Story: Traditional Māori religion – ngā karakia a te Māori



This image depicts the dream of a Te Arawa soldier, Metara, which he dreamt while on campaign in 1869 during the New Zealand wars. In his dream he was walking along a beach near his home in Maketū when a giant hāpuku fish with a human face swam up on shore. Its face was Metara's own face. He took it to be a vision of his death in battle the following day. Metara said, 'It is an omen of death. The gods have sent this to me, a warning from the wa kainga, from my ancestral home. I am that fish! I am the mata-ika, the first fish of the coming battle. I shall be the first man killed to-day' (Maui Pomare and James Cowan, Legends of the Maori, Auckland: Southern Reprints, 1987 (first published 1930), p. 169). Mataika means the first person slain in battle, but also the face of a fish. His captain told Corporal Metara that he could go with the main body, instead of with the advanced guard. Even so, during an ambush, Metara was the first to be shot. However, he survived. When he returned home and told his people of what had happened, they said, 'He matakite! He atua ra!' (Second sight, a warning from the gods.)

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How to cite this page:

Basil Keane, 'Traditional Māori religion – ngā karakia a te Māori - Tohunga', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 25 July 2024)

Story by Basil Keane, published 5 May 2011