Journal of The Polynesian Society Volume 34 1925 > Volume 34, No.
134 > Te Tokatuwhenua. A relic of the ancient Waiohua of Tamaki, by
George Graham, p 175179
TE TOKATUWHENUA. A RELIC OF THE ANCIENT WAIOHUA OF TAMAKI. BY GEORGE
[In the following paper Mr. Graham draws attention to what may be
termed a sacred stone. Such stones represent a not uncommon feature of
oldtime Maoriland. Rough, unworked stones were often employed as
shrines or abiding places, temporary or permanent, of spirit gods
whose protective influence was considered desirable. Sacred stones
were also known in farsundered isles of Polynesia. Evidence from
Tahiti and the Hawaiian Isles seems to show that the departmental
deity Tane was represented by stones in various places. Fornander
tells us that the “Stones of Tane” at Hawaii were anointed with oil
and covered with a piece of black bark cloth. When we remember that
Tane was essentially the Fertiliser and forbear of man, this carries
us back to the “blackcloaked Priapus” of the far west. Certain stones
at tapu places of the Marquesas Isles were anointed with oil, and the
Rev. T. G. Hammond tells us of a carved stone at a certain place in
the Taranaki district that was, in former times, anointed regularly
with oil and covered with a garment. In India oil was poured on
certain stones as an offering, but we know not the object of the act
as performed by the Maori. The subject is an interesting one and
worthy of further study. The tapu stone at Kawhia known as
Uenukutuwhatu possessed fertilising powers appreciated by women. The
rudely fashioned stone phalli of Taranaki seem to have been utilised
as fertilising agents, in connection with the kumara (sweet potato)
IN the vicinity of the tea kiosk at Cornwall Park, Auckland, stands a
curious relic of ancient times. This is a basaltic column mounted on a
stone cairn. It bears a brief inscription to the effect that it is a
Maori “Kumara god” of the ancient Waiohua tribe of Tamaki. It may be
of some interest to put on record what is known of this memento of an
almost forgotten past.
When the Auckland Isthmus first began to be occupied by the pioneer
settlers in the '40's this stone stood on the brow of the hill Te
Onekiri on the eastern side of the Three King's Road, on what was
then known as “Cleghorns' Farm.” Here it had certainly stood from
preEuropean times. Its history and how it came there, however, were
176 matters of conjecture. Some time about 1865, the stone was
dislodged by some adventuresome spirit, and it rolled down the hill
slope coming to rest near the road side. There it rested for some 40
years an object of curiosity to passers by.
In the year 1900 the late Sir J. Campbell, being interested in all
matters appertaining to the Maori history of the district, had the
stone removed to Cornwall Park. Later on his trustees caused the stone
to be set up in its present position, so that it might be permanently
At the time Sir John caused enquiries to be made with the view of
getting some facts as to the history of the stone, but the endeavour
was not successful.
It was not till 1909 that I secured a definite account of this stone
from the Kaipara and Waikato chiefs assembled at a housechristening
festival at Paremoremo (Upper Waitemata). At the assembly in question,
the time was spent 177 by the prominent men present in
speechmaking, as is usual on such occasions and giving the history
and tribal pedigrees for the edification of all present that cared to
Some of these narratives were then noted down by me. The following is
an epitome of a speech made by old Eru Maihi, a NgatiWhatua chief of
high rank, a lineal descendant of many famous men of his tribe and
people. I select that part of his speech referring to this stone.
Now let me speak of one other of our ancestral canoes, Moekakara.
Tahuhu was the chief. He landed near Te Arai, socalled because Tahuhu
there set up a temporary shelter (arai). He there also set up this
stone found there as a tuahu (altar), and made the ceremonial
offerings to the spirits of the land, so as to prevent offending them,
as also to safeguard his folk against the witchcraft of the people of
Kupe and Toi, who already lived thereabouts.
This stone was thereafter known as Te Tokatuwhenua and became a
famous tuahu or ceremonial place, as also an uruuruwhenua (a place at
which visitors to a locality make their offerings before going into
the village of a local people). There were also many other ceremonies
observed in respect of children, their birth and christening, the
planting and harvesting of the kumara, as also fishing and
hunting—rites of the olden regime. Such was the nature of a tuahu, and
every village of importance in former time had such a ceremonial
Now Tahuhu came to Tamaki, and lived for some time at Otahuhu, hence
the name of that place. His children were the NgaiTahuhu. They
coveted the territory of their neighbours and quarrelled with the
descendants of Te Keteanataua who lived at Te Tauoma (Tamaki West
district). Tahuhu died of witchcraft, at the pa at Mount Richmond,
Otahuhu, and he was interred at Te Arai (circa. A.D. 1375).
Tahuhu's hapu then returned to Te Arai, leaving some of their people
intermarried with the Waiohua of Tamaki, who were known also as
Now Te Aomatangi, Tahuhu's greatgrandson meditated on the death of
his ancestor and attacked the Waiohua (circa A.D. 1475). This was
followed by the attack on the Kawerau and NgatiRuangaio of Te Arai
by the Waiohua people led by Taimaio. It was then that this stone
tuahu was taken from Te Arai to Tamaki and set up in several places.
In the days of Huatau (circa. A.D. 1660) it 178 was placed
eventually on the ridge at Te Onekiri near Te Tatua (Three Kings).
Owing to its being carried from one place to another it was also
called Te TokaiTawhio (the stone which has travelled all round).
Some of the people murdered by Kiwi Tamaki at Kaipara were of the
NgatiRuangaio, their remains were placed on this stone at Te Tatua,
hence the name of a chieftainess of that people Te TokaiTawhio, she
was the grandmother of Te Tirarau and the name was given so as to
Thus it was that when NgatiWhatua invaded Tamaki (about 1790) that
the UrioHau tribe assisted and it was Taramainuku of that tribe who
destroyed the Three Kings fortified villages. He took away the hau
(prestige) of that tuahu by a ceremony performed for that purpose.
From the time of the conquest of Waiohua that tuahu was disused, for
that people were driven away and their homes all destroyed and
Now understand; this custom of setting up a tuahu was the custom of
olden times. At Hokianga may be seen the stone tuahu of Kupe; at
Moehau may be seen that of Tamatekapua. Each canoe and tribe had its
tuahu. When the Maori ceased to observe the safeguarding ceremonials
of ancestral times they then began to lose their prestige and
disappear before the pakeha. It was not war that brought this about.
The ills that caused the disappearance of the Maori were the effect of
neglect of ancient ceremonials.
This is part of an incantation used when performing the ceremony of
uruuruwhenua by strangers visiting a district before the tuahu of the
people whom they are visiting:
Manawa mai ai te putanga a te ariki
Manawa mai ai te putanga a te tauira
Ka eke ki Rongorupe
Ka eke ki Rangitahuahua
Tenei te whatu kei au.
The setting up of stones for religous ceremonials is of course a
custom observed by all primitive races the world over, and has been so
from very ancient times. There are in respect of such stones numerous
references in Maori history. Some such stones are stones specially
erected for the purpose of a tuahu—or they may be stones which are
naturally in situ. Such were the still extant Pohaturoa at 179
Whakatane; or the midharbour rock Te Mata at Auckland, from
which the Auckland Harbour is named, WaiteMata. These were two of
many famous tuahu where uruuruwhenua and other ceremonials were
performed in those districts.
Since recording the above (in 1900) I have recently been shown by Mr.
R. W. Firth a photo of a very similar columnar stone standing within
the earthworks of the Korekore pa, Waitakerei ranges. 1 The people who
occupied this district were the Kawerau tribe, people who arrived in
New Zealand many centuries before NgaiTahuhu. They became closely
allied to the NgaiTahuhu people by intermarriages. I understand that
somewhere near Muriwai there is a basaltic column formation, which may
be the place whence these stones were originally obtained.
MAORI TERMS AND PLACE NAMES MENTIONED IN THE FOREGOING ARTICLE.
Tamaki is the old name of the Auckland Isthmus. We note the same name
in Tamaki nui a Rua, applied to a considerable area of land where the
Seventymile Bush formerly flourished.
Kumara.—The sweet potato.
Pa.—A fortified village.
Hau.—The hau of land may be termed its vital principle. Prestige is
better expressed by the term mana.
Pakeha.—Europeans are so termed by the Maori.
Rongorupe and Rangitahua.—These are the names of two isles of the
ocean at which certain vessels tarried when on their way to New
Zealand. Rangitahua is known to the natives of Rarotonga, and has been
identified as Sunday Island of the Kermadec Group.
Pohaturoa at Whakatane is a massive column of rock on the raised beach
whereon the township is situated.
1 See Plate 1 (Figure 3), The Korekore Pa, by R. W. Firth, M.A.,
Vol. 34, No. 1, of this Journal.