Tama-i-uia was a very prominent chief, being the descendant of a long line of ancestors whose aristocratic fame dated back many generations. According to ancient history he was no ordinary person, and on the maternal side his ancestors were regarded as Uri-taniwha, their prestige being recognised by all, therefore Tama himself was regarded as of partly supernatural origin.page 158
His grandmother, whose name was Hine-Te-Ariki, married Tumokonui. According to history, she was descended from a line of ancestors, known as Uri-taniwha, whose haunts and place of abode were in the deep pools of rivers. They were akin to the mermaids of ancient mythology. When speaking of the tern uri-taniwha, this expression literally means "the descendant of a taniwha." If we substitute "hermit' for the word taniwha we would be clearer as to the true meaning of uri-taniwha, a class of beings living a secluded life, not in the water, but in the fastnesses of the forests.
Hine-Te-Ariki's first children were twins and both these were taken away by spirits at birth. Some time later she gave birth to a second lot of twins, who, like the previous ones, were also taken away by the spirits. As time went on she again conceived and gave birth to a third pair, who also met with a similar fate. Depressed and full of sorrow at losing all her children, she decided to consult her father, Whana-Tuku-Rangi, who inquired, "Is it not true that you married a tatea-mahaki? (meaning a common person.) Are you not aware also that I am descended from a line of taniwha? Take heed that if it happens again, and you give birth to a child, be sure when you see a cloud descending on you, to remain over the child all the time until the mist lifts, for in that cloud the spirits of your ancestors are hidden and will take the child away if you do not carry out my instructions.
Accordingly, when later she conceived and gave birth to another child, she carried out her father's instructions, and this time to her great joy the child was not taken away by the spirits. The child was named Tonoa-Ki-Aua, which means, "I seek advice from some one," thus helping to commemorate the occasion when she sought the advice of her father. Later, after the death of her husband, Hine-te-ariki returned to her watery grave in the Waikohu river, Gisborne, and it is reported that on numerous occasions she has revealed herself to her descendants.
When in after years the child Tonoa-Ki-Aua reached maturity, she was especially espoused to Whakauika, the celebrated son of Taupara, the eponym of the well-known tribal name Ngai-Taupara. As usual, when two families of aristocratic fame are united, the people usually looked forward to the birth of a very noble chief. When the time of the expected child grew close, the whole of the people in the vicinity, as well as some who came long distances from the back country, assembled at the place where the child was to be born. To their great disappointment, when the child arrived it was a girl, and they were known page 159to express their feelings quite openly by complaining and saying, "Piki noa mai tatou i nga pari me nga horo nei, no te whanau-tanga mai he wahine ke," meaning that although they had sur passed the difficulties of high mountains and scaled precipitous cliffs and negotiated slips along the tracks, their efforts were only rewarded by the birth of a female child. It was thereupon decided to name the child Pikihoro which means, "Climbing over slips."
As time went on, the birth of another child grew close and the people again assembled from all parts. This time they brought their gifts in the form of mats, and innumerable kinds of Maori articles as presents to the newly-born child. However, to their utter disappointment, the child was another girl. Again the people muttered their complaints by saying, "Auru noa mai tatou i te kakahu, no te whanautanga mai he wahine ano,"meaning that "all our gathering of garments and other articles has been fruitless for again a female child is born." The child was there-upon named Hine-auru (maiden of gathering) and later became known as Hine-uru.
Tonoa-Ki-Aua, feeling disappointed that she had not fulfilled the desire and hopes of the people that a chief be born to them, decided to consult her "water ancestors" in order that she might be able to produce a male child. She was accordingly instructed not to wade or cross rivers, not to wash or bathe in them, nor even to drink water out of them, but to quench her thirst from a special well and bathe or wash in a special pool.
For the third time the news went round that Tonoa-ki-aua was expecting a child. As the time of the birth was fast approaching the people, in spite of previous disappointments, again assembled and awaited the result.
To the great joy and satisfaction of everybody, they were rewarded this time for their patience, by the birth of a male child. To commemmorate in history the circumstances leading to the birth of a male child by means of carrying out the advice' of the Uri-taniwha, the child was named Tama-i-uia, meaning "A son inquired after."
As the boy grew to manhood, he was taught and trained in all the arts and crafts befitting a chief. It was not long before he became very proficient in the use of war arms and an expert in the manoeuvring and conducting of all war affairs. This necessary attribute he knew he must acquire in order to safeguard himself and his people from the turbulent tribes which confronted the wide and extensive territory under his command. In the page 160north he was faced by the Whakatohea tribe, and in the south by the Rongo-Whakaata tribe. To the east were the Ngati-Porou, whilst on the west were the Tuhoe tribes respectively. Being hemmed in on all sides by these various tribes and having a large territory to protect and safeguard he was kept continually on the alert, not knowing in what hour or in what manner he might be attacked by his enemies. The strength of these powerful neighbouring tribes had compelled him to be vigilant and active at all times.
In times of warfare he was never guilty of any treacherous action and was always staunch to his friends. Because of his high ideals, he was highly respected by his enemies and greatly loved by his friends.
To define his territory, he proclaimed rock named Puhinui at Waikohu, near Te Tahora, to be his boundary on the western side. His tribe, Te Aitanga-a-Mahaki occupied the land on one side of this rock, while the Urewera people, represented by Te Rangi Aniwaniwa, occupied the land on the other side.
He also proclaimed a place on the Hauarua Block, near Tolaga Bay, to signify a declaration of peace. This was the name of a pa called Hinatore. While absent from his home and pa, a war party from Ngati-porou raided the place, and slaughtered many of his people, kidnapping his two children. The survivors managed to escape from their enemies and on arriving at a certain distance within the sight of Tama-i-uia, they made signs indicating that a terrible disaster had befallen them. On his making further inquiries, they exclaimed hurriedly, "Kaore, hoki tera te Kainga, ko te wai anake o Mangatu te rere ana" meaning that their homes were no longer seen and that the only remnant left or seen was the flowing of the Mangatu River. After also being told of the kidnapping of his two children, he immediately mustered a strong fighting force and set out in hot pursuit of the enemy. Reaching their stronghold at night he attacked and laid a siege on the pa. Before dawn of the following day, with resolute mind and determination to renew his attack on the enemy on a wider scale, he was engaged chanting certain charms of a war dance, known as Tutu Taua. He was beneath the enemy's pa, alone, and separated from his own forces by a short distance. As his men watched in the half light, they saw him stop his incantations suddenly as though dumbfounded. He stood still for a moment and then fell on the ground. Thinking he had in some manner been struck down, his warriors rushed to his aid. To their great surprise, instead of finding a wounded man, they page 161found their chief embracing his own two children who had been restored to him by the enemy, who had lowered them over the outer wall of the pa by ropes.
Overjoyed at his children's return, the chief at once made a declaration of peace with the enemy and set up the post sign, Hinatore, to signify his intentions and happiness. The parties concerned in this episode were the Te Huiwhenua on the one side, and he on the other. From that time, the succeeding generations on both sides, or as it is sometimes put, Te Whiwhi a grandson of Tama-i-uia, and Te Ruru, a descendant of Te Huiwhenua, have honoured and respected that occasion on which the lasting peace was made between them.
Tama-i-uia married five wives, whose names are as follows:—
1. Utatu (chief wife). 2. Wharitenga. 3. Te Manawa. 4. Wai-o-Rehua. 5. Hine-i-Taitanui.
Throughout his life he was greatly loved and highly respected, not only by his own people, but also by neighbours of other tribes. At his death, a chief named Rangiuia of Uawa composed and sung the following lament:—
Moe mai e tama i roto i te whare kino,
I te whare pouri ka uea ake ra.
Ka he to manawa ka titiro ki waho ra,
Ki te waka hoehoe ki wairoro ra e.
Ka puta te paraki ka pa ki to ihu,
Nau i moe po i tukua mai ai,
Ko te tonga hau e ko te tonga taipuru.
Ka pupuru te atua ki roto i a koe,
Ka whai atu na koe i a Te Ao-matangi,
I a Weheruru e i a katakata ra,
I a Kiwa ra e nana nei te moana,
Nana nei ngaru nui nana nei ngaru roa.
Ka wawae i te pito kia marangai e,
Kia Tukuwhare ra kia honuhonu e,
Kia kekerepo ka puta atu ki waho.
Aua itu tangi e aua itu paoa ra,
Ka mamao ki te rangi ko taku rangi pea,
Ka tau ki waho ra ki waianiu ra.
He koko ariki he whare ka tumai,
Kei to tipuna e kei a Te Rauhori e,
page 162 Kei a ngatapa ra ko te huamaiora.
Na hine-te-ariki ko Pikihoro pea,
Ko Hine-uru ano ko Tama-i-uia e.
Ko koutou ra tena e hika ma e e.