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

Potiki-Roa Returns to Taranaki

Potiki-Roa Returns to Taranaki.

Now Potiki-roa dwelt with his father-in-law, Mango-huruhuru, who was a very powerful tohunga, or priest, and thoroughly versed in all the potenti karakias that gave him power over heaven or earth. His eldest son was named Tuhuru, who, says my informant, was the direct ancestor of the chief of Pou-tini, also named Tuhuru, who was taken prisoner by Niho, in his expedition down the West Coast of the Middle page 170Island, circa 1828, for which, see Chap. XVI. Years rolled on, and the time came when Potiki-roa was seized with a desire to see his old home at Taranaki once more. He had often mentioned to his new connections what a fine country it was—such a rich soil, with fine forests, excellent flax, and food in plenty, but added that it had one drawback, viz., the lack of good beaches on which to haul up the canoes, or to draw the nets on. At last he put the matter to his father-in-law, and proposed that he should accompany him, with his people, on a visit to his Taranaki relatives. This Mango-huruhuru agreed to, and all hands proceeded to the forest to hew out a new and suitable canoe for the lengthy voyage across the stormy seas of Rau-kawa (Cook's Straits). With a priest of Mango-huruhuru's powers we may be sure that all the ritual under such circumstances was rigidly performed. On completion of the canoe it was dragged to the water and there the old priest arranged, by the aid of his great powers, that a taniwha, or sea monster, should be attached to one side of the canoe, the tapu side, and a piece of wood to the other, which was the noa, or common side. (I would suggest here that this piece of wood may have been an outrigger, and that that kind of canoe had not then gone out of fashion). The canoe was named "Wawara-a-kura," and her load of food, including kiwis, water, clothing, arms, etc., etc., was placed on board, and then all was ready to start, and the people took their places. Potiki-roa occupied the stern, next came his wife, Puna-te-rito, then her sister, Puna-te-ahu, then another sister,. Heihana (who was hape, or lame), then Renga-papa, the youngest sister, all daughters of Mango-huruhuru; forward of these rangatira came the crew. When all was ready, the old man, Mango-huruhuru, came down to the water's edge, and said to Potiki-roa: "Stay awhile; let me first go up to the tuuhu." The old priest had decided to utilize his great powers as a tohunga to make some beaches ou the Taranaki coast, and now went to his altar to commence his initiatory incantations towards that end, and also, as was usual, to utter others to secure a prosperous voyage for the canoe. The name of the altar was "Te Tuahu-o-nga-one" (the altar-of-the-sands), and the sands, or beaches (one of which he proposed to bring) were named Wairua-ngangana, One-pua-huru, One-hau, and One-tipi. These were all situated in Hawaiki, and were very tapu. So the old man upraised his voice to cause the sands to go to Taranaki, and this was his karakia:

Unuhia, ko te pou mua, ko te pou roto,
Ko te pou o te whare o Tangaroa, 1
Unuhia! ko One-pua-huru2 to one,
Unuhia! ko Wairua-ngangana3 te one,
I kapua mai ki te ringa,

1 Tangaroa, god of ocean, who rules the waves and shores,

2 Onepua-huru, one of sands, or beaches, in Hawaiki.

3 Wairua-ngangana, one of the islands, probably in Indonesia, from which the Maoris obtained the taro plant originally.—See Chap. VII.

page 171 Ko Pou-te-wharaunga, 4 ko Atu-rangi-mamao, 5
Hekeheke iho i runga i ou ara,
Ko Tiki-whara te whare,
Ko Wawara-a kura6 te waka,
Ka tangi au ki nga maunga nei
Ka tangi au ki nga mori nei
Ka tangi au ki nga mania nei
Ka tangi au ki taku whenua,
Ka eke atu au i a "Wawara-a-kura,"
6 Hae!
Ka piki atu au i te ngaru kopu,—
I te ngaru kowhana,
I te ngaru tau-rewarewa, te moana waiwai
I a ngaru hora—hora ki uta,
A ka whiti atu au ki Hukurangi, 8

Withdraw, the front pillar, the inside pillar.
The pillar of the house of Tangaroa.
1 Come forth! One-pua-hura2 is the sand,
Come forth,' Wairua-ngangana3 is the beach,
Which I take up in my hand—
So be it!
(Here the priest takes up a handful of sand.)
Pou-te-wharaunga, 4 is Tangaroa's house,
Atu-rangi-mamao, 5 is the marae of his dwelling,
Descend then, by ways that thou knowest.
Tiki-whara is the name of (my) house,
"Wawara-a-kura "6 is my canoe—
Be it so!
I bid farewell to those mountains there,
I bid farewell to the promontories there,
I bid farewell to my home and lands,
Be it so!
I am about to board the "Wawara-a-kura,"
Be it so!
And in her to climb the great rolling waves—
The great surging white crested waves,
The great waves just combing, of the deep sea,
The great spread out waves, spread out to the shore,
Be it so!
And then shall I cross over to Hukurangi,
8 Be it so!

4 The name of Tangaroa's house at the bottom of the sea.

5 Name of the plaza, of his dwelling.

6 Name of the canoe he is about to embark in.

8 Hukurangi, an ancient name of the North Island.

page 172

In this karakia, the first part is evidently addressed to Tangaroa, to allow the sands to remove to Taranaki; the second, a farewell to his home.

After this incantation, the old man returned and boarded the canoe; he had secured the mana of the sands and was satisfied. He took up his position in the bows of the canoe in order to see the dangers and be ready by aid of his karakias to avert them. They went on, "by day, by night," says the story, until they arrived at Taranaki, and landed at a place called Tokaroa, at Waitaha, four miles south of Cape Egmont. which was the home of Potiki-roa's relatives. The voyage was thus propitious, but had it been otherwise no doubt Mango-huruhuru would have used his priestly powers to calm the ocean, and would have recited the following "karakia. rotu". or invocation to calm, or "lay," the waves, which particular karakia belongs to the Taranaki people. I give it here to preserve it from oblivion.

He Rotu Moana.
Ka patua! ka patua te moana
Ka patua! ka rotua to, moana,
Ka rotua! ka hoea te moana,
Ka hoea!
Nga hau! nga hau o nta
Te pokia nga hau o tai—
Te pokia nga-hau tuku iho,
Te pokia tena te hau,
Ka popoki ko te hau o te ahiahi,
Koia! Koia.! i moana nui
Ka tu te hoe,
Koia! i moana roa.
Ka tu te hoe
Koia! i moana tai-rangaranga
Ka tu te hoe
Taku hoe, taku hoe nci
Kei te rangi hikitia
Kei te rangi hapainga—
Tona, tona oketanga
Kei te puke i Hikurangi.
Tina tenei kaihou,
Tina tenei matua iwi.
I tu, i tu, i te took
I karo i to toko
To mata i tukutuku
To mata i heiheia.
page 173 Puta.! puta whakataura Tawhaki
I te hahatia.
Mariri ngaru, marara ngaru
Te hahau atu te kakau o taku hoe nei
Pupu ma whai-ao,
Puta tata ra ki Hikurangi—
To whai-ao, ki te ao-marania,
Te tua, te tua kei rungu
Te tua, E Rangi!
Tua mata-hinahina—
Ka puta kei waho kei te liahatia
Hora tu taku takapou
E! ka piki, Rangi,

Be stricken! be stricken thou ocean!
Be stricken! be "laid" 1 thou ocean!
Be "laid," so thou mayest be paddled over.
It will be paddled over.
Ye winds! ye winds of the shore.!
Overcome the winds of the sea—
The winds now sent down,
Then shall the winds be overwhelmed.
By winds of the evening destroyed.
Truly! truly, it is so, on the broad ocean,
The paddles shall ply.
Truly so, on the great ocean.
The paddles shall ply.
Truly so, on the rolling waves of ocean.
The paddles shall ply.
This paddle, this paddle of mine,
Is endowed with powers of the uplifted heavens.
With the powers of the heavens upraised,
Its powers, its powers shall reach
Even to the sacred hill of Hikurangi.2
Enforce with power this invocation,
Enforce this lay of old,
That fronts, that fronts the thrust3 (of heaven)
That wards off the thrust (of heaven)
Thy face is battered (thou angry wind)
Thy front is scarred.
Ascended! ascended by the rope-like way, did Tawhaki, 4
Through the "space"5 betwixt heaven and earth.
Bo calm then the waves, be smooth,
That my paddle may force its way,
To safety and the world of being,
And quickly reach to Hikmungi. 6

1 (1.) Rotu, to becalm, to smooth, to press down, hence to "lay," as a ghost is laid.

2 (2.) Hikurangi, a sacred hill in Hawaiki (probably India is here meant) connected with The Deluge.

3 (3.) Toko, really a spear-thrust. Afflictions of a wide and universal character are alluded to as "spear thrusts of heaven."

4 (4.) Whakataurai like a rope, refers to the toi, or spider-web like cord, by which Ta-whaki ascended to heaven; the composer desires his invocation may be as powerful and as successful as that of Tawhaki.

5 (5.) Hahatia, a very peculiar form of this verb, here used as a noun, meaning "the sought for," the "space sought for" by Tawhaki.

6 (6.) Hikurangi, here used as emblematic of safety—for it was on Mount Hikurangi the people fled to in the flood.

page 174 To the world of being, the world of light.
My prayer, my prayer is above,
My prayer, O Rangi!7
It slays the breaking waves,
It kills the steady breeze,
And brings us forth to the "space."
Spread out now is my incantation.
A! we climb over the waves, O Rangi!
7 Be it so!

On the subject of the karakia, to becalm, or press down, the waves of ocean, a very peculiar custom obtained amongst the Ngati-Kuia tribe, of Pelorous Sound, Middle Island. I have a long karakia in reference thereto, but it is too difficult to translate, except the first four lines, in which the custom is alluded to, thus:—

Ko te huruhuru o Rangi,
Kia whakahinga ã!
Kia whakahinge ki te hau.
Kia whakahinga ki te tonga.

The hair of Rangi,
Let it fall a!
Let it fall to the wind,
Let it fall to the south.

The hair here referred to is that growing on a woman's private parts, which is said to have been given to woman by Rangi, the Sky Father, "If a canoe were out at sea fishing, etc., and a storm came on, the chief person on board would say to his wife, who would be busy bailing out the water due to the lap of the waves, "Whakaarahia te huruhuru"! "Uplift the hair"! The woman would then take from her private parts a single hair, and then hold it up in her fingers, with arm outstretched to its full length, whilst the man would recite the karakia (of which the above are the opening lines) and, as he finished, let it fly into the sea." This would, in my informant's belief, cause the wind to abate. The above karakia is called a "Rotu-hau, and my informant, an old man well versed in his tribal customs and history, could give me no explanation of its meaning, except that is was not an offering to Tangaroa, god of the ocean. Confirmatory of this peculiar custom, I was told by one of my Taranaki friends that, in his childhood, he was taken out fishing "by his relatives, off Okahu, Cape Egmont. It appears that one of the men had brought with him some flax, gathered from a

7 Rangi, the heavens.

page 175wahi-tapu, or burial ground. Presently the sea became disturbed, the waters rising up in an unnatural manner, and there appeared a number of what my friend called Taniwhas, which came round the canoe, some getting under it and, lifting it up and then letting it down again gently, All on board were very much alarmed. The principal man on board told the others to keep very quiet and not to speak a word, and asked, "Kei awai te hara i a tatou"? Which of us has done wrong? One of the men replied, "Perhaps it is the flax I took from the burial ground" —which of course would be tapu. The flax was then thrown overboard, and the chief, repeating a karakia, took a few hairs from his head, from his armpits, and from the lower part of his abdomen, which he threw into the sea. Hair used in this connection is called a weu. The taniwhas then departed.

Again, as illustrating the old belief in the powers of the tohunga, or priest, the same man told me the following:—The landing at the Taunga-a-tara river, Taranaki Coast, is often very difficult. Here, in former times, when the canoes were about to go out to sea, fishing, an old tohunga used by the power of his karakias, to call up from the deep twelve taniwhas to convoy the canoe through the breakers. He would stand up in the water, facing inland, and the taniwhas, six on each side, would come and pass quite close to him to the shore where the canoe was, and then remain on each side of it till it had passed through the breakers. These taniwhas are about two feet long, nine inches deep, with head cut squarely off, with spikes all over them—such fish, in the north, are called Kopu-totara.