorded that at least two relatively easily accessible places within the forested tract must have been visited by the Waitaha occupants; probably occasional or perhaps periodic seasonal expeditions were made by way of good routes to obtain forest products of species of birds not available within the coastal region Finds of adzes in two separate locations furnish the evidence At one site two adzes of undoubted Waitaha type were unearthed at the other a similar specimen of probable. able but as yet of less definitely established \Waitaha type, was disclosed by the burning off of the bush for European settlement.

The first site was on the sandstone upland in the vicinity of the Heatherlea crossroads, north of Levin, and less than two and a half miles east of the northern end of Lake Horowhenua.

A PA OF THE ANCIENT WAITAHA.

Amongst the more important of the new evidence to hand is that giving confirmation of the construction ~d occupation by the ancient Waitaha of the old pa-site at Mangaroa on the northern shore of Lake Horowhenua. * Indication of the pre-Muaupoko origin of this swamp-girt pa-mound, on the facts acquired up to 1941, was two-fold: firstly, the averred disassociation of their tribe with the site by the well-informed Muaupoko people of last century; and secondly, the connection with the pa-site of unique primitive engineering works causeway, canal, and canoe breastwork-as well as the locally-unusual foundation construction of the pa-mound itself; also, the occurrence in the pa mound of artifacts of archaic type and highly-skilled workmanship that seemed to differentiate them from the general native culture of the district.

* For description of the ancient pa-site at Mangaroa, see Horowhenua, pp.83 and 221-222.

WAITAHA VERSUS TANGATA-WHENUA.

The writer has gained the impression from a re-reading of Elsdon Best's articles on the Maruiwi, or, as preferred by him, the Mouriuri, that this eminent authority was led into a misunderstanding as to the identity of the earliest Inhabitants of New Zealand. By accepting the statements of the sage Te Matorohanga on the matter of the earliest traditional inhabitants and linking their reputed characteristics, physical and cultural, together with their traditional dwelling-places, with former peoples that occupied known archaeological sites, it would appear that the so-called tangata-whenua and the ancient Waitaha have been confused and mistakenly regarded as a single race and community. Thirty years ago, the former Waitaha inhabitants of the South Island were generally regarded as semi-mythical and the barely known Waitaha of the North Island as even less substantial. The inquiries of Chapman established the reality of the South Island Waitaha as former inhabitants of that island, and their material culture has since received confirmation and knowledge of it has been expanded by the researches of Duff. Beattie, also, has gathered a store of knowledge concerning the lore of the former Waitaha inhabitants of the Murihiku region. More recently, the present writer has made a similar contribution in respect to the identity and culture of the Waitaha of the North Island, giving for the first time their craniological and genera] physical characteristics.

It is thus only in recent years that the idea of a prior people antedating the misnamed tangata whenua, or original inhabitants," has received due recognition. Best it seems, readily accepted the tradition of early supposed Melanesian culture influences as logically fitting in with a number of non-Polynesian culture traits peculiar to the Fleet-Maori after his advent in New Zealand, and having apparent counterparts in Melanesia. Another pitfall was the further pseudo-traditional statement regarding the racial affinities of the supposed original inhabitants, a declaration since stigmatized as "the Melanesian myth." Best then went further and tended to ascribe to the Mouriuri suck archaic artifacts as, e.g., the so-called " spool " ornament (fig. 7g), now shown by the Wairau Bar burials (Duff, loc. cit.) to be necklace units, and on the evidence of the associated grave-goods attributable to the ancient Waitaha. The failure of New Zealand tradition to correctly designate the actual earliest immigrants to these isles, naming a later people as such, gives support to the contention (Adkin, Horowhcnua, p. 118). that the very earliest inhabitants came to this country in times too remote to come within the scope of the memorized traditional records of the Maori of the Fleet of 1350 A.D.

It can be confidently accepted that the material culture of the ancient Waitaha was superior to any other brought to or developed within the New Zealand area. This is shown by the archaeological evidence. Their craftsmanship in the manufacture of artifacts weapons, tools, and "ornaments " -in stone, wood, and bone, was of the highest order and unsurpassed; in carving, also, their skill exceeded, in conception and technique, even that displayed by the justly famed work of the Fleet tribes Their successors, the so-called tangata-whenua, but preferably designated (following the Rev. Richard Taylor's information from Horowhenua) the Ngatimamoe, certainly possessed an inferior material culture, but it is doubtful if the physique of this people was as inferior as has been commonly supposed by the acceptance of details from a questionable traditional source.

 

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