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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 75

Legend of Maahu, and Haere, the God of the Rainbow

Legend of Maahu, and Haere, the God of the Rainbow.

Tautu-porangi was the ancestor. He took Houmea-taumata and begat Haere-a-tautu, and Haere-waewae, and Haere-kohiko, and Hina-anga, and Hina-anga-tu-roa, and Hina-anga-whakaruru, and Moe-kahu. The three Haere became atua piko, or rainbow gods and when the gleaming bow appears in the heavens we can distinguish which atua it is by the form and different colours. Among the Ngati-Kahu-ngunu Tribe, Kahu-kura is the rainbow god, and to the people below it is Uenuku. I do not know if the Hina-anga sisterhood became atua, but Moe-kahu, the last-born of Houmea, was an atua kuri Maori, and appeared in the form of a dog. She is an atua of evil omen and destroys man. Moe-kahu is an atua of Nga-Potiki and Ngati-Kahu-ngunu. Maru-kopa-nui is another

Below—i.e., to the north.

page 27 atua; he is represented by the glow seen above the horizon at eventide. Maru is a war god.

Tautu-porangi went forth to bear the amonga, or sacred food, to the god Wananga, whose kauwaka (medium of communication) was the priest Taewa. While engaged in this duty, Tautu was killed by Te Tini-o-kauae-taheke, an ancient tribe of very remote times. The word came to Houmea that Tautu-porangi was slain. Haere said, "Let us avenge the death of our parent." And Houmea replied, "Go forth to your duty, but be cautious, lest you cross the path of the gods—lest you tread upon the aho, which destroys man." So the children of Houmea went forth to attack their enemies, Te Tini-o-kauae-taheke; but on their way to the place of that people they trod upon the sacred aho, and perished by the reti. Their senses were destroyed by the atua, so fell they in the wilderness.

Haere and his brothers returned to their home. Houmea said, "What was the cause of your defeat?" The people replied, "We fell by the reti of our kindred, against whom we strove." Then Houmea gave them the means by which to overcome the sorceries of their enemies and retain life. She gave them the taumata, the ahi, and the kete, which are three very sacred and powerful incantations. Again they go out to attack the multitude of Kauae-taheke On approaching the abode of their enemies they halted upon a hilltop and launched forth the sacred and powerful karakia known as the ahi or kauahi :—

Hika ra taku ahi Tu-e!
Tu ki runga Tu-e!
Tu hikitia mai Tu-e!
Kit kotahi te moenga Tu-e!
Ko te taina, ko te tuakana Tu-e!
Kai homai Tu-e!
Ki te umu Tu-e!
Ki te matenga Tu-e!

Kindle, then, my fire, O Tu!
Tu above, O Tu!
Tu, striding over, O Tu!
In one sleeping-place, O Tu!
The younger and the elder brother, O Tu!
Give, O Tu!
To the oven, O Tu!
To the death, O Tu!

This karakia being concluded, the tohunga, or priest, then uttered the following :—

Hika atu ra taku ahi Tu-ma-tere
Tonga tere ki te umu toko i a-i-i
Tere tonu nga rakau, tere tonu te umu-e.

I kindle my fire to Tu the swift,
Swiftly drag to the oven of wands,
Swift with the wands, swift to the oven.

And then—

Roki ai nga hau riri!
Roki ai nga hau niwba!
Ka roki i nga rakau
Ki roki i nga toa
Ka roki ki te umu-e
Ki te umu a Tu-mata-uenga——e!

Be calmed the angry winds!
Be calmed the barbed winds!
Enervate the weapons,
Make powerless the braves
By the effect of the spell,
By the spell of Tu the fierce-eyed!*

Having uttered these sacred spells, they then performed the taumata, which is a karakia to raise a great wind and cause an enemy to believe that no one will attack them on so boisterous a

* Tu is the god of war: he has many qualifying names indicative of his ferocity.

page 28 day. Also they used the Haruru or kete spell, the purpose of which was to draw the spirits of their enemies into a confined space and there render them powerless.

These great performances being over, then Hina-anga-whakaran arose and exposed himself to the view of the multitude of Kauae-taheke, who cried, "It is a man!" Then Hina-anga bent down wards, and the multitude cried, "Not so; it is but a palm-tree Behold! it is bent by the fierce gale." So Hina-anga kept deceiving those people, even until the shades of night fell.

In the dawning light the multitude of Kauae-taheke were attacked and defeated by the army of Haere and Houmea. And the maawe* of that battle was given to Moe-kahu, that she might bear is homewards. As she drew near this dog-woman barked loudly, and as she did so the knowledge came to Houmea-taumata that vengeance had been taken for the death of Tautu-porangi.

After this came the combat between Haere-a-tautu and Mull Each strove to destroy the other by means of the great powers they held, and both fell, each being slain by the other. The end of Haere was this : He was conveyed by Maahu to the paepae, where [unclear: Nok] the earthworm, consumed him. As for Maahu, he was bewitched by Haere and caused to enter the sacred vessel Tipoko-o-rangi, in which he perished.

Such is one of the strange traditions handed down through many generations from the days of the ancient people, and which [unclear: and] known to but very few of the old men. Strange legends, many [unclear: of] these, localised here far back in the history of Aotearoa, but brought from older lands across the ocean in times long passed away.

A reference to this ancient story is contained in a lament composed or adapted by Titi, of the Ngati-Kahu-ngunu Tribe, who [unclear: image not readable] the medium of the god Po-tuatini, for his mother Rau-hanga and! relatives Pae and Puku, who had been slain by the Tuhoe people some three generations ago :—

Lament of Titi for Rau-hanga.
Me he poko taku kuia Rau-hanga e ngaro nei,
Tenei to tamaiti wahine te tangi haere nei
Mauria atu ra kia taka i mua ki to korua nei aroaro
Ka toko ai e Toko-te-ahu-nuku.
Kotahi te kupu i hakiri ake i taku taringa,
Ko te mate o Tautu-porangi,
I haere ra te whanau ki te ngaki i te mate;
Ka tu i te reti, ka ngawha te upoko,
Hoki ana ki te kainga.
I mauria i reira ko te kete, ko te ahi, ko te taumata,
Ko te ra kungia,
Ka mate i reira Tini-o-kauae taheke.
Tena ko tenei, ma wai e ranga tena rakau tuki, rakau koki.
Rakau tu ki te tahataha
Ko Pito, ko Rere, ko Maika—e-e-a.

* A sacred emblem, often the head or war-lock of the first one slain.

page 29 Like a fire extinguished is Rau-hanga lost,
Whilst her little daughter ceaselessly weeps.
Take her then, and prepare her in your presence,
And let her be supported by Toko-te-ahu-nuku.
A story, imperfectly heard by my ears.
Relates the death of Tautu-porangi,
Whose family went to avenge his death.
They fell by the reti, their heads split open,
Causing them to return to their home.
Then were taken three powerful charms.
And a fourth to obscure the sun,
Which was the death of Te Tini-o-kauae-taheke.
As for my affliction, who shall avenge the sudden blow?—
A blow delivered by the wayside,
Taking Pito, Rere, and Maika—e.

It seems doubtful if the genealogy of Maahu has been preserved by the Waikare people; if so, no Pakeha has been permitted to acquire it. There were many ancestors of this name among various tribes of olden times, but none have hitherto been identified as the particular Maahu who bestowed upon mankind the boon of causing the Waikare-moana Lake to be formed. Now, however, the Khmatua comes to our rescue with a waiata, or song, in which the full name of Maahu appears, and this will set conjecture at rest on this point.