There are 16 thoughts on “Māori Latter-day Saint Faith: Some Preliminary Remarks”.

  1. in order to verify each spiritual connection from Maori and Polynesian believes in God our heavenly father Christ Jesus our Savior and the the holy trinity differs in so many ways and yet closely published by authors in their own thesis saying the absurd disrespect to both beliefs from Tangaroa Pu Metua Kore demy god of the Sea in some Polynesian cultural beliefs. The Maori people keeps their genealogies orally and implanting carving Tattoos to keep their true identity close to them from Rangi nui and Uenuku. Yet Rangi nui the Sky and Uenuku Mother earth concludes a very simply ancestors of the Maori people. but where to we begin to come together and bless what is in the passed and sustain whats here with us today and preserve the 2 main source of our capon dated history and do away the pakiha thesis and stay close to what our Heavenly father have in placed for the blind and do away his inner eyes to see his grace and glory but for the stuntman who continues with his own thesis get nothing but been blind of the truth. I will rest my case here and it time to team up with brother Herewini to complete what is yet to be unfold.
    Kind regards Tu

  2. Again, I very much appreciate the efforts of Phillip Lambert to help me understand Maori things. I am a kind of outsider to all these things. And I very much appreciate expert help from others who know more about such matters than I ever will. I was serious when I described my remarks as “preliminary.”

    • Matatika to korero e Rangatira Midgley!

      You’ll be interested to know that bro Hemi Whautere Witehira said that the stone brought over by the Mahuhu-i-te rangi was a two sided stone one side was called Huka-a-tai and the other Rehua-tai. Kahungunu sources render the spelling of the second kupu “Rehu-tai.”

      Rehua-tai may not be a misspelling but may be a authentic rendering that preserves Nga Puhi sacred lore.

      Rehua as you know is the name of a star Antares in the kahui whetu (constellation) of scorpius or te waka o tamarereti.

      But Rehua is also the Tohunga Ahurewa of Io’s whare wananga Rangiatea in the 12th heaven of our sacred lore. He is flanked or assisted by two other tohunga who act as tohunga turuki – Ruatau and Aitupawa.

      The star Rehua is accompanied by two other stars in close proximity in the constellation te waka o tamarereti namely Pekehawani and Ruhi-i-te-rangi. These may double as the aforementioned tohunga turuki of Rehua.

      A chant from the Aotea waka of the Taranaki people preserve these lines:

      “Tena te waka,
      Ka tau ki Tipua-o-te-Rangi,
      Ki Tawhito-o-te-Rangi,
      Nga turanga whetu o Rehua…”

      “It came from the Great-Sky-above-us.
      Now the course of the canoe rests
      On the Sacred Place of Heaven,
      The dwelling of the Ancient Ones
      Beneath the star-god Rehua’s eye.”

      This translation renders “whetu” star as eye. This is in keeping with another saying which refers to the stars as “Mata kamokamo” the “blinking eyes”

      And further it is well known among the maori that the left eye (whatu) of a dead chief becomes a star in the heavens.

      Incidentally a Tuhoe informant tells me that his tupuna’s manuscript says that Tipua-o-te-Rangi,
      and Tawhito-o-te-Rangi are also stars that sit below Rehua (Antares) and are in fact according to the whare wananga recitals of Tuhoe are actually themselves whare wananga that Tane visited to acquire knowledge.

      He told me that the procession of the constellation Scopius (Te Waka o Tamarereti) is a series of whare wananga that Tane attended.

      As an aside the informant says that Tane created 15 chiefly stars in the beginning. Raureti Te Huia says that in the whare wananga o Maniapoto Io took 12 tokotoko (sticks) and created 12 stars. Ngai Tahu and the Nga Puhi Whare Wananga also teach of 12 principle stars.

      This korero closely matches the star lore of the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar.

  3. Tena koe e Rangatira Louis Migley. I would like to amend my previous korero on the Whatu Kura (mauri stones) and “seer stone” comment. I now believe that some of these stones of the whare wananga (esoteric school) did indeed function as a seer stone. The tikanga (the right way) of these stones of the whare wananga was that the mauri (life force) of the parent rock located at the most sacred spot of the whare wananga transferred to the stones retained by the tauira (students) upon the two stones touching one another. This practice takes it’s origin from when Tane received the original two stones from the temple Rangiatea in the highest heaven – Tikitiki-o-nga-rangi. These two stones the Tane was endowed with would have touched the parent stone which held the original mauri in keeping with the tikanga. Whatahoro Jury told Elsdon Best that a large stone rested on the Marae (royal courtyard) of the Temple Matangireia. This stone allowed Io (the supreme being) to see all the happenings of all of the other 11 heavens below the 12th heaven that he resided in. Thus one of the Tainui and Ngati Toa tribes sacred names of Io is “Io Matatkanakana” meaning “Io the Far seeing). It is perhaps upon this stone that the other two stones given to Tane touched and thus endowing them with the qualities of a seer stone. This makes sense when we consider that the kupu (word) “whatu” also is translated as “eye” or “pupil.”

    Further to this I was given a manuscript of the korero (words) of Hemi Whautere Witehira in which he states that the waka (double hulled canoe) Mahuhu-i-te-rangi brought a stone over from Hawaiiki called “Tukiomanahi” he states “it was used by the most powerful tohunga (priest shaman) when he consulted the gods or when he had to take urgent matters.)

  4. Hi Brother Midgley how are you? I had overlooked this passage from your article and wish to comment on it:

    “There is also a place in Māori lore for whatu kura (seer stones), two of which have names.17 Seer stones had an important place in the initiation into the arcane Māori mysteries. This is not, however, the place to go into detail other than to assert that, from within the horizon of Māori tradition, both seers and seer stones are not problematic.”

    The whatu kura were not seer stones and should be referred to as such in the sense portrayed here in relation to Joseph Smiths personal seer stone or the urim and thummim (interpreter’s) though they are tantalizingly similar they did not function in the same way. Though I wholeheartedly agree with your statement:

    “… from within the horizon of Māori tradition, both seers and seer stones are not problematic.”

    Though it is still hard to determine from current documentary research whether this feature of the restoration had a direct influence on the missionary efforts of the late 1800’s to convert maori in the Kahungunu/Rangitane tribal areas.

    A recent document was given to me from Majorie Newton of Whatahoro relating his conversion to the church. It was a dream he had of the Saviour that convinced him that the message of the restored gospel was true. Absent from this account is any mention of being taught about the translation of book mormon and Joseph Smith’s use of seer stones and other details of that history and the close affinity Whatahoro might have felt it had with certain aspects of the esoteric lore of the Whare Wananga he had so prodigiously recorded decades earlier. It is not known presently whether he was taught this at all in his first encounters with the missionaries.

    Interestingly the dream he had did not include any maori imagery or symbolism from the Whare Wananga but rather used biblical imagery in which he readily understood.

    Further more this document helps, in my opinion, to eliminate any doubts one has concerning the christian influence of his writings that so many scholars accuse him of having.

    • Phillip Lambert has raised what are for me both interesting and important issues about how we should understand the way the first Maori to become Latter-day Saints understood what they were receiving from our missionaries. I number my responses to the questions Phillip has raised:

      1. I agree that Maori whatu kura (seer stone) did not operate in the same way as the Interpreters that came with the plates, which Joseph Smith used, along with his own seer stone, to see words in English that he dictated to his scribes that eventually became the Book of Mormon in English. Why? The Maori could not see words, as did Joseph Smith, since they had no written language. Instead, something else was happening, perhaps hearing words, or seeing places and persons or directions, with their seer stones. But Joseph could also see objects and distant places. So there is at least some overlap. I have also wondered, given the names of the two Maori seer stones (Hukatai and Rehutai, which mean sea spray and sea foam) whether they were used for navigational purposes. This is, however, merely a guess on my part. The role of tiny seer stones in the initiation that took place in whare wananga also intrigues me. At my age and with my limited gifts, these are matters for Maori scholars to investigate.

      2. And I fully agree that it is currently not possible to determine what role, if any, Maori seer stones might have played the conversion of Maori immediately after 1882 to the Church of Jesus Christ. I am not aware of among the Ngati Kahunganu that suggest that they played any role. But remember in 1950 that some Nga Puhi in the Northland suggested that some unidentified Maori, I assume not in the Northland, were impressed when they discovered that Joseph Smith had used the Interpreters mentioned in the Book of Mormon, which are clearly seer stones, to translate the Book of Mormon. This, as I now remember those conversations, were said to have seemed to some Maori as the appropriate way for him to have gotten a record from God. I am, I confess, relying on my now fragile memory of conversations that took place in 1950. This is, indeed, a very slender reed.

      3. But I also recall that I later found a brief mention of Maori seer stones in something published in Utah by a former LDS missionary to New Zealand. I thought that I could find a copy of that article in my files, but so far I have failed. I should consult the experts at the Church Archive in Salt Lake and see if can, with their assistance, recover this article.

      4. I loved Phillip’s word “tantalizing” to describe the possible links between the Interpreters (and Joseph’s own seer stone and his role a Seer), and Maori seer stones and Maori Matakite (Seers).

      5. I am not familiar with Te Whatahoro’s dream, but I am not surprised that it was filled with biblical and not specifically Maori imagery or anything associated with the whare wananga or the Io cult. I had hoped to make something like this point by setting out the encounter that Hari Ptomaine had with the Apostle Peter. Maori were clearly being directed to the Church of Jesus Christ from what they already knew to what supplemented their previous understanding. The problem was that our missionaries mostly remained uninformed on what the Maori already had.

      I must again thank Phillip for his valuable contribution to my own understanding of the Maori world, and hence for his challenging remarks. And I urge those who read my response to Phillip’s comments here to also have a close look at his response to my more recent review of Jason Hartley’s Nga Magi, and my rejoinder. I appreciate this kind of conversation.

  5. Lou, you continue your valuable service to several communities by forcing upon them respect for the unique tradition of the wananga and demanding that it receive respect. As you know, my brief stay in New Zealand in February-April 1947 did not expose me to any significant Maori lore, but what I learned in two years in Rarotonga thereafter supports what you say.

    • John, I very much appreciate your kind remarks concerning my endeavors. The fact is that those Maori who once listened to me opine, and in their own way educated me, changed my life for the better. I am still trying to repay the debt I own them for their kind hospitality.

    • I appreciate David O’Barr mentioning my essay in the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 8/1 (1999): 4-11. For my first and more detailed account, see “A Singular Reading: The Maori and the Book of Mormon,” in Mormons, Scripture, and the Ancient World: Studies in Honor of John L. Sorenson, ed. Davis Bitton (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1998), 245–76. See In note #28, I mention J. Frank Stimson’s Tuamotuan Religion (Honolulu, Hi.: Bishop Museum, 1933), 69–80, 88–9), in which he traces “the Maori Io cult back to earlier high esoteric cosmology involving iho, kio, and kiho, found widely in the eastern Pacific.” (The sound shifts are typical of Polynesian dialects.) This evidence seems to me, and also to Sir Apirana Ngata in 1950, to count against the idea that the Io cult was invented by Maori after the arrival of Europeans.

  6. I very much appreciate Phillip Lambert’s comment. He is constantly teaching me new things. His remarks are clear evidence that Maori scholars are the proper one’s to grapple with and explicate both the story of Maori faith, and hence also with what I have called the providential joining of two prophetic traditions. The Maori were able to keep alive what Hugh Nibley like to call a Mantic tradition of openness to divine special revelations. This has not disappeared.

    Their problem has not been the destructive impact of the intellectual acids of modernity–that is, post-enlightenment European secular ideology, but European diseases, including attractively pacaged vices such as alcohol, gambling, casual sex and so forth, which have deracinated indigenous peoples everywhere Europeans have settled. What stunned me in 1950 was how candid they often were about these matters. But they were also open to turning to God and away from fashionable, attractive sensual, carnal, strictly worldly things. The message brought to the Maori by naive LDS missionaries, for those who would listen and respond, has provided a shield and protection against the evils that afflict those who have forgotten or turned away from their own best Maori traditions. This also explains why some of the best LDS missionaries were often either Maori, or those who understood and had even adopted much of the best in Maori traditions.

  7. I very much appreciate Mark’s endorsement of what I have written. I agree that it would be nice to have available a detailed treatment of the similarities (and differences) between what was taught in wananga and Latter-day Saint beliefs. But this must not be the work of a Pakeha; it must be the work of Maori scholarship. The wananga instruction by Herewini Jones provides, among other things, something like this in the form of detailed lectures. In addition, others are busy carefully assembling materials from which a more comprehensive and accurate account can be fashioned.

    But the old traditional wananga lore was secret, or perhaps it can more accurately be called sacred. It involved what the Maori call tapu. When the famous Captain James Cook and his officers and people (crew) heard this word in Tahiti (the Society Islands), they turned it into the English word taboo. Be that as it may, the knowledge of divine things was such that it should not be spread around indiscriminately. Doing that desecrates the divine. This is part of the reason for some of my own reticence to spell out the details of that portion of Maori lore.

    But the fact that it was not immediately available in written form has led to the argument that it was an invention out of whole cloth by Maori struggling to have something to compete with the Bible. But it does not, from my perspective, compete with my understanding of the LDS scriptures. The argument that the Maori in various tribes faked something like the Bible seems implausible to informed Maori Latter-day Saints, and I fully agree with them. But so do well-informed Maori scholars.

    Contemplate for a moment the following passage from an interview with the remarkably learned Sir Apirana Ngata. (I thank Phillip Lambert, an LDS Maori scholar, for calling this to my attention.)

    Apirana Ngata, “The Io Cult—Early Migration—Puzzle of the Canoes: A Recorded Talk by A. T. Ngata,”Journal of the Polynesian Society 59/4 (1950): 335-346.
    http://www.jps.auckland.ac.nz/document/?wid=2580

    THE IO CULT—EARLY MIGRATION—PUZZLE OF THE CANOES
    A RECORDED TALK BY A. T. NGATA.
    THE memories that will be retained longest by friends of the late Sir Apirana Ngata are those of the all too few occasions when, by a fireside, in a room, at the fringe of a marae, at a tribal gathering, in a meetinghouse, he would release a veritable flood of knowledge once the word spoken, or the gesture made perhaps, fused with the thoughts upper-most or deepest in his mind at that instant.

    All who had the privilege of listening to him in these circumstances—the “talks” at times lasted from the early evening to the early morning hours, or began after midnight and ended as the sun rose—often wished that these quite informal and spontaneous exchanges could be preserved in their entirety. Unfortunately the conditions were never really favourable, and the recording means not then at hand, to secure his words.

    Sir Apirana’s fluency when he spoke was a byword. His informative narrations which ranged over the breadth and depth of Maori national and tribal history, indeed of the whole realm of the Maori and Polynesian world, were masterpieces and much treasured. And were all the more remarkable because he scorned the use of notes or aids to prompt his prodigious memory, his ever ready mind. The great pity is that so little of all his talks has been committed in anything like permanent form, which would have allowed others access to the wealth of his unparalled knowledge.

    However, last year, Mr. John Te Herekiekie Grace obtained the use of a tape recording machine and asked Sir Apirana Ngata if he would be willing to have an informal talk recorded. The outcome was the “trial talk” which follows, a trial which, it was hoped, would have led to other invaluable recordings being made. This one talk is presented almost verbatim. It was entirely unrehearsed and made without notes, and is but slightly abridged in accordance with Mr. Grace’s wishes.

    – page 336
    The Society acknowledges its debt to Mr. Grace for making available for publication this transcription of the first—and most regrettably the last—recorded talk of such a character by Sir Apirana.—The Editors.

    THE CULT OF IO.
    In the depreciation of the value of Stimson’s work in the Pacific and of Whatahoro’s here in New Zealand, conclusions have been arrived at by certain people that the Cult of Io was evolved in New Zealand, and never in the Pacific. I tupu ki konei (It was evolved here).

    The evidence of the coverage of the Cult of Io in New Zealand shows that it is not confined to one district like the Wairarapa or even the East Coast. We may say that the East Coast is fairly uniform in its tradition. You find it in the Wanganui River, you find it at Thames, and the remarkable thing from our point of view on the East Coast, you find it at Tolaga Bay in the Rakeiora whare wananga.

    Judge Maning as a young man, not long settled in the Hokianga and quite unaware of the tapu and prohibitions, one day went chasing his horse which had strayed, and presently he heard a voice intoning. He began to follow up the voice and broke in on an old chap stark naked up against a cliff intoning the Io karakia. The old tohunga pulled himself up and addressed himself to the young Pakeha and he said to him, “Oh well, you have only got the alternative of death or becoming an adept of this Cult.”

    Maning chose to become an adept and he was the only Pakeha who made a complete study of the Cult of Io. He absorbed it all, karakia and everything, and was even initiated in it. Well, in due course he had to go to London for medical advice. He had cancer and while he was dying he wrote down all this material. Then his conscience began to prick him because one of the things that you do when you become initiated in the Cult of Io is to swear secrecy, and he had taken the oath of secrecy. Well now, would that obtain in the case of an oath made to a savage? He was arguing that point when he heard of Bishop W. L. Williams from Gisborne. Williams was not a Bishop then but an Archdeacon. So he sent for him and discussed with him this
    – 337
    question of conscience. The Archdeacon said, “Well, your duty is clear. It does not matter whether the oath is given to a heathen or otherwise. Once it is given it is binding on your conscience.”

    When the Archdeacon left Maning ordered the housemaid to make a fire and he burned the manuscript. Now, that story is well accredited. It comes from Bishop Leonard Williams to Bishop Herbert Williams and it was Herbert Williams who told it. I said to Herbert, “What would you have done?” “Oh,” he said, “I would have had the manuscript saved in the interest of science.”

    You can’t have a cult obtaining amongst seven different tribes unless you were to say that the secrecy which hedged round it had collapsed when the Pakeha came. It did not.

    • Yes I am currently working on a book and an article for this publication (If they will except it) on the Whare Wananga and the Gospel. Also I am currently helping a kuia based in Hawaii publish her manuscript that she has been working on for 30yrs that covers Te Ao Maori and the Gospel. Many will find it a fascinating read though not all will agree with her findings. And so it is with korero of the different Whare Wananga they do not all agree in every aspect but emphasize certain elements peculiar to their respective tribes. For instance the tribes of Rangitane, Ngati Kahungunu, Ngati Porou, Ngai Tahu all agree that Tane received the three baskets of knowledge from Io. The common denominator here is that these tribes come off the Takitimu waka. However it is the tribes of Tanui, Ngati Maniapoto, Ngati Raukawa, Ngati Rereahu that say it was Tawhaki that gained the three baskets of knowledge from Io. In fact Ngati Rereahu say that Tane is Io. Again these tribes stem from the same waka. If we were to look at the northern tribes two ancestors stand out namley Tawhaki and Nukutawhiti. The Marino Kato Whare Wananga of Awarua trace their ancestry to Hawaii. The significance of all this highlights how each Whare Wananga teaches and emphasizes certain teachings according to which islands of the pacific they migrated from which by extension includes the prevailing sacred school of learning that held sway over the Priests of each waka at the time of their migration to Aotearoa. It is my hunch that at one time all the korero of each Wananga converged at some point in history possibly at Taputapuatea in Tahiti.

      As for H T Whatahoro too much attention has been given to him and his writings. Most attacks have been aimed at him over the Cult of Io but the Tainui/Maniapoto/Ngati Rereahu and Ngati Maru korero on Io has received little attention from scholars yet some of the earliest references recorded about Io come from this region.

      What follows is a re-edited transcript of Sir Apirana Ngata’s recorded interview re-transcribed from the original audio recording in my files. The transcript Dr Midgley quotes is slightly altered.

      “…Peter arrived at the conclusion that the Cult of Io was evolved in New Zealand; never was in the pacific (undecipherable maori) we took him to Auckland when he went to say good bye. And myself Rangi, Pei and we said Peter the evidence of the coverage of the Cult of Io in New Zealand shows that it is not confined to one district like Wairarapa or Even the East Coast you may say that the East Coast is Fairly uniform in its tradition. You find it in the Wanganui river, you find it in Thames. It is a remarkable thing from our stand point in the East Coast you find it at Tolaga Bay; Te Rawheoro whare wananga. And then Pei chipped in and said “It’s right through the Tanui disctrict.”

      The late Pei Te Hurinui Jones unpublished manuscript was recently published by his great grand daughter which elucidates the inner workings of the ancient Tainui Whare Wananga. It ads weight to the Io debate and introduces some interesting Tikanga.

      Wow I could go on – Brother Midgley thank you for writing this article.

      I don’t have time to

      • Please notice that Phillip effortlessly employs Maori terms perhaps without noticing that his American audience will be puzzled. Hence I must, it seems, provide a bit of a glossary to explain as well as I can the Maori words that he has used.
        A kuia is a respected older woman, or grandmother. My wife is pleased to be so described. I am sometimes described as a porangi Pakeha, which means up-in-the-night or crazy. That label probably fits.
        A korero is an address, speech, teaching.
        Tane, an important figure in the grand council and the war in heaven, is the name for man throughout eastern Polynesia. Tane becomes Kane in Hawaiian.
        The idea that Tane is Io is something like saying that Adam is God.
        A waka is a canoe. Phil is referring to the so-called Great Fleet of canoes that brought the Maori to Aotearoa/New Zealand from the Society Islands (or what we call Tahiti) and, in one instance, Rarotonga in the Cook Islands. Maori tribes trace their existence to one or another waka. The word has come to mean a vehicle of transportation, hence “my waka is in the shop because I must have its muffler fixed.”
        Taputapuatea is the most famous and central marae in the Pacific. It is located on Ra’iatea in the Society Islands. Next to Tahiti this is the second largest island in French Polynesia. It is the place from which Hawaii, New Zealand and the rest of eastern Polynesia seem to have been settled.
        Te Ao Maori – the Maori world. Ao means brilliance or light, as in the name Aotearoa, where the very bright light is also roa (or long).
        Three baskets of wisdom – divine special revelations providing both basic mundane and higher celestial knowledge.
        The Marino Kato whare wananga (house where esoteric indoctinaton/initiation took place) was traditionally held at Awarua in the Northland, but was shifted around to avoid detection by agents of the Crown following after the passage of the Tohunga Suppression Act. I only recently learned the name of the wananga held at Waiomio (near the Bay of Islands), which was disbanded at that place in the 1930s.

  8. I read the article this morning and I really enjoyed it. I liked the background information about the history of the Maori people, and their being prepared for the gospel. It would be interesting to have someone write a book about the similarities between their beliefs about pre-mortal existence and the council in heaven and so on.

    I liked that you touched on the effect that modernity has on the beliefs of the Maori people as well as the current society we live in. Receiving revelations and divine guidance is all good in the ancient past, but threatening to our modern world. It means that there may be a divine plan of sorts and a divine planner who has our best interests at heart, who (perish the thought) may even have some rules regarding personal conduct that we ought to follow.

    As one who has experienced that divine guidance in my life I find it hard to believe that anyone could claim that it doesn’t exist, but those whose goals in life are built around satisfying the appetites of their stomach or crotch are sure to disagree.

    In any case another excellent Midgley article, and I look forward to reading more.

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