Object #1016829 from MS-Papers-0032-0632

4 pages written 10 Sep 1872 by John White in Auckland Region to Sir Donald McLean

From: Inward letters - John White, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0632 (25 digitised items). 22 letters and memos written from Auckland, Napier, New Plymouth, Waikato, Hokianga and Wanganui, 1858-1874

A transcription/translation of this document (by ATL) appears below.

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English (ATL)

10th. Sept. 1872.

Dear Mr. McLean,

Since you were here I have amused myself in the evenings (after I have taught my youngest children their lessons) in compiling a plan of the Genealogical Mythological map of the Maori creation, that as the origin of their gods, their nature and the origin of all things, which I have brought down to, Potatau, of Waikato Nere of Ngapuhi, and Heuheu of Taupo, Kani o Takinau of Ngaiporou for doing this I have learnt to read some of the ancient songs in a way (or see a meaning in them) I did not see before. I have also found out by it, why it is man is more tapu than woman, and how it is that certain birds fish and insects are tapu, or used as a mana by the Priests in their Kanakias, for instance in my old M. SS. which I collected from the old Priests and kept as a daily journal from the time I was a boy of 8 years of age I find in looking over them to make up the map that woman was the daughter of the Sun, and as such she is from hear, hence her being made to cook and fire is not tapu to her. Man was made by Tiki out of his own blood as Tiki was a son of Tamatauenga and the first man (or god) who was a man to fight and cannible, man therefore could not touch any thing cooked for fear of degrading himself. Then again as to the origin of the soul of man, Rehua and Tawhaki who were men, but who had certain parts of the Heavens given into their charge are now the creators of and keepers of the souls of men. Hence the names of these two being used in war (Rehua) and in sickness. (Tawhaki) again Tiki made man soon after the world was divided and as Tamatauenga was elder brother and the six gods who separated Rangi and Papa, Punga the son of Tangaroa was farther of fish and insects, hence the elder (or Tiki being tuakama) is master of them, and so on in all creation. Then again as to the tapu of a chief's head or right arm and right foot, I find by M.SS. that there is a god who has charge of each part of the Human body. Rehua who lives in the upper part of heaven is the god who sent his god to live in the hair of the head so that the head (as you know) is the most tapu. I have had many an hours pleasure in compiling this map, and am still enlarging it. The good it has done me is this, all the Maori knowledge I had was floating in my mind unconnected, and was used only by dint of memory, but in making this map I feel that the substance of each part has been put by its self and hence a full view can be taken, and comparing part with part I can see the meaning of things which were lost to sight till the matter was arranged on a plan.

I also find in my M.SS. accounts of extinct birds, and also of a people who came here, which will account for the difference of some of the tribes from the others, for instance the Arawa do not in any way look like the Puketapu of Taranaki, the head waters of the Whanganui people are quite a different people to either of these two, the Ngapuhi and the Aupouni again are not alike, the Urawera, and Kahungunu are again not alike. The the Ngatiwhatua are not a people (according to their own tradition) who came here, but are the people of this land, they are the descendants of the Korehu, and orginally occupied the North Cape at Ahipara to Mangonui.

I did intend to have put this map as a Preface to my North History you said the Government would print for me, but as you will not accept office in the Government e taea hoki te aha, I have been amused and taught in making it up and must not contest at this, and leave it as it is. Yet I shall go on with my writing the History I am at, as I do not know what my children may be able to get for it if it does not see the light in my time. I sent a part of it to Judge Johnson who spoke well of it. As you have time now you might honor me with a letter of your own as I shall write to you as usual and be ever

John White.

Part of:
Inward letters - John White, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0632 (25 digitised items)
Series 1 Inward letters (English), Reference Number Series 1 Inward letters (English) (14501 digitised items)
McLean Papers, Reference Number MS-Group-1551 (30238 digitised items)

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