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The Material Culture of the Cook Islands (Aitutaki)

Kites, manu tukutuku

Kites, manu tukutuku.

Amongst the many kites that were known in ancient times only three were remembered.

(1.) Manu teketeke vaihi. In this form three stakes of hau were used. Two were crossed diagonally and one transversely, Fig. 287. These were lashed together at the crossing point. Sinnet braid was run round the ends of the stakes and attached to each. This formed the frame-work. Over the frame bark cloth was spread. The cloth was doubled over the sinnet braid and the overlap sewn with fibre, using an iron-wood needle to pierce the cloth. In some cases breadfruit gum, tapou, was used instead of sewing.

Figure 287.Framework of manu, teketeke vaihi kite.

Figure 287.
Framework of manu, teketeke vaihi kite.

Tail. Two sinnet cords were attached to the end of the stakes at A and B. These cords were brought together and knotted at C to balance the kite. If the kite was unsteady, a bunch of hau bast was tied to the end of the tail at C. The tail was called the awe.

String. The string was the aho tukutuku. It was made of sinnet or hau bast, or from the banana fibre, kua. The string was tied at the crossing of the stakes at D. If the head of the kite rose too high, the string was advanced and fixed to a cross piece tied to the two diagonal stakes at E.

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(2.) Manu patiki. The frame was made of two stakes, one long and one short, which crossed at right angles, Fig. 288. A sinnet cord was run round the outer side, but did not reach to the lower end of the long rod. The cord was
Figure 288. Framework of manu patiki kite.

Figure 288.
Framework of manu patiki kite.

attached to the long stake at the point B. To the end of the long stake a tail of hau bast, about two spans in length, was attached. The string was attached to the crossing of the two rods.

The frame was lozenge-shaped, and hence was likened to a flounder, patiki.

(3.) Manu tangi. This form was a variety of the first. The framework was the same as regards the stakes and the sinnet braid round the ends. At the upper ends of the diagonal rods, Fig. 289 A and B, a curved piece of stick, C, was attached to the ends of the rods. From the middle of this curved stick, another short rod, D, was attached to the crossing of the frame at X.

Figure 289.Framework of manu tangi kite.

Figure 289.
Framework of manu tangi kite.

The bark cloth covering was put on, but instead of forming a level surface at A B X, it was curved over the stick D. Its edge was attached along the curved rod C, instead of being attached along the sinnet cord at K. This formed a gutter, along which the wind roars when the kite is flying. A piece of cloth of the same shape as the gutter was attached to the sinnet string K by doubling the end page 333over and sticking it with arrowroot. It was this that caused the noise, which could be heard a mile away.

It is said that this type was introduced from one of the other islands. According to Mr. Lowe, it was very popular in Mauke. The string was tied, and they were left flying all night, making a tremendous roaring sound the while.

Off Ureia the kites were flown from the beach, tahatai, usually when the north-west wind, parapu, was blowing. The wind carried the kite inland. Before setting out to fly a kite, three things had to be done:—

(1.)Hakapapa i te aho—Coil the string.
(2.)Tapeka ki te manu—Tie it to the kite.
(3.)Haere ki tahatai—Go to the beach.

When the kite was flown the following song, amu, was recited.

Song for Flying Kites.
Tukutukuhia taku manu,
Tukutukuhia taku manu.
Ka mou ki te tarahau,
Ka mou ake ana
Ki te pito uta, ki tapa tahatai.
Ka motukia e te kanga e—o—
Ka re re kuekue,
Ka nui au ki tau e—
Mate tane.
Taku manu nei, taku manu nei,
Ka rua kapanga,
Tahirihiri i te aroaro o te rangi.
Tutere tane, karia ki hiti,
Karia ki tonga.
Oraurau te manu aku.
Tau ra ki te makatea.

Pay out, pay out the line of my bird.
Slack out, slack out the line of my bird,
Lest it be caught in the tops of the trees.
It is attached at its mid point
And to the edge of the beach.
But it may be snapped by a mischief-maker. Ah—oh—
It ascends, it mounts against the wind.
Ah! I am full of pride,
And love it as a maid her lover.
Ah! Bird of mine, bird of mine,
Your two wings flap and flutter
And fan the face of the sky.
Man-like you swiftly dart to the east.
You direct your course to the south.
Come down, descend, Oh bird of mine
And alight on the rocky uplands.

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The chant goes through the various phases of the flight of a kite. At the words, "It ascends, it mounts," the kite flier begins to dance with joy, keeping time with the words of the chant. The words rua kapanga occur in Maori legend as the name of a great bird, but my informants disclaimed any knowledge of this fabulous bird. They maintained that in the song, rua meant the two wings and kapanga, was the flapping of the wings. The quick darts to the east and the south immediately precede the descent of the kite.

Another charming amu is a lament on losing a kite through the cord snapping.

Lament or losing a kite.
Motukia taku manu,
Motukia ki taupiri, taupiri.
Hakarere, hakarere taku manu,
Hakarere ki te toro haere.
Toro haere taku manu,
Kua puhiahia e te tupuna matangi.
Tei te hiti ki hea?
Tei te hiti ki o Takurua.
Kua pipiri ki hea?
Kua pipiri ki runga ki te rangi e
     Kato hau e.—
Ko te rere i taku manu
Hakairiiri ki te tua rangi.
Ko te ngutu i taku manu
Hakaareare ki te maoake—
     Homai te roro e—
     Homai Akaria e—
     Homai te roro e —
     Homai Akaria e—
     Nga Akaria i Akaria e—
Nga hakakino i hakakino e—
E horo ki Rama,
Akaria e hakakino mai e—
E motu te rimarima,
E motu te vaevae,
Tiri hekie, vetekia,
Tiri hekie, vetekia.
    E kuku tuarea,
    Ekieki te mokora.
        E TI.

Alas! The cord of my kite has snapped.
My bird is lost in space, the space of far-away.
Fly on, fly on, my bird.
Fly on to visit.
Visit here and visit there, my bird.
For thou art swept away by the ancestor of the winds.
page 335 Where hast thou gone?
Thou hast gone to the home of the star Takurua.
Where art thou clinging?
    Thou art clinging above to the breast of the Sky.
Thou art lost in the space of heaven.
Ah! The flight of my bird,
It is hanging on the back of the sky.
The beak of my bird
Droops despondently towards the North-East Wind.
    Oh! Give me my desire.
    Return my bird to Akaria.
    Oh! Grant me my wish.
    Return to Akaria.
Ah! thoughts of Akaria at Akaria.
Ah! sorrows that sadden.
Let us flee away to Rama,
For Akaria blames me.
But alas! The cord snapped in my hands,
It snapped under my feet.
The useless cord unfastened,
It was cast aside, unfastened.
    I weep in bitter grief
    And gasp like a startled duck.

The lost kite was flown at Akaria, hence the references in the lament. The simile of the startled duck is expressive.