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The Arrival

The Arrival

The first landfall was made at Awanui, on the western coast, at the western end of the Ninety Mile Beach. Here some of the crew decided to settle at Kaitaia, a little inland, while the remainder, after resting, continued the voyage. Proceeding to the north, they rounded the North Cape and voyaged down the eastern side of the island. These pioneers probably had directions from some previous voyagers. Had they continued down the western coast they would have found few harbours and dangerous river mouths, whereas by choosing the eastern coast they secured the ultimate advantage of the many beautiful land-locked harbours to say nothing of the abundant islands on which they might land.

It was not until they reached Tauranga that the personnel was again reduced. Here Tamatea, the commander, decided to remain and he handed over the vessel to the command of Tahu, the younger brother of Porourangi.

Tamatea's life in the new land was not, however, a completely happy one. On reaching Tauranga, or Kawhai-nui as it was called, his first act was to plant a sacred flax, called Whara-whara-nui. He then built a pa and named it Te Manga-Tawa. He took a wife from the descendants of Toi, who had peopled this part of the country. Thus his wife was a descendant of his own people. Though the people of the land gave him a new name, or rather changed the latter part of his name, rendering it Tamatea-mai-tawhiti (Tamatea from a distance) it seems that he was respected more by reason of his past accomplishments than because of his present powers. In his own land he had had a definite job to do, but here in the new land the people had their own ariki well versed in the local lore and practices. The life of Tamatea would be aimless and by reason of his high caste the ordinary avenues of common tasks would not be open to him. No doubt his life could be summed up in the oft used Maori page 42proverb, He tangata ano te tangata ki tona kainga a he ariki ki tona iwi (A person is of importance in his own land and an ariki amongst his own people). He lacked prestige of a real kind and also an avenue for his knowledge and power. Shortly after a son was born, whom he named Rongokako, and Tamatea-Ariki-nui, alias Tamatea-mai-tawhiti, passed away to the spirit home of his forefathers.

Tahu had promised Tamatea that he would continue the search for pounamu (greenstone), which was one of the principal objects of the voyage. This involved a journey to Murihiku, or Te-Wai-Pounamu (the South Island). It will be remembered that the greenstone adze, Te Awhio-Rangi mentioned earlier, was obtained in New Zealand and taken back to Hawaiki by the old mariners Ngahue, as related in the history of Tuwhare-toa.

Cruising down the coast the travellers went ashore at various points. In some instances names were bestowed on certain landmarks resembling places in the land they had left. The mountain Hikurangi, the highest peak on the East Coast, is said to have been named by early travellers after a peak in their former home of Hawaiki. Thus our heroes on reaching the Poverty Bay District bestowed the name Whangara on a locality just north of the present town of Gisborne, while the nearby river they named Pakarae. On approaching the mouth of the Turanganui river (on which the town of Gisborne now stands) and observing the high hill nearby to be similar to Titirangi, the hill on which their canoe first took shape, they bestowed the name Titirangi on the hill. This place was destined to be the cradle of the people of Turanganui, a powerful branch of the East Coast tribes.

On the voyage down the coast another very important custom of the Maori was observed. The Maori had no written language. All history, tribal lore, genealogy, and tradition were preserved in a purely verbal manner. It must not be imagined, however, that where was anything slipshod in this manner of preserving racial evidences. Indeed the very reverse was true, for the university of the Maori, known as the whare-wananga, or school of knowledge, was a far purer method of memorising details of history, incantations, etc., than our civilised method known as cramming or swotting. The Takitimu held a precious burden of knowledge, history and tradition in view of the type of personnel which she carried. In all their landings down the coast these experts, by special rites, involving the lighting of ceremonial fires, implanted the mauri, or life-giving spirit, of the whare-wananga in the land. This was a symbolical act, but the page 43symbolism was given practical expression in the years that followed when these places became shrines, ever kept sacred. As occasion offered buildings took shape on or near the spots to house the actual colleges which were an essential part of the life of each tribe.

In due course the party arrived at Nukutaurua (the present Mahia peninsula) at a place called Te Papa near the present Oraka, where the place of landing can still be shown. Here Ruawharo, the priest, decided to settle, and here we leave him until we tell his history in a later chapter. Cruising around the Peninsula, Waikawa (bitter water), the present Portland Island, was visited. Here a shrine was made. Later a whare-wananga was built on the spot and named Ngaheru-mai-tawhiti. This institution was the origin of the mauri, or life principle, which controlled the whole of the East Coast.

The next port of call was Te Wairoa. Riding the waves over the bar of the Wairoa River the canoe entered the river and travelled about four miles before landing at a place called Makeakea, near where the hall of Takitimu now stands. Here one of the skids accidentally fell into the water and became riparian taniwha. A portion of this skid was cut off and taken by the renowned Chief Kopu Para-Para, who fashioned it into a tiki to adorn the top of the barge boards of a house built at Te Hatepe on the Whakapau Block at the bottom of the Ruataniwha Road, a chief fighting pa. In consequence this house became strictly tapu and was named Takitimu after the canoe. Subsequent to the death of Kopu 'the house was removed and rebuilt at Waihirere, where the sacred mana and tapu continued to the extent that no cooked food was allowed inside the building, nor any social amusements held within its precincts. The house stood for approximately 30 years and saw great changes come to the Maori people.

About the year 1898 the building had so decayed as to be of no further use. No native was prepared to dare the tapu to use the timber so it was destroyed by fire, but the sacred land was lonely without its sacred Wharepuni. Perhaps the spirits of the dead sleeping in the Waihirere cemetery, on the bank of the river nearby, would mourn over the land robbed of its meeting-house, so on the 18th September, 1926, the idea of a new meeting-house was discussed. Fathered by Mr. Hata Tepoki, the grandson of the old chief, Kopu, Hata himself being a leader grown wise with the weight of many years, the idea caught the imagination of the tangata whenua, or people of the land, and the present new house page 44of Takitimu grew on the ashes of the old. In another chapter further details of the building and opening of the new Whare-runanga will be given. We have included these few lines to prove the association of the present meeting-house with the original and historic canoe.

An interesting story unfolds as the travellers decided to further their quest for the precious stone. As the canoe neared the mouth of the Waikare River, below Wairoa, they saw inland a high mountain range. Tupai, guardian of the sacred symbols of the gods of the earth and heavens which were on board the canoe, passed upwards a piece of carved wood named a Papauma, the representation of birdlife. The Papauma received life and flew to the top of the range whereat the mountain gave forth a rumbling sound whence rises the name Maunga-haruru (rumbling mountain).

Nothing of further importance happened until the canoe reached the Wairarapa, but here Tupai, one of the priests, decided to settle, taking with him some of the crew. For details see the chapter, "The History of Rongo-kaka." The canoe was thus deprived of last of its three chief men, Tamatea, Ruawharo and Tupai. With these men departed the special mana, favour with the gods and knowledge of the incantations necessary to preserve the sacred character of the vessel. However the fact that it was now a common or polluted canoe (paraheahea) did not prevent the new commander, Tahu-potiki, continuing to the South Island (Murihiku or Te Wai-Pounamu). The destination was the Arahura River, on the West Coast, a river famous for its yield of the valued nephrite. It is a far cry from the famed hill Titirangi across the great ocean and along the shores of Aotearoa to the wooded foothills below the great Southern Alps. In a gorge between these forested hills, miles inland from the sea, the stout craft ended its passage, and here today it is said her timbers lie petrified to a papa ledge in the stream. No further details are given except that on the mountains around have been bestowed the name Takitimu, that the site and surroundings of the last resting place are kept sacred by tapu to the Maori of today, and that the people of this part of the South Island are still known as the Ngati Tahu people, after the name of the final commander. Concerning the present day application of the above mentioned tapu, an interesting story is told concerning the visit to the South Island some years ago of the Maori prophet, Mr. T. W. Ratana. On being told of the tradition and of the locality of the canoe's resting place, the prophet decided to visit the spot himself, not-page 45withstanding the tapu. It is even suggested that he considered himself far too powerful to be affected by an ancient tapu. He set out with a number of his followers. When he had completed all but three miles of his journey a dense fog quietly filled the valley. Such fogs are by no means uncommon in the Westland and often remain for days. His expedition thus defeated, Mr. Ratana declared that notwithstanding his privilege of calling on the Holy Angels to lift the fog and so allow him to proceed, he would nevertheless bow to the wish of the ancient gods that he respect the tapu.

Before we leave the subject of the actual voyage we must mention, so as to be able to refute, certain stories that have been circulated in modern times with a view to discrediting the story and importance of this great canoe of the main migration. It has been stated that the Takitimu wsa stolen from her owners and was commanded by Ruawharo, who also acted as tohunga or navigating priest. A second statement is that the canoe was taken from her owners by force by the two brothers, Ruawharo and Tupai. It is our wish to prove both statements to be impossible and untenable.

We answer the first statement with a question. Is it feasible to assume that such a high born chief as Tamatea-ariki-nui (Tamatea the high Lord) who commanded the canoe, would stoop to such a shameful and degrading act as the theft of an important and sacred canoe? Stealing was held by the Maori to be a most reprehensible crime for a chief of high rank. It has also been alleged that Ruawharo, who stole the canoe, acted as both commander and priest on the voyage. This would be impossible, as each of these dignitaries had a special work to do. Dr. Te Rangihiroa states that "each canoe, besides having a captain or chief, had a tchunga, or priest, who acted as navigating officer. It was his duty to direct the course of the canoe by the stars and the sun in order to follow the sailing directions of the ancestra discoverers who had preceeded them. He also by means of appropriate incantations placated the gods, averted disaster and ensured a successful voyage." This statement is supported by the fact that all the canoes of the migration were stated to have priests as well as commanders. The list of these is as follows:—

Matatua, Toroa was the commander, while Tama-ki-hikurangi was the priest. Tainui: Hoturoa, commander; Rakatauri, priest; Tokomaru Manaia, commander; Rakeiora, priest; Kuruhaupo: Popoto, commander; Ruatea, priest; Aotea: Turi, commander; Te Kapuatoro, priest; Te Arawa: page 46Tama-te-kapua, commander; Ngatoroa-i-rangi, priest; Takitimu: Tamatea-ariki-nui, commander; Ruawharo, priest.

To prove the importance of having a priest in the canoe there is the story of the Arawa canoe. Tama-te-kapua used every means in his power of enticing Ngatoroa-i-rangi to take the priesthood as he had already been booked on the Tainui canoe. Finally, Kearoa, the wife of Ngatoroa-i-rangi, was induced to leave her seat in the Tainui and to board the Arawa. Observing this, Ngatoroa-i-rangi charged Tama-te-kapua with his action, and Tama in reply once again pleaded with Ngatoro-i-rangi, who had been well versed in the priesthood, to come and be priest in the Arawa canoe. The plea was this time successful.

We should define the difference between the three ranks of priest, chief and ariki. The priest gained proficiency by study, irrespective of his breeding. His duty was to guide and protect the lives of the people, to foretell and warn them of danger, and to tell them how to avert the same. His position and popularity depended mainly on his own acquired knowledge and ability.

Chieftainship under the name of rangatira was sometimes given to a commoner who by his own qualities of leadership had gained prestige. The title died with the holder and was not passed on to his son unless the son had in himself the qualities of leadership. Military genius, organising ability and the providing of food for the people were the main qualifications expected of a rangatira.

An ariki, however, was born into his protected office, and from birth was set apart and guarded by the people. He was looked upon as a divine person. He had rights and attributes all his own. He ate only certain sacred offerings. He settled all ecclesiastical affairs such as those relating to tapu. To him were brought the first fruits of the cultivations and of birds and fishes. He was the curator of all the sacred relics and historical weapons and heirlooms of the tribe. Though he might lose his temporal power he could never lose his sovereign rights. He was essentially holy and an absolute necessity to the tribe. Such ceremonies as the blessing of the crops, the freeing of a war party from tapu, and the preparing of a war party for battle, were incumbent on his presence. His life was even held sacred by an attacking war party, and if necessary safe-conduct was allowed to him and his guardians. Many are the stories, too that are told of the powers in magic and wizardry held by such priests. A priest had the power to create gods from ordinary articles, bestowing supernatural powers upon them. In the reverse he could also deprive such objects of their power.

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Such was the Anki-god-descendcd, bearing a proud lineage from noble ancestors, wielding powers of regal pretensions, even passing the temporal sway of kings. With absolute power of governing the people, he controlled their lives and property, and could dispose of either at will. Such powers would be an absolute necessity to a person in command of a canoe in order to keep discipline among a crew of stalwart warriors. On a modern European vessel a captain is allowed the prerogative of firearms with which to keep order in an emergency. Such facts cause us to disregard the statement that Ruawharo the priest stole the canoe, and acted as both captain and priest on the lone and important voyage.

Regarding the allegation that the canoe was taken by force by the brothers Ruawharo and Tupai from the numerous tribes, Te Tini-o-Pekerangi, Te Tini-o-Whakarauatupa, Te Tini-o-Makehukuhu and Te-Tini-o-Tutakahinahina must also be disregarded. It is not feasible that such a valuable property, so highly tapu, should be taken from such a numerous people.

It is remarkable that these stories should be circulated in present times as they were not mentioned by the writers, to whom we have already referred, who today are looked upon as the historians of the Maori race. These writers, and many others not mentioned, searched both islands for their facts, which were secured from the Maori experts who had been taught, not by the gossip of the street, but in the real and sacred lore of the Whare-wananga. In addition to such worthy New Zealand sources, the historians also secured facts from the islands of Polynesia.