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Mangaian Society

Resurrection of the Ngati-Tane

Resurrection of the Ngati-Tane

The Ngati-Tane had been almost exterminated in the second oven (umu ti) that inaugurated the rule of Kaveutu. Of the three named survivors, Te-Ko married Mautara and her Ngati-Tane blood was absorbed into Ngati-Vara. Te-punga, priest of Tane, was killed by the Ngariki and offered as a sacrifice to Rongo by Tuanui, the Ngariki supreme ruler. Instead of casting the body into the bushes at the back of the marae of Orongo, after the ritual the Ngariki cut the head off, cooked and sent it as a food present to Mautara. Mautara, though the official priest of the Ngariki god Motoro, himself worshiped Tane. The action was intended to show Mautara that the god he represented was more powerful than the god he served. The Ngariki virtually told him to eat his own god. Te-vaki, a learned man and adept in the use of weapons, was now the sole male survivor of the Ngati-Tane, and only through him could the tribe be resurrected from the dead. He took upon himself the position of official priest to Tane and devised the scheme by which Mautara avenged the insult offered by the Ngariki and at the same time avenged the death of his own priest.

Mautara, while officiating-in the marae of Motoro, took kava and announced that Motoro required a great sacrifice from his worshipers. The voice of Motoro, issuing from the mouth of Mautara, demanded that on a certain day the leading Ngariki families should sacrifice and eat their first-born in honor of the god Rongo. Against the command of the god there was no possible appeal, and the fearful sacrifice was carried out. Thus Mautara avenged the insult with interest, for not only were the Ngariki forced to sacrifice their dearest, but actually to eat them, whereas Mautara had not eaten the head of Te-punga and could himself come to no harm, for the command was given by Motoro and not by the priest.

The hatred of Ngariki against the worshipers of Tane was now directed against Te-vaki and his four sons.

Te-vaki and his four sons were hunted from refuge to refuge, and finally all the sons were killed. Te-vaki hid in the fastnesses of the Tavaenga makatea, but at last, in desperation, he sought out Mautara at night. Mautara sent his two eldest sons, Te-uanuku and Raumea, to convey Te-vaki at night to a cave in Putoa where he was left with a supply of provisions. Sometime afterwards, Mautara's sons brought Te-vaki back to Mautara's house, as the enemy had begun to suspect that the fugitive was hidden in Putoa. As priest of Motoro, Mautara had part of his house curtained off with a page 74screen of bark cloth (pa tikoru), which recess was sacred as the sanctuary of the god. Te-vaki was concealed within the pa tikoru, where he was safe from any attack by the Ngariki. The place of refuge eventually became known and armed men kept watch near the house in the hope that Te-vaki might venture forth. Even Toko-au, Mautara's military supporter, urged the advisability of killing Te-vaki. Mautara remained firm in his protection, and his power is indicated by the fact that Te-vaki remained in safety for a year in the curtained room though his armed foes were constantly prowling round seeking his destruction. When the supreme temporal power passed from the Ngariki to the Mautara family, Te-vaki emerged from his refuge and enjoyed safety in the peaceful reign of Mautara. He was given land and became a man of influence.

While Te-vaki was being hunted in the makatea after the death of his four sons he had the desire to continue his family line.

Te-vaki decided upon the daughter of a chief named Te-rangi-tataia as a suitable person for the mother of his child. He caught a fish to provide a material form of approach and hid himself in a grove of bamboos beside the water spring near the girl's home. When the girl, Te Kura-a-rou, came to the spring for water, Te-vaki showed himself and held up the fish. Kura-a-rou took the fish back to her father, and then returned to the spring to ask Te-vaki what he wanted to say to her. Te-vaki proposed to her that she should have a child by him to continue his line. She replied, "What is the use? As soon as it is known that the child is yours, it will be killed." Te-vaki said, "You must conceal the fact that I am the father by attributing the parentage to someone else who is not hated." The girl consented, and in due time a male child was born. The child was named after the front-hanging end (taumua) of the loin girdle (maro) of his mother's father, hence Taumua-maro-i-te-Rangi-tataia. When sufficiently grown, he was spirited away by Te-vaki, who placed him under the protection of Mau-tara. He grew up under the shadow of Mautara with Mautara's sons and was taught the use of arms by Te-vaki.

When Te-vaki's son, Taumua, grew up, the question of continuing his line came up.

Mautara told Taumua to go in to Itia, a girl in the retinue of his wife Te-ko, at night, and if the girl resisted slay her. Te-ko, who liked the girl and did not wish her to suffer violence, instructed her that if a man came in to her at night and placed his hand upon her breast, she must not scream or resist. She was to grasp his wrist and draw him down beside her. Itia carried out instructions and became with child. The child born was a girl and was named Amaraa. She grew up and married Tuka, a Ngati-Vara descended from Raumea. Her offspring thus became Ngati-Vara.

Taumua married a second wife named Keukeu by whom he had male children from whom the true Ngati-Tane of the present day are descended.

Confusion exists as to authentic Ngati-Tane pedigrees from Taumua. According to my Ngati-Vara informants, the Ngati-Tane were reinforced by a later tribe from Rarotonga named Ngati-Amai. The Ngati-Amai are somewhat disparagingly referred to by the older tribes as no te pa'i mat (from the voyaging canoe) so as to stress their more recent origin. The mixed Ngati-Tane and Ngati-Amai are thus inclined to conceal their Ngati-Amai descent and attribute it all to Ngati-Tane stock through a son of Taumua. Tamangaro, a blind Ngati-Tane, gave me a couple of pedigrees which neither Aiteina nor Akaeakore accept. Akaeakore gave a pedigree (Table 10) showing his own descent on the Ngati-Vara side and indicating the males from whom the Ngati-Tane are descended.

page 75
Table 10.—The descendants of Te-vaki

Table 10.—The descendants of Te-vaki

Note: As in the type genealogy (Table 3), Tuka appears in the tenth generation. Though Makitaka, the deposed temporal ruler, appears with Koroa in generation 9, making the allowance between senior and junior lines, Tuka and Makitaka were contemporaries.

Tamangaro gave Te-tonga, a prominent chief, as the son of Taumua and his first wife Itia, but this is strongly denied by my Ngati-Vara informants. They held that Te-tonga did not descend directly from Te-vaki but is to be ascribed to Ngati-Amai stock. Be this as it may, Te-tonga produced, a powerful family, which played a significant part in the Ngati-Tane and Ngati-Manaune alliance. His children are here listed:

Makitaka, as priest of Motoro, was succeeded by Tereavai (Table 10), the son of Tuka. It is thus evident that the Ngati-Tane, who rose up against Makitaka, could have consisted of only one generation of people, or, in other words, of the sons of Taumua and his second wife, Keukeu. The page 76Ngati-Vara contention that the Ngati-Tane were strongly reinforced by another tribe seems correct. Cross marriages between the descendants of Te-vaki through Taumua and the Ngati-Amai has led to their fusion into one tribal group.