Maori Religion and Mythology Part 2
Mythical Denizens of Forests and Mountains
Mythical Denizens of Forests and Mountains
In Maori folk lore we meet with many accounts of mythical beings who are said to have peopled wood and waste, the mountains and the waters that lie beneath them. These creatures of fertile imagination were of different forms, aspects and activities, as we shall see anon, also, as in other lands, they are page 545sometimes spoken of as having been the original inhabitants of these isles. It is impossible to draw a definite line between fact and fiction, to say whether certain names are those of clans of early human occupants of New Zealand, or are titles given to mythical beings who never did exist in any form. We have been gravely informed that the Turehu folk were the original people of Aotearoa, but a description of those folk and their activities, together with a statement that they occupied the underworld as well as this upper world, causes us to look with grave doubt upon these alleged ancestors. On the other hand the wild bush folk termed Maero mentioned in a number of Maori narratives may not have been imaginary denizens of forest solitudes, but a memory of fugitives who had been forced to take to such a life. We have collected many accounts of stricken, harassed tribes having fled to rugged, forest-clad country in order to escape annihilation.
The Maori regales us with several tales that are supposed to illustrate a period when the Maori people were living here on sufferance as it were, under the mana of the Turehu or Patupaiarehe, the true lords of the soil. Thus, should a Turehu of that remote period chance to meet a Maori he would say: "Who am I?"—and should the Maori reply: "You are Turehu"—then he would assuredly be slain. If, however, the Maori knew the right answer to make he would reply: "You are Tu-ariki"—thus admitting the superior status of his questioner and so saving his own life.
The Turehu folk claim the products of the earth. In very remote times the land and its products belonged to the Turehu folk. It is said that those who were engaged in digging aruhe (rhizomes of Pteris aquilina) in lone places sometimes heard a voice repeating these words: "E koa koe aianei, a maku hoki te ra apopo" (You are joyful today, but my turn will come tomorrow). They would then know it to be the Turehu speaking, whereupon they would hasten to set aside the first three pieces of the fern root dug by each person as an offering to the Turehu. If such offering was neglected by them, then assuredly as they dug nought but inferior roots would be found, and of those but few. On the second day no work would be done at the root digging, that day being left for the Turehu, but on the third day the diggers would return to work.
One of the earliest recorded notices of the Maori belief in these Turehu folk is that in Polack's Narrative of Travel and Adventures in New Zealand, published in 1838. In volume 2 at p. 226 of this page 546work they are called Niturehu in error for Ngai-Turehu, Ngai being a tribal prefix, but Polack does not seem to have understood the native belief in these mythical forest and mountain dwellers. We have in Maori recitals a few references to ceremonies performed by the first voyagers to, and settlers in, these isles, in order to placate the Turehue occupants of the land. Owing to their peculiar beliefs Polynesian voyagers were wont to scrupulously perform such acts when arriving at any strange place.
Many different names are employed to denote the forest folk, or fairies, as our writers often term them, though the Maori concept is not that of a diminutive fey or elf-like folk, but rather that of a people of ordinary stature and appearance, save that they are said to have been fair-skinned and fair-haired. Turehu, Patupaiarehe (also termed Patuparehe, Paiarehe and Parehe), Korakorako, Tahurangi and Heketoro are some of the names applied to the forest folk. It has been said that these names were probably those of the earliest human inhabitants of New Zealand inasmuch as the Maori has geneaological evidence of his descent from such Turehu. This evidence, however, goes for nought, for we have many genealogies recited or written by the Maori that trace his descent from the gods, from the stars, from sky and earth, and a great many other things that are not in the habit of begetting human beings. The theory that a white race ever inhabited New Zealand cannot be held by any sound-thinking person, but, at the same time, we must admit that the Maori brought with him from overseas a light-haired, fair-skinned strain that is persistent in many families, though in no case does it seem to appear in each generation. These light-skinned folk are termed urekehu, a name that means brown or red-haired.
The description of these forest folk given by natives even eighty years ago arouses a suspicion that the aspect of incoming Europeans has influenced such accounts. Taylor tells us that they were a white people who wore white garments; they did not tattoo, and carried infants in their arms, not on their backs as the Maori people do, and they occasionally surprised and carried off Maori women; albinos were looked upon as being the offspring of Patupaiarehe. Sir George Grey wrote that, in 1853, Te Wherowhero described the fairies as a white race, elegantly clothed in garments quite unknown to the natives, and as delighting in music (see Polynesian Mythology, p. 183). I was also shown a hill called Pukewhera, near Hawkes Bay, which was a favourite resort of theirs. If the natives ever set fire to it then the page 547fairies, to save their favourite trees and flowers, rushed out and with songs extinguished the flames, although invisible to human eyes. The Tuhoe natives told me of the Heketoro or Turehu folk who were described as being light-haired and light-skinned. John White has a note to the effect that children of Turehu men by Maori women had "light, soft, straight hair, with blue eyes; they could not see or look in the full blaze of the sun." The blue eyes looks like a flight of fancy, but the weak eyes may have denoted albinism. It is a curious fact that natives of far sundered tribes have all agreed in saying that the forest folk were a fair people, possibly the abnormal urukehu strain was the origin of this concept.
Wiremu Hoete Riu-kakara, of Waiheke, stated that the Turehu folk live on hills and mountains, and are never seen alone, but only in companies, and are fond of talking, singing, and playing on the flute. These folk are of a very light skin colour, and dress in white garments. Some say they wear the same sort of garments as the Maori. They nurse their children in their arms, as Europeans do, and they do not tattoo. Any person struck by a Turehu at once falls as though dead, but soon recovers. When caught sight of by ordinary people, they vanish, but matakite (seers) can see them. They are sometimes seen in the cultivation grounds in great numbers, but they do not interfere with the crops or damage them in any way. The Turehu sometimes interfere with native women found alone in the forest, and albinos are said to be the result of such meetings.
All accounts state that the Turehu usually dwelt on hills or high ranges, that they were seldom seen by man, but on wet or misty days were often heard on the hills, singing, talking and sounding flutes. In many cases they are referred to as kehua, atua, of wairua tangata (ghosts, demons or human spirits); some have told me that only seers could really see a Turehu, they were merely heard by less gifted people. One entertaining communicant stated that Patupaiarehe were all males and Turehu all females, but no other authority agreed with this. They were a tapu people and so, when any Maori trespassed on their haunts, they at once deserted that place and established themselves elsewhere. Among the many places said to have been formerly frequented by the Turehu folk are Maungapohatu, Putaihinu, Turi-o-Haua, Mapouriki, Pae-whakataratara, Oparoro and Ngaheni in the Tuhoe district; Tititangiao at Te Hurepo; Kakaramea, Pirongia, Moehau, Kaimanawa, Ngongotaha, Pukemore, Kakepuku, Aroha-auta, Aroha-atai, Tararua and page 548many, many others. But although these folk tales are now localised here it is evident that they were brought hither from the isles of Polynesia. The Kahungunu folk tell us that the arts of tattooing and net-making were acquired in remote times from a fair race of folk, Turehu, a race that dwelt in a far off land, while the art of wood carving was acquired from the people of Tangaroa, a sea folk. But they also tell us that tattooing and weaving were acquired from a Turehu folk dwelling in the underworld. The acquirement of the art of net-making from a fair folk is a Polynesian myth, but it has been localised in New Zealand. The Hakuturi (Tini o te Hakuturi) are a forest dwelling folk of the homeland in Maori myth, a people versed in white magic, who did wondrous things, but they are not described as a fair folk. These were the beings who re-erected the tree felled by Rata, but who, assisted by the spider folk, fashioned and carved a canoe for Rata. The Tini o te Mahoihoi, or Multitude of the Mahoihoi, are said to have been a similar people, forest dwellers, assigned by some to the homeland or former home of Hawaiki, by others said to have lived in these isles. It is highly probable that this name hinges upon a Polynesian word denoting a spirit, i.e., mahoi. When the Hakuturi folk appeared to re-erect Rata's tree they are said to have done so in the form of birds, forest birds, and it was these creatures who caused the long fronds of tree ferns to hang downward.
In one version of the story of Maui the folk known as Tini o te Hakuturi and Tini o te Mahoihoi are spoken of as denizens of the underworld, so that, like the Turehu, they may be encountered almost anywhere. They accompanied Maui when he visited Hine-nui-te-po, and are said to have acted as guardians of the forest, or as henchmen of the atua who were the true guardians. The Ngati-Porou folk tell us that the Tini o Hakuturi (a slight change of name here) took part in the task of hauling the hull of the vessel Takitimu to the coast when it had been hewn out by Ruawharo and others at far Hawaiki. Numbers of each species of bird assembled for the purpose, the koko, kaka, kereru, tieke, koropio, hore, tititi-pounamu, kakariki and others, and each species had a drag rope of its own also the human species took part in the hauling. Then Ruawharo and Tupai rose and cut the drag ropes of the Hakituri folk, whereupon each species of bird flew away with its own rope, and that is why birds of those species still fly in flocks, even unto this day.
A curious note concerning the Patupaiwehe was given me by Tuwhawhakia of Whanganui in 1895; it was to the effect that, page 549when natives were overcome by the noxious fumes of charcoal in their huts, the distressing feeling was said to be the work of Patupaiarehe. Tu described how he and many others were so affected by the atua Patupaiarehe, and were found insensible by their friends. Those friends however, threw cold water over the stupefied men, and so revived them.
I have been informed by natives that the Puke-moremore peak of the Tararua range was formerly a favoured resort of Patupaiarehe, but that they were driven from that desirable home by the activities of godless ruffians, minions of the Survey Department, who invaded that tapu place and practised weird and fearsome arts thereat. The fair folk, albeit of a joyous disposition, were only occasionally mischievous, but were essentially a tapu people. Possibly this fact is connected with the belief that such creatures are really wairua tangata, human spirits or souls; we have already examined this aspect in Part IX of this volume. An old native will tell you that companies of Turehu are ope kehua or ope wairua that is troops of ghosts or spirits, spirits of the dead, but the terms Turehu, Patupaiarehe, Heketoro, Tahurangi and Karitehe seem to be applied to such as permanently reside here, in this world, while Kehua and Parangeki are seemingly but visitors from the underworld. This classification might be shattered, however, by some other authority, or version. The curiously inconsistent aspect of Maori myths is illustrated in the description of Turehu as spirits, coupled with statements that they played games, sang songs, built houses, and occasionally kidnapped Maori women.
Arawaru are said to be spirits allied to Turehu, but seem to pertain to the sea, they are heard singing out on the sea and along the coast.
Irewaru are spirit voices heard at night on the sea coast, doubtless a synonym of arawaru, while orowaru denotes the rippling or babbling of running waters; puwawau are spirit voices heard in running waters, and punawaru carries the same meaning.
Companies of spirits roaming through space may be described as kehua, parangeki and other terms, including that of tira maka, a peculiar expression heard in the Matatua district. Thomson was probably the first to tell us that the Patupaiarehe folk are spirits of the dead (The Story of New Zealand, vol. 1, p. 114). Patupaiarehe were sometimes called Korakorako, probably on account of the belief in their fairness, which is the meaning of the page 550word; korako denotes an albino. I have heard the name Heketoro applied to the forest folk only among the Tuhoe tribe, but it was probably known elsewhere, the Heikotoro mentioned by Nicholas may have referred to such mythical beings (see Nicholas, J. L., Narrative of a Voyage to New Zealand, pp. 57-8).
Pakepakeha and Pakehakeha are said to be names for diminutive creatures occasionally seen floating down flooded rivers on driftwood, singing as they drift along like unto Tutaua the log tipua of Waikaremoana. The term Pakeha, used to denote all white people, is but a form of the above names; evidently the root is keha, a word meaning "pale". Europeans were also known as Waraki, a name applied, it is said, to certain mythical beings pertaining to the ocean. White tells us that the Porotai are allied to the Pakepakeha; the former are quite extraordinary beings from our point of view, inasmuch as half of each individual's body is of flesh, and the other half of stone, while each person has two faces. The Porotai are, or were, accomplished singers, for they are no longer seen in this world of life. The Tutumaiao are apparently allied to the Arawaru, for they are seen on sea beaches; when you are traversing a long stretch of sandy beach you may chance to see far ahead weird, grotesque forms, that tend to disappear as you advance, evidently spirits or tipua. You may then know that you have looked upon Tutumaiao.
White gives a Ngapuhi note to the effect that Kui, Tutumaiao and Turehu were three peoples who abode in New Zealand ere the Maori arrived (see Ancient History of the Maori, vol. 3, p. 189). Hori Ropiha explained that, when a man is traversing a sea beach and sees ahead of him certain persons standing on the beach, and, when he reaches the spot where he saw them, they have disappeared then those creatures are not human beings, they are Tutumaiao. The Ngati-Porou folk speak of mythical coast-haunting creatures termed Tuturi-whekoi and Tuturi-wheikoiko that seem to be identical with the Tutumaiao. A Waiapu man informed me that the Tuturi-whekoi are an ocean-dwelling folk whose bodies are composed of mist; some call them Turi-wheikoiko; they are mysterious, vaguely seen beings who dwell in ocean spaces and appear on the coast as mistlike, unsubstantial forms. Occasionally they are seen on the beach, sometimes resembling human beings in appearance. Their appearance denotes calm weather, but to see them is unlucky. An old song contains the line: "Ka kite ai koe i te Tutumaiao e page 551haramai i te moana" (You will see the Tutumaiao appearing from the ocean).
A fugitive Arawa note tells us that Moehau is a strange being half human and half fish, and having but one eye. Taylor describes a Turehu folk in the far north who were called Karitehe, they are, or were, a white-skinned, yellow-haired people. This seems dubious, as coming from a Maori, perhaps reddish hair was meant. These Karetehe occasionally captured Maori women in the forests, and an ancestor of Nopera caught a Karitehe woman and took her to wife. Another joined a party of Karitehe net-fishing on the coast, but ere long the fishers detected the smell of man and so fled the spot.
A hill named Puketoitoi near the Whanganui river was occupied by the strange Maero folk in long past times, prior to the coming of the Maori to those parts. In after days man violated the tapu of that place, hence the forest folk abandoned it. Any hill that was frequented by Turehu or similar creatures in Maori belief was alluded to as a puke atua, and so, in many cases Pukeatua came to be used as a proper name for such places. A. S. Atkinson, an early collector of Taranaki, was told that the Maero were a light-skinned folk inhabiting New Zealand when the Maori arrived here; most accounts point to this term of Maero being merely another name for the Turehu, but in Taylor's Te Ika a Maui p. 49 we are told that the Maero is a wild man of the woods who has long fingers and nails, and who eats his food raw. South Island natives maintain that Maeroero were formerly numerous in that region, and that they sometimes captured native women and carried them off. These Maeroero sometimes warned fishermen, flax cutters, and others to desist from their activities, and so (presumably) leave enough for the Maeroero. This reminds one of the North Island story of the Turehu and fern-root diggers. On p. 195 of vol. 31, Journal of the Polynesian Society, we see that some of these South Island statements about the Maeroero remind us of Kurangaituku of Rotorua; they knew not fire, ate their food raw, and speared fish with their long finger nails, but they made canoes and were "noted flute players". Evidently these Maero are the folk sometimes referred to as mohoao or wild men by natives. At p. 43 of vol. 15 of the before-mentioned Journal Lt. Col. Gudgeon tells us of an encounter with such a demon that took place in the Whanganui district. In days of yore one Tukoio met a fearsome mohoao in the forest of the Whanganui valley, the hair of that creature was long, even that it trailed upon the ground. As it advanced it speared birds with its page 552long finger nails, and ere long attacked Tukoio; fiercely raged the fight, for the desperate mohoao knew not fear, and so fought until its arms and legs had all been severed. Then Tukoio cut off the shaggy head of the creature and set off to carry it to his home, but as he strode along with his gory trophy he heard the head speak, saying: "My children, I am being carried off." This was too much for the nerves of even the courageous Tukoio, he dropped the head and fled homeward with no loss of time. A party then visited the scene of action to view the remains, but those remains had disappeared, they had joined together again and made off into the forest.
The term nanakia is sometimes used to denote these forest-dwelling beings, and may also be applied to malignant taniwha, or tipua, simply because the word means "troublesome, out-rageous, etc."; it is not a specific term for any particular species of goblin, elf, or other mythical creature. The following korero paki or folk tale was related to me by Paitini Wi Tapeka of Tuhoe: "The Nanakia folk were denizens of the forest in days of yore, a strange people who knew not fire and so were raw-eaters; they wore no clothing and lived in trees; they lived principally upon birds which they transfixed with their long finger nails. Now once upon a time a certain woman and her husband dwelt hard by a forest wherein lived some of the Nanakia creatures, and on a certain fine day the woman went forth into the forest to seek the food products thereof. In forest depths there appeared a Nanakia who caught the hapless woman and bore her off to his forest home. When the man found that his wife did not return he set off in search of her, but found no more than her basket which she had dropped when pursued by the Nanakia. He then sought traces of the footsteps of his wife, and these he found and followed to the very home of her captor. At that time the forest man was absent from home engaged in taking birds in the forest, and so the man asked his wife when the Nanakia would return, whereupon she remarked that he would be absent for some time. He then asked her as to how he might conceal himself so as to escape detection when the bushman came home, and then the woman set to work and dug a pit at the place whereat they were wont to pluck their birds. She bade her husband enter the pit and conceal himself therein, and then she covered him and the pit with a mass of feathers so as to conceal both. When the Nanakia returned home he smelt the presence of the man seemingly, and persisted in his statement that there was a man about the place, which was denied by the woman. After long persuasion the page 553woman succeeded in pacifying the suspicious forest man, and so in due course he slept; she then went and told her husband, whereupon they armed themselves with stone adzes. The man then took his stand near the head of the sleeping Nanakia while the woman stood at his feet. At a signal from the husband both attacked the sleeper; they cut off his head, but his arms continued the struggle, and so they cut those off, then his legs carried on the contest, but when these were cut off then the creature really did die. Thus the man recovered his wife and they returned to their home. The Nanakia folk were a mischievous people, hence that name was applied to them, but it is not their proper name; they were a strange folk who built no houses."
In the above tale the forest denizens described resemble in their habits those termed Nukumaitore, strange beings said to have been known, not here in New Zealand, but in some far distant land reached by Maori voyages in past times. They were seen sitting on branches of trees and on the climbing plants in the forest, they had queer heads and very short arms and legs, and were almost neckless. Tura the voyager is said to have taken one of the Nukumaitore women to wife, hence we know that the Caesarean operation was practised by them, and that fire terrified them. When they first essayed to eat cooked food it caused them to vomit. White gives a tale of certain voyagers from Tawhiti-nui-a-Rua who encountered these weird folk and who slew the man destroying pouakai, the scourge of that distant land. The natives of Manihiki island told Colonel Gudgeon that their ancestors had reached an island called Nukumautere inhabited by women only, a man named Waikohu ventured among them and was slain. This curious myth is known in Pukapuka and also in parts of Indonesia.
In an East Coast version of the story of Rata the companies that re-erected the tree felled by Rata are said to have been the Tini o te Hakuturi and Tini o te Petipeti. Another version states that the Tini o Pararakau were the creatures responsible for that act.
The Taringahere mentioned by Taylor have not, apparently, been heard from since his time, and his Taipo have been discredited; even as Taepo, a somewhat more acceptable form, they are not approved of.
Yet another of these curious folk tales runs as follows: Once upon a time a number of women went into the forest in order to collect hinau berries (from which the Maori folk prepared a dark page 554coloured meal appreciated as a food supply). On entering the forest the women separated in pairs and set about their task. In one case two women became separated, hence one of them called out to her companion in order to ascertain her whereabouts. She heard a reply; and proceeded in the direction of the voice heard, occasionally repeating her call, which was answered. The woman believed that she was being answered by her companion, but not so, it was a Parehe, a strange denizen of the forest, who was calling to her. Ere long the woman was captured by that creature and by him carried afar off into the forest. When the party of women returned home, it was found that one was missing, and so a party of men set off in search of her. After a long search the missing woman and the forest man were seen, but they were not walking on the earth, as we do, they were moving about among the tree tops, walking on the branches. The men succeeded in recapturing the woman but found her strangely altered, for, though half of her body was still of human aspect, the other half was strangely altered, it seemed to be turned into wood. The men were puzzled as to how to proceed in order to restore the woman to her normal condition. At last they resolved to form and heat a large steam oven, and place her in it. This steaming process had the desired effect, and so all returned to the village home.
Now in the dead of night the people heard a voice singing outside, and the woman recognized the voice as that of the forest man, the Parehe who had captured her. She learned the words of the song, which are still remembered by the Maori folk of the Whanganui valley.
Ruarangi and the Tahurangi
This is a well known story of the Waikato district, and one that illustrates certain prejudices of the Turehu, Parehe or Tahurangi folk, namely their horror of cooked food and red ochre. The former one can understand by remembering the dangers to which tapu persons and places are exposed, but as to why the forest folk should fear red ochre I can offer no explanation. The following tale tells how a Turehu or Tahurangi of Mt Pirongia captured the wife of Ruarangi and carried her off to that mount and its forest solitudes; the name of the forest man was Te Rangipouri. When Ruarangi eturned home he found that his wife was absent, hence he long sought her far and wide, but found her not. How could he page 555do so, when she had been taken away by the Tahurangi to far mountain solitudes, such places as are inhabited by such creatures, there to serve as a wife for him.
Again Ruarangi set off to seek his wife in the forest, and on the ranges, and again he sought in vain; for months he sought her, and for months the Tahurangi kept his wife far up the great hills. These two wandered about from place to place on the hills where the strange Tahurangi folk lived; they would dwell a while on Taupiri, then go and sojourn a space at Hakarimata, after which they would return to Pirongia, and so on; such were their movements day by day, and, ever and anon, they returned to the hills near unto the home of Ruarangi. On one such occasion Ruarangi caught sight of the twain in the forest but after a long pursuit he lost sight of his wife and her abductor.
Now it came about on a certain day that Te Rangipouri, the Tahurangi, went off alone to Pirongia, to his Tahurangi friends there, for at that place dwelt their chiefs Tiki, Nukupori, Tapu-te-uru, Ripiro-aitu, and Whanawhana, the chiefs of that tribe of Tahurangi folk. After Rangipouri had departed Ruarangi, in his devious wanderings, chanced upon the place whereat his wife had been left. He soon found that her appearance had much changed, likewise her manner, behaviour and thoughts, she had acquired the ways and looks of the Tahurangi folk and no longer looked with favour upon her Maori husband. Thus, when she saw Ruarangi approaching she at once fled into the forest, and he pursued her. Finding that he could not catch her he grasped a portion of cooked food that he had brought with him to sustain him during his devious journey, and threw it at his wife, the food striking her body. You must know that the Tahurangi are a very tapu folk; the people are tapu, and also their sleeping places; and so they dread cooked food. Now when the cooked food struck the body of the woman she was startled and strove to escape but was quite powerless to do so, for she had been tamaoatia by Ruarangi, that is to say deprived of power by means of cooked food. Then it was that a strange change came over the woman, for she regained her "human" or ordinary appearance, although there was still a peculiar absent manner noticeable.
Then the woman said to her husband: "Let us go"—and so they returned to their home, where the woman quite regained her former manner and ways. She then said to her husband: "Ere long Te Rangipouri will surely come to seek me, and, unless we are careful, he will again carry me off. Now if you procure some page 556red ochre and mark our bodies with it then the Nanakia will be absolutely unable to touch us, for the Tahurangi folk have a great dread of red ochre." So it came about and before long the Nanakia was seen coming to again carry off the woman, whereupon Ruarangi and his wife fled into their house, hastily marking their bodies with ochre as they ran. As they entered the house the Tahurangi entered it at the same moment, he seized the garment of the woman in his hand, for that garment had not been marked with ochre. Then the woman called out to Ruarangi: "O! Mark the doorway"—and so the doorposts were marked with ochre. At once the Tahurangi abandoned the woman and escaped through the window space, and then Ruarangi marked that also, so that, should the Tahurangi return, he would be unable to re-enter the house.
Then it was that Ruarangi left the house and went to the spot where the Tahurangi stood and marked it with ochre, whereupon he jumped away to another spot, and Ruarangi kept following him up and marking all places he attempted to occupy. This was continued until the bushman became utterly wearied with leaping about from place to place in search of an unmarked spot where he might find a resting place. So it came about that the whole of the plaza became marked with the abhorred ochre, that there was no standing place for his feet, and he was sorely assailed by fatigue. Then at last he made a final jump to the roof of the house, where he stood and wailed aloud, lamenting the woman he had lost. Having so bewailed his loss he then sang a song of affection to the woman.
As the Nanakia concluded his song he fled to his home in the hills, nor did he return to the village, being fearful of the ochre and cooked food found there, for kokowai (ochre) is utterly abhorrent to those folk, nothing will induce them to approach it. If the doorway of a native house be marked with ochre never will those forest folk, the Tahurangi, enter it.
An interesting tale connected with the above has been given by Ngakuru Pene Hare of Ngapuhi in which we are told that Te Rangipouri the turehu gave his daughter Parearohi as a wife for a Maori man, a member of the newly come race to which had passed the mana of this land of Aotearoa. As in the case of other supernormal women met with in these folk tales Parearohi visited her husband, whose name was Heiraura, during the hours of darkness only, she came to him after the shades of night had fallen and left him at early morn. So it was that Hei never really saw his Turehu wife, she remained away during the hours of page 557daylight, and so he resolved to adopt the usual plan of filling all interstices in the house walls, that no ray of light might enter, thus deceiving Parearohi and causing her to remain in the home until broad day arrived. She became very uneasy, but Hei succeeded in quietening her until the day came, when he opened the door and so saw his wife in all her beauty. Parearohi wept at being deceived, after which she bathed and adorned herself with amokura plumes, then left the house and, in the presence of the assembled people, mounted the roof of the house and there sang a song of farewell to Heiraura. At the conclusion of her song Parearohi pointed to the east and cried: "The sun appears", whereupon the people turned and looked eastward; when their gaze returned to the house top, behold, Parearohi the Turehu had disappeared never to return to Heiraura.
The above tale is but a repetition of that concerning Hinemakohu the Mist Maid, related elsewhere in this chronicle, and we have also seen that Parearohi is the name of the personified form of the shimmering appearance in the atmosphere seen on warm summer days, she may be denominated Shimmering Heat.
In 1862 a Rotorua Maori told Percy Smith that a Tauranga man encountered some Tahurangi or Patuparearehe in the forest at Kukupo. A party of Maori went forth to attack the forest folk in order to punish them for interfering with Maori cultivation grounds. In the fight that ensued the Tahurangi suffered severely and the survivors fled to Taupiri. Their slain were not eaten, for, when examined, it was found that they had turned into a substance like rotten wood. Tahurangi are said to always carefully avoid albinos, being afraid of them.
Miru and Hinerangi
In vol. 30 of the Journal of the Polynesian Society appears an interesting tale concerning one Hinerangi, a woman of Hawaiki, who was visited by a man named Miru, said to be a patupaiarehe, an elf or forest dweller. Miru visited Hine many times, but always under the cover of darkness and so was never seen by the people. At last the secret could no longer be preserved, and then the people proceeded to catch the night visitor by the usual method adopted in such cases, the plugging of any crevice that might admit daylight, and the securing of door and window. So it was page 558that Miru was caught and now he lived with Hine in the village, where their sons Tonga-te-uru and Ururuakawe were born. At a certain time it was arranged that Hinerangi, her sister Hine-maiteuru, and many of their people should accompany Miru on a visit to his people. Those people of Miru were found to be skilled to a remarkable extent in wizardry and knowledge of games and pastimes; Miru was the leading expert in all these matters. Here the father of Hinerangi acquired the Patupaearehe arts of wizardry, and, in return therefore gave Miru his other daughter as a second wife. Hinerangi and her father returned to their home, but her sister and Miru remained at the Patupaearehe village. Hinerangi's father then constructed a large house in which to preserve the various arts and devices he had been taught, and that house was named Kui-te-rangiora, therein the old man taught his grandson, Tonga-te-uru, all the strange knowledge that he himself had acquired. So came the knowledge of many games and of strange thaumaturgic arts into the world.
In the above tale we note a corrupt form of the myth concerning Miru of the underworld and his visitors who came in search of knowledge. Herein is reversed the procedure of many similar folk tales of the Maori, wherein, as in the case of Uenuku and the Mist Maid, the woman visits the man.
In another tale of the Tahurangi folk we are told that such Patupaiarehe beings are atua and ghosts or spirits (kehua), that they resemble human beings in appearance, but that they do not resemble ordinary Maori folk in being seen in broad daylight. They abide on the summits of the ranges, and on misty mornings are seen by human eyes. There are certain mounts and ranges of the Waikato district that are frequented by such folk, such as Taupiri, Pirongia and Hakarimata. Those forest folk are seen travelling along the ranges, beings resembling men in appearance, but yet a white folk who wear black garments. Their women are fine and resemble European women, and some were given to cohabiting with Maori men. The most appropriate name for that folk is Tahurangi.
When a woman of that people cohabited with a man of this world she would visit the man of her choice only at night, and he would not know how she came and went, and he would be the only person who saw her, to no others would she be visible; on the approach of daylight the woman would return to wherever it is that such folk dwell. Now a certain Tahurangi woman cohabited with a husband of this world every night for months, on no night did she absent herself. Then it was that she disclosed her page 559name to him, namely Nga Rangi-pukohu, and said to him: "Take heed lest you speak of me, not until my child is born may you speak of me; should you make me known prior to such birth then I will never more return to you." The earthly husband took no notice of this warning but acted precisely as did Uenuku, he who was transformed into a rainbow, and so the feckless one lost his wife. Indeed, it is clear that this recital is but an inferior version of the story of the Mist Maid and Uenuku; the name of Hine-pukohu-rangi (Celestial Mist Maid) becomes Nga Rangi-Pukohu in the above tale, and the mythopoetic aspect is almost lost. The statement that the forest folk wore black garments is a strange one, and it conflicts with another statement that their garments were white.
Shortland gives an interesting version of Ruarangi-Tahurangi myth in his Maori Religion and Mythology, in which it is clearly shown how effective are cooked food and ochre as defence weapons, p. 49.
A pundit of the Ngati-Whatua tribe informs us, in no uncertain tones, that he and all his tribesmen are descended from one Tumutumuwhenua, a denizen of the underworld who took to wife one Repo, who was a Tahu-rangi, a folk who dwelt in this world, and who are also known as Patu-paearehe. These folk live on the lofty hills and ranges, they are never actually seen save by seers, those possessed of second sight, who see them during rainy and misty weather.
The Story of Koire and the Heketoro or Forest Folk
There was once a man named Koire, whose wife was taken away from him by Heketoro, which caused Koire much sorrow. At last he thought of a plan by which he might recover her. He made himself a cloak, the outer side of which he covered with lizard skins, and centipedes, and other such repulsive things. He donned this cloak and, taking his Nguru, or nose flute with him (for he was a clever player on the nose flute, as also on the rehu), he set forth for the home of Heketoro. He had let his hair grow long, and had not washed himself since the loss of his wife, hence he was well disguised, not to speak of having much red ochre daubed on his face, and the repulsive cloak that he wore. So he was not recognised when he reached the home of Heketoro, as he looked like a common old man, and he was allowed to stay in the house. During the night, Heketoro told him to make up the fire, page 560and Koire sat long by the fire, then took out his nose flute and played softly upon it, at the same time humming a song which began thus—
Kindle the fire, O Koire! Koire!
That seen may be Koire! Koire!
Arise, O Muri; let us return, etc.
Having finished his song, he pretended to sleep, but when night was far advanced, he softly "touched" his wife, whose name was Muri-wha-karoto, or Tuhoro-punga, and the two stole away.
When Heketoro awoke he missed his wife, and set off in pursuit of her. He caught up to the couple, and was just about to seize the woman, when suddenly they rose from the earth and disappeared into the heavens. But Koire threw down his lizard skin cloak to Heketoro, telling him to retain it as a keepsake.