Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

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

Tama-Ahua Returns to Hawaiki. — (Circa 1380.)

Tama-Ahua Returns to Hawaiki.
(Circa 1380.)

The marginal table, being part of Table No. 33, will show the position of the people referred to below. Te Hatauira came to New Zealand in. the "Kura-hau-po canoe, and it is thought his son did so also, as a young man. Rau-mati was born in New Zealand, and Ngarue is said to have been a grandson of a younger brother of Te Mounga-roa, the latter being the priest of "Kura-hau-po." Another account says he came here in the Waka-tipua.

Table No. XXXIXA.

Table No. XXXIXA.

When these several members of the crew of the above-named vessel first arrived on the West coast, they settled down at Wairau, where Captain Mace, N.Z.C., now lives, and which place afterwards became celebrated through the death of Dr. Hope, Lieut. Tragett and five men of H.M. 57 Regt., who there fell into an ambush during the war on the 4th May, 1863. Tama-ahua here married his first wife, Tauranga, who, my informant said, was a woman of her husband's people, but from what follows in relation to her son Rua-mati, it is probable he confused the two wives (or I misunderstood him). His second wife was Kauhanga-roa, said to be from Tauranga. After his first marriage Tama-ahua-ki-Tauranga (which is his full name) removed to and built a house on the flats at Oakura river, just seaward of tho bridge on the south side. This house was named "Whakamoe-ariki," the fonndations of which, together with a red stone on which the main internal pillar (or pou-toko-manawa) once stood, are to be seen at this day.

On one occasion, after the kumwra crops had boon gathered in, page 159Tama-ahua was busily engaged in storing them away in the whata or store-house, his two wives being occupied in making baskets not far off. Whilst so engaged, the pukoro, or front part of Tama-ahua's maro, or waist cloth, fell off, and he stood naked as the day he was born before his wives and the other people. It was then seen that Tama-ahua was a tehe, or had been circumcised, which caused his wives a great deal of amusement, and gave rise to some remarks ridiculing their husband. Now, no Maori can stand ridicule—it has very often led to what they call whakamomore, or desperation, in which state of mind the one so affected has often committed suicide. Tama-ahua felt shamed and humiliated by the conduct of his wives, and withal exceedingly angry. So taking his maro and his arms, he departed from the village and went away up the Oakura valley to a place called Pirongia, which is situated between the Pouakai and Patuha ranges, not far from Te Iringa, which is the name of the southern peak of the latter range. Here his sister Taupea was living with others—who, I would remark, were probably some of the tangata-whenua people, the Kahui-maunga. Arrived there, and after the usual greetings, he said to his sister, "I am returning across the seas to Hawaiki, and I have come to bid you farewell." His sister asked, "What is the reason of your going?" "Because my wives laughed at me when my pukoro fell off, and I am filled with shame." His sister replied, "Do not go; remain here; let us two abide in this settlement of ours." But Tama-ahua would not listen; he had made up his mind to abandon home and family, and go back to Hawaiki. Seeing that her brother was determined, Taupea ceased her efforts to persuade him; and then they cried over one another, and took farewell. When departing, Tama-ahua said, "If I arrive safely on the other side—to that other home of ours—I will cause my shadow to appear at the break of day in tho east, in the morning sunbeams, so that you may know I am safe. When you see this sign, you must do likewise, so that I may know that you have understood my signal."

After this Tama-ahua departed from Pirongia and returned to his home at Oakura. Here he took farewell of his son Rau-mati (son of his wife Tauranga) and of Rakei-nui-te-kapua, (his son by his other wife Kauhanga-roa) saying:—" Remain here; I am departing to hide myself. May you grow up to be men after I am gone." His two wives, hearing this, endeavoured to persuade Tama-ahua to abandon his project, but he was obdurate, and determined to carry out his plans. They commenced crying and lamenting, but it was of no avail. Tama-ahua now caused his canoe to be prepared for the voyage, by taking in stores, etc. How many, or who accompanied him, our story page 160does not say. The canoe was named "Te Rona-waiwai," and when ready, Tama-ahua proceeded to his tuāhu or altar, to propitiate the spirits of the storms he might encounter on the way, and also to placate "the great fish of the sea." So he sailed away from his home at Oakura, and in due course safely arrived "at the other side," for on his arrival he haea mat tona ata, or caused the sign he had arranged to appear in the early dawn, which was seen by his sister Taupea, who then knew of his safety. She then ascended the Pouakai range and haea atu tona ata, by causing her shadow to be cast so that Tama-ahua might know she had received his message. "And so Tama-ahua died on the other side, at Te Rere-a-Kura-hau-po."

I am unable, any more than my informants, to offer any explanation of that part of this story which has reference to the signals exchanged by the brother and sister; but it is probably true that an expedition left Oakura with the intention of going back to Hawaiki—which here means Tahiti and the neighbouring islands; whether they ever arrived or not there is nothing to show, for no communication with those parts has taken place sinoo the dato of this supposed voyage. Considering the genealogies, we may roughly iix the date of Taiua-ahua's voyage at the year 1370 to 1390.

There are one or two things in the above story that aro worth noting. One is, the surprise of the two women at circumcision, evidently showing that they were unaccustomed to it. So far as my enquiries have gone, this custom was only introduced to New Zealand sumo two or three generations prior to the heke of 1350, and probably it had not spread, or was only in partial use on the West Coast, for the introduction of it took place on tho East Coast. Hence these wives of Tama-ahua wore probably tangata-whenua women, for had they boon Hawaikians, the custom would have caused no surprise. The next point is, that if Tama-ahua's voyage is a fact, whence came his crew to man a large sea-going canoe, if not from the tangata-whenua?

Again, there is a question, if this Tama-ahua is he whose adventures in search of greenstone are related in Journal Polynesian Society Vol. V., p. 203—and where he is said to have belonged to tho Kahuimaunga people, i.e., the tangata-whenua, which seems to me to be right. Apparently he is a different individual altogether from Tama-ahua-ki-Tauranga, who was a Hawaiki Maori.