Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Medicine Amongst the Maoris, in Ancient and Modern Times



A common method of diagnosis was for the tohunga to take the patient to a stream in the evening, where standing naked in the water he repeated powerful incantations page 50In the case of the forecasting omens, such as the muscular tremors and singing in the ears and nose, the "hirihiri" could be resorted to, to find out who was to be afflicted. Names of various people, distant and nearer relatives down to oneself were mentioned, and the tremors and singing ceased on mentioning the right person. This was simply to diagnose the person, and the "hirihiri" was performed wherever the person was when the omens came on. In the "hirihiri" rite at the water-side, the object was to find out the cause or sin, and the punishing demon. In the incantation, therefore, the names of various tapu objects are mentioned, and the one at which the patient gasps is diagnosed as the source of trouble. Elsdon Best gives one from the Urewera tribe:-

Kotahi koe ki te whare
Kotahi koe ki te kakahu
Kotahi koe ki te moenga
Kotahi koe ki nga whenua &c. &c.,
Thou art one to the house
Thou art one to the garment
Thou art one to the bed
Thou art one to the lands &c.

If the patient gasp at the word 'house', then he has trespassed upon some sacred house, or the ancient site of one and so with the others. Questioning the patient will then elicit confirmation of the diagnosis. In a similar way, mentioning the names of various gods will lead to a diagnosis.