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Legends of the Maori

Ka Pai Hori

page 173

Ka Pai Hori

THE greatest of my ancestors is Whiro (the god of theft). He is a powerful god. My grandfather told me one night (he only told things at night, in fact, that is the peculiarity of all of Whiro’s descendants, they never say anything except in the dark) that some of the pakeha race are also descended from Whiro. He was quite positive that the members of the New Zealand Government were so descended. That is why I have been very friendly with the Government.

Well, my tipuna, Whiro appeared to me one night and this was what he said:

“Descendant of my many descendants, and only living chief in all Aotearoa, bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh, take heed to my words, and I will make you great in the land of your forefathers. I will heap the pakeha’s golden metal around your door. Your children shall wear red print upon their backs, and have jews’-harps in their hands. Your wives shall have tight pinching shoes upon their feet, and shall even squeeze their waists with stays and so emulate their Christian pakeha sister who patterns after the wasp. Yea, I will do more. I will make you the owner of horses, fleet of foot, which will bring you into contact with many rangatiras, also my descendants; the spieler, the bookmaker, the confirmed gambler and the publican. My fellow god, Bacchus, will attend you wheresoever your feet shall take you, and all men will say, ‘Ka pai Hori. He te tarn good fellow.’

“But now, if you do not take heed to my words I will curse you. You will become a taurekareka, wearing nothing but a rapaki kilt, smoking nothing but coarse torori, gazing at races from afar, having an insatiable thirst which you can never quench. Yea, your daughters will become servants to the pakeha, even as a certain missionary man is advocating now. You will go back to the rotten corn and dried—shark-you will be an upokokohua. Now, my son, go to and gird your loins with the garment of Christianity which your pakeha brother has so generously brought you. Cover up all your nakedness, except your eyes, and ears, and fingers, especially your fingers. Parade in it on all occasions. Above all, attend the Land Courts, for it is your only salvation. Has not the Government spoken? lay claim to all lands, because they are all mine. Always consult a good pleader, a man well versed in the cobwebbed laws which have been made for your people. He must be a good liar. Never neglect to let the page 174 Native Land Purchase Department know that you are willing to sell to the Government at two shillings and sixpence an acre. Take care that you always claim your descent from me, the god of Tito, Kaia and Muru; the judges will know, your enemies will fume. But what of that?—for you are bound to win!”

So saying, the vision disappeared.

Now, that is why I am such a great rangatira. That is why I wear checkered waistcoats and am blessed with a red tie and chestnut horses. I have won all my land cases, but by golly I nearly lost the last case! I forgot about the pedigree business. You know, I am a Ngati-Tinihanga by birth and a Ngati-Titotito by adoption. When my grandfather went through the Tuna-momona country he killed and ate What’s-his-name’s great-grand-uncle. That is why I am related to the Tuna-momona tribe. Well, you see, being such a good Christian I left out the story about the eating, and the judges nearly gave the case against me. However, that was not the only reason why I had claims in the Tuna-momona country. You see, my grandfather stumbled over the great-grand-uncle before he was prepared for the oven, and that fact saved the situation. I am laying claim to another nice bit of land which the Governmental eye has spotted. Ka pai the Government. Kia ora, Hori!