Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (digital text)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The Ancient History of the Maori, His Mythology and Traditions: Tai-Nui. [Vol. IV]

Chapter X

page break

Chapter X.

If, O my son! the warriors of Pu-te-uru
And Sons of Maru and Tu-te-ngana-hau
Perform their sacred ceremonies o'er their weapons
On the ocean-shore at Rurutu,
Where man to man in open combat fought
The battles Mou-rangi-wheke and Uru-rangi-papa,
Where e'en that inland chief Te-horihori fell,
Then shall the din of war re-echo o'er the land,
And rending earth shall sound thy power and fame.
But if they ask thee from above, make answer thus:
“I of Te-ngako am, and Marama-te-ihonga,
And Tutaki-ao.” Then rest in conscious power.
Then say, “I am of lordly line, and god's offspring,
And am of highest branch of noblest tree
That stands, and seen from far, at Tawhiti-nui.”

Hotu-Nui. (Nga-Ti-Maru.)

The Following is another portion of history. Hotu-nui (great sob) was a man from the other side (across the sea), from Hawaiki, who came in the canoe Tai-nui. Having lived some time at Kawhia, he migrated from thence overland to Hau-raki (dry air), and arrived at Whakatiwai; but he did not witness the birth of his child called Maru-tuahu.

The cause of his migrating from Kawhia was his being accused by his friends of robbing a store-pit of kumara. The actual thief left the house in which he and the people were sleeping at midnight; and at dawn Hotu-nui had occasion to leave the same house, and his footprints were seen on the page 205 following morning over the prints of the thief's feet. Some of the stolen kumara were seen here and there along the road the thief had gone with the stolen tubers. The feet o Hotu-nui were very large, and, as the footprints were also large, he was charged with the theft. At this time the wife of Hotu-nui was expecting her first-born. Hotu-nui was so ashamed at the accusation of being a thief that he determined to migrate to Hau-raki (the Thames) and seek another home. At this time he had prepared a plot of land in which to plant the kumara, and had made all the tuahu (mounds or little hills) in which to put the kumara-tubers, but had not set them.

Before he left Kawhia he went to his wife and said, “When I am gone and you have a child, if it is a son call him Maru-tuahu (hilled up but not planted); but if the child is a daughter call her Pare-tuahu (wreath of the altar).” He gave these names in remembrance of his plot of ground which he had prepared but not planted.

He came and stayed at Whakatiwai, and became the chief of the people who were residing there, where a wife was given to him, and he begat Paka (scorched).

When Mara-tuahu had become a man he took his weapon and said to his mother, “O mother, beyond which range of mountains is the district in which my father lives ?”

She answered, “Look to where the sun rises.”

He asked, “Is he there?”

She said, “Yes, he is in Hau-raki (the Thames).”

He said, “Enough; I know.”

Maru-tuahu and his slave, with a bird-spear, departed on their journey; the bird-spear they took with them was to provide food on the journey. They went on along the peaks of the mountains; and after many months they arrived at Kohukohunui (great moss), which is close to Waha-rau (many mouths), where, on the morning following the day of their arrival there, the two daughters of Te-whatu (the kernel) were seen by Maru-tuahu and his slave going towards them. Maru-tuahu was up in page 206 a tree spearing the tui (Prosthemadera novæ-zelandiæ). When the two young women came to where the slave was sitting, Maru-tuahu was up in the tree, but his garment was down on the ground. These young women were sisters, and the younger was the more comely of the two.

The younger sister was the first to see the slave, and said, “There is a slave for me.”

The elder asked, “Where ?”

The younger said, “What is that sitting near the root of the tree there ?”

Each rushed towards him and disputed the right to have him; but the younger took hold of him first. Maru-tuahu witnessed all that passed from where he was sitting in the tree.

The women asked the slave, “Where are your companions?”

He answered, “I have not any companions; I am all alone.”

The women saw the clothing lying on the ground with many birds, and repeated the question regarding his companions. A tui alighted in the tree in which Maru-tuahu was, and was speared by him. The bird uttered a scream, and the younger sister looked up and saw Maru-tuahu in the tree, and uttered a claim, and bespoke him for herself by saying, “There is my husband.”

The elder said, “My husband,” and the two disputed the right each had to take him as her husband. They asked him to descend; he did so, and rubbed noses with them, and they invited him to their settlement.

Maru-tuahu said, “Yes; but you go on: let me and my slave stay awhile, and we will follow.”

The women said, “Yes; but you follow us.”

Maru-tuahu told his slave to give the birds they had preserved to the young women. These consisted of two papas (a bowl made of bark of totara—Podocarpus totara) and two gourds of birds' fat. When the women had left, Maru-tuahu went to a creek and washed his head, using the uku (clay), as page 207 the ancients did, and combed his hair and tied the kotaha (band with feathers) on his forehead, and stuck innumerable feathers of the kotuku (white crane) and huia (Neomorpha gouldii) on his head, and followed the path the women had taken. They had not gone far when they were met by the two women, who had returned to escort them to the pa. They now saw Maru-tuahu adorned and looking as beautiful as the kawau (Graculus varius), with a puweru (shaggy mat) outside, and next inward the kahakaha (a fine light-coloured mat), and the kopu (soft mat worn next to the skin), which are the most prized mats of our chiefs. At the sight of him the women were overcome with love. They said to him, “Let us all go to the settlement.”

They rose and went forward; but Maru-tuahu stayed a little behind, so that the women might learn from his slave who he was. The women went on; but, having seen that Maru-tuahu did not follow in haste, they said to the slave, “Oh! what is the name of your companion ?”

He asked, “Has not the name of a chief of the west coast been heard here ?”

They answered, “What of that? A name has been heard here—the name of Maru-tuahu, son of Hotu-nui.”

The slave said, “This is he.”

They said, “Who could have surmised that this is he?”

Maru-tuahu now quickened his pace to overtake the women, as he surmised the women had asked his slave about him, and now knew who he was. The girls went on as fast as they could to Hotu-nui and their father, Te-whatu, who were awaiting the return of the girls. The younger sister went to tell Hotu-nui of the near vicinity of his son Maru-tuahu, and the elder sister accompanied Maru-tuahu to the settlement. Being some distance from the pa, Maru-tuahu and his companions rested at intervals on the road; but the younger sister went on at a swift pace, and when still at a distance from the pa she called aloud and asked, “Oh! who is that I see, Hotu-nui? O Hotu-nui! your son Maru-tuahu is coming.”

page 208

Hotu-nui asked, “Where is he ?”

She answered, “He is not far behind me; he is coming on. Prepare the house with mats to receive him.”

Maru-tuahu was now seen like a kawau (shag), coming towards the pa. All the people of the pa rose, waved their garments, and shouted aloud,—

Welcome, welcome, welcome,
Welcome, O son ! welcome.

They wept over him; and when the weeping ceased Hotu-nui rose and said, “Welcome; come, O my son, to Hau-raki. Welcome, welcome. You of your own knowledge have come. Welcome,” and sat down.

Maru-tuahu rose and said, “Welcome me, O my father, welcome me to Hau-raki. I have been seeking this place. I, one of low birth, have not anything to say. Speak; tell your thoughts. I, a man of the woods, have not any words to say.”

Food was now placed before the people, and with it ten cooked dogs, the food which the ancients so much prized as a delicacy, which was partaken of also by the two young women who were contending as to which of them should have Maru-tuahu as her husband; but the dispute was not known or heard by the people.

When all had partaken of the feast they rose and went from where the food was eaten. In the evening fires were lit in the house, and all slept. That night the younger sister sought for Maru-tuahu and became his wife. And when the elder sister inquired for Maru-tuahu she was told he had become the husband of her younger sister. This news made the elder sister become furious with rage. She thought she was good-looking, and that Maru-tuahu would not despise her on account of her looks. She quarrelled with her younger sister, but could not obtain Maru-tuahu, as her poor looks militated against her.

When Maru-tuahu arrived at the pa, Paka, the son of Maru-tuahu, had become a man. He was a brother-in-law to Maru-tuahu by the sister of Te-whatu. He took the sister of Te-whatu page 209 to wife, who was elder sister of the wife of Maru-tuahu, and begat Te-kahu-rere-moa (garment used when riding on the moa bird).


Maru-tuahu took the daughter of Te-whatu, and begat Tama-te-po (son of the night), Tama-te-ra (son of the day), Whanaunga (relative). Tama-te-po was progenitor of the Nga-ti-rongo-u Tribe, Tama-te-ra was progenitor of the Nga-ti-tama-te-ra Tribe, and Whananga was the progenitor of the Nga-ti-whanaunga Tribe.

Maru-tuahu abode at Whakatiwai with his father Hotu-nui, and learned from Hotu-nui the evil and unkindness he was subjected to from the tribe with whom he was staying. This is what the old man told him: “When the canoes of this tribe come back from fishing, and I send a messenger to ask for fish, the messenger is asked, ‘What have you come for?’ He answers, ‘Hotu-nui has sent me to ask for some fish; he wishes for some to make his other food palatable.’ The fishermen answer, ‘Is the flax that grows at O-toi (exude) the hair of his head?’ or ‘Is the flax that grows at O-toi that with which he ties his hair up?’ The messenger comes back; and I ask, ‘Speak; tell me what they say.’ The messenger says, ‘I went and saw the fishermen, who asked, “Who sent you to obtain fish ?” I said, “Hotu-nui sent me to obtain fish, as he wishes to have something tasty.” A man said to me, “Is the flax of O-toi that with which he ties up the hair of his head?” ’”

Hotu-nui also said to his son Maru-tuahu, “O son! this tribe is an evil people; they do all in their power to degrade a chief.”

Maru-tuahu felt grieved; and Hotu-nui said, “The grief you feel is just, and I really think the people are an evil tribe.”

Maru-tuahu said, “Wait; they will see the result of their conduct.”

Maru-tuahu began to collect food for a feast, and gave command for fishing-nets to be made. These were commenced page 210 in winter; and by the time that midsummer had arrived he sent messengers to collect people to come and help him to finish his nets, and a crowd came to his assistance.

The messengers who went to ask assistance to complete the nets returned; and Maru-tuahu asked, “When will they come?” and was answered, “The day after to-morrow.”

Maru-tuahu said, “On the morrow erect the stages and pile the food on them, so that when the people arrive the food may be ready for them.”

On the following morning the food was placed on stages, and the fish were so placed in the piles of food that they might be conspicuously seen; but the other parts of the piles were merely pulpy wood. This feast was given in order that they might kill the people in retaliation for the curse about the flax at O-toi uttered by them against Hotu-nui, which had so much grieved Maru-tuahu.

On the following morning the people arrived to assist in completing the nets for Maru-tuahu. They greatly rejoiced when they saw the food prepared for them, and did not for one moment imagine the bones that were in it [the murder intended].

Now, Maru-tuahu and his people numbered about seventy [one hundred and forty] men. When it was evening the nets and ropes for them were put into water, and on the morrow were laid out to dry. The lower edges of the nets were fastened to the ground with pegs, and tied to the pegs along the nets from end to end. Food was now being cooked while the people were tying the floats on the upper edge of the nets. At intervals some of the people of Maru-tuahu would go and inspect the work to see how far it had progressed. Maru-tuahu asked these, “Have they completed their work on the nets ?” to which they answered, “Yes; it is finished.”

Maru-tuahu gave command to his people, and said, “Rise, let us go; they have finished the nets.”

The seventy [one hundred and forty] men, each with a weapon concealed under his garment, rose and went to where the nets page 211 were stretched. The priest in charge of the nets said, “Raise the top-edges of the nets, and keep them upright.”

Maru-tuahu said, “Yes; rise. It is becoming night.” Then the seventy [one hundred and forty] rose; each lifted part of a net with one hand, and with the other held the weapon concealed under his garment.

Maru-tuahu called, and said, “Lift them up; lift them up; let them be held up high.” They were held up; and again Maru-tuahu said, “Lower them down.”

And the nets were thrown over all the crowd who had come to complete them. None had space to move, and they were beaten by the Nga-ti-maru with their weapons, and all were killed. This slaughter was called Te-kai-puka-puka (food of the Brachyglottis repanda leaves), which has been repeated as a proverb since the days of Maru-tuahu.

This feast was given at a place called Karihi-tangata (sinkers made of men); but this place had a name of older date, which was Puke-whau (hill of the Entelea arborescens); but on account of the slaughter on the spot by Maru-tuahu it was called “Karihi-tangata,” as the bodies of men were the sinkers of the nets. And all the district was taken by the people of Maru-tuahu, and held to the present day.

Te-kahu-rere-moa had now become a woman: and a body of people came on a visit from Ao-tea (white cloud) to Whare-kawa (house of ceremony) to see Paka. The leader of the visitors was the head chief of the Ao-tea (Great Barrier) Island, who had come with a present of tawatawa (mackerel) for Paka, with whom he became exceedingly intimate. Paka introduced his daughter Kahu-rere-moa to this chief, that she might become the wife of his son, that the Island of Ao-tea might become the property of Paka in the days when his grandchildren should have become numerous.

When the visitors were about to return home they had become quite familiar with Kahu-rere-moa; and Paka told his daughter to accompany them to Ao-tea, but she would not obey his command.

page 212

The chief of the visitors said, “Let her stay. We shall not be long away; we shall soon return.”

The strangers had been absent one moon, when they returned with thirty [sixty] baskets of mackerel, which were distributed amongst the people of Paka. Kahu-rere-moa went to receive some. Paka scolded her for daring to take any of the fish, and said, “I told you to accompany them to their home, but you disobeyed, and now you shall not eat of this fish.”

This made her so much ashamed that she put the fish back, and went to her house and wept. She determined to go from the presence of her father, and not to look on him again, or let him look on her. Her heart loved a chief called Taka-kopiri (lame one falling), whom she would like as her husband. She had seen him, and knew he possessed the best of food, such as preserved pigeons, kiwi (Apteryx), rats, weka (Ocydromus australis), eels, mackerel, crayfish, and all other sorts of good food; and he also had other valuable property.

She wept long, and at night wished to run away from her father. When sleep came on all the people of the settlement, in company with her female attendant she left her home; and when day dawned she was sought for, but the footprints of the two could not be discerned in the dust of the path they had taken. They went by way of Wai-puna (the water-spring) and Pu-korokoro (slack), and at dawn of day they were at Wai-taka-ruru (water over which the owl skims); and when the rays of the sun were seen over the hills they were at Poua-rua (two old people), from which they pushed on for a short time and arrived at Ra-waki (sea-breeze); then they crossed the mouth of Pi-ako (young bird taught) to O-pani (the orphan), to which they could not be followed. As it was now flood-tide, canoes were paddling up the Wai-hou (water that burrows its way underground) to Rua-wehea (pits separated), the people in which, when they saw the two girls, called and said, “Here is Te-kahu-rere-moa, the daughter of Paka.” The two girls embarked in a canoe, the paddlers of which kept calling, as page 213 they went up the river, “Here is Te-kahu-rere moa.” They were delighted to have one of so great birth with them. The people paddled on with energy till they came to Raupa (chapped), where the girls stayed one day, and then went on towards Katikati (nibble). They wished her to stay with them at Raupa; but how could she stay when the power of her heart urged her to go on? They went to Hiku-rangi (end of heaven), from which they could see Katikati and Tauranga (lie at anchor) and O-tawa (the ridge). She asked of the men of Hiku-rangi, “What mountain do we see yonder?” and was answered, “It is O-tawa” (Nesodaphne tawa).

She asked, “What food is taken on that mountain?”

They said, “The kiwi, weka, rats, pigeons, tui, and quantities of birds are taken and preserved in their own fat.”

She asked, “Who is the owner of that district?”

They said, “The Wai-taha Tribe, of whom Taka-kopiri is the chief. The Wai-taha procure all that is to be obtained on that mountain, and in all other parts of the district.”

Kahu-rere-moa said, “We two are going to O-tawa.”

The people said, “Is it so?”

She answered, “Yes; we are going there. Paka has sent us to invite Taka-kopiri to Whare-kawa.”

She went on to Katikati, where they met some of Wai-taha, the people of Taka-kopiri. When these saw her they called and said, “Here is Te-kahu-rere-moa, the daughter of Paka.”

The people assembled to look at her, and began to cook food, of which when they had partaken it was evening; and wood was collected in the house, and a game of haka was performed. The haka is one of the Maori's most honourable games that can be performed to entertain strangers; and when such is played it is a sign of a people of chiefs and days of peace. The people played this game to her that Te-kahu-rere-moa might haka and entertain them, that they might see how beautifully she could haka.

page 214

She saw them haka, and knew why they did so, and said in her heart, “Yours is good; but I will act.” And she stood up to haka, and had not long waved her hands about when all the people applauded her skill. Her hands were so supple that they looked as if they were dropping off her wrists, and the nails appeared to adhere to the backs of her hands. Thus do the noble of birth display their knowledge and grace, and prove the truth of the proverb, “The bravery of the poor-born is not like the bravery of the noble of birth.” Even so, when the poor person does haka, his or her hands are thrown about in an awkward manner, and it is not like the haka of the noble-born. She hakaed for some time, and all the people were quite in love with her.

It was now night, and all went to their places of rest. A chief who was much in love with her came to take her as his wife, but she fled and left him in confusion, and crossed a stream, and went towards Tauranga, going on in the night. By dawn next morning she was at the Wai-roa (long water), where she was seen by the people, who raised the cry, “Here is Te-kahu-rere-moa;” and all assembled to look at her. These were the people of Taka-kopiri, and wished her to stay with them; but, when she had partaken of refreshments, she went on by the base of the mountain O-tawa (food from the Nesodaphne tawa), and that night slept on the road, and proceeded on the following morning.

That day Taka-kopiri had left his settlement, and was coming in the direction of O-tawa, where an ancient tree stood in the forest on which for generations birds had been taken. This tree stood near the path over which the two women would pass. As they were going along the path, each with her extra garments tied up round her neck and shoulders, and the attendant carrying a portion of food to eat on the road, they had arrived near to the forest, when the noise of the flapping of the wings of pigeons which had been speared by Taka-kopiri was heard. They stood and listened. Kahu-rere-moa said to her attendant, “Friend, there is a man. Do you hear the fluttering of that bird?”

page 215

She said, “Yes; I hear it.”

Kahu-rere-moa said, “Yes; that is the flapping of a bird speared by some man.”

She said, “Yes. Let us go thither.”

They heard the thud of a bird which had been thrown to the ground, and went towards the spot from whence the sound came, and were seen by Taka-kopiri, who by their appearance knew they were strangers in the district, as they had their extra garments tied round their shoulders. The women sat at the root of the tree up which Taka-kopiri was sitting, and they saw many pigeons lying about. Taka-kopiri was certain the two must be from a distant place: if they had belonged to the district they would have worn their garments flowing to their feet. He descended to the ground, and let his bird-spear slide down between the branches to the ground below. As he was coming down the women saw him, and Kahu-rere-moa said to her companion, “Friend, this is Taka-kopiri.”

She said, “Is it so?”

Kahu-rere-moa said, “Yes; I have seen him before. He came to Hau-raki.”

She said, “Is it true that this is Taka-kopiri?”

Kahu-rere-moa said, “Yes; this is the veritable Taka-kopiri, the man to whom we are going.”

He had now got to the ground, and uttered his salute to the women, and they saluted him in return. He went and rubbed noses with each: he saluted them in ignorance as to who they were, but they knew who he was. He said, “Let us go to the settlement, and out of this forest.” They went some distance on the road, and he asked them to make greater haste. Kahu-rere-moa said to herself, “I shall not been known by him; he will not know who I am: he would not have hurried us if he knew who I am.” She stepped aside from the road and lingered behind, that he might have an opportunity to ask her attendant who she was. Taka-kopiri looked behind, and discovered that page 216 Kahu-rere-moa was not in sight: still he and the attendant went on some distance, and then he asked the attendant and said; “Who is your friend?”

She said, “Is it my friend you inquire about?”

He answered, “Yes; one of noble birth asking about another of noble birth.”

She said, “You are asking about my mistress. The name of my mistress is Te-kahu-rere-moa.”

He asked, “Kahu-rere-moa, daughter of Paka?”

She said, “Yes. Is there another Paka? And is there another Kahu-rere-moa? This is Kahu-rere-moa.”

He said, “Who would have thought that this is she? Who would have imagined that those of a distance could appear travelling here?” and he said, “Let us wait for her.”

They had not to wait long, and when she joined them he said, “Come on quickly; we shall feel hungered; the settlement is at some distance: let us proceed quickly;” and he said, “Come on after me, but make haste.” He went on, and when he could see the pa he called aloud and said, “Here is Te-kahu-rere-moa, here is the daughter of Paka:” this he repeated again and again. The people of his tribe heard his call, and said, “The man is repeating aloud his soliloquy of love for the daughter of Paka.” But Taka-kopiri again repeated his call, “Here is Kahu-rere-moa, the daughter of Paka.” The people said, “It must be true; he persists in his assertion.” But some of the people said, “But who could have expected that any one from a distance would come here? This is a strange country, and the person is a stranger to it, and the name now repeated to our ears is so little repeated here.”

The people came out of the pa and waved their garments in welcome, and sang in chorus,—

Come, come, O stranger of the distance!
My youngest child has gone for you,
Even to the horizon, and brought you hither.

Kahu-rere-moa went on, and, when opposite to the abode of the people, they wished to detain her; but Taka-kopiri said, “Follow on quickly, and keep near to me.” As she passed the page 217 abode of each family, each wished her to stay with them. Her conductor, Taka-kopiri, did not heed the invitation of the people, but led her to his abode, where she stayed.

The people assembled to look at her, and a repast was cooked of those things which were taken on the mountain over which the two women had passed, and where they met Taka-kopiri.

She was courted by the chiefs of the tribe; but they courted in silence: how could they do otherwise, being in fear of Taka-kopiri? When she had lived there one moon, Taka-kopiri took her as his wife, and one moon more had not passed before she knew she would have her first-born, and in time a daughter called Tu-para-haki (stand doubting on one side) came into this world.