Polynesian Mythology and Ancient Traditional History of the New Zealand Race
The Legend of Tuwhakararo. — How He Was Murdered and Avenged
The Legend of Tuwhakararo.
How He Was Murdered and Avenged.
Now about this time Tuhuruhuru, the son of Rupe's sister, grew up to man's estate, and he married Apakura, and she gave birth to a son whom they named Tuwhakararo, and afterwards to a daughter named Mairatea; she had then several other children; then she gave birth to Whakatau-potiki; afterwards her last child was born, and its name was Reimatua.
When Mairatea grew up, she was married to the son of a chief named Poporokewa, the chief of the Ati-Hapai tribe, and she accompanied her husband to his home; but Tuwhakararo remained at his own village, and after a time he longed to see his sister, and thought he would go and pay her a visit; so he went, and arrived at a very large house belonging to the tribe of Poporokewa, the name of which was Uru-o-Manono; all the family and dependants of Poporokewa lived in that house, and Tuwhakararo remained there with them. It happened that a young sister of his brother-in-law, whose name was Maurea, took a great fancy to him, and showed that she liked him, although, at the very time, she was carrying on a courtship with another young man of the Ati-Hapai tribe.
Whilst Tuwhakararo was on this visit to his brother-in-law, some of the young men of the Ati-Hapai tribe asked him one day to wrestle with them, and he, agreeing to this, stood up to wrestle, and the one who came forward as his competitor was the sweet-heart of his brother-in-law's young sister. Tuwhakararo laid hold of the young man, and soon gave him a severe fall. That match being over, they both stood up again, and Tuwhakararo, lifting him page 62 in his arms, gave him another severe fall; and all the young people of the Ati-Hapai tribe burst out laughing at the youth, for having had two such heavy falls from Tuwhakararo, and he sat down upon the ground, looking very foolish, and feeling exceedingly sulky and provoked at being laughed at by everybody.
Tuwhakararo, having also finished wrestling, sat down too, and began to put on his clothes again. and whilst he was in the act of putting his head through his cloak, the young man he had thrown in wrestling ran up, and just as his head appeared through the cloak threw a handful of sand in his eyes. Tawhakararo, wild with pain, could see nothing, and began to rub his eyes, to get the dust out and to ease the anguish; the young man then struck him on the head, and killed him. The people of the Ati-Hapai tribe then ran in upon him and cut his body up, and afterwards devoured it; and they took his bones, and hung them up in the roof, under the ridge-pole of their house Te Ure-o-Manono.
Whilst they were hung up there the bones rattled together, and his sister heard them, and it seemed to her as if they made a sound like “Tauparoro, Tauparoro;” and she listened again to the rattling of the bones, and again she heard the words “Tauparoro, Tauparoro.” And the sister of Tuwhakararo looking up to the bones, said, “You rattle in vain, O bones of him who was devoured by the Ati-Hapai tribe, for who is there to lament over him or to avenge his death?”
At last the news of the sad event which had taken place reached the ears of his brother, Whakatau-potiki, and of his other brothers, and when they heard it they were grieved and pained at the fate of their brother, and at last Whakataupotiki adopted a firm resolution to go and avenge Tuwhakararo's death, and as the rest of his tribe agreed in this purpose, they began without delay to build canoes for its execution.
They named some of their canoes the Whiritoa, the Tapatapa-hukarere, the Toroa-i-taipakihi, the Hakirere, and the Mahunuawatea, and to all the other canoes which they prepared for this purpose they also gave names; and when they had finished lashing page 63 on the top-boards of their canoes, their mother Apakura, with all her female attendants, began to beat and prepare fern root for the warriors to carry with them as provisions for their voyage, and whilst the females were thus engaged in beating and preparing fern root for the war party who were about to start to revenge the death of Tuwhakararo, they kept on repeating a lament for the young man which might rouse the feelings of the warriors.
Lo, the army of Whakataupotiki now embarked; they started in a thousand canoes, and floated out into the open sea, and proceeding upon their course, they landed at a certain place which lay in their route, and there the army of Whakatau had a review, to show how well they could go through their manœuvres. They were formed into columns, and one column, with fierce shouts and yells, after a war dance, sprang upon the supposed enemy, and whilst they were thus engaged with their imaginary foe, a second column, with wild cries, advanced to their support; then the first column of warriors retired to re-form, and thus column after column feigned to charge their foes.
Then one body of the warriors rushed to an adjoining creek and tried to jump across it, but they could not. A band of men under Whakatau's immediate command were sitting upon the ground watching the others, and when the first body gave up in despair all thoughts of overleaping the creek, this chosen band of Whakatau rose from the ground, started forward, reached in good order the edge of the creek, and sprang easily across it (the whole body of them to the other side).
When the review was ended, Whakatau made a speech to the warriors, saying, “Warriors, all of you listen to me. We will not finish our voyage until the dark night, lest we should be seen by the people we are about to attack, and thus fail in surprising them.”
Just as it was dark, Whakatau ordered his own chosen band of warriors to go and pull the plugs out of all the canoes but their own, and they, in obedience to his orders, went round and pulled all the plugs out of the canoes, and thus they did to the whole of them without missing a single canoe of the whole thousand.page 64
This having been done, Whakatau called aloud to the whole force, “Now my men, let us embark at once this very night.” Then the warriors hurriedly arose in the darkness, and all was confusion and noise, and one canoe was launched, and then another, and another, until all were afloat on the sea. Then they all embarked, and the several crews sprang cheerfully into their own canoes; but lo, presently the canoes all began to sink, one after the other, and the crews were compelled again to seek the shore, and to busy themselves in repairing them. In the meantime the chosen band of warriors of Whakatau urged on their canoes, leaving the others behind, and when they drew near the place where the house called the Uru-o-Manono was situated, they landed. Then the warriors silently surrounded the house in ranks throughout its whole circumference, and each of the eight doors of the house they guarded by a band of men, and Whakatau laid hold of a man named Hioi, whom they caught outside of the house, and he questioned him, saying, “Where is my sister now?” And Hioi answered him, “She is in the house.” And he asked him again, “In what part of the house does Poporokewa sleep?” Hioi replied, “At the foot of the large pillar which supports the ridgepole of the house.” Whakatau next asked, “Has he any distinguishing mark by which we may know him?” Hioi answered, “You may know him by one of his teeth being broken.” Whakatau asked him one question more, saying, “In what part of the house does my sister sleep?” And Hioi answered him, “She sleeps close to that door.”
Whakataupotiki asked him no further questions, but took the fellow and cut out his tongue, and when he had done so he made him talk, and he still spoke quite distinctly, although a great part of his tongue was cut out. Whakatau then took him again, and cut his tongue off quite close to the root, and he made him try to talk again, and nothing but an indistinct mumbling could be heard, so he then ordered the man into the house to send his sister out to him.
But the sister of Whakatau guessed in a moment that this was some device of her brother's, and at once went out of the house, and found Whakatau, and she and her brother wept together, partly from joy at their meeting, partly from sorrow in thinking of the melancholy death of their brother since they had last met.
When they had done weeping, Whakatau asked her, “In what part of the house does Poporokewa sleep?” And she answered him, “He sleeps at the foot of the large pillar which supports the ridge-pole of the house.” And then she added, “But oh, my brother, a great part of the Ati-Hapai tribe have seen you before, and they will know you.” Her brother then asked her, “What, then, do you think I had better do?” His sister answered, “You had better cut your hair quite short to disguise yourself.”
He consented to this being done, so his sister cut his hair quite close for him, and when she had done this she rubbed his face all over with charcoal, and then he and his sister went together into the house. The fire in the house had got quite low some time before, and when they entered, the people near where they went in cried out, “Make up the fire, make up the fire; here's a stranger, here's a stranger.” So they blew up the fire and made it burn brightly, and many of them came to see Whakatau-potiki, and when they had looked well at him they broke out laughing, and said, “What a black-looking fellow he is!” Even Poporokewa burst out laughing at his appearance, and Whakatau, when he saw him laugh, at once recognised him by his broken tooth.
Whakatau-potiki had taken a stout rope with him when he went into the house, and he held this ready coiled in his hand, with a noose at one end of it; and as soon as he recognised Poporokewa he slily dropped the noose over his head, and suddenly hauling it tight, it got fast round his neck: then, still holding the rope in page 66 his hand, and lengthening it by degrees as he went, Whakatau and his sister rushed out of the house; and he still hauling with all his strength on the rope, climbed up on the roof, repeating a powerful incantation.
Then each warrior sprang up into his place from the ground, on which they had been lying down to conceal themselves, and they set fire to the house in several places at once, and slaughtered all those who tried to escape. Thus they burnt the Uru-o-Manono, and all those who were in it. Then the warriors returned, and carried with them joyful news to Apakura, the mother of Tuwhakararo.