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Polynesian Mythology and Ancient Traditional History of the New Zealand Race

Legend of the Emigration of Manaia, the Progenitor of the Ngati-Awa Tribes

page 138

Legend of the Emigration of Manaia, the Progenitor of the Ngati-Awa Tribes.

The cause which led Manaia to come here from Hawaiki was his being very badly treated by a large party of his friends and neighbours, whom, according to the usual custom when a chief has any heavy work to be done, he had collected to make his spears for him, for they violently ravished his wife Rongotiki.

It chanced thus: One day Manaia determined to have his neighbours all warned to come to a great gathering of people for the purpose of making spears for him; so he sent round a messenger to collect them, and the messenger arrived at the place of Tupenu, who listened to his message, and be, being chief of the tribe who lived at that place, encouraged his people to go in obedience to the message of Manaia. They went and set to work, and after some time it happened that Menaia felt a wish to go and catch some fish for his workmen; so he went off in his canoe, with several of his people. After he had been gone for some time, the workmen proposed amongst themselves to assault Rongotiki, the wife of Manaia; and they carried their intentions into execution without any one knowing what they were doing. All this time Manaia, suspecting nothing, was paddling in his canoe out to sea; and when he reached the fishing-ground, they lay on their paddles. Manaia's people soon caught plenty of fish, but he had not even a single bite, until at last, as they were on the point of returning, he felt a fish nibbling at his hook; so he gave a jerk to his line to pull it up, and when he got the fish up to the side of the canoe, to his surprise he saw that the hook was not in the mouth of the page 139 fish, but fast in its tail; and as this had long been esteemed as a sign that your wife was being insulted by somebody, he at once knew how his had been treated by his workmen. Without waiting, therefore, a moment longer, he said to his crew, “Heave up the anchor: we will return to the shore.” So they hove up the anchor, and shaped a course for the landing-place on the main. Whilst they were pulling in to the shore, Manaia took the fish he had caught, and with the hook still fast in its tail, tied it on to one of the thwarts of the canoe, and left it there, in order that when Rongotiki saw it, she might know, without his telling her, that he was aware that she had been badly treated by his workmen.

At length his canoe reached the shore, and the crew jumping out, hauled it up on the sandy beach, and Manaia leaving it there' walked home towards his village. When he had got near home, his wife seeing him approach, arose and made the fire ready to roast some fern-root for her husband, who she thought would come back hungry; and when he reached home the fire was lighted, and she was sitting by the side of it roasting the fern-root, and she made signs to him by which he might know what had happened; but he knew it already from the manner in which his hook had caught in the tail of the fish. Then he sent his wife to fetch the fish, saying, “Mother, go and fetch the fish I have caught from my canoe;” so she went, and when she got there, she found that there were no fish but the single one, hanging to the thwart of the canoe, with a hook fast in its tail; then she took that fish and carried it home with her, and when she got there Manaia said, “That is the fish I meant you to bring, lest you should have said that I did not know what had taken place until you told me.”

Manaia then turned over in his mind various plans for revenging himself upon the people who had acted in so brutal a manner towards his wife, and he consulted with his own tribe how they might destroy those who had thus injured him. When the tribe of Manaia heard what had taken place, they all arose to seek revenge; but before the fighting which arose from this affair page 140 broke out, Manaia went to the people who had wronged his wife, and told them, “That he hoped they would make the spears large and strong, and not put him off with weak things, but rather make them stout and strong;” this was a mere piece of deceit on his part, in order that when he attacked them, their weapons might be too heavy readily to parry their enemies' blows with them.

All these preparations having been made, Manaia lay in ambush with some of his people, and when the opportunity of rushing on their enemies presented itself, Manaia nudged with his elbow his son. Tu-ure-nui, who was lying by his side, to encourage him to distinguish himself by rushing in, and killing the first man of the enemy; but being afraid to go he did not move, and whilst Manaia was encouraging him in vain, another young man, the name of whose father had never been told by his mother, rushed forward and slew the first of the enemy, and as with his weapon he struck him down, he cried out, “The first slain of the enemy belongs to me, to Kahu-kaka-nui, the son of Manaia;” then for the first time Manaia knew that this young man was his son, his last born son. He had before thought that Tu-ure-nui had been his only son; but when the other young man called out his name, he knew that he also was his son, and, pleased with his courage, he loved him very much.

The people lying in ambush all followed the youth when he rushed on their enemies and slaughtered them; but their chief, Tupenu, fled by the way of the beach of Pikopikoi-whiti, and Manaia pursued him closely, but was not fleet enough of foot to catch him. Then he called out to his wife, Rongotiki, to utter incantations to weaken his enemy; and she did so, repeating an incantation termed Tapuwae; and when she had finished that, by her enchantments she rendered the flying warrior faint and feeble, so that Manaia rapidly gained on him, caught him, and slew him.

Thus perished Tupenu and the party of people whom he had taken with him to work for Manaia. The report of what had occurred soon spread throughout the country, and at last reached the tribe of Tupenu; and when they heard it, they said, “Your page 141 relatives have perished.” Their army collected and started to avenge themselves on Manaia and his tribe, and to destroy them: they slew many of them, and continued from time to time to attack them, so that their numbers dwindled away, till at length Manaia began to reflect within himself, saying, “Ah, ah! my warriors are wasting away, and by and by perhaps I also shall be slain. Rather than let this state of things continue, I had better abandon this country, and, removing to a great distance, seek a new one for myself and my people.”

Having made up his mind to act in this way, he began to repair a canoe, and to fit it for sea. The name of the canoe was Toko-maru; it belonged to his brother-in-law. When it was fit for sea, he asked his brother-in-law, “Will you not consent to accompany me on this voyage?” and the latter asked in reply, “Where do you want me to accompany you to?” Manaia said, “I wish you to bear me company on this voyage which I am about to undertake to search for a new and distant country for both of us.” But his brother-in-law, when he understood what Manaia was pressing him to do, replied, “No, I will not go with you.” Manaia answered, “That is right: do you remain here.”

When the canoe was quite fit for sea, they dragged it down to the water, and hauled it into the sea until it floated; then they brought down the cargo, and stowed it away, and Manaia embarked in it, with his wife, his children, and his dependants; and then he said to some of his warriors, “Let my brother-in-law now be slain as an offering to the gods, that they may prove propitious to this canoe of ours.” So he called to his brother-in-law, who was standing on the shore, bidding him farewell, “I say, wade out to me for one minute, that I may tell you something, and take my last farewell; for I am going to part for ever from you, leaving you here behind me.”

When Manaia's brother-in-law heard this, he began to wade out to him. At first the water hardly covered his ankles, next it touched his knees, at last it came up above his loins, and when it had reached so high, he said, “Shove the canoe in a little nearer the shore: I shall be under water directly.” But Manaia answered page 142 him, “Wade away; there is no depth of water;” and to deceive him better, he kept on pretending to touch the bottom with a stick; and the poor fellow, having no suspicion, believed what Manaia said, that the water was not deep. But Manaia had spoken before to his people, saying, “Let him come on, out into the deep water, until his feet cannot touch the bottom; then seize him by the head and slay him.” At length his feet could no longer touch the bottom, and he found himself swimming close to the canoe; then Manaia seized him by the head, with one blow of his stone battle-axe he clave it, and his brother-in-law perished.

Having thus slain his victim, he caught up his dog, which had swam out with its master, and lifting it into the canoe, he sailed away to search for a new country for himself.

He sailed on and on, and had proceeded very far from the land they had quitted, when one day the dog Manaia had taken into the canoe scented land, and howled loudly, struggling to get loose and jump overboard into the water. The people in the canoe were much surprised at this, and said, “Why, what can be the matter with the dog?” and some of them said, “We'd better let him go, if he wishes it, and see what comes of it.” So they let the dog loose, and he jumped overboard, and swam on ahead of the canoe, howling loudly as he went, and this he continued to do till at last night fell on them. The canoe still followed for a long time the low, faint howling of the dog, which they could only indistinctly hear. At last he had got so far off, they could no longer distinguish it; but the dog, after swimming for a long time, finally reached land.

In the meantime the canoe came following straight on the track which the dog had taken, and when at length the night ended, and the day began to break, they again heard the howling of the dog, which had landed close to the stranded carcase of a whale. They pulled eagerly to the shore, and as soon as they reached it, there they saw the whale lying stranded, and the dog by its side; and there they landed on this island, on Aotea.

They were rejoiced indeed when they ascertained this was the country for which they had been seeking. First, they allotted out page 143 equally amongst them the whale they had found; but first Manaia addressed his men, saying, “We must now build a house to shelter us, and then we will cut up the whale.” His people at once obeyed their chief's directions. Some of them began to collect materials for building a shelter, and others to clear spots of ground, and to prepare them for planting.

Some few of them called out, “Here is the best place for our village;” whilst others, on the contrary, cried out, “No, no, this is the best place for it;” and others still, who had got a little further along the beach, cried out, “Here is still a better place;” and others yet further ahead said, “Here, here, this is the best place we have yet seen.” Thus all were led to leave their proper work, and to wander a long way along the shore, exploring the new country, and seeking for a site for their future home; at last they found that little by little they had been drawn a long way from the spot where they had landed, and from the whale which they had found.

Now there were some other canoes coming close after the canoe Tokomaru, which presently made the land too, and reached the shore just at the point where the Tokomaru had been drawn up upon the beach, and they saw the marks of the Tokomaru upon the sand, and the sheds that had been put up, and the bits of land that had been cleared; and they, without delay, began to claim each one as his own, the sheds, the cleared ground, and the whale, which all belonged to the people of the canoe which had first landed.

Then they went to search for the people who had come in that canoe, and when they had found them each party saluted the other, and when their mutual greetings were over, those who had come in the first canoe asked those who had come in the second, “When did you arrive here?” And they answered them by saying, “When did you arrive here?” Those of the first canoe answered, “A long time ago.” Then the people of the second canoe answered, “And we also arrived a long time ago.” Those who had come in the first canoe now replied, “Nay, nay, we arrived here before you.” Then those of the second canoe page 144 answered, “Nay, nay, but we arrived here before you;” and they continued thus disputing, arguing each party with the other.

At last Manaia asked them, “What are the proofs you give to show when you arrived here?” And they answered, “That is all very well; but what proofs have you to show when you arrived here?” But Manaia replied, “The proof I have to show when I arrived here is a whale of mine which I found upon the beach.” Then the people who had come in the second canoe answered, “No, indeed, that whale belongs to us.” But Manaia answered quite angrily, “No; I say that whale belongs to me. Just look you, you will see my sheds standing there, and my temporary encampment, and the pieces of land which my people have cleared.” But the others answered him, “Nay, indeed those are our sheds, and our pieces of cleared land; and as for the whale, it is our whale; now let us go and examine them.”

So the whole party returned together, until they came to the place where they had landed, and when they saw all these things there, Manaia said, “Look you, that whale belongs to me, as well as those sheds and the cleared pieces of land.” But the others laughed at him and said, “Why you must have gone mad; all these houses belong to us, and the clearings and that whale too.” And Manaia, who was now quite provoked, replied, “I say no; the clearings are mine, the sheds are mine, as well as the whale.” The others, however, answered him, “Very well, then, if that is the case, where is your sacred place?” But Manaia replied, “Where is your sacred place also then?” And they answered, “Come along and see it.” And they all went together to see the sacred place of these newly-arrived people, and when they saw it Manaia believed them.

Although he gave credit to the fact of their having arrived first, Manaia was sorely perplexed and troubled, and he abandoned altogether the part of the country he had first reached, and started again to seek for another place for himself, for his relations, and for his people. They coasted right along the shores of the island from Whangaparaoa and doubled the North Cape, and from thence made a direct course to Taranaki, and made the land page 144a
Black and white drawing of Tree Fern.

Tree Fern.

page 145 at Tongaporutu, between Parininihi and Mokau, and they landed there and remained for some time, and left the god they worshipped there. The name of their god was Rakeiora.

They then turned to journey back towards Mokau: some of them went by land along the coast line, and others in their canoe, the two parties kept in sight of one another as they examined the coast; and when they reached the river Mokau those in the canoe landed, and they left there the stone anchor of their canoe; it is still lying near the mouth of the river, on its north side, and the present name of the rock is the Punga-o-Matori. Then they pulled back in the Tokomaru, to Tongaporutu, and leaving the canoe there, explored the country unto Pukearuhe, thence they went on as far as Papatiki, and there descended to the shore to the beach of Kukuriki, and travelling along it, they reached the river of Onaero, forded it, and passed the plain of Motunui, and Kaweka, and Urenui, that river had a name before Manaia and his people reached it; but when Manaia arrived there with his son, Tu-ure-nui, he changed its name, and called it after his son, Tu-ure-nui; and they forded the river, and travelled on until they reached Rohutu, at the mouth of the river Waitara, and they dwelt there, and there they found people living, the native inhabitants of these islands; but Manaia and his party slew them, and destroyed them, so that the country was left for himself and for his descendants, and for his tribe and their descendants, and Manaia and his followers destroyed the original occupants of the country, in order to obtain possession of it.

Manaia was the ancestor of the Ngati-Awa tribe; he fought two great battles in Hawaiki, the names of which were Kirikiriwawa and Rotorua; the fame of his weapons resounded there—their names were Kihia and Rakea; and there also was known the fame of his son, of Kahu-kaka-nui-a-Manaia, of the youth who was baptized with the baptism of children whose fathers are not known.