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

Potiki-Roa, and the Search after Tumuaki

Potiki-Roa, and the Search after Tumuaki.

Tumuaki's Nga-Rauru followers, after a time returned home to the North Island; and communicated to the former's relatives and friends the sad fate that had overtaken him. His wife, whom he had left behind him, was named Hine-tu-a-hoanga (a very ancient name connected with the grinding of stone axes, etc.; but there have been many so called, and it does not necessarily follow that this lady bore that name in consequence of her husband's connection with the jadeite) and she was dreadfully cut up at the loss of her husband. Hine' was a great chieftainess of Taranaki, descended from Toka-tara, who came over in the "Kura-hau-po "canoe, see Chapter VI. After mourning for him for a long time, she Urged her brothers to take her to the place where her husband had died, in order that she might wail over him. To this her brothers consented, but they had not any sea-going canoe fit for the voyage; so it was decided to make a new one. The elder of her brothers was named Potiki-roa, and he, with his younger brothers and their people, proceeded to the forest, where, after the appropriate karakias,* they felled a totara tree, and hewed it page 168out into a canoe. The now canoe was then dragged down to the coast with the usual accompaniment of songs, and placed on the beach ready for the final adornment, finishing, etc. When Hine' saw the canoe she expressed her disappointment at the size of it, for, wishing to go in state with a large following, she feared tho canoe would not hold as many as she required. The canoe had been named "Pu-nuia-Rata," after a famous canoe that belonged to their ancestors in far Hawaiki, ages before this time. But Hine', to express her disappointment and anxiety she felt about its capacity, re-named it "Whakahotu-manawa" (the sobbing heart); this name was not considered satisfactory by tho others.

However, preparations were made for the start, provisions placed aboard, the crow embarked, and they put to sea; Potiki-roa taking tho command, and Hine' going as passenger. Finding that the canoe did not fulfil Hine's evil anticipations, and that it proved to be very fast, and an excellent sea-boat, its name was now changed a second time, and the vessel became known for the future as "To Rangi-aurore "—on account of those qualities—so says my informant, but the name does not seem to me to express that moaning. They passed on their way across Cook's Straits, until they reached the South Island at a place my informant could not give the name of, but it was on the north-east or east coast of that Island. Hero they saw smoke some way inland, and Hine' desired her brother, Potiki-roa, to land and go in that direction to find out who the people were, and get directions as to where they should find the place in which Tumuaki met his death. The brother went off on his errand, leaving all the others camped on the shore. It was a rough, hilly country, and took Potikiroa a long time to approach the smoke. At last he drew near, and there found a village. Tie was seen approaching by some young women who wore at a distance from their homes, and they, after greeting him, finally led him to the village of their father, whose name was Mango-huruhuru. At the village he received a warm welcome, and caused much admiration on the part of the young women, on account of his handsome appearance, tho people saying, "A! he pai langata!" (O! what a splendid man!) Now Potiki-roa was equally smitten with one of the daughters of the chief, whose name was Puna-te-rito, and, according to Maori custom, she was given to him by her father as a wife. Potiki-roa was thus engaged in lovo making, to the neglect of his relatives and friends, and remained in his new quarters several days. At last he sent some of the people of the village down to the sea-shore to communicate with Hine' and the others, and to tell them what had occurred, and also to say that he page 169had made up his mind to remain with his now wife and her people, Hine' replied to this "E kore e ingo te rangi ki a ia,!" (The heart will no longer care for him; ingo to desire, rangi the heart, which aro obsolete uses of those words). And so the moasongors returned.

Hine' and her party having obtained directions from the messengers where to find the country where her husband, Tumuaki, had died, they started back on their way to the West Coast. On their way they came to a point of land projecting far out into the sea, and on looking down behold kahikatea trees growing on the bottom. This so surprised them, that some of the men divod down and procured some branches. (The same story is told with regard to the north point of Poverty Bay, off Tua-motu Island; kahikatea trees are said to be seen in the sea. There is some meaning attached to this story if we could got at it). Soon after this the shades of night fell, and it became very dark. But Hine', being desirous of making up for lost time, urged tho crew to continue on. Presently the canoe struck a rock, and the big waves rolling in caused her to capsizo. All were drowned, says my informant; and I may add, that possibly the tree seen under the water was tapu, and hence the disaster, due to taking some of its branches; at any rate that would be a true Maori way of accounting for the wreck.

Next day, Potiki-roa, sent some of his now friends to see what had become of the party of Hine'. On climbing a high hill, they saw in the far distance the canoe drifting about bottom upwards. They returned and told Potiki-roa, who then, to make quite sure, himself ascended a high mountain, and from there beheld the hull of the canoe, thus confirming the report of the others. With a sad heart he returned to the village, and there bewailed, his sister in a tangi or lament, in which ho happened to mention his sister's name, Hine-tu-a-hoanga. At this the people of the place exclaimed, "A! he rangatira te tangata nei!" ("A! this man is indeed a chief") for the famo of Hine' as a chieftainess of great rank at Taranaki had reached those parts long before, and consequently tho people thought much more of Potiki-roa, who became a man of importance with his new connections.

* See end of this Chapter.