NZ Postcard No 16



Ian Cochrane


  Some weeks ago Ray suggested that maybe a " postcard " on the History of New Zealand, maybe of interest. That would be a pretty big ask - it's like trying to describe Britain's history in 3 paragraphs ! No can do !  However I will compromise and give a few words on :-


                                                     Pre European History of New Zealand.  


This will entail diving back into my schoolday memory banks, but I'm sure Mr Wikipedia can help me to remember facts and figures !


      The Maori people have a legend on how New Zealand came about !


                                                                                     Maui ( Pronounced Mau - ee ).   A long time ago, a fisherman named Maui and his                      

                                                                                    brothers, sailed down into the South Pacific to look for better fishing grounds. So  

                                                                                    successful was their fishing, their waka ( canoe ) was soon filled with beautiful fish.

                                                                                    They were just about to set sail for home when Maui hooked "something large"  !  When

                                                                                     he finally brought it to the surface it was huge !  Too big for them to cut up and                                                

                                                                                      take home, so Maui said he would leave his brothers on the big fish and go home to  

                                                                                      get help to cut it up and take home .  When he got back with his friends, he found                  

                                                                                      that his brothers had been hacking away at the large fish. In years to come these  

                                                                                      cuts formed valleys and mountains of what is now known as the North Island of New  

                                                                                      Zealand. The canoe became the South Island, and the rock the canoe was tied to  

                                                                                      became Stewart Island . The large lake in the centre of the North Island was of      

                                                                                      course "The Eye of the Fish " ! ( Some imagination is required here ! )






The next great Maori explorer to discover New Zealand, was Kupe ( coo - pay ) The legend of Kupe

goes something like this :-


                                                                  Kupe was a fisherman in the mythical Maori homeland of Hawaiki.  Fishing had become very poor

                                                                  due to the presence of a huge octopus. Kupe took it upon himself to seek out and kill this large

                                                                  octopus.   Such was the length of the pursuit he finall came to New Zealand .  This new land was

                                                                  Aotearoa ( A -oh - tee ah -roa ) the "Land of the Long White Cloud " . It is thought that the "long

                                                                  white cloud " was probably the snow capped mountains of the North Island . The octopus was

                                                                  finally slain in the vicinity of  Cook Strait.

                                                                  On his return to Hawaiki he spoke at great length of the land he had discovered, Aotearoa. It is

                                                                  thought that this discovery happened about 750 AD.





The Great Maori Migration      


It wasn't until 1350 AD that the "Great Maori Migration" to Aotearoa ( New Zealand ) took place . Seven large ocean going waka ( canoes )

sailed south until they arrived in New Zealand at various places around the North and South Islands. The occupants of each canoe formed settlements and became the basis of independant tribes.  These tribes took the names of their canoes, eg. Tainui, Te Arawa, Aotea, etc.

                                                                                             When they arrived it was found that the country was already settled by other      

                                                                                             people from the northern Pacific called Morioris. The Moriori were primative ,  

                                                                                             agricultural,  peaceloving race which were no match for the fierce warlike Maori    

                                                                                             invaders. The Moriori soon succumbed to the Maori, the remnants fleeing and  

                                                                                             eventually settling in the Chatam Islands  100 miles to the east of what is now

                                                                                             Christchurch. The last fullblooded Moriori ( Tommy Soloman ) died in the Chatams  

                                                                                             in 1933. Many decendants still live in the Chatams to this day !


                                                                                             The various Maori tribes were always at war with each other over land,  

                                                                                             Greenstone, ( Jade ) to make weapons ( clubs ) . This chaotic state of affairs

                                                                                             continued to the early 1800s when the English invaded and planted the union jack  

                                                                                             and claimed New Zealand in the name of Queen Victoria !


                                                                                                                                                                     But that's another story !!


                                                                      Kiwi Ian


Back Home EYE OF THE FISH Stamp migration