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The Ancient History of the Maori, His Mythology and Traditions: Horo-Uta or Taki-Tumu Migration. [Vol. I]

Chapter V

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Chapter V.

O, thou my house! how standest thou?
I must depart and leave thee.
Built by the little kneeling gods—
Constructed by the fairies bowing low.
The Haku-turi gods
Loud shouted o'er thee
Their voice of triumph
When first I made thee
Mine own abode.
O my house! each part of thee
Was brought—beams, posts, and chips—and then.
Arranged in parts, each took its place,
And all was then complete.
Light the fire, O Tane!
Burn up the land,
And warm its every cave,
And sweep off man
To the pit of death;
Pierce him with the spear
Of Tanga-roa, and let blood flow.

* * * * * * * * * *

I feel my wrath enkindled now.
Grant me power, O Tane of the forest gloom!
To cut the sinews of this earth,
And sever the lashings of Kupe
And the fastenings of Ue-nuku's house,
That man may enter, rob, and spoil.

Death of Wahie-Roa.

Matoka (Matonga)-Rau-Tawhiri (vigorous-growing leaf of the tawhiri-tree) took as her husband Wahie-roa (long piece of firewood), and when she expected to become a mother she had a desire for some birds which were only obtainable at a great distance. Wahie-roa went for them, and got some koko (tui, or parson-bird) from the preserve of Matuku. On the page 69 morrow after his return he again went, but this time Matuku caught and killed him. His wife lived a solitary life, and a son was born, whom she called Rata. She reared him with care. When he had become a man he asked his mother, “Where is my father?” She answered, “He was killed.” “Who,” he asked, “killed him?” “Matuku killed him,” said his mother. “He went to obtain food for which I asked before you were born: he went into the land of Matuku, and was killed.” Rata asked, “Where is the land of Matuku?” His mother said, “Look to where the sun comes up: it is there, far out in the ocean, and you cannot get there.”

Matoka-rau-tawhiri went to collect firewood, and sought and found a tree—a beautiful tree, a grand totara-tree—some twigs of which she brought in her hand to the settlement, and when evening came she spoke to her son Rata and said, “I have seen a fine tree—a totara-tree: on the morrow you must go and see it.” And she gave him the twigs she had brought from the tree. He went, but could not find it, and came back to his mother and said, “I cannot see the tree you speak of.” She said, “You cannot mistake it: it is the rough-barked tree which you will see.” Again he went, and came back; but in the third attempt he found it, and asked his mother, “What action shall I take?” She gave him some stone axes, but he complained of their being blunt, and without teeth. His mother said, “Go and hold the axe upon the back of your ancestor who is called Hine-tu-a-oaka (Hine-tu-a-hoanga—daughter of the whetstone), who, when you put it on her, will say, ‘Be sharpened, be sharpened, be sharpened,’ and your axe will become sharp; then you can take it to your house and put a handle on it.” He slept, and at dawn of day he went and felled the tree, and cut off the top of it, and came back and stayed in his house. On the morrow he returned to the tree, which he found had been put up again as though it had never been cut down. He again cut it down and cut the top off, and came back to his house, and said to his mother, “When I went to the tree, it was standing as though it had never been page 70 cut down.” She asked, “What did you do to the tree?” He said, “I cut it down without having first propitiated the gods by performing the usual ceremonies and repeating the incantations for such an act.” She said, “It is not well to cut your ancestor (d) down ignorantly.” He said, “Yes, I at once cut it down, without any ceremony.” She said, “Go, return.” He went and cut it down again, and cut the top off, and went on one side and hid himself, and heard these words repeated by some beings:—

It is Rata—it is Rata of Wahie-roa.
You ignorantly cut down
The sacred forest of Tane,
The sacred chips of Tane.
The chips of the root fly,
The chips of the top fly.
They adhere, they go near.
They are all bound on again.
Stand up and wave (O tree! in the wind).

The tree again stood in its old position. He rushed out and stopped those creatures, who flew hither and thither on every side of him, and left the tree. He said, “Why do you meddle with my tree?” They replied, “Go, return to your home; leave your tree here, and we will make your canoe.” He went home, and his mother asked, “What is the state of your tree?” He answered, “I found it standing up again, and cut it down, and cut off its head, and stood aside and watched, and heard my name repeated.” He slept, and on awakening on the morrow found a canoe had been made and brought to the side of his house. On the morrow of another day the canoe was taken to the sea, and the ceremony of naming it was performed; and it was taken out to sea, and with line and hook fish were caught, and were brought to the settlement, and the canoe hauled up on the beach. One of the fishes was roasted, and taken, and, with appropriate incantations repeated, was offered to Mua. Some of the other fishes were roasted and eaten, and some seaweed taken and shaken before Mua. Rata slept, and on the morrow another of the fishes was cooked in a hangi (Maori page 71 oven) (d). This was the fellow of the one which had been roasted; and the coverings which were put around those fishes to cook them in, were hung up before Mua. On the morrow the canoe was again dragged into the water, and it was called Niwa-reka (great delight). A war-party embarked in it, and went to the land of Kiore-roa (long rat), and of Kiore-poto (short rat). Two incantations — one short, the other a longer one — were repeated by the war-party. This was one of the incantations repeated:—

Rat, rat, look to the north.
Leave rat to rest in his house.
The house of Tu-nui (great standing; the whale),
The house of Taka-roa.
Noose caught, quite caught
At the first glimmer of day.
Pull it tight, dash it,
Strangle it till it is red (in the face).
Come, O A-o! and add thy power.

They attacked these people, and Kiore-poto escaped, but Kiore-roa was killed. Kiore-roa, who was killed, was brought by Rata to his mother, but she was not satisfied that ample revenge for the death of her husband had been taken.

Again Rata collected his warriors, and went out on the sea to the place called Te Raihi (a plot of ground enclosed by a fence), where Tama-uri-uri (the black son) lived, in the country called Pu-horo(oro)-nuku (land of bad weather); and Pu-oro-rangi (stormy sky) and asked Tama-uri-uri “Where is your man?” (head chief). He said, “He is at home. I am left here in charge of the cultivations.” The war-party asked, “Can he be induced to come here?” The vassal said, “No. On his departure he said to me, not till the seventh or eighth month would he return to chant the incantations and perform the ceremonies for our cabbage-plot.” They asked, “Will you call him?” He called and said, “Matuku, come and repeat the thank-offering for our cabbage-plot.” Matuku answered, “You are confusing the seasons of Matuku. On the seventh or eighth month I will come and perform that ceremony again.” Tama-uri-uri called page 72 and said, “Matuku, come and perform the ceremony over our cabbage-plot.” He answered, “You are arousing the anger of Matuku: you will be scorched by the wrath of Matuku.”

Rata had placed a noose on the entrance of the cave, called Puta-aroaro-nuku (the hole in the breast of the earth), in which Matuku lived. As Matuku-uri-uri was coming up, Rata repeated this incantation:-

This my noose,
To tie the elevated—
To tie to a man
Followed by a war-party.
Tied to the house of the earth [or, tied to the earth]—
Tied and beaten;
Caught, revenge gratified, and taken away.

Before he could be seen, his hair (or feathers) appeared. On he came, and the noose encircled his neck. Rata pulled it tight, and with an axe gave him a blow, and killed him. Thus was the death of Wahie-roa avenged, and full satisfaction obtained.

Rata and Matuku. (Nga-I-Tahu.)

When Rata had grown to man's estate he spoke to his mother, and said, “O mother! where is my father, by whom I am?” His mother answered, “Who knows? On the inland side of our house, perhaps, or on the opposite side, perhaps, or where?—at the back of our house, perhaps.” He said, “Why are you confusing me? Do you not perceive that I ask, With whom did you cohabit?” She said to her son, “O son! hearken. I have told you of old, and you have heard my words which I said to you. Long ago your father was killed by Matuku.” He asked, “Where does he live who killed my father?” She said, “O son! can you not understand where the land is where the man resides who killed your father?” He asked, “Can I not go there?” She said, “You may go; but you will not arrive there, because where the sun comes up is the place where Matuku resides. But do you really wish to go there?” “Yes,” said the son, “I wish to go there.” She page 73 said, “You cannot get there, as the ocean is the only road thither.” He said, “Well, then, where is the road to the place?” She said, “O son! hearken to me: if your wish is great you must adze out a canoe, as a path by which you can get to it.”

Rata then went along the plains of Hekea (descended), and near to the land at Raki-tahua (heaven of plenty), and saw the men of that land, and, standing in the midst of that multitude, he called, “O friends! where is Kahue?” (Ngahue) (swarm). The multitude around him said, “He is at the Papa-tu-ano-hawaiki-a-kahue (calm plains of Hawaiki of Ngahue), where he resides.” Rata called again to the multitude, “I have come to see him.” He then went over the beautiful plain of Wai-kapua (water of the clouds), and arrived at the plain of Hawaiki, where he met Kahue, to whom he said, “O friend! will you not turn with kindness to me? I have come to obtain stone axes of you.” Kahue heard, and said, “It is good, O young man! I will break a stone for an axe for you.” And Kahue broke a slab of stone for axes; and the name of the axe which Kahue gave to Rata was Te-papa-ariari (the admired block of stone). Now, the name of the axe (which Kahue gave to Kupe) was Tauira-a-pa (the model, is it not?). Kahue kept the one called Nga-paki-tua (the fair weather beyond) for himself. Rata was delighted in having possession of an axe. He brought it away with him. On his departure Kahue said, “O friend! now that you have an axe, on your arrival at home do you place it on the back of Hine-tu-a-hoanga” (the daughter of the whetstone). These words Rata kept in his memory, and when he had come up to Hine-tu-a-hoanga and Tu-hina-po (dusk of evening), the gods whom he had formerly visited, he put it on to Tu-a-hoanga; and when he had obtained the handle and other necessaries for his axe—namely, Kanga(Ekenga)-te-maku (the damp come up), and Engaka(Ekenga)-te-rangi (the ascent to heaven), and U-oroia-te-ati-tipua (offspring of the goblin sharpened), and U-oroia-te-ati-tahito (tawhito) (offspring of the ancient sharpened)— page 74 he completed his axe with a lashing, and he called the name of it Mapu-nai-ere (expression of delight).

Rata went into the sacred forest of Tane to search for a tree. Having found one, he thoughtlessly cut it down; but he did not offer to Tane, the god of forests, the propitiatory offering, and repeat the incantations, customary on such an occasion. He made four blows above and four below. On the fifth the tree fell, and with his axe he cut the tree into the shape of a canoe. Then he saw the multitude of heaven replacing on the body of the tree the chips he had cut off, and he heard the multitude of the Para-rakau (gum of the tree) singing these words:—

Leave it, leave it, O Rata—Rata, of Wahie-roa!
You have cut it ignorantly—
The sacred grove of Tane.
The chips fly,
The root flies.
They are near,
They are sticking.
O unavailing! follow on.

Rata showed himself to them so that they could see his face. They at once condemned him for his ignorance, and said, “Hearken. Go to your home, and leave the canoe where it is.” So he returned. In one night he was at his home, and on the morrow he found the canoe had been taken to his settlement, and the sight of it rejoiced the heart of his mother as well as of himself, as it was the fulfilment of the promise made by the gods when he left it to them; and he called the name of the canoe Niwaru (throbbing of the heart in joy). Then he pondered how he should obtain satisfaction for the death of his father, Wahie-roa. He collected an army and proceeded towards the sunrise, and arrived at the settlement of Tama-uri-uri (black son). Now, Tama-uri-uri lived in a cave called Pu-aro-nuku (facing the earth). He, addressing Rata, said, “Matuku (the crane-bird) is still alive: he dwells in the cave called Pu-aro-rangi (facing the sky), and is now there.” Hearing this, the page 75 hearts of Rata's army were glad. So they landed at Kaiwhaia (the pursuers), and went to the top of the mountain at Whitihaua (the cowardly have crossed), and went cautiously up to the rim of the cave, because Matuku was engaged in his daily avocations. Rata called down to him, but Matuku did not heed his words. He spoke a second time; when Matuku called up to the army and said, “These are not the propitious nights of Matuku,” (meaning On the seventh, eighth, or tenth month you and I can meet and thrash each other—in the heat of summer, when Titi-puha (the night mutton-bird) issues from its burrow.) Rata again said, “O old man, Matuku! climb up here; here is property for you.” He answered, “Then I am defeated, as my words are without effect: words are unavailing, and forebode evil.” He ascended, and Rata put a noose called Rua-wharo (pit of the coughing) over the mouth of the cave, and caught Matuku by the neck and killed him. Then Rata said, “Property is a good bait to hold out to decoy man, that his heart should not ponder, and he be caught as the fish of the ocean.”

Rata and Matuku. (Nga-Ti-Mahuta.)

When Rata had grown to man's estate he asked his mother, Hine-tu-a-haka (daughter of low estate), “Where is my father?” She answered, “He was killed by an alien people who reside on the other side of the ocean.” He inquired the way by which he could arrive there, and was instructed by her; but she said, “You must build a canoe to go there.”

Rata built a canoe in which to voyage in quest of those who had killed his father while he was quite a child. He built it of the kahika (koroi-tree—white pine). He cut a tree down, but the gods put it up again: this they did because Rata had not chanted the incantations and performed the various ceremonies, which are repeated and performed on such occasions. When he had cut the tree down three times, and it had been as often page 76 replaced by them, he lay in ambush; but, being discovered by them, they said, “Go to your settlement.” On the following day at dawn, a canoe was found at the home of Rata.

Rata gathered the people together and selected a crew, and sailed away towards the home of his enemies. Having arrived there, the bones of his father rattled together, and made a noise of welcome to him. They sang, “To, to, to” (Pull, pull, pull).

Rata found a slave at the place, of whom he asked, “Where are the people of this settlement?” The slave said, “They are down in the cave.” Rata put a noose over the mouth of the cave to snare Matuku (the murderer of his father), who was caught in it, and killed in payment for the death of Rata's father.

Rata discovered and taught the art of cutting and polishing greenstone with the stone called Hine-tu-wa-hoaka (hoanga) (daughter like the whetstone).

Another Reading or Rata. (Nga-Rauru.)

Rata built a large canoe called Pu-nui (great original), in which to voyage to Tu-makia (trouble ever remembered) and Nui-owhiti (great sorrow). These places were somewhere in the great ocean. The inhabitants had killed his father, whose death he longed to avenge.

Having built his canoe inland, he got his people to haul her to the seashore; but they were not able to accomplish the task. He then chanted incantations to O-matangi (the winds), and went to Te-puru-o-te-utu-tu-matua (the plug of the reservoir where parents whilst standing dip water up), and drew it out. Then a flood came and lifted the canoe, and she floated down to the sea-shore, and he and his war-party embarked and went to Tu-maki-nui-o-wara (whara) (standing of the sick one who has been smitten), and lighted a fire, the smoke of which was seen by Mau-matuku (or Matuku) (the bittern caught), who went to see why the fire had been lighted. A trap had been laid for him by Rata, in which he was caught, and Rata killed him.

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The food taken by Rata and his people for the voyage was all eaten by a few of them; the other portion of his company were therefore starved.

The party attacked the inhabitants of the land, and killed all but one man, who was called Te-mate-oro-kahi (difficulty in grinding a figure out of stone). This man they carried away captive, and burnt the fortification of Mau-matuku, and returned to their own land.

Rata. (Another Reading—Nga-Rauru.)

At the time Wahie-roa was murdered, Hawea (doubting) died. Rata determined to build the canoe Pu-nui; but the people questioned the wisdom of making such a canoe and the expediency of embarking in an expedition to avenge the death of Wahie-roa. But Rata proceeded, and when it was finished the people were called together to drag the canoe to the sea. All joined in the effort, but they dragged in vain; the canoe would not move. Then they called on the heavens to open the fountain-head of water. Their prayers were granted, and the waters descended and carried the canoe to the sea—to Te-awa-roa (long stream), at Pikopiko-whititia (the crooked tied together).

Rata and Matuku. (Nga-ti-Hau.)

Rata made the canoe called Pu-niu (origin of the niu, the conjuring-sticks of the priests). When it was finished, the people attempted to drag it to the sea, but they were too few in number, and were not able to accomplish their object.

Now, Rata had built this canoe that he might go on a voyage to Tu-makia (trouble ever remembered) and Nui-owhiti (great sorrow), to seek revenge for the death of his father, O-matangi (the air) [or Au-matangi (the current of the air)].

As the people were unable to drag the canoe to the sea, Rata went to the Puru-o-te-utu-tu-matua (stopper of the reservoir, page 78 where the parents, whilst standing, dip up the water), and pulled it out, which caused the water to flow and rise; then Pu-niu floated, and Rata got in and sailed to Tu-maki-nui-o-wara (whara) (long standing of the sick one who has been smitten); there he lighted a fire, the smoke of which was seen by Mau-Matuku (crane-bird carried), who also came and landed from his canoe. So Rata captured and killed him.

Rata and his crew then laid siege to the fort of Mau-Matuku. The food which the besieged had in store was all captured by the besiegers, and those in the fort were gradually starved to death. Eventually only one of the party of Matuku survived, named Te-mata-oro-kahi (the obsidian to sharpen the wedge). He was taken prisoner, the fort burnt, and Rata, with his warriors, returned home.

Rata, Matuku, and Whiti. (Nga-Ti-Mahuta.)

Matuku (the crane-bird) and Whiti (to cross) were murderers. They had murdered many people. But at last Matuku murdered Wahie-roa, and took the wife of Wahie-roa to his bed. The relatives of Wahie-roa assembled and went into the forest to select a tree for a canoe. Having found one they lighted a fire at the root, and the tree fell; but the gods Tini-a-haku-turi (the many bow-legged) came in the shape of little birds in the night, and put the tree up again in its position. Three times this tree was felled by the people; three times it was restored to its place by these little gods. The men became angry, and felled the tree again, and then hid themselves in the forest close by. These gods again came; but the people rushed out from their hiding-place, and made such a bawling noise that not only did the gods fly away, but some of the trees standing close by were so frightened that they hung down their heads. The toi (Cordyline indivisa) was one who did so, the ponga (Cyathea dealbata) and kare-ao (Rhipogonum scandens) were others; and they hold their heads down to this very day.

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When the canoe was made and the side-boards were put on they began to drag her towards the sea; but the scrub through which she had to be hauled was so dense that they were unable at that time to drag her out; so they sang the following tau (song) to give spirit to the workmen:—

Now, now shake your knees,
O company of workmen!
Now, now shake the bramble.
Come forth, O Whiti and Matuku!

And this song has become a proverb, and is to this day repeated by any one who may foresee a quarrel arising. This song, being sung in chorus by the workmen, made such a loud noise and gave them such energy that the scrub parted and opened a road, and that canoe was taken out.

The warriors embarked and crossed the sea to the district in which stood the house of Matuku; but he was not at home. The woman they were in search of, the wife of Wahie-roa, was there. The braves asked her, “How shall we capture Matuku?” She said, “Make a noose and place it in front of the door of his house, and hide yourselves in the sides of the house.” She also cautioned them not to catch Matuku by his neck, but by his waist; because his neck was so powerful he could not be secured, but his waist was powerless.

They heard Matuku coming. The ground trembled with the force of his tread and the weight of his feet. He was carrying a load of human flesh on his back, which, on his arrival in front of the door of his house, he threw on to the ground. He appeared to suspect something was wrong, and stood sniffing the wind and saying,:—

Stink, stink;
Odour, odour.

The woman called out,—

No, no; all is right.
No; there is not anything wrong.

Matuku bowed down and entered the door of the house. When his head and back were within the noose the braves pulled it tight, and he was caught. They cut one of his arms (hands) page 80 off; then he said, “You cannot kill me.” When each of his other limbs was cut off he still asserted, “You cannot kill me.” Then they cut off his head, and thought they had killed him, but found that his appearance only became changed, and he assumed the form of the matuku (bittern-bird). And this is the origin of that bird, as well as its name.

Now that Matuku had been disposed of, the warriors asked the wife of Wahie-roa, “How may Whiti also be captured?” She described the cave in which he was then living, and said, “Place a noose over the entrance of the cave; then make as much noise as you can by bawling aloud; this will cause him to come out and rush after you, as is his custom when any one goes near his cave.”

The noose was made as she advised, and Whiti came out, and was caught in it and killed.