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Hawaiki: The Original Home of the Maori; with a Sketch of Polynesian History

Atia-te-varinga-nui (or Hawaiki)

page 90

Atia-te-varinga-nui (or Hawaiki).

Over this land of Atia-te-varinga-nui, there ruled in very ancient days (B.C. 450 according to the genealogies) a king or ruling chief named Tu-te-rangi-marama, who is accredited with building a temple twelve fathoms high, which he enclosed with a stone wall, and named it a "Koro-tuatini," or place of many enclosures. It was built as a meeting place for gods and men; and here the spirits of the ancients after death foregathered with the gods. It was a ngai tapu kakā, "a sacred glorious place," of great space within, and filled with many beautiful and wonderful things. Here were originated the different kinds of takuruas, feasts and games, by Tu-te-rangi-marama, to dignify the land. From Atia came the "trumpets, the drums, of two kinds, and the numerous evas, or dances. Here also originated the karioi* or houses of amusement, singing and dancing, besides many other things and customs. Here was first originated the takurua-tapu, or sacred feasts to the gods Rongo, Tane, Rua-nuku, Tu, Tangaroa, and Tongaiti, and here also were the meeting places of the great chiefs of that period—of Tu-te-rangi-marama, of Te Nga-taito-ariki, of Atea, of Kau-kura, of Te Pupu, of Rua-te-atonga and others, and of the great priests of old when they assembled to elect the kings, to meet in council to devise wise measures for men, slaves, and children. These were the orders of men who dwelt in that land, and these were the people who spread over

* Karioi is the Rarotongan form of the Tahitian 'arioi, the term applied to a class of roving actors and players, who were also the custodians of much of the historic traditions. In the Marquesas the name is kaioi. We have the name Karioi as a place-name in New Zealand, but enquiries always fail in obtaining the meaning of the name. As a verb it means, to idle, loiter.

page 91all this great ocean." In Atia, also originated the great wars which caused the people to spread to all parts.

In this last statement, which refers to the great wars which caused the people to migrate from their Father-land, we may probably recognise the common origin of statements in most Maori traditions, that it was great wars that originated the migration, and it of course follows therefrom as a consequence that the Polynesian race were the defeated people, and had to depart. If we turn to General Forlong's tables given on page 75 Hereof, we notice the statement, "Time of great disturbances in India, B.C. 500-400," and this date accords well with that of Tu-te-rangi-marama and his father. Whether this synchronism is purely accidental or not, I am not prepared to say, but so many reasons seem to prove the Polynesian race to have been in India long prior to this date, that we may at any rate take it as a probable confirmation of the traditions. Gautama, the originator of the Buddhist religion died in B.C. 477, just about this period. If the Polynesians had left at a later date and after the spread of Buddhism, there would be some traces of it in the traditions or in the worship of the people down to the times of early European intercourse with them. But there is no trace of Buddhist doctrines whatever.

What the great temple built by Tu-te-rangi-marama was, I am quite unable to indicate, but that it was something quite out of the common is obvious, for it is the only instance in Polynesian traditions that I am aware of, in which any such building is mentioned. That it was one of the celebrated temples of Java, is quite out of the question, for they were built by the Hindoo Buddhists somewhere about A.D. 600, and we cannot allow that the Polynesians as a body were in Indonesia so late as that, though doubtless some few branches remained page 92there, and are to be found there at this day. If this temple was of the height—twelve fathoms = 72 feet— mentioned in the tradition, or even half that height, and considering its purpose, it seems a fair inference that it The Marae of Mahaiatea, Tahiti, in 1788. was built of stone, or something more permanent than the usual edifices we know of in the Pacific. Of course the Polynesians did use stone in their sacred places, as witness the several pyramidal structures found formerly in Tahiti, of which Mahai-atea,* Papara district, was a particularly fine specimen. But this marae was solid

* Mahai-atea is of quite modern date, having been built in the seventeenth century. It is related that the blocks of stone of which the internal part is made, were handed from one to another by Te Teva clan, all the way from wherever the stones were found. The larger facing blocks of course could not be carried in this manner. The same story is told of Kohala heiau (or marae) in Hawaii.

page 93within, whilst the Korotuatini of Tu-te-rangi-marama had many rooms. This would seem to show that the Polynesians have a traditional recollection of a higher civilization at one time prevailing.

If we take the period of Tu-te-rangi-marama as that at which the wars above referred to commenced, and suppose —which is not at all unreasonable—that it would take a long series of years for the invading people to drive the Polynesians seaward down the course of the Ganges; if we allow 100 years for this strife to have continued, it will be about the time (B.C. 315) when, as stated by Logan (see page 69), Chandragupta, the Maurya, established the kingdom of Magadha.—Herein we may possibly see a reason for the wars referred to in the tradition, and a further reason for the migration of the people.

Forlong states (page 75 hereof) that it was about the year B.C. 300, that according to Javan tradition Arishtan Shar led to the Archipelago from N.W. India 20,000 families most of whom dispersed en route, probably in Malabar, Maladiva, and Malagassa. Is it not possible —nay probable—that these people were the forerunners of the Polynesian migration? To be followed 10 years after (B.C. 290) by the "Second Indian invasion of Java from the Kling coast, of 20,000 families who established Vishnuism." Or, on the other hand, the movement of this body of people may have been the active cause of the Polynesians moving on to the east, to the islands of Indonesia. We have again in Forlong's statement—"A large body of Desa-Sagala from Panjab went to Java B.C. 200-150," another probable cause of the Polynesian movement to the east, to Ceram, Celebes, etc. Tu-te-rangi-marama, and others of those mentioned as flourishing during his times appear to have been subsequently deified into gods, which is in accord with Polynesian customs, page 94but they do not take the same place in their Pantheon as do the greater gods of the race, Tane, Tu, Rongo, and Tangaroa.

Emblems of the Maori gods, Tangaroa, Rongo, and Maru.