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

Chapter VII

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Chapter VII.

Let the fountain gush forth
From the spring, and from within.
It is Maui-tiki-tiki-o-taranga.
And you, put your war-belt on.
Double the fringe of your maro (war-belt) up.
Let your maro provoke your enemy
* * * * * * *
Darkness settles down,
And nearer draws and deepens.
Yes, darkness now envelops all,
And hides from sight, and ancient
Gods and priests are hid.

Maui and Mahu-I-Ka.

When Maui heard of his ancestress Mahu-i-ka (the goddess who possessed fire in her hands and feet), he went to play his tricks on her, and when he arrived at her home she inquired of him, “Why have you come?” He said, “I am come for some fire.” She at once gave him one of her finger-nails, which he took away with him and quenched in some water which lay in his way, and then went back and said, “The fire you gave me has gone out.” She said, “How has it been extinguished?” He answered, “I fell into some water.” She cut off another of her finger-nails and gave it to him, which he also quenched in water, and at the same time wetted his hands, so that his ancestress might believe that he had fallen into it. Then he went to her again and said, “I have come again for more fire. That which you gave me has gone out again.” And so he continued until he had obtained all her fingers and all but one of her toes. His page 109 object in asking for and extinguishing all the fire she gave him was to deprive her of all power to harm if ever she became enraged with him. But when he had obtained all but the big toe of one foot, and he demanded that, his ancestress said, “Oh, no, Maui! you are acting deceitfully with me.” When he found he could not obtain the remaining toe he swung the one he had last received from her round his head to make it burn, and threw it on the earth, where it blazed forth and burnt the earth and scorched Mahu-i-ka, and burnt the trees, and Maui himself narrowly escaped by flight. He prayed as he fled that rain might be sent down from heaven to put the fire out. The fire was extinguished, but part of it entered the kai-komako and other trees, where it was preserved; and but for this fire would have been lost to the world.

The first great work of Maui was the invention of eel-pots, the second was the invention of the barb for bird-spears, and the third was the invention of hooks to catch fish. Then he pulled the legs of the kokako bird to make them longer; then he made Ira-waru bow down and become a dog. Afterwards he killed Muri-ranga-whenua. Then he fished up the land from the ocean. Then he overcame Mahu-i-ka. His last adventure was with Hine-nui-te-po, who caused his death.

Maui. (Nga-Ti-Rua-Nui.)

This is the story of Maui: When he went to obtain fire from Mahu-i-ka, he said, “I have come for fire from you.” Mahu-i-ka gave him her little finger, which consisted of fire. This he took, and on the road back to his home he quenched it in water, and returned for more, saying, “My fire has gone out.” He obtained the third finger; and this he quenched in water, and returned and obtained the middle finger. This he quenched in water, and went back for more, saying, “I have fallen into water, which has quenched my fire.” He got the forefinger, and quenched it also in water. Mahu-i-ka now knew that he was the man who was called. “The deceitful Maui,” and refused to give him any page 110 more. He said to Mahu-i-ka, “Then you keep fire from me, do you!” and he made the heavens to look lowering, and to shower down rain, so that the fire of Mahu-i-ka might be extinguished. Only a little of the fire escaped from the rain. This Mahu-i-ka put into the totara-tree, but it would not burn; then into the matai, but it would not burn; then into the mahoe, where it burnt but little; then into the kai-komako, where it burnt well, and the fire was saved.

Now, this brave fellow Maui was a son of Tara-hanga (performing ceremonies and rites), and his first great invention was to make the eel-pots with a centre-piece, so that eels could enter the pot, but could not return. His brother Maui-wareware (Maui-the-forgetful) made his pot open at one end, and the eels escaped. Now, when they returned to their home Maui-the-learned took out the centre part, which kept the eels in his pot, so that his elder brothers might not see his invention. They looked at his eel-pot, and, not observing any difference between his and theirs, they asked, “How is it that your pot keeps the eels in?” He answered, “I made the pot just as you see it now.”

After this Maui-the-forgetful and the other brothers made bird-spears, and barbs or sharp points to put on the points of the bird-spears; but they did not notch the barbs. Maui-the-learned also made a bird-spear and a barb; but he notched his barb. They all went to spear birds, and the birds struck by the spears of the brothers all escaped; but all the birds Maui-the-learned speared were caught, because the barb held them. They returned to their home, and Maui-the-learned took the notched barb off his spear and put a smooth one on, in order that his brothers might think he had used a smooth and not a notched barb, and yet had caught all the birds.

The brothers then proposed that they should all make fishing-hooks. All except Maui made the hooks without a barb at the point, so that the fish escaped from the hooks; but Maui-the-learned made a barb to his hook and caught all the fish which page 111 took it. His brothers said to him, “Let us look at your hook.” He allowed them to see a smooth hook without a barb at the point, and because Maui-the-learned alone caught fish the brothers became angry, and threw him out of the canoe; so he went into the canoe of Ira-waru (eight warts), his brother-in-law, and went with him to fish. Maui gave the bait in charge of Ira-waru; but Ira-waru ate it all. Maui was very angry that Ira-waru always ate the bait. On one occasion when he had done this, and they had to return on shore without fish, Maui said to Ira-waru, “You go before and lie down on the beach as a skid for our canoe, that I may drag it over you with less trouble.” Ira-waru did so, but the canoe broke his back, and turned him into a dog. When Maui got home the wife of Ira-Waru asked him, “Where is your brother-in-law?” Maui answered, “He is on the beach guarding our fish.” She went and called, “O Ira-waru, Ira-waru!” prolonging her voice the second time so that it might echo far away; but she could neither hear nor see her husband. She returned to the settlement, and said to Maui, “Your brother-in-law is not near the canoe on the beach.” Maui said, “Go back and call, ‘Moi, moi.’” She went back and repeated this call, and Ira-waru came rushing up to her; but his head had been turned into a tail, and his tail into a head. The dog returned with her, and she said to Maui, “Why have you practised your deceit on your brother-in-law?” Maui said, “O! he was always eating the bait we took for fishing.”

The next act of Maui was to make his fish-hook called Tu-whawhakia-te-rangi (taking hold of the sky). The barb which he put on the point of this hook was bone of Muri-ranga-whenua. His elder brothers went out to fish in the canoe called Riu-o-mahue (the hold that was neglected). When Maui got into the canoe all his brothers exclaimed, “Do not let him go: he is such a deceitful fellow;” but Maui persisted and sat down in the bows of the canoe. Then his brothers said, “Well, give him no bait.” But Maui looked into the hold of the canoe, and saw the page 112 root of a korari (flax), which he took and beat till the fibre was all seen, and then struck his nose a severe blow and made it bleed, besmeared the fibre with blood, and tied it round his hook and let down his line into the sea. A fish took hold, and Maui, whilst pulling it up, chanted his incantation; but the canoe began to tremble with Maui's exertions, so his brothers exclaimed, “Maui, oh! let your fish go.” Maui answered, “Then why be so eager for the fish of the sea?” His brothers said, “But we shall perish.” Maui answered, “But that which Maui has caught cannot be shaken off. Who, when he has caught a fish in his hand, would let it go?” The land came up, and that land is the land now called Te-ika-a-maui (the fish of Maui).

Maui wished to overcome the sun and the moon, but he chased them in vain, for the rays of the sun always shone on him, and they eluded him.

Maui heard that Hine-nui-te-po was the cause of man being taken by death, so he determined to kill that demon. He went to where she was, and startled and woke her, and went through her before she was able to shut her lips; but when he made the attempt to pass back again the patatai (little swamp-rail) laughed, and she shut her lips and cut his head off his body. Hence man is now drawn to death. If Maui had not been killed man would not have died; but would have been like the moon, which dies, and lives when it returns from the living water of Tane.

Maui. (Nga-Rauru.)

Maui, having gone to see Mahu-i-ka, said, “I have come to get fire from you.” He obtained the little finger of Mahu-i-ka, and when some distance from her quenched it in water. He then returned and said, “My fire has gone out: give me some more.” He obtained the third finger of Mahu-i-ka, and took it away also and quenched it in water.Then he went back and obtained the middle finger, and put it out in water. He returned again and asked for more, but Mahu-i-ka asked, “How has the fire I gave you gone out?” Maui said, “I fell into the water and it page 113 went out.” The forefinger was given to him, and this he put into the water and quenched. He returned and demanded more fire; but Mahu-i-ka now was convinced that he who was thus acting with her could be no other than the notoriously deceitful Maui, and refused all his demands for more fire; when he said, “So you refuse to give fire to me!” Then he caused the sky to be overcast, and rain to descend, which put out all the fire Mahu-i-ka possessed except a very small spark, which Mahu-i-ka threw into the totara and matai trees, but it would not ignite them; so she put it into the mahoe, but it did not make much fire there; then she put it into the kai-komako, where the fire of Mahu-i-ka was saved from extinction.

Maui. (Nga-ti-Hau.)

Haha-te-whenua (seek for the land) was the name of the hook of Maui, with its point, called Tu-whakakia-o-te-rangi (standing clawing the heavens), made of the lower jaw of his ancestor, Muri-ranga-whenua (sea-breeze of the north), by which Maui drew the land up out of the ocean. And Te-pirita-o-te-rangi (the Rhipogonum scandens of heaven) was the name of the canoe in which he was when he fished it up.

When Maui went out to sea to fish, his companions would not give him any bait for his hook; but he struck his nose and made it bleed, and besmeared his hook with the blood. They all put their lines out to catch fish, and Maui hooked one and pulled it up, and caused the canoe to tremble, and his companions called, “Maui, oh! let your fish go;” but he said, “If I do so, for what shall I have come so far out on the sea?”

Maui. (Nga-ti-Hau.)

The fish which Maui caught was Ranga-whenua (land pulled up by the roots). Its salt-water mouth was Te-whanga-nui-a-tara (the great harbour of Tara, or Port Nicholson), and its fresh-water mouth was Wai-rarapa (glistening water); its upper page 114 jaw was the O-rongo-rongo (the news) Point, and its lower jaw was Te-rimu-rapa (entangled sea-weed); its forehead was Tu-raki-rae (the forehead held up to the sky); its stomach was Tau-po and Tonga-riro; and its tail was the North Cape, whence the spirits of men leaped into the other world.

Maui. (Nga-ti-Hau.)

Tahu-a-rangi (companion of heaven) was the name of the canoe in which Maui sat when he pulled the land up out of the ocean, and Tonga-nui (great south) was the name of his fishhook.

Maui. (Nga-ti-Hau.)

When Maui had embarked in his canoe, and was out on the sea, he chanted this incantation—called a “hiri-hiri mo te hutinga o te ao” (short shout for power to pull up the earth) — when he let down his hook and line:—

Gentle north-east sea-breeze,
Gentle south-east sea-breeze,
My line makes a tremulous sound,
My line makes a roaring noise.
Let nothing pass over it,
Or it will break.
There now stands the
Fountain-head of
The water-spring.
Welcome to the core
Of power possessed.
Possessed of this,
I follow on
To the ocean,
Sacredly baptised,
In my canoe,
For sport.
The object of Maui's sport
Is now moored at anchor.

His line went to the bottom of the ocean, and caught the front gable of the house of Hine-nui-te-po. Then the land was pulled up, and Hine-nui-te-po was seen with her enticements. She stood with her limbs outstretched, and Maui entered her; page 115 but because Tiwai-waka (fantail bird) laughed, she closed her limbs again and killed Maui. Had Tiwai-waka not laughed, man would have lived for ever, and death would not have been known.

When Maui pulled up the land, the house of Hine-nui-te-po (that great goddess whose limbs shone bright and red as the glow of the setting sun) was seen on it, and she was standing near it. He had but a little distance more to go to get through, when the birds laughed in neglect of his caution, and the limbs of Hine-nui-te-po closed on him, and cut him in two.

Maui. (Nga-ti-Hau.)

Maui assumed the form of the bird riro-riro (Gerygone flaviventris) to enable him to get to his brothers, who were in a canoe out on the sea fishing. He had been left on shore by them on account of his mischievous disposition. He flew to the canoe and alighted on the bow; then, throwing off his disguise, he resumed his natural shape, and drew out of his bosom the jawbone of his ancestor, Muri-ranga-whenua (the land at the horizon), and threw it into the sea as his fish-hook, and caught and pulled up the land from the ocean.

Maui and Tuna-Roa. (Nga-Ti-Awa of Taranaki.)

Rau-kura (red plume), the wife of Maui, went to the stream for water, and whilst standing on the bank the god Tuna-roa (long eel) came up out of the water, and gave her a blow with his tail and knocked her into the stream; he then insulted her. When she got out of the stream she returned to her husband, and told him that there was a man in it by whom she had been insulted. Maui took his axe called Ma-tori-tori (the severer) in his hand, and went to kill the monster who had degraded his wife. When he arrived on the bank of the stream he saw Tuna-roa on the opposite bank, coming towards him. Then Maui took the two pieces of wood called Rongo-mua (news first heard) page 116 and Rongo-roto (news of the interior), which he used as skids to drag his canoe, and laid them down for Tuna-roa to cross over, and as Tuna-roa came along Maui lifted up his axe and with a heavy blow smote Tuna-roa and cut off his head. So violent was the blow that the head and the body lay some distance apart, and Maui took up the head and threw it into the salt water, and the tail he threw into the fresh water; and from the tail came all the freshwater eels. The blood Maui waved to and fro, and some fell on the kaka-riki (green paroquet), and some on the pukeko, and occasioned the red colour which we now see on these birds. Some of the blood fell on the toa-toa, the rimu, the matai, and the tawai trees, and dyed them so that the timber of these trees is red to this day. The extreme point of the tail became the kare-ao; and from the muscles of the tail came the ake and the creeping vines of the forest.

After this act Maui made eel-pots in which he could catch that fish for food for himself and his people.

Maui. (Nga-ti-Hau.)

Tu-tara-naki (steady courage) was the man who made the canoes Au-raro-tuia (bound in the north) and Tane-(or Tahu)-a-rangi (the husband or fairy of heaven) from the trunk of one tree.

Au-raro-tuia was owned by Maui: she was also called Hau-raro-tuia (prepare for the north wind). Maui and some of his companions got into this canoe with his fish-hook called Piki-rawea (plume of beauty), with the barb called Awhenga (beset), or Maire-hua-kai (song of the feast), and went out with his friends to fish. He used for bait the body of a man named Hake (dwarfed or humped). The name of his line was Tiri-tiri-ki-matangi (propitiatory offering to the gentle breeze).

He put his line down into the sea, and felt a fish at his hook, and said to his friends, “A fish has taken my hook. Perhaps it is the fish called Ha-hau-tanga-roa (long-sought sea-god), or Ha-hau-uru (long-sought west wind), or Ha-hau-whenua (long- page 117 sought land), that is now biting at my hook.” He jerked his line and pulled the fish up, and saw it was the Ha-hau-whenua. Then he saw the sun and moon, and he noosed them lest they should escape to some other part of the world.

Soon after this he heard words respecting Hine-nui-te-po from Tu-taka-hina-hina, Rukutia, Marama, Ahia, and Matao-tipua, who had come in their canoe called Te-aea-ka-huru-manu (growing into birds' feathers) to see Maui. Maui then went in search of Hine-nui-te-po, and entered into her to take her heart out, but as he was passing out again she nipped him tight and killed him.

Maui and Tuna. (Nga-Ti-Awa of Taranaki.)

The canoe of Maui was called Tau-rangi (incomplete) (but there are ten gods, all of whom are called by this name). Other priests say this canoe was called the Pirita-o-te-rangi (the vine or creeper of heaven). The fish-hook of Maui was called Tawakea (put a patch on), and the point of the fish-hook was called Muri-ranga-whenua) (d).

Tuna (the eel) was the first fish Maui killed. He was killed with a weapon made from the timber of a tree called Pa-kauri-whenua (touched with black earth). The brains of Tuna flew into the rito (pith of the nikau), the blood went into the tu-pakihi, the gall into the ti, the heart into the ti-ore, the backbone into the miko, and the ovaries into the taro.

Maui. (Nga-ti-Hau.)

Maui-ata-mai (Maui the kind) and his brother-in-law, Maui-ware-ware (Maui the forgetful) or Ira-waru, went to spear birds. Maui-ata-mai had made a barb on the end of his spear; but Ira-waru had none on his: therefore he could not hold the birds he struck, but Maui caught many birds. Again they went into the forest, to get the makaka, to make eel-pots. The one Maui-ata-mai made had a trap at the top and an entrance at the lower end, so that when the eels entered it they could not escape, but they page 118 could easily be taken out. Ira-waru made his pot without a trap and with an opening at the top, so that the eels escaped; but Ira-waru saw how Maui made his trap, and made one like it, and he caught eels, at which Maui was angry, and in revenge chanted this incantation against him:—

O stream of the sea!
O stream of the ocean!
O your great god!
O your long god!
Startle not,
Tremble not,
Be not prickly.
Return it, return it.
Oh! you return it
To my dog.
Come back;
Come straight
To your parent.
Fondle o'er me,
Love me,
Come a second time,
O my dog!

By this incantation Ira-waru was bewildered, and turned into a dog, and lived on the refuse and the dirty scraps cast away by man.

Maui returned to his home, and the wife of Ira-waru asked, “Where is my husband?” Maui replied, “I do not know.” On the following day she said, “O Maui! you have been acting deceitfully with my husband.” Maui was silent for some time, and then said, “Go out on the plain and chant an incantation (and he taught his incantation), and when you have chanted all these words, if you hear the bark of a dog, call it thus: “Moi, e ruru, haere mai.” (Come, crouch, come near, come). This she did, and a dog came to her. Thenceforth females were not allowed to eat dog's flesh.

Maui and Ira-Waru. (Nga-Ti-Mahuta.)

Maui-ata-mai and his brother-in-law Maui-ware-ware, or Ira-waru, went into the forest to spear birds. Maui-ata mai had page 119 invented a notched barb for the end of his here (bird-spear), so that when he speared a bird the barb always held it; but Maui-ware-ware had a here with a smooth point, and the birds he speared with it got away. Maui-ware-ware determined to ascertain why Maui-ata-mai was always successful whilst he constantly failed, and he examined his here for the purpose; but he did not discover the reason, because Maui-ata-mai had taken the notched barb off his spear.

Some days after this they went again to the forest to get makaka (a wiry creeping plant or vine) to make eel-pots. They each made a punga (eel-pot).Maui-ata-mai made his so that the hole by which the eels could enter would be at the end of a funnel-shaped part returned to the centre of the punga, to prevent the eels getting out again.At the other end he placed an opening, over which he sewed a door, by which to pour the eels out of the pot.Maui-ware-ware made his with a hole at one end for the eels to enter, but they could get out again without obstruction.They put bait into their pots, and placed them in a stream and left them there for the night. On the following morning eels were found in the pot of Maui-ata-mai, but in the other there was none, because the eels could so easily escape after they had eaten the bait; so Maui-ware-ware looked at the pot of Maui-ata-mai, and made one like it, and then he caught eels also. Maui-ata-mai, seeing that his brother-in-law had copied his invention, was so much enraged that he uttered his incantations over him, and turned him into a dog. The dog remained on the level country, and Maui went home. His sister, the wife of Maui-ware-ware, met him, and asked, “Where is my husband?” Maui replied, “I do not know.” The next day, as her husband had not returned, she charged Maui with having practised some evil on his brother-in-law. Maui neither acknowledged nor denied the charge, but said, “Go to the level country and call for your husband in these words.” And he taught her a chant which she was to call aloud to her husband; page 120 and Maui said, “If you hear a dog bark you must call it to you.” She did as directed, and so soon as she had chanted the words she had been taught she heard a dog bark. She called it, and it came to her without fear. It was her husband turned into a dog. Thus Maui-ware-ware, or Ira-waru, became a dog, and the father of the kuri-waero (old Maori dog, with long hair on it); and, as that sort of dog was the descendant of Maui the god, it has been sacred, and its flesh could not be eaten by females.

Maui and the Birds. (Nga-i-Porou.)

Maui requested some birds to go and fetch water for him. He directed the ti-eke (Creadion carunculatus) to go and fetch some water for him; but the bird would not obey: so he threw it into the water.

He next requested the hihi to go for water; but it would not obey: so he threw it into the fire, and its feathers were burnt.

He asked the toto-ara (syn., toutou-wai, or pi-haua) to fetch some water for him: it did so; and he rewarded it by making the feathers of the forepart of its head white.

He asked the kokako; and it went and filled its ears full of water, and took it to Maui; who drank it, and pulled the bird's legs long in payment for its act of kindness to him.

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Head of Canoe built to fight the Ngapuhi in retaliation for those killed in the attack on Totara Pa on the Thames at Kauwaeranga. Front view.

Head of Canoe built to fight the Ngapuhi in retaliation for those killed in the attack on Totara Pa on the Thames at Kauwaeranga. Front view.

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Side view.

Side view.