Rangi-te-aorere was a nephew of Tuhoe-Potiki, being a son of Uenuku-rauriri, sister of Tuhoe-Potiki as shown by the whaka-papa recorded herein.
At a certain time it pleased Uenuku-rauiri to co-habit with Rangi-whaka-ekehau of Te Arawa tribe. Uenuku's husband was absent when a party of visitors, including Rangi, arrived at Puke-tapu-a-wairaka. When Rangi returned to Rotorua, he said to Uenuku, "Ka whanau to tamaiti he wahine, tapaia ki te au o Rcngitaiki. E whanau he tane, tapaia ko te ao e rere nei." (If your child be born a female, name it for the flowing water of Rangi-taiki. Be it a male, then name it after the drifting clouds). When Uenuku was in the straw the usual methods were adopted to ensure an easy delivery. The genealogical descent of her husband, even from the primal pairs, was recited. But it had no effect. And Uenuku was near unto death, when she said, "Tena wanangatia a Te Rangi-whaka-ekehau." Even so the descent of Rangi was included in the invocation. And the child was born. Then the old people put their heads together and jeered, saying: "The child is illegitimate." The child, being a male, it was named Rangi-te-ao-rere, after the drifting clouds. And Drifting Clouds became a famed warrior, yea, a renowned fighting man, who dealt out hard knocks to the enemies of Ngati-awa, and took Mokoia, the last stronghold of the original people at Rotorua-nui-a-kahu.
Rangi-te-ao-rere took part in many fights, and gained fame as a warrior. But he had many enemies among the Ngati-awa of Te Teko, and the word was, "Koia kei te poriro nei, koia rawa hei toa." (It is remarkable this illegitimate becoming a warrior.)
Some sought to slay him. Rangi-te-ao-rere said to his mother, "Where is my father?" She replied, "Look toward the setting sun. Observe the cloud which hung over it. Beneath that cloud your parent dwells." Rangi remarked, "I desire to see my father." "It is well," replied Uenuku, "you shall go."
It was arranged that, of his people, seventy twice told should accompany him. A store of preserved foods was taken as a present to Rangi-whakaheke-hau. The tohi rite was performed over Drifting Clouds ere he started, to render him courageous and clear-minded during his journey. He and his companions lifted the Roto-rua trail. His mother gave him directions how to proceed. When you ascend the range of Mata-whaura, you will find your ancestor there. If he sees you, give food. He may be waiting on the track. If so, reach some food out to him on the page 183end of a pole. When you see the steam of hot springs you will know that you are on the right road to your father." So Rangi and his party started on their journey. When they reached Mata-whaura (Roto-iti) Rangi went in front. The creature spoken of by his mother was a taniwha, a huge reptile named Kata-ore, which lived on the Mata-whaura range. This creature was in the habit of lying by the track side, with its distended jaws supported by a rock. If travellers gave Kata-ore food, they were suffered to go their ways. If they neglected to do so, they themselves provided a meal for the reptile. Rangi bore with him a calabash full of food. When he came to where Kata-ore was waiting, he gave him the contents of the food vessel, and by the time the taniwha had consumed the food, the whole party had passed safely by. The party went on by way of Tikitere to the home of Rangi-whakaheke-hau. They saw some young people breaking up wood for fuel, and asked them what it was for. "For the big house, for the Tihi-o-manono yonder," said they. Then Rangi knew that he had reached his father's home. He had heard of that house. They went on to the pa. The people saw them and cried out, "He ope;—e; He ope." (Here are travellers.) Rangi-te-ao-rere said to his party, "All of you walk right into the house, and take the food you are bearing in with you. Fear not." They entered the fort. Rangi's followers entered by the gateway, he himself clambered over the palisades. He did not cross the marae in front of the house to the door thereof, but went round by the back of the house. The people of the place gazed at him in wonder. His party awaited him in front of the house, he appeared from the rear and entered by crawling through the window space, which is a tapu part of a house. The people crowded round in wonder to look upon this impious wretch. They saw him seated on the sleeping place of Te Rangi-whaka-heke-hau. Appalling climax; the onlookers were shocked and amazed. Evidently there was trouble toward. Probably a square meal. Never before had a person occupied that place save their chief himself. Rangi-te-ao-rere called to his party to enter the house and bring their burdens of food in with them. This was another shock. Messengers sped hot-foot to Rangi-whakaeke-hau. "A party of travellers has entered your house, and has taken food into. One of them seated himself on your sleeping-place. He has bedaubed himself with your ochre." Rangi at once went to his house, and the visitors were ordered to come forth, but did not do so. The order then was given that the insolent visitors should be at once slain, upon hearing which page 184Rangi-te-ao-rere cried out, "Poko-kohua." His father was enraged at the use of this most insulting expression, but before any action could be taken Rangi-te-ao-rere had commenced to sing the following song which had been composed by his mother as an oriori (lullaby) and which she used to sing to him when he was a little child:—
E tama e;
Naku koe i kite,
Naku hoe i rangahau.
Ki te po uriuri,
Ki te po tangotango.
Hohoro te ki mai,
Uenuku-rauiri ki te puta he wahine
Tapaia ki te au e rere
Ki te puta he tane,
Tapaia ki te ao e rere.
I tokona e to tipuna,
E Tane ki runga ra.
Koia te rangi putea e—i.
This was all that the Drifting Clouds could remember of the song. But it was quite sufficient. His father was startled and said, "Are you Rangi-te-ao-rere?" And the Drifting Clouds replied, "You yourself said that if your child be a male, then let it be named after the drifting clouds." So his father called to him to come, and Rangi came forth, as he entered, by way of the window. Then there was much wailing and greeting, after the manner Maori. Rangi-te-ao-rere was then taken to the sacred place of the hamlet by his father, who performed the tohi rite over him, and then freed him of the tapu. They then returned to the father's house, but the son entered by the doorway this time. The tapu was taken off the house, and the proper invocations were repeated over the foods brought by the visitors as a present for Te Arawa. Then a feast was spread for the visitors.
When night came, all the people collected in the big house. There was a certain man there who was a famous fighter. No member of his own tribes, Te Tini-o-awa and Te Tini-o-kawerau, could stand up to him. Te Arawa said, "To-morrow we will go and attack Mokoia, then we shall see who the brave men are. For we are in some straits here. We have been defeated by the Tini-o-kawa-arero of Mokoia. When we go in our canoes to attack the people of that island, they meet us off shore. They wade out into the lake, seize our canoes, drag them ashore and page 185slay our men. We shall be destroyed by these islanders. We cannot avenge our defeat. Te Tini-o-kawa-arero will consume us." The Arawa, at that period, were not numerous at Roto-rua, and a tribe of the original people of New Zealand under their chief Kawa-arero held Mokoia Island in Roto-rua, and had defeated Te Arawa.
Rangi-te-ao-rere rose, and said, "Do not attack the island to-morrow, remain here." Then he asked, "At what are you now engaged?" The Arawa replied, "At para-whakawai." (Practising the use of arms.) The next morning all assembled at the practice ground. There the feats of arms of warriors who had come from Tauranga were much talked of, while the man of Awa from the Teko eulogised the skill and courage of Rangi-te-ao-rere. The Tauranga man heard these remarks and came forth, bearing his weapon, a spear (tokotoko). He challenged the warriors to meet him in single combat. Not one stirred. They had witnessed his skill with his weapon. Te Arawa remained silent. He then challenged Drifting Clouds, who had drifted thither from the Land of Awa. Rangi-te-ao-rere stretched forth his hand for his weapon, a taiaha, and met the champion spearman. As he approached the latter, he parried a fierce thrust of the spear. It missed him. He struck downwards at the spear, recovered arms, and clave the spearman's head. Then Te Arawa rose to applaud. That spearman was dead. Rangi demanded the body as food for his followers. It was handed over, dismembered, cooked and eaten. And the fame of that deed reached far and wide.
That night the people again assembled. Rangi-te-ao-rere said to his father, "Pass your quarrel with the Tini-o-kawa-arero into my hands. You shall be simply a spectator." His father asked, "How do you propose to fight?" Said Rangi, "I will fight from canoes." The parent replied, "You will assuredly be defeated. As you approach the island, the people of Kawa-arero will wade out into the shallow waters of the lake, seize the canoes draw them to shore, and slay you all." For this was how Te Arawa had been defeated.
Then were heard derisive remarks from Te Arawa directed against Rangi-te-ao-rere, who, with his handful of one hundred and fifty fighting men, proposed to take Mokoia from the multitude of Kawa-arero. A voice was heard, "Katoa ranei koe to Kotahi?" (Will you alone effect this?) "Yes," replied the son of Uenuku, "He iti na Tuhoe, e kata te po." (Few by Tuhoe, make Hades laugh.) This saying has been preserved right down to the present time.page 186
So Rangi-te-ao-rere made preparations to attack Mokoia. He obtained a huge canoe wherewith to carry his little force across the lake to Mokoia. He also took two long, strong ropes, and two long sharp-pointed stakes. The canoe was launched. One rope was made fast to the bow of the canoe, the other to the stern thereof. One stake was laid in the bow, and one at the stern. His men took their places in the canoe and paddled her out into the lake, heading for Mokoia. Te Ao-rere was drifting over Roto-rua. It was soon drifting over Mokoia, the island stronghold of the ancient people. As they approached the island, Rangi asked, "By what token may Kawa-arero be recognised?" "By his red feather cloak," replied his father. And the canoe glided on. Behind her came the Arawa warriors, their canoes forming an even line, an even fleet. Ahead, the men of Mokoia were preparing to meet the attack, wading out into the waters of the lake. The chief, Kawa-arero was seen, clad in his red cloak, on the beach directing his fighting men.
The word was given, as the shoal water was reached. The stake at the bow of the canoe was forced deeply into the mud on the lake bottom and the bow line made fast thereto. The canoe was backed out until the line became taut, the other stake was fixed and the stern line fastened to it. Many of the men leaped overboard and seized the stern line and post. The island men now reached the bow line. They seized it and endeavoured to draw the vessel ashore, but were prevented by those hanging on to the stern line and post.
A great many of the islanders had now arrived to assist in hauling the canoe ashore. Rangi-te-ao-rere gave the word of command, the stern line was let go and the men that hung on to the canoe assisted in propelling her to land. The canoe shot forward for the enemy were also hauling on the bow line. She passed those of the islanders who were in the water, and grounded on the beach. Then things happened. Some attacked the islanders on the beach, others turned and slew those in the lake. There was work for all that day on Mokoia Island. Men fell by land and water.
By this time Te Arawa had reached the scene. The islanders fled along the beach pursued by the attacking force. Rangi-te-ao-rere went in search of the chief, Kawa-arero. A small rock stood out from the shore. Rangi saw a gleam of red by the side of the rock. It was the red cloak of Kawa-arero who was concealed behind the rock, with only his head above the water. Rangi waded out, caught the chief, brought him ashore and cut off his page 187head. He carried the head to his father. It was recognised as that of Kawa-arero.
So Mokoia was taken, and the Tini-o-Kawa-arero ceased to exist as a tribe. Then the island was occupied by Rangi-te-ao-rere, Whakaue. and Uenuku-kopake and became the property of Te Arawa tribe.
There are other brave deeds done by this famous ancestor, but these are sufficient to show it was through this brave act and good generalship of this renowned ancestor that gave Te Arawa tribe their mana and security over the Roto-rua land and lake.