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

Chapter XIII. — Paoa. (Nga-Ti-Paoa.)

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Chapter XIII.
Paoa. (Nga-Ti-Paoa.)

Here I rest and sit and muse near to Te-keri-a-te-ua (house).
But listen thou, O Rangi, to my acts of maidenhood,
When all the people garnered in and harvested their crops.
And, though the fame be great,
Why should I go and be a guest,
And sit midst plenty of thy feast?
Why not with hand of thine dispense a morsel now,
That I might eat and slake my thirst?
I planted crops, but gods destroyed them all.
’Tis true I listless was to get the food for man;
But then my sooty skin's repulsive look And dusky face repelled from me the least respect,
And he who courted me would make me but his second wife.
But now my knowledge tells me, since grey hairs And flowing beard of age have come on thee,
I must refuse, and relegate thee to the god Koro-tiwha,
That god of bald heads and decrepid, soulless age,
That he may spend his knowledge, time, and power on thee.
And I will live alone and wait the deeds of coming days,
As weary feebleness creeps on, and hangs the drooping garment to my corse.

Paoa and his people pulled on and landed; but still he wore his whanake (rough winter-mat) while his retinue wore all their finest mats, he alone wore his rough winter-mat. His friends remonstrated; but Paoa replied, “I shall continue to wear my mat.”

Though thus clad in a poor garment, the people of the pa were not long in distinguishing him from the crowd by his noble bearing and superior looks. But the hair of his head was rubbed and frizzed up by constant contact with the thick rope-like fringe of the upper part of the whanake mat, which made it page 234 look like the feathers in a bird's wing; at which his friends felt disgusted, as they wished him to be seen to the best advantage by those to whom they were going.

They went on in front of the house in which he was to be entertained, and Paoa was gazed at by the people. Paoa was the last to enter the pa, and said to his people, “Let us enter the house, and leave the courtyard for those who have accompanied us.” Some of those nearest the door opened it, and the scent of the tawhiri (Pittosporum) was recognised. Some said, “What a sweet smell this house has !” It was nothing to Paoa; though the house was comfortable, and though well furnished with floor-mats, he did not lay his rough mat aside, but at once took the position of supreme chief,—the first seat on the right-hand side as he entered,—covered his head with his rough mat, and went to sleep.

A repast was soon cooked, consisting of eels, kumara, and taro (Colocasia antiquorum). And Paoa partook of his in the house.

When evening came, the people assembled to entertain the guests with games of haka. This was a necessary act in a pa that assumed to be inhabited by a tribe of chiefs. Paoa came to the door to look at the performers. When they had played their games, they were in return entertained by the guests with the same amusements. The people then assembled in the house to look at the guests; and Tukutuku, the daughter of Taha-rua, also entered. But not by any device could she get a seat near to Paoa.

The following day another feast was given to the guests: still Tukutuku could not by any means get a seat near to Paoa. On the third day Paoa was weary of staying at the pa, and gave the orders for his people, with himself, to return home.

When Tukutuku heard of this she went to detain them, and said, “Are you going home?”

The guests said, “Yes.”

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She said, “Is it that you have not food enough, and is that the reason for your early departure? Stay with us, and do not so soon go to your home.”

They said, “Yes; let it be so.”

Evening had not yet come when the people of Tuku-tuku came with thousands of eels, and laid them before the guests. Now the guests saw the great extent of what this woman had command. That night the people again performed a haka, as this was the last night the guests would be there. When the game was concluded all the people went into the house where Paoa stayed; and Tukutuku sat at the door, near the place Paoa had occupied since he came there, and which was, according to custom, occupied only by chiefs of supreme rank. She did not sit there long before her hand was stretched out to touch the hand of Paoa. She had told her parents of her love for him, and they had given their consent. Paoa did not reciprocate the sign. He was afraid that, if he acknowledged her love, he and his people might be attacked by the tribe of Tuku-tuku. She again touched his hand. He pushed it away, and ordered the haka to cease. All the people of the pa went to their own houses, as also did Tukutuku. She at once went to her parents and told them what she had done, and the repulse she had received from Paoa.

The father asked, “Did he not agree?”

She said, “No”

The mother said, “Go and send some of your female companions to him, and ask him to go to your house, that he may know it is not of your own wish alone that you approach him. He is afraid lest his people be killed. He is under the impression that you have not obtained our consent. Go and act with determination.”

Four of her female attendants, with Tukutuku, went to the house where Paoa stayed. Tukutuku would have entered the house, but was ashamed at the repulse so unmistakably given by Paoa. She sat out in the verandah. One of the four young women went in and asked Paoa to go with her. He asked, “To what place?”

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She said, “Only a little distance. I was sent for you by order of a female.”

The companions of Paoa said, “And we all will accompany him.”

She said, “No, you must not go, but stay here.”

These men talked amongst themselves, and said, “Who is this woman?”

Some said, “She is one of the attendants of Tukutuku, who has been seen to accompany her ever since we have been here.”

Another said, “Yes; and perhaps Tukutuku has sent her.”

Paoa and the messenger had gone. Led by her, he was taken to the house of Tukutuku, where she was awaiting him in company with her female attendants. In the house a quantity of the tawhiri-scented oil had been used. Tuku-tuku saw Paoa as he stood at the door, and welcomed him in. He sat at the door, being ashamed of the company of females; but all bade him welcome, and said, “Come in.”

He entered and sat down. Tukutuku was sitting on one side of the house with her attendants. The other side had been prepared for him with floor-mats. A light had been made with plaited tow of flax and placed in oil in a Haliotis shell, which was held by one of the attendants. The attendants proposed to leave the house, but Tukutuku said, “Sleep here even to the dawn of day.” They reiterated their proposal, but she compelled them to stay.

Paoa, addressing Tukutuku, said, “Are you of the most superior rank?”

She said, “I am of supreme rank. There is not any chief in this land but my father alone.”

He said, “Your assertion is good. As you have made that statement, all will be right [I will not fear treachery].” He asked, “Is your tribe a numerous people?”

She said, “Yes. You can judge: look from this to Moe-hau (Cape Colville), which you saw when you entered the river at Rawaki; all the people in that district are my people.”

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He said, “I have seen the district; it was pointed out to me by my companions as we came here.”

She said, “All the people in that district are mine, and even round Cape Colville, and as far as Katikati (nibble) [Mercury Bay].”

He said, “I am a man without a tribe; I am a wanderer. My home is at Wai-apu (scoop the water up with the hand), at the East Cape.” He told her the cause of his leaving his home, and the history of his life from the time he left his people to that day.

They all slept in the house; and next morning Paoa went back to the house in which he had stayed with his people. The female attendants went to the parents of Tukutuku, and said to her mother, “Paoa has been in our house.”

She asked, “Who took him there?”

They said, “We did. We were requested to do so by our friend [Tukutuku].”

She said, “It is good.”

Again she asked, “Are they man and wife?”

They said, “Yes.”

Then was the news proclaimed that Paoa had taken Tukutuku as his wife. And according to custom a plundering party proposed to rob Paoa of some of his property; but Taha-rua, the father of Tukutuku, said, “No; let those who intend to carry out the usual custom which is followed when a woman has been taken to wife without giving a hakari pakuha (marriage-feast), come and plunder me only. What property has a wanderer, that you should go to him?”

As Tukutuku had not taken a husband till now, though she had been courted by many chiefs, but refused them all, the plundering parties who came to take property were led by the chiefs who were rejected lovers.

Two days after Paoa had taken Tukutuku, his people left the pa of Taha-rua to go home; but Paoa stayed with his wife. When one moon was past Paoa told his wife he had a wish to return to his place at Pi-ako.

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She said, “Yes; we will go, that you may see my people and my relatives, and that I may visit and see them, lest they should charge me with neglect in not visiting them. I had promised to pay a visit to them.”

Paoa said, “Yes; let us go.”

On the following day they departed on their visit, and stayed at the various pas at which Paoa had landed on his journey up the river to visit the people of the pa of Tuku-tuku. They had not passed many pas before they had received from the people of those pas two canoes full of preserved fish as gifts to Tukutuku. Paoa exclaimed, “How great is the esteem in which my wife is held by her people! She is the greatest person in all this district.”

They arrived at Tara-ru (trembling barb), and left there the two canoes of dried fish. On the following day they went on to Te-puru (choked up), where Tukutuku received more dried fish from the people of that pa.

They visited all the pas on the east side of the Thames, and Paoa saw the mussels of Wai-au (current of water), which he liked very much; and from that place they returned home.

When they arrived at Tara-ru Tukutuku had received six canoe-loads of dried fish. They went back by Pi-ako, and at the Pareparenga (bank of a river) Tukutuku gave some of the fish to the people of that pa, who exclaimed, “This woman shall be our supreme head.” To all who met them on the journey Tukutuku distributed fish, even till she arrived at home. To those who lived on the banks of the river she was equally kind. And all the people said, “She shall be our supreme leader.” All the people acknowledged her sway, and to her they gave implicit obedience, and procured everything she might want, and she nourished and protected them.

She procured food for her people, such as pohue (convolvulus), karito (Typha angustifolia), were (young shoot of the convolvulus), and kao (dried kumara). And the people exclaimed, “No wonder the fame of this woman is heard at a page 239 distance, she is so indefatigable in her endeavour to procure food for her people.” When they saw that she laboured with them they worked all the more. In her days it was not as in days that had passed. Then the people lived on that which they could procure, and on what had grown without labour. The tribes in those times were lazy. Hence the people also said, “Thy work, O noble of birth! is peculiarly thine: as the old proverb says, ‘The sapwood of the tawa (Nesodaphne tawa) is of one kind, and the heart is of its own kind’ [those of noble birth work with knowledge and a will, but the ignoble of birth act in their own manner]. The chief does his work like a noble.”

The people assembled around Tukutuku; and strangers also came with them, and became part of her tribe. In days before that time her tribe was not numerous, but now that she had shown an example of industry her pa was crowded with occupants.

In time she had a family of ten children, one of whom was called Horo-whenua (landslip), who was the last-born. Paoa was now old, and had to use a staff; but still he felt a love for the children of his first wife, who lived in Wai-kato. He said to his sons, “O sons! take me to see your elder brothers.”

They said, “Yes.”

Horo-whenua said, “O father! they will make you work; they are impetuous children.”

The elder brothers of Horo-whenua said, “At what will they make him work?”

He answered, “They will make him chant the incantations and perform the ceremonies over the kumara-crops. But let us take him.”

The elder brothers said, “Let ten attendants accompany him.”

Horo-whenua said, “Yes; and if they detain him let some of the ten come back and tell us, and we will go and fetch him.”

The elder brothers said, “Yes.”

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Horo-whenua said to Paoa, “O old man! do not stay away any length of time. If it were as in the days of your youth it would be well; but who can say that you, so feeble, are now able to work ?”

Paoa said, “Shall I be made to work?”

Horo-whenua said, “Yes, they will make you work; and who can imagine that they will treat or consider you as we do? You must not stay away long, but in five days come back: in that time you will have seen your children.”

Paoa said, “Yes.”

On the following day Paoa went on his journey; and Horo-whenua said to the attendants, “If they keep your companion, come back and we will go for him.”

They said, “Yes.”

He went as far as Tikitiki-maurea (white image), from which Paoa could see the home of his children, and the smoke of the fire of Wai-tawheta (pools of water), in Wai-kato, and said, “There is the home of my children,” and sat down and wept. They went on, and that night slept on the road, as Paoa, being old, could not travel fast. On the following day they arrived at the pa of his children, and were welcomed by the people there. Before he had got to the pa the people there sent spies to see who it was who was coming towards their pa. The spies went back to the pa, and were asked, “Who are the visitors?”

They said, “It is Paoa, who is now very old, and uses a staff to help him on.”

Paoa and his companions stayed with the people at the village a little way from the pa; but his sons were at the pa at Wai-tawheta (dangle over the water). This was the first visit Paoa had paid to these of his children from the time he had left them, when he was so ashamed at not receiving any kumara to entertain the parents of his first wife. On the following day the old man put his clothing on and tied his belt around him, and said to his companions, “Let us go to the pa, that I may see my children.”

His companions said, “Yes.”

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A party sent from the pa to conduct him thither, arrived with a repast to strengthen him to proceed on journey. He partook of this. The messengers said, “Let us go to the pa.”

Paoa said to his companions, “O young people! take your bundles and put them on your backs, and let us go.”

When those in the pa saw them advancing towards the stockade they waved their garments and called the welcome; but Paoa wept as he went. When they arrived in the pa all the people wept aloud, the noise of which was like the howling of dogs. This continued till the sun went down. Then all sat down. One of the sons of Paoa rose and made a speech of welcome. This was answered by Paoa. A quantity of food was prepared, and a feast given and eaten. Then all assembled in the house in which Paoa stayed, to hear the news. His sons were glad he had come, because he could perform the ceremonies and chant the incantation over their kumara-crops.

The sons said, “Your visit is opportune.”

He asked, “To do what?”

They said, “To perform the ceremonies over our kumara-crops.”

He laughed slightly.

They said, “Why do you laugh?”

He said, “Nothing. I merely laugh.”

They asked again, “Why do you laugh?”

He said, “Well, it was a word spoken by your brother of no rank, called Horo-whenua.”

They asked, “A word by whom ?”

He said, “By your brother of no rank.”

They said, “We shall not listen to his words.”

He said, “Do you say so, O my children? Hearken: he is an outrageous fellow.”

They asked, “And what is the subtilty or power of a rat?”

He said, “The elder brothers did not say anything; his alone was the word spoken to me—that I should not be allowed to page 242 come here; and it was by the barest consent that I was allowed to come.”

They said, “You shall not be allowed to go back.”

He said, “If I am detained here by you, your brother of low birth will come to fetch me.”

They said, “Do not let him come to fetch you—he will be killed.”

Those who accompanied Paoa from Piako were sitting listening to all that had been said by Paoa and his two sons.

When some of the attendants of Paoa returned to Pi-ako, Horo-whenua asked them to state what had taken place.

They said, “Paoa will not be allowed to come back.”

Horo-whenua asked, “By whom?”

They said, “By his sons.”

Horo-whenua said, “I foresaw that such would be the case.”

They said, “So it is. Paoa said to them, ‘If I am detained by you two, your brother of low birth will come and fetch me.’ The brothers said, ‘Who is he?’ Paoa answered, ‘Horo-whenua.’ They said, ‘If he comes he will be killed by us.’ Paoa said, ‘You two will not be sufficiently brave; your brother of low rank is as powerful as the fish that breaks a net.’ They said, ‘Will the power of the rat be able to stand before the power of the whale?”’

Horo-whenua said, “They shall see, and tomorrow I will look at them,” and, at once calling upon his people, said, “Muster; bind the war-belt round you; rise, and go to bring our father. I said, ‘Do not let him go.’ This evil has come of your action.” His elder brothers did not utter a word, as they were convinced they had done wrong in consenting to allow old Paoa to go and see his other sons in Wai-kato.

The warriors assembled, and were seventy [one hundred and forty] in all. The first night they slept at Tikitiki-maurea, from which they could see Wai-kato and the smoke of the fire at Wai-tawheta, which hung over the place where Paoa now was with his other two sons and two hundred of their tribe. When Horo-whenua had viewed the scene for some time, he said, “Let page 243 us go down into the valley, and sleep at the Manga-wara (indistinct sound) Creek, near its source.” They proceeded to the spot indicated; and he said, “Let us stay here. On the morrow we will go to the pa and ask Paoa to accompany us back to his home; but if his two sons detain him whatever may take place cannot be averted; it will not be our fault. We will come back, but will again come to fetch him.” After some further talk the brothers partook of their evening meal and slept.

Tipa (dart over, skim), one of the party, rose, awoke his companions, and said, “Who sleeps? Rise. There are evil omens: there will be a battle at dawn of day. [I met my enemy and] my omen was an inward start of my limbs, and my enemy's was like mine: he had four repetitions of the same omen; I had the same, but I gained the victory. If I sleep again and these omens are repeated, desperate evil will follow. Let us this very night go back, that a battle may not ensue.”

Another of the party said, “I have had a convulsive start of my shoulder.”

Another said he had been eating food.

They had intended to go to the pa on the following day to bring Paoa away in a friendly manner, but on account of these evil omens, and the fear they had engendered, they could not now think of going in that manner.

Near the dawn of day Tipa rose and said, “I have not had a repetition of the omens; I have courted their return, but they have not come. It is now day. Rise and speak.”

The party rose; and Tipa said, “Perhaps the old man has gone down from the pa, and is now in the midst of his sons' kumara-cultivations, chanting the incantations and performing the ceremony.”

The people said, “Perhaps so.”

He said, “Who shall go and see if such is the case?”

Horo-whenua said, “I will go, and if I meet him I will bring him back with me.”

Tipa said, “Yes, go; and, if you meet him, be gentle and come back.”

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Horo-whenua rose, took his pou-whenua (a weapon like hani or taiaha, without a carved projection at the top like a tongue) and departed.

Old Paoa had that morning, before the dawn of day, gone down to the kumara-fields and had commenced to chant the incantations. He had chanted one over one plot, and was now commencing to do so over the second. As soon as he had stuck a tira (a branch of the karamu—Coprosma) in the ground in front on the east of the crop, he chanted,—

There is the branch stuck up,
The sacred twig of Tu-rora,
Rere-ahi, Koro-he, and Tu-rongo.
There is the twig, the twig complete,
And standing erect the shreds
Of Haka and Haua: so stands
The twig erect and complete.

Paoa had not chanted all his incantations before Horo-whenua was standing before him. It was still dusky dawn, and not sufficiently light to see anything near. Paoa saw some one, and said, “Who is this?”

Horo-whenua said, “It is I.”

Paoa knew who he was by his voice, and uttered a low murmur, which was the outcome of his fear lest Horo-whenua should be killed by his two Wai-kato sons and the great tribe in the pa.

Paoa asked, “Who are your companions?”

Horo-whenua repeated the names of each, at which Paoa felt a dread and doubt in regard to the safety of Horo-whenua.

Horo-whenua said, “Come with me; it will soon be full day;” and they departed.

Those in the pa listened to hear the voice of Paoa shouting; but as he was silent some of them said, “He sleeps.”

The two sons sent men to see. These, went to where Paoa should be; but, not finding him, they called and said, “O old man! O old man! where are you?”

Some said, “He may be sleeping on the river-bank.”

They sought for him at the river-edge, and saw the footprints page 245 of men who had gone up the river. It was now sufficiently light to discern the countenance of man; and, from the appearance of the footprints, they knew that Horo-whenua had taken Paoa away. They uttered the cry, “He has been taken; he has been taken away by Horo-whenua.”

When the two sons heard the cry they and three hundred warriors bound on their war-belts and went in pursuit of Paoa.

Horo-whenua and Paoa had got to their party, who in the hurry did not utter the usual words of welcome, or weep over Paoa, but at once went on the way back to Pi-ako. They heard the noise made by the pursuing body of men. Paoa and his party were now ascending a hill, and were seen by the pursuers. Those in charge of Paoa were in front, and Horo-whenua was in the rear. The pursuers came on like a school of kahawai (Arripis salar) with wide-open mouth, and were now close. Paoa had been pushed on to Tikitiki-maurea, at which place he said, “Why take me any further? Am I greater than my sons [who, if you permit them to take me away, may be killed in an attempt by their elder brothers to take possession of me]?”

Horo-whenua ran in front of the pursuers and stood, and all his people faced about and confronted the enemy. A battle ensued, and five men were stricken to the ground. Toa-whena saw Horo-whenua, and made a blow at him with his weapon, but Horo-whenua struck the weapon up and parried it, and struck a blow at Toa-whena and killed him. At the same instant Toa-poto attacked Horo-whenua and made a blow at him with his weapon; Horo-whenua warded it off with a left-handed parry, and smote him to the ground. When these two chiefs were killed all their men fled, and were pursued and killed. Two hundred of the three hundred who followed were slain; and Paoa was accompanied to his home at Pi-ako.