Legends of the Maori
WHEN the warrior chief Toa-Rangatira died, at South Kawhia, his son, Marangai-paroa, was the leading chief of that country. For a long time he lived in peace with his neighbours. It was not till after the births of his sons Te-Maunu, Kimihia, Tuhaha, Te Haunga, and their sister Te Aka-ma-puhia, that Marangai-paroa engaged in warfare. It came about in this way.
A high chief of the Ngati-Raukawa tribe, Au-turaroa by name, was killed by the Ngati-Terangi tribe; and whenever the Ngati-Raukawa and the Ngati-Maru of Hauraki went to avenge Au-turaroa’s death, the Ngati-Terangi would come out of their forts and defeat them. They were always shattered, and forced to fly. Many times did the Ngati-Raukawa and the Ngati-Maru essay to vanquish Ngati-Terangi; but each time that tribe of Tauranga was victorious.
There was a man of Ngati-Raukawa named Koroua-puta, who thought his tribe would never be able to avenge the death of Au-turaroa. In his efforts to secure assistance he journeyed to Kawhia, to see Marangai-paroa. When Koroua-puta met this son of Toa-Rangatira he told him of Au-turaroa’s death, and made request of him to march with a war-party and avenge it.
Marangai-paroa wept long and bitterly when he heard of Au-turaroa’s death; he greatly sorrowed for him, for he was a kinsman. And when he had ended his lamentation he said to Koroua-puta, “You return; I will follow you.” At that reply Koroua-puta thought Marangai-paroa would sound the battle-cry amongst the whole of his people along the west coast; and so he returned with content to his home at Maungatautari. He went by way of the Waipa valley, and on his way he found Tangaroa-meke and his people engaged in cultivating the soil. The chief said to Koroua-puta, “Behold the industry of my people, laying up stores of food to keep their bodies nourished in time of winter!”
Koroua-puta replied, “E Tangaroa-meke kei uta; kei tai te pakanga.” By this he meant, “O Tangaroa-meke, your fame for food cultivation has spread over the land; but the battle is by the sea.” He said this because page 67 Tangaroa-meke was a blood relation of Au-turaroa’s, and the Waipa chief did not show any love for his relative who had been killed.
Koroua-puta continued his journey, and at length came to his home, in the land of the Ngati-Raukawa at Maungatautari. He immediately ordered his people to prepare large quantities of food for Marangai-paroa’s army—which he expected from Kawhia—such foods as eels, preserved pigeons, kumara, and taro.
After Koroua-puta’s departure from Kawhia, Marangai-paroa called his own sons and blood relations together, and assembled a war-party of a hundred and forty picked men, who marched with him to Maungatautari. When the Ngati-Raukawa saw so small a band of fighters, they felt disappointed and contemptuous, and they withheld the food which they had prepared for Marangai-paroa’s expected army.
The day soon came when the avengers marched to engage the Ngati-Terangi in battle. Ngati-Raukawa and Ngati-Maru both said to Marangai-paroa, “What is the use of you going to fight the Ngati-Terangi with such a small band? Those foes of ours are a very numerous people.”
Marangai-paroa replied to them with a proverb, “Ahakoa ahau he itiiti pokerekere tuku mai i runga o Moeatoa, tena koe e kite.” (Though I am but a small cloud passing over the mountain Moeatoa, you will see). He and his men then went on to Rungaterangi, and the Ngati-Raukawa and Ngati-Maru followed, very much perturbed.
When the warriors of Tauranga saw the approaching war-party they came out of their pa to assail Marangai-paroa. The chief of Kawhia gazed intently on that great army of Tauranga warriors: indeed, its people seemed to be numberless. Again the chiefs of Ngati-Raukawa spoke to him of the huge array of foes. They said to him, “Behold the crabs of Rangataua. It is impossible for you to bewitch them. Discretion is the path of wisdom. Go home; if you go on you will never return.”
And Marangai-paroa answered them, “He ahakoa, iti te whetu ki runga ki te rangi, nui pokekeao uhia kia ngaro e kore e ngaro” (Though the stars may be few in the heavens, and a cloud ever so great, the stars can never be obliterated). So he arranged the battle order of the small band. Forty men he sent to support his two sons, Haunga and Tuhaha. Some he disposed under himself and his other sons.
Haunga, and now Tuhaha, bravely engaged the Ngati-Terangi. Tuhaha called out to his younger brother Haunga, and said, “Be careful, so that we may see our parents and brothers again.”
Haunga would not listen; he became reckless, and went on dashing at the foe, and slaying right and left. When Te Haunga’s followers saw page 68 his desperate valour, they, too, became desperate men. They slaughtered the Ngati-Terangi, whose head chief, Tumakairoro, was killed.
When the Ngati-Raukawa realised that their hated enemies Ngati-Terangi had been conquered by Marangai-paroa and his small band, they were filled with shame, but with admiration for the Kawhia men. So they gave the young woman Kahurangi to Marangai-paroa for a wife for his gallant son Haunga. Marangai-paroa then returned with his sons and his clansmen to Kawhia.
The fame of Marangai-paroa’s victorious exploits rang throughout the land. The Waikato people now sent to Kawhia for help. They requested the chief to come and avenge the death of a warrior named Nukuraerae. This Nukuraerae was a relative of Marangai-paroa; and the chieftain of Kawhia wept and lamented his death, for Marangai-paroa’s mother, Parehounuku, was of that particular tribe of the Waikato. So he and his sons and his people again went out on the war-path. They marched to Waikato; they followed up the foe; they killed those who had caused the death of Nukuraerae.
The Waikato people then gave Tira-purua to Marangai-paroa for a wife for his son Haunga. Tira-purua was the daughter of Whare-tipeti, elder brother of Tapaue, who was the grandparent of Potatau te Whero-whero, the first Maori king, who died in 1860.