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

Chapter IV

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Chapter IV.

I silent sit as throbs my heart
For my children;
And those who look on me
As now I bow my head
May deem me but a forest-tree
From distant land.
I bow my head
As droops the mamaku (tree-fern),
And weep for my children.
O my child! so often called
“Come, O my child!”
Gone! yes, with the mighty flood.
I lonely sit 'midst noise and crowd,
My life ebbs fast.
My house is swept, clean swept,
Swept for ever.
The shining sun has nought to gladden now,
And yonder peak, oft gazed upon
In days of joy,
Now prompts the sigh, to heave
With feelings chill as coldest air
Of frosty south.
But I will bow me in my house
And ponder in despair.
My heart shall then forget
The deeds of man.
Oh! was it theft that makes the moon to wane?
Or was it theft that makes the avalanche?
And was it they who caused my children's death?
The hosts of god uplift their power on us,
And now annihilate us, like the moa extinct.

Niwa-Reka, Hapopo, and Paoa.

Rangi-Roa (long day) and Taki-reia (speaking with frantic gestures), while living quietly in their home, heard of the fame of Niwa(Niua)-reka (great delight; Niua-reka—delight in divination), the daughter of Hapopo (decay).

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Then they selected a hundred and seventy men of their tribe, and went to the home of Hapopo, and, having found Niwa-reka there almost alone, one of the party asked, while all the others were silent, “Where are the people?” She answered, “They are yonder, out on the plain.” He asked, “What are they doing?” She answered, “They are chanting songs and offering sacrifice to Ra (the sun).” He asked, “For what purpose?” She answered, “To suppress the ill feeling of the people and to give quiet to the land.” He asked, “Which is the way thither?” She said, “It is that leading by the Hua-tu (large pillar)—that is the road.”

The party proceeded on this road, when a messenger came to inform them that on the following day the Ra (god) or shade of Hapopo would be put up. All the hundred and seventy agreed to assist in erecting the shade (sail or tent) of Hapopo.

When it was finished all the people gazed at it with wonder and delight. The shade was taken down again, but in lowering it it fell on the people of Rangi-roa and Taki-reia, and killed all except Rangi-roa and Taki-reia, who ran to the home of Paoa. He asked them, “What has been done?” They answered, “Nothing is left.” Paoa said, “In my sleep I dreamt I heard a voice saying, ‘It is an oven like this, an oven like that, and a heaped-up oven.’”

Now, when the people of Hapopo found that two had escaped destruction, they pursued them; but Paoa caused a great wind to rise, and the pursuers had to return without capturing them. Paoa now called to the two and said, “Up and make ready for battle.” They answered “Yes; but what can the escaped do?” Paoa replied, “Charge back on your enemies.” But the remembrance of their late severe loss and narrow escape deprived them of all courage and heart to act. So they performed all the rites and ceremonies which were required to be performed by those who escape a calamity, with chants and with offerings of blood to the gods; and on the following day, in page 54 battle costume, they went to perform the final ceremony by killing a bird and offering it to the gods (d); then, returning to the settlement, they performed the ceremonies of absolution and offered sea-weed to the gods; then they danced and sang, and came to the front of Mua, where they again chanted the sacred chants to the gods; then by friction they made a fire, and roasted the bird they had before presented, and ate it. They slept before Mua, and on the following day they again presented seaweed to the gods; but, as satisfaction had not yet been obtained for the death of the people, messengers were sent to Tuke-nui (great elbow), Tuke-pe (crushing elbow), Tuke-rora (lazy elbow), Uhu-maneanea (the clever one), Uaua (power), Tete (daring), Whaka-na (take breath), and Mahara (thoughtful), to come and lay siege to the house of Hapopo. These people quickly assembled; but before they went up to the attack they sent out spies, who heard the god of Hapopo exclaiming “O medium! it is death to them. I say, O medium! when the rays of first dawn stream up, the rope will have caught round the neck, O medium! “Whatu-a-tihi (power of the mountain-peak) was one of the spies sent, and he took some fern-root and waved it towards the oracle as an offering to propitiate him. In answer to this act the god spoke kindly and said, “Why should action be taken? What good would result? We are now at peace, O medium! Good could not come from further hostility.”

When the rays of day burst through the darkness of the east, the war-party of Taki-reia and Rangi-roa had surrounded the house of Hapopo, and in the fight which ensued Hapopo was killed; but as he was dying he was heard to utter, “O idiot god! You left death for Ha-popo.” All his people were killed, save a few who escaped and fled to the home of Tu-toko (the standing staff) and Rau-riki (little leaves). But the army of Rangi-roa page 55 and Taki-reia continued to storm fort after fort. They took Mai-kuku-o-te-rangi (fingernail of heaven) and Rae-kumea (pulled by the forehead), which the sons of Rangi-roa burnt. Then they attacked and took Te-miki (tussock grass), and Uru-te-rangi (entered heaven), and Taku-tai-o-te-rangi (seashore of heaven). All these were taken by Rangi-roa and his sons. Then Te Pari (the cliff) and Te-awe (down of birds) were stormed and taken: Matua-u-tere (parent of great chest) and Te-kai-whakapono (the offerings to propitiate the gods) were killed at this time.

Te Ruahine-Mata-Maori and Paowa. (Nga-i-tahu.)

Paowa went to the home of Te Ruahine-mata-maori, also called Ruahine-kai-piha or Ruahine-mata-morari (dame of the common face, dame that eats the small kumara, dame of the uproar). She was a witch, and also a priestess, who performed the rites and ceremonies at the planting and harvesting of the kumara. Paowa landed in his canoe at her place, and stayed there.

Ruahine-mata-maori and her people provided food for Paowa and his companions, which made them thirsty, so Paowa asked, “Where is water to be obtained at your settlement?” She answered, “It is not far away,” and pointed in the direction in which it was. Then she went to fetch it. As soon as she had gone Paowa chanted incantations to cause the water to dry up. She went on, but the water dried up as she advanced; so that she followed on even to the distant mountains, and on over the ranges of mountains. On and on she still went till she ascended the highest peak, whence she could see her home; and, seeing the smoke of a great fire ascending from her settlement, she sat down and sang this song:—

If my house be burnt,
Oh! let my storehouse be saved.
If my sacred mountain-peak
Where I chant my incantations be burnt,
Oh! let my food-pit be saved.
If my cultivations be burnt,
Oh! let my fences be saved.
If my filth-pit be burnt,
Oh! let my dogs be saved.

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She returned to her settlement, and found her house on fire. She went to the beach to search for some traces of the departure of Paowa and his people in their canoe; then she returned and sent her dogs to the sea-shore to search for indications, whilst she repeated incantations in the water to obtain by charms the information she desired. Her dogs came back without success, and she said to herself, “They have gone by some other way.” But she determined to follow them; so she prepared a belt and bound it tightly round her waist; she also placed her sacred red garment under her armpits, and went down to the water to follow Paowa. She dived under the water and then came to the surface, but could nowhere see the canoe of Paowa. She dived again, and after some time she again came to the surface, but still could not see the canoe. She dived a third time, and from where she then came up she saw the canoe, and was also seen by Paowa. Up to this time Paowa had not in any way assisted his men, but now he took a paddle and plied it with all his might. Again Ruahine-mata-maori dived, and when she came up she had got near to the canoe; but the canoe had also got near to the shore. Paowa and his people now pulled furiously on, and on reaching the shore Paowa ran into a cave, leaving the crew to proceed on their voyage. Paowa blocked up the entrance of the cave with huge boulders, so that when Ruahine-mata-maori came up to it she scratched at them in vain to gain an entrance. Paowa now lit a fire in the cave, and put stones on it, and called to the old woman and said, “O old woman! What are you doing?” She answered, “Here am I.” Paowa said, “I will give some food to you.” At the same time, making an opening at the mouth of the cave, he threw her some food, saying, “There is your food” She took it and ate it, saying, “Your food is good, O my grandson!” Paowa called and said, “Open your mouth wide, and shut your eyes.” She did so; and then he threw a hot stone down her throat. She expected to have received food like that which he had given her at first; but, feeling the burning in her stomach, page 57 she cried aloud with pain, and writhed in agony until she dropped the sacred red garments from her armpits. Paowa then took the sacred red garments and lived for many days in the cave, as there was no road by which he could leave it, and his canoe had been paddled away.

Now, when those who had been left in the canoe arrived at their destination they informed the people that Paowa was dead. There were great preparations made, as was their custom on the death of a great chief. The courtyard was cleared of all weeds and rubbish, and food was cooked, and all the females assembled to weep for the death of Paowa. Food was collected and placed in heaps in honour of the dead. These heaps were afterwards distributed amongst the people, who carried the food to their respective homes.

While Paowa was living in his cave he found a block of drift-timber, of which he made a box, and launched it on the water, and got into it. The box was driven about by the winds, and at last was cast on shore near to the home of his ancestors, where some of the people found it when they were collecting driftwood for the fire, and they rolled it up on shore; but it was so heavy that they left it and returned to the settlement, and told the people, saying it was so heavy they were not able to carry it home. However, so soon as these female firewood-gatherers had gone away Paowa came out of his box and went and hid his sacred red garments, and made himself as dirty and shabby-looking as he could, and so went to the settlement, where he found food which had been cooked for the people and was just being taken out of the ovens and placed in small baskets by the women. When all the food had thus been collected into the baskets, Paowa begged that he might be allowed to eat the burnt scraps which had adhered to the stones in the ovens. One answered, “Well, it is impertinent of you to beg the food cooked for the people.” Another said, “O man! do not beg for food.” But Paowa still begged, and another of the cooks said, “Ah, do you suppose the food which has been cooked as part of page 58 a sacred ceremony performed at the death of a great chief will be given to you?” Paowa, not heeding their replies, asked for some oil or fat. Some of the people, in astonishment, exclaimed, “Well, well! Do you hear! He asks for oil or fat;” and then, turning to Paowa, they said, “Why, all that has been taken’ and consumed in the feast for the dead.” But a woman said, “Take pity on him, poor fellow, and go and fetch some oil or fat for him.” Some was accordingly brought and given to him. Paowa now said, “Give some garments to cover me.” The people answered, “Where are we to procure garments? We have no garments to give you.” But the woman again interceded, and said, “Do go and get a garment for the poor fellow;” and one was obtained and given to him. Paowa then said, “Give some feathers as plumes for my head.” “Why,” said some of the people, “he is now asking for plumes of feathers;” and then answered him, “We have no plumes for you.” But some of the women said “Do go and get some plumes for the poor fellow;” and some were given to him.

Paowa now left them, and went to where he had hidden the sacred red garments, and sat down and cleansed himself, and anointed himself with oil, and bedecked his hair with the plumes of feathers, and put his garments on, and the sacred mats which he had obtained on the death of the old witch, and went towards the settlement. When he had come near enough to be seen by the people they in loud chorus exclaimed, “Here is a man—here is a man of noble mien.” Some ran out and looked at him, and then returned to the settlement and said, “Here is a noble man coming” Then were the mothers in the assembly glad when they saw him, each saying to herself, “This noble man shall be the husband of my daughter;” but Paowa went and sat down near to a young woman who was granddaughter of the woman who had pleaded for food, oil, feathers, and mats for him, when he was so meanly clad. He was invited into a house, where many looked at his face; and when he was asked who he was, he answered, “I am Paowa.”

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They were all astonished, and said, “Paowa, who was said to have died!” Then they took him to Mua, and presented birds and other thank-offerings and gifts to the gods for his safe return.

Paowa caused the days to be short (or lessened the god Ra).

Wata was the cause of boils and leprosy, which he produced when Ue-nuku was hungry and wished to eat him.

Ruhahine (Ruruhi)-Mata-Maori (Morari) and Pioio.

Pioio (exceedingly numerous) and Kukuru-atu (the blow struck with the fist) lived together in one house. They went out to sea to fish for barracouta, and, having caught some, they returned and cooked it. Pioio had provided a relish to eat with his fish, but Kukuru-atu had none.

On the morrow they went again to fish, and the same thing happened as before: Pioio had a sweet morsel to eat with his fish, but Kukuru-atu had none; but this was because Pioio withheld the morsel from Kukuru-atu. The next day Kukuru-atu went and stole some kumaras from the store-pit (d) of Te Ruahine-mata-maori (morari) (old woman of the untattooed face) and her grandchild, and on his return he secretly ate them with his fish. On the following day, while Pioio and Kukuru-atu sat outside of their house, cleaning their clothes in the sunlight, Pioio heard the noise of mastication; so he said to Kukuru-atu, “O Kukuru-atu! what is it you are eating?” Kukuru-atu answered, “It is one of the insects.” Pioio said, “But the noise of killing that could not be mistaken—it produces only a slight sound; but the sound of your chewing is loud.” Still Kukuru-atu protested that it was a creature he was killing; but Pioio again asked, “What is it you are chewing?” Kukuru-atu now acknowledged it was kumara he was eating. Pioio asked, “Where did you obtain them?” Kukuru-atu answered, “From the store-pit of the Ruahine-mata-maori and her grandchild.” Then said Pioio, “You really got them out of that store-pit?” “I did,” said Kukuru-atu. “Then,” said Pioio, “you and I must go page 60 and get some more.” Kukuru-atu agreed to this proposal, and off they started.

But as they approached the settlement of the Ruruhi-mata-maori they were seen by her grandchild, who cried out, “There are men flying this way.” Ruruhi-mata-maori said, “Take particular notice of them.” The grandchild answered, “They still come on, and have got near the kumara-pit.” The grandmother said, “If they fly with their limbs drawn up they are food for you (you will be able to kill them); but if they come flying with their limbs outstretched, you will have to contend with gods.”

Pioio and Kukuru-atu entered the pit, and the old woman and her grandchild went to the front of it, and sat down, and, looking in, they saw the two strangers eating their kumaras and also fouling the pit. When Pioio and Kukuru-atu found they were discovered they stared in dread at the old woman and her grandchild. Kukuru-atu made a rush out and escaped the blow the old woman aimed at him with her weapon. When Pioio attempted to follow she struck him with her weapon and caught him, and led him to her marae (courtyard), where she lit a fire and collected thistles and other things to cook. When the oven was ready she and her grandchild caught up Pioio for the purpose of throwing him into it; but he said, “Leave me a while. Do not throw me in now. Let me dance before you, and perform the haka (d) which my brother and I can do so well.” She said, “Well, then, let us see you dance.” He said, “Yes, my brother and I sing and dance; and these are the words of one of the songs to which we dance:—

“Eat to repletion, eat to repletion.
Repeat these words.
Where is the food?
Eat, eat uncooked.”

The old woman said, “Your foot is not in time with your words; it is thrown about too much.” Pioio said, “But that is part of the performance.” He repeated the haka, and chanted,—

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Eat to repletion, eat to repletion.
Repeat the words.
Where is the food?
Eat, eat uncooked.

He stopped abruptly, seized hold of the grandchild, and fled away with him. The old woman called out, “O Pioio! give my grandchild back to me. O Pioio! give my grandchild back to me.” And when she saw that he still fled she cried, “O Pioio! I will not come to you on a misty day; but when your body is weak from the effects of illness I will be with you.”

When Pioio had got safely away, and was secure from any interruption from the old woman, he heated an oven to cook his captive; but not until the third attempt was the body of the grandchild fully cooked.