The Question of whether early Maori possessed a written script falls into the wheelhouse of that perennial topic when dealing with the Strange in New Zealand, the origins of the Maori (One which often links in endlessly complex and byzantine ways with that other constant, the Question of Pre-Maori Settlement), and represents a mystery with potential links across the entire sphere of Polynesian migration as well as encouraging wild speculation even further afield of the kind these topics always seem to invite.
Within the Institute there have been long deliberations over how to best approach topics which are the subject of current large scale pseudo-historical claims, as such claims tend to have precedents in the innocent anomalies and idle speculations (as well as the Ludicrous Bluster) of Pre-War Researchers. Though we have to balance it with our mission as a cultural resource we have decided at this point in time that the best approach in terms of post war claims is to stick to those articles which are purely factual (as much as possible in the areas of fringe research with which this blog deals). In general we will not be Elaborating on any breathless post war claims as to the origins of the Maori or Pre-Maori Settlement. What that means for the current topic is that the many conflicting claims as to the origin of the script on the tattoo’d rocks not be discussed here.
With that in mind an early mention of the possibility of the Patterns being a Script Along with an endorsement for a serious attempt at understanding of it comes from the “The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 5, Issue 9” of April 1931
Though the Idea of these Petroglyphs being the remains of an ancient Polynesian script was advanced numerous times in news papers across New Zealand ( the context for this is a complex one and must unfortunately await a future post in order to be given the thorough explanation required) , the first serious attempts at deciphering their meaning came from Professor Barry Fell of Harvard University in the 1970’s.
The example we will look at today was claimed by Professor Fell to be the record of “a treaty signed in July, Fleet Year 101 (ca AD 1450), by chiefs representing the Taranaki and Ati Awa tribes, the Ati Ruanui dissenting and refusing to sign” which he termed the “Treaty of Taranaki” The balance of the rest of the message he claimed consisted of “Zodiacal and numerical designation of months… and Egyptian numerals (which) are used for denoting the year.”
For comparison we present examples of Petroglyphs collected from Pitcairn Island
And the Rongorongo Script of Easter Island
And will leave you for now with some further speculation from Professor Fell
In our next update we shall be looking at the history of European Observations of the Tattooed Rocks and their relationship to a number of other mysterious Sites in Taranaki.