History and traditions of the Maoris of the West Coast, North Island of New Zealand, prior to 1840
Chapter V. — The Canoes of "The Fleet."
The Canoes of "The Fleet."
On the first occupation of this country by Europeans, the Maori people were found to be divided into numerous iwi or tribes, which again were split up in still more numerous hapus or sub-tribes. In nearly all cases they derive their names from some eponymous ancestor who either came here in the fleet of canoes of 1350, or from some noted person directly descended from them. Waka is another term used for a tribe, or several tribes, which all claim descent from the crew of one and the same canoe; though the term cannot very well be used in this district, for the people are so much mixed up with the crews of various canoes.
|"Aotea"||Turi was captain|
|"Tokomaru"||Manaia was captain|
|"Kura-haupo"||Te Moungaroa was captain (or Ruatea, by some tribes)|
The above are essentially the vessels that brought hither the ancestors of the tribes now living on the Taranaki Coast, and they all arrived at about the same time.
|1 "Kapakapa-nui"||Claimed by Te Neke in 1860 as canoes of the Ati-Awa people.|
|2 "Te Rangaranga"||Claimed by Te Neke in 1860 as canoes of the Ati-Awa people.|
|3 "Rangi-ua-mutu"||Tauke claims this as a canoe of Ati-Awa and Ngati-Ruanui; also called "Tairea"; Tamatea-rokai, said to have been the captain (A.H.M., Vol. II., p. 166).|
|4 "Ariki-mai-tai"||Landed on South Taranaki Coast, and the people were found near Wai-mate by Turi on his arrival, who enslaved the men and took the women (A.H. M., Vol. II., p. 163).|
|5 Two unnamed canoes||That were voyaging from one island to another in the Pacific, but were blown to the Taranaki Coast. Two high chieftain's sons and their people were on board. They were well received by Turi's descendants, and returned to their homes (A.H.M., Vol. II., p. 163).|
|6 "Panga-toru"||Rakei-wananga-ora was captain; said to have returned to Hawaiki after leaving some of her men here, descendants amongst Ngati-Rua-nui and Nga-Rauru (A.H.M., Vol. II., p. 166).|
|7 "Motumotu-ahi"||Some ancestors of Ngati-Rua-nui and Nga-Rauru cameinher. Pua-tau-tahi, captain (A.H.M., Vol. II., p. 106).|
|8 "Te Waka-ringaringa"||Mawake-roa was captain; landed at Kaupoko-nui, Taranaki, South Coast.|
|9 "Te Kahui-maunga"||Taikehu was captain; he came here before Kupe, but it is doubtful if this is not the name of a people, rather then a canoe.|
|10 "Kokako"||Ihenga-ariki was captain.|
|11 "Tokaka"||The canoe of Huri-tini, Aokehu came in her, and lived at Kura-reia.|
|12 "Tu-aro-paki"||Te Atua-raunga-nuku was captain, a younger brother of Turi. His descendants are amongst the Nga-Rauru tribe.|
Of this list of twelve little known canoes, it is probable that some of them conveyed to this coast local migrations from other parts of New Zealand, and did not come from Hawaiki, or the Eastern Pacific. Had they done so, more particulars about them would have been handed down. Practically, the notes opposite each one of them summarises all we know of them. Descent is, however, traced from some of the reputed captains. It may be that one or more of them are the names of vessels which arrived here long before the time of the great heke, and brought some of the tangata-whenua ancestors. Take for instance, the "Kahui-maunga," of which Taikehu is said to have been the captain; the remarks in chapter II. seems to indicate, as indeed tradition confirms, that this man was living in the Patea district ages before the date of the heke, and indeed it is related of him and the other early people that they came overland, not by sea. Of course such a tradition is nonsense; for whilst biological evidence points to these islands having been connected by land with Northern Australia, by way of Norfolk Island, New Caledonia, and other groups in that direction, no one believes that New Zealand had a human population at that period, and the probability is, this land connection is so ancient, that the genus homo had not as yet appeared on the earth. The name given to this canoe—"Te Kahui-maunga"—means the mountaingroup or flock, and may reasonably be translated as the "People of the Mountains"; for kahui, is a word primarily applicable to living beings, whether man or animal, not to inanimate objects. And this is the name used by some of my native authorities for the ancient inhabitants of the land.
But, whatever uncertainty may exist as to the above vessels, the three first mentioned—"Aotea," "Tokomaru," and "Kura-haupo"—are well known, as having arrived on the New Zealand Coasts from Eastern Polynesia, about the year 1350. Two of them formed part of the fleet, whilst "Aotea," starting about the same time came on her own course—at any rate for part of the way.
for her crew has played by far the most important part in the settlement of this coast.
Voyage of the "Aotea,"
For some generations prior to the departure of the fleet for New Zealand, there had been much ethnic movement to and fro between most of the islands of the Central Pacific. Considerable bodies of people had been traversing the Eastern seas in all directions, sometimes settling on unoccupied lands, at other times apparently sailing about for the mere love of adventure or making war on other people. Visits in state by great chiefs to their friends and relations, in the different groups, were every day occurrences. Fleets of canoes, with streamers flying and drums beating, were frequently passing from island to island, and covering in their voyages vast spaces of ocean. From Samoa in the west to Te Pito-te-henua (Easter Island) in the east; from Tahiti to Marquesas, and on to Hawaii; from Tahiti to Rarotonga, and even to New Zealand, there seems to have been little cessation of visits, by which, as the old Rarotongan Chronicler says, "the people became accomplished navigators." Every here and there some of the crews of these vessels settled down and inter-married with the local people, and hence, wherever their voyages might lead them, the people found relations and friends. The well-known custom of giving a wife to distinguished visitors, on their visits to different islands, served to increase this relationship, and to give local interests to the people of other islands. Lands were thus acquired which were heritable by the offspring of the visitors. At this period, too, population had increased under the favourable conditions prevailing in Eastern Polynesia; so much so that all the suitable lands—never at any time very extensive—were occupied and owned. We have it on record that one migration took place because the people had become so numerous, that a single bread-fruit tree was divided into two portions, belonging to two separate families, and that quarrels arose as to the share of each, leading to war and the eventual expulsion of one party. Similar disputes about cultivations were the immediate causes of migration in the case of more than one heke to New Zealand. There were other causes as well; but, on the whole, it seems probable that the rapidly increasing population, rendering land a scarce commodity, was the ultimate, if not the proximate, cause of the exodus from Eastern Polynesia that took place in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, by which both Hawaii and New Zealand received accessions to their populations, in both of which countries there was room for more people.page 77
The immediate cause of the migration of Turi and his tribe, the Ngati-Rongotea, from Rai'atea to New Zealand, was a quarrel between him and the ariki, Uenuku, chief and priest. The notices of this man, that have been handed down, illustrate what has been said above as to the perpetual movement, and occasional residence of high chiefs in various different islands. For I think that Uenuku, around whom centres a good many legends, is one and the same man, and who was also the cause of Turi's migration, though there were three of that name who flourished in Eastern Polynesia about the time of the heke. The marginal Table, No. 26, shows the position of these people according to the Rarotongan historian, Te Ariki-tara-are, in the genealogical tables he wrote. But he also, in another place, tells a story about Uenuku-rakeiora which reminds one of old world romances. Motoro had two wives, as below, both of whom came from the Marquesas, Pua-ara-nui being the Senior wife.
From this it will be seen that Uenuku-tapu should have been the heritor of the ariki-ship, and all the powers and privileges thereunto belonging. But the two wives were delivered of children just at the same time, and through what one may call "Court intrigues," the nurse and the priest, Eturoa (Whetu-roa, in Maori), changed the children; hence Uenuku-rakeiora became the leading chief and ariki, whilst the rightful heir became a matai-apo, or minor chief, whose descendants are in Rarotonga still. No descent is shown from Uenukurakeiroa beyond his son Uenuku-te-aitu; naturally so, if I am right in supposing he went away and settled in Rai'atea.
The first we hear of this Uenuku in Maori story is, that he was living at a place named Aotea-roa (the same name as New Zealand—a point worth noting) which, from what follows was Tahiti, where indeed his grandfather and great-grandfather held lands, until the former was expelled by Tu-tapu at the point of the spear; but even then the great-grandfather, Kau-ngaki (Kahu-ngaki in Maori), remained there and no doubt kept "the fire burning" on their ancestral lands. Uenuku's second wife was Takarita, sister of Tawheta, or Wheta, who, in some of the Maori traditions, is called Whena—who may be the Hena page 78named in the following tradition (vide "A Tahitian and English Dictionary," Tahiti, 1851, introduction, p. iv.):—"Tu-tapu and his wife dwelt on a land called Pua-tiri-ura. They had an only daughter named Hotu-hiva. No husband was to be found for her in her own land. Her parents were, however, very anxious she should obtain one, and therefore put her in a drum called Taihi, under the care of the gods Tane and Tapu-tura, and sent her to sea. After sailing about for a long time they landed at Manunu on Huahine Island, about 100 miles N.W. of Tahiti—the name Manunu signifies 'cramped'; it was formerly called To'erau-roa. Tane became the titular god of Huahine, whilst the young lady married a chief named Te Ao-nui-maruia. They had two sons, Tina and Hena, and they are considered to be the ancestors of the present chiefs." Now Tu-tapu above was cousin to Tangiia (shown in Table 26), and consequently Hena may have been a contemporary of Uenuku, and identical with Whena. I have seen the stone foundations of Tu-tapu's house at Vaiere (Waikere) in Moorea Island, near Tahiti. Of course there is no proof of the identity of the individuals bearing these similar names, but it is worth noting for future students.
To return to Uenuku. As has been said, he married Takarita, the sister of Whena. This lady misbehaved herself with some of Uenuku's people, and consequently was subjected to the only punishment known to Polynesians—she was killed. She had already borne a child to Uenuku, named Ira; and Uenuku, no doubt thinking that there was some uncertainty as to the paternity of this child, caused his mother's heart to be fed to him—hence the name this particular Ira (for there were several of that name) came to be known by, was Ira-kai-putahi. This child afterwards grew up to manhood, and is said by some to have become the eponymous ancestor of Ngati-Ira of the East Coast, South Wairarapa, and other places in New Zealand—on which point, however, see Journal Polynesian Society, Vol. XV., p. 74. By another wife, named Rangatoro, Uenuku was the father of the celebrated Paikea, of whom see infra. Naturally the death of Takarita could not be allowed to pass unnoticed by her brother and relatives. Whena, when he heard of this death, said (in effect)—"Uenuku may be within his legal rights in killing his wife, but he shall yet hear from me on that account."
Some time elapsed, and a pleasure party, amongst whom were several of Uenuku's daughters, by another wife, and his son Rongo-ue-roa, left their home on a visit to Whena's island. Here they were duly received and hospitably entertained for a time, and then Whena, thinking the chance of squaring accounts with Uenuku too good to be page 79lost, killed the children and cast them all in a heap. Rongo-ue-roa was supposed to be amongst the slain, but though terribly wounded, he still had life in him, and after the people had left the scene, he came to himself, and crawled away and hid himself. Soon after he heard Whena's people preparing their canoes for sea, and gathered from their conversation that they were about to proceed to his father's home with the purpose of killing him and all his people. As soon as it was dark, he went down to one of the canoes, and managed to hide himself under the flooring in the fore part of the canoe. Next morning Whena's warriors came down, and then the canoes were launched, and away they started for Uenuku's home, little suspecting that they were carrying with them the means by which their object would be frustrated.
On reaching Uenuku's village they were welcomed in the customary manner, and taken up to the guest-house while food was preparing for them. In the meantime Rongo-ue-roa, with much difficulty, crawled up to the vicinity of the village and hid himself, until he should find an opportunity of communicating with his father. This he accomplished through the means of one of the women of the village, who happened to come that way, and by her sent a message to Uenuku to tell him of his arrival, and of the true state of affairs. Uenuku came to his ill-treated son, and so learned the particulars of what had occurred to his children. On returning to the house, he asked Whena how the children were getting on, to which the latter replied that all was well with them, and that they were amusing themselves with the games and sports of their ancestors. Uenuku now produced Rongo-ue-roa, and upbraided Whena with his treachery and lying. Upon which, the visitors seeing their intentions frustrated, made preparations to leave at once. But Uenuku, with a magnanimity unusual, insisted that they should await some food; after the consumption of which, Whena and his party were allowed to depart, Uenuku telling him that the day of reckoning was near, and that Whena might expect him at his home before long, a proposition that Whena—now safe on board his canoes—jeered at, and defied Uenuku to attempt, in face of the difficulties of the way, and the number of people at the former's call.
Some time elapsed after the departure, and then an expedition was organised under the leadership of Paikea—Uenuku's elder son, by his wife Ranga-toro—and Whatuia, in order to exact the inevitable payment from Whena for his treacherous conduct. This expedition of 140 men (i.e., hokowhitu, 70, always understood as denoting twice that number) started overland for Whena's home, taking the route by the mountain ridges, so as not to be seen by the people dwelling on the coast. It took them three days of laborious travelling; passing on page 80their way the mountain Orowhena. The mention of this name (and another later on) confirms my belief that all these occurrences took place in Tahiti, for Orofena, or Orohena, is the highest peak on that island, from which steep precipitous ridges fall to the coast on all sides, and along which ridges run the few and difficult tracks giving access, by inland roads, to the difficult parts of the coast, whenever the necessity arises. Now-a-days it seldom does; for the road round the level strip of coast-land is almost invariably used instead. It is, at the present day, only the searcher after the fei, the wild native red banana, that uses these tracks.
On the third evening, after leaving their homes, Whatuia's party descended to the coast, to Rangi-kapiti, which is described as a great house—probably such as the fare-hau of modern Tahiti, in which the people assemble on public occasions. "Waiting until dark, the party concealed themselves round about the vicinity of the house, to await daylight. It was ascertained that a large number of Whena's people were assembled in the house, to hear the priest obtain from his god some sign or indication as to whether and when their home would be attacked by Uenuku's people. Hapopo was the priest, and the answer he got from his god was—"Have no fear; there is no army coming to attack us." The people now put aside their fear of an attack, and disposed themselves to sleep.
At the first streak of dawn, Whatuia's party attacked the house with such fury, that only a few of the most active warriors—amongst whom was Whena—managed to escape down to the coast, where, taking canoe, they paddled off. Amongst the captives was Pai-mahutanga, the handsome daughter of Pou-matangatanga, who had been specially saved at the instance of Uenuku, who desired to add her to his other wives. She became the mother of Rua-tapu, a man of great fame in Eastern Polynesia. Hapopo, the priest, was also captured, and before his enemies gave him his quietus, he was heard to exclaim in accents of rage and reproach—"Atua haurangirangi! waiho te mate mo Hapopo." "Vile and imbecile god! thou has left death to Hapopo"—which has come down to these days as a proverb. Whatuia, Paikea, and their party now returned home to Aotea-roa with the spoils of war, where they found Uenuku preparing for a more extensive expedition.
Just here, none of the various legends relating to these events are clear, as to what course Whena pursued on his escape from the massacre at Rangi-ka-piti. But the next event to be related distinctly says, that Uenuku went to Rarotonga to find Whena; we must suppose that the latter after taking in stores departed for that island. I trust it has been made clear, that a voyage of this nature would in those page 81days have not caused comment at all. The distance from Tahiti is a little over 600 miles. With a fast sailing pahi, and the constant trade wind blowing a little abaft the beam, it would take less than three days' sail to reach there.
When Uenuku had fully prepared his fleet of canoes full of warriors, and after the omens had been consulted, he sailed away to Rarotonga, off which place he anchored, and found Whena with a host of warriors prepared to oppose him. Now occurs a little of the marvellous so seldom absent from these old traditions. Uenuku, by force of his powers of enchantment, caused the fog or clouds to descend on to Rarotonga, so as to confuse Whena and his people with the complete darkness due thereto, and by which he hoped to cause the death of the enemy, one of whom was taken, his heart cut out and offered to the gods in the whangai-hau ceremony. This first fight was called Te Ra-kungia (the sun shut up). Next, Uenuku sent his dogs ashore who killed a great many of Whena's people. This fight was called Te Ra-to-rua (the double sun-set). There is something unexplained here, for what these fierce dogs could be is not known. The old native dog (kuri, kirehe, or peropero) was not of a fierce nature, nor would they, so far as we know, attack man. There is always some foundation for these stories, though we may not now be able to explain them—may be, some of the fiercest warriors were so called euphemistically, or a division of the bribe may have born the name Nga-Kuri. Still Whena was not completely beaten, so Uenuku again had recourse to his magical powers, and caused a second dark fog to descend on the shore, in the obscurity of which Whena's warriors turned upon one another, and fought till few were left alive, and then the survivors were killed in detail by Uenuku's people. This last engagement was called Te Moana-waipu; and thus was the murder of his children and people avenged by Uenuku.
It occurs to one as a possible explanation of the complete darkness that descended on the combatants during the engagement, that it may have been a total eclipse of the sun, which, with the characteristic love of the marvellous in Polynesian myths, has been ascribed to the necromantic powers of the great and powerful priest Uenuku. It would be interesting to obtain from the proper source any information that exists as to a total eclipse occurring about this time in that part of the world, for it would serve definitely to fix a date in Polynesian History.
There are some things connected with his descent on Rarotonga which incline mo to think that part of the Rarotongan story of the battle that took place to avenge the death of Whakatau, at the Hapai Islands, Tonga Group, has become interwoven with Uenuku's feats. page 82This story has not yet been translated from the Rarotongan records—but the incident occurred many generations before.
In one of the Uenuku legends, preserved by Mr. John White (see A.H.M., Vol. III., p. 35) it is stated that "Uenuku…. made effigies to represent men as crews for his war-canoes. These effigies he placed in his canoes and went on a war expedition against Whena." It is just possible that we have the Rarotongan version of this story in Journal Polynesian Society, Vol. II., p. 276. But in the latter account it was the people ashore who dressed up the effigies, and who beat off the invaders, who were under Marangai-riki.
An interval of some years now occurs in the history of Uenuku, for it is not until his son Rua-tapu—by the captured wife Pai-mahu-tanga, see ante—of course she was a slave wife—had reached manhood, that the story goes on. It seems to me that Uenuku probably remained at Rarotonga after the defeat of Whena, or had returned again from Aotea, his Tahitian home. Indeed Rarotongan history seems to show that he was born at Rarotonga, and doubtless had lands and a home there.
We now come to the incident known in Maori History as "Te Huri-pure-i-ata." There are several accounts preserved of this event, and they all partake more or less of the marvellous, though no doubt founded on fact. Uenuku's eldest son was Paikea, born of the former's first wife, Ranga-toro, a free woman, and no doubt belonging to one of the chiefly families, consequently their son would be ariki, and highly tapu, as all of them were, Rua-tapu, on the other hand, being the son of a slave wife, would not be at all so important a personage, nor entitled to the same privileges and rank as his elder brother. On one occasion Rua-tapu used his father's ceremonial comb—a very wrong thing to do, considering that it had been in contact with the exceedingly tapu head of Uenuku. On this coming to Uenuku's knowledge he was excessively angry, and reproached Rua-tapu with his low birth. He had not been born on the takapau-wharanui (marital couch) like Paikea; but was a tama meamea noa iho, a son begotten in a trifling indiscriminate manner, or in other words, illegitimate. This reproach was deeply felt by Rua-tapu, who determined to be revenged on society generally, and on his elder brother, Paikea, particularly. With this in view he borrowed a fine canoe, in which he secretly cut a hole, and then temporally stopped it so that it should not be seen. Next he invited about seventy young chiefs, Paikea being one of the number, to go an excursion with him. So they started and paddled right out to sea, until the land was only faintly to be seen on the horizon. page 83His companions remonstrated, and urged that it was time to return. But Rua-tapu insisted in going on until at last the land disappeared below the horizon. The time having arrived, Rua-tapu withdrew the plug from the canoe's bottom, and the vessel filled and capsized. Then Rua-tapu speared as many of the young men as he could, and nearly all the others were drowned. Paikea, however, managed to keep afloat with the help of a paddle, and then a discussion took place as to who could swim back to the shore to let their relatives know of the disaster. Paikea declared he could and would do it; on which Rua-tapu gave him a message to the people ashore, telling them that in the eighth month they were to expect him, and that then the people were to flee to Mount Hikurangi for safety. Paikea now proceeded to call on his mighty taniwha ancestors to come to his aid, in a long and interesting karakia which Mr. Colenso has preserved. Finally, after being a long time at sea, Paikea landed at Ahuahu island, which the modern Maoris think to be the island of that name in the Bay of Plenty, the English name of which is Great Mercury Island. Unfortunately for us, we experience a want of belief in the powers of the old taniwhas, and think it too much to ask us to believe that Paikea drifted or swam some 1,600 or 1,700 miles. The suggestion, however, I would make is, that Paikea might possibly have reached Mangaia Island, the ancient name of which is A 'ua'u (or Ahuahu), for the swimming powers of the Polynesians are very extraordinary. If, as seems probable, the party started from Rarotonga, and then pulled out towards Mangaia until they lost sight of the Rarotonga mountains—which they would do at about fifty miles—it would leave about sixty miles between that point and Mangaia, over which Paikea had to swim and drift. However, whatever the difficulties are in accounting for this story, there must be some foundation for it, the fact remains that Paikea did survive, and finally migrated to New Zealand, by what vessel is uncertain, and settled at Whangara, north of Gisborne; and he has left numerous descendants in this country, especially amongst the Ngai-Tahu tribe of the South Island. If he reached Mangaia, he would have found plenty of relatives there, for his great grandfather Motoro (see Table No. 26) had eventually settled there, having been sent to that island by Tangiia (Motoro's father) as high priest—for which see Dr. W. Wyatt Gills' "Savage Life."
Nor was Rua-tapu drowned. The Maori story says, that after the departure of Paikea he "sailed away on the bailer of the canoe." How he escaped we know not, but it is quite true, according to the traditions, that this same Rua-tapu afterwards settled in Aitutaki page 84Island where he became a famous ancestor, as related in Major J. T. Large's account (Journal Polynesian Society, Vol. XV., p. 209).
The news of Rua-tapu's threat, duly reached Uenuku and his people at—as I suppose—Rarotonga, and it created some disturbance, some believing that a disaster was about to fall on them, others that it was a mere boast on his part. At any rate the believers removed to Hikurangi mountain, which is situated about three or four miles from Avarua, the port of Rarotonga, and other hills in that neighbourhood. Sure enough in the eighth month a great storm occurred, and the sea rose to an unprecedented height, and many people—the unbelievers—were drowned. None but those who fled to the hills were saved, and amongst those people was Uenuku. Now this flood—which was no doubt due to an extra severe hurricane—is called by the Maoris Te Tai-a-Rua-tapu—Rua-tapu's flood. It is known to the Rarotongans as Te Tai-o-Uenuku—Uenuku's flood—and the event is undoubtedly identical. The Maoris have got to believe that it was Hikurangi Mountain, near the East Cape, that the people fled to for safety; but this is a modern gloss.
We now come to the little dispute between Uenuku and Turi, which led to the latter's migration to New Zealand. I shall assume that the great ariki and priest of Rai'atea was the same Uenuku whose adventures have been related above. Unfortunately neither Maori nor Rarotongan records help in the least to decide this question, and probably only those of Rai'atea would settle the matter. None such have been published however.
From information I gathered in Tahiti, Turi, the great ancestor of the Taranaki and other tribes, was born at Mahaena, on the northeast coast of that island, where he grew up to man's estate. He married a lady named Hina-rau-re'a (Hine-rau-renga in Maori) of whom he was very jealous, and therefore very carefully guarded her. On returning one day from the mountains, Turi found that Hine, notwithstanding his strict injunction to the contrary, had left her home and accompanied her sisters to the seashore to indulge in the pastime of surf-riding. This led to a scene which ended in Turi's deciding to leave Tahiti. He got together his people, and departed for Rai'atea Island, 125 miles W.N.W. of Tahiti, where he settled down at Fa'a-roa (Whanga-roa in Maori). Here he married Rongorongo, daughter of Toto, a man of large estates and property. But Turi did not find things go smoothly; he appears to have been of an amorous disposition, and got into trouble over it, and finally had to leave with all page 85his people, and never came back again. Such is the Tahitian account which differs somewhat from those handed down and preserved amongst his descendants in New Zealand.
Fa'aroa (or Whangaroa) is a deep bay in Rai'atea island, about five miles south-east of To Avarua, the present shipping port of that island. And it was at Fa'aroa where one of the most celebrated maraes in Eastern Polynesia was erected. Its name was Opoa; from it stones were taken to be used in the foundation of other maraes in various parts of the Tahitian group; it was, as it were, a kind of mother marae from which others derived their mana—their power and prestige—and these foundation stones thus formed a connecting link with this most ancient marae. The original name of Rai'atea island was Hawaii (or in Maori, Hawaiki), and it is no doubt to the Tapu-tapu-atea marae at Opoa, that Maori tradition refers when Rangi-atea (i.e., Rai'atea) is alluded to as "the sacred marae," where assembled the chiefs and warriors of old in Hawaiki to recite the karakias before going to war. "It was a building very sacred, where the sacred karakias were repeated, and only after this had been done would they go forth to war, and when all ceremonies had been correctly carried out; then was victory assured. It is from this marae that the 'saying' was derived that our tribe (Taranaki) has used from those ancient days—'He kakano i ruiruia mai i Rangi-atea' ' Seed that was sown even from Rangiatea.' It was Turi who brought this saying, together with the karakias, from Hawaiki, and it refers to his descendants here; to their bravery and ability as warriors—and further implies that they are 'chips of the old block'" —of the old warriors and navigators who traversed the Pacific in all directions, long ere the ancestors of Europeans had learned to venture out of sight of land; those old navigators who have embodied in their chants (Tahitian) the expression that shows their ancient knowledge of New Zealand—"E, na te Aotea-roa o te Maori," " and to the Aotea-roa of the Maori," which occurs in a chant called "The Tahitian Circuit of Navigation," in Miss Teuira Henry's collection. In this same chant we find, "That is Aihi (or Vaihi) land of the great fish-hook, land where the raging fires (of volcanoes) ever kindles, land drawn up through the undulations of the towering waves from the foundations. Beyond is Oahu"—which refers to the Hawaii group—Oahu being the island on which the beautiful city of Honolulu stands. To this group sailed Turi's ancestor, Paumatua, and there settled down, becoming the originator of a line of chiefs whose scions still hold chieftain rank.
It was at this island of Rai'atea, and probably at the old marae of Taputapu-atea, that fleets of canoes from the east and the west bearing page 86the high chiefs and priests of former days, used to come when important ceremonies were to be performed, and the high, priests discussed and taught their ancient history and beliefs: until the time came that a great division took place, owing to the introduction of a different cult, followed by a separation of the people into the Aotea and Aouri (Eastern and Western) beliefs—of which unfortunately we know so little. But the Maori tradition of the great division in Whare-kura—the house of learning—probably refers to this same incident. It may, however, be suggested for future inquiry, that possibly this great division of opposing opinions was the elevation of the god Tangaroa to the supreme position he holds in the pantheon of many branches of the race, to the exclusion and relegation to a secondary step of the more ancient god Tane; who, however, still holds a superior place with the Maoris.
But to return to Uenuku. How long it was that Turi remained in peace at Rai'atea we know not; but that fruitful source of trouble, land, gave rise to a very serious quarrel between the ariki Uenuku and Turi, together with the latter's brother Kewa. Uenuku seized on some lands at Awarua, which the others claimed. (Awarua, it will be remembered, is only a few miles from Turi's home.) This led to fighting, in which Te-Tini-o-Uenuku (or Uenuku's tribe) was defeated, and his brother Kemo was killed by Kewa. This trouble has given rise to the "saying" that has been handed down from those times:—"Kauaka tumutumu te kura i Awarua." "Do not end the kura (karakias) at Awarua." Which is explained as meaning, that an evil omen occurred to the priest who remained at the home of Turi to uplift his karakias during the fight—which was a common custom—and this evil omen began to have its usual effect on the warriors, it disheartened them and caused them to anticipate defeat. But Kewa rose superior to superstition, and uttered the above words, by which means he induced the continuation of the karakias, and eventual victory for his clan.
Some time after this fight at Awarua, Turi's child, Potiki-roroa, was found by Uenuku's people bathing at Waima-tuhirangi, and they killed him, much to the grief of Turi. This engendered a determination to have revenge when the opportunity came. In those days and until Christianity was introduced, an annual feast of the "first fruits" was held, at which there were large gatherings of people. It was a time of gaiety and rejoicing, and accompanied with dances and other amusements. The Rarotongan name for this feast is takurua, the Maori name for winter. It was customary for the people to come in procession carrying food and fruits, both cooked and raw, for the ariki or page 87high chief and priest. Rongotea, who was Turi's father, and from whom the Ngati-Rongotea take their name, perceived that this would be the opportunity to avenge the death of the child Potiki-roroa. So by some means or other they managed to waylay and kill Uenuku's child, Awe-potiki. Then hastening to the feast before the murder was discovered, Rongotea placed a portion of the child's heart inside a cooked kumara, and presented it to Uenuku, who had been invited to eat with Turi. As Uenuku was partaking of the feast prepared, he missed his child, Awe-potiki (or perhaps Hawe-potiki, for these West Coast people, like their Rarotongan brethren, are much given to leaving out the "h"), and said—"O! Awe-potiki! my child, thou art absent from the feast. Where art thou now the food is ready?" Turi answering said—"A! perhaps he is within the great belly of Toi!" in which he referred to his ancestor Toi (Table 25). Uenuku was startled, and it dawned upon him that some ill had befallen the child. He at once left and proceeded to his own home, and then learnt that his enemies, the Ngati-Rongotea, had killed his child, and offered to him the deep insult of causing him to eat, unknowingly, a part of his own offspring. Such an insult could only be effaced in blood.
In the evening as Rongorongo sat at the door of her husband Turi's house, she hoard the voices of people in Uenuku's home singing a maire or song, from the words of which she gathered that Te Tini-o-Uenuku had decided to exterminate Ngati-Rongotea. Turi on hearing this from his wife, exclaimed—"A! it is the sin at Awarua. Those words are intended for me!" He knew that in the end Uenuku's people would be too much for them, and on consultation with his people they finally decided to leave Rai'atea. But they had no seagoing canoe of their own; so Turi sent his wife, Rongorongo, to her father with a very valuable dog-skin mat named Potaka-tawhiti, to ask him to give up his fine canoe, the "Aotea." After ascertaining that Turi was determined to leave, Toto, his father-in-law, gave up the canoe, and preparations were made for their departure, which would consist in providing provisions and water, for they know they had a long and dangerous voyage before them—they were undertaking the long voyage of 2,100 nautical miles across Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa, to the country discovered by Kupe, Te Ika-a-Maui, or New Zealand. Provision for such a lengthy voyage, and a large number of people, would be a matter of difficulty; but coco-nuts, containing both food and drink, were plentiful. Taro and kumara also they had in plenty, both of which will keep well if salt water is not allowed to come in contact with them. The prepared bread-fruit also (called by the Tahi-tians Mahi or Tio'o) will resist decay for over twelve months. It is a page 88sour kind of paste, made by cooking the bread-fruit (Kuru), and then preserving it in holes made in the earth and lined with banana leaves. Water was carried in calabashes and in long bamboo stems with the partitions knocked out. The "Aotea" was so well provided, and with such numerous properties that she is referred to as "Aotea utanga nui," "The richly laden Aotea." No doubt this canoe was one of those large sea-going canoes called a pahi—a double canoe with a deck (pora) built between the two, and hence often called a waha-pora—indeed some of the canoes are specially referred to under the name of pora. Naturally the priests on board—of whom there were certainly two—did not neglect to bring the images of their gods, whose names were Maru, Te Ihinga-o-te-rangi, Kahu-kuva, Rongomai, and possibly others. Some idea of what these images were like, may be obtained from the accompanying illustration, which, though not copies of the originals brought from Rangiatea, are just the same, and were obtained from the Ngati-Ruanui tribe, descendants of Turi and his tribe.
The Polynesians have possessed pigs and fowls, probably both brought by them from Indonesia for untold generations. The question arises whether, amongst the other things they brought with them to New Zealand, such as seeds of useful food-plants, etc., they ever tried to introduce either pigs or fowls. Pigs they probably would not attempt on account of the large amount of food they would consume; but fowls might have been included in their cargoes, and possibly we may see a confirmation of this in the name of a bird said to have been brought over in the "Aotea," but which has been extinct for many generations. Its shape is described as being like that of the moho or native quail (now extinct), which is not unlike the common fowl in shape but much smaller. Before the common fowl was made known to the Maoris by the European settlers of the nineteenth century, the bird most like it, as it would be handed down by tradition, would be the moho; for although the weka is also somewhat like a fowl, the Maoris would not use that word, for it was known to them in their old home by the same name. The name of this extinct bird, only known by tradition and said to have been brought over in the "Aotea," is moa-ki-rua, the two voiced moa, moa being the universal name of the common fowl all over Polynesia at the present day.
The period at which Turi and his tribe left Hawaiki—which I use as a convenient term to express, as it truly does, all the islands in the neighbourhood of Tahiti—was clearly one of disturbances affecting wide areas, and leading to fighting among the tribes. As has been pointed out, the insufficiency of lands for an increasing population was the ultimate cause of the desire to migrate and find fresh lands on which page 89the people might live in peace. We trace this in the accounts of most of the migrations to New Zealand. When, therefore, Kupe and Nga-hue returned to Hawaiki from New Zealand, with reports of a great land only partially inhabited, and in which room was to be found for thousands of people, it must naturally have given rise to much discussion and a consideration of the question as to whether it would not be better for some, and especially those who were weaker in fighting strength, and likely to be driven out, to emigrate to this new land. Some such general influences were clearly at work, or we should not find a fleet leaving those parts all at the same time, bound for the same country. Nor would the distance apart of the various places from which the migrations started offer any difficulty in the way of communication of ideas on a subject that affected so many; for communication was constant. And thus it no doubt fell out, that Turi and his people determined to cast in their lot with the others who were preparing to depart, and seek in a new land that peace which was denied them in their father-land, a peace which Uenuku's maire told them was about to be broken, to end, as they felt, in their own destruction.
Tautahi's narrative of the voyage of the "Aotea" (Journal Polynesian Society, Vol. IX., p. 203) implies that the fleet started together from Rangi-atea. This seems probable, for Rai'atea Island, though somewhat out of the course from the west coast of Tahiti—from Paea and Te Fana-i-ahurai—whence the other five canoes came, would form a convenient resting place, which they would reach, running dead before the trade-wind, in twenty-four hours—even if they did not call in at Huahine island, as they probably would. At Rai'atea no doubt there would be much discussion amongst the commanders and priests of the six vessls, as to their future proceedings, course to be steered, etc. If the Taranaki traditions are correct, Kupe, the navigator, who had returned from New Zealand four years previously, was there to give them the result of his experience and the course to be steered, telling Turi—"Not to let the bows of his canoe deviate from the rising sun,' the absurdity of which has been pointed out in Chapter III. Since that chapter was written I have seen copies of documents, preserved by the late Mr. Ferguson of Hokianga, in which he gives the Nga-Puhi version of these directions, in which there is no reference to the sun rise, but Kupe tells them to steer by the star Te Tipi. Unfortunately we do not now know which star this is.
It must have been a stirring and effecting scene as these six large sea-going pahi, with their living freight of probably over 500 people—men, women and children, put to sea from the shores of Rai'atea, with the sails set and streamers flying before the gentle trade-wind. Many page 90a last farewell had been uttered; the all necessary karakias repeated at the marae; the awa-moana and ruruhu for securing a prosperous voyage had been sung, and the omens ascertained. Thus, somewhere about the year 1350, these bold hearts put off from the father-land knowing not what dangers lay before them, what hardships they would have to endure from the storms of the Southern Seas, but with hearts braced to dare all things in the search for new homes.
From what we know of the course taken by the other vessels after leaving Rai'atea, it would seem as if there' had been some division of council as to the course to steer, for "Te Arawa," "Tainui," "Matatua," "Tokomaru," and "Kura-hanpo" called in at Rarotonga, as I heard from the old chief, Tamarua-Orometua, of that Island, but "Aotea" did not—she went on her solitary way to Rangitahua island, which in all probability had been appointed as a rendezvous.
And so "Aotea" and her crew struck boldly out from the land, shaping her course for Rangi-tahua, an island in mid ocean that is called in some traditions, Motiwhatiwha or Kotiwhatiwha, a name that can be shown to be that of an island not anywhere near the route to New Zealand, but which has in process of time been confounded with Rangi-tahua. On this island the crew of "Aotea" landed to repair the vessel, which after many miles of voyaging required attention in the sinnet lashings that hold the various parts together. Whilst here the "Kura-haupo" joined them, but in beaching her, she got smashed so badly that some of her crew and cargo had to be transferred to the "Aotea" and "Mata-tua," which also—according to some accounts—must have also arrived there. The traditions of the "Tainui" canoe mention some island they called at, but the name is forgotten, whilst there is no record of either "Tokomaru" or "To Arawa" having landed anywhere.
Now Rangi-tahua island, I take to be Sunday Island of the Kermadec Group, 550 miles from the North Cape of New Zealand, and almost exactly in a line drawn from Ra'iatea to that place. The name is mentioned in Rarotonga traditions, as an island to the west; and on this island have been found stone axes, evidently the work of Polynesians. Moreover, the green paraquet, the pukeko, and the karaka tree are also to be found there; three things which it is said Turi brought with him to New Zealand. There is no reason to doubt this, though all three are natives of these Islands; but being new to Turi, he probably brought the birds and the fruit of the karaka, intending to make use of them in his new home.
Whilst they wore at Rangi-tahua, there also arrived another canoe page 91named "Te Ririno," under the command of Po-toru, with whom there was a dispute as to the direction to be taken to fetch New Zealand, which ended in Po-toru taking his course, and finally coming to grief at Tau-tope-ki-te-uru wherever that may be, which the traditions do not tell us, nor how they know of his end. However, in a song composed by Tu-raukawa of Ngati-Ruanui, early in the nineteenth contury, we find a reference to the probable fact of his having reached New Zealand, for which see Chapter III., p. 48.
After certain ceremonies had been performed "Aotea" started again on her way for New Zealand. From Rangi-tahua they would lose the trade-winds and get into much boisterous weather, a fact which is indicated in many of the records of these voyages, though couched in terms partaking of the marvellous. Turi's wife, Rongo-rongo, was also delivered of a son, named Tutaua-whanau-moana, or Tu-taua—the-sea-born—on the voyage.
It is somewhat uncertain from the traditions as to where the "Aotea" made the land; but various things cause me to think this was somewhere on the North East Coast, from whence they passed round the North Cape, and in all probability called in at Hokianga and Kaipara, visiting and being entertained by the people there. Thence coasting to the south, they went into Aotea harbour, which is said to have been named after the vessel, and here most accounts say she was left, but there seems a doubt whether she did not come on, bringing the people to their final destination at Patea in South Tara-naki.* However this may be, after the usual karakia had been said, the awhi, to remove all evil influences due to their arrival in a new land, and from which circumstance Ka-awhia Harbour takes its name, Turi came south overland, naming the various rivers and prominent places as he advanced—for which see accounts of the voyage—he finally reached the Patea river, which he named Patea-nui-a-Turi—Great Patea of Turi. Probably this was named after Patea, a marae in Tahiti, for which see "Memoirs of Te Ari'i Taimai," p.p. 38, 81. The river had, however, a previous name, Te Tai-a-Kehu, according to the Rev. T. G. Hammond, who also says it was called Te Awa-nuia-Taikehu, a name equally applied to the Whanganui River. The Whenua-kura river (so called by Turi) a little to the south of Patea, page 92had also another name—Wai-kakahi—all of which names were given by the tangata-whenua people prior to Turi's arrival.
The following is the "Passenger List" of "Aotea" canoe, as supplied to me by Tautahi, and by other natives to the Rev. T. G. Hammond.
|Urunga-tai||Kahu-nui||Po-toru?||Te Kahui Kotare|
|Kauika (a priest)||Tuan (priest)||Hau-nui||Te Kalmi-Kau|
|Hau-pipi (a priest of Mam)||Hau-taepo||Tama-ki-te-ra|
|Tapo (a matakite, or seer)||Rangi-potaka||Tua-nui-o-te-ra|
|Tutaua-whanau-moana||Rongorongo (f)||Hine-wai-tai (f)|
|Tane-roroa (f)||Kura-mahanga (f)||Tanene|
It will be noticed in the above lists how extraordinarily few the women are. But as women did not count for much in Maori times, as a rule, no doubt their names are not considered sufficiently important to be mentioned unless they belonged to some high family. There are thirty-one individual names, besides three families, and probably many more came as well, for some would no doubt settle on the coast as they came down; besides which, there would be slaves. There were certainly two others, at least, who came by the "Aotea" —not counting some of the crew of "Kura-haupo" who joined Turi at Rangi-tahua, e.g., Rakeiora, a priest who settled at Urenui, and Pou-poto who, whilst on the N.E. Coast, stole from Nga-Kura-matapo, one of the principal men of the "Kura-haupo" passengers, a valuable greenstone ornament named Hunakiko. (Probably this name is wrong, for it is that usually given to the celebrated magically endowed cloak belonging to Turi.) Pou-poto came to Patea with Turi; and after a time Nga-Kura-matapo came overland by the West Coast (the other "Kura-haupo" people coming by the East Coast), following up in Turi's page 93footsteps, determined to recover his lost treasure. One night he arrived very tired at the banks of the Manawa-pou river, about ten miles north of Patea, and laid himself down to sleep. He slept with the head resting on his arm, elbow on the ground; his arm slipped, which was a takiri or sign, interpreted by Nga-Kura-matapo as evidence that he was about to accomplish the object of his search. Of course we unbelieving white-folks would say this slipping of the arm was merely the effect of fatigue, but then we are grossly ignorant on such subjects according to Maori ideas. However this may be, on ascending the hill next day, Nga-Kura-matapo there found Pou-poto, whose head he cut off, and stuck his heart on a pole, hence the name of the place Manawa-pou, which it bears to this day.
So Turi and his companions settled down near the mouth of the Patea river, in the place where Kupe had advised him, and built his house named Matangi-rei on the flat land, about a quarter of a mile south of the present Railway Station, and near the mouth of the river. In this house were placed the valuables they had brought from Hawaiki; the celebrated cloak named Huna-kiko, the images of their gods, the whatus, and other properties, for this was a sacred house, a whare-maire, in which was afterwards taught the knowledge handed down from their ancestors. On top of the cliffs between this house and the present Railway Station was Rangi-tawhi, Turi's village, and near the flag-staff of the Pilot Station was Hekeheke-i-papa, the first kumara cultivation made by the people, in which were planted the few remaining tubers that had not been consumed on the voyage, and which had been preserved by Rongorongo, Turi's wife. There were sufficient to plant eight wakawaka or hillocks, one kumara in each; from which they harvested 800 tubers. These no doubt would be carefully preserved to increase their stock the following year. A little nearer to the Railway Station was Turi's spring named Parara-ki-te-uru, where the drinking water was obtained, clear and cold, points on which the Maori of old was very particular.
The one or two accounts that have been preserved in print of the settlement of these people in these parts, make no mention of people being found at Patea and that neighbourhood, and yet when questioned the people acknowledge that there were tangata-whenua living there. They were called the Kahui-toka, and Rev. R. Taylor refers to them as kiri whakapapa, which, however, is not a tribal but a descriptive name. Taikehu's descendants must have been found there by the Maoris of the heke, and also the people named Kahui-maunga.
* Besides the actual statement in some traditions that the canoe came to Patea, it is related that as late as 1891, the people possessed one of Turi's paddles that he used on board the "Aotea." This I learn from the Rev. T. G. Hammond, and if it is true, it probably came in the canoe itself—they would scarcely bring it all the way overland from Aotea Harbour. The paddle is said to differ in shape from modern paddles.