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The Arrival of Toi

The Arrival of Toi

The expedition of Toi was born not of wanderlust but of anxiety. The story is such a very well known one that, rather than present a newly worded version, we will give here the version given by the authority, Dr. Buck, in his book The Coming of the Maori.

"Toi lived in the Hawaiki of Eastern Polynesia, namely, Tahiti. On the occasion of a visit from people of other islands a great regatta was held in the historic lagoon of Pikopiko-i-whiti. Toi and the elders sat on the hill of Pukehapopo whilst the younger men sailed their craft in eager competition. Foremost among the canoemen was Toi's grandson, Whatonga, and his friend Tu Rahiri. Victors in the race and flushed with success these two sailed through the reef opening and out to sea. A sea fog came down and the wind blew strong off the land. They were page 20unable to beat back and thus disappeared into the unseen. Toi waited day after day and week after week. Then with anxiety tearing at his heart strings he manned, his canoe and set off in search. Tradition states that he sailed to Samoa, to Rarotonga, and finally, as a last resort, he determined to seek the land that Kupe, the explorer, had discovered. Perchance to that far land in the south his beloved grandchild had been driven. He had Kupe's sailing directions to keep a little to the right of the setting sun by day and to steer by Venus by night. Tradition states that he missed Tiritiri-Moana, (named Ao-tea-roa by Kupe), as New Zealand was then called, and found the Chatham Islands. Mists, fogs and cold told him that he was too far south so he calmly rectified his mistake and picked up New Zealand. In the Hauraki Gulf he met the tangata-whenua. Intermarriage took place and Toi finally settled at Whakatane in the Bay of Plenty. A terraced pa above the present township is pointed out as Kapute-rangi, where he lived."

Meanwhile Whatonga had safely landed on a Pacific island and after some time sailed back to Tahiti. On learning the news of his grandsire's expedition he fitted out the Kurahaupo canoe and set out in his turn to search for the searcher. At Rarotonga he heard of the direction in which Toi had gone, and without hesitation Whatonga in his turn sailed down to New Zealand. Whatonga made his landfall at the Tongaporutu River on the west. He coasted round the north, and found his grandfather established at Whakatane. As Elsdon Best says, "There these vikings settled down, never more to look upon the palm clad isles of the sunny north, never again to listen to the thunder of driven seas on the guardian reef." We now see that these two canoes came from Eastern Polynesia. Therefore they merely provisioned for the voyage and brought no seed plants. Neither had the people they found in occupation any cultivated foods. Intermarriage took place and mixed Toi tribes arose.

Two hundred years elapsed before the coming of the Takitimu with the main migration. One very important canoe crossed the ocean to Aotearoa midway through that intervening two centuries period. This was the Horouta. We now tell the history of this canoe to preserve the sequence of the story. It will contain some facts of absorbing interest to the student of native affairs. The general reader, however, who wishes to pass on to the story of Takitimu may pass over this chapter.

Also it must not be imagined that the Horouta was the only canoe to come southward in that intervening period. Traditions page 21tell of other voyages and, although these traditions are vague in detail, it is certain that this "last loneliest and loveliest" land "down under" in the Pacific was not completely isolated. It is reasonable to assume that having the sailing directions, other wanderers crossed and recrossed Kiwa's sea. Nevertheless, apart from the Horouta, none of these voyages assumed sufficient proportions to make any serious attempt at further colonising the land, nor could the voyagers themselves have been men of the highest importance or surely the details of their travels would have been better preserved.