Legends of the Maori
A Waikato Elegy. — “Loud Peals the Thunder.”
A Waikato Elegy.
“Loud Peals the Thunder.”
This chant for the hunga mate, “the company of the dead,” is a famous lament among the people of Waikato. It was composed for a woman of aristocratic lineage, by her husband, a chief of the Ngati-Mahuta clan.
Papa te whatitiri,
E hiko te uira;
Te tara ki Te Iringa,
Ka rere kei raro;
Ka taka te tara o te marama.
Haere ra, e Hine!
I te pouriuri,
Te mate o te tangata:
Ka ru te whenua, ka rere Tautoru*—
Te rua o Matariki;
Ko te tohu o te mate.
E hoa ma—e!
He aha tenei hanga,
Te mahi aue tonu?
Te mutu noa te mamae!
Te riri a te Atua, kai-kino i ahau:
Te tuku-pototia ki te makau i te mate
Noku te wareware, te whaia atu
Te ara o Tawhaki,
I piki ai ki te rangi.
Mohio rawa ake, ka nui nga he.
Ka riro taku makau!
Te puru o Waikato, te puhi o Tainui!
Tu mai i kona,
Kia tomokia atu te whare o Tawhiao;
Kia tiponahia te tau o Waitohi,
Te tau o Kahotea:
He taonga whakanui na o tupuna;
E moe nei i te whenua.
Te uri o te tangata,
Na Rupe† nga rauhanga,
Ka hinga kei te Pou-o-whaitiri.
Ka tuhi Kai-tangata—
Ka mau ki te taha o te rangi.
Tu mai i kona,
Kia horahia atu te kahu a te Tipua.
A, moe taua i runga te takapau.
E ara ki runga ra,
Kia utaina koe te riu waka-taua,
No Te Apa-rangi:
He taonga whakanui na o tupuna,
Ki runga te au-ripo;
Te au ki Waikato.
Ka pa mai te karanga,
E tuku ki raro ra,
Te puke kei Tamaki;
E ngaro ai te tangata;
Loud peals the thunder,
Lightnings flash and glare,
Crumbling is Iringa’s tall peak.
The crescent moon’s bright shining tip
Is shorn away.
Ah me! My friends,
What means this sharp unceasing pain?
The wrath of a malicious god
That reft forever from my side
My well-beloved one.
Forgetful I—I followed not
My dear one to the sky,
In the path of Tawhaki,
Who climbed the sacred vine.
Now well I know how grievous was my sin.
O cherished heart of Waikato,
The lovely plume of Tainui,
Tarry you there awhile,
Then enter Tawhiao’s great hall,
And knot about your wrist
The precious greenstone treasures
Waitohi and Kahotea,
The treasures of your ancestors,
Who slumber in the earth.
There sleep the sons of men,
There in the home of Hine-nui-te-Po.
Rupe himself was a deceiver;
He caused the fall of the Pillar of Whaitiri.
And the death of Kai-tangata
Painted with blood the heavens.
Now rest awhile, my loved one,
Death’s sleeping mat is spread for you;
On that soft couch we two shall seek repose.
Then you’ll arise and soon be borne away
In your ancestral war-canoe,
Manned by the Heavenly Company.
Borne away on the rippling tide
Of strongly flowing Waikato.
Hark to that wailing call!
When it awakes your sleeping ear
You’ll reach the sacred hill at Tamaki,
The Cave of Potaka;
There in the dark home below
Lies all that death has left of man,
The tribe lie sleeping there.
* Tautoru (The Three Friends) is the constellation of Orion. Matariki is the constellation of the Pleiades. The death of great ones of the earth is fancifully associated in Maori belief with the rolling of thunder and the flash of lightning on the sacred tribal mountains and with celestial phenomena. When a chieftainess of Waikato was buried at Taupiri in 1929 a rainbow spanned the land, with one foot on her home at Waahi and the other on Taupiri peak, and this bright arch was hailed as Uenuku, the guardian deity of Waikato, whose visible form (aria) is the rainbow.