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The Autobiography of a Maori

"I am the Law"

"I am the Law"

The following anecdote was omitted from the biography1 of my grandfather, Mokena Kohere, because I thought that it was merely "Maori talk," but the story has been so persistent that I shall now record it.

Tuta Nihoniho, the well-known Ngati-Porou chief, had committed a breach of the law and, on a visit to Gisborne, he was arrested. In those early days, for a chief to be arrested was, from a Maori point of view, unthinkable. My grandfather happened to be in Gisborne at the time and, in dismay, the Maoris told him of what had happened. He summed up the situation and agreed that it was a disgrace that a relative of his and a fellow-tribesman should be arrested and imprisoned. He hastened to meet the policeman and his charge, then he grabbed Tuta's hand and pulled him from the officer. The officer remonstrated and told Mokena that Tuta had broken the law. The chief then clapped his forehead with his hand and said, "I am the page 134law." The officer wisely said nothing, thereby avoiding a delicate and dangerous situation.