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Legends of the Maori

A Patriotic Chant. — Hold Fast the Land

page 294

A Patriotic Chant.

Hold Fast the Land.

This composition, which was sung as a war-dance and haka chant, is of historical interest as an expression of the intense national fervour and anti-pakeha determination which possessed many of the Maori tribes during the Fifties and Sixties of last century. The chant was sung with frenzied enthusiasm at the great gathering of tribes at Manawapou, on the Taranaki coast, in 1854, when the Land League was founded for the purpose of preventing further sales of native land to the Government.

E kore Taranaki e makere atu,
E kore Taranaki e makere atu!
Tika tonu mai
Kia Piata-kai-manawa,
I Piata-kai-manawa.
Ka turu, ko te whakamutunga.
E kapeti, kapeti,
Kapeti te wai o te paraheka;
E ko te pakurutanga iho
Ki runga ki te kahaka;
Tungou kau te ure
O Piata-kai manawa—
Ka turu!*

In this haka or hanihani chant, which was sung by many hundreds of voices on the marae at Manawapou, the people declared that the lands of Taranaki should not be lost or abandoned to the white man, that the ancestral territory should not be loosened and endangered by alienation of portions of it. This cry of resolution to hold the land was followed by a challenge to the pakeha, in symbolical language. All the efforts of the foes of the Maori would be futile. The challenge to the English was couched in Rabelaisian terms that added to its vigour and fierceness.

* From Ngahina, of Matangãrara, Taranaki, who was present at the Manawapou meeting in his youth.