The Ancient History of the Maori, His Mythology and Traditions: Tai-Nui. [Vol. IV]
Chapter VI. — Puhi-Huia Arrives at Tipi-Tai. (Nga-Ti-Kahu-Koka.)
Puhi-Huia Arrives at Tipi-Tai. (Nga-Ti-Kahu-Koka.)
Flee, O ye clouds of the west,
And stay the day-dawn of the sun,
Till I weep and moan and stay,
And watch for the ebbing cold stream,
To bear me, with others, far out;
And leave me, with anguish and pain,
To ponder the future unknown.
And caust thou rely on the power
To crush and annihilate me,
And extinguish my every thought
And power to resist my return?
O beloved at Kai-waka, thou
With enchantments and water, oh! now
Baptise me, to give my soul power
To live, and let feeble ones die.
The dispute between the young chief and Puhi-huia was ended, and the canoe was nearing Tipi-tai; and, as the words of the chanter who sang to keep time for those who paddled were heard by the people of Tipi-tai, they came down from the pa to the sea-shore to see the famed Puhi-huia of Mount Eden. All the inhabitants of the pa, old men, old women, children, and all, came to the beach to look at this noble of birth and fame. When the canoe neared the shore, and those on the beach could distinguish the features of those in the canoe, they all waved their garments and called in loud chorus the welcome— “Come, oh! come.” The rowers in the canoe ceased to paddle, and, as all looked at those on shore, the young chief who steered the page 141 canoe rose and asked, “Whom do I see now sitting on the shore?” He was answered by the crowd on shore, “We your ancestors and parents are all here.”
He said, “Stay where you all are, and hearken to my words. I, your child, have had a narrow escape from the hands of our relatives who occupy Mount Eden, and my death or murder, if it had taken place, would have been caused by the act of Ponga. All the young people of our party conducted themselves in a quiet and peaceable manner towards our relatives at Mount Eden; but Ponga acted to me like a murderer. Here, with us, is that young woman, sacred and of most supreme rank, the daughter of the lord of Mount Eden, who has been brought here by Ponga. He did not tell me at the time that he was about to commit the act of theft, or I would have said, ‘Cease to act; do not rob the courtyard of our senior relative, but let his child remain with him;’ but when we had bidden farewell to all those in the pa, and had got near to One-hunga, unknown to us Ponga was in the act of taking the young woman from home. But all the warriors rose, and with their weapons followed us. I was bewildered by the suddenness of the fright that came on me when I saw that we were pursued by an enemy. I gave the order, ‘Bend your knees, bow the head, and let us flee.’ We fled on till we reached our canoe, and by the time our pursuers had got to the beach we were far out in the stream. The enemy at once rushed to drag their canoes to the sea to follow us. As you and your elder brothers at Mount Eden have been living so long in peace, the lashing of the topsides of their canoes has become rotten, so that in attempting to pull their canoes to the sea the side boards came away from the body of the canoes, and threw those who attempted to move them one over the other on the ground, and thus the rotten lashing of these canoes saved my life. When we had paddled far towards you, and I had time to think, I felt angry with myself for acting as I had done in fleeing before those who followed us, and in not waiting to meet them and send this young woman back to her parents. page 142 Daylight is light in these days, but now darkness is deadly gloom, and by to-morrow your enemy will stand on the sandy beach of Tipi-tai; and if you are brave, well and good, but if you are feeble you will be lost even like the extinction of the moa.”
All the time he was speaking the crowd on shore sat in silence; but so soon as he had ceased to utter his speech the head chief of Awhitu rose, but not one of the crowd followed his example. All sat in silent dread, and each covered his or her head with the mats they wore. The old chief said, “Welcome, welcome! Take the girl back to her home. Yes, you are right; it is because of the years of peace the lashings of the canoes of our Mount Eden relatives have become rotten, and thereby your life has not been taken. I will not allow the girl to break the bonds of peace which bind us to our Mount Eden relatives. Come, go back to Mount Eden, and, if you are killed there, that will be the fault of Ponga, not mine.”
The canoe was yet a little way from the shore, and Puhi-huia rose and waved her hands for some time towards the crowd on the shore. She then took the outer mat she had on and laid it down close to Ponga, and so with the next mat. Readjusting the last and inner mat she had on, she doubled the part which covered her shoulders down over in a fold round her waist, and bound it round her with a karetu (Hierochloe redolens,) belt. Her arms and chest were uncovered. She stretched her arms at full length towards those on shore, and said, “O people! look at me.” All the people uttered a low moan of admiration at her noble figure and attitude. She was a fine-looking woman, tall with dark curling hair, light skin, and supple as a sapling of the forest.
Again she called, “Your anger against me is right, yet it is not just. You are right in blaming me, as I may be the cause of the evil which may fall on you; but you are not just—you have falsely accused Ponga. I came here of my own accord, but I blame you for this: Why did you not see how beautiful your page 143 child Ponga was, and keep him at this your home, and not let him come to visit my pa ? If you had allowed all his companions [without him] to come to my pa I should have still been there: but you laid the plot to murder me, you allowed the agitator of my heart to come near me, and I could not restrain my feelings, but rushed recklessly into love because he is so good-looking. I am not to blame. You laid this plot to murder me.”
She had ceased to speak, and with one bound left the canoe and jumped into the water, and swam on shore. The women of the sitting crowd rose, and rushed into the water and swam towards her to welcome her on shore; but those in the canoe sat like so many beings bereft of their senses, and not one of them uttered a word. Puhi-huia swam till she could feel the ground with her feet, and stood in the water, which came up to her knees; but the women who swam out to meet her went back up on shore, and sat together in a distinct body from the people.
Standing still silently a little time, Puhi-huia again spoke, and said, “I, Puhi-huia, stand in your presence. I alone sought for and have found that which shall be mine. I am not, and will not be, amenable to the order of any one who may say, ‘Do this,’ or ‘Do that,’ and, if you persist in saying I must return to Mount Eden, by the time the midnight comes to this day I and Ponga will sleep in the foam that the sea-surge makes on the bar of this harbour. I shall not come on to dry land. The dry land is yours; the ocean is my home.” At these last words spoken by Puhi-huia as she stood in the water, the women who swam out to meet her in the sea burst into a loud lament, and, with streaming tears, they wept aloud; but Puhi-huia still stood in the water, and the canoe with the visitors who had been to Mount Eden kept a short distance outside of the spot where Puhi-huia was standing. When Puhi-huia had cast herself into the sea those in the canoe had paddled in and followed Puhi-huia; but not one in the canoe uttered a word, nor was there a voice heard from those on shore save the deep and loud wail of page 144 the sorrowing women, nor any sound save that of the ripple of the wavelets which murmured on the shore. All the crowd sat on shore in silence with their heads covered with their mats.
Again the young chief with whom the father of Puhi-huia had exchanged his mere spoke to those on shore, and said, “The crop takes one year before it is ripe, or is taken into the storehouses; but the thoughts and plans of man are planted, and the crop is ripe at once [man takes little time to determine what he shall do]. Why, O old chief and people, do you sit in inaction ? Do you wait, and when the canoes of warrior enemies are seen approaching, and their prows are close up to your pa, not till then will you rouse you to action? The Mount Eden warriors will follow and take their young woman of supreme rank, who has been stolen by Ponga; and do you sit in silence and in inactivity! Does the year ever remain calm through all its days? No; but there is summer, and then winter: the sun shines, and then thunder is heard. Are you ignorant of the lightning of heaven? and are you not aware of what is portended in the glaring eyes of Nga-iwi, of Mount Eden?”
Puhi-huia stood still in silence, nor did her frame give evidence of any emotion of sorrow or anger that might be felt by her. Ponga also sat in silence, as he had done ever since the canoe had left One-hunga. But now he stood up: taking the garments Puhi-huia had left with him, he tied them round his head, and his own garments he tied round himself with a belt, and taking hold of the gunwale of the canoe he gently let himself into the sea and swam on shore. He swam carefully, lest the garments around his head should be wet, and landed and went and stood behind Puhi-huia, who turned and looked at him; but neither of them spoke to the other. Again the head chief of Awhitu rose; and being seen by the weeping women they ceased to wail, and looked at him. A chief does not rise for naught, but only when he has orders to give, which he expects to be obeyed.page 145
The beach of Tipi-tai was not circumscribed: that space occupied by the sitting crowd was not of limited extent. The old chief went from end to end of the space occupied by his people. He did not utter a word while passing from one end to the other one way; but when he turned at one end of the space he ran along, kicking the sand in the air with his feet, so that it fell in dust behind him. He held a greenstone mere in his hand, and wore a dogskin mat; his head was decked with huia (Neomorpha gouldii) feathers. He kept his head bowed, looking at the sand over which he paced. Thus he paced to and fro between the tide-rip and the sitting crowd, who watched his every movement, as also the movements of those in the canoe. He had run to one end of the sitting crowd, where most of the old men of Tipi-tai were sitting, when he lifted his head and looked at Puhi-huia and Ponga, who were still standing in the water. He then looked at the young people who were in the canoe. Again he paced back in front of where the old chiefs sat, and with his feet again dashed the sand up in the air. As he turned to go back to where the chiefs sat, he walked in a calm and deliberate manner; but turning again from them he threw the sand in the air with his feet, and exclaimed, “Oh! woe, oh! woe is me!” and running along from end to end of the space occupied by the sitting crowd, throwing the sand up at every step, he exclaimed, “O my offspring! the world is all in a blaze of fire.” He walked back in a quiet manner with his head bowed down, and when near to where the old chiefs were he again looked at those in the canoe, and beckoning with his hand called, “Come, O my child! you have escaped from death. There are two things in this world which the body eats. One is for the stomach; but at times man is ill with such, and man is choked with it: man eats food, but at times it kills him. And the body has also another kind of food, but this is of Tu, the god of war. Man carries his weapon to war to satisfy his revenge for evil done; he eats of the food of the god of war. There is death in each of these two kinds of food. Go where you will, death is there. Live where you like, death is there. page 146 Plant your crops, death is there. Live in the calm of summer, sudden death comes on you. From the days of Maui death has been everywhere, and still is felt in every place, home, action, or food. Now, O my child! you have escaped a death which might have taken place by the hands of the Mount Eden people. Do you think that you will not die? There are the evils of Tura, which will come on you. Even now there are sitting in silence within you innumerable evils, and by the mistakes you may make in our old customs evil will fall on you. O my child! all is death in this world. Come to our home.”
Then he turned and looked at Puhi-huia, and called and said, “O my elder in birth and rank, though you are my granddaughter, O young woman! welcome. Come to these of your ancestors. Evil or death had not its origin with you. Death and evil are of old. Did your ancestors live husbandless, and did the tribe select a husband for your mother? No; she selected and took the husband of her own choice. How brave and how daring you are! You have chosen and determined whom you will take as your husband, and, as the lost plume of Mahina, it shall not be given back to its former owner. O my child! your ancestors have never slept on a mat laid on the foam of the surges of this sea, but they are buried near to Mua; nor will it be right for you to swim in the sea where the goblin Kai-whare (d) holds his rule. Come, O my child of noblest birth! come, and you and I will live together. You have chosen what you have chosen, and I have chosen that which you have chosen; and, if death comes, you and I will die together. Come, O my child of most supreme rank!” The old chief waded out in the water, and rubbed noses with Puhi-huia, then took hold of her right hand and led her on shore and towards the pa, followed by Ponga with the garments still tied' round his head. When the old chief and Puhi-huia had passed the weeping women, they all arose and followed, with grimaces, shouting, and glaring with their eyes, in honour of Puhi-huia, the noted and highest-born of the tribes, being in their country. page 147 Next followed the young people of the tribe. These having passed where the old men and women were sitting, an old man rose and, waving his hand to those in the canoe, said, “Why do you stay on the sea? Come on shore, and swell the crowd to welcome your supreme lord to our pa, and let us the old people ‘bring up the rear-guard. ‘The warrior has his shield (puapua), and the rear-guard has its commander.’”
The young people of the canoe landed, and took their place next behind the young people who followed the weeping women; and the old people closed in in the rear. The old people took this position to indicate compliance with the determination of the old chief who was leading Puhi-huia, when he said, “You have determined, and I approve, so that if we are to be killed we will die together.” He meant by this saying, if a war-party of the Nga-iwi of Mount Eden were to attack him, if Puhi-huia still determined to have Ponga as her husband, then not till he and his people had been overcome in battle should Puhi-huia be taken back by her people to her home. And hence the old people brought up the rear, as a sign that any attack on them would be met by resistance.
When the young people jumped on shore each one carried his paddle with him as a weapon, and all went in line of battle, and the canoe was pulled near to the shore by some of the slaves, and there tied to poles stuck in the sand.
The sun had nearly set, and as the old man ascended to the pa the most aged men and women there came out and waved their garments and called the welcome of old. The old man went on and led Puhi-huia into his house, followed by Ponga; when Ponga gave the garments he had bound on his head to Puhi-huia. The garment she had worn round her waist she took and spread out, and hung it on a pole in the marae (courtyard). Ponga went to the house of his parents and dressed himself, and went and sat in the verandah of the house where Puhi-huia was staying.page 148
Food was cooked by the attendants of the pa, and carried and laid before the people who had been to Mount Eden. In laying the food before them the boys and girls of the pa carried it in small baskets; and in taking it from the hangi (ovens) where it was cooked to where it was placed in the marae they went in a body formed in line of three or four deep, singing in chorus the song,—
It is Tu, and Rongo;
It is Tu, and Rongo,
Paia and Nga-tahi.
Flaccid is the food
And rotten in the ground;
They placed all the food in one heap. The old chief who had led Puhi-huia stood up with a switch, a branch of kawakawa (Piper excelsum), in his hand, which he had gone out of the pa to procure from a neighbouring shrub, and went and stood near to the heap of food and said, “This food, this food !” and struck the heap of food with the branch he held in his hand, and again said, “This food; this food!” and again struck the heap, then turned and looked at Puhi-huia, and, again calling, said, “This food is for all the tribes, even in every place.”
He sat down; and Puhi-huia rose, and took a fern-stalk in her hand, which she found lying in the courtyard (marae), and broke it into short lengths, and stepped up near to the heap of food and stuck the pieces of fern into the ground in front of the heap. Then she went near to the young chief with whom her father had exchanged his mere (greenstone weapon), and, putting her hand out, took the mere from him, and went back and stood near to the heap of food. She waved and shook the mere above her head, and said “This food is for the Nga-ti-kahu-koka [the Awhitu people], for each and every sub-tribe of that people within all their boundaries; and let the learned of these tribes know for whom this food is by the pieces of broken fern I have stuck up before this heap of food.”page 149
She went back to the spot which she had occupied in the verandah of the old chiefs house, and sat close to Ponga, and gave the greenstone weapon to Ponga, who took it back to the young chief from whom she had taken it.
The old chief again rose, and took his kawakawa branch and struck one part of the heap of food, and exclaimed, “This food is for Puhi-huia.” Striking another portion, which was marked off from the other food by the fern-stick stuck up by Puhi-huia, he said, “This food is for the Nga-ti-kahu-koka of Awhitu.” Striking another division he said,” This food is for the Nga-ti-kahu-hoka at Wai-uku, and on the sea-coast of that district.” He struck another portion, and said, “This food is for the Nga-ti-kahu-koka of Wai-kato, and for all of them who live within its boundaries.” Striking the last and remaining portion, he said, “This food is for Nga-ti-kahu-koka who may be scattered in any place in the world.”
The old chief sat down, and the Awhitu men went and took the portion allotted to them, and the Wai-uku people took that for them. The food dedicated to the men who were related to those of Awhitu, but were now residing in Wai-kato, Po-keno (black night), and Tamaki (start involuntarily), was taken by their Awhitu relatives.
There remained the food apportioned out for the Nga-iwi [Mount Eden] people; but Puhi-huia, as representative of that tribe, did not rise and take it away, but rose and stood where she had been sitting at the side of Ponga, and asked, “Where is the man attendant who was deaf to the call of Ponga when he called for water? Stand up and let me look at you.” When the food which had been cooked for the returning visitors to Mount Eden had been placed in a heap in the courtyard, chiefs and slaves, men, women, old and decrepid, young and old, boys and girls, the lame, maimed, and blind, had all collected in the marae (courtyard) to join in the welcome and to see Puhi-huia.
Ponga's attendant stood up; and Puhi-huia asked, “Are you the man who was deaf to the orders of your lord?”page 150
He answered, “Yes.”
Puhi-huia asked, “What was considered by Wahine-iti (little woman) as the most requisite accompaniment of food in life?”
He answered, “Water.”
She asked, “What causes thirst?”
He said, “Food.”
She said, “Yes; but industry is also another cause. And it is by your conduct that I am now here. You were deaf to the commands and requests of your lord for water, and I had to go and fetch water for your lord, and by that act of mine in fetching water for Ponga I discovered his love for me and mine for him; so that any evil which may come on us will be a consequence of your act, and if we are killed it will be on account of ‘the delicious morsel of Wahine-iti’ (water). It is for you to distribute the food that has been allotted to me and in my name.”
The attendant went and stood before the food which had been named for Puhi-huia,' and called and said, “This food is for Ponga. This food is for the many young chiefs who paddled to visit Mount Eden.” Not a voice had been heard from the listening crowd while the food had been apportioned out to the various tribes and people; but when the slave-attendant of Ponga proclaimed that part of the heap apportioned to Puhi-huia should be given to the young chiefs who had visited Mount Eden, the silence was broken and a loud chorus of voices said, “Right, right!’ you have acted nobly. Give the food intended for Ponga to his friends who went with him to Mount Eden. They all helped to bring the noble-born to our home. You have done nobly.”
The young people who had attended Ponga on his visit to Mount Eden, men, women, chiefs, and attendants, rose and took the portion allotted to them, and spread it out on the marae before Puhi-huia and Ponga, and ate together in their presence; but the few seniors of the party sat in silence, whilst the others talked and laughed and enjoyed themselves. The silent ones were jealous of Ponga, who had not only been allowed to sit page 151 next to Puhi-huia, but she was to be his wife.
It was now dusk, and most of the people had gone to the whare-matoro (the house where visitors are entertained), where they sat and talked over many subjects. At last one said, “What shall we do with the canoe on the beach?”
The answer was, “Let us go and drag her up high and dry.” The tide was high, and an old man out on the courtyard called and said, “Let us all go and drag the canoe up.” A crowd went, and soon the canoe was far up out of the influence of the tide.
When the canoe-draggers had returned, the old chief who had led Puhi-huia up to the pa called and said, “Let us meet in the visitors’ house;” and when the kapara (dry splinters of koroi) torches had been lit in the house, and all the people had assembled, the old chief said, “What must be our policy? The pipiwharau-roa (Chrysococcyx lucidus,) has come to our home, and is singing, ‘Shine, shine to life;’ but who can say, who can predict, that it is life? Perhaps the young men of Mount Eden are now roused to anger, and by to-morrow may stand in our presence; and no doubt they have every reason to be jealous, as the noble-born has come to live with us. This is the only time we shall be able to hold a council.”
One rose and said, “Was it I who went and dragged the granddaughter of Hotu-nui to this place, that I should stand in dread of the weapons of those young men? Let them come with their weapons.”
Another said, “She has come here of her own accord: then let her harvest our crop [lead us in battle].”
The young chief to whom the father of Puhi-huia had given his mere said, “Here is Kaho-tea (d), the weapon of the father of Puhi-huia, who gave it to me to bind firmly the terms of peace now subsisting between them and you, my grandfathers: but Ponga did not heed this token; he ignored it by acting treacherously to me, and stole the daughter from her parents and brought her here — she who was the most noble of that pa [Mount Eden]. I do not make any account of the war-party page 152 who will be sent by the Mount Eden people to attack us; I am only one of many, and I have but one weapon. If the evil had originated with me, it would have been incumbent on me to take part; but, as it has come on us by the act of a distant one [one of low rank], why should I be killed for naught?”
One of the young chiefs who had visited Mount Eden rose and said, “When I and my friends sleep in a whare-puni, and one of us is visited by a god and is infected by him with a disease, he is not the only one who is infected, but all in the house suffer from the same affection. Even so, in regard to the young woman who, it is said, was invited and brought here by Ponga: if Ponga is blamed for an evil act, all we who paid a visit to Mount Eden must be implicated in such blame.”
The people held a meeting for a considerable time that night. Some of the speakers approved and others condemned the acts of Ponga. When all the old people had spoken, Puhi-huia rose from the side of Ponga, next to whom she was sitting, and said, “My ancestors and fathers, why take such notice of me, who am of low birth? As the power is yours, you have the right to speak. The evil of which you speak (my having left my home and come to live with you and to take Ponga as my husband) did not originate with Ponga, but you were the cause of my taking the action I have taken. You allowed Ponga to visit the pa of my parents. Why did you not see the comeliness and noble bearing of Ponga, and keep him here with you, and allow any of the other noble young chiefs of your tribe to visit my people? If such had asked me to come back with them, and live with you, I should not have hesitated to answer them at once and say, ‘I will not go with you.’ They are of high birth; and what am I? Why should not I charge you with the cause of the evil of which you blame Ponga? I blame you for entrapping me: that is, you allowed the most noble-looking one of the Nga-ti-kahu-koka Tribe to come into my presence, and my heart approved of his noble appearance, and I accompanied him to this place.page 153
He was not the originator of my action, nor did he utter one word of advice or order; I alone had the thought and acted on it, and I am here. This evil is of your origination. You ought to have kept Ponga in this district, where he could have taken a daughter of this people; but as you held him up to my gaze I loved him, and shall take him as my husband. Am I the first and only woman who ever selected her husband, and, at all consequences, took him as her own? I approve of what most of you have said; and, though I am a woman, if to-morrow the war-party of which you speak rush into this pa I will grimace at them; and though I am but one, and though Ponga is but one, and you sit still and keep silence, what then! do you think I shall return to my home? No, no. This is my adhering to Ponga, even to the world of spirits.”
The head chief of the tribe rose and said, “It is right, O tribe! you have spoken; and if I and my daughter are killed it will be well. Who can order otherwise if you all turn away from us two, and leave us as food for the weapons of the Nga-iwi Tribe of Mount Eden? Yes; go, depart to Wai-uku.”
Thus ended the conference that night. And, as was the custom, no one might speak after the supreme chief had spoken. Those assembled dispersed to their individual places of rest; and as they departed some of the tribe were heard to say, “The words of our lord are just. If the young woman likes Ponga, let us support her in her determination; and, if war does follow, be brave.”
It was now grey dawn. Each warrior, bound round with his war-belt, took his weapon, and sat in the pa in silence, as each knew the meaning of the words of their lord and leader when he said, “If I and my daughter are killed, who can order otherwise?” All knew the significance of these words. He meant that he would not allow Puhi-huia to be compelled to do that which she determined should not be done, and if a war-party came to take her away he would not allow her to be taken, and the Nga-ti-kahu-koka should be brave to keep her.page 154
Not one of the tribe sat in silence or inactive; but when the morning repast had been partaken of they all sat in the pa, looking up eastward over the Manuka waters. The sun had scarcely gained the meridian when a canoe with a full crew was seen coming towards Tipi-tai. passing close to the shore of Paru-roa (Big Muddy Creek). It came on to Pu-ponga, and crossed the river towards Tipi-tai. All on board were now seen.
The Awhitu people sat silently in their pa. The gates of the pa were closed and tied, whilst the old and tried braves sat, unseen by the coming enemy, on the outside of their stockade. When the canoe had got near to the beach below the pa, Puhi-huia rose and went down towards the beach; and when seen by those in the canoe she called to them and said, “Cease to paddle towards me; stay where you are.” Then she asked, “Who is to support you? You have come as the advance-guard: who will support you?”
Those in the canoe answered, “All our tribe are paddling in our rear.”
Puhi-huia said, “And what is the object of their coming here?”
Those in the canoe said, “That you return to your home.”
Puhi-huia said, “Return; go back and tell them if they come they shall only see me as you now look at me, but I will not return alive. Do not send the people to the world of spirits [do not cause war], but let mine be the only death. My husband Ponga and his tribe will not sit in silence, but will speak. Go back and say to my ancestors and fathers they are one branch of the family of the same ancestor as is this tribe. I have found for myself that which I like, and shall hold to it even to the dark world. I am not yet the wife of Ponga, but if my parents and people like to visit this pa when the moon is full my husband will prepare a feast for you. But if my parents come guided by the god of war I shall not blame myself for such act, and they shall not see me alive. I will meet them in the world of spirits.”page 155
She ascended to the pa, and was observed by all in the canoe. When she was lost to the view the canoe was turned, and as soon as the prow pointed up the Manuka water they paddled away and went back, crossed to Pu-ponga, and paddled on to One-hunga.
As Puhi-huia was speaking with those in the canoe, the people in the pa heard all she said; and when she spoke of her constant affection for Ponga the women in the pa exclaimed, “Even so! such is the constancy of the noble-born: she will not act in a trifling manner; she will even go to the world of spirits rather than leave him she loves. Even so do the noble-born act: such hearts are never fickle: even as the brave hearts of her ancestors in battle, so is the heart of the noble-born daughters in love.”
The people sat in silence, and Puhi-huia went and sat down next to Ponga.
Those in the canoe returned to Mount Eden and delivered the message given by Puhi-huia to her tribe. The tribe heard it in silence; but when night came they all assembled in the house where strangers were entertained. When the kapara (the resinous splints of kahikatea — Podocarpus dacrydioides— wood) were lighted, all the young chiefs of high birth sat in a body at one end of the house, where they held a long conference, while the others in the house sat in silence. One of the young chiefs gave a loud cough, which attracted the gaze of all present. He rose and said, “My ancestors and parents, my word may not be the word of wisdom, but that which my hand has cultivated must be left to me. I have for many years nurtured that to which my heart was inclined; but when my valued property had come into the full growth of summer and the bloom of admiration from all was seen on that valued property, then my younger and junior in rank came and took it away. Why should I not feel anger? You old people have seen and felt the joys of life and its power: allow us young people to enjoy the same. Now, allow us to go and take by force our most valued one.” He sat down.page 156
And another young chief rose and said, “I have noticed the flocks of kaka (Nestor productus) which are caught on the hills near Wai-uku. With some flocks there is a red kaka, in others there is not one. I am one of our tribe who accompanied the members of the Nga-ti-kahu-koka Tribe in those kaka-killing expeditions; and I was one who went and sat on the hills to wait the arrival of the flocks of kaka, and I have seen the arrival of the first flock from the north, and have seen it light on the hills there. I have seen a red bird in some flocks, and not in others; but when the flock that first arrived takes its flight and flies away south towards Kawhia, the red kaka that came with it stays behind, but when the second flock takes its departure the red bird of the first flock accompanies it. The ancestor of the Nga-iwi Tribe is the one from which Nga-ti-kahu-koka take their origin; and there was but one noble woman of birth, and noble in appearance, at Mount Eden, but she is now living at Awhitu. Then is it wrong for the red kaka of this flock to fly with that flock? I have seen that which is alluded to by the last speaker. You propose that Puhi-huia should return to her home: she will not agree to that, nor will she agree to act as proposed by our elders. If Puhi-huia determines to act, she will do as she says, and if you go to fetch her she will not come while she is in life. In speaking about the dead, I am not a warrior, I am but a child fed from the breast, but I say what I have spoken is the right line of action to take.”
Puhi-huia had her female attendants whilst she lived at Mount Eden. She was a betrothed woman, and, as such, had her attendants. One of her late attendants, who was also of noble birth, rose, and said, “I am one who was an attendant on Puhi-huia, and I know what she said. I dispute what the last two speakers have said about her. They two dared not speak to her, my lord. One of our young chiefs did dare to speak to her, but she would not listen to him—no, not in the least. All we her attendants have joked with her, and said she could have page 157 any young chief she chose of our tribe. The young chiefs of Hau-raki (the Thames) have proposed to her, but she would not listen to what they said. She is a most determined young woman, and if she determines on any line of action nothing will deter her from her purpose. She will not come back to us and leave Ponga.”
The meeting was continued all night, even to dawn of the following day; nor did one adult of all the tribe sit silent—all spoke on the point in discussion. Most of those who spoke were against any attempt being made to bring Puhi-huia back to Mount Eden, and urged that the tribe should go and partake of the marriage feast offered. But there were also many who advised them to attack the pa at Tipi-tai, and take Puhi-huia and forcibly bring her back to her home.
When day had dawned, the mother of Puhi-huia rose and said, “The mind that swayed and the acts which were performed by her progenitors will be followed and repeated by Puhi-huia. I am a descendant of Hotu-nui. I was not the one to whom my tribe said, ‘O daughter! such an one must be your husband.’ There were many young chiefs to whom my ancestors and parents directed my attention, but I did not like any of them. My lord with whom I live was the one of my own seeking and choice. I did not give a feast when we took each other; I defied all my brothers. They had proposed that I should accept as my husband a man of their choice, but I would not take the one of their choice. I am now living with the husband of my own selection. I lived at Taka-puna [Mount Victoria, the flagstaff hill at the North Head of Auckland]. The one I loved was of the people who lived at Raro-tonga (Mount Smart). I am now speaking of the time when the Mount Eden people and those of Awhitu were at war. We crossed over from our pa at Taka-puna to this pa at Mount Eden, and went on a shark-fishing expedition on the Manuka waters, and met the people of Raro-tonga proceeding to the fishing-grounds for the same object. At that time my beloved was a mere lad, and had been living in page 158 Wai-kato with his grandparents for some time, and had just returned to his home; he had just been tattooed. When I saw him my heart was bewildered by him. We paddled to the fishing-grounds, and were attacked by our enemies, the Nga-ti-kahu-koka. We fought a battle. How brave was the one I loved! I saw the acts of his power, and was more than ever in love with him. My spirit was dead to all other objects. We met and smiled each to the other, and conversed with and liked each other. I came to this Mount Eden Pa, and lived here where he abode. On the night of the day on which we arrived here I went out to the courtyard of this pa, and called aloud to all the people and said, ‘I will not hide the secret. I will have my husband. I found him at Pu-ponga. And here in this pa I will take him as my husband. He is from Raro-tonga, and I am from Taka-puna. All the people can understand what I mean.’ And I took my husband. As I had proclaimed aloud to these my ancestors what I intended to do, I had complied with all that ancient custom demanded of me. When the people of Taka-puna and Raro-tonga heard what I had done, and I had not given the customary pa-kuha (d) feast, they were enraged with me, and those of Taka-puna came with a war-party and rushed into this pa, but they found it deserted. All the people had left; some to gather cockles at One-hunga, others to fish in the Manuka waters, others to spear and trap birds at Titi-rangi, and others to collect mussels on the sea-coast. These from Taka-puna found a few old decrepid people here, but the war-party plundered the kumara storehouses, and took the dried fern-root from the stages on which it was kept; they also took the eel-baskets, and the nets in which to catch the kanae (mullet). As these were leaving this pa they were met by the people of Raro-tonga, who came to attack this pa and for the same reason; but there was not anything left for them to take. They talked and uttered threats and war speeches to the decrepid old people, and went home. I and my lord lived together; and now that page 159 Puhi-huia has acted for herself I cannot wonder that she has followed my example. She will do as she has said. We are told she has spoken thus: If we go and attempt to take her by force, we shall see her but one day in life, and we shall not see her after till we meet her in the world of spirits. She will do as she says: there is not any power that can command her.”
The mother of the young chief who spoke first at the opening of the meeting now rose and said, “Yes, the words of Puhi-huia's mother are true; but the young chiefs of the pa are stupid. Puhi-huia has ever been with us, and not one of our young men dared to go into her presence or speak to her. Yes, ye are the veriest cowards, void of daring. Do you think that you who have bare, untattooed faces will ever gain a wife? Why is it that Ponga is said to be a very noble-looking man? He is tattooed, and he looks grand. Yes, it is quite right that you should lose your noble young woman.”
Others spoke; but the young people all agreed that, as Puhi-huia had found one to her own liking, she should be allowed to take him, and the tribe should submit to her choice.
When the morning repast had been eaten, and before any of the people had gone to their daily labour, an old priest stood up and said, “How infatuated this people is! We are invited by Puhi-huia to a feast: then why do we wait? Are we all of those who cannot eat shark with the savoury kumara in summer? And do you not feel a longing to smell the savoury scent of the shark's flesh permeating your breath? I say, send a messenger to Puhi-huia and say, ‘When the moon is full we will be at Awhitu, according to your invitation.”’
All the people agreed to the proposal thus made; but the mother of Puhi-huia said, “I and my war-party will start for Awhitu.” She went to her house and took her most valuable garments, gourds of oil, down of the albatross, tail-feathers of the huia (Neomorpha gouldii) bird, and garments made of the page 160 kiwi (Apteryx) feathers, and all that was esteemed valuable in those days, and put them into a basket, and, calling to one of her attendant females, told her to carry them on her back. Then she went to the gate of the pa, and called, “O daughters! O women! this is our day. To Awhitu, to Awhitu! And you, O men! you will not be able to act, as my war-party of women will do.” When she had uttered these words the women of the pa crowded around her, the aged and mothers and girls — sixty in all— who passed through the gate of the pa and went towards One-hunga. Launching a canoe, they paddled away down the harbour to Awhitu. Not a word was spoken or a song chanted to keep time for the paddlers. On and on they went till they had gained the mid-channel between Pu-ponga and the Awhitu shore. It was a calm day. The mother of Puhi-huia stood up in the stern of the canoe, where she had been sitting and steering the canoe, and, in a loud and clear voice, called to the people of Awhitu Pa, and said, “O ye in that pa! ye who are in the pa at Awhitu! put your war-mats on, put them round you, and tighten them with your war-belt; take your war-weapons in your hand: I, the enemy, am here.”
Puhi-huia rose, and, calling to those in the canoe, said, “Paddle your canoe towards me. I and my loved are here.”
She held a taiaha in her hand, which was an heirloom of the ancestors of Ponga, and had been handed down from past generations, and was ornamented with red feathers.
The canoe was now as though lying at anchor, while not one of the people in the pa had been seen, nor had any come outside; but they were looking out from between the rails of the stockade, and watching Puhi-huia and those in the canoe. All in the pa were silent. A short time after Puhi-huia had uttered her command to those in the canoe, her mother called from the canoe, and said to the occupants of the pa, “Come out of your stockade. Why did you rob me of my daughter? What property have I of yours, that you should presume to take my precious greenstone to wear on your breast? Come outside, that we may fight our battle.”
Those in the pa kept perfect silence; but if the words spoken by the mother of Puhi-huia had been uttered to them by a man they would with alacrity have accepted the challenge. The Nga-ti-kahu-koka would not dare to battle with a female of supreme rank of the Nga-iwi, of the Mount Eden Tribe: hence those in the pa were silent, and did not appear outside of their stockade.page 162
Puhi-huia again spoke, and said, “I have told you before that you and I shall not meet in life, but, if you persist in your determination, we shall meet in Paerau (abode of spirits). Do you persist? Why do you dare to blame the Nga-ti-kahu-koka Tribe, when I, the sole cause of your anger, am here? Keep in your canoe, but let your female friends come on shore that I-may do battle with them, and, if they kill me, then take my body home in your canoe; but, if I conquer your female attendants, then you can go home weeping. I will not be taken home alive by you, but live with the one I love.” Some of those in the canoe took their upper garments off and tied their inner garments tight to them with their belts, jumped out of the canoe, and swam to the shore. These were all single young women. Each took a war-weapon in her hand, such as a taiaha, waha-ika, mere-pounamu, mere-paraoa, tao-poto, meremere, or other weapon used in those days. These proceedings were in silence watched by those the pa. Those who swam from the canoe went up to the foot of the cliff and sat in a line; and Puhi-huia and Ponga came down from the peak on which they had been sitting to the beach, where Ponga sat down: but Puhi-hui said, “Follow me, and see me die.” They went on till near to the line of women who were awaiting the coming of Puhi-huia. She stood still when at a little distance from them, and took her outer garments off, and threw them on the sandy beach, but kept her inner maro (apron), made of the karetu grass, bound round her waist with a belt, and held her taiaha in her hand. She said, “Here I am, the person for whom you have come here.” A young woman, holding in her hand a whalebone mere, rose and came towards Puhi-huia, and with her weapon made a blow at the head of Puhi-huia. Puhi-huia parried the blow, and with the tongue-end of her taiaha she dealt a blow at her antagonist in the pit of the stomach, which made her bow double and sit down. Puhi-huia said, “Another of you stand forth to meet me.” One with a short spear came up to Puhi-huia and made a thrust at her: Puhi-huia parried the thrust, and dealt a page 163 heavy blow on the girl's shoulder, which took the power from her arm. She sat down. Again Puhi-huia was confronted by one who had a waha-ika in her hand, who made a blow at Puhi-huia. She parried it; but the weapon had hit the lower fringe of the maro on Puhi-huia. This being observed by the young women who had swum on shore, they gave a loud shout of joy. Again the young woman made a blow at Puhi-huia, who parried it, and with the tongue-end of her taiaha she dealt a severe thrust at the pit of the stomach of her antagonist, which stretched her on the sand. Once more another young woman stood before Puhi-huia with a greenstone mere in her hand; but the mere had not the band by which it could be held tight and kept in the grasp of the person using it, and was also a newly-made weapon, which had not been used in war. She who had it grimaced and glared with her eyes as she stood before Puhi-huia. She made a blow with it at the head of Puhi-huia, who, with a left-handed parry with her taiaha, dealt a severe blow on the hand that held the mere-pounamu, and caused it to fly from the grasp of the hand that wielded it far in the air, and light some distance away on the sand. She who had held the weapon sat down.
Ponga had all this time sat on the opposite side of Puhi-huia to that occupied by Puhi-huia's antagonists, with his mat over his head. All that had taken place was witnessed by those in the pa and those in the canoe. When the greenstone mere had by the blow of Puhi-huia been hurled from the hand of her antagonist the mother of Puhi-huia stood up in the canoe and called to her daughter, and said, “O young woman! cease now; you have beaten all those. Come back with me to your father.”
Puhi-huia said, “Will Kupe return?” [when once on an expedition of war or discovery, such enterprise will not be given up till all that is sought has been obtained]. The mother said, “O ye in the pa, who have kept silence, by which path shall I come? How shall I gain a place on to the marae (courtyard) of your pa?”page 164
The old chief who had led Puhi-huia into his pa came out, and called, “Come! welcome. I will make a path for you. I will open a road for you by taking down some of the railings of my stockade. If you come by the authority of Tu, the god of war, you must dare and make a road for yourself; but if you come by the authority of Tahu, the god of peace and plenty, I will make a path for you and open a road for you over the ditch of my stockade.”
Again the mother spoke, and asked, “Have you seen the bravery of your granddaughter? Her ancestors were gods in war; and has she not inherited that power, the power which was exemplified in her acts now seen by you? And even if the god of peace and plenty is her guide, nothing of what she determines is unaccomplished. She is not to be overcome. If she says she will act, she will accomplish her purpose. Stay here. I will return to my people, and when the moon is full I and my people will be here to partake of the pa-kuwha feast given when she takes Ponga as her husband.”
Puhi-huia was standing all this time listening to what her mother was saying; but so soon as her mother had ceased to speak she went and rubbed noses with the young women who had been beaten by her, and then with the others; then she waved her hand to Ponga and said, “Let us go to the pa; you follow as my rear guard.” The canoe landed, and the young women embarked and left again, and proceeded on their journey back to Mount Eden.
The Awhitu people now began to catch fish, and dig fern and convolvulus roots, which they dried and put into storehouses and on stages. Then they fished for shark, and hung them to dry on long poles, one above another, and speared pigeons and preserved them in their own fat; collected cockles and cooked and dried them; cut and cooked the fronds of the korau (Cyathea medullaris); and collected the bulb of the stem of the leaf of the paraa (Marattia salicina), which was cooked for a long time page 165 and put in store; and collected the paua (Haliotis), which were cooked and dried.
A day or two before the moon was full a messenger was sent to invite the Mount Eden people to the feast which was ready. In delivering his message he said, “On the day following tomorrow the feast will be laid on the marae.”
On the appointed day the Mount Eden people left One-hunga in their canoes—all came save the most decrepid old men and women; and when near the landing-place at Tipi-tai all the Awhitu people rose and waved their garments to welcome the coming visitors.
Some of the Awhitu men and women went down from the pa to the beach below, clothed as those who are going into battle, with only a maro (apron) tied round their waists. There they waited for the crews of the canoes to land, at whom they threw fern-stalks, and ran back towards the pa, and were followed at full speed by the best runners of the Mount Eden people. As soon as those they were pursuing (who had not been overtaken) were in the midst of their own people, these the Awhitu tribes, danced their war-dance. Meanwhile the guests had all followed up, and were now drawn up in war array, kneeling on one knee, looking at their hosts. So soon as the Awhitu people had danced their war-dance, the visitors followed with one of their own; and then all, hosts and visitors, joined in one great dance, and were then led by the Awhitu people, waving their garments. The Mount Eden tribes followed into the pa and sat down on the marae (courtyard).
The visitors had not been there long when an Awhitu chief rose and made a speech of welcome, and was followed by a Mount Eden chief. Then the food-bearers entered the pa with the various edibles for the feast, and laid them down in a long heap. A chief of high rank of the Awhitu people, with a rod in his hand, stepped up to the heap of food and struck it, saying, “The food, the food for all the tribes of Nga-iwi in all their boundaries.” The father of Puhi-huia rose, and with a rod struck one end of the heap of food, and said, “The food, the food for all page 166 the Nga-ti-kahu-koka Tribe:” then each tribe for whom the feast was intended took their own portion and ate it.
When the feast had been eaten the head chief of Awhitu rose, went up to a heap of those things which were considered of value in those days—huia feathers, feathers and down of the albatross, kaitaka mats, greenstone, and every other precious article — and with a rod slightly struck them, saying in a loud voice, “These valuables, these valuables are for our ancestors who have gone to the world of spirits. These valuables, these valuables are for the priests and chiefs, and for the father and parents of my daughter Puhi-huia.” Having said this, he went and sat down. This heap of valuables was left in the marae till evening, when the attendants of Puhi-huia distributed them amongst the Mount Eden people.
The Mount Eden people were now seen approaching the front gate of the pa. Ascending from the beach they brought into the pa and laid in a heap dried hapuku (cod-fish), dried tawatawa (mackerel) and eels, preserved kiwi (Apteryx), and cooked Maori dog and rats and preserved pigeons, and kaka (Nestor productus), and preserved kuaka (snipe). These were piled into one heap. Then a heap was also made of garments and weapons of war; another of the pulp of the hinau (Eleocarpus dentatus) berry, made into bread, and the pollen of the raupo (Typha angustifolia) made also into bread. When the last of the tribe had added his contributions to these heaps the father of Puhi-huia rose, and with a staff in his hand went to the heaps and touched them with the staff, and said, “Hearken, O world of darkness! and hearken, O world of light! Here are valuables for you, O ye gods, and ye ancients, and ye descendants of Hotu-nui—here is property for you; and you, my child— here is your property; and as you have left me I sorrow for you, I weep for you, but, O my most valuable property, as you must leave me, go, oh, go! If you had gone to death all would have been lost with you; but as this is but another canoe of your ancestors page 167 [the Awhitu people are of our own family], and as we are a canoe of the same, then go, yes, go [and leave me].”
Puhi-huia rose, and stood where she had been sitting at the side of Ponga, and said, “O my grandparents! welcome. Come and see the one who ran away from you. Is the evil mine ? Did I determine that Tiki should be a man [of the male sex], or did I determine that Kau-ataata should be a woman [or of the female sex]? No; but this was done by the gods who have been referred to in your speech just made. Those gods are your progenitors; and now that I am of age is it wrong if I follow in the steps of Kau-ataata? She is your progenitor, and from her you take your sacredness, and receive the gods who preside over you. She took the one of her own choice as her husband; and hence you have come into life. I have done wrong, and your female ancestor did wrong also. If she had lived alone and had kept single all her life not any of you would have seen the light of this world; and if you had come into this world, but, being here, had not taken wives or husbands, I should not have been here. The evil is not mine: it is your evil [that led me to leave my home and take the one I love]. When you saw the one you loved you recklessly followed such, and, as you opened the path to such acts, I followed on in your footprints. This wrong of my having left you is of your own acts. The evil is not of my planning. It is good that you come to partake of our feast. Now I say, my husband, yes, my husband is Ponga.”
The feast was given and accepted, and the food was eaten. It was now night, and all the people of Awhitu and Mount Eden joined in the games of those ancient days, the haka (d) and kanikani (d); and on the following morning the Mount Eden people left Awhitu for their home.
Puhi-huia had a son, who was a tau-tahi (the only child, without one before or after him). When he was a big boy, nearly of the age when he could take part in war and be tattooed, the news was received that some of the Nga-ti-kahu-koka, who had page 168 gone to Wai-tara to buy garments in exchange for some of their own local produce, had been murdered and eaten.
A war-party of the Nga-ti-kahu-koka was called together to go and take revenge for the murder of their friends. One hundred warriors collected at Wai-uku. These went by the west coast, by Karoro-uma-nui (sea-gull of the big breast); but fifty, who went by way of Wai-kato, left their home at Awhitu, and went up the Wai-kato River to obtain another fifty of their warriors who were living with the Upper Wai-kato tribe. With these Ponga joined in the expedition. The hundred who went by the west coast killed some people at Puke-aruhe (hill of the fern-root), and, after killing many more in that district, returned home. But the hundred who went by the Wai-kato went on to Mokau (untattooed) and Maro-kopa (the apron doubled up), where all tidings of them were lost; and after the west-coast party had been at home for a considerable time all hope was lost of the Wai-kato party. The son of Ponga was now a young man. He and his mother determined to search for their lord (Ponga). They went up the Wai-kato River, then on to Mokau, where they stayed some time, and returned to Kawhia, where they stayed for some time, and then went up the Kawhia River, where they were seen on the mountains of that district by a pigeon-spearing expedition, who tried to persuade them to give up the search for Ponga and return with them to the settlement. All attempts to induce them to accompany them home were vain. From that time to this Puhi-huia and her son have not been seen or heard of, nor have any tidings of Ponga been heard to the present day. He was lost, and is still lost.
This is the song of lament which Puhi-huia sang for Ponga:—
How grand the mountain Piki-horo looks!
How shall I weep, and tell my sorrow
For thee, O Ponga! Oh, let me onward pass.
I now have death on me,
And feel a dread and blackness
Resting on my widowed bed,
And she added as a recitative this portion of her lament: —
See here the cliff
O'er which I'll throw myself,
And then, O home!
I shall be lost to thee,
And to thee, sacred Uru-harakeke,
And also to him who my more than parent was.
She was not heard of more, so went to the world of spirits.