Mobile Unit. Moeraki Māori

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Tono kōrero mai

A discussion with Māori at Moeraki about medicinal knowledge, planting rituals, weather forecasting, bird snaring, fishing, local history and knowledge of the tohunga. In English, with some Māori, participants are mostly unidentified.

An unidentified Mobile Unit broadcaster [probably Leo Fowler] interviews a group of three or four unidentified men at Moeraki. [The men sound elderly and Māori. One man is called “Duncan” by another man during the interview.] At the start, the interviewer invites all present to ‘chip in’ with comments and notes that they are recording for the Māori people of the future. The main speaker [Kaka?] recalls how he was taught by a tohunga to gather bark from matai and kowhai on South Peak (behind Hampden?) The group discuss other plants and ferns they gathered and boiled to drink. They did not have kumara but got juice from the riwai potato to drink before they took this juice. A karakia was recited before drinking. This was done for health purposes.

[Interviewer stops the recording]

Interviewer refers to the man he is interviewing as [Kaka] and notes that he was the eldest son of the chief. He asks if this was why he was selected to be taught by the tohunga. The man recounts how after church on Sundays at the Kaik, Pohutu [?] the head man and Herewini [?] would stand and talk about teaching the children Māori customs. He says he learnt agriculture and how to make a garden, catch birds. They did not have taro or kumara but he thinks they had planted it before his time.

He says they would plant at a certain moon. The interviewer asks about planting times, and says Ōrongonui was the day people planted in the North. The main speaker agrees this was the same practice and they planted up until the full moon. They used pakeha spades as well as the Māori spade, the ko.

[Recording begins mid-sentence] The interviewer and the main speaker discuss incantations made by elders at the gardens to bring forth a good crop.
The interviewer asks him about Urewera incantations made to kūmara. He says they know of these but didn’t use them. He explains how kūmara were planted traditionally but says the ceremony was before his time. He is asked about beliefs about women and gardening, tapu and planting karakia, which he says he has forgotten. Another man [unidentified] then speaks about beliefs about the tides and weather forecasting. He recalls the Māori names for the winds coming from different directions. He says everything was sacred to the old people in those days. The interviewer refers to one man as ‘Mr Stevenson’ and they discuss ‘mauri’ beliefs among other tribes. [This may be G.B. Stevenson of Oamaru who was also recorded by the Mobile Unit speaking on Māori topics. See ID5536 and 5603.]

A man recalls which birds were caught in the old days; kaka, tui, wood-hen, kereru. He talks about how kaka were caught with a snare on a stick and a decoy bird. Another man adds they would quickly kill the bird by biting his head. Wood-hen or weka were only caught at certain times of year. They imitate bird calls used to attract the birds and describe how they were snared. Tui were only caught at a certain time when they were very fat. Tui were kept in cages and taught to talk. Their tongues were split to make them better singers.

[continuation of previous speaker] Tui would be hung in baskets over water. The basket would be covered with a mat so the bird could go out into the water to wash and back into the cage. He recalls his grandparents doing this. Another man explains how the tui call was imitated and gives a demonstration. They talk about using leaves to imitate bird calls. The interviewer asks about other birds, they say there was no mention ever of hunting moa and they never saw kiwi in the area, although remains were found at Herbert.

They discuss fishing with a ‘Māori net’ and ‘Māori hook’. They say the nets were made of flax for catching whitebait and flounders, and a hook was for catching sea fish. They talk about how hooks were made of bone. They used pakeha hooks also; kawiti [?] used to trail through the water; used to go out in a boat to catch barracuda.

The men say they don’t know any legends about the area, and say Mrs Matthew would be the person to ask.
[Interviewer calls for a break in the recording]

Brief conversation in mixed reo Māori and English.
[break in the recording]
Then the interviewer asks a speaker to address ‘the Māori young people that are to come’:
“Tena koutou…” [Takene Tipene Hampstead?]
Speaker continues in Māori until 03:42.

Another speaker begins:
“Kia ora huihui…” [Kaka Tipa?]
Speaker continues in Māori until 05:18.

Another speaker begins:
“Tena koutou e te iwi…” [Hone Tipene?]
Speaker continues in Māori until 07:30

The interviewer asks about old chiefs of the area. [He seems to ask another pākēha man present to help out. This man says “Mr Tipa [?] knows more".

There is discussion among the men about pronunciation of a chief’s name and then the pākēha man continues, with the Māori men present adding in comments: [Mateata] was senior chief when the reserve was surveyed in November 1848. Mantell dealt with him after Paetu and Topi had given the residents the right to remain.

There was Māmaru, whose signature is in an old Bible in Oamaru. Discussion about his other names - Rawiri Te Māmaru. Te Maire and other names are mentioned.

Discussion about a book being written without giving offence, some matters should not be written about. The pākēha man says he read a story about Mantell’s cave in the Otago Daily, not long ago, in July. A chap called Uttley dug up some fish hooks of moa bone and a knife and polishing stone. The cave was near Kakanui, below Totara. They discuss names of caves in the area and which one could be Mantell’s cave.

He came from Otepopo, that day Huruhuru was ill when he was down at Waikouaiti so he couldn’t survey the reserve at the time. He came down as far as here. He and picked up [Rawini] and Solomon Pohio. Those two joined him at Otepopo and he came back and surveyed the reserve and then went back again and came down here after. Those records were written at the time and are reliable. He met an old man named Tuhawaiki and they wonder if it was the big chief, Tuhawaiki.

Interviewer asks about the rock paintings at Maerewhenua [cut off mid-sentence]

Interviewer asks if the old people knew of the rock paintings. The men say they were never heard of. They had heard of the greenstone trail to the West Coast but they didn’t know anyone who had been on it.Discussion about the paintings, including the image of a man on a horse and pākēha ships. One man says Kaka and Mr Tipa said the painting was done by a pākēha.

[interviewer calls for a break in the recording]

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Year 1948

Reference number 5534

Media type AUDIO

Collection Sound Collection

Credits New Zealand Broadcasting Service. Mobile Recording Unit, Broadcaster

Duration 00:56:56

Date 26 Sep 1948