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The Ancient History of the Maori, His Mythology and Traditions. Awatea, Taranaki, Nga-Ti-Hau Nga-Ti-Rua-Nui [Vol. VIII, English]

Chapter 22

Chapter 22

I sit, as pain contracts my chest
And think of pleasure known at Roto-mahana,
And wait my own beloved to bring
Across a small canoe to me
While pain so keenly felt by thee
Hath laid thee on an evil bed,
In company with the host at Tarata.
Where thou art fed with soppy food
By female hands and by them fondled still.
Then why thy sacred head, now bow to gods
And why so soon doeth wane the moon
It is, that thou hast stretched forth
Thy hands to wave to Tonga-riro peak
And hence the blast of chilly South
Hath come over thee, with all its
Churlishish pain persisted still,
Put here is flood now oozing
Forth below, by which the witch
And all his necromantic power
Can be expelled to distance far
From you and also from Pare-rewha
That woman who with evil deeds
Came near to thee, with full intent
To cut and gash the sinews of the legs
To stay the power to flee away.

page (205)


This ancestor Tau-kai-tu-roa (year of the much standing food) was the progenitor of the tribes who now occupy the Muri-motu (the rear clump of forest) and he was a noble man, the name of his dog was Ngau-pari (bite on the cliff) which always accompanied him in his travels, and this dog always caught kiwi (apteryx) kaka-po (strigops habroptilus) and all other sorts of birds on which they two lived, which were roasted by Tau-kai-tu-roa, and of which each partook.

Now it occurred at a time that Tau-kai-tu-roa was angry with the people of Roto-rua (two lakes) the descendants of Tama-te-kapua (son of the clouds) so he collected a war party and proceeded to Roto-rua, and on his arrival there his enemies had all assembled in a whare-puni (hot house in which to live in winter) and they all slept in it, as the time of his arrival at Roto-rua was after sun set, and it was also winter, so he and his war party set fire to the whare-puni, and when the occupants ran out of the house to escape the flames they were speared by Tau-kai-tu-roa and his war party, and not one escaped, and he came back to his home with his war party, but soon after this, he and his war party went on a visit to the Nga-ti-kahu-ngunu people to take some Moa plumes in exchange for a mere (green stone war instrument) and when he had obtained the mere he and his party left that people and proceeded back to their home and when at Muri-motu Tau-kai-tu-roa died, and he was buried at Te-koko-po (the parson bird of the night) with his mere in his hand, and a lizard took up its abode on his grave, which lizard intimidated any one who might go there to take the mere, so that the mere has been lost even up to this day, and the people have forgotten where he and his mere were buried, so that it is completely lost.

(This is to follow 203)

page (206)


It is said that Rau-kura (plume) was a man who was bewitched so that he lost his senses in this world. He and his companions lived on the plain at Pa-tea (fair fort) a little inland of Manawa-tu (startled heart) far in land, and his friends were jealous of Rau-kura because of his ability to procure food for his children in spring, so they determined to get a priest to bewitch him, and they did so, and when Rau-kura went to fish for eels in the Paki-hiwi (shoulder) lake, which lake is in the Pa-tea district on the Moa-a-whango (the moa bird of whango, hoarse) river, when he arrived at the lake to fish for eels, the margin of which lake is steep cliffs, and when he got into the lake, he became stupefied and forgot how to get back by the road he had gone to the lake, so that he wandered round and round in the lake, and was not able to get on shore, and he is seen at times by those who go there at this time, he is seen still wandering about and trying to get on shore, but all in vain.

page (207)

The octopus at Rau-kawa

When the news of the octopus at Rau-kawa (a very odoriferous smelling plant, which the Maori use to scent oil and land) was hard here (at Whanga-nui, big harbour) that is the many canoes wrecked by it, and when the tribes of Whanga-nui heard the report, a desire took possession of two chiefs called Pohea (make blind) and Tama-ngakau (son of the act to avenge) to go and dare to battle and kill that fish, and they considered how they might perfect their plans to kill that monster.

This fish lived at the place called Nga-whatu-kaipono (the kernels of greediness) in the Ti-tapua-maunga (rest on the Ti (cordyline) mountain) and near to Nga-tata-o-te-waka-a-Kupe (the bailers of the canoe of Kupe) and these two men knew where this fish was from reports they had heard.

Pohea and Tama-ngakau lived at Whanga-nui (great harbour) and they went in search of a tree from which to make a canoe for them selves and their attendants by which they could cross Rau-kawa (Cooks Strait) and by which they could be conveyed to kill this fish. They found a tree in a district of near the Maruia (the seed setting) creek at Wai-pakura (water of the Pa-keko or Pa-kura, Porphyrio melanotus). They felled this tree, and made it into a canoe, and dragged it to the top of the cliff of Kai-matira (fishers with rods) near Wai-pakura, down this cliff they caused the canoe to glide into the Whanga-nui river. The reason they sent the canoe down this cliff was to ascertain how strong the canoe was, and to see what omen would be given to them by their thus acting. The canoe slid down the cliff and into the river, and went under water till she came up at the opposite bank of the river, and when those who had dragged the canoe to the top of the cliff saw her come up on the other side of the river, they gave a loud shout of delight because the canoe had been not broken. If the canoe had broken, it would have been an omen that Pohea and those with him would be killed by the octopus at Rau-kawa.

page (208)

Now that the canoe was afloat, the people dragged her up on shore so that they could finish her by their labour, and to complete her with a fine finish, but soon after this they proposed to take her to the entrance of the Whanga-nui river and there complete her, so they took the canoe there, and put the rauawa (side board) on to her and finished her, at the same time they also completed other canoes in which the war party were to embark to kill the fish (octopus).

The war party embarked in the canoes to go and kill a chief called Tu-rere-ao (war god flying on a cloud) in payment for the death of Au-kehu (red current) and Tu-rere-ao was killed by this war party, and they took his head and put it on the post of the paepae (privy) at Manga-whatu (branch creek of the weaving) which was put up there as a sign for the food on which the war party would subsist while on the expedition to kill the wheke (octopus) at Rau-kawa.

The war party of Pohea (make blind) and of Tama-ngakau (son of the act to betray) went back to the Whanga-nui river, and when they had arrived at the entrance to the river they sent a messenger to Tireo-o-te-rangi (first night of the moon seen in the sky) to ask him to come and be the poike (power or guardian influence for the boy of the leading canoe in the expedition). Tireo-o-te-rangi was a very sacred man, and he might sit at the boy of the canoe, so that the war party should all be sacred, and induce to gods to be propitious towards them.

The messengers went to Turakina (thrown down) to Tireo-o-te-rangi, and they brought him from there, from the peak of the hill called Tauranga-manga (battle at the branch) and placed him on board of the canoe, and the canoe proceed to Rangi-tikei (day of striding) where fifty twice told of the war party landed, who were seen by the inhabitants of the place, page (209)who came towards the war party to kill them and the war party took their own paddles and gave battle to the people of Rangi-tikei and beat them in battle with the paddles, and the name of this battle was Tawiri-hoe (taunt of cowardice of the paddles). As soon as this battle had been fought, Pohea and party paddled to the other side of the Manawa-tu (startled heart) river, where the people of that locality rose to battle with the war party of Pohea, and Pohea and his party beat them also in battle, and the name of this battle was Harakeke-tautoru, which name was given from the face of Pohea and party having tied their hair up in a tuft on the top of their heads with raw flax, and also used raw flax as war girdles round their waists. From that part the sailed away to Te-ika-a-maru (the fish of the god of invalids) where they slept, and at dawn of day they sailed for Ara-pawa (path of smoke) and when they had got midway on the sea of Rau-kawa (Cook Strait) and near to Nga-whatu-kaiponu (the kernel of greediness) at the place where the wheke (octopus) was (or lived) the sea became of another colour, that is it became of a red colour and soon the wheke (octopus) came up and its tentacula took hold of the canoe, and the crew of the canoe were afraid and cried out "O death, o we shall be swallowed by this god we shall be wrecked o woe" and the spears they had prepared to stab the fish, they took into their hands, and the brave ones of the party said "This god must be speared" and Pohea said "Wait till we see the body" and he took a calabash of whale oil and poured it on to the sea, that the sea might be clear, as the sea had now become rough and the water dark, and the body of the wheke (octopus) was seen, and they speared it with the spears, they speared the body and stomach of the fish through and through with their spears and this monster died and they left it to and it floated on shore, and the place where it stranded page (210)has been called to this day Wheke-nui (great octopus).

The war party now returned to Ara-paoa, to the settlement of Tu-rere-ao, where Kahu-pani (garment of the orphan, or besmeared garment) the sister of Tu-rere-ao lived, this woman asked Pohea and his followers "Is there a man at Whanga-nui of the name of Ture-ao (law of the day or cloud)?" They said "There is not any one of that name there" and she again said "Yes but the name of my father was Ture-ao." Pohea and his friends said "Yes, but there is but one man at Whanga-nui of the name of Tu-rere-ao (god of war flying in the air or a cloud) but he is not the one of whom you are asking, and this one is not called Ture-ao." So this woman wept, and her people enquired of her and asked "For what are you weeping?" and she said "This is the people who killed my brother Tu-rere-ao." So the people of this woman attacked Pohea and his party and killed them all in payment for their having killed Tu-rere-ao.

The stump of the tree from which Pohea and his people made the canoe in which they went to kill the wheke (octopus) at Rau-kawa is seen to this day in the Whanga-nui district.

page (211)

Pohea and Tama-ngakau

When Pohea (blind) and Tama-ngakau (son of the heart or treachery) head of the wheke (octopus) they made a canoe at Te-wai-ki-maruaia (the water at the head) and when made they dragged the canoe towards the water, and when they had got her as far as the cliff at Kai-matira (fishers with a rod) they let the canoe slide down that cliff, so that they might see what omens were given in her course down that cliff, if she were broken, it would be an evil omen, but if she was not broken in her swift sliding down the cliff, it would be an omen of good; the canoe was not broken in sliding down the cliff, she flew down the cliff and slid into the water, and dived in the river and came up at the opposite bank of the river of Whanga-nui, and the people gave a loud shout of joy because their canoe was still intact. They dragged her and shone and put the side boards on to her, and they prepared also other canoes, and a party embarked in these canoes, to go and kill a chief called Tu-rere-ao (god of war flying on a cloud) in payment for Au-kehu (red current). When they had killed Tu (rere-ao) they took his head and put it on the top of the post of the Paepae (privy) at Manga-whatu (branch of the hail stone) and this was the food (or incentive) of pohea and Tama-ngakau in their expedition to kill the wheke (octopus) at Ara-pawa (path of the gall).

The war party of Pohea paddled to the entrance of the Whanga-nui (great harbour) where they sent for a chief called Tireo-o-te-rangi (first night of the new moon seen in the sky) as a poike (a head, to dare, to compel the power of the gods to come and help those who have a Priest to sit at the head of a canoe which leads an expedition of war) for their leading canoe. This Priest Tareo-o-te-rangi was brought from Turakina (thrown down as a felled tree) from shore at Tauranga-manga (battle of the branch). He was asked to go page (212)on board of the canoe, to make the canoe sacred.

The expedition then sailed towards Rangi-tikei (day of striding in walking) where they landed fifty twice told, there being seen by the people of the place, they were attacked by the Rangi-tikei men. The people of the district had paddles in their hands as weapons of war, and the war party of Pohea also had paddles as their weapons of war, and hence this battle was called Tawhiri-hoe (taunt with the name of paddle).

When Pohea and Tama-ngakau had fought this battle, and gained the victory, they went to Manawa-tu (startled heart) where the people collected to fight them not far from the bank of the river, and Pohea and his people beat these people also, and they called the name of the land where this battle was fought Harakeke-tautoru (flax (not aute) to tie the pare-koukou (hair of the head in a nob on the top of the head)).

The party then sailed away towards Ara-pawa (road of the gall) and when they had got half way across Rau-kawa (Cook Strait) the sea became changed in appearance, and became red coloured, and not long after the wheke (octopus) came and his tentacula took hold of the canoe, and the people cried out in dread, and the people lifted up their koo (an instrument used in digging fern root, and setting the kumara (ipomoea batatas) like a spear, but flat at one end) to kill this fish and Pohea said "Do not strike now, let us first see the fish." Then a calabash of oil was poured on the water, so that the water might be clear, as the water was dark, and now the body of the wheke (octopus) could be seen, and it was struck with the koo, and the stomach was pierced, and it died, and it was allowed to float on shore, and it stranded at the place now known as Wheke-nui (great octopus) which name that place has been called ever since.

The troop then went to Ara-pawa (path of gall) to the place from which Tu-rere-ao came (to Whanga-nui) and when the sister of Tu-rere-ao called Kahu-pani (garment of the orphan) page (213)heard that they were there, she asked the troop "Is there a name of a man at Whanga-nui called Tu-rere-ao?" The troop said "No." She said "Such was the name of my brother" and she wept, and her people asked why she wept, and she told them, and her people attacked Pohea and Tama-ngakau and their people and killed them all, in revenge for Pohea and Tama-ngakau having killed her brother Tu-rere-ao.

The root of the tree from which the canoe was made by Pohea and party, is still to be seen. In former times man durst not go near to it, as it was so sacred, and there was a rain-bow keeping guard over it, but in these day it is not sacred, and is seen by men of these days.

(190A to follow this)