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

Chapter V

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Chapter V.

Bow to earth and bow to heaven,
Whilst thou, O man! with craving hunger driven,
Weary, gaunt, and near insanity,
Must wander aimless and alone,
Whilst death creeps nearer still,
And to one focus draws that
Path of glory, honour, fame, and joy
Which youth laid out,
And blots and blurs the whole;
Whilst, staggering, thou canst scarcely
Sweep the grass aside that grows
Along the path up to thy home.
How, cowed and servile, gnawing hunger
Makes the soulless frame to stagger,
When at eventide the reeling form
Oft seeks to eat the refuse cockles
Cooked and left by Pare-korau!
How, crushed by shame,
Once noble self now dies within,
As, crouching, thou drawest near
To see thy boyhood's home!
No welcome greets by uttered words
Or calls aloud thy name;
But thou must onward pass,
And in the path of Pu-hou go,
And thence, yet still a starved one, come.

Rongo-I-Tua and Kahui-Tupua.

Rongo-i-tui (news from behind) came from Hawa-iki, and landed in the district where the Kahui-tupua (assembly of ancients) lived. He found them living on the tii-root (Cordyline of the sweet sort).

Rongo-i-tua came from Ao-tea-roa. His appearance was like that of the rainbow. On his arrival the Kahui-tupua prepared food for him; but it was old and mouldy, and he did not partake page 106 of it, but rose and asked for water in a calabash, and loosened his waist-belt, and poured some kao (dried kumara) from it, and let it lie in the water until it was soft, and handed it to those in the house to eat. They were much pleased with its taste. They asked him, “What is this food?” He answered, “That is the food on which we ought to live. The tii-root is not so good. Our people acknowledge this food as the principal support of man.”

The next day Rongo-i-tua went to the sea-beach, and saw a tree which had drifted from Hawa-iki. He measured it with his arms, and spanned a kumi (ten of his outstretched arms, or sixty-six feet), and made a mark and spanned another kumi, intending to cut the tree in two lengths, of which to make two canoes; the canoe from the butt-end of the tree to be called Arai-te-uru (a screen from the west), and that from the top part to be called Manuka (anxiety). One of these canoes was made by the Kahui-tupua, who embarked in her, with Rongo-i-tua as the leader, and went to Hawa-iki. When they arrived there the crew went on shore, but Rongo-i-tua stayed on board; and in the night the Kahui-tupua surrounded a house, and captured the people of Kawakawa-pakiaka (Piper excelsum root). Paka-rangi (dry heaven) was taken prisoner, with Tau-mai-rangi (propitious sky), Whe-ura (red dwarf), Ti-koro (the loose noose; but Ti-koro was also called Makaro—indistinct), Whai-ata (follow at dawn), Pokere-kahu (agitated surface), and Pipiko (the best). Pipiko was also called Wai-tahanga (naked by the water). These were all men, and their names are given to different sorts of kumara.

Rongo-i-tua now landed, and asked his crew, “Where are your slain?” The crew answered, “They are here, lying in a heap.” He remarked, “This is an insignificant family of the tribe; the principal family has escaped.” After some time he said, “Let us embark and put to sea.” When they had gone some distance on the sea they heard the shouts of the people on shore, and voices chanting sacred incantations over the blood of Kahu-kura (Pakiaka) and his slain companions.

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This is the chant they heard. It is one chanted when revenge for blood is sought:—

From heaven are these,
Now slain, and lying here.
Come, let me hold thee
On my spear now at dawn.
It is bloodshed;
It is blood flowing.
Thy nose bleeds, O Rangi!
The blood now seen
Is from your slaying.
Come, let me hold thee
On my spear at dawn of day.
Bloodshed; blood flowing.
Your nose will bleed, O Rangi!
Scoop up the tide—scoop it this way
And scoop it that way—
The tide of Paoa.

Rongo-I-Tua and Po-Tiki. (Nga-I-Tahu.)

The kumara was brought from Hawaiki by Rongo-i-tua in his waist-belt. He slew the sub-tribe called Po-tiki (last-born), and took the kumara from them; but the chief sub-tribe of the people escaped, and fled up into trees, and adhered there to escape destruction. Some of them fled to the sky, and went to live with A-niwa-niwa (the great good one).

Rongo-I-Tua and Toi. (Nga-I-Porou.)

Rongo-i-tua lived at Hawaiki, and at his home the people built a whata (stage) on which to dry his kao (dried kumara); but Rongo-i-tua broke the stage down, and the people asked him, “Why have you broken the stage down? The kumara will now lie on the ground, and who shall build the stage again?” Rongo-i-tua was ashamed when he heard the people speak to him thus, and became very angry, and went to the sea-shore, where he saw a log of wood rolled into the water, and got on to it. The winds blew it away, even as far as O-tea-rawa (the very white food), where he jumped on shore, and went to the settlement of the Kahui tupu (the flock of the growing), where page 108 he met Toi (the pinnacle), Tai-whaka-tupu (growing tide), and Tai-whaka-ta-whito (ancient tide), and abode with them. He heard the noise of the paoi (pestle), with which the roi (fern-root) and whenua (hinau — Elæcarpus dentatus) berry is beaten. He asked, “What is the noise I hear?” He was answered, “The people of the land are at work.”

The cooks brought food and placed it before him. He tasted some, but did not like it; therefore he did not partake of it. In the evening the cooks prepared some kauru (tii-root) for him; but of this he would not partake.

On the following morning he asked for water. Some was given to him in two calabashes. Into these he shook some kao (dried kumara) from his waist-belt, which he had kept secreted on his person. The name of his belt was Mau-hope (held round the waist). He mixed the kumara with the water and gave it to the people, who were delighted with the taste. They asked him, “Where does this food come from?” He answered, “Who knows?” Again they asked the same question, and he gave the same answer. On the following day, as the sun rose, he called to the people and said, “Come outside.” They went to see what he wished them to look at, and asked, “What are we to see?” he answered, “Let your eyes feed on the sight. Look at that part of the heavens where the red sun comes up — to the place where Kawakawa-nui and Pipiko-nui are.” They asked, “Is the kumara from thence?” He said, “Yes.” They asked, “How can we get there?” He said, “who knows?” Pointing to a tree, he asked, “What is that we see?” They answered, “It is a tree.” He said, “Make a canoe from a tree.” They sought and found a tree which was lying over the filth-pit. This they cut in two. The end nearest the root they made into a canoe, and called it Arai-te-uru. Of the upper portion they intended to make another canoe, to be called Manuka. They embarked in the Arai-te-uru to go and obtain the kumara. As they departed on their voyage Rongo-i-tua said, “Do not make a mistake. If you page 109 see any (kumara) growing on the cliffs of the coasts of the land to which you are going, do not take them—they are the old kumara—but go to the storehouse and take the Kahui-rango (the flock of heavy ones).”

They sailed away and arrived at their destination, and were full of glee, and obtained the various kinds of kumara. Rongo-i-tua had been gloomy about the canoe and her crew ever since she left, and felt anxious as she had not returned. He commanded his people to go and wash the filth off the log which they intended to make into the canoe Manuka. This was done, the canoe was made, and a crew embarked with Rongo-i-tua and put out to sea, where they met the canoe Arai-te-uru. Rongo-i-tua called to her crew and asked, “Have you got them?” The crew answered, “Yes, we have them all.” He again asked, “Did you take all in the house?” They answered, “Yes, all.” Arai-te-uru came near to Manuka, and Rongo-i-tua looked into the hold of Arai-te-uru and said, “No, you have not got all: these are the old kumara—they are the kawa-riki and old bulbs. But go on your way back to our settlement.”

Rongo-i-tua went to Hawa-iki, and his crew sought for the principal kumara; but he objected to those they found, and said, “Go to the house of the Kahui-rango and take Te Roro (the side) and Te Matao (the window).” They attacked the house, and killed Te Pipiko, Kawakawa, Tama-i-rangi, Papa-rangi (flat of heaven), O-ti-koro, He-uru, Popo-hae-ata (ceremony at dawn of day), and Pa-ki-aka (mutter); but Kahu-kura and the Kahui-rango escaped, with some other inhabitants of the land, and came to attack Rongo-i-tua. He was in his canoe out on the sea, from which he asked his enemies, “Are you all here?” They said, “We are all here.” He asked, “But where is the Kahui-rongo?” His own crew answered, “We have taken them all.” He said, “But you have not taken all who were in the house.” Rongo-i-tua now went on shore, and, going to the house, looked up to the window (mata-o or mata-aho) on the roof of the house, and, page 110 calling to the crew, he said, “Take your slain on board.” When the canoe was laden he ordered the crew to push out to sea. Having done so, they heard the shouts of the people on shore. Rongo-i-tua said to his crew, “Listen to the voices of the people. You said you had killed them all. From whence, then, is the shout I hear?” His crew asked, “What are they doing?” He answered, “They are performing their ceremonies over the blood of the slain.” Again the shout was heard, and the crew asked, “What are they doing?” He answered, “They are preparing to set the kumara-crop.” The shout was again heard, and the crew asked, “What are they doing?” He answered, “They are digging the ground for the crop.” The shout was heard again. He said, “They are setting the crop.” Another shout, and they were taking the young shoots from the kumara-bulbs to plant for a future crop. Again and again the shout was heard. These shouts were given when they lifted the spade to dig, when they laid the kumara-bulbs in the ahuahu (hills) in which they were to be set, and when the ceremony of procuring a good crop was performed.

Rongo-i-tua left this land and sailed away back to his home; but at dawn of the following day he was at the same place he had been the day previous, and for days he was at the same place. He and his canoe were held there by the gods to punish the crew for having partaken of some of the kumara they had obtained at Hawa-iki. Rongo-i-tua said, “Let some of you strike me, that this evil may not continue, and that some of you may get back to your home.” They struck him and performed the sacred ceremonies over him. He stood up and clung to the clouds, and from thence he swung himself back to his home in Hawa-iki. When he got to the clouds his name was changed and he was called Rongo-tiki (great Rongo), but his old name was Rongo-i-tua. When he died he was called by his new name of Rongo-tiki.

The canoe now went on, and the crew landed at their house at Ao-tea-rawa (quite to the white cloud).

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Rongo-I-Tua and Kahui-Tipua. (Nga-I-Tahu.)

Rongo-i-tua (news from beyond) was the first to arrive in these islands from Hawa-iki. He found the country inhabited by the Kahui-tipua (assembly of strange people). The chiefs were named Toi (trot), Rauru (hair of the head), Ha-toka (calm breath), Ri-taka (fastening untied), Rongo-mai (the whale), Taha-titi (fastened side), and Tama-ra-kai-ora (son of the day, of food in abundance). When these saw the strangers they ordered food to be set before them. Mamaku (Cyathea medullaris), kauru (Cordyline—the tii-papa, which is cooked, and becomes very sweet), and kiekie (Freycinetia banksii) were therefore offered to them; but Rongo-i-tua hardly tasted any of them. Presently he asked for a kumete (wooden bowl) of water to be given to him. This he placed behind him to conceal what he did, and unfastened his waist-belt, which he called Mau-hope (held on the waist). He took from it some kao (dried kumara) and put it into the bowl; at the same time he chanted this incantation as he unfastened his waist-belt.

Falling, falling is the end of the (kumara)
In the presence of an assembly;
Though few (kumara) there be
From Maa-te-ra and Hawa-iki.

He mixed the kao with the water by squeezing it into pulp with his hand, and handed the bowl to his hosts. When they tasted it they wanted more, and asked Rongo-i-tua where he obtained it. He answered, “From across the sea.”

Tu-a-kaka-riki (slightly green), one of the original inhabitants, found a large totara-tree on the beach which had been cast up by the sea. He measured it, and found his extended arms ten times did not reach the end. Delighted with his discovery, he informed his people; but Rongo-i-tua had also gone to the beach, and had got on the tree, and had deposited his excrement on the butt. Having heard that Tu-a-kaka-riki claimed the tree, he disputed his right to it, saying, “It belongs to me, and was mine in Hawa-iki, from which place it has followed me; and if you examine it you will see my mark page 112 which I put on it before leaving home.” The excrement on the butt settled the question. The tree was split in two, and out of each half a canoe was made. One was called Manuka (abhor, disgust), because of the excrement seen on it; the other half was made into the canoe Arai-te-uru (barrier of the west).

Manuka was first finished, and a crew of the Kahui-tipua, impatient to possess the kumara, sailed away to Hawa-iki, and returned with a cargo; but, when planted, the crop failed. In the meantime Rongo-i-tua, in Arai-te-uru, sailed on a voyage for the same object, and on reaching Whanga-ra (sunny harbour), where the kumara grew, in Hawa-iki, he ordered his crew to surround the chiefs house, in which they heard people chanting incantations which were sung when the kumara-crop was being planted. “Ah!” said Rongo-i-tua, “these are the karakia (incantations) you need: learn them.” They listened, and learnt them.

There were three gods who presided over the kumara-plantation, and these were represented by three posts or sticks (toko), and these were set up in every plot of ground where the kumara was planted. These were named Kahu-kura (red garment, or rainbow), which represented a male; Maui-i-rangi (weakened in heaven), which also represented a male; and Mari-haka (fortunately rejoicing took place), which represented a female. Before these the incantations for the kumara were chanted, and the Ta-mahu (make ripe, make mealy) offerings of koromiko (Veronica) leaves and young shoots were presented. Any error (tapepa) made by the tohunga or people in performing the rites or chanting the incantations while the kumara-crop was being planted or taken up would result in the death of the tohunga and the destruction of the crop by the presiding gods.

Rongo-i-tua sent his canoe back in command of Paki-hiwi-tahi (one shoulder) and Hape-ki-tu-a-raki (limp towards heaven), while he remained for a while in Hawa-iki. The voyage back was accomplished and the cargo partly discharged; but page 113 Arai-te-uru was eventually capsized off Moe-raki (calm sky), and lost, and the remains of her cargo were strewn along the coast, where, at low water, they may at this day be seen in the boulders showing on that part of the beach. Rongo-i-tua in one day returned from Hawa-iki to Ao-tea-roa, and the Kahui-tipua saw a rainbow, which suddenly assumed the form of a man, and Rongo-i-tua stood amongst them; hence he was ever after known as Rongo-tikei (Rongo the strider).

The kumara and aruhe (fern-root) were the offerings made to Huruka (warmth) and Pani (orphan); but aruhe was the senior or lord of the two, because he was descended from the backbone of his parent Rangi (heaven), whilst the kumara came from the front of Rangi, and was therefore inferior in rank.

The husband of Pani wondered how his wife procured food; but, watching her, he saw her go down into the water and rub the lower part of her stomach, and then she filled baskets with kumara and fern-root. “Ah!” he said, “it is from her inside that our food comes.” As the old song says,—

Descend from the back, the great root of Rangi.
Descend from behind, the fern-root;
Descend from the front, the kumara,
By Huru-ki and Pani.
Then it was nourished in the mound—
The great mound of Whata-pu (all stored),
Great mound of Papa,
Great mound of Tau-ranga (waiting).
There was seen the contemptuous behaviour of Tu,
There they were hungered after, &c.

Alarmed for the safety of their children, Huru-ki (very warm) and Pani bade them hide themselves; and the Papaka (very dry) fern went to the mountains, the Ko-huruhuru (very hairy) fern went to the forests to listen to the songs of the birds, the Ta-roa (long sea-breeze) fern went to the sea-shore to listen to the dashing of the surf, and the Papa-wai (soppy) fern went to the river-banks to listen to the splashing of eels at night.

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The ancient men, and also the old songs, say that Toi (trot) taught man to eat fern-root and the stem of the tii—and hence the proverb “Te kai rakau a Toi” (the timber-food of Toi)—and that Rongo-i-tua introduced the kumara, and that Tu-kete (stand in the basket), in his canoe Huru-huru-manu (bird's feather), achieved the reputation of being a great circumnavigator, like Tama-tea and Kupe.

Rongo-Marae-Roa and Tu-Mata-Uenga. (Nga-I-Porou.)

Rongo-marae-roa (fame of the long courtyard) quarrelled with his younger brother Tu-mata-uenga (Tu of the stern face) on account of the kumara-plantation called Pohutu-kawa (the sprinkling at baptism).

Tu-mata-uenga went to Ruru-tangi-akau (Ruru who cries on the sea-coast) to procure weapons for himself. Ruru-tangi-akau gave his own child Te-ake-rau-tangi (ake of the weeping leaf) to Tu-mata-uenga. This child had two mouths, four eyes, four ears, and four nostrils to its two noses. Then the battle between Rongo-marae-roa and Tu-mata-uenga began in earnest, in which Rongo-marae-roa and his people were killed. The name given to this battle was Moenga-toto (sleep in blood). Tu-mata-uenga baked his elder brother (the kumara) in an oven and ate him: thus he was devoured as food. Now, the interpretation of these names in common words is—Rongo-marae-roa is the kumara, and Tu-mata-uenga is Man.

A remnant, however, of the kumara tribe escaped, and fled into the stomach of the noted woman called Pani (besmeared), and dwelt there. The stomach of Pani became wholly the storehouse of the kumara, and the kumara-plantation was also called “the stomach of Pani.”

When the people of the district in which Pani lived were in want of food, Pani lit the wood of her cooking-oven as if for cooking largely; and when it burnt well, and the oven was becoming ready, the men of the place, looking on, said one to another, “Where can the food come from to fill so large an oven?” She went outside to the stream and collected the food. She scooped the food up with her hands. With two handfuls she page 115 filled her baskets, and came back to the settlement and placed the food in the oven. When cooked she distributed it in equal parts to her people. Thus she acted every morning and evening for many days.

Now, the vegetable food in wartime is fern-root, roasted and pounded and made into cakes, which we call Te-aka-tu-whenua (permanent running root of the soil).

In the morning of another day Pani went and lit the fire of her oven to bake food for all her people; then she went, as before, outside to the stream, taking her big basket. She sat down in the water, groping and collecting beneath her with her hands. While thus engaged a man called Patatai (land-rail) was hidden on the bank of the stream. Having seen what she was doing, he suddenly made a loud noise with his lips and startled her. She was so ashamed at having been seen that she got up and went to the village; and hence it was that the kumara was secured for man. The name of the stream in which she was seen was Mona-riki (little scar).

Pani was the wife of Maui-whare-kino (Maui of the evil house), and from her came the sacred incantations chanted by the priests at planting and harvesting the kumara.

It was Tu-mata-uenga who destroyed the kumara, lest the strengthening power of Rongo-marae-roa should come down to man on this earth.

Rongo-Marae-Roa. (Nga-I-Porou.)

This is the reason why the kumara was never associated with the roi (fern-root) when such were stored for use in winter or used as sacrifice. The kumara is called by the name of Rongo-marae-roa (fame of the long courtyard), and aruhe (fern-root) is called Ariki-noanoa (lord of not much importance); but they were children of the earth and sky.

Rongo-marae-roa was placed as an atua (god) superior to Tu-mata-uenga (Tu of the stern face—the god of man); so that, in case a foe should come against man, the kumara was ceremoniously carried, and laid in the road by which the war- page 116 party might come, and incantations were chanted, and rites performed over the kumara and it was left there. The kumara thus charmed would be sure to defeat the enemy, and cause him to retreat, through his having sacrilegiously trampled on the sacred kumara. Hence war-parties were careful not to travel over old roads or common tracks when on a war-expedition.

Pou-Ranga-Hua and Kahu-Kura. (Nga-Ti-Kahu-Ngunu.)

A chief of old called Pou-ranga-hua (staff to place the fruit in lines) was getting his canoe ready to go to sea to seek some better food as a relish for his son Kahu-kura (red garment), as the child had with loud noises rejected its mother's milk, and also the liver of the kaha-wai (division water) (Arripis salar), with which he had been fed. From the kaha-wai liver which he had rejected sprang the maroro (flying-fish).

When the canoe was all ready to start Pou-ranga-hua had to go back to his house to get something he had forgotten, and whilst he was away his four brothers-in-law, Kano-ae (relative at a distance), Pae-aki (dashed against the ridge), Rongo-i-amoa (Rongo who was carried in a litter), and Tai-ka-matua (full tide), embarked in the canoe, and sailed away. Pou-ranga-hua, nothing daunted, went after them in a canoe made of a duck's feather; but a gust of wind swamped his canoe, and he sank to the bottom of the sea. He came up again, and battled with the waves, and finally got on to the back of a whale, on which he kept himself by the power of incantations he chanted whilst sitting there. Eventually he met his brothers-in-law, who were returning, and joined them, and when they reached the shore he called to the kumara (which they had obtained) by the name of Ka-kau (will swim). The kumara answered by asking, “Who are you who call my name?”

Pou-ranga-hua obtained from his brothers-in-law two roots of kumara, which, with the usual rites performed and incantations chanted, he planted; and in course of time from these the whole country was supplied, so that his own son Kahu- page 117 kura and all the people were supplied with this good vegetable food.

Pou-Ranga-Hua. (Uri-Wera.)

Pou-ranga-hua went after his brother-in-law to Hawa-iki. His canoe being gone, he went to Hawa-iki on two pet birds called Tiu-rangi (skim in the sky) and Haro-rangi (sail over the sky). These birds were the property of a chief called Rua-ka-panga (storehouse out of which food is given), who lent them for this occasion.

Pou-ranga-hua arrived in Hawa-iki, and brought from thence, from the two cliffs called Pari-nui-te-ra (great cliff of the sun) and Pari-nui-te-rangi (great cliff of the heaven), these seven varieties of kumara: Kawakawa-tawhiti (the green from a distance), Toroa-mahoe (speckled albatross), Tutanga (portion given at a feast), Kiokio-rangi (moon in the sky twenty-five days old), Tutae-tara (soft, pulpy), Monenehu (mealy), and Anu-tai (cold of the sea). The kumara obtained by Pou-ranga-hua lived and flourished, but those which his brothers-in-law procured did not grow.