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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Maori Legend: Blonde Mummies of the South Pacific



Maori oral traditions state that, upon arrival in New Zealand, Maori found that there was a large, well-established population already living in the country. The inhabitants were described as having skin complexion that was white to light-ruddy, with eye colors from blue to green to darker tints.

Their hair color ranged from white and golden, with red being predominant in the general population.

The Maori term Pakeha, later used to describe white colonial Europeans, was derived from the ancient name Pakepakeha used to describe the former white population.

Pocket groups of these first inhabitants survived into the 20th century and are well-remembered by old-timers as the red headed, freckle-faced Maoris or Waka blondes.
 
Scholars probing definitions and development of the Maori term "Pakeha" (Maori name for white people) state the following:
 
The derivation seems to be from ‘Pakepakeha’ mythical people who are mischievous beings, with fair skin and hair who lived deep in the forest, coming out at night.

The ‘Pakepakeha’ are also linked to ‘Patupaiarehe’ by their fair skin and hair. The ‘Patupaiarehe’ had fair skin and beautiful voices, and gave people the secret of fishing with nets. These creatures’ possess canoes made of reeds, which can change magically into sailing vessels. The ‘Patupaiarehe’ can also be linked to Nahe’s version of Pakeha as an abbreviation of ‘Paakehakeha’, gods of the ocean who had the forms of fish and man (Biggs, 1988).
 
A New Zealand stamp portrays the pre-Maori Patu-paiarehe people, now relegated to the realm of myth and legend.
 
The coffins seen above were photographed in 1919 high up a cliff-face at a very remote part of New Zealand. Each coffin was hewn-out by stone tools from a single log, like a dugout canoe. These skeletons display recognisable European physiology. They were already very old when found in isolated country, far from the consecrated ground of a churchyard. The deceased people were, undoubtedly, the white Ngati Hotu, known in local Maori and European folklore to have hidden from the cannibals for centuries in this inhospitable region.
 
 
After the coming of the Polynesian-Melanesian cannibals to New Zealand, the earlier people were hunted to extinction as a food source. Many of the Patu-paiarehe or Turehu women were forcibly absorbed into the Maori tribes as slaves. Fugitives or survivors amongst the earlier people moved to the very rugged and remote interior of the country and lived in the deep forests or dark caves, many succumbing to lung ailments from hiding out by day and foraging by night.
 

1 comment:

  1. They were near wiped out by the Taranaki eruption. Trace the effects by going across the Queensland in Australia. The heavy mineral sands there in islands on the coast and inland, show 600 foot high waves from the tsunami. Only those in the hills survived.

    Was this the event that destroyed the now celebrated Chinese fleet?

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