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Legends of the Maori

Chapter V. — The Warriors of Kawhia

Chapter V.
The Warriors of Kawhia

page 26

The Dissensions of Haumia and Mango.

MORE than three centuries ago, when the descendants of the Tainui pioneers had been settled on these shores for many generations and had formed numerous clans, there lived at Kawhia two young chiefs whose names were Haumia and Mango. Haumia took to wife a girl whose name was Mawake. His cousin Mango did not marry within his own tribe, but travelled southward to Taranaki and on to the country of the Nga-Rauru people. There he met a young woman named Hiapoto and his love went forth to her, and she became his wife. In course of time he returned to his birthplace at Kawhia, with his wife, who bade farewell to her people, for she was to make a new home with her chieftain in the north.

When Mango reached Kawhia he found, to his grief and anger, that all the cultivations and the land where he expected to make his home had been taken by Haumia. He asked Haumia to apportion him some of the land that was his birthright, but the selfish one would not agree to this. Greatly angered was Mango; he perceived that there was no place for him unless he took it by force of arms. He gathered his friends together and they formed a war-party and attacked Haumia and his followers. Some of Haumia’s men were killed by Mango, in assertion of his rights to the land on which they were living. With the utmost fierceness he fell upon them, and the people fled before him. None dared to face him.

Haumia’s clansmen now greatly feared that Mango would kill their chief. While Mango was attacking a pa and slaying men, Haumia’s followers placed their rangatira on a litter (kauhoa) and carried him away, for he was ill and could not walk. Mango continued his attack, and being victorious in the fighting, he followed the retreating party and overtook the litter and its bearers and escort. These men, believing that Mango would not actually kill Haumia, all crowded in beneath the kauhoa on which the sick man lay, supporting it on their shoulders and their heads. By this act they became tapu, for Haumia was a very sacred chief. When Mango and his warriors rushed up and saw this they stayed their hand and refrained from further slaughter, and Haumia and his men were saved. This ended the strife, and Mango settled there on the shores of Kawhia.

page 27

These fights were the first battles between the Tainui descendants in the Kawhia country. But, as our tribal historians tell us, they were not really great battles; it was in the days to come that the long and desperate wars were waged.

Haumia and the Taniwha.

There is a story concerning that chief Haumia and a taniwha, a monster of the sea, which lived in a cave at the base of a cliff on the ocean front at Honipaka, on the Kawhia coast. Haumia’s home was in Taungatara pa and he made a plantation of kumara at Honipaka, close to the seashore. He was quite unaware that the taniwha lived there in the cave underneath his garden.

Now, this monster of the coast, whose name was Raparoa, was a mischievous monster, and when he knew that the kumara crop had come to maturity he exerted his power of evil and raised a great storm and spouted salt water over the plantation and spoilt it. The whole of the crop was ruined; the kumara rotted in the salt-sodden ground.

When Haumia came to his plantation and saw what had happened, he descended the cliff to the sea to discover what had caused the sea-water to be sprayed over his land. There he beheld the monstrous taniwha. Thus this place became known as the hiding place of Raparoa, and that taniwha was frequently seen in the ocean.

Haumia boldly asked the monster: “O Raparoa, why do you not go to see the fishes at Puponga?”

Now, Puponga is the place where the fish all assemble, and it was the time when the mackerel were plentiful in those parts. So when the monster heard what Haumia said it immediately set off for Puponga, eager to feast on fish. As soon as he had left his hole at the bottom of the cliff Haumia filled it in with sand and rocks. When the monster came back he found the entrance to his home filled in, so he went looking for another abiding place. Finding none, he died. The people took his great sharp teeth and made ear ornaments of them. And that episode gave rise to a local saying, which has come down to this day: “Haumia, the remover of monsters.”