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The Maori: Yesterday and To-day

The Chant of Takitimu

page 164

The Chant of Takitimu.

There is a celebrated East Coast haka chant and chorus, frequently performed by the young men of the Ngati-Porou tribe, which embodies a portion of the ancient paddling song of the Takitimu canoe. This ngeri or takitaki-hoe-waka, six centuries old, is a capital example of the rhythmic chants, with their regular beats and frequent repetitions, in which the Maori delights. The original was chanted by the chiefs of the Takitimu on their voyage from Tahiti to New Zealand.

The kai-hautu or kai-tuki-waka, the fugleman or captain, standing amidships, begins:—

Papa te whatitiri, hikohiko te uira,
I kanapu ki te rangi; ru ana te whenua.

The thunder crashes, the lightning flashes,
Flashes in the heavens, and the earthquake shakes the land.

Then, waving his whalebone patu or his paddle, now on one side, now on the other, he chants:

He tia, he tia, he tia,
He ranga, he ranga, he ranga,
Whakarere iho te kakau o te hoe
Ko a Manini-tua, i Manini-aro

I tangi te kura, i Tangi-wiwini
I tangi te kura, i Tangi-wawana.
Tera te haeata takiri ana mai
I runga o Matatera
Ana Whaiuru, Whaiuru, Whaiuru
Ana Whaiato, Whaiato, Whaiato
I arara tini i arara tini,
I arara ri-i!

E ko tena, tena;
E ko tena, tena;
E hara ko te wai o taku hoe.
Ko te wai o taku hoe
Hei koti, hei koti, hei koti-i-i!
E ka rere te rere i te waka,
E kutangitangi, e kutangitangi;
E kura tiwaka taua,
E kura tiwaka taua!
E kura wawawa wai,
E kura wawawa wai-i-i!

Dip lightly, dip lightly!
Now a long stroke, a long stroke!
Plunge deeply your paddles,
The paddles Manini-tua and Manini-aro
Tangi-wiwini and Tangi-wawana.
See, dawn is breaking yonder
On the peak of Matatera.
Now, Whaiuru, Whaiuru,
Now, Whaiato, Whaiato,
Now a long strong stroke!

(Here the paddlers pause while the canoe sweeps through the water under the impulse of the last stroke).

Now, again, again!
Again, and again!
That was not the water from my paddle.
The water from my paddle.
Now dig in, cleave it,
A long, strong stroke!
Now we're going along,
How the canoe flies!
How fine the paddles sound
All together!
My grand canoe,
My treasured canoe,
A treasure of the waters!

(A long strong stroke).