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Austin's Hawaiian weekly. [volume] (Honolulu [Hawaii]) 1899-190?, October 07, 1899, Image 6

Image and text provided by University of Hawaii at Manoa; Honolulu, HI

Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85047152/1899-10-07/ed-1/seq-6/

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descriptive of Maori life and customs, given at
the Y. M. C. A. Hall, on Sept. 'Jftth and 28th,
by Mr. Wherahiko Rawei, attracted audiences
which packed the building in every part, and
which throughout testified its appreciation by
hearty laughter and warm applause.
Standing before that large gathering, the rep
resentative of a fine but fast disappearing peo
ple, the gifted New Zealander seemed to form a
connecting link between the Maoris and our own
Hawaiian natives, for the two races undoubtedly
possess many similar characteristics, and the
welcome h" received was at once spontaneous
and enthusiastic.
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Tatooed Maori Chief.
Attired in picturesque native costume, Rawei
presented an attractive appearance, and aided
by a constantly changing background of beauti
ful and artistic pictures, he succeeded in trans
porting his hearers into the heart of Maoriland,
and it was easy to imagine oneself in the very
midst of scenes described so ably, so eloquently,
and with a power of pathos that was equalled
by irresistible touches of humor.
Commencing at VVanganui, situated about a
hundred miles beyond Wellington (the capital
of New Zealand), the delighted audience was
Maori Belles.
carried up winding river, over mountain fastness
past charming fern bank and sparkling cascade,
and by impregnable forest to the terrible grand
eur of the towering cliffs of the King country,
whose massive clefts are lit up by the flash ot
falling waters rushing from an unknown source
to an equally mysterious destination.
And while these rapidly changing scenes were
thrown by limelight upon the stage the
views painting the description, the word
painting aiding the view Rawei simply en
tranced all present with Maori song and
quaint legend, enlivened now with ready wit
or humorous satire, shots that struck home,
but left no wounds; by little touches of
pathos, and sweet melody.
From a seemingly inexhaustible stock of
valuable information, quaint witticisms and
legendary lore he produced a series of life like
picturesof one of the noblest, most war like
and intellectually gieatest of the races of
Oceania. Illustrations of curious Maori cus
toms, religious and social, were given and
aitistic pictures of native men and maidens
displayed. Several reproductions appear in
this article, one of the most interesting being
that of a Maori Tuhunga (native priest)
elaborately tattooed in accordance with
ancient custom. For to be plain-faced, that
is without tattoo marking, was in olden days
a severe reproach to a Maori. Yet it is a
painful and prolonged operation, and the
wounds or cuts made by the shell chisel,
which was driven into the flesh with the
blow of a greenstone mallet, take long to
The tatooing instrument "uhi," before
being applied to the skin is dipped in a black
dye, and redipped for each stroke, blood
flowing freely. The dye in question is a
solution of burnt resin and wood, or the
awets, the latter a caterpillar which, bur
rowing in the vegetable soil, gets a spore of
a fungus between the folds of its neck, and,
unable to free itself, the insect's body nour
ishes the fungus, which vegetates and occa
sions the death of the caterpillar by filling
the interior of the body with its roots, always
preserving its perfect form. When properly
charred this material yields a very fine dark
dye, much prized by the Maori for the pur
poses ot tattooing.
During the process of ornamentation a
native is tapu, that is sacred, and the
priests exercise jurisdiction over him.
Especially he must by no means
touch with his hands food of any de
scription; it is usually conveyed to him
in liquid form through a finely-carved
trough or funnel.
The tattoo pattern (moko), varied as
it is, represents well nigh all the art the
people possess, for the Maori knows no
other form of decoration, and apparently
has no capacity for expressing himself
His wooden effigies, the tribal war
canoes, wharepunis, and various articles
of domestic use are all decorated with
somewhat similar work.
When a famous Maori chief, Te Pehi
Kupe, visited Europe years ago, he
stated that the New Zealander had his
name written on his forehead, and point
ed to portions of his own curiously carved
visage. The patterns employed by the
Maori artist aie such that no two men
are ever tattooed alike, and the oper
ator is an artist whose sense of what
is fitting appears to be the only guide
to his handiwork.
Referring to our illustration, attention
may be drawn to the fact that the
tattooed or chiseled curves seem to fol
low the lines which age would give to
the face, consequently the Maori warrior thus
tattooed has nothing to fear from the effects of
time on the features. The old face looks young
and the young face looks old. Age makes no
The repiesentation of Moko on the face of a
chief or owner has frequently been used to sign
u document conveying land tu Europeans where
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Maori Maiden.
he could not write. Butit is not on the same
footing as European heraldry, though it may
posses one or two features in common with that
system of decoration.
One of the duties of a Maori Tuhunga "priest"
is to teach the native children to read and write
their own language, and to instruct them in all
matters concerning the traditions and history of
their people, who are said to have emigrated to
New Zealand from Hawaiki (probably Hawaii)
in seven large canoes, many hundreds of years
ago. These canoes were named as follows: The
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Maori Belles.
Ai-tSii-'ai,., ,

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