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Medicine Amongst the Maoris, in Ancient and Modern Times


page 6


Cloaks to wear over the shoulders and around the loins were woven by hand from the fibre of the phorndum tenax. For the finer dress cloaks, the fibre was beaten and prepared until it assumed a silky softness. Rough rain-cloaks were also made for protection against the inclemency of the weather. To show that the ancient people were careful, in spite of their stamina and endurance, of weather conditions, the saying of the Chief Taharakau which has been handed down for generations, may be cited. Takarakau and his friend set out on a long Journey one beautiful bright morning when not a cloud obscured the heavens. Taharakau's friend noticed that Taharakau was carrying a very heavy rain-cloak in addition to the dress cloaks worn by a Chief, and he asked the reason in a manner that showed that he considered his companion had taken leave of his senses. Taharakau replied in the cryptic manner of the ancients:-

Eroa raro, e tata runga
Below (the way) is long but the heavens are close.

Ere they had completed their Journey the sky grew overcast and a terrific thunder-storm came on. Taharakau went placidly on, protected by his great rain-coat, whilst his companion, soaked to the skin, and miserable, thought of the truth of Taharakau's saying.