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Toroa and Puhi-Kai-Ariki

Toroa and Puhi-Kai-Ariki

The history of Toroa, chief of the Mata-tua canoe, and that of his younger brother, Puhi-Kai-Ariki, is so involved that it is necessary to combine both histories. The landing of the Mata-tua canoe at Whaka-tane River has already been recorded. Toroa and his people settled at the pa called Kapu-te-rangi, on a high terrace above the present township of Whaka-tane. This was originally built by Toi-Kai-rakau, and its history set out in an earlier chapter.

The first serious task performed by the immigrants was the making and sanctifying of a tuahu, or sacred place, called the Pouahu. A post or manuka tree was set up on that sacred spot, said to have been situated on the low mound in front of the court house near the river bank. At this tuahu was deposited the mauri of the migration, the material emblem or symbol that ensured the prestige of the vessel and the welfare of its crew. When deposited ashore, mauri represented the life and health of the people, and has ever since been appealed to as the saviour page 66of man, in case of illness and danger. The manuka at Whakatane was the visible symbol of life and well-being.

The next task undertaken by the immigrants was to build houses for themselves and to plant their seed kumara. The most important house was named Tupapaku-rau, and is said to have been a Whare-wananga, or house of learning, wherein was taught the history of the people, and other lore pertaining to their religion, mythology, anthropology, etc. Their cultivated ground was called Matire-rau. The house Tupapaku-rau belonged to Toroa, while his brother Puhi constructed for himself and his followers an earthwork redoubt, and built therein a house named Rahiri-te-rangi. This fort stood at the top of the spur, extending from Kapu-te-rangi to Kohi point, where the remains of it may still be seen. Apparently the immigrants were fearful of being attacked by the Hapu-oneone, or Tini-o-Toi, the owners of the land. The pa or fort of Puhi was also known as Rahiri.

This matter of constructing pas or fortified villages is an interesting subject. These immigrants from Eastern Polynesia had not been builders of pas defended by earthern ramparts and stockades, and yet they seem to have adopted the practice when they landed on these shores. This could only mean that, being numerically weak, they stood in fear of the Original inhabitants, and probably put to their own use this aboriginal mode of defence. Assuredly those few newcomers must have lived here on sufferance, as it were, their well-being depending on the goodwill of the local people.

The immigrants were not to dwell peaceably together at Whaka-tane. Before long trouble arose. When Iraweka (the father of. Toroa and Puhi) farewelled the Mata-tua migration at Hawaiki, he said that, on arrival at Aotea-roa, his eldest son Toroa must conduct the labours and ceremonies pertaining to agriculture, house-building, and maawe, or talisman. But when the time came for the planting of the crops, which would be about seven months after the arrival of the migration in Aotea-roa, Puhi strove to take over the management of these important rites. This led to a quarrel between the brothers. One day, when the folk were busy planting the kumara, Puhi lifted up his voice and sang the following:—

Korokoro iti, korokoro rahi,
Tu ana te manu i runga i nga puke rara.
Tenei te kai ka iri, he kai whakarere te kai;
He kai i pokaia noatia i runga i a Tu kariri,
I a Tu ka ritarita.
page 67 E haere ana ki uta he tangata kainga kore,
Ka pau te ki o namata.
He nui kai maoa e tu ana i runga i o a Toroa,
He nui te kai, he mano te kai, he tutae taua,
Ka kai tiko iho ki waenga.
Heaha aku kai te pau noa ai,
Maku te tohenga ki te whitu, ki te waru,
Ki te roa o te tau.
Waiho nei matau hei timokamoka kai,
Mo te ngahuru.
Tangi ana te whakatopatopa o kai,
O kai mai he toroa, he taiko e e.

This effusion was composed and sung with the intention of annoying his brother Toroa. Puhi has also a jeer for Tane-atua when he sang "Travelling inland is a homeless man," for the latter was a restless wanderer. Puhi also expressed his intention of continuing the dispute. "I will contend throughout the seventh and eighth months, and for the whole season. Leave me and mine to pick up morsels of food in autumn. Then shall be heard the sound of food planting." Here comes the dire insult: "Your food shall be toroa and taiko." These are the names of two birds, but the former was also the name of his brother. The mentioning of a chief's name in such a manner was deemed a great insult, and termed a tapatapa, or challenge. So it was on account of this insult in claiming his elder brother as a food that Puhi received his second name Puhi-Kai-Ariki, or Puhi the eater of his elder-born.

It must be here understood that the seed tubers of kumara, or sweet potato, were always planted in a most ceremonial manner, accompanied by the chanting of planting songs, rendered by one, two, or three of the adepts at such proceedings. Hence the chanting of such a song by Puhi would, no doubt, have been perfectly correct, he being a younger son of the principal family of the immigrants. But this song was composed and sung by Puhi for the express purpose of insulting his elder brother Toroa. the ariki or the leader of the family by the law of primogeniture, who was necessarily an important and tapu person.

When Toroa heard the insult directed at him by his younger brother, he retaliated by singing a tewha, or planting song, into which he introduced a belittling use of the name of Puhi:—

Te komiti runga, miti raro, miti haha,
Ka tipu te wai, ka ora te wai.
Ko te wai na wai,
page 68 Kote wai na Uru-mananawa.
Ka tohi atu tama ki te akerautangi,
Te hekenga o Tu ki tauaraia.
E Puhi, E; Ngahoro E;
Kai tai, kai te whakarua koia e-e.

Te ko o makauea ki runga o Maketu,
Tatara mai i Hikurangi,
Ko te ika moe iahuaroa.
Ka piri te hono ko mau whakaarahia,
Uru o Weka ki te tuku roa ki te wai puatea.
Ka mahuta e Puhi E;
Kai tai, kai tai, kai te whakarua koia e e,

The quarrel between the brothers had now become so bitter that Puhi decided to take the Mata-tua canoe and seek a home elsewhere. For some reason nearly all the immigrants accompanied him, including his son Rahiri, who is said to have given his name to one of the northern tribes.

The only immigrants left at Whaka-tane were the six members of Toroa family. Neither the Mata-tua canoe nor any of its crew ever returned southward to Whaka-tane. They are said to have settled in the North and to have become the founders of the tribe Nga-Puhi.

It is for this reason that the name of Puhu-Kai-Ariki was selected as one of the figures on the Takitimu Carved House, while that of Toroa represented the Mata-tua people of Whaka-tane.