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Legends of the Maori

Father and Son — Farewell to Te Naera Pomare

page 281

Father and Son
Farewell to Te Naera Pomare

THE remains of his eldest son joined those of Sir Maui Pomare just a year after the bringing of the ashes to the ancestral soil at Waitara. The sad death of Te Naera Pomare occurred accidentally while on an feeling expedition at the Manawatu.

Again was Manukorihi Pa the scene of a poignant service, when the ashes of Pomare’s son was placed beside those of his noble sire, amid most affecting scenes of grief and sadness which moved the sorrowing throng assembled to pay its last tribute to the dead.

The beautiful yet simple ceremony was fittingly closed by an inspiring and soul-stirring tribute from Rakaherea Pomare, the younger brother, who voiced the family’s broken farewell to their beloved dead. Speaking in English, but thinking in Maori, he said:—

“We are gathered together on this courtyard to praise God and honour the dead. In all things be honest, more so to the dead than the living, because the living have somebody to stick up for them but the dead have not. To-day is the anniversary of the passing of our father and the day of the burial of his son—my brother. Many are the canoes tied by cords of love at this courtyard of our illustrious forebears. Many are those who, owing to circumstances which we understand, although not with us in person, are with us in thought and spirit. Their tears mingle and flow with ours.

“A noble brother and son has gone, and those who had been associated with him, both pakeha and Maori, will revere his memory and mourn with us his loss. His ashes, borne on a canoe of flowers made by the loving hands of pakeha friends who appreciated his Maori thoughts and ideas, have floated up to be alongside the ashes of his father as long as they might remain here—a great emblem of the cementing and unity which should and does exist between the two peoples. Come, therefore, and see the fallen leaf whose bloom hath fled. Come upon the wings of love. Bring our common grief and let us weep together.

“Man holds the strings of life but a moment; then the bird returns to the great forest of Tane. My brother has taken his stand at the stern of Fate’s canoe, and has set its prow for mystic Hawaiki, on whose shores he page 282 will meet his father and rest in peace. Meanwhile, the waves whisper sadness as they break on the shores of his homeland, the West Coast of this island. He has gone to join his youthful companions along the grass-less path o’er which man never returns.

“What matters if the roof, the side walls and the reeds of a house be strong when the centre pole is levelled to the ground? The house will collapse, and we are bereft of our shelter. A mighty totara of the forest has fallen and the sapling which was growing up to take its place has now been torn away.

“It was my father’s wish that he should be cremated, and following in his footsteps my brother’s wish was that he, too, should be cremated. Time alone will tell whether they are right or wrong.

“It is true our precious jewels have been lost to us, but God, the Great Creator, has found them. Therein lies our strengthening—our comforting consolation. Yet how often in my longing for them will I wonder why man was made so imperfect that he needs must die. However, their deeds will live, and will in the future be for me as a guiding star in the night sky of memory.”

Turning to the vault, Rakaherea Pomare addressed his father: “O father, wise councillor, mediator between pakeha and Maori, greet thy son in the supernal realms of Io.”

Facing the casket he went on, addressing his brother: “Te Naera, my dearest brother, guide and companion; farewell! a long farewell!”

In a pathetic and generous tribute in the “New Zealand Samoa Guardian,” Mr. O. F. Nelson wrote:

“Samoa weeps with Lady Pomare and her children in their loss, and shares their grief. The love and friendship which Sir Maui Pomare bore to Samoa, even in his last sad journey across the Pacific to his death, will ever live in the hearts of the Samoan people. This beautiful tribute to the revered dead from the younger son will find an echoing sympathy in Samoa, where they will pray that a son so gifted and inspired may one day also be chosen to represent the people so ably and eloquently guarded by the life work of his dead but ever-remembered father. Peace to their ashes.”