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The Ancient History of the Maori, His Mythology and Traditions. Te Arawa [Vol. VII, English]

Chapter I — Tawhaki and Karihi (Nga-i-tahu)

Chapter I
Tawhaki and Karihi (Nga-i-tahu)

Now the coming dawn is seen
On peak of Tau-hara.
Maybe it is my husband
Coming back to me.
But, oh! my only love,
Go with the ancient great-
Go with them all, the
Noble, great, protecting power.
But who, oh! who of all
The gods drove you to death?
Then sleep, beloved, in evil house,
And wear the ornament Kaukau,
That Nga-hue left to us
To speak to thee of love
And kindness in this world.
Then think of all
Thy lengthened life and fame,
And noble, beauteous frame,
And marks of Mata-ora
Drawn in lines on thee,
Admired by all the tribes.
How beautifully are all
The stars arrayed in heaven!
But Tu-tahi-ma-rehua-kai-tangata,
The star that steals away
From company of Mango-roa,
Has left and disappeared,
And thou dost stand
So lonely, like the god
Tanga-roa in the south,
And like the plume
That decks the prow
Of Arawa canoe
Now sitting on the sea,
So gazed at and so loved
By women of the west.
Yes, thou didst cast aside
The potent chants called
And Hira-mai-te-whatu-moana,
With the Paepae-o-te-kotore
Oft used in sacred acts
And god-like deeds of old
By Rongo-mai-te-huia,
Thy noble ancient ancestor.
But now stretch out
Thy arms to darkest spirit-world.
O son of Rangi! thou
Now cease to sleep,
Arise and stand,
And take thy war-weapon,
And tell the world
Thy omens, signs, and
Policy in war. Tell us
Of Kura-takai-puni,
And Toka-tu-moana,
With Tuku-tahi-whakarere;
And speak of Tai-whakaaea,
And Hawa-iki-pepeke,
The charge, and rally,
With the feigned retreat in war.
Oh! thou art now laid low,
And loud thy fame
Is heard in all the sky.

This is another version of the doings of Tawhaki and his elder brother Karii, which were not put into the history of Taki-tumu on a former occasion.

The cause of the journey of Tawhaki and Karihi was to avenge the death of their father, who had been killed by the Aitanga-a-punga (descendants of the sinker), and the woman Hine-nui-te-kawa (daughter of the great baptism). And Karihi took sacred incantations in his memory, and was therefore very sacred; but Tawhaki was not sacred, but was common, that he might do all or any menial acts, but he was learned in all knowledge.

When they commenced their journey Tawhaki had connection with all the females they met. He lived with Akau-roa (long sea-beach), and begat Karoro (sea-gull). He lived with Papa-huri-keke (the side that turns and twists awry), and begat the Koura (crayfish). He lived with Kuku-mawhera (open mussel), and begat the Torea (Hæmatopus unicolor). He lived with Hine-whango (hoarse daughter), and begat the Kuru-patu or Kukuru-atu (sacred plover) and the Meho-tatai (one of the rails).

When they arrived at the home of an old woman called Ruahine-mata-morari (old woman of the blind eyes) they found her counting her food with a fan or weapon in her hand, which she waved around her, counting her food at the same time. The two snatched some of the food of this goblin away. The goblin again counted her food, and found that some of it had been taken. She dashed her korepa around her so that it might hit with force the person who had taken her food; so Tawhaki and Karihi lay flat on the ground, that they might escape being hit by the korepa (a sharp stone or flint tied on to a cord and swung round the person to cut or kill any one it might hit).

The goblin was related to them, as she was the mother of their father. Tawhaki and Karihi slapped her eyes, and she could see; and she saw them, and asked, "To what place are you going?" They answered by asking, "Which is the road to heaven?" The old woman said, "I do not know." Again they asked her, and she gave them the same answer; but, as they persisted in demanding from her the path that leads up above, Tawhaki said to that old woman, "If you do not show the road to us you will be killed by me." Then the old woman said, "You must go to the other of your ancestors, to Ka-where (crumble), who knows the road for you to go; and she will tell you the customs of that road, and the custom of climbing up. In the morning you can go to see her." That night the two slept at the settlement of the old woman, and she had a desire to kill them while they slept; but Tawhaki was aware of this, and said to his elder brother, "Let us be cautious lest we be murdered by this old woman." So each of them put shells on his eyes, so that the old woman, looking at them, might think they were still awake (the shells would appear as if their eyes were open); but they were fast asleep, and the shells on their eyes alone were shining. As the old woman thought they were still awake, she durst not go near to them to kill them, and she was also afraid that she might be killed by Tawhaki. On the following day they went to the other of their ancestors, to Kawhere, who when saw them, she asked, "Where are you two going?" Tawhaki answered, "We come to you that you may show us the road that leads up to heaven." Kawhere said, "There is the road hanging there." Tawhaki said, "Where?" Kawhere took hold of it with her hand, and they then saw it, and could climb up correctly. Tawhaki said Karihi must climb up first. When he was about to climb up Kawhere said, "Do you hold fast with your hands lest you fall." And when Tawhaki heard the words of the god he stood up and chanted an incantation to enable Karihi to hold firmly with his hands. He chanted and said,-

Climb, Karihi, to the first heaven,
To the sacred heaven.
The weapon of Karihi is broken-
The weapon of great Karihi of Hema.
Adhere to the heaven,
Hold on, hold verily.
My son cries
In the [house] Whanga-to-reke,
In Whanga-to-reke dragged.

And Kawhere then taught them and said, "When you two climb up and get near to the sky, and the winds of Uru-rangi (west of the sky) blow on you, hold fast, hold fast [to the path], for if one of you fall down to the earth you will be killed."

Karihi climbed up, as he was learned in the knowledge of the incantations they were possessed of. He climbed on, and when he had got near to the top the winds of Uru-rangi swooped down on to him, and he came back [was swept] near to the earth. He climbed again, and thus he did three times; but at the fourth attempt that man did not page (2)succeed in arriving at the top, but he was killed. So Tawhaki climbed up, and was, like a spider's web, blown by the wind of Uru-rangi till he was near to the earth; but he did not care for this, and climbed up and let the rope down for Karihi, so that Karihi could climb up after him; but as he waited for some time, and Karihi did not follow him up, Tawhaki thought that Karihi was dead. So he went away, and met two women who were coming to bring food for the old woman below, to whom Tawhaki and Karihi had gone in the first instance. He went on, and met other two women, who were wandering in an indecent manner. These he allowed to pass. He went on, and met otherwomen, who were named Talk-of-the-begetting and Talk-of-the-having. These he allowed to pass. He next met a man called Tuna (eel), who was descending below, as it was so hot above. When Tuna saw Tawhaki coming towards him he stood still, and called to him, and repeated an incantation called Ka(Nga)-mata-mata-a-rongo (aro-rongo)-raua (the highest point of the peace being made between them), which was this:—

When man is seen-
The appearance of man-
When man is seen,
And has confidence,
It is life,
And world of light.

They each repeated this incantation spontaneously, and when they had chanted it all they passed on, each on his own way, Tuna coming below (to the earth), and Tawhaki going on his journey.

Tawhaki went to wander away, and saw a great house; so he made himself look very poor [dirty], so that he might look different and not be recognised; and he went on and was met by some men and women, who were collecting firewood, who caught him and kept him as their slave. They made him carry a load of firewood, and as they all went towards the settlement the people called as they went, "Here is our slave." The people of the settlement called and said, "Where is he?" The answer was, "Here he is." So the old people of the settlement called and said, "Bring your slave here, and let him remain here." As he was being led to the settlement Tawhaki thought in himself and wondered what they would do to him. But he got to the settlement and sat down; and as he had sat a long time he thought he would not now be killed. He looked into a house and saw the bones of his father, and these bones made a noise to him – they shook in recognition of him. When the people in the house heard the noise made by the bones they said, "You make a noise, but who shall avenge your death?"

Now, Tawhaki was long in deliberating how he should kill that people, and in the meantime he had obtained those bones which had caused the booming noise, and that people became afraid. On another day, as he lived at the settlement, he went with some of the people to collect firewood. His companions got broken pieces of wood on their backs, but the firewood which Tawhaki got he carried on his shoulder. When they arrived in front of the house Tawhaki let his firewood down with a sudden throw, and it made a loud noise as it fell on the ground. The fear of the people was great, and Tawhaki thought it would be this [fear] by which he could kill [or overcome] the people. He meditated, and thought he would go to his ancestor Whai-tiri (crashing noise, thunder), that she might give him the thunder incantation. He went, and as he proceeded he called to his ancestor, and she answered him, and asked, "Who are you?" He answered and said, "I am the great Tawhaki of Hema." She asked, "For what have you come?" He said, "To obtain a little thunder from you." She said, "For what do you want it?" He said, "To enable me to avenge the death of my father Hema." So she, his ancestor, called and said, "Go back, and when you have determined on a day [to take vengeance for the death of your father] then call to me."

Tawhaki went back, and when he got to heaven he pondered how he could kill that people, the family [senior] tribe of the Aitanga-a-punga (descendants of the anchor). He called, and his ancestor sent the Ua-pata (rain in drops), and after that Huka-a-tara (keen, biting snow), and after that Whaitiri-whakapake (crashing thunder), and after that Whaitiri-whakapaku (booming thunder); and when all the Whatu (hailstones) had descended Tawhaki saw that the Aitanga-a-punga were fleeing. So Tawhaki called to his ancestor to make the thunder boom more loudly, so that when the thunder did boom more loudly the Aitanga-a-punga were fleeter in their fleeing to the ocean. Five of the tribe fled to the forest, whose names are these: Ponga (Cyathea dealbata or medullara), Whekii (syn. Tua-kura) (Dicksonia squarrose), Mamaku (syn. Ko-rau) (Cyathea medullaris), Katotoe, and Moko-piki-rakau (lizard that climbs up trees).

Then was the heart of Tawhaki glad, and his spirit gained power, and he stood up and, chanting, sang,-

Come through the great courtyards,
Through the long courtyards,
Through the courtyard
Of Hine-nui-a-te-kawa.
Baptise Puanga in his stream,
Matoi-kura i (his deep red stream),
With the star Rigel in this world.
Slide, move, move on still.
Be close, closed up tight,
Cut them to the sea-wave,
And turn them to the descending tide.
Cut them to [the god called]
(War-god of the back of the last wave),
To prepare the power of the tooth,
To prepare the water of Puanga
At Matoi-kura i.
Puanga in the world,
Slide, move, slide away,
Be close, be in captivity.

Now, Hine-nui-a-te-kawa is the female of the people of the Aitanga-a-punga. And revenge was obtained by Tawhaki for the death of his father Hema. Tawhaki came down and brought the bones of his father Hema with him [to this earth].

Tawhaki took his wife called Hine-tu-a-hoanga (daughter of the grinding-stone), and when she was near the time that her child was to be born Tawhaki became so ill that he was near death, and he spoke to his wife and said, "If you give birth to a child after I am dead, call that child Wahie-roa (long firewood)." When he had died a child was born, and at its baptism it was called Wahie-roa, after the firewood he had thrown down in front of the door of the house of the family tribe of the Aitanga-a-punga, which had caused that people to dread and tremble.