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The Coming of the Maori

The Story of Manaia

The Story of Manaia

Numerous quarrels took place in Hawaiki before the coming of the Fleet and one of them is associated with Manaia. The story of Manaia has been told in three versions from the Chatham Islands, west coast, and east coast respectively. The major incidents which occurred in Hawaiki were the manufacture of spears, an offence against Manaia's wife, and Manaia's revenge. The fighting which followed led to a migration to New Zealand.

The Chatham Islands' version recorded by Shand (66, p. 31) states that Manaii was married to Niwa and they had a large family. Manaii directed his family to make spears from an akepiri tree and 80 spears were made from it. The heart wood of the tree proved too difficult to work and was discarded. Niwa instructed her youngest son named Kahukaka, how to make the discarded heart wood into the finest spear of all and he accomplished the task secretly. When the people wondered who the craftsman was, Niwa, unable to contain her pride, spoke to her son saying, "You are my Kahukaka begotten of me in the Astelia wastes and now you have come forth a man and become great." From her saying, Manaii concluded that his wife had committed adultery. He found out that her lover was Porohiti and he waged war against him and his people. The story ends with the statement that it was due to such wars that people subsequently migrated but there is no reference to Manaii himself leaving Hawaiki.

The west coast version recorded by Grey (44, p. 221) states that Manaia invited a working party (ohu) under the chief Tupenu to make spears for him. While Manaia and his people were out fishing to obtain food for their guests, the working party assaulted Rongotiki, the wife of Manaia. Manaia, while fishing, hooked a fish by the tail and knew from the omen what had happened to his wife. On his return Rongotiki confirmed his fears. Manaia, with an armed force, secretly surrounded the working party and urged his son, Tu-urenui, to take the honour of opening the attack. While Tu-urenui hesitated, a young man dashed page 30forward and killed one of the workers, shouting, "I, Kahukakanui, son of Manaia, have slain the first fish." Manaia knew from the young man's cry that he was his son, born out of wedlock. In the battle which ensued, the workers were put to flight and Manaia slew their leader, Tupenu. Other battles followed and the losses began to pile up against Manaia. He accordingly left the country in a voyaging canoe named Tokomaru. According to Grey's version, the Tokomaru arrived at New Zealand but the subsequent details show that it has been identified with the Tokomaru which formed one of the Fleet. Though the Moriori and the west coast versions of Manaia differ as regards the names of his wife and the leader of the opposing party, they are identical in the making of spears and distinction having been acquired by the illegitimate son Kahukakanui. However, as the Moriori had left New Zealand before the arrival of the Fleet and as their version does not mention the Tokomaru, it is evident that Grey's informants added the later Tokomaru story to a much older narrative of events which took place in Hawaiki. In the story (44, p. 223), it states that Rongotiki roasted fern root for her husband's meal. This is a New Zealand addition to the story, for fern root was not used as food in Hawaiki.

The east coast version given by Te Matorohanga (81, p. 129) shows a remarkable growth of details. Manaia's wife was Warea and they lived at Whaingaroa in Hawaiki in a house named Nukuahurangi. Manaia employed a number of craftsmen under the chief Tomowhare not only to make spears (tokotoko) but also halberts (maipi), paddles (hoe) and canoe end sections (haumi). While in the forest with his people to procure birds as food for his working party, two mating birds fell at Manaia's feet. This was an omen similar in meaning to the fish omen in the west coast version. Manaia returned secretly at night and found his wife sleeping beside Tomowhare under the window opening (matapihi) of the guest house. Without waking them, he marked his wife's legs and the lower border of Tomowhare's tapa garment with a piece of blue clay (pukepoto). He met his party returning from the forest with their supply of birds. They marched to the space before the guest house and Manaia led the tau chant appropriate in announcing a catch of birds. It was early morning and the workers aroused by the chant, poured out of the guest house, Warea among them. Warea and Tomowhare were convicted by the evidence of the blue clay. Manaia challenged Tomowhare to single combat and the characteristic technique of adding detail in the Matorohanga accounts is here evident in the statement that the two opponents fought first with short spears (tokotoko), then with long spears (huata), and as neither could overcome the other, they took to short clubs (rakau poto). In the close fighting, Manaia slew his rival. Fearing the vengeance of Tomowhare's powerful kinsmen, Manaia fled to Aotearoa in a canoe page 31named Tokomaru with Te Aowhaingaroa as his priest or navigating officer.

The preceding part of the story is a variation of the happenings in Hawaiki but there are four interpolations taken from the culture which developed at a later period in New Zealand. These are the procuring of forest birds in sufficient quantity to feed a working party, the characteristic tau chants used in bringing in preserved birds, the matapihi window in the guest house, and the use of pukepoto clay for marking.

The second part of the story introduces a new character not present in the west coast version. After Manaia had left, Nukutamaroro, stated to be the elder brother of the deceased Tomowhare, attacked those of Manaia's tribe who had not gone with him. When he learned that his enemy had fled, he exclaimed, "What! He has left this pool of blood behind him and fled for refuge to a distant land? He has left you to cover the nakedness of his wife Warea."

Nuku sailed in pursuit of Manaia with three canoes; Tangiapakura and Waimate were double canoes (waka unua) and Houama, a single canoe with an outrigger (waka marohi). He reached New Zealand and sighted Manaia's canoe near Mana Island off the west coast of what is now the Wellington Province. The fast-sailing outrigger canoe headed off Manaia and the two double canoes caught up. A sea battle was fought and the casualties are given as 200 on Nuku's side and 100 on the Tokomaru. An armistice was made, Manaia landing and Nuku remaining afloat with the promise of renewing the battle ashore on the next day. In the evening, Te Aowhaingaroa, the priest of Tokomaru, raised a violent storm by means of magic spells and Nuku's fleet was driven ashore with further loss of life. When day dawned, Manaia found Nuku lying on the beach with two wounds in his thigh. After a passage of words, they made peace. Nuku and the survivors of his crews repaired their canoes but the double canoes were converted to single outriggers to make them light for returning to their land. And so, Nukutamaroro returned to Hawaiki.

The story proceeded with the further movements of Manaia and the Tokomaru canoe but unlike the west coast version, the tale is hitched onto the period of Toi. Manaia sailed north along the west coast and at Whaingaroa (Raglan), he met Maungaroa and Hatauira who had come with Whatonga in the Kurahaupo. He sailed round the North Cape and reached Whakatane, where he learned that the Kurahaupo had just left for the south. He overtook the Kurahaupo at Mataahu and the two canoes sailed on together to a bay further south which was named Tokomaru after the Tokomaru canoe. Manaia subsequently returned to Whaingaroa on the west coast and the story ends.

Here again we have confusion over the period of a historic canoe. As page 32with the Kurahaupo canoe, the west coast version links the Tokomaru with the Fleet period and the east coast version with the Toi period, a difference in time of 200 years.

In an Arawa story recorded by Grey (44, p. 162), a series of battles occur between Manaia of Hawaiki and Ngatoroirangi, the priest of the Arawa canoe. Manaia was married to Ngatoroirangi's sister and after the Arawa canoe left Hawaiki, Manaia had occasion to upbraid his wife because her oven of food was uncooked when it was opened. The wrathful husband said, "Is the firewood the bones of your brother that you are so sparing in its use?" This was a dreadful curse and the wife by miraculous means sent her daughter to New Zealand where she told her uncle of what had happened. Ngatoroirangi embarked for Hawaiki with a war party and defeated Manaia at the battle of Ihumotomotokia. He returned to New Zealand and while living at the island of Motiti in the Bay of Plenty, Manaia arrived with a fleet to obtain revenge. The fleet came in close below the cliff where Ngatoroirangi's home was situated and Manaia challenged his enemy to fight. Ngatoroirangi from the cliff replied that it was too late in the day and asked Manaia to postpone the battle until the next morning when they would have the full day to decide their quarrel. The fleet thereupon lay off the shore for the night. During the night, Ngatoroirangi by means of his magic powers drew all the winds into a calabash according to an old lament. He then broke the calabash with a spear and the winds issuing forth raised a terrific storm which wrecked the entire fleet and drowned its crews including Manaia. The corpses strewed along the shore had their finger nails bleached by the salt water and hence the battle with the elements was named Maikukutea (White finger nails).

Though the Arawa story has a different background of events to that of the Matorohanga version, it is significant that the two stories record a punitive expedition from Hawaiki to New Zealand, the postponement of a battle until the next day, and the wrecking of the visiting fleet during the night by a violent storm conjured up by magical means. I believe that the Matorohanga school borrowed these elements from the Arawa story and inserted them in the tale of a different Manaia.

The problem of the name of Manaia's canoe is solved by a Ngati Ruanui lament for Tonga Awhikau (51, vol V p,. 114) which, however, is badly translated in parts. One of the verses refers to the crime against Rongotiki, the death of Tupenu, and the brand of illegitimacy (tohi raukena) of Kahukaka, son of Manaia. The first two lines of the verse are as follows:

E iri e Papa i runga o Tahatuna,
Te waka o Manaia.
Recline O Sir on Tahatuna,
The canoe of Manaia.

page 33

The context proves that the verse refers to the Manaia of the west coast version but instead of associating him with the Tokomaru canoe, the lament definitely states that his canoe was the Tahatuna. Old laments which were transmitted by memorizing the exact words are more reliable than prose accounts which have been composed at a later period. Hence Manaia's canoe was the Tahatuna and not the Tokomaru.