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Chapter X. — Trails Round Tutira Lake

page 68

Chapter X.
Trails Round Tutira Lake.

In Maori occupation the water area of Tutira was more productive of food than its solid surface. “Te wai-u o koutou tipuna”—“the milk of your ancestors”—runs the local proverb, signifying the constant supply of food ready to hand from lakes and rivers. It is natural, therefore, that a larger number of place-names, legends, and traditions should have been remembered about the vicinity of the lake, about its shores, small fertile marshes, and promontories, than about the remainder of the run. Most of the traffic was by water; even in the 'eighties there were several old canoes afloat; others still intact rest to this day submerged and safe in Waikopiro. There were narrow trails of a more or less temporary character connecting pa with pa, kainga with kainga, cultivation-ground with cultivation-ground, but probably in many places no permanent route existed. The line of sparsest vegetation would be the only general description of the eastern lake path, a line that must have altered in some degree with every fire run through the flax and fern, with every flood and consequent crop of landslips.

Starting from Piraunui and following the eastern margin of the lake, the trail, such as it was, passed on the right the celebrated spring of water Te Korokoro-a-Hine-rakai, on the left the log Te Waka-o-whakairo, ere reaching the small marsh known in modern days as “Pera's Swamp.” Here on a dry patch of good land stood, in the 'eighties, the remains of an old hut, its little garden plot marked with a patch or two of thyme (Thymus vulgaris). About the dry warm apex of the same valley flourished a considerable peach-grove. On another dry rise, rich in leaf-mould and travertine oozings, grew a single peach-tree. On the farther side of Waikopiro swamp a sharp spur runs down from the main range terminating in the peninsula Te Rewa-a-Hinetu. Upon the page 68a page 69 base of this tongue of land was situated the kainga Te Tuahu, upon its extremity was built the pa Te Rewa already described.

About 100 yards farther up the peninsula are to be seen the remains of a storehouse or whata, the land about it called Te Whare-o-Porua. Proceeding along the margin of a deep bay the promontory Te Apu-te-rangi is reached. Off the front of this peninsula exists, far beneath the water, a cavern or deep chasm, into the proximity of which no canoe would willingly venture. As my informant only knew of it to avoid, I could but learn that even to pass over it inadvertently was in the highest degree unlucky. On Te Apu-te-rangi are to be found the usual indications of occupation, naturally steep banks artificially straightened, level sites of former whare floors, and beds of kakahi shell, intermixed with splintered cooking stones.

To this day there flourishes on Te Apu-te-rangi a remarkably fine cabbage-tree, nourished probably on the remains of the old kitchen midden. The shore-line of the peninsula was particularly holy or tapu, for there in bygone days was the sacred spot—the tuaahu—where the tohungas practised their religious rites. The track then passed over the little flat Kaitaratahi, and 50 yards farther on over the larger marsh Te Whatu-whewhe, where tradition avers that in ancient days a large and valuable slab of greenstone was lost.

Farther along the lake we reach the minute jut of land on which the pa Oporae stood. It was sacked some five generations back by the Mohaka chief, Popoia, one of whose wives had misconducted herself with a stranger from Heretaunga. To rehabilitate the mana of Popoia two tauas 1 or war-parties were sent forth from Mohaka. Arriving on the

1 Manning, in his inimitable ‘Old New Zealand,’ thus describes the taua: “Now something moves in the border of the forest—it is a mass of black heads. Now the men are plainly visible. The whole taua has emerged upon the plain. … They are formed in a solid oblong mass. The chief at the left of the column leads them on. The men are all equipped for immediate action; that is to say, quite naked except their arms and cartridge-boxes, which are a warrior's clothes. … As I have said, the men are all stripped for action, but I also notice that the appearance of nakedness is completely taken away by the tattooing, the colour of the skin, and the arms and equipments. The men, in fact, look much better than when dressed in their Maori clothing. Every man, almost without exception, is covered with tattooing from the knees to the waist; the face is also covered with dark spiral lines. Each man has round his middle a belt, to which are fastened two cartridge-boxes, one behind and one before. Another belt goes over the right shoulder and under the left arm, and from it hangs on the left side and rather behind another cartridge-box, and under the waist-belt is thrust behind, at the small of the back, the short-handled tomahawk for close fight and to finish the wounded. … On they come, a set of tall, athletic, heavy-made men. … They are now half-way across the plain; they keep their formation, a solid oblong, admirably as they advance, but they do not keep step: this causes a very singular appearance when distant. … This mass seems to progress towards you with the creeping motion of some great reptile, and when coming down a sloping ground this effect is quite remarkable.”

page 70 same day respectively at Oporae and Te Rua-o-tunuku, a village near the site of the Tangoio wash-out, the inhabitants of both were slain, one man only escaping from Oporae. Considerations of why the people of Oporae should have been slain because a stranger from a district thirty miles south had insulted a chief of a sept twenty miles north, would lead us deep into the intricacies of Maori tribal custom; suffice it to say that every insult had to be expiated, if not on the person of the offender or his relatives, then on some other man or tribe, or failing that, even on inanimate nature.

Our track proceeding along the shore-line Te Ewe-o-Tutata, now passed the conglomorate cave Te Ana. “It was in the deep bay opposite that a chief named Tamairuna had cast his net for the purpose of catching eels. Tamairuna was holding one end of the net and his men the other. Presently they felt the net being dragged away from them by the taniwha known to haunt the bay. Their strength was powerless against the monster. Tamairuna had a wife called Te Amohia whom he had deserted some time previously, and who was noted for her prowess as a diver, and who possessed some kind of affinity or occult sympathy—it is difficult to give the meaning exactly—with the taniwha. So much at any rate was this the case that she was known as Te Uritaniwha, the descendant of the taniwha. Tamairuna placed great value on his net. Having now lost it, his thoughts reverted to Te Amohia. He paid her a visit, and eventually succeeded in persuading her to consent to dive for his net. Preparing herself for the task by the recitation of proper karakias—incantations—Te Amohia dived into the subaqueous cavern and found the net rolled together and placed in front of the taniwha. Forbidding the monster to molest her, she pulled the net away and rising above water carried it back.”

The track next passed the locality Te Ewe-o-Kautuku, situated between the edge of the lake and the great solitary hill Te Hinu-o-Taorua—the fat of Taorua. “It was so named because, when the days came for digging one of its ridges for fern-root, this man's body brought from Tangoio was eaten as a relish—kinaki—with the fern-root.”

Reverting once more to the shore-line we reach the headland Taupunga. This headland of several acres has at one time been connected with the aforementioned hill only by the narrowest of ridges. It must then have been admirably adapted for defence. Though it is difficult to fix the date of occupation with any degree of accuracy, page 71 that there has been prolonged settlement is proved by the huge deposits of kakahi shell and splintered cooking stone, which are in places feet deep intermixed with soil. Taupunga may have been a pa when the Maori race was at its zenith in numbers. Except during that period it is unlikely that any population resident on Tutira could have manned so large a space. There are, at any rate, no signs of its use except as a kainga between the cessation of intertribal fighting and the beginning of war with the white settler.

A hundred yards inland, on the margin of the Kahikanui Swamp, and immediately beneath the western spurs of the hill Te Hinu-o-Taorua, flourished in the 'eighties large peach - and cherry-groves. The former fruit had been planted by the Maori in his last decade of occupation, the latter by the white man immediately after arrival on the run. Close to this orchard grew, in '82, three tall white pines, survivors of the kahika grove, from which the flat had probably taken its name. At this date, too, the remains of a reed-thatched whare still stood by the pine-trees. It had been for a considerable time station headquarters, one of the halting-places of the ark ere it finally rested on Otutepiriao, the site of the present homestead. Amid the then densely growing flax there existed also a clearing of several acres, the chance result of fire probably, in the first instance, but later taken advantage of and utilised for cropping, as in the case of the grubbed grounds of the Mangahinahina, and the fertile slips and washings of the “Racecourse Flat.”

Proceeding, our track passed over the point of the steep spur Te Pou. A little farther along the lake lies the island Tauranga-koau, well known in east coast history on account of the death of Ti Waewae and the vengeance of the Ngai-Tatara, or, as they were later known, the Ngati-kuru-mokihi. Ti Waewae had married Hitau, a sister of Te Whatanui, a chief of the Ngati-raukawa, a war-party of whose tribe was defeated near Puketapu. The survivors fled for protection to Ti Waewae, who was then living with the Ngati-paru at Te Putere. He entertained, then slew and ate his guests, a procedure by the way which must not shock my readers, which may indeed have been perfectly correct—tika,—for we cannot apply to tribal custom the standard of Christian ethics. He may have, like Fhairshon1 in Bon Gaultier, but avenged an ancestral wrong committed generations back. Be that as it may, awaiting events Ti Waewae established himself on Tauranga-koau, and there prepared

1 “It is now six hundred coot long years and more since my glen was plundered.”

page 72 himself for the return match in true Maori fashion. “During the siege of the island mokihis or rush-rafts were used, and all sides of the pa attacked. It could not be taken, so at length a truce was called. Now Hitu, the sister of Te Whatanui, had taken part with her brother against her husband Ti Waewae. From the shore she called to him. She induced him to leave the island in a canoe laden with eels, the which eels were ngakau.” I gather that in some way their acceptance entitled the giver to fair-play, to consideration, at the very least that


he should have been done to death correctly. Not even that last melancholy consolation was accorded Ti Waewae—he was just killed, knocked on the head in the common or garden way, and with him another man Paia, who, “feeling love for Ti Waewae,” was resolute to share the fate of his chief.1

1 My admiration for poor, loyal, simple-hearted Paia, who chivalrously chose to share the fate of his chief and friend, met with but scant sympathy; my interpreter, the Rev. P. A. Bennett, related to both races, who had hitherto thought well of me, looked very grave. Pera and Te Hata made no bones about the matter, but burst forth with deep-chested emphatic scorn—porangi! porangi!—mad! mad!—and perhaps from the business point of view it might have been wiser, as they explained, to live and slay rather than be slain. From the tribal point of view Paia had just wasted himself.

page 73

Notwithstanding the fact of Ti Waewae's death at the hands of Te Kahu-o-te-rangi, the defenders of the pa continued to present a bold front. The siege, however, endured until the Ngai-Tatara, hard pressed, decided to consult the sacred oracle—te tuaahu—to discover what lay in the future. Te Whitiki and Tunui-o-te-ika were the tribal deities of the Ngai-Tatara. It was the latter who was now, through the medium of the tohungas, consulted. He was the god of revenge, of evil passions. If any man had given offence to the tribe, if it was desired that punishment should be meted out to any individual, the assistance of Tunui-o-te-ika was invoked. It was, however, necessary before response—or, to use a modern phrase which perfectly expresses the meaning, before contact could be obtained—to lay before the god something that had belonged to the offending party—a personal ornament, lock of hair, fragment of clothing, the imprint of a footmark, spittle collected from the ground. The abode of Tunui-o-te-ika was a miniature waka or canoe, which was moved, as occasion called, from place to place. The avatar of the god was shown as a trail of fire, visible not only to the priests but to all members of the tribe; Pera was emphatic in the use of the words “All, the whole world.”

In this dilemma of the tribe, the proper rites and incantations having been performed, Tunui-o-te-ika, taking the direction of the rocks, Te Puku, manifested himself in a trail of fire “like a comet,” and here sped to earth. The interpretation of the fiery flight was plain—towards that spot the Ngai-Tatara were bidden to withdraw. Their canoes, which had been hidden in the pa, were accordingly prepared, though it was realised by the elders of the tribe that there was not room for all. The difficulty was surmounted by the decision that only the male members of the tribe should make their escape, and that the womenfolk should be left to the mercy of the enemy. Even the infant males were taken. Ma ratau e ngaki te mate—“give us all the boys, because they will be needed to seek revenge for this disaster.”

During the darkness of the night, therefore, the Ngai-Tatara dragged their canoes noiselessly and stealthily into the lake, the page 74 tohungas reciting ceaseless incantations so that the enemy might not be disturbed and wakeful. The manning of the canoes and the retirement were successful: no single male of the Ngai-Tatara remained on Tauranga-koau. In the darkness they escaped, passing through the narrows of Ohinepaka, landing on the east edge of Waikopiro, and there sinking their canoes in deep water. At last, safely on the heights of Te Puku, facing about and looking towards their island, they exclaimed, “Hei konei ra e kui ma e hine ma”—“Farewell to our women, our daughters farewell.”1

After the departure of the warriors of the Ngai-Tatara, the attacking party seized the island and made prisoners of the womenfolk, old and young, who were taken ashore at a spot known as Te Papa-o-Waiatara. As most of the attacking party were from Te Urewera, the women were carried captive in a northerly direction. During the retreat, according to ancient custom, large fires were lighted at nightfall, for illumination and warmth. Te Amohia, a woman of high rank amongst the prisoners, visited nightly each of these fires, her purpose being to discover how her people fared, to study the situation, and to disarm any suspicion that escape might be attempted. For three successive nights this was done. On the fourth evening, when the party was not far distant from Mohaka, Te Amohia whispered her plans to her particular cronies—her “aunties” as Te Hata-Kani delighted to call them,—Whangawehi and Mohu. Towards midnight the three made their escape.

The leader of the Urewera people, whose name has been forgotten—one of the very few lapses of memory on the part of Te Hata-Kani—noticed after a time that Te Amohia and her companions had not returned to their accustomed place. He thereupon called out, “Te

1 In explanation of this act of desertion I cannot but quote from a book of mine, ‘Mutton Birds and Other Birds,’ published years before I had heard of the retreat from Tauranga-koau: “Some readers will have noted with surprise and some with pain that the conduct of the male tit during the cuckoo episode stands forth in no very noble light. Those who have done so are thinking in terms of man and not of bird. His concealment of himself in the thicket we should designate by such foolish words as ‘cowardly,’ ‘unmanly,’ and ‘unchivalrous’; but the verdict of male tits would consider that his proceedings were wise, eminently proper, and that he could not have acted otherwise and yet done his duty. What man calls chivalry, which ordains that the male shall perish under all circumstances to save the female, has no place in the working of the minds of male animals. If we can imagine in a community of tits some disaster analogous to that of insufficient boat accommodation in a sinking liner, the male birds would firstly save themselves, not for themselves but for the race, for their future broods.” The males of the Ngai-Tatara hapu were no doubt subconsciously actuated by a similar instinct.

page 75 Amohia, kei hea koe?
”—“Te Amohia, where are you?” There was no response. He then shouted to the guardians of the other fires, “Do you see Te Amohia?” The reply was, that she had been seen last returning from the direction from which he called. Te Amohia and her two companions had disappeared. At break of day chase was given, and the enemy leader, by far outstripping his fellows, got on to the tracks of the fugitives. As Te Amohia and her companions were nearing a certain patch of bush, looking back they saw their pursuer not far behind. Te Amohia was equal to the occasion; bidding her friends “kia whakanga”—“rest and get their breath”—she prepared herself for the fray. She had previously, when crossing a stream, picked up a long-shaped stone, partly for the preparation of fern-root for food and partly in anticipation of the possibility of such a crisis as had now occurred.

The women after resting for a few moments no longer troubled themselves about further concealment, but took up positions of defence behind their leader. Te Amohia, knee on ground and body resting on her heel, crouched in front: in this posture their pursuer discovered the three women. He was armed with a long-handled battle-axe, the blade of which was steel, for by this date the change from the old régime to the new had extended to weapons of war. On approaching the women he shouted and went through the usual gestures of a warrior about to strike. Perhaps in order the more to intimidate his victims, he slashed at the boughs on his right and left, leaving no doubt in their minds about his strength and skill in management of the weapon. With boughs falling at every blow, nearer and nearer he drew to the three women. He had not taken into account that Te Amohia belonged to a warrior tribe—that the blood of the Ngai-Tatara flowed in her veins. She never lifted her eyes from the ground; she sat stolid, missing no movement, her eyes fixed upon her foeman's toes. She knew that before he struck he must first thrust them deep into the earth to obtain a firmer grip. At last he gathered himself for the blow. Lifting his battle-axe to the height he brought it down with tremendous force, intending to cleave Te Amohia's head. Te Amohia, however, leapt aside, and not only parried it with her right hand and arm, but ere the striker had regained his balance, darted up, caught him by the hair and dragged him over, calling to her companions—her “aunties,” dear old venerable things!—to come to her assistance. Then ensued a fierce page 76 struggle for the axe, Te Amohia in the end obtaining possession of it at the cost of a badly-cut hand. The three ladies then pounded their enemy's head till he was senseless, when Te Amohia placed her foot on his neck, and with all the strength she could command, “once, twice, three times did she strike, and every time the axe was buried in his brain.” The three women then cut him open, and tearing out his heart, still warm and pulsating, Te Amohia placed it in the palm of her right hand, and raising it above her head according to the ancient rite of “whangai hau,” offered it as an oblation to her mana or atua.

It is interesting to note, as another example of the change from heathen to Christian nomenclature and Christian custom, that in later life Te Amohia became Elizabeth—or rather its equivalent in Maori, Riripeti; under that name, dressed in European style, and doubtless a professing member of the Church of England, she was well known to Pera and Te Hata-Kani when they were boys as a quiet, pious, elderly lady.

Well, years passed away, but the desire to seek utu—payment, revenge—for the Tauranga-koau mishap, and especially vengeance on Te Mautaranui, the Urewera chief, still burnt fierce in the hearts of our brave little hapu, which now, instead of Ngai-Tatara, was more commonly known as Ngati-kuru-mokihi, those who had been attacked by means of mokihi or rush-rafts.

Its warriors met in conclave and decided that one of their number, Hunuhunu, should be despatched as embassy to the various tribes along the route to Te Wairoa, beyond which lay the vast tract of the Urewera country, the country of Te Mautaranui. Hunuhunu accordingly set forth, carrying on his back a taha huahua or calabash of preserved tui. At Wai-hi-rere, in the neighbourhood of Te Wairoa, he met Te Apatu, the leading chief of that locality. To him he explained his mission and asked for assistance in seeking utu from the Urewera tribe; his speech completed, he presented the calabash of preserved birds to Te Apatu. That chieftain, however, did not commit himself by acceptance, but accompanying Hunuhunu, bade him proceed to Tiakiwai, the chief of the Awatere. Hunuhunu repeated to Tiakiwai the proposal already made to Te Apatu, proffering to him also the calabash. Tiakiwai, following the example of Te Apatu, also declined the dangerous gift, but accompanying Hunuhunu through his tribal lands, passed on his guest to Ngarangimataeo at Te Ruataniwha. Ngarangimataeo in his page 77 turn put aside the calabash, but forwarded Hunuhunu to Puhirua, the chief of Pakowhai, who in his turn again sent him on to Tuakiaki at Te Reinga. In presence of Tuakiaki and his people, once again Hunuhunu presented the fateful calabash with all its conditional implications. It was accepted, Tuakiaki distributing its contents to each of the other chiefs to whom Hunuhunu had previously addressed himself.

The Tutira emissary was bidden, moreover, return to his home with the message that Tuakiaki would obtain satisfaction for the attack upon Tauranga-koau, that vengeance would be taken on Te Mautaranui. Tuakiaki's method was simplicity itself: he gathered together huge supplies of pig, potatoes, and other delicacies, depositing the food at a place called Te Papuni. Te Mautaranui was invited. He came. There was a great feast, at the conclusion of which Tuakiaki pulled out a patu concealed beneath his mat, and with it there and then slew Te Mautaranui; again to quote the ballad of “Fhairshon,” “drew his skiandu and stuck it in his powels.”

The chiefs visited by Hunuhunu had in fact agreed that it would be wise policy for them to remove Te Mautaranui and so get rid of the cause of offence,—as Te Hata put it, in the language of the New Testament, it was expedient that one man should die for many. Had the Ngai-Tatara been permitted to send their raiding party through the district, one or other of the tribes through whose territory the taua would pass was certain to have suffered.

After Te Mautaranui had been killed, his body was cooked by a method of grilling, the dripping being caught in a miniature vessel shaped in the form of a canoe. Nothing was wasted. The more savoury parts with the tongue on top were placed in the self-same calabash that Hunuhunu had carried from Tutira, and over them the fat was poured. Finally, the mouth of the calabash was covered with skin saved for that purpose from the elegantly tattooed buttocks of the slain chieftain. The calabash was then carried to Tutira by Tuakiaki's people, together with a bundle of Te Mautaranui's bones to be used as fish-hooks: this was a very terrible indignity—the bones, it was emphasised to me, from time to time crinkling and creaking in their rage and remonstrance, “for it is in that manner that the spirits of the departed speak.”

Thus was utu obtained for the mishap at Tauranga-koau, for Te page 78 Mautaranui's tribe never attacked again. They contented themselves with composing a lament for their chief—a lament which, in later times, became a taunt in the mouths of the Ngati-kuru-mokihi against Te Mautaranui's people: “Ko te papa i a matou ko te waiata i a ratou”—“We got the victory, they got the song.” The tangis printed are—the first, a lament for Te Mautaranui; the second, the lament of Koa for Ti Waewae.

(Lament for Te Mautaranui.)

“Te rongo o te tuna e hau mai ra
Kei te Papuni kei a Wharawhara.
Nau te whakatau-a-ki nei
Te uri o Mahanga whakarere kai, whakarere waka:
A te uri o Tuhoe, moumou kai moumou taonga
Momou tangata ki te po.
Hinga nui atu ra ki te aroaro o Hineireireia:
To kiri wai kauri na Wero i patupatu.
Tarahau nga hinu, e tarahau ki runga o Mohaka:
Tarahau nga wheua e, tarahau ki runga o Tangitu,
Kia kai mai e, te ika i Rangiriri,
Tutara kauika te wehenga ka uki,
E tika ana koe mo Te Ro mo Te Apa-rakau.
Na Tikitu na te uri o Whiro-ki-te-po
Taiwhakaea-ki-te ao.
Haere ki roto o Tutira mo Ti Waewae.
Na tatou koe i tango kino.
Koa tu mai ra e Tohe i te hauauru
Ka ea ko te mate
Tenei e tai ma o tatou kape
Koi hianga i a Te Tamaki ma
I riro mai ai a Te Heketua, i mate ai Nuhaka.
Tona whakautu pahi ko Te Rama-apakura.
Haere ki roto o te Mahia, mo Kahawai mo Kauae-hurihia.
Inumanga wai te rito o Te Rangi
Te pa taea i Pu-te-karoro,
I tangi ai te umere, pae noa ki te one
I Taiwananga e I!”

(Lament of Koa for Ti Waewae.)

“Tenei taku toto te whakahekea nei
Rauiri rawa koe i taku rau huruhuru,
He tianga raukura no Te Mau-tara-nui,
Nau te hotu e, i riro ai ko te hoa.
E koro tu kino, te whai-kohatia
page 79 Ikapohia pea I te mata o te tao
I te aro-a-kapa, te tohu a te tane,
Nau i moumou, nau i tapae,
Ka mahora kai waho.
Ma Te Ahi-kai-ata,
Ka whakatarea koe ki ‘te ika a ngahue’
Tiro hia ra te manu nui a Tiki
Ko te riu tena I whakahekea iho
Ki te wai-o-Taue, no runga nga puke
No Maunga-haruharu, no Tatara-kina
No roto i nga whanga.
Ma o teina koe e utu ki te hue
Mau e moumou te ‘Ahu-a-Kuranui’
E rere kau atu sa.
Nau i whakakore te ‘Whatu-o-Poutini,’
Te kahu o te tipua, te ‘kiri o Irawaru,’
Te rau o te ngahere
Puai ki te whare i.

Although Te Mautaranui had been killed and utu had been obtained as far as the Urewera tribes were concerned, the Ngati-kuru-mokihi leaders felt that Te Whatanui's people must be made to suffer also, for he it was who had instigated the attack on Tauranga-koau. The five chiefs of the Wairoa district, combined with the Ngati-kuru-mokihi, made, therefore, a united raid upon Te Roto-a-tara, where some of Te Whatanui's people of the Ngati-raukawa tribe were living. During the fight Te Momo, the leader of the Ngati-raukawa, and most of his tribe were killed. The raiders then proceeded to Te Whiti-o-tu, vanquishing there another sept of the Ngati-raukawa tribe. Proceeding then to the Taupo district, they again attacked relatives of Te Whatanui living at Omakukara on the western shores of lake Taupo. There they killed Te Whaunui and Matetahora, the leading chiefs, and a large number of lesser name and fame. Thus was utu fully obtained for Tauranga-koau.

By the time the triumphant taua had regained Tutira, the tide of Christianity was spreading like a flood, tribal warfare was coming to an end. Hence arose the saying of the Ngati-kuru-mokihi: “Ko Te Roto-a-Tara, ko Te Whiti-o-tu, ko Omakukara, ka iri te ake i te whare, e iri nei, tae ana mai tenei ra”—“After the battles of Roto-a-tara, Whiti-o-tu, and Omakukara, we hung up our weapons in our houses, and there they have hung unto this day.”

After this very long digression, once again returning to our trail and passing Te-Papa-o-Waiatara, Ti Waewae Hangi, and the shoal page 80 Rukutoa, we reach the point of the long ridge Paopao-a-Toki, the northernmost ridge on the east shore of Tutira. About it were the usual signs of ancient settlement, levelled sites of huts, scattered tufts and patches of the native grasses already named. None of my informants know anything of the spot beyond the fact that tradition avers that men had dwelt there in very ancient times. It may have been off the shoal Rukutoa—history does not specify the exact spot—that on one occasion a man named Te Uaha set his hinakis. After a proper time had elapsed he returned to take away his catch. Pulling up the first
Oporae and Taupunga.

Oporae and Taupunga.

hinaki, there was no eel in it; the second wicker pot yielded no better result. When he came to the third also empty—failure in the capture of food was always a bad sign, an omen of impending danger—he muttered to himself, “he kopunipuni pea i kore ai”—“the presence of a raiding party must account for the absence of eels.” Now Te Uaha suffered from a growth on his neck which affected his voice, giving it a peculiar guttural sound, which, by the way, my informant Te Hata-Kani imitated in a highly diverting manner. Te Uaha accordingly paddled home, and relating his ill-luck with the hinakis, the usual defensive preparations were made by the tribe. Well, sure enough there did page 81 happen to have been a taua lying concealed amongst reeds and flax on the shore of the lake. Imagining themselves detected and foreseeing the raid would fail, they took their departure. The mahia Tutira—the sound-carrying property of the lake surface, or, as Pera rendered it into English, the “Tutira telephone”—conveying Te Uaha's hoarse whisper had balked the foray.1

The lands immediately north of Paopao-a-toki close to the lake were called Te Puna. Behind this locality, also on flat alluvial ground, where the Papakiri flows into the swamp and loses or rather used to lose itself in morass and peat-bog, are the lands Te Whakapuni a Te Whatu-i-Apiti. There, ere a cut made in modern times had connected the stream with the lake, the bed of the Papakiri terminated in a string of deep blind holes, the surplus water percolating through the swamp in drought as through a sponge or evenly overflowing it in flood. It had been farther blocked by the malice of Te Whatu-i-Apiti, a leading chief of the southern part of Heretaunga, whose principal pa was at Te Roto-a-tara. Besides high birth, Te Whatu-i-Apiti had another claim to fame; his hair—a rare although not a unique occurrence amongst Maoris—was red, or as my friend Te Hata-Kani called it, “ginger.” He had eaten the eels of Tutira at the large huis—gatherings—of the Heretaunga people, and like all men who had tasted these delicacies, cast covetous eyes upon the lake producing them. He set out for Tutira during the summer time with a large fighting force. Arriving at the northern end of the lake, and evidently fearing the strength of the Ngati-kuru-mokihi, he did not dare to attack, but decided to divert the stream Papakiri, which flowed into the great marsh, and so cause the lake to decompose—pirau—and as a consequence kill the eels. This he did, causing some little time afterwards a frightful stench to arise from the lake.2

In the meantime the local people, not much perturbed, watched his doings from a distance. At last, when Te Whatu-i-Apiti saw that the Ngati-kuru-mokihi would neither attack him nor leave their lake, he vacated the district. His embankments were destroyed, and once more

1 My own experience of the mahia Tutira fully substantiates this story. In '82, lying awake at Kahikanui awaiting dawn one still morning, I heard our station cook awaking my partner in the hut on Piraunui, distant fully a mile across the lake. The carriage of his voice, every syllable distinct and clear, was the more remarkable as the reveille was uttered into the whare in an opposite direction to that in which I was lying.

2 I pass the story on as it was told, but would point out for the fair fame of Tutira that its lake is fed from innumerable springs and brooks besides the Papakiri.

page 82 the Papakiri returned to its old course; its fresh healing waters stayed the process of decomposition.

Whatever may have been his methods and reputation on Tutira, Te Whatu-i-Apiti—a kinsman by the way of the Tutira folk whom he had treated so scurvily—was received in friendly fashion at Tangoio, where then stood the strongly-fortified pa Te-rae-o-Tangoio—“the forehead of Tangoio.” Tangoio had been a celebrated chief of the very ancient Toi people who owned these islands before the time of the Maori, and upon his deathbed had requested that his pa should be thus named. Here on this fine foreland or forehead, the red-haired Te Whatu-i-Apiti was entertained by Tataramoa, whose wife Porangi was a descendant of Kohipipi. There he formed an attachment to Tukanoi, his host's daughter, and there he stayed a considerable time. Parting with Tukanoi—he was a man of no particular refinement of feeling—these were his good-bye words: “Ki te whanau to tamaiti he urukehu me tapa tona ingoa ko Whakatau, ke te whanau he mangu, he tane ke nana”—“If your boy is born with red hair, call him Whakatau; if he is born with black, I shall know you have been with other males.”

As a matter of fact, Te Hata-Kani here made a slip, using the anglicised word “tariana”—stallion—instead of the true Maori word “tane”—male,—his sentence running: “If your boy is born with red hair, call him Whakatau; if he is born with black, I shall know you have been with other stallions.” After all, however, as the old man insisted, the sense was the same.

Well, in due course the anticipated boy was born, and let us hope and trust, to the gratification and not to the surprise of the damsel Tukanoi, his hair was red; he had come true to type and was duly called Whakatau. At a later period the event proved a fortunate incident for the people of Tangoio. It happened this wise: Otua of Tangoio married a sister of Te Hiku-o-Tera of Herataunga, a man of immense stature. One day whilst the giant lay asleep, Te Otua, his brother-in-law, particularly struck with his length from hip to knee, stooped down and began to take exact measurements, not as white men do by “hands” or “feet,” but by the Maori method of clenched fists.

It was an enormous limb, a titanic limb, a limb that Porthos might have envied. In his excitement Te Otua forgot his manners and the decencies of reticence; neglecting caution in an ecstasy of delight and enthusiasm, he exclaimed to himself as he proceeded with page 83 his calculations: “Katahi, ka rua, ka toru,”—a free translation of which might run: “One, awaia! Two, a very tree!! Three, a sapling totara!!!” and so on. Now human leg - bones in those days were useful to others than their proper owners. Te Hiku-o-Tera perhaps may have been aware that his were dangerously valuable, he may have been unduly sensitive. At any rate, as ill-luck would have it, he woke during the operation, and, furious at the insult as he considered it, accused Te Otua of measuring his understandings with a view to converting them into bird-spears, for the longer the bone the more highly was it prized for this purpose. In high dudgeon he left the pa, and returning, reported the incident to his chief, Te Whatu-i-Apiti. In those times an insult to an individual was an insult to his tribe. A war party accordingly was collected—its leader, however, being warned by Te Whatu-i-Apiti that his red-haired son Whakatau, whom he had never seen, was on no account to be hurt.

The taua made its approach by way of the beach, between which and the pa lay a broad lagoon, at that season covered with multitudes of duck. Less wary and wakeful, however, than the geese of the Capitoline, they were circumvented by the following stratagem: Each warrior provided himself with plumes—pua kakaho—of the tall graceful toe-toe grass (Arundo conspicua), and thus camouflaged crept after midnight quietly round the lagoon, crossed the stretch of water—sometimes, it is said, actually touching the unsuspicious duck—and established himself beneath the outworks of the pa. There the reassembled warriors awaited the earliest dawn—“Kia kitea nga turi,”—“until it was light enough to see a man's knees.”

Just before daybreak a woman from the pa, happening to go out, saw the taua just below. She gave the warning by exclaiming: “Ko te whakaariki!”—“hostile raiders!” Te Otua was the first man up after the warning. Snatching his bundle of pointed manuka spears, he rushed along, biting the material with which they were bound. Running thus he stepped on the spot where the refuse flax of the village was deposited. It was about a couple of feet thick with the butts of the great blades, and as Te Otua rushed forward his feet slid on the slippery surface and he landed fairly in the middle of the enemy. The gigantic Te Hiku-o-Tera, whose hip-bones had been so rudely measured, was foremost in the attacking party. Recognising Te Otua in the scuffle, he exclaimed: “Koia tenei!”—“This is he!” At page 84 once they pounced upon and killed him. With utu thus procured, Te Hiku-o-Tera called to Whakatau to reveal himself; the taua departed, the red-headed son of Te Whatu-i-Apiti returning with his new-found friends to Heretaunga.

It will be now convenient to return to the southern extremity of the lake, and from there follow up the track on the western side. From the flat Piraunui it passed over the ridge of land situated between the lakes Orakai and Waikopiro. Continuing northwards along the margin of the lake, it reached the peninsula Tautenga upon which the wool-shed stands. Here the lakes Tutira and Waikopiro used to be separated by what was an impenetrable morass, but is now, owing to stock traffic, a sandy bar. The peninsula, now much eroded by traffic of sheep, must have at one time been utilised as a burying-ground, for numbers of skulls and human bones have been exposed as the light top-soils have become worn away. Below its broken northern edge rests the rock also named Tautenga; and not far distant, in deep water, lies, or used to lie, the log Te Rewa-a-Hinetu. It is fifteen feet in length, a foot and a half in girth, and bears a general resemblance to a fish's head. As its name Rewa—the floater—implies, it is endowed with the magic power of moving from spot to spot, the trail of its progress being then distinct on the sandy bottom. Its approach to Tautenga was particularly ill - omened, and used to presage death in the hapu. Te Rewa-a-Hinetu is a branch of a tree named Mukakai, which has travelled from the South Island up the coast to Otaki; another branch rests in the Wairarapa lake, another at Tikokino, another at Te Putere. The presence of any portion of this famous tree is said to be indicative of abundance. With its disappearance the food supply of the tribe is said to dwindle and diminish.

Debouching on to the hill at Tautenga are two spurs—the one known in modern times as the wool-shed ridge, Te Mata, and the other Te-roa. The latter was a guide to the shoal called Urumai; when from the surface of the lake the range Urumai on Kaiwaka station could be detected over the dip in the Te-roa saddle, the shoal Urumai could also be located exactly. The correct method of obtaining eels from this spot was to strike the paddles noisily, causing the eels below to dive into the mud, where they could be speared. Travelling northwards along the lake edge we page 84a
The Rock Tautenga. In ancient times the approach of the log Te Rewa-a-Hinetu towards the rock Tautenga presaged death in the hapu.

The Rock Tautenga.
In ancient times the approach of the log Te Rewa-a-Hinetu towards the rock Tautenga presaged death in the hapu.

page 85 cross the brook Waipara, which used to filter through a small raupo and flax marsh. Some hundred yards farther on we reach the flat Otutepiriao, whereon is built the present homestead. On the north of this flat is a low bluff covered with deposits of kakahi shell; east of it, in thirty feet of water, projects the snag Karuwaitahi.

Still following our trail, we reach the deepest indentation on the west—the bay Te Kopua or Ngaha. On the southern edge of this bay is another bluff, lower in height, called Pari - karangaranga. Te Kopua was in very ancient days the name of this bay, but later it was renamed after the woman Ngaha. Upon her death she was buried in a cavity high above the lake. From this height the taniwha, whose dwelling was in deep water, carried her in her amo or bier. “It is true; the cave from which the body of Ngaha was torn is still on the hill-top; one of the poles of the amo protrudes to this day from the centre of the bay. Her little dog Pakiri, changed into a great stone, lies even now submerged in shallow water.”

As amongst other primitive peoples, strange natural phenomena tend to suggest fabulous tales. In two cases cited, caves have been responsible for legends of magicians and monsters. We have now a chasm on the hill originating the story just given, a snag in the bay and a curious rock fragment substantiating the details of the legend.

Crossing a small flax swamp our trail bifurcated—one path running over low barren hill-tops until, on the far side of the hill Ko - te - pakiata, Maheawha, the ancient ford of the stream draining Tutira lake, was reached; the other track, closely following the lake edge, passed successively spots or localities of land called Okuraterere, Te Kahika, the peninsula Kaiwaka, Te Karamu, Te Maire, and the water-hole Te Korokoro-o-Hineraki. Finally, the two tracks circling the east and west shores of Tutira reunited at the outflowing stream on the lands named Whakarongo - tuna. From this last - named place—the north - westerly extremity of the lake—a deep slow-flowing creek, Tutira, runs its lazy course, meandering towards the ancient ford, Maheawha. Betwixt this crossing and the mouth of the lake it is probable that in olden times more food was obtained than from the whole of the rest of the station: sixteen patunas, or eel-weirs, were known and named in one short half mile of water.

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At the crossing itself stood also a whare-tuna—an eel-house or eel-lodge.

It was not a tribal possession, but belonged to the individual upon whose land it was built—to him and to his relatives.

The size of a whare-tuna varied according to locality and depth of stream, but was about 15 feet long, 1 ½ feet high, and 4 feet wide; the sides, roof, and ends were made of manuka lashed with flax, in the same manner as raupo is bound together on the sides of a whare-puni or sleeping-house; there were three or four observation holes on top, sufficiently big to admit a man's hand. At the outer wall, next to the stream and away from the bank, stones were placed to withstand the force of the current. The down-stream end was also blocked and weighted down with stones. The upper end, into which the stream or part of the stream flowed, remained open. Lastly, the interior of the whare-tuna was made snug and comfortable by loosely filling it with water-weed—rimurimu. It was a permanent trap that required no watching, no baiting, and no lifting, and must have proved particularly serviceable to such wanderers as the Ngai Tatara. There the eels congregated, sometimes so thickly as perceptibly to raise the temperature of the water; to obtain them the only precaution necessary was a soft-footed approach.1

On occasions when eels were wanted a pliable bough or hoop—tutu—was attached or rather jammed against the open orifice of the whare-tuna; to it was fastened the purangi by which a secure way was made towards the huge hinaki or wicker-work pot, where eels required for immediate consumption were placed. When all was ready one man stood with his foot by the small end of the purangi, whilst his companion, inserting his hand into one of the loopholes of the whare-tuna, would feel for an eel and gently turn its head towards the hinaki; he would then give its tail a pinch or squeeze, causing the creature to rapidly shoot forward, the man at the purangi simultaneously lifting his foot to allow passage and immediately replacing it to prevent the escape of other eels already taken. After a heavy haul from the many patunas along the creek Tutira, the surplus fish were often placed in a large reserve eel-pot—hinaki-ruru.

1 When asked what had suggested the idea of the whare-tuna, which seems to have been peculiarly a Ngati-kuru-mokihi institution, Te Hata-Kani replied that when groping beneath the banks of creeks and rivers eels were very commonly found in hollow logs, more particularly in the hollow stems of certain tree-ferns, mamaku and ponga.

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Conditions of eel-fishing on Tutira were remarkable, perhaps unique. As has been explained, in ancient times the waters of the considerable Papakiri stream never directly reached the lake; they soaked through a morass of several hundred acres, finally dripping into the creek Tutira, the creek that carries off the surplus water of the lake. The Maoris believe that in this great sponge of peat and root-fibre lived immense numbers of eels which never visited the lake, and which communicated with the creek by means of holes in the banks. They state, in confirmation, that although eel-weirs built on the bank require the whole width of the stream Tutira, catches as heavy are obtained in the lowermost as in the uppermost patuna. There were, at any rate, three sorts of eels distinguished: the common lake kind—tatarakau; another, also from the lake, rarely caught, much larger, and bronze in colour—riko; and thirdly, the eel of the creek Tutira—pakarara. The bellies of the two kinds of lake eels were, when taken, full of food, chiefly, I gather, a small water-snail; those of the creek eels were invariably empty. The pakarara, when opened up and sun-dried, would keep for four or five days, the tatarakau and the riko for as many weeks.

In view of the fact that the pursuit and capture of the tuna was a most important part of the life of old New Zealand, it is further worth mentioning that in one patuna—Maheawha,—where the waters of the creek Tutira once again begin to run violently,—its owner had to watch all night, taking each eel as it arrived, out of the hinaki. In all others an eel once ensnared was secure; at Maheawha only did eels seem able to find the exit as readily as the entrance.

Rights to these eel-weirs descended from father to son, but this natural transmission of property could be disturbed by force, as in the case of Tutata, or donated from the common property for deeds of arms, as in the case of Pohaki. These stories, dictated to me by Anaru Kune, are as follows:— “Two brothers, Rere and Hongi, went down to set their eel-pots. Now in this patuna the waters could spread abroad in flood-time. These brothers selected the best opening and set their pots, spread like a man's fingers facing the stream. They were at work lashing on the purangi or guiding net to the breastwork when a man called Tutata claimed that particular spot for himself. Getting bad words, Tutata leaped into the stream, and seizing Hongi by the neck, held his head down. When Rere came to help his brother his head was also put under the water till page 88 both their bellies were well filled. Tutata then allowed them to crawl ashore. They lay for some time with their mouths open, the water flowing from their nose and throat. Tutata took the contents of their hinakis, and some say that Rere and Hongi never came back to Tutira. Enough! That place where the eel-pots were set was called Maheawha. It belonged to Hongi and Rere, but was taken by Tutata and remains his property to this day.”

Another story, also dictated by Anaru Kune, the father of 'Pera, shows how property could be presented out of the tribal possessions to an individual, probably for his lifetime only, as the reward for assistance rendered in war.

“The Ngati-manawa were a sub-tribe of the Ngati-apa. On one occasion a party of their warriors coming by way of Maungaharuru raided Tutira. This war-party was led by Kaiawha. The only Tutira people at that time of the year living about the lake were Whai, his wife Te Rangiataahua, and their child Kupa. After the slaughter of Whai, the raiding party, carrying off the woman and child and also a quantity of hinaki, returned to Te Wai-whero in the Maungaharuru. The following day Kaiawha went out to hunt kiwi. His dog was restless and uneasy, and the take of birds poor; this, like the failure of Uaha to obtain eels, as already stated, was construed as an evil omen. Kaiawha returned to his pa and prepared to fight. That night in the dark he was attacked by Pohaki, a prominent Tutira chief. During the fighting Kaiawha shouted to his people, ‘Light up the fires. Tahuna te ahi kia marama ai a Ngati-apa te riri.’ This was wrong. The light from the blazing hinakis showed that Kaiawha's party numbered only eight, and the Tutira men were encouraged. The Ngati-apa were beaten and Kaiawha himself wounded. Some say he hid in a great log and escaped; some say he was never seen again. Pohaki was given two patunas for reward, one at the junction of the Maheawha and the Waikoau, and the other along the stream Tutira. The names of these patunas are—the first Totara and the last Te Kopare. Te Kopare has above it, up-stream, Kahukuranui, and below it, down - stream, Maheawha.” Later, a saying became rife on the countryside, “upoko-pipi”—“soft heads.” It was used to denote the fate of raiding parties who visited Tutira. The exact words run, and the reader can believe they were fully emphasised when told to me, “Tutira upoko-pipi.” Many raids were made upon Tutira, but with the exception of the death of Ti Waewae, no other page 89 rangatiras were taken; every raiding party was beaten, hence the byword, “Tutira upoko-pipi”—“Tutira, the place where heads become soft.”

Kupa, the child thus carried off and rescued, became a man and begat Te Umu-kapiti, who begat Parakau, who begat Aperahama, who begat Anaru, to whom, and to whose son 'Pera, I owe much of the information contained in this chapter.