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

Chapter III — Rata procures a canoe, and departs on a war expedition, to avenge the death of his father Wahie-roa

Chapter III
Rata procures a canoe, and departs on a war expedition, to avenge the death of his father Wahie-roa

Cut man with the axe
Called Hauhau.
Tia will carry his axe-
The big axe called Hauhau-te-rangi.
Chop Tai-nui, fell the tree
That it fall to the ground.
Follow the Arawa:
She will not be overtaken;
She will hang on the line of Putiputi,
And be left outside Pou
And heated with paddling.
Steep in front, steep behind
Then sounds the song, and wail behind.

When the canoe had been brought to the settlement the multitude of the Para-rau-rakau sat down on the ground. Then the old woman said to her son Rata, "Go outside [of the house], and say to your ancestors, 'Drag the canoe to the ocean,' that they may perform the ceremony to remove the tapu from her in the sea; and when you come back your ancestors can perform the ceremonies and chant the incantations and baptise the canoe by giving her a name."

Rata went outside [of the house], and spoke to his ancestors, who consented at once, and they dragged the canoe to the ocean, and he (Rata) went on board of the canoe, and they took her to where canoes lay at anchor, and there performed the ceremonies and chanted the incantations to take the sacredness off a newly-made canoe. And the people said to Rata, "Let your fishing-line into the sea;" and as he let it down into the sea, his ancestors chanted a charm to cause fish [to take his hook], and this was the incantation they chanted to make the fish take his bait:—

Take it, take it, take it [the bait].
O Waro! It is Waro the offspring. O Waro!
(Boom of the ocean-cave).
O Waro
It is Wi-o-tea
(Dread of the light colour).
[He] comes up, [he] comes up,
The goblin from beneath-
[He] comes up, [he] comes up,
The ancient from beneath-
Depths of the waters-
Waters that move, oh, oh!

The line had not touched the bottom before a fish had gone to it [and taken the bait]. Rata pulled the line up, and on it he found a mata-wha (a large sea-fish, not unlike a shark in shape), and he went with it on shore, and on the beach he was met by his mother, who had come down to the water-line of the sea; and when the canoe touched the land she put her hand out, and took hold of the fish, and said to her son, "Do you and all of your ancestors come up to the settlement;" and she went away with the fish held in her hand, and Rata and his ancestors followed behind. When the old woman had got to the tuahu (altar) she put the fish down on the ground, and called to the ancestors of Rata to perform the ceremonies and chant the incantations, and make the fish an offering to the gods; and she directed that when this was performed the fish should be hung up as a sacrifice to the gods. The fish was offered and then hung up, and the canoe was baptized, and she was called Niwa-ru (great earthquake), and such was the name of the canoe of Rata. The people then sat down to a feast; and when this was partaken of Rata began to question them, and asked if they would be agreeable to take him [to obtain revenge for the death of his father]. They said "It is good; we will take you." So Rata asked his mother to prepare food for his war-party; and by the time food for them had been tied in bundles it was evening, and all the people assembled in the presence of Rata, and they asked, "How many men shall take you on your journey?" Rata answered, "One hundred and seventy twice told." And on the morrow at dawn the canoe of Rata was put out on the sea, and in the evening the canoe arrived at the home of Matuku (crane), and spies from Rata went to the settlement and found Kiore-ti (rat of the squeak) and Kiore-ta (the beaten rat), with page (5)the widow, first wife of Wahie-roa – who had been carried alive to the land of the murderer of Wahie-roa. So soon as Rata had taken these prisoners he asked them, "Are you the only persons now living at the settlement?" They said, "Yes." Rata asked, "Where is Matuku?" They said, "He is gone below [north] to the other of our homes." Rata asked, "When will he come up [south] again?" They answered, "On the seventh [December] or on the eighth [January]; but we two must first call for him before he will come up." So the war-party was taken to the settlement of Matuku, and they there saw the first wife of Wahie-roa, who had been taken prisoner when her husband and lord was taken and killed.

Rata told the war-party to plait some ropes. When this was done, Rata went with the men of Matuku and his own war-party, and when they arrived at the mouth of the cave up which Matuku came to this earth, and by which he went below, a noose was placed there, and Rata said to the men of Matuku, "Call your man," and they called and said, "Matuku, oh!" Matuku answered, "Oh, oh, oh!" The men said, "Come up here, and perform the ceremony of taking the tapu off, and make an offering to the gods of our greens." Matuku called up and said, "I will not come [up]. In the seventh or eighth moon [December and January] you can call and say, 'Come up here to perform the ceremonies over our greens.'"

It was now evening, and the war-party went back to the settlement, partook of food, and slept. On the following morning the war-party went again to the mouth of the cave, and Rata said to the men of Matuku, "Call [to him]." They called, and said "Matuku, oh!" He answered, "Oh, oh, oh!" They said, "Come up. We are lighting the oven to cook our greens." Matuku said, "You are attempting to confuse the seasons of Matuku." But he came up, and Rata called and said to the war-party, "Do not make any movement on your own account. Let me first tell you to pull the rope, then pull it tight." Now, Rata was standing with his axe in his hand, and on Matuku coming up, and when his head, his shoulders, and body were seen, and when his waist was just out of the mouth of the cave, then Rata stood up and called to the war-party and said, "Pull the rope;" and, though Matuku attempted to go back, he was caught by his body and hands by the rope, and Rata rushed towards him and hit him on the head with his axe. Rata then pulled the axe out of Matuku's head and hit Matuku again with it, causing Matuku to call out loudly. So Matuku was killed, and the war-party partook of food; and in the evening they came back and put the body of Matuku in their canoe with the men of Matuku, and in the morning they arrived at home.

Rata went to his own house, and his mother asked him, "Have you killed Matuku?" He answered, "Yes, I have killed him." She asked, "Where is he?" Rata said, "He is in the canoe." She asked, "Where are your ancestors – the tribe of people who accompanied you to war." He said, "They are on the sea-shore with the men of Matuku and the first wife of my father, who is still alive." She now said to her son, "Go and say to your ancestors, 'Bring the man [Matuku] on shore here, and also the living men.'" Rata went and said to his ancestors, "Bring [the body of] Matuku on shore." They did so, with the living men; and when they were at the settlement the old woman [second wife, mother of Rata] went out of the house and said to the war-party, "How will you deal with the man of your grandchild?" They said, "Burn [his body] in the fire." So satisfaction was obtained by Rata for the death of his father Wahie-roa.

These words of history are of the Nga-i-tahu, written by Hopa Paura-te-wai-tutu and Hone Rapatini.