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Legends of the Maori

Chapter XI. — The Career of Kawharu

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Chapter XI.
The Career of Kawharu.

IN the time of Toa-Rangatira’s manhood there lived a man by the name of Tuhorotini, the father of Manahaki, the wife of Toa-Rangatira. He was a descendant of Tuirirangi. He lived at Rangiahua, the home of his ancestor, Hoturoa, at Kawhia. There was also another man, one Tuahu-mahina; he, too, was a descendant of Tuirirangi; he was a great chief. In those days it got noised abroad that a very beautiful garment had just been made at the Waipa. And when Tuahu-mahina heard this, he sent his slave to procure that garment. But when the slave reached the Waipa and went to the owner of the mat, this man would not part with it. Some time afterwards the Kawhia chief Pakaua also heard about this rare garment, and so he went to Waipa to obtain it for himself, if he could. He was successful, and returned to his home wearing the most coveted cloak. There was a chief named Te Kanawa, who, on hearing that Pakaua had got possession of that garment, went to Tuahu-mahina and said to him, “O Tuahu-mahina, your prestige has been lowered by your younger relative Pakaua, because he has been able to obtain that which has been denied to you.” The thought of this made Tuahu-mahina very angry.

Te Kanawa went on to Kawhia to see Pakaua and his warrior sons. When he reached Kawhia he asked Kawharu, the son of Pakaua, “What is the food in your sea of Kawhia?” Kawharu replied, “Fish.”

And Te Kanawa said, “Fish is nothing, it is but the son of the wind.”

Again Kawharu answered and said, “Pipi” (shellfish).

Te Kanawa said, “Who knows whether it compares with the koura (crayfish) and the food that cooks readily?”

Kawharu again said, “The koura cannot be compared with the pipi.

Kawharu now perceived that Te Kanawa was seeking an excuse for a quarrel. Te Kanawa said to him, “Send a man to get some pipi and koura” When the man returned Te Kanawa caused a fire to be lit; and when it was blazing well he took a crayfish and gave Kawharu a pipi. He said to Kawharu, “We will both put these on the fire at the same time and see whose will be cooked first.”

As soon as Te Kanawa put his koura into the fire he called out and said, “Mine has turned red.”

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Kawharu exclaimed, “Mine has been eaten.” This incident filled Te Kanawa with wrath. He declared that he had been insulted and cursed by Kawharu; and he returned to Tuahu-mahina, and called for vengeance on his enemy. The allies gathered their people together and with that war-party marched to extirpate the family of Pakaua. The unsuspecting chief and his family were surprised in their pa by the Ngati-te-ariari. Pakaua and his son Kawharu and two other sons escaped by night. During the journey the old man became exhausted, and said to his children, “Go on and save yourselves; what matters it if I die?” So they hid the old man in a thick flax bush by the side of a cliff; and they pressed their noses to his in farewell, and sorrowfully left their father to his fate. The war party was hot in chase of them. Early in the morning the pursuers came to the place where the old man was hidden. A man of the war party happened to look up, and he noticed the faint steam rising into the frosty air from the flax bush by the trail side. It was the breath of the old man Pakaua. The keen-eyed scout searched and found the old chief, and they killed him. They knew then that Kawharu and his younger brethren had escaped.

Kawharu and his brothers went to Te Totara, where Puoro-oro lived; this man was the brother of Koata, Kawharu’s mother. That old man wept over his nephews, and for their father; and when he had ended his weeping, he said to Kawharu, “Where are you and your brothers going?”

“We are going to the east,” replied Kawharu, “to the people of my parent Ngaere.”

Puoro-oro said, “Do not go there. Remain with me. Behold the Pa Ngaio which stands on Moeatoa mountain. I am descended from Hinekapua, the maid of the clouds.”

And Kawharu and his younger brothers remained with Puoro-oro; and presently they all migrated to Harihari. This was the second time that Kawhia had been troubled by evil deeds and bloodshed.

When Toa-Rangatira, Tara-matarau, Tara-mangungu, Tetewai and their people, the Ngati-Mango tribe, heard of Pakaua’s death at the hands of Ngati-Tuirirangi, they went to visit Kawharu and his brothers, to condole with them over the slaying of their father. They assembled at Waihekura, and from there they marched to Kawhia to engage Ngati-Tuirirangi in battle. When they arrived at Kawhia they found that all their fortified villages were occupied by Ngati-Tuirirangi. Kawharu scouted cautiously to a certain spring of water which flows from the high fortress hill, Motungaio. That spring flowing into the harbour is called “Te Puta-o-Koata”; it was named after Koata, his mother.

There the young warrior lay in ambush, in the bushes, and killed the people who came down from the fortress hill to get water. They found page 56 that somebody was killing their water-drawers; they saw that blood stained the water of the little stream further down on the beach. Straightway they knew that it must be Kawharu. Ngati-Tuirirangi then searched for Kawharu, and they chased him from place to place. All the time he was drawing them on to the war party of Toa-Rangatira, lying in ambush at Okura. Then the orders were given for battle. Mangaauika, Kawharu’s younger brother, saw that the place of honour would be taken by the Ngati-Mango, and he called out to Tara-mangungu and Tetewai, “I cannot agree to the forefront of my battle being taken by the Toro-umu-karaka” (an oven of green karaka berries).

When Toa-Rangatira heard that shout, he cried out to his brothers to retire, and to let the eager chief and his warriors take the place of honour in the fight.

By this time the two parties had joined battle. Kawharu’s people were sorely pressed by Ngati-Tuirirangi, and many fell. A hundred of Kawharu’s men were killed, and one of these was the impetuous young Mangaauika. Kawharu and Te Wheke retreating, were pursued right up to where Toa-Rangatira and his people lay on the ground, waiting to leap into the fray. Ngati-Tuirirangi came charging on, imagining victory was theirs. Toa-Rangatira gave the signal, and up leaped his men. With his spear he pierced an enemy, and Kawharu jumped forth to despatch the man who writhed on the toa’s spear. Toa-Rangatira pushed him aside with the butt of his weapon, and said to him, “Leave the man of the green karaka oven to me.” Kawharu felt ashamed of his action and the rebuff, and went to the rear of the army.

Toa-Rangatira’s brothers Tara-matarau, Tara-mangungu, and Tetewai, engaged the enemy valiantly, and vanquished them. Toa-Rangatira mean while had followed behind, and his voice was heard urging his men on to the fight. He cried loud boasts of his ancestor Hinatau; he encouraged his brothers by shouting to them, “Cut them down ! Clear our plantations, the garden of the sons of Hinatau.”

Ngati-Tuirirangi were badly beaten in this great battle, and ToaRangatira and his army returned to their homes at Waihekura, Harihari, and Marokopa.

But Ngati-Tuirirangi brooded over their defeat, and determined to avenge themselves on Toa-Rangatira.

They marched to Marokopa, and surprised Toa-Rangatira’s home by night, and killed Hounuku, his son. And when certain warriors named Wahieroa, Haetu and Maki heard that Hounuku had been killed, they went to Taranaki to their relatives there to obtain assistance. Toa-Rangatira heard what they had done, and he and his people retired to the mountains to page 57
The Fugitive in the Flax Bush.

The Fugitive in the Flax Bush.

page break page 59 gather food for the army. When they reached Te Kaweka they told Tukutahi, Rehetaia, Whakapaki, Te Awaroa, and the chiefs of Ngati-Mutunga what had happened to Hounuku; and this filled Ngati-Mutunga with indignation against Ngati-Tuirirangi. The names of the battles fought have been handed down to us. They were Te Moana-waipu, Pohoetangehe, and Te Keukeukeua.

The remnant of Ngati-Tuirirangi left that territory, and went further north, and the land they had occupied became vacant. So Kawharu and his younger brother went to live at the ancestral home, Rangiahua, above Kawhia’s waters. Kawharu married Waikauri, the daughter of his ally Toa-Rangatira; and so the words of Puoro-oro were fulfilled. As for the allies from Taranaki, when victory had been won they returned to Taranaki to their homes.