Found nowhere else in the World, dendroglyphs, or tree carvings, were believed to be perhaps a form of ancestor worship by the pre-European Moriori people of the Chatham Islands. The dendoglyphs were cut into the bark of living kopi trees over 200 years ago, so very few now remain of the hundreds known even 50 years ago when almost 1200 were recorded. Less than a hundred now remain & most of these are indistinct. Most of the remainder can now be seen in the J.M. Barker National Historic Reserve at Hapupu.
The Moriori are a Polynesian people who occupied these remote islands for around 400 years before the arrival of the Europeans in 1791. In 1835, with the connivance of European whalers, a group of Maori from the New Zealand mainland were tranposrted to the islands where they promptly killed a large percentage of these docile people, eating many of them & enslaving most of the survivors. European diseases soon decimated the rest of the Moriori & the last full-blooded Moriori passed away in 1933. These people had developed the world's first code of pacifism which had lasted 400 years, & this was why they fell easy prey to the warlike Maori. Very little now remains of the Moriori past, only these unusual dendroglyphs, diminishing rapidly in number & a cave containing interesting petroglyphs, or rock carvings.
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