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

Chapter VI

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Chapter VI.

I delight in the tide of war,
In the spirit of the right-handed man.
The fame of Koti is heard o'er the plain;
And Koti is the forest warrior,
In forest where the stupid heart
Is wearied, in him of idiot brain.
But come, O my beloved!
And we will go to tribes still great,
And shudder o'er the graves
Where signs and tokens show
The resting-place of many sons,
That we may see the fate of crowds
Whose death shall in a future battle be,
And feel our hearts loud throb with joy.

The Forts Of Tu-Raunga-Tao Taken.

This is the account of the war in which the forts of Tu-raunga-tao were taken, and also of the death [killing] of his tribe, by Waenganui (middle) and his younger brother Kaha-wha-to (power on the point of subsiding). This war had its origin with Hape (crooked foot) and Haua (stupid), who took possession of the land, and degraded the people who owned it, from Pakarau (scorched leaf) to Matamata (point), and on to Wai-hou (burrowing water). Hape and Haua continued to war against Tu-raunga-tao for two years, but did not conquer him in that time, though his fort was in front of all the pas in the district, which pas were seventy in number; and this was the proverb repeated in regard to the forts in the district of Tu-raunga-tao, “The warmth is felt in Paka-rau.” This was said on account of the multitude of men in Paka-rau, by whom it could be held page 86 against an enemy. When Hape and Haua had failed, and were weary of the war against Tu-raunga-tao, they asked their nephews to come and make war against Tu-raunga-tao; so Waenganui and Kaha-wha-to came with seventy men twice told of their tribe to Pi-ako-iti (little young bird taught) Creek, in which was a great boulder. Looking at this, Hape and Haua said to their nephews and men “If you can lift that boulder out of the creek, and put it on the hill on the bank of the creek Pi-ako-iti, then you will be able to take all these forts.” Kaha-wha-to made an altar and chanted his incantations. When he had performed these, the seventy men twice told assembled and stood round that boulder, and Kaha-wha-to went and stood on the boulder, and told them to hold the boulder with their hands. He then chanted his incantations, and the stone began to move. The men carried it, and put it on the little hill, where it is to be seen to this day. It was called by the name “The lifted stone.” At dawn of the following day the pa of Tu-raunga-tao was attacked and taken. The inhabitants fled to the next pa, where they were again attacked, and again fled; but Tu-raunga-tao now fled past all the pas, and, having been seen by those in them, they called to him and asked, “O Tu-raunga-tao! how does the pain feel?” He answered, “Wait a short time [You will soon know what pain is like],” and fled past all the forts. As he was passing the last forts the people in them, calling to him, asked, “O Tu-raunga-tao! how shall the children act [escape]?” He answered by saying, “It is of no consequence, it does not matter [if they are all killed]. There are plenty of children to be got from where children are obtained; the tide of the circumcision is still on the flood.” The people saw him still flee, and they followed. When they had arrived at the Wai-hou River the people inquired of him, “Tu-raunga-tao, how shall we cross this river?” He answered, “There are its places of weariness [places where it is narrow, and the water is not deep].” They crossed over a narrow part, and he and his tribe page 87 escaped. His descendants became part of the Nga-ti-hau Tribe; but this defeat of Tu-raunga-tao has not been avenged even to this day.

We will now give an account of the proverb respecting Te-tipi (teach the art of using the weapons of war) and all the evil [death] which befell the tribes then residing on the west sea-coast as far as Mokau (not tattooed) and Wai-tara (the stream where sacred ceremonies were performed and sacred songs chanted), and those on to the Nga-ti-rua-nui, and on to Kapiti (gorge) and to Roto-rua (two lakes), and to the centre of this land. We will state the cause of death to very very many of the tribes that lived on the west coast, and in the south, and in the east. One hundred priests failed in their ceremonies and chants to bring death on the tribes which we have mentioned, and the whole matter was put into the hands of Te-tipi and his son Inu-wai (drink water). These two went to their altar, and chanted the sacred incantation called Hira-mai (crowds come), which is this:—

Come, crowds of seers of second sight,
Come from the heavens, from the lightning of heaven,
Even like the great and like the long, long cloud.
Put forth thy power, O cloud!
‘Tis Hau, and Tane, ancient lord,
And Kuku, and Wawai, and Kawitiwiti,
Katoatoa and Tawhito-uru-ngangana,
And Hiwa, Hiwa-nui, Hiwa-roa, Hiwa-pukenga,
And Hiwa-wananga, with Takataka.
As the garment of heaven, so is the
Coming-forth of Pou to the world of light,
To the world of constant day.
Perform the baptismal ceremony;
Perform it on the sky and on the earth,
O Heaven! there is the baptism performed—
The baptism of Hira-mai.
Let the tree be at Whanga-mata
And at Puhanga-mata,
And the spittle of my mouth shall drop
On you. Can you be sacred, so that
I may not eat your head?

Then all those tribes were put under the influence of the ceremonies and incantations performed and chanted at the page 88 altar, and a great log was brought into the midst of the marae (courtyard) and put in front of the altar, and the stalks of ferns were also brought there, over which the old man Te-tipi chanted incantations to give power to these fern-stalks, and then he commenced to perform his ceremonies; at which time, and while he was performing his part, the fern-stalks began to dig down into the ground, and presently came up on the opposite side of the log to that at which Te-tipi had laid them. This act of the fern-stalks is called niu; and all the priests saw the godly power of Te-tipi and his son which had been exerted at their altar, and which was manifested by the fern-stalks in going under ground from one side of the log of wood to the other.

The fort at which all these great priests assembled was the pa of Te-tipi and his son Inu-wai, which was called Te-aitu (disease). When the act of chanting Hira-mai had been performed, Te-inu-wai, who was the leading priest in all the ceremonies, took with him the offering made to the gods, and called on all the tribes to take their offerings and bring them to the spot where the curse of death should be pronounced over the tribes they intended to attack. Then fifty warriors twice told assembled, and only the strong and nimble went on a war-expedition; the aged and the fathers remained at home with the women and children. This war-party commenced their journey from the west coast, and went southward towards Taranaki, and on to the Nga-ti-rua-nui, Whanga-nui (great harbour), and Rangi-tikei (day of striding away). Turning, they went towards the Ahu-o-turanga (the swelling of Turanga), then on to Ahu-riri (fence to deaden the force of wind or flood), and to Titi-o-kura (the red mutton-bird), and to Taupo (lay at anchor at night); thence on to Roto-rua; from whence they returned to Maunga-tautari, where all the people of Wai-kato had assembled at Hinga-kaka (fall of the red-hot).

As they were travelling on this journey, the tribes, their enemies, followed them, but, instead of giving them battle, page 89 treated the travelling priests as a master would treat his dog—they fed them. When they had all got to Hinga-kaka, near to the lakes at Manga-piko (crooked branch of a creek), near Pa-te-rangi (pa of heaven), close to where the township of Alexandra now is, the travelling priests were quite ragged, and by the time they had got to where the Wai-kato people had assembled, all their mats such as kai-taka, neko, koroai [korowai], tutata, tuputupu, topuni, huru, and all the garments worn by chiefs were ragged; so that all the garments in which they returned were the koka and pake. These were made of grasses, and also of kiekie (Freycinetia banksii), which grows in the forest, the leaves of which, when they had faded and had become dry, were woven by these people into garments. The food on which they subsisted while on this journey was the cooked fruit of the tawa (Nesodaphne tawa), the pulp which covers the hinau (Elœcarpus dentatus) berry, fern-root, and the roots of the convolvulus, as they travelled all round the country and performed the sacred ceremonies over all the tribes who had been the special object of their vengeance.

Tipi knew the day on which they would arrive at Hinga-kaka, and ascended his altar, where at dawn of day he could stand and chant his incantations. When the sun had ascended some distance in the sky the body of men under the command of his son arrived. These went at once directly towards the father's altar, that Tipi and another priest called Tiki might perform the sacred ceremonies and chant the incantations over them. This having been done, this body of men were guided by these priests to a stream, where other ceremonies were performed over them, and again they were brought back to the altar, where the most ancient incantations were chanted over them. These warriors now sat in quiet at the settlement; but in the evening ambuscades were placed in certain places, and, also, these warriors were divided into companies and placed, each body in a certain position; then reconnoitring parties were sent out, and a body of the tribe was assembled and was accompanied page 90 by twenty of those men of the tribe who had remained at home. With these twenty men this body now consisted of seventy men twice told, who were all clad without exception in the garments called koka (a very rough mat made of the leaf of the kiekie — Freycinetia banksii—or of the rough leaf of the flax, and only used in winter, in the rainy season). On the following day it was seen that all the tribes were on the move, and were going in the direction of the settlement. The country was covered with people. The body of men clothed in the koka were in the rear of this moving body of people. The chiefs of Wai-kato spoke, and said, “This body of men clothed with the koka shall disperse us.” But that body of men remained silent, and did not utter a word to the great body of the people. When the time of day was not far from noon the body of the people had come near to the ambuscades, and had passed them, and had come to the body of warriors. This coming body of people were attacked by a body of men, and a battle ensued. The Wai-kato and Nga-ti-mania-poto, of about two thousand people, were beaten and fled. The body of koka-clothed warriors were in the rear all this time; but when the battle was most furious, and waged in front of the koka-clothed warriors, these rose and joined in the fray, and beat and drove the multitudes before them, so that when the tribes who had fled at first before the fury of the battle saw that the koka-clothed warriors had driven their enemies before them they took courage and came back and again took part in the fray, and killed all the people of these tribes. And the bones of the slain are now white like the shells on the sea-shore to this day.

In these days each tribe asserts that by its power those great tribes were exterminated; so that what the priest Tiki said at the time to those victorious tribes may be in truth quoted to the tribes of this day who claim the honour of gaining that great battle. Tiki said, “Bind on your war-belt and make it secure, while you are still at Hinga-kaka, before you flee to page 91 save yourself.” And his young relative Inu-wai answered by asking, “Whose child are you that you dare to stand up? Do you not know that these are the offspring of ‘Stop speaking’ and of ‘Stop the words,’ and of ‘Destroying the sacred power of the medium of the gods,’ and when thrashed a squeak is heard, and memory is dead beyond the shades in the god of forests? And who shall take the seat of the Whaka-ihu-waka (boaster)? I will say ‘Some,’ and others say ‘I will.’” The meaning of these words uttered by Inu-wai is this: The term “Whaka-ihu-waka” is used in regard to a man who says, “I am a chief,” and in regard also to the man who says, “I will rule all the tribes;” also in respect to the man who says, “I am a warrior and brave in battle;” also in regard to those who say they are brave and who sit in the bow of a canoe or who go in front of the war-party, so that they may kill the first in battle on the sea or on the shore, and those also who say the warriors are always in front and lead the war-party; and hence such men as these are called Whaka-ihu-waka (self-important boasters).

The names of the chiefs and their people who were clothed in koka garments were Nga-ti-huru-mangiangi (the decendants of the poor dog-skin mat) and Nga-muri-kai-taua (the breeze that helps the war).

These are the generations of the people who attacked Tu-raunga-tao that is, of Waenganui and Kaha-wha-to:—

A black and white diagram of the whakapapa from Kaha-wha-to to the children of Tuhua.

page 92

The Battle Of Nga-Ti-Rau-Kawa With The Nga-Ti-Kopiri-Mau Tribe. (Nga-Ti-Maru.)

A plume of feathers taken from an amo-kura bird (Phaeton rubricauda) is worn by the supreme chiefs, which feathers were very highly prized by our men of old.

This is an account of deeds which took place in regard to some of these plumes in days past in Hau-raki (Thames), up the river near Te-aroha (the love).

The Nga-ti-rau-kawa Tribe went to pay a visit to the Nga-ti-kopiri-mau (the cripple caught), who lived in Hau-raki (the Thames). This visit was to bring back a woman who had run away from the Nga-ti-rau-kawa at Te-aroha.

When the Nga-ti-rau-kawa arrived at their destination the Nga-ti-kopiri-mau held secret councils, in which they debated the question of murdering their guests, the Nga-ti-rau-kawa, and then sent messengers to O-hine-muri (the daughter behind) and all the Hau-raki settlements, asking the people to collect at the settlement of the Nga-ti-kopiri-mau to murder the Nga-ti-rau-kawa.

But the Nga-ti-rau-kawa were aware of these messengers having been sent, and the object of the message they had taken; so the Nga-ti-rau-kawa held a secret meeting to devise some plan by which they should escape the murderous plot laid for them; and they determined to perform the dances called haka and kanikani (certain grimaces in which the bodies of those who play are so contorted and so obscene that the crowd are loud in their applause), so that the Nga-ti-kopiri-mau might have all their attention for a time drawn to those who were performing the haka and kanikani. The Nga-ti-rau-kawa wore their best garments, and put their hair up in a knot on the top of their heads and tied it with the bark of aute (Broussonetia papyrifera), holding it up with a comb. Then they composed some words which they should chant to the games they were about to perform in the haka and kanikani.

When the whole tribe had adorned themselves, according to page 93 agreement they spoke to each other till the marae (courtyard) was a perfect din of noise. When the Nga-ti-kopiri-mau Tribe heard the noise and saw the actions of Nga-ti-rau-kawa as they assembled to haka and kanikani they were filled with delight. All the tribe assembled to see the Nga-ti-rau-kawa perform the haka and kanikani. The Nga-ti-rau-kawa were now ready to perform the haka, to which they were to chant these words:—

Plume of red feathers, plume of red feathers,
Plume of red feathers, plume of the kaka,
Will soar towards Kawhia.
Oh! charge now. Now charge.
Give the strong plaited rope
And powerful omens to enlighten.
A blow, a crash, laid low.

The people of Hau-raki were delighted with the haka of Nga-ti-rau-kawa, and asked them to perform it over again. They complied; but they kept their weapons of war concealed in their garments while they performed the game, and, as the Hau-raki people had intended to murder them, they now intended to let retribution fall on those who proposed the murder: so, when the Nga-ti-rau-kawa, in repeating the haka, came to the words, “A blow, a crash, laid low,” the performers rose to their feet and with their weapons fell on the crowd of listeners. The men of Hau-raki had not any weapons with which to defend themselves, and were all killed. Their women were taken as slaves by the Nga-ti-rau-kawa, and the corpses of the men were thrown into the stream. The Nga-ti-rau-kawa went back to their home. When the relatives of the killed came and saw the corpses floating in the river they had not any spirit or power to pursue the enemy. And in this killing of people the great chief of Hau-raki called Titipa (spin about) was killed.

The Nga-Ti-Koro-Ki and Their Aute Kite.

In the days of old an aute (Broussonetia papyrifera) kite was the medium of communication between the various tribes who page 94 lived at a distance from each other.

The aute kite was made to resemble a man—that is, it was made with a head, body, arms, and legs like a man. The body was made of a frame of kare-ao (Rhipogonum scandens), over which was put the bark of the aute tree.

The kite, when made, was kept till a wind blew from its owners towards the district in which the tribe lived for whom the message was intended.

The kite was then taken and made to fly far up in the sky; then the line that held it was allowed to go, and the kite was blown far away, and alighted at the home of those for whom the message was sent. These, when they had seen the kite, would divine the purport of the message, and the receiving tribe would at once go in a body to the place from which the kite had been sent.

In the days of old the Nga-ti-koroki, of the Wai-kato tribes, put a kite up in the sky, and when it had gone far up the line broke and the kite went in the direction of Here-taunga (Mercury Bay). The owners followed it, and found it at the place now known by the name of Whenua-kite (land seen or discovered). Having found the kite, they gave the place the name it now bears, and the Nga-ti-koroki claim and hold possession of that land to this day.

This kite was followed by this people in the days of Here-turi-koka (bird-spear of the deaf mother) and of Ma-huru (at rest).