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

Chapter VII

Chapter VII

There is the crowd of Pleiades,
Now swimming in the space of heaven.
Maybe it is Pehi, who
Has come back from death.
Come back, O parent! come,
Come back, that we may look on thee,
That we may view thy form
And weep, though weep in vain.
And thou wert robed
In garment of the south
And beauteous marks of tattooing
Were scrawled on thee
By Kahu-ngunu Tribe,
Who then misled thee to forsake
The Ngatai-whakarongo house
Of Taha-wai, and then
To be o'erthrown on sandy beach
At Ranga-unu, where death
Embraced thee at Te-kaha,
Though thou hadst overthrown
Te-uri-hakari, and eaten him
And Wai-ariki to glut
And satiate thy dire revenge.

The arrival of Nga-toro-i-rangi
from Hawa-iki in the Arawa


This is the history given by our ancestors, which we have heard.

Hei (breast-ornament) and Tia (suppose) had a desire to make a canoe for themselves at Hawa-iki, and the canoe, when made, was called Te-arawa. The cause which made them cross over from Hawa-iki was the Rahui-tara-a-manaia (the sacred flock of Manaia), which was a battle fought amongst themselves. They sailed away in the canoe Arawa; but before they departed from Hawa-iki they sent for the chief Nga-toro-i-rangi (stretch forth towards heaven) to act as a priest for the canoe. When the canoe sailed from Hawa-iki, Hou-mai-tawhiti (push through from a distance) called and said to them, "O young men! go to the other side. If you hold to the tide of Tu (war) it will blow an ania or angia (a gale or tempest), but if you hold to the tide of quiet you will be like a moth, and decay, though spoken evil of, and bury it [the body] in the soil."

The canoe sailed away from Hawa-iki, and Nga-toro-i-rangi stayed in the stern of the canoe, and his wife Kea-roa (long influenza) a little below him, and Tama-te-kapua (son of the cloud) a little below her.


Hou-mai-tawhiti was one of those who came from Hawa-iki. He said to Maka (throw away), "When you land do not fight. If you fight you will vanish as grass; if you do not fight you will have your bones worn out, or gradually decomposed by the moth or worm, and rottenness."


Hou said to Maka, "When you get to Ao-tea-roa (long daylight) do not fight; but when you land (on the other side) do not hold to the tide of Tu (war); if you do, it will blow a storm: but hold to the tide of quiet living; then will be the grub, the moth, and decay."


When the Arawa was out on the sea Kea-roa was seduced by Tama-te-kapua who was caught in the act, and Nga-toro-i-rangi caused the canoe Arawa to descend into the throat of the Parata (sea-monster, the ocean) in revenge for his wife being so insulted by Tama-te-kapua; but as the canoe was being engulfed Ika (fish) called and said, "O Toro! Oh! the pillow of Kea-roa is falling." Nga-toro-i-rangi called and said, "Hold it fast." Ika stood up at the bow and chanted his incantation, and Nga-toro-i-rangi stood up at the stern, and chanted his incantation and sang:—

Take the sacred post out-
The sacred post of Rongo-mai-tawhiti
(Whale of a distance).
Do you hearken?
The ancient stretches forth
To the first post,
To the inner post,
To the post extended,
Omens of a distant day.

page (16)

And that was the incantation of Nga-toro-i-rangi by which the canoe Arawa was saved from being engulfed in the ocean.

They sailed on, and when off Whanga-paraoa (harbour of the whale) they saw the blossoms of the rata, and the crew thought it was the red plumes of bird-feathers, and Tau-ninihi (beloved stealing away) threw their kura (red plumes) into the sea, as he thought that on the shore on which they were now about to land there were abundance of red plumes. They sailed on, and landed at Ao-tea (clear sky) (Great Barrier), at the entrance of the Hau-raki Gulf, where they left Mura-nui (great flame or blush), who was one of the crew of Te-arawa. The canoe sailed on, and landed at Repanga (stomach of the shark), at Ahuahu (mound), where they left the pets called Mumu-hau (slight noise of the wind) and Takere-to (the keel dragged). Sailing on, when they were off Maunga-nui (great mountain) (east head of the Tauranga Harbour) the dog of Tara-whiti (contrary power) jumped into the sea, and Tara-whiti also jumped into the sea to follow his dog, and he chanted an incantation for himself as he followed his dog, and repeated,-

Swim, swim, Tara-whiti oh!

He and his dog landed on shore, and hence the origin of the name of the spot where they landed, near to Maunga-nui, being called Te-kuri-a-tara-whiti (the dog of Tara-whiti); and as the canoe Arawa lay at anchor there, the entrance of the river was called Tauranga-o-te-arawa (lying at anchor of the Arawa), and is now known as Tauranga.

They sailed on, and when off Te-akau (sea-coast) Hei got up in the canoe and said, "Let the land yonder be called the stomach of my child Wai-taha (side of the water)." Tia got up in the canoe and said, "Let the land yonder be called the stomach of my child Tapu-ika (sacred fish)." Tama-te-kapua stood up and said, "Let the headland yonder be called the ridge of my nose:" hence the origin of the name Nga-kurae (the ridges) (Maketu Point).

The canoe landed at Motiti (scarce; perfect want), and they hauled the Arawa on shore there, and a man stood up and repeated this song:—

If dashed by the wind
On to Motiti-nui
Of Tupa,
Distant, land high up.

They stayed there and put an altar (tuahu) up for their gods Hani (disparage) and Puna (fountain). But they eventually sailed away from that island and came to the mainland, where they dragged the Arawa on shore, and a man stood up and sang a song and said,-

A ditch has been dug
At Maketu-nui of Tupa,
Distant, land high up.

And they stayed at Maketu. And Uru-ika was the first man to go and explore the country. After him was Mata-moho (indistinct sight), who went in search of a home; after whom each man went of his own accord to search for a home, and Hei (ear-ornament) and Tia (parent) stayed at Maketu. But Rau-mati (summer) was journeying towards the place, and he set fire to the canoe Arawa and burnt her, which was seen by Ha-tupatu (breath of the contention), who was the great warrior of Roto-rua (two lakes), who pursued Rau-mati and killed his people as he pursued them to Panepane (the skull), at which place he caught Rau-mati, from whence he returned.

Now, at this time Hanga(Haunga)-roa (great property, or long flavour) and Kui-wai (draught of water), the sisters of Nga-toro-i-rangi, were coming over from Hawa-iki to New Zealand on their gods called Rongo-mai (whale) and Iho-o-te-rangi (above the heavens). These women sailed away on their gods and landed at Whaka-ari (show forth) (White Island), where they could hear the voice of their brother Nga-toro-i-rangi, and they knew that he was on the mountain Tonga-riro (distant south). They went towards that mountain, but by the time they had arrived there Nga-toro-i-rangi had left the mountain. They followed him to Maketu, and when he saw them he called to them and said, "What has caused you two to be seen here?" They said, "You have been cursed by Manaia." He inquired, "What was the cause of his curse?" They replied, "It was caused by the food in an oven which we heated not being thoroughly cooked. The food was for a feast given at the cutting of the hair of his head."

The people of Nga-toro-i-rangi began to make a canoe, as the Arawa had been burnt, and when the canoe was made she was called Totara-karia (the totara-tree dug up). A crew went on board of this canoe, and sailed for Hawa-iki and landed there, where they lay down on the marae (courtyard) of the altar of Manaia at Hawa-iki, and thumped their own noses with their fists, and the blood which flowed from their noses they besmeared on their bodies, so that they might be supposed to have been killed. On the following morning Manaia went to the courtyard of his altar, and, having seen the sight, he called to his people and said, "Come outside and view the Aitanga-a-hou-mai-tawhiti (offspring of Hou from a distance), who are here lying in a heap on the courtyard of my altar." The people came out of their houses, and Nga-toro-i-rangi called to his people (who were lying winking with their eyes, though they appeared to be dead), "Charge them;" and Nga-toro-i-rangi charged and attacked the people of Manaia, and killed many of them outside the pa. Then they charged the pa, captured it, and killed most of the people there. Tawhiti-nui (great distance) was the name of the pa, and the battle which took place outside was called the Ihumotomotokia (the beaten nose). And Nga-toro-i-rangi came back to the land (New Zealand), and was followed by the people of Manaia. Nga-toro-i-rangi landed at Motiti (flat) Island, and the people of Manaia arrived there at the same time. Nga-toro-i-rangi called to Manaia and said, "Lie at anchor where you are on the sea. I am not to be conquered at night." Now, in the night Nga-toro-i-rangi by the power of his incantations caused a storm to rise, which caused Manaia and his people to be drowned in the sea, and not one escaped. The name of this defeat was Maikuku-tea (white finger-nails). The people of Manaia who were thus defeated were called Mana-hua (increasing power).