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The Whare Kohanga (The "Nest House") and its Lore

Period of Labour

Period of Labour

"O, friend! understand this: should the pains of labour extend beyond the seventh day, then serious trouble results. The applicationpage 58 of the term rauru nui ceases on the seventh day, after which commences the period known as rauru whiwhia, and when the trouble continues beyond the seventh day it is known that it is a case of twins; if it continues until the tenth day, or over, then such condition is a marua-aitu, and the child will be still-born.

"Now, should one of the arms of the child first appear, or one of its legs, then it is known that the child will be of a forward disposition. In these distressful cases the woman would be conveyed to the tapu place of rites, where the following formula would be recited over her:—

Haramai, e hine! I te Maruaroa
Whakaputa i a koe ki taioa
Ki te ara o to tipuna, o Hine-titama
I takahia ai tapuwae nuku, tapuwae rangi
Tapuwae ki Tiritiri o Matangi hauaroa
Whaia to tapuwae, ko te tapuwae o to tipuna o Hine-hauone
Ka takoto ai i roto i a Hui-te-rangiora
Whakaputa i a koe, e hine! ki te aoturoa.

"After the conclusion of the above another formula connected with the infant was recited:—

Tenei au te hoka nei i to tapuwae
Ko te hokai nuku, ko te hokai rangi
Ko te hokai whakaputa i a koe ki Tahuaroa, ki te aoturoa
Haramai, e tama! (e hine ranei)
Takahia mai to ara, ko te ara whanui a Tane
Whakakake i a koe i te ara o to tipuna, o Hine-titama
I whakaputa ai i a ia ki taio
Kia takawhake ia roto i Hui-te-ananui
Ka tau te mauri ki te whai ao, ki te ao marama
Ka tangi te mapu waiora ki te urutapu, e tama . . e!"

This charm is used in order to cause the infant to be born.

"When Moe-te-ao gave birth to twins, one of them, Mahanga-ti-karo, became awry and protruded a leg into the passage. Appeals to the god Maru were made from the eighth to the tenth day, when the leg was withdrawn. On that same day the right arm was thrust forward, and so the woman was conveyed to the tuahu or tapu place known as Toka-a-Hine-moko, and Maru caused the arm to be withdrawn. The other twin, named Mahanga-puhua, was then born, while the other remained in the womb. Moe-te-ao was then conveyed across the river to Te Wao-kairangi, where the second twin was born, and named Mahanga-tikaro, while that place was named Nga Mahanga [The Twins], or, in full, Nga Mahanga-a-Moeteao.

"Now, concerning the nights [i.e., days or periods] during which the offspring of Papa and Rangi [Earth Mother and Sky Parent] were preparing to emerge into the world, these are represented inpage 59 this world by the following names: The Po tamaku, the Po aoaonui, the Po kerekere, the Po kakarauri, the Po uriuri, the Po tiwhatiwha. These names represent the first period of preparation among the offspring of Rangi and Papa to escape from the embrace of their parents.

"Now, if a child be born during this period, then it is looked upon as an easy, normal birth; it is a rauru nui birth—the child will be healthy and robust; but if the infant be not born until the seventh or eighth day, then trouble ensues during those two days. If the time chance to be the Rakaunui [seventeenth] or Whiro [the first] night of the moon, or the Tangaroa nights [twenty-third to twenty-sixth], then the woman will be in grievous plight: she should be conveyed to the tuahu and there treated by an expert, and so be saved. Should a woman give birth to a child during the early days of a branch of the season [i.e., lunar month] it were well that it occur not after the seventh or eighth day, for such is the rauru-nui period already mentioned. Should birth not take place until the ninth or tenth day—that is, the rauru whiwhia period—these two days betoken a forward child. In such cases an arm or leg will be thrust forward, or the body of the infant be somewhat awry, and, unless care be taken, the end will be a dead woman, a still-born child: such is termed a weu tapu, and, if the child survive, he will develop into a warrior.

"Should the time of birth be extended to the eleventh day, then the lunar month should be referred to, and, should it chance to be the Whiro phase of the moon, then the conditions are those of rauru matua, and the child will survive, and should be carefully nurtured. Should the child be born during the Orongonui season, then the moon should be observed as to whether it is pale-lined or has a halo round it, or is 'in the yellow.' If the infant selects the time when the moon is surrounded by a form of halo, the child will turn out to be wayward; should it choose either of the other aspects mentioned, then the child will be healthy, a desirable child. However, enough on that point.

"Now, the twelfth night is one of evil omen; though it fall in the early part of the lunar month it would be termed a po matohi (a Matohi phase) verging upon the Korekore phases, and so this night is consigned to Whiro; so is this period known as po taruaitu, and no infant survives."

Here is another recital of the Takitumu elders concerning the above subject. "The first six po periods, or nights [the Maori counted time by nights, hence where he used the term 'nights' in this connectionpage 60 we would say 'days'] were as follows: The Po, the Po nui, the Po roa, the Po uriuri, the Po kerekere, the Po tiwha. [Of the words here used in an adjectival manner the last three convey the meaning of 'darkness'; nui means 'great, extensive, numerous'; while roa means 'long'] These po represent the original periods that concerned the offspring of Rangi and Papa [the Sky Parent and Earth Mother]. To these were added the following: The Po te kitea, the Po tangotango, the Po whawha, the Po namunamu ki taiao, the Po tahuri atu, the Po tahuri mai ki taiao, thus, making twelve in all, as in the case of the lunar months, of which also there are twelve: these here enumerated are the divisions of the Po.

"Now, these twelve divisions of the po were divided; during six of them Papa the Earth Mother fostered the development of all her children, that they might acquire form, the breath of life and growth, including all things, whether man, fish, animals, insects, herbage, or birds. Some of the offspring of Papa were distributed throughout the divisions of the heavens, and these were placed under the care of Hine-te-ahuru, Hine-rurumai, and Hine-makohurangi: these were the guardians of such as were so distributed. [These 'children' distributed throughout space are the heavenly bodies, sometimes said to be the offspring of Hine-te-ahuru. Hine-makohurangi is the Mist Maid.]

"Now, the other six po represent the period during which the offspring of Rangi and Papa moved and prepared to seek the passage into this world, and this first activity of theirs is indicated by the expressions 'the Po tahuri atu' and 'the Po tahuri ki taiao.' Now, this condition of restless movement among the offspring of Papa is represented among our women. When the infant begins to move within the womb of the mother, should such efforts continue for over four nights, then a still-born child results; should they continue beyond the fifth or sixth, a dead mother, a dead child, result. Hence the expression hokai rauru nui, rauru whiwhia, and hokai rauru maruaitu. You now understand this matter; but these expressions, &c., must not be viewed as being connected with human lines of descent."