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Medicine Amongst the Maoris, in Ancient and Modern Times

The People

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The People.

The Maoris are a branch of the Polynesian Race. Professor Keane places the Pplynesians under the Indonesian offshoot of the Caucasian division of mankind. Their features are good; the hair straight, slightly wavy or curly, never woolly; the eyes are dark and set horizontally; the nose has a well-formed bridge though the nostrils are wide; and the lips though full are not everted. The skin is of an olive brown tint though it may be fairer or darker in some cases. Erythrism with a fair skin is common amongst some tribes. The race is held to have come from the mainland of Asia and worked eastward through the Malay archipeligo and the Pacific Islands. In their migrations they came in contact with aboriginal races of Negroid extraction and a certain amount of inter-marriage took place. Some branches of the Polynesians show this contact more than others in the darker tint, more curly hair, thicker lips and flatter noses. Professor Scott's measurements of Maori skulls show that some are of the Melanesian type. The stature was tall, the Eastern Polynesians being above 1.7 metres. The skull is dolicocephalic in shape and the cranial capacity megacephalic. Professor Scott gives the cranial capacity as follows:-

Males. Both sexes.
Ngaitahu tribe(South Is.) 1448c.c. 1393c.c.
S.W. Coast tribe(North Is.) 1549c.c. 1518c.c.
East Coast tribe(North Is.) 1443c.c. 1429c.c.
Auckland tribe(North Is.) 1494c.c. 1391c.c.

Though New Zealand was known to the Polynesians, according to some legends, as early as the 7th, century and voyages backwards and forwards had been made from Polynesia with the settlement of a branch of the race upon the Islands, it was not until the 14th. century that the main migration of the Maoris to New Zealand took place. Cook estimated the population in 1769-1775 as about 100,000 but the number of village sites & signs page 2of extensive fortifications have led many to consider this estimate as being too low.

The active life led by the people in the cultivation and quest of food, combined with the universal training in the use of arms and the constant inter-tribal warfare that existed, led to the survival of the fittest, and the perpetuation of a race in a high state of physical well-being.