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Life in Early Poverty Bay

Interesting Rite Upon Birth

Interesting Rite Upon Birth.

As befitted a descendant of such high Native lineage, Sir James, upon his birth, received the attentions of the high priests of the Maori people. He was himself the authority for the assertion that part of the rite performed on that occasion was that his unbilical cord was severed by one of the priests and thrown over a distant cliff. It seems also that his mother was unable to suckle him and this duty fell upon two specially chosen midwives. As a sequel to the special rites performed at birth Sir James was dedicated to his people and became eligible for instruction, later on in life, in a Whare Wananga (“School of Learning”). Ultimately he went through the necessary courses in Hawke's Bay it is understood. Speaking on the matter shortly before his death, he remarked that, to-day, the Whare Wananga was practically an institution of the past. As far as he was aware—and he was almost positive on the point—he and another were then the sole surviving links with what was the most notable type of “storehouse” of Maori religion, history and lore. It is interesting also to mention that Sir James was a firm upholder of the theory that Mesopotamia was the cradle of the Maori race er, in other words, that the progenitors of the Polynesians were Aryans.