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History and traditions of the Maoris of the West Coast, North Island of New Zealand, prior to 1840

Manu-Tahi. — (Circa 1770-80)

page 228

(Circa 1770-80).

The next incursion was probably to obtain revenge for the above massacre, but of this I am not sure. The Ngati-Ruanui, under their celebrated chief, Tu-raukawa, who, besides being a warrior of fame, was one of the best poets the Maori people has produced. This party also came through the great forest by way of Whakaahu-rangi and camped at Matai-tawa (afterwards a military township and site of a block-house in the wars of the sixties). It so happened that just at this time a large party of the Manu-korihi hapu of Ati-Awa, under Makere, his grandson Taramoana, and others, made an expedition from their pa—Manu-korihi, on the north bank of Waitara, just above the present bridge—to Manu-tahi, a place on the Wai-o-ngana river, now occupied by the village of Lepperton—and where was a redoubt held by the military settlers under Captain Corbet and Lieutenant John Kelly in 1865. This party of Manu-korihi people came for the purpose of collecting aka, or forest vines, used for various purposes in old Maori clays, such as lashings for the palisades of their pas, for making hinaki, or fish-baskets, and many other purposes where strength was necessary. From the high ground of Matai-tawa, the Ngati-Ruanui sentries saw this party coming along in the open country by the path which led to Manutahi, and immediately divined where they were going. So they armed and rushed down—the distance is not great—keeping under cover until they reached the path, where the whole party went into ambush and waited until Manu-korihi were well within their toils. Then Ngati-Ruanui arose and commenced the slaughter. But, after all, few fell into their hands for their footsteps had been seen and the alarm quietly given. The great loss to Manu-korihi, however, was the young chief, Tara-moana, who was killed, carried off, and eaten.

Now Ati-Awa—indeed all Maoris—were not the people to let a disaster of this kind remain unavenged. The escapees from Manu-tahi hurried home, where old Makero raised the whole of his people, together with those of Otaraua pa (a short distance inland of Manu-korihi), and others living near Waitara, and immediately, that same afternoon, took the war-trail in the footsteps of Ngati-Ruanui. Travelling with speed they overtook the retreating invaders on their homeward way through the forest. A skirmish ensued, in which Ati-Awa secured some utu for their losses, but the main party of Ngati-Ruanui escaped back to their own country.

It was at this fight between Ati-Awa and Ngati-Ruanui—says my informant—that for the first time in their history the bodies of people page 229distantly related were first eaten by their relatives; for up to that time a blood relation, however distant—and the Maoris carried relationship to even tenth or twelfth cousinship or further—were never eaten by these tribes. This fact is referred to in Makere's lament.

On return to their home at Manu-korihi, old Makere composed the following lament for his grandson, Tara-moana, which is a great favourite with Ati-Awa to this day. Makere was also a poet, but was no match for Tu-raukawa, of Ngati-Ruanui, who, as has been said, was one of the best of Maori poets. One of the latter's poems will be found at page 322 of "Nga Moteatea," which has never been translated. It is probably the best in the language—that is, from the Maori point of view, for no translation can possibly do it justice, nor probably does any living Maori at the present day understand the references contained in it. Makere and Tu-raukawa were in the habit of carrying on a poetic war, each trying to outdo the other in their efforts. Unfortunately, none of these particular compositions have come down to us.

The following is Makere's lament:—

He waiata tangi. na makere.
E Tama! nga ki e!
Ka moenga ke koe.
Ka pau koe te wehewehe
Ki runga to hautapu—i—1
Iri mai koe ki runga to whata-rangi2
Koe papa totara. 3
Ka pau koe te huirua
Ki te ata-kahurangi, 4
No ro' te whare nui, kei a Hine-a-wai,
Māna e tuku iho, ko te takapau hora-nui5
Kia kona 6 ake te kakara
O nga hine i te ipo Ati-hine.7
Haere ra E Tama!
I runga i aku korero ka iti,
Haere ra E koro!
I runga i aku korero,
Ka hoki taku tipu—i.

Kaore o te ao nei tangata
Hei ngaki i to mate.
Tonei te tangata, ko Taringa-puta-iti 8
E kore e whakarongo mai ki te korero—o—i—
Ka tara ai koe ki te riri.
Tenei te kahui-po, 9
Hei tu mai i nga tu,
Tena nga hua-tarau a Tanc 10
Hei ngaki i to mate,
page 230 Hei kawe i ahau to rae ki Okawa11
Kia naomia mia te ate o te whenua,
Kia whakako te tangata,
Me patu marire,
Mei mahara marire iho,
Ki roto Wharekura12
Ko nga whare punanga korero,
I pu ai te riri—e—i.

E hara ano i te tangata,
Na huinga mahara ano.
Na te hikonga rangi ano,
Nina korua, ata tohatoha marire iho
Mo te umu o te hau—e—i.
He toenga ruakanga 14
He puanga waha mai koe,
I kuru-tongia 15 iho ai
Kia kai ake koe.
Whakarongo reka, huanga tangata iana,
Ka whakarongo koe ki te reka
E Hine a Mauri-rangi 16—e—

Taku kotuku noho awa,
Taku tumu herenga waka,
Nana i kumekume
Te Aka whero o te whenua,
Ka rangona koe ki Otahu, 17
Te wehi o te whenua —e—!
He kawau e whakateka
Ki roto o Manga-iti. 18
He takapu horo ika,
Hakahaka koa ra,
Hikawera 19 e tu mai ra—e—i.
He mea ka ngaro noa,
Te Rua-o-Kai-whare.20

E Tama ma e!
Karihitia mai e koe,
Ki te wai o te niho.21
E kore e tipu to kawa22
Ki te ao-marama—e—
E kore e ngaro.
He puia-taro nui, 23
He ngata taniwha rau,
He aua matawhero.
He ika moe kopua
No roto i Wherohia24—e—i
page 231 Tenei te hoanga
Te takoto i raro nei.
Waiho kia oroia ana
He whati toki nui

Haere ai koe ki te ara titaha,
Haere ai koe ki te ara kohuru
Kupenga-taratara, 25 i whakahaua iho—i—
Paenga paraoa ki roto te Hiku-mutu.26

Taku jka topuni
Ka moe ki reira na—i—
Pou o Rakei, 27 i whakahaerea iho—e—
Kiri o Rongomai, 28 ka pau te whakarato,
Ki te ahi kai rikiriki e—i—
Me kowai ra te atua
Măna o te rangi?
Me ko Uenuku ra,
He atua kai tangata ia na—i.

O son! whose fame all tongues proclaim,
Thou sleepest there apart!
Separated from those that love thee,
By a violent and sudden death.
Thou liest on thy funeral stage,
Like a well-hewn plank of totara.
Thou art gathered to the spirits—
To the shades of our beloved ones—
To the great ones of our house,
Hine-a-wai, thy ancestress wilt thee meet,
And she will spread out the marital couch,
And cause sweet scents to be diffused,
By the maidens in their youth.
Depart thou! O my son!
With my little meed of praise,
Go, loved one! with my poor words,
Whilst my growth is stinted at thy loss.

There is no one in this world below,
To avenge thy sudden loss.
'Tis true that some assent, but act not,
Nor listen to the tale
How brave thou wert in war,
'Tis left to the gods of the nether world,
To fulfil their proper functions,
Or the beedless fruits of the forest
To avenge thy sudden death.
Now take me to Okawa's ridge
To snatch the triumph from the foe.
page 232 Some men in deep contempt do say,
"Let stern revenge be taken," but mean it not,
They think not of famed Whare-kura temple,
Where great deeds and thoughts arose,
And wars were oft proclaimed.

It could not be through man alone,
(This overwhelming loss)
But rather from the mighty thoughts
Of high celestial beings, all powerful,
By whom ye were defeated, and thy parts,
To the ovens of thy slayers were distributed.
And thou became like the remnant of a vomit—
The spewings of the mouth—
When thou wert basely slain.

(And ye O Ngati-Rua, did eat him),
Glorying in the taste of a relative's blood.
Nor felt the offspring of the lady Mauri-rangi
Any shame at this foul deed.

My handsome crane! river dweller!
My carved pillar! Canoe fastener!
'Twas he that to him drew,
The red roots of the earth (chiefs)
Thy fame has reached Otahu,
(In that distant land Hawaiki)
Thou feared one of the land! thou art,
Like the cormorant with outstretehed neck,
Seen in the waters of Manga-iti.
Like the albatross, fish swallower,
Whose plumes in dance do cause delight
In the land of Hika-wcra,
Alas! thou art now lost indeed
In the deep chasm of Kai-whare.

O friends that hear me!
On thee has been performed
The returning warriors rite,
With the waters of the teeth.
No offspring of thine shall evermore,
In this world of light appear.
Nay! but thy race will not be lost;
Like unto a taro-root are they for number—
Like the offspring of the taniwha,
Like the shoals of red-eyed aua (herrings)
That sleep in the deep and shady pools,
That fringe the shore near Wherohia.

Thou art like the grindstone there,
That lies in yonder yard.
page 233 By grinding, ever rubbing
An axe becomes as good as new.

Thou disappeared by side paths,
Extinguished by murder's hideous way.
By treacherous schemes thy death occurred.
And now like some great whale
At Hiku-mutu dost thou lie.

My cherished one! once so near!
Thou liest there in death's repose,
Scion of Rakei! descendant direct!
Image of Rongo-mai! now are thy bones dispersed,
And lost in the midst of cannibal ovens.

Who then is the powerful war-god of Heaven?
Surely it is Ue-nuku, the rainbow god,
The fierce-eyed god of cannibal lust
('Tis he shall avenge thee!)


I am indebted to Te Whetu for the following notes, and, as many of the Maori words are of very rare occurrence, Maori students may be glad of their meaning. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28

Tu-raukawa, the poet, warrior and leader of Ngati-Ruanui in the ambuscade when Tara-moana was killed, was born about the year 1750. page 234It is believed that Makere, the composer of the foregoing lament, must have been born long before, and that the ambuscade took place when Tu-raukawa was a young man. Makere is known to have lived to an age even exceeding the many known cases of very great age to which some old Maoris lived. Wiremu.-Kingi Te Rangi-take, the originator of the war with the Europeans in 1860, was born somewhere about 1785 to 1790, and he had seen Makere as an extremely old man barely able to crawl about when the former was a small child. We may probably fix the date of this event at about 1770-80.

I have mentioned two of the Ngati-Ruanui raids into the Ati-Awa country. The third was when that tribe attacked Ihaia-Te Kiri-kumara at Te Karaka pa, Waitara, in 1854, consequent on the death of Katatore at the hands of the former.

1 Hautapu, a violent death;

2 Whata-rangi, the stage on which bodies are placed until after the hahunga, or exhumation;

3 Papa-totara, the totara box in which bones are kept until buried;

4 Ata-kahurangi, the shades of the departed loved ones;

5 Takapau-horanui. a highly ornamental mat, emblematical of marriage;

6 Kona, diffused as scent, carried by a current of air. In the islands it means intoxicated—i.e., the rising of the fumes to the brain.

7 Ati-hine, the young girls of the tribe—ipo, a lover;

8 Taringa-puta-iti, one who listens, assents, then fails to act;

9 Kahui-po, the assemblage of gods of the nether-world;

10 Hua tarau a Taue, the wild fruits of the forest;

11 Okawa, the south ascent on the old war-path up to Pukerangiora, where Te Rangitake retreated to during the war of the sixties;

12 Whare-kura, the famed temple in Hawaiki, where all knowledge was accumulated;

14 Ruakanga = Ruakitanga, to vomit;

15 Kuru-tongia, killed, battered;

16 Mauri-rangi, an ancestress of W. K. Te Rangi-take, and of Tara-moana and ' of N-Rua-nui;

17 Otahu, said to ba a place in Hawaiki;

18 Manga-iti, a little stream near the Huri-rapa pa, Waitara, south bank;

19 Hika-wera, a place near Waitara;

20 Rua-o-Kaiwhare, a famous and very peculiar hole in the beach on Manukau, South Head, the lair of the taniwha, Kai-whare;

21 Karihitia, etc., a very peculiar custom applied to warriors returned from war;

22 Kawa, poetical for offspring;

23 Puia-taro-nui, a many-rooted taro, a family of many scions;

24 Wherohia, a place near Hurirapa, Waitara;

25 Kuponga-taratara, deep-laid schemes;

26 Hikumutu, an old pa near Manu-korihi;

27 Rakeiora, eponymous ancestor of Ngati-Rakei;

28 Rongomai, a remote ancestor.