Legends of the Maori
Chapter X. — The Exploits of Toa-Rangatira
The Exploits of Toa-Rangatira.
ONE great Tainui ancestor, from whom our tribe Ngati—Toa takes its name, was the warrior chief Toa-Rangatira, of Kawhia. He was the son of Korokino. The father was a peaceful character; he disliked strife, and he followed the acts of Rongo, the god of cultivations and the quiet life, in preference to the paths of Tu—mata—uenga, the angry-faced god of war. He became famed for his skill and industry as a grower of food. But his younger brother, Karewa, was a warrior, fond of the excitement of the war-path, and the glory of battle.
Toa-Rangatira was the son of Korokino’s old age. He was not brought up by his father, but by a kinsman who was his matua-whangai, his adopted father. And in his boyhood he often wondered sadly why his own father had treated him so unkindly by giving him to others to be brought up. He beheld his brother Koroau receiving the father’s favours, and the gifts and food, and the homage of Korokino’s tribes. Presents and honours were bestowed upon Koroau in generous measure, while Toa-Rangatira went without. One day Toa-Rangatira said to his adopted father, “Let us make a food-garden.” The man replied, “But, son, I have no seed of any kind.” “I have a way,” said the boy.
So they set to and cleared a goodly space, and when they had dug it for planting, the boy set about getting seed kumara to plant in it. He went to the women of his elder brother, who daily frequented the banks of the Marokopa river. They went there to clean their kumara with the coarse sand and water. He picked up the broken kumara ends which had been thrown aside by the women. The women took compassion on the boy and they asked him, “What are you going to do with those?”
Toa-Rangatira replied, “I am keeping these to plant in my garden.” And the women felt exceedingly sorry for him, so they gave him a quantity of whole kumara. Several times this was repeated, until the youth had sufficient seed to plant the whole of his garden.
And behold, the gods of his grandfather Tupahau blessed his plantation, and lo, it brought forth four hundred baskets of kumara; and his food-houses were bountifully stored with provision for the winter.page 50
A party of visitors came to the Marokopa river on their way from Taranaki to the village of Korokino. They saw Toa-Rangatira catching wild ducks at the mouth of the river. And the travellers asked him, “Where is the home of Korokino and Koroau?” And he said, “Follow me and I will show you.” The strangers followed him; and when they reached his own house he told the adopted parents to get the slaves to prepare food. As a relish he produced the many ducks that he had caught.
It was not long before word came to his father’s ears of the skill and industry of the young man, and of the way he had treated the strangers. This greatly pleased the old man, and he said, “Ah! he has learnt the art of attracting men to himself, while still very young.” And when the people saw that he was a generous and thoughtful boy, they became divided; a section remained under the leadership of Korokino and Koroau, and a part decided to follow Toa-Rangatira.
There was another happening which indicated the superior acumen and intelligence of young Toa-Rangatira. One day his brother Koroau called upon the people to assist him in building a fine house, for which they procured some suitable timber from the forest. Toa-Rangatira, too, resolved to build a house. Before doing so, he watched his elder brother’s people at their work, and he said to Koroau, “That ridge-pole is too long; it will overlap at the end, and thus it will look ugly. I would advise you to make it a little shorter.”
The unsuspecting Koroau did as he was counselled; he did not realise that it was such things as this that would make him subservient to his cunning brother.
As soon as Toa-Rangatira saw the ridge-pole of his brother’s house cut as he advised, he straightway went home and set to at the building of his own house. When it was being built the people saw that it was a great deal larger than that of his brother, for the ridge-pole was much longer than the one which Koroau had cut in accordance with his crafty counsel.
But here the Maori gods intervened, for one cannot so trick another with impunity; and it may be that Koroau, in his annoyance, invoked his atua against his brother. For when Toa—Rangatira’s ridge-pole was placed in position, and left there for the roofing of the house to be done, it was found next morning that the gods had set it on the ground again. This occurred several times, and caused a great deal of fear and wonder amongst the people. At last Toa-Rangatira called upon Uenuku-tumanoa, a grandson of Haumia, and a high tohunga, to aid him. Sacrifices of dogs were offered up to the gods; and the appropriate prayers were recited. It was only then that the ridge-pole was allowed by the atua-Maori to remain undisturbed in its position, and so the house was finished.page 51 page break page 53
And when Korokino saw that even the gods were conciliated, and consented to assist his younger son, he blessed Toa-Rangatira. And two young women, whose names were Manahaki, Tuhorotini’s daughter, and Parehounuku, Kahoupake’s daughter, whom he had intended to give to Koroau as wives, he gave instead to that bold young man Toa-Rangatira.