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Legends of the Maori

Melchizedec — The Prophets of Parihaka

page 165

The Prophets of Parihaka

SAID the Pakeha-Maori: “Well, yes, boss, this Parihaka business has cost the Government some thousands, and it ain’t bust up neither. The natives sticks to Te Whiti and Tohu solid. They’ve tried gaoling ’em in squads or hundreds, but that blooming grave were no victory, they’ weren’t no sting in that death, said they, as they come back fat and fit for another round. It’s my opinion, if they wants to stop the Parihaka fanatics they must fust collar Melchizedec.”

“Named after the Bible ancient, I conclude.”

“Named after him!”—with the utmost scorn. “Not named after no one. The very hidentical old letter-o’-marque hisself, who never had no ancestors to be named after.”

“Why, isn’t he dead? I suppose it’s some thousands of years ago since he was on earth.”

“That’s where all you cussory readers makes a blooming error. When the missionary gave Te Whiti the Bible it got into the hands of a man what weighed every word with absorbing interest, ’cos the old Hisreelites was just like the Maori in their habits and customs, only a bit more bloodthirsty. Te Whiti discovered from old Jacob’s dying speech and confession that it were proper to call the tribes a’ter the attributes o’ their founders, so Ngati-Ruanui became the tribe o’ Benjamin, ’cos they was terrors for long pig and in raking in the loot, ravening wolves and so on, as per Jacob. I never heerd that Te Whiti took much stock o’ J.C., it was the Hold Testament splodgers and the high old times that is to come to Hisreel (that’s the Maori and don’t you forget it!) what knocked him. He made three epochs, as you might say: fust the akerama (aceldama), second the day of death, third the day of resurrection, and they was all to corne off in his time. After the resurrection there ain’t going to be no going up into Heaven with a return ticket what never expires. He’s played two out o’ the three legs and the day of death was when he was took prisoner at Parihaka, when he fell at the entering in of the gate, says he. He’s only got the resurrection leg to go, and when he wins that all will be beautiful peace for ever, with the Maori on a heverlasting spree, playin’ billiards of a million up, mihini (loo) without end, and hipi (poker) without being short of a anty with a run and flush for hever. Whilst the pakehas marks the game, does the dig- page 166 ging and such, and blacks the boots of the chosen people. I know some Jews what thinks the Maori has come from their nation, and just as a lord knows the nigger by his smell, the Jews knows the Maori by his smeller, for there’s some high old Hebraic noses among ’em. Lord, boss! they takes no stock o’ heavenly quires and great white thrones and the waft o’ angels’ wings and souls to be saved, and the missionaries must feel jealous ’cos the Maori ain’t going to wait for their heaven but are going to have one on earth with the pakehas admitted to the back seats, being Gentiles.

“My Colonial! Te Whiti’s a grand speaker, and but for an occasional sigh you could hear a pin drop among the thousands as he tells of the times they’d be havin’ when they is scoffin’ the substance of the pakeha, whilst they, the Gentiles, is the roustabouts, with the Guv’nor as chief baker and the Premier as chief butler. What appears to have struck Te Whiti from the fust warn’t the might of Jehovah nor the holiness of J.C., but the wery valu’ble hatributes of Melchizedec—Merri-Kiheriki they calls him—who had neither beginning o’ days nor end o’ life, and was prince o’ the piping times of perennial peace, having a busy old fly-round all the while, and Te Whiti reckoned that was the sort o’ god he was going to be. Thinks he, that Merri-Kiheriki is a Al clipper built, copper-bottomed craft what’s a-foolin’ around somewheres, and so no doubt he be, ’cos the Bible says he can’t die and there’s sum’uf solid for a believer to grasp—not like chasing a rushing mighty wind, which was never collared and never will be till the last trump, and even then Melchizedec’s entered for another heat for ever. Them Parihaka people says that Te Whiti and Tohu have one mind and will rule the world under the name of Ngatokorua (The Two, just as we speaks of our Trinity).

“It must make the missionaries wild to see the way they’ve improved on the Sabbath. They says the only true god what keeps mankind a-goin’ is the Kai (food), so they cultivates like steam-engines all the time, and has Sunday once a month, when they worships their god by getting outside of a mortal gorge and has a flaming tear generally. Ngatokorua keeps all the money of the tribes of three thousand, taking the pannikins as a census, and Te Whiti says the Guv’nor may be a big man but he views his family plate with scorn when he contemplates his own three thousand pannikins. There’s no croking the accounts o’ that bank, ’cos they’re kept on the tablets of Tohu’s memory, and it ’ud take a lot of sinking, to say nothing o’ blarsting and driving to get at ’em, but the cash is all liquid assets in 50 1b. flour bags, and eighty thou. is the financial statement up to date.

“Well, near on thirty years back (that was about 1870) Te Whiti goes to Waikato and Tohu thought a lot about Merri-Kiheriki whilst he was away, and one night that old wandering Jew appears to him and arsks him to page 167 offer up a son, like Abraham and Hisack yer know. Tohu said he was on, but unfortunately he hadn’t got one of his own. Would one of Te Whiti’s do? If so he could oblige him and welcome. Melchizedec said so long as it was a kid belonging to Ngatokorua (the two of them) of the proper sect, it ’ud fill the bill, and that to show he was pleased with Te Whiti and Tohu he should give them the title ‘King of the Maungarongo’ (peace). Tohu calls a meeting in the Kowerawera, the big whare where the steam from the oven was that solid you could hoist it out on slabs and use for a breakwind, and the hatmosphere was truly smellful with the hodour of sanctitity, and being all men of rank he explains matters to ’em. Then he goes and fetches the kid and lays it on a clean rug on the gangway between the mats they was sitting on. He was chirping and crowing a good ’un, and as round and as plump as a bronze cherrybum. Tohu offers up a sort of praying speech to Merri-Kiheriki, and leads off one of their old chants and they all join in. ’Fore long the little chap falls asleep, what with the heat and the drowsy old song. When they’d got done, Te Whiti’s missus comes through the crowd to give the youngster the breast. When she caught hold on him he was limber and warm, but hard—there warn’t so suck in him, for his soul was flown to the bosom of Merri-Kiheriki and his earthly body was as dead as a doll.

“That just proved that Ngatokorua, the two prophets, are the joint King of Maungarongo, and you’ve never been able to hold ’em since.”