Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (digital text)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

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

Chapter V

page (9)

Chapter V

How can I stay the night,
That ebbs away to dawn of day?
In dread I start and wake
To ask, Oh! where,
Where is my singing bird,
Whose song at early dawn
Awakes me from my slumber?
He's gone, forever gone
Into the pit,
Flown into yonder vale below,
And bruised like maire wedge.
Oh! that I could, with thee,
Stand in the battle-front
As in the day of those
Who were thine ancestors!
I feel uncertain still,
Yet know my line of ancestry
Is blotted out and lost
In spirit-world with god Miru.
I doubt and feel uncertain still
If I should ask the gods at Hawa-iki
To meet in ancient temple,
And speak with crowds of nobles there,
And claim for thee the sacred incantation
Called Te-niho-matai-o-tanga-roa,
To help thee on thy pathway
To the home of rescue Hiku-rangi.

Ue-nuku and Ka-putia-te-rangi

Ue-nuku (trembling earth) was father of Ka-hutia-te-rangi (the sky will be pulled up), but Ue-nuku was a man of many children, and he was diligent in collecting property for his offspring – that is, in making plumes for his sons and daughters.

Horona (sacred food eaten by the priest at the taking-off of the sacredness of a new house) was the name of the home of the old chief Ue-nuku, where he and his wife's mother resided; and from that place their children wandered in many directions to other places. These children went far away, and, perhaps when they were occupied with games, they lost or mislaid the plumes with which they usually adorned their heads, and by which they were known to be of first rank as chiefs, and the offspring of Ue-nuku; and those who had lost their feather-plumes were distressed at their loss, as the plumes were made of the feathers of the bird called amo-kura (Phaeton rubricauda). They sought for the lost plumes, but did not find them, and they went back to Horona, and back to their home, and told Ue-nuku of their loss, at which news he was also much grieved, as he had great trouble to obtain the tail-feathers of the amo-kura from the tribes, to make them into plumes for his children. He and his children stayed at home, and some time after the plumes had been lost they were found by some of the people of the district in which the loss had occurred. So Ue-nuku sent messengers to ask for the plumes; but those who had found the plumes would not surrender them, but kept them, asserting that as they had found them, the plumes were their property.

The messengers came back to Ue-nuku, and he was very much cast down on account of the plumes of his children being withheld, and he sent other messengers to ask for the plumes, and these repeated the same request, which annoyed Wena [or Whena (plunder)], the supreme chief of the people who had found the plumes, and he said to his people, "Kill those who annoy us by their supplications." So the people took and killed the messengers of Ue-nuku, and there were killed Mapu-te-rangi (sob of heaven) and others of the offspring of Ue-nuku; but two of the messengers were not killed – that is, those who intended to kill them supposed they were slain, and they were left as dead, but they crawled away in the night, writhing in agony, and by the dawn of day they had got some distance from the spot where the attempt had been made to kill them; and thus they escaped and got back to their home at Horona. When Ue-nuku heard of this murder he was very wroth, and he determined to be avenged. He thought of a tribe the members of which were related to him, and he sent a messenger to the tribe with a carved calabash full of water and some mouldy food, as water to drink and food to be eaten by the leaders of that tribe. And when that water and food had been received by those for whom it was sent, they took them, and ate the one and drank the other, and at once rose as a war-party to aid Ue-nuku in whatever act he was bent on performing. When this people came to Horona Ue-nuku rose and made a speech to them, and said, "Come, welcome, welcome, O my effigies! These effigies of men shall take you to the stream of Tu (war) in my canoes; but you shall sit quietly without action till you get on to the courtyard of war, then you shall do as you think fit."

Ue-nuku then took effigies and set them up in his canoes as though they were veritable men, and his assisting tribe also embarked, and the canoes were paddled away to kill those who had stolen [kept back] the plumes of the children of Ue-nuku, and who had killed the messengers Ue-nuku had sent to them to obtain the plumes. When the war-party in the canoes arrived near the home of Wena he was out in his canoe on the sea, and when Ue-nuku saw the tribe of Wena paddling to the shore, he pursued them, and gained on them, and when they neared each other, a battle took place between the two tribes, and Wena and his people were beaten. This battle was called "Te pare-kura o te tiki" (the battle of the effigies). The body of a man named Paripari (cliffs) killed in this battle floated on shore, and one of those who was engaged in the battle on Wena's side was taken alive: he was called Manu-rau-taka (bird of the dropping leaf). These Ue-nuku caused to be cooked, and he ate them. Now, these fish (corpses) of Maui were not eaten without object: Ue-nuku ate them as he sat on his sacred mat called Rua-tapu (sacred pit), and that mat was made of the scalps of his slain enemies; and he did this to add power and grandeur to the gods.

The Arawa sails for Hawa-iki

The account which I heard from our old men when they spoke of the past was this: Hei (ornament for the ear) and Tia (parent) lived at their home in Hawa-i-ki (filled gills), and they pondered over the evil which was being committed by the people who were killing each other – that is, the evil done to Tama-te-kapua (son of the cloud) and others in hanging one of them up to the ridge-pole of a house that he might die of hunger, and also on account of the little tern (tara) having been made sacred, that not any of those birds should be killed for a certain time, which was ignored and some birds were killed, and a battle ensued, in which Manaia (smart) was defeated; and also on account of the wife of Manaia, who was seduced by those who were asked to make some tao (spears) for Manaia. On account of these evils and battles Hei and Tia determined to go to some other place [land] than Hawa-iki, so that they and their children might escape the weapons of their own kindred; so their people made a canoe, which was the Arawa (a certain sort of most savage shark). When this was finished and ready for sea, they called to page (10)Nga-toro-i-rangi (stretch out to the sky) and his wife to perform the ceremonies and chant the incantations over the Arawa, that the canoe should not be sacred, but that the crew might eat of cooked food on board while they were at sea, and not incur the anger of the gods. So Nga-toro-i-rangi and his wife Kea-roa (long-continued influenza) went on board of the Arawa and performed the ceremonies required, and also performed the ceremonies and chanted the incantations to make the sea calm, and that the winds of heaven might be light and not strong, and that the gods of the ocean should not make the waves boisterous while the Arawa was out on the sea. The canoe sailed away from Hawa-iki, and when Nga-toro-i-rangi and his wife came up from below the canoe had gone far from the land; nor was she put back, so that Nga-toro-i-rangi and Kea-roa could go on board of their own canoe Tai-nui. So the Arawa sailed away from Hawa-iki, and Hou-mai-tawhiti (push through a thicket, encumbrance, from a distance) stood up and said to those who were leaving in the canoe, "Come now, go all of you to the land, and go on shore, and do not hold to the tide of Tu (war), as, if you do so, there will be a storm; but hold to the tide of quiet living, then will there be the grub, the butterfly, and decay ["If you live in peace you will pass through all the stages of life like the grub and the butterfly, and decay in old age at last"].

Nga-toro-i-rangi lived with his wife at the stern of the Arawa, and Tama-te-kapua lived down in the hold of the canoe; but out at sea Tama-te-kapua seduced Kea-roa. And Nga-toro-i-rangi was very wroth, and he caused the canoe to sink into the sea in revenge for the evil of Tama-te-kapua to his wife; butIka (fish) stood up, and in a loud voice said, "O Toro! (Nga-toro-i-rangi) O Toro! the pillow of Kea-roa is falling." Nga-toro-i-rangi called and answered, "Hold it so; it is sopredetermined." And Ika stood at the bows of the canoe andchanted incantations, and Nga-toro-i-rangi stood at the sternto chant his incantations, and these are the words of one of theincantations which Nga-toro-i-rangi chanted:—

Take the sacred post out of the hole-
Yes, the sacred post.
Who owns the sacred post?
And, hearken,
Now falls Nga-toro-i-rangi
(He extends and falls)
To the foremost post,
To the inner post,
To the post extended.
'Tis a god of distant day.
Come, welcome, descend
On to thy sleeping-mat,
And lift the sleeping-mat
As the path of Nga-toro-i-rangi,
By which to follow down
To region of darkened gloom-
The great and long, long night,
And night of death,
As universal lord.
Yes, my canoe, the Arawa,
Rotten teeth, torn by
The great god of the sea.
Come up, float, rise,
Come up, O Tanga-roa!
Come up, slide on,
Collect and provoke
[Ask and follow]
The god.

And by the effect of the incantation chanted by Nga-toro-i-rangi the Arawa came up into the world of light [was saved], and sailed over the sea, and arrived at Whanga-paraoa (harbour of the whale), and the crew saw the bloom of the pohutukawa (Metrosideros tomentosa) glowing red on shore, and they all exclaimed in wonder "He kura" ("There are red plumes"); and Tau-ninihi (beloved sneaking away) threw his plume [of feathers of the amo-kura (frigate-bird)] into the sea, as all the crew thought there was abundance of plumes on shore. But when they had landed they found that the red which they saw glowing on shore was not the red of plumes, but merely the bloom of trees, and that they had wasted their plume of birds' feathers by throwing it into the sea, under the impression that what they saw on shore were other plumes of birds' feathers.

The canoe sailed from thence and landed at Ao-tea (Great Barrier), and one of the crew was left there, of the name of Mura-nui (great flame, or great glow); and the canoe again sailed on her way and landed at Repanga (flapping) (Ahuahu Island), and there they left Mumu-kau (hau) (only a slight air) and Takere-to (dragged keel), who were slave attendants of the canoe; and the canoe went on and came to anchor outside of Maunga-nui (great mountain), at Tauranga (lying at anchor), where the dog of Tara-whata (side of a stage) leaped into the sea and swam towards shore, and the owner of the dog, having seen that his dog had leaped into the sea, also jumped into the tide and swam after his dog. Tara-whata chanted incantations as he went to give him power to swim. These were some of the words he chanted: "He swims, he swims, Tara-whata swims." And he and his dog landed at Maunga-nui, and the canoe followed them and landed there also. As the canoe landed in the river, hence the name given to the river, and it was called Te-tauranga-a-te-Arawa (the anchorage of the Arawa) and to this day it is called Tauranga (anchorage). And the crew slept there that night. On the following day the canoe voyaged on by the coast, and Hei (ornament worn in the ear) stood up and said, "Let the land lying stretched out yonder be for my child Wai-taka(taha) (sea-side); and Tia (parent) stood up and said, "Let the land laid out yonder be for my son Tapu-ika (sacred fish), as a home for himself to live on." Tama-te-kapua (son of the cloud) stood up and said, "Let the point jutting out yonder be named after the ridge of my nose;" and hence the origin of the name of Maketu (bridge of the nose) having been given to the Nga-kurae (the points) at Maketu.

The Arawa sailed thence and landed at the island Motiti (scarcity), off Maketu. The canoe was hauled on shore at Maketu, and then housed over to keep her from the weather, and the cables of the canoe were tied by the crew, and Hau tied the rope to Motiti-nui (great scarcity), in the district of Hoi-eke (land at a far distance), where the people resided, and where they put up the tuahu (altar) called Tau-maihi (carved boards of the gable of a house, or tower of observation in a pa); and the gods of that altar [kept near it] were called Hani (war-weapon, token of page (11)supreme power, sceptre) and Puna (fountain).

The canoe again sailed, and reached the mainland, where she was hauled on shore, and the crew of the canoe again tied the cables of the canoe, while they chanted, as they danced, these words:—

The creek has been dry
At Great Maketu.
Oh! unfruitful.
Distant on to it.

And the people resided at Maketu; but they soon separated, and Uru-hika (ceremony performed in the west), the priest who proposed that they should migrate from Hawa-iki, was the first to rise with his offspring and leave the main body of people; and after this Mata-moko (tattooed face) rose with his offspring and went away to look for land for themselves; then each man, with his offspring, left the main body and went away, and all the crew separated and left for different parts of the land. And Hei and Tia occupied land in the Maketu district, and Raumati (summer) went and burnt the Arawa canoe. And when Ha-tu-patu (breath to rise and fight) heard of this, he went and attacked Raumati, and took his head as payment for the evil he had done to the canoe Arawa; and Ha-tu-patu went back to Roto-rua (double lake), as he was from that district.

An account of the passage and arrival
of Te-Arawa in these islands


Hearken, these are the words of our ancestors, whom we heard them rehearsed. Hei and Tia had a wish to cut a tree down to make a canoe. At the time they were still living at Hawa-iki. The name of the canoe was Te-arawa.

Now, the cause of their leaving that land (Hawa-iki) was on account of Te-rahui-tara (the flock of small gulls), of Manaia, which was a slaughter on a battle-field of people belonging to themselves.

Before they set sail they went and got Nga-toro-i-rangi (stretch forth towards heaven) as a priest for their canoe. This canoe (Te-arawa) came from Hawa-iki, but left Hou at the place; and when Te-arawa was some distance out to sea Hou called to the crew and said, "O sons! go to the other side. If you keep to [hold to] the tide of Tu (war), you will be blown by [silenced by] rottenness; but if you hold to quiet living, then you will be like a grub, in its various stages of life, and decay will come on gradually, and you will eventually be buried in the earth."

The canoe voyaged over the sea, and Nga-toro-i-rangi lived at the stern of the canoe, and Kea-roa (long influenza), his wife, had a cabin below his, and Tama-te-kapua (son of the cloud) had a cabin below hers; and out on the sea Tama-te-kapua seduced Kea-roa, the wife of Nga-toro-i-rangi. He was caught in the act, and the canoe Te-arawa was caused to sink in the sea, into the mouth of Te-parata, by Nga-toro-i-rangi, in revenge for the insult offered to his wife by Tama-te-kapua; but Ika (fish) called aloud, and said, "O Nga-toro! the pillow of Kea-roa is falling [from beneath her head]." Nga-toro-i-rangi answered, "Take hold of it, and hold it tightly." So Ika (fish) stood up at the bows of the canoe, and chanted his incantation. And Nga-toro-i-rangi stood up at the stern and chanted his incantation, and said,-

Draw out the sacred post-
The sacred post of Rongo-mai-whiti.
And do you listen
As reaching forth and pants
To the first post,
To the inner post,
The post [prop] of the booth,
As in days long past.
Let it come down
From the sail of your war-canoe.
Take in the sail
Of the war-canoe of Nga-toro.
The path of the Arawa
Of rotten teeth.
It is a path descending
Tonight – the great night,
The long night, the night of death,
Which shall be loved of all.
Oh! my canoe, the Arawa
Of rotten teeth,
Opens [be torn] the Parata!
Stand on, stand on, stand on Tanga-roa.
Move onwards, assemble,
And provoke the god.

It was by the effects of the power of the incantation of Nga-toro that the canoe Te-arawa was saved from being lost. They sailed on, and when they arrived opposite to Whanga-paraoa (harbour of the whale) they saw the rata (Metrosideros robusta) in bloom, and the people, the crew of the canoe, said it was red plumes, and Tau-ninihi (the beloved stealing away) threw their plumes into the sea, supposing they should find abundance of kura on shore.

The red plume of Mahina

Kura is generally supposed to be red-ochre brought originally from Hawa-iki to paint the persons of our ancestors; but it appears to be far more likely to have been a bundle of red feathers, or a head-dress formed with red feathers, which would have drifted on shore, which red-ochre could not have done.

Red (Kura) is sacred from Hawa-iki. There is a whakatauki, "Me aha i te kura pae a Mahina." Tauninihi brought a kura from Hawa-iki in Te-arawa. When the canoe neared the land they saw the blossom of the pohutukawa and rata, and thought the kura brought with them was not of any use, as it appeared to grow spontaneously on the trees in this new country. Tauninihi threw his overboard; but he found on landing that the kura on the trees were "he mea memeha noa." He laments for his kura, which had drifted away, and was thrown up by the surf on the beach between Tauranga and Maketu, and was picked up by Mahina, who refused to give it up to the owner: hence the proverb, "He kura pae na Mahina i kite." The Arawa sailed on and landed at Aotea (Great Barrier), and there they left Mura-nui (great red glow), one of their party. The canoe still went on, and landed at the Repanga (hit the stomach of the shark) Island, somewhere off Cape Colville, and on that island they put some of their pets, called Mumu-hau (whisper of the wind) and Takere-too (very page (12)origin). [These were birds.] The canoe sailed on till opposite the mountain called Maunga-nui (great mountain), at the east side of the entrance to the Tauranga (lay at anchor) harbour. Here the dog of Tara-whata (boldness hung up) jumped into the sea and swam towards the shore, and as Tara-whata saw his dog jump into the sea he followed it, and as he swam after the dog he chanted a short incantation, which was this:

Now swims, now swim
Tara-whata, oh!

They swam on and landed, and hence the spot near the mountain Maunga-nui called Te-kuri-a-tara-whata (the dog of Tara-whata), being so called to this day. And as the canoe Arawa lay at anchor in the river, the river was called Tauranga-o-te-arawa (the lying-at-anchor of the Arawa), but in these days it is simply called Tauranga (lying at anchor).

The canoe sailed on, and when off a certain part of the coast Hei stood up in the canoe, and called aloud, and said, "Let the land seen yonder be called 'Te takapu o taku potiki o Wai-taha'" (the stomach of my child Wai-taha – gourd to drink out of).

Tia arose, and called aloud, and said, "Let the land seen yonder be called 'Te takapu o taku potiki o Tapu-ika'" (the stomach of my child Tapu-ika – the first slain in battle).

Tama-te-kapua rose, and called aloud, and said, "Waiho te Mata-kurae e takoto mai ra, ko te kuraetanga o taki ihu" ("Let the headland seen yonder be called after the ridge on my nose"); and hence the name given to the land, which is known at this day as Nga-kurae (the headlands – on the Maketu point).

The canoe went out to sea, and landed at the island called Motiti (in want, not having), where it was hauled on shore, and a chief rose and sang a short song, which was this:

The wind has beaten on her,
And driven her to Motiti of Tupa,
And [we are] landed at a distance.

There they remained and put up a tuahu (altar), and called it Tau-maihi (little tower); and the gods they had there with them, they were called Hani (disparage) and Puna (origin of).

The canoe then sailed towards the mainland, and was dragged on shore on the mainland, and one of the chiefs rose and chanted a short incantation, which was this:

A ditch has been dug
At great Maketu
Of Tupa, and [we are]
Landed at a distance.

They lived at Maketu; and the man called Uru-ika (fish of the west) was the first to go and explore the land, and after him Mata-moho (face of a stupid) went to spy out the best sites for homes, and after this each man went to look for a home for himself.

Hei and Tia stayed at Maketu, and Rau-mati (summer) went and set fire to the Arawa; but there are many and various accounts of this act, and of why it was done, and where it took place. These people, Hei and Tia, were seen by Ha-tu-patu (risen breath that kills), one of the original owners of this land, who attacked them, and overtook Rau-mati at a place called Parepare (shift about) [where he killed him], and retired from the spot.

Now, Haunga-roa (long aroma) and Kui-wai (famine of water), sisters of Nga-toro-i-rangi, were sailing over the sea on their own gods, which gods were called Rongo-mai (whale) and Iho-o-te-rangi (power of heaven), and they landed at the island called Te-puia-i-whakaari (the sulphur-spring that is seen by the steam it emits) (White Island), where they heard the voice of their brother, Nga-toro-i-rangi, and they from that voice knew he was on the mainland at Tonga-riro (south gone). They proceeded there; but while they were going there their brother had returned to Maketu, and they followed him to Maketu, and when he saw them he asked, "Why are you here?" They said, "Manaia has cursed you." He asked, "Why has he done so?" They said, "The oven of food we cooked was not quite baked." And when he had heard this he wailed aloud because of the evil curse by which he had been cursed. All the warriors of the settlement came and gathered around him, and when they heard that a curse was the cause of his loud wailing they all rose with him and went to the water, and dived into it, and when they had swam on shore they all began to chant this incantation, and sang,-

Now is the mound made.
It stood near the sea,
It stands in the water,
It stands by the dark sea,
It stood by the glassy sea,
It stands as at the*
Forming on the shore,
It stands as at the*
Gathering on the sea,
It stands on this evening,
The evening of this mound,
The evening of these
The gods. Oh!
There are two mounds.
Oh! e! There the stick-
The stick now stands.
It stands in this hill,
It stands at the*
Making on the shore,
It stands at the*
Collecting on the sea,
It stands at the*
Forming at Hawa-iki-
The stick of this slaughter,
The slaughter by this order,
The slaughter by this son,
The slaughter by these
The disciples, Oh! e!
There is the diving,
The diving of these*
The various deeds,
The diving of*
These the sons
The diving of these*
The disciples.
There is the water flowing,
It flows to Mua,
To the altar there,
It flows into the altar,
It flows to the high priests,
page (13) It flows to the
Root of knowledge,
It flows to the disciples,
It flows to the medium gods, oh! e!
The son has boasted
The boast of this word,
The boast of this curse,
The boast of these priests,
The boast of these curses,
The boast of these gods,
The boast of these sons,
The boast of these disciples.
It is boasting,
It is battle,
Taking revenge,
Seeking satisfaction for me
Of these sons,
Of these disciples.
Fall down without power to resist,
Die without power to resist
On this mound,
At the root of these sticks,
As in battle
To slake vengeance
For this word,
For this curse.

This incantation was chanted by the people and priests while they were all standing in the water, and so soon as they had chanted all the incantation they went on shore and proceeded to the marae (courtyard) of the settlement, where they again chanted the incantations usually chanted there; but the incantations chanted there were not taught by the priests to us, the younger priests of later generations, to those of us who have seen the Europeans of later days, and have heard what the strangers say to us of these islands.

* This and some of the following lines end very abruptly. Do you think it advisable to run them on with the next lines, or to alter them in any other way?

You can put them as you like. I think your idea is a good one to "run them on with the next line".