Medicine Amongst the Maoris, in Ancient and Modern Times
Besides introducing epidemics, Europeans seem to be responsible for venereal diseases as well. Both gonorrhoea and syphilis were unknown to the Maori before the advent of the white man. Paipai, the term usually applied, by some tribes to syphilis, by others to gonorrhoea, was page 86originally a skin disease in the region of the thighs, of an eczema intertrigo type. A party of Maoris, men and women, were employed at one of the first whaling stations at Three Kings, a group of islets off the North. When they left, they were quite well but on their return, after association with the European whalers, every one of them had contracted syphilis. Hence the Maoris composed the song:-
Na te Pakeha, nana i tari mai
Te ure pukupuku &c.
It was the European, who nither brought
The penis with chaneres &c.
In the lower moral tone, which followed cotact with the fringe of civilization and the abrogation of the drastic Maori laws, venereal diseases spread throughout the North. The part they played in causing the premature death of infants, abortions and sterility and the diminishing birth rate of the race, is exceedingly great. The number of sterile woman among the Maoris is very high and in a high percentage of them a history or venereal disease may be obtained. It must be remembered that very few received proper mercurial treatment.