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The Family and Ancestors of
Fay PRATT (nee McKennie)


I launch this waka, this page, into cyberspace; on a new journey of discovery on the way from Hawaiki to Hawaiki. Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena ra koutou katoa.
Although I have only 1/6 Maori blood, I am proud of the heritage passed down from this side of my family tree. It is a history that is rich in culture, legend, and myth. I record what follows so that the information I have gathered will be of interest to my descendants, and so that it will continue to be passed on.

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History of my Maori Ancestors Migration to New Zealand

Hawaiki, is the legendary homeland of the Maori peoples of Aotearoa/New Zealand, from whence they migrated to this land about 1000 years ago. Where is Hawaiki? Many have speculated that it lies somewhere in the Pacific, somewhere in Polynesia.

Modern scholars tell us that more than 15,000 years ago the Maori lived on the land called China, and that from there they travelled via Taiwan and the Philippines to Indonesia. About 6,000 to 9,000 years ago they moved on through Melanesia and reached Fiji about 3,500 years ago. From there to Samoa and on to the Marquesas 2,500 years ago. Perhaps that was the limit of their eastern migration for it seems that 1,700 years ago they turned South West to Tahiti, thence to the Cook Islands and on to Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Archaeological evidence suggests that they first arrived in New Zealand from the Cook Islands in about 800 AD. Several later waves of Maori immigrants appear to have settled in New Zealand over the following 500 years. The last wave of Maori voyagers came from Tahiti about 1350 AD. The Maori immigrants are thought to have mixed with the Moriori, a people of unknown origin, who had settled on the eastern coast of New Zealandís North Island.

Maori ancestors gradually settled the land of Aotearoa/New Zealand in many sea-going canoes called 'waka'. My own ancestors came in two waka called Takitimu and Kurahaupo, about 30 generations ago. My tribes which descend from those ancestors are Ngai Tara, Ngati Rangitane, Ngati Kahungunu and Ngai Te Whatuiapiti.

Tribal stories tell that at the death of our bodies, our spirits live on and journey back to Hawaiki; to the meeting place of the spirits at Great Hawaiki, Long Hawaiki, Hawaiki far away. Life then is a journey from Hawaiki to Hawaiki, the spiritual homeland of the Maori. And Hawaiki is with us always, carried in our hearts through thousands of generations, and thousands of years of migration; carried also through the lifetime of a single heart wherever it may journey.

The Maori, native inhabitants of New Zealand, numbering about 430,000, constitute approximately one-eighth of New Zealandís population. More than 95 percent of Maori live on New Zealandís North Island. Many Maori live in the East Cape area, where they form the majority of the population. Others live in the large cities of New Zealand such as Auckland and Wellington. Most Maori speak the Maori language, a branch of the Austronesian languages, as well as English.

Before the arrival of European colonists in the late 18th century, the Maori settled throughout New Zealand and developed a distinctive culture. The Maori economy varied from region to region. In the North Island area where the soil was fertile, cultivation of the sweet potato, or kumara, provided the staple food supply. In other parts of the interior, roots, birds, rats, and freshwater fish made up their diet. On the seacoast, fish was the principal food.

In most Maori communities, men hunted and ploughed, while women weeded, wove, and cooked. Group activities included food gathering, food cultivation, and warfare. Individuals specialized in different arts: poetry, oratory, tattooing, and the carving of wood, bone, and stone. Communal buildings were elaborately decorated with wood carvings. Many Maori wore highly decorative personal ornaments such as amulets and carved stone pendants.

The Maori lived in villages that were generally guarded by a fort. The people were divided into several tribes, or iwi, each made up of descendants of a common ancestor. Groups of tribes were allied in confederations called a waka. Each tribe was made up of a number of hapu, or clans, which in turn were composed of family groups called whanau. Primogeniture, or inheritance by the first born son, was basic to the social system and determined the succession of the highest chief, the ariki.

The Maori held many beliefs in common with other Polynesians, including concepts such as tapu (taboo), mana (prestige or honor of a social group or individual), mauri (life force), utu (revenge), and makutu (sorcery). The Maori believed in a number of gods, including Tane-mahuta, lord of the forest, and Tangaroa, a Polynesian ocean god. Tribal dignitaries, such as the higher priests and the chief, also believed in a supreme god, Io, whose existence was not revealed to the community. All Maori believed in a great number of atua, or spirits, who responded to magical spells and punished people for breaking taboos.

Dutch navigator Abel Tasman was the first European to encounter the Maori. Four members of his crew were killed in a bloody encounter with Maori on the South Island in 1642. In 1769 British explorer James Cook established friendly relations with some Maori. By 1800 visits by European ships were relatively frequent. Maori quickly learned to read and write, and they highly valued books and printing presses. They also prized muskets, which they used to devastating effect in tribal wars. In 1840 representatives of Great Britain and Maori chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi, which established British rule, granted the Maori British citizenship, and recognized Maori land rights. Although many of the treatyís provisions are still disputed, it became the basis of official relationships between Maori and British settlers.

In 1841 New Zealand officially became a colony of Great Britain. Many European settlements were soon established. Between 1843 and 1872 violent conflicts between the Maori and European colonizers, known as the New Zealand Wars, arose over conflicting claims to land. In 1856 Maori elected their first intertribal leader, King Potatau I, also called Te Wherowhero. The movement to unite Maori under a single ruler, known as the Maori King Movement (Kingitanga), enjoyed mixed success. Although its authority was never universally acknowledged, the King Movement was influential in encouraging Maori unity. The descendents of Potatua I, formed the Te Wherowhero dynasty, and continue to lead the Maori King Movement today.

Generally Maori lived in small rural communities separated from the European settlements. The Maori population declined rapidly as a result of the wars and European diseases, such as influenza, measles, and whooping cough, to which they had little resistance.

The Maori population fell from about 120,000 in 1769 to 42,000 in 1896. In the late 19th century, European settlers spoke of the Maori as a "dying race." In the 20th century the Maori population recovered. Only 11 percent of Maori were city dwellers in 1936, but by the 1980s more than 90 percent of the Maori population lived in urban areas.

"Papa" is anything broad, flat and hard such as a flat rock, a slab or a board. "Whakapapa" is to place in layers, lay one upon another. Hence the term Whakapapa is used to describe both the recitation in proper order of genealogies, and also to name the genealogies. The visualisation is of building layer by layer upon the past towards the present, and on into the future. The whakapapa include not just the genealogies but the many spiritual, mythological and human stories that flesh out the genealogical backbone. Due to the modern practice of writing whakapapa from the top of the page to the bottom the visualisation seems to be slowly changing to that of European genealogy, of "descending" from our ancestors. The Maori term for descendant is 'uri', but its more precise meaning in terms of Maori mental processes is offspring or issue.

The term "Te Here Tangata", literally The Rope of Mankind, is also used to describe genealogy. I visualise myself with my hand on this rope which stretches into the past for the fifty or so generations that I can see, back from there to the instant of Creation, and on into the future for at least as long. In this modern world of short term political, social, economic and business perspectives, and instant consumer gratification, Te Here Tangata is a humbling concept.

Discovering your Iwi/Tribe
Whakapapa includes not just human genealogies, but is also used as a metaphor for the act of Creation and for the evolution of the Universe and all living creatures within it. The diligent researcher will therefore be able to quite easily trace his or her ancestry back through the 800 to 1000 years of human occupation to the first settlers and to their waka (canoe), on from there to the gods, and thence to the very act of creation. The recorded human genealogies reach back for 30 generations and more.

Te Korekore    First state of creation (energy or potential)
Te Po  Second state (form)
Te Ao Marama Third state (emergence)
Aho Strand of learning
Te Aho Tuatahi Cosmic genealogies
Te Aho Tuarua Epochal genealogies
Te Aho Tuatoru Evolutionary genealogies
Te Aho Tuawha Human genealogies
Whenua Umbilical link to Papatuanuku (Earth Mother)
Aho Makawerau Topknot link to Ranginui (Sky Father)
Tahuhu Main genealogical line
Kawai Descent lines from Tahuhu
Roroa Descent lines from Tahuhu
Kauheke Ancestors
Rarangi Genealogical list of ancestors
Whakamoe Multilinear listing of ancestors
Taotahi Reciting in a single line of descent
Tararere Female lines
Whakapiripiri Establishing genealogical links between the home people and visitors
Ara poaka Lengthening of genealogy to gain seniority
Tatai hikohiko Truncating genealogy to show only illustrious ancestors
Kauwhau Tracing genealogies

This Page was last revised on October 09, 2006

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