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The Ancient History of the Maori, His Mythology and Traditions. Nga-Puhi [Vol. X, English]

Chapter III

Chapter III

Hihi-o-tote the murderer

Hihi-o-tote lived at O-taua, and he occupied his time in killed (murdering) men. Not any one could go alone for fear of Hihi-o-tote. He killed his victims with a piece of maire wood which he sharpened as a dirk.

He waited at this settlement till he heard the voice of people on the road, and he took his pounder, and his maire dirk, and went on the road some distance in front of his intended victim and waited, and as these came up to where he was, he called the usual welcome of "Come, come" as though he was welcoming them in kindness, and the travellers even thought he was calling in love, and these would bow down to rub noses with him in the usual custom as he was sitting, but as the nose of the traveller touched his, he would strike page (35)his maire dart into their throat, which he kept hid beneath the large plait of his rough mat, the body of his victim he would take to his home, which he cooked and dried in strips for future eating, thus he acted till the time of the daughter of Mahia being lost and not any one could give an account of where she was but Mahia knew that his daughter had been killed by Hihi-o-tote, so he made a war trumpet of kauri wood, and he and his son Oro-kewa left their home at Awa-rua and went towards Mataraua and on to O-taua, and when they had arrived at the top of Puke-kaka hill Mahia blew a blast on his war trumpet, and his son Oro-kewa went from the road up the hill and sat down in the fern on one side of the path, when Hihi-o-tote heard the war trumpet, he at once started from his home, and went in the direction from which he supposed the sound of the trumpet came, he went on in delight because of the prospect of what he should obtain, when Mahia saw Hihi-o-tote going towards him he called "Welcome, welcome" which caused Hihi-o-tote to walk quickly, and as he got near to Mahia Hihi-o-tote bowed his face to rub noses with him. Mahia saw the point of the maire dirk under the plaited fold of Hihi-o-tote's mat, and Mahia made a blow at him with his war trumpet, which Hihi-o-tote warded off, and at once the two men grappled in a death struggle, when Oro-kewa jumped out of his hiding place and felled Hihi-o-tote to the ground. Hihi-o-tote as he lay on the ground exclaimed "It took two to kill Hihi-o-tote." So Mahia killed Hihi-o-tote, and men could live (or in those days murder ceased) when Hihi-o-tote was dead, so ends the account of the doings of Hihi-o-tote.

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This is an account of Hihi-o-tote, his home was at Otaua, and his work was that killing men for him to eat as he liked the flesh of man to eat above all other food. Men would not go alone near the place of Hihi-o-tote, as he was the one man of all men of whom all Nga-puhi were afraid, and not any one would go near to his home, for fear of being killed and eaten by the murderer.

He killed men with a maire (weapon) his weapon was made of maire (santolum cunninghamii) tree and made like a tao (spear) but it was not like the spear carried by most men into battle, but it was a short spear, as long as from the middle finger to the elbow of a man's arm, this he made sharp by scraping it with obsidian, and this was as sharp as it splintered obsidian used to make holes in the gunwales of canoes.

How this man captured his victims was, he lived alone in his home, he had not any wife as not any women would be his wife because of the dread all felt of him, lest he should kill and eat her. He stayed at his home, and when he heard the voice of human beings, he took his komeke, a rough mat, and is not unlike a ………., but much larger and thicker, and the upper edge is plaited like a rope as was as thick as a man's arm.

When he heard the voice of human beings he went along the road, though it were to a great distance from his home, having on his meke mat and his maire dirk in his hand, went and sat down in the road and waited for the person whose voice he had heard to come up to where he was, and when he saw the person coming towards him he would call the usual welcome of "Come, come" as though he was calling them in genuine respect, and the traveller would also think that Hihi-o-tote called and welcomed him in page (37)the usual Maori way of greeting, and would return the greeting with kindness. The stranger would go up to him, as Hihi-o-tote sat on the ground, but sitting on his heels, and when the stranger bowed down to rub noses with him, Hihi-o-tote would stab him in his throat with his maire dirk, which he held inside of the rope like fringe of his meke mat a little below his own chin, which dirk could not be seen by the victim, as it was hid by the rope like fringe of the mat, he invariably killed his victim with a stab of his maire dirk, and he carried the corpses to his home where he cut it into strips and dried it for his own eating. He thus acted till the time that the daughter of Mahia was lost and not any one knew how she had disappeared, but she had been killed by Hihi-o-tote.

When Mahia was perfectly certain that his child had been murdered by Hihi-o-tote, he determined to be avenged for the murder of his child, so he took some timber and made a war trumpet, and when he had finished this Putara of kauri wood, he said to his son Oro-kewa "O son I am exceedingly sorrowful on account of the death of your sister, I can not sleep at night, as my heart is ever crying for the death of my daughter. Let us two go and seek for payment for the death of your sister, lest I ever cry for her death, and disease may take me and I also die."

Oro-kewa said to his father "You say 'Let us two go', yes it is well."

They two rose at their home at Awa-rua and went towards Mata-raua and on to O-taua and when they had gained the peak of Puke-kawa they sat down, and Mahia took his war trumpet and blew a long blast on it, the voice of this war trumpet sounded far and near, and the echo of its voice sounded at each page (38)settlement in the district.

Now that they had sat to rest on this hill, and as Mahia had sounded his war trumpet, he said to his son "O Oro-kewa, the rascal will have heard the voice of my war trumpet, so he will perhaps come towards us at once, do you step on one side of the road and there sit in silence, and leave me to ward off any blow he may make at me."

Oro-kewa said "It is right, and if you are strong, yo alone shall kill our payment, as your heart is greatly weeping for the death of my sister, do you alone kill our victim, so that your grief may be appeased."

Mahia said "But if I am taken unawares by my foe, you must not attack him with an uncertain blows, but strike him with power, and hit him with your Hoe-roa (flat whale bone weapon) on the skull, so that his brains which are emanating such acts may be gushed out, and his murderous thoughts killed."

Oro-kewa had a weapon called a Hoe-roa, this he took with him on this expedition, and he sat on the side of the path, hid from the view of this murderer.

The war trumpet of Mahia had been blown, and the sound had reverberated for a great distance, and Hihi-o-tote heard it, and at once, started for the place from which the sound came, he took his heavy garment and his dirk, and went towards the spot from which he had heard the blast blown on the war trumpet. He was glad to think of the food he should obtain as the man who had blown the war trumpet could be a meal for him on the morrow.

Hihi-o-tote came on and got onto the path on which Mahia and his son were, and Mahia saw page (39)him coming towards where he was, and he sat down and called the usual welcome to Hihi-o-tote and same "Come, come" but Hihi-o-tote sat down, and as Mahia sat still, Hihi-o-tote got up and in a quick manner went towards Mahia, and he bowed down to rub noses with Mahia, and Mahia saw the point of the maire dirk, in the rope like fringe of the mat of Hihi-o-tote, so Mahia leaped to his feet and made a blow at the head of Hihi-o-tote with his war trumpet, but as this was not a weapon of war, Hihi-o-tote warded the blow from himself, so Mahia grappled with him and they two struggled, Oro kewa saw all this, and so soon as his father had laid hold of Hihi-o-tote, he jumped from his hiding place unseen by Hihi-o-tote, and as Hihi-o-tote and Mahia were struggling with each other, Oro kewa waited till the head of Hihi-o-tote should be clear for him to give it a blow, he had not long to wait, when with his Hoe-roa he gave the skull of Hihi-o-tote a sense breaking blow, and felled him to the ground, and Mahia took the Hoe-roa, but Hihi-o-tote got hold of the rope that was attached to the upper end of the weapon, and ere Mahia had killed him with the Hoe-roa Hihi-o-tote said "Two attacked Hihi-o-tote, or he would not have been killed."

Mahia killed Hihi-o-tote with the aid of his son Oro-kewa, and they beat his body all to a pulp, and the skull they cracked to atoms, and left the corpse to rot on the road, where the sun and rain could devour it.

There was not any one to weep over the death of Hihi-o-tote, he died the death of a slave, unwept, and unlamented, nor was he buried or his bones taken to the sacred place. Who should do this for him, when all felt disgusted at his horrid work of murder, and his bones were scattered over the ground by the force of winter floods.

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A woman murderer

A young woman of high rank of the same tribe as those she killed became impressed in her mind that she should kill some one, and made the attempt to kill her sister but being overpowered by some who resisted her attempt, she left the Pa and went on a journey on the road she met a slave woman with a bundle of firewood on her back she took one piece of the wood the slave woman had and knocked her on the head page (B No.2 White)(35)(2)(40)and left her for dead and went on her journey, when she met a girl going to fetch water at a stream, she followed the girl and drowned her in a pool in the stream then she returned to the Pa calling out "Ko te whakaariki" (a war party) the people of the Pa found the body of the girl and also the slave woman; the slave recovered and told who it was who had attempted to kill her, as this proved who had also killed the girl, and as the murderer was of very high rank, not any thing was done, but the matter was passed by as an accident of mind or aitua impressed on this woman by the gods.

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Murder by children

At the heads of Hokianga a number of young people were out in the forest with a slave man, these children had a spear each who after they had amused themselves with sticking their spears into all they liked in the forest began to have a game of a mock battle, taking the trees as their enemies, the slave sat down to look at them as each boy or girl ran up to a tree exclaiming here is my man and hit the tree with their spears, one of the boys in the excitement of the game being near to the sitting slave ran up to him and with a thrust of his spear said but here is my man and pierced the slave the others seeing this all fell on the slave and speared him to death and then left him. On their return to the Pa they told with glee the game they had been amusing themselves with and its end, for which they were applauded by their parents who said they all would be brave in battle when they became men and women.

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Intended murder

One day a man was fishing from a rock on the west coast, his father and mother were sitting in a little cove on shore, these saw two men come along the coast one page (B No.2 White)(38)(4)(42)of whom wished to kill the man on the rock the other man objected for some time they disputed when the father and mother of the man on the rock crept close up to the man who wished to kill the one on the rock and waited to see if the man on the rock was attacked and if he had been attacked they would have killed the one who killed him. Not being allowed to kill the man on the rock the matter ended but payment was made for the intended murder.

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Murder told at death

A tribe who lived at Reef Point (Taura-roa) on the west coast north of Hokianga who had had killed an old chief of their tribe, and blaming a tribe of 3 men and some women and children who lived at the North Cape, this tribe went by night and killed these 3 men and all, those the killing party found early in the morning just as they were lighting the fire to cook the morning meal.

Many years after this murder the chief of the Rock Point tribe was on his death bed, he called his son and said "Live in this world, live in peace and do not kill any one on suspicion do not kill on the thought that they were those who killed someone who had been murdered, but ask and be sure you know the facts, those 3 men and women and children whom I helped to kill were not those who murdered your relatives, I now know who did it, those 3 men and their wives and children were killed for no fault of theirs, but as blood has been taken from those 3 men for your relatives so let the matter rest."

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Murder by a boy

At the same place as the woman lived who killed the slave and a girl and from the same Pa, two boys went into the forest to spear Pigeons, each with a spear, they had not obtained any birds, and on their return, one boy being a little in advance of the other the one behind ran his spear at the one in front and left him for dead, the one who speared the other ran Home calling "Ko te whaka ariki" (a war party) the people of the Pa went out and found the wounded boy who on being asked said his companion had speared him. This was nearly the cause of a tribal war, and but for a payment of property and land given by the relatives of the would be murderer, a war would have been the consequence of this rash act.

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Murder love and suicide

A chief of the same tribe as the young women murderer and boy murderer called Paopao, had two young men slaves, one of which for amusement he one day killed, and the other was by command of this chief driving a pig along the sea coast on the sandy beach from Hokianga to Whangape, as the poor fellow was driving the pig he saw in front of him the shadow of a man on the sand, as he had left the Pa alone, this shadow startled him, he left the pig and stepped aside, it was his master Paopao with a spear in his hand who had made a thrust at him, but the slave stepping aside had not been hit, the blow was given with such force and not hitting the slave, Paopao fell on the sand on his face, the slave ran for his life and escaped.

Te Paopao had made love to a young woman who would not have him, this had preyed on his mind, for this attempt to kill his slave he was not seen for four summers. When some of the people were out in the forest spearing Pigeons they found the skull and bones of a man in the forest near to the skull was found a Heitiki which had been known to be in the possession of Paopao, the old fellow had hung himself as the rope by which he had done the act part of which was still tied to and dangling on a bow of a tree above where the bones were found, his bones were left where they had fallen, as he was so disliked by his people.

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Maori strategy in war

A little beyond Ahi-para, a branch of the hills that line the western coast of New Zealand terminates in a somewhat remarkable spur, stretching to the sea, with steep ravines on either side. A deep cutting on the summit of the ridge formed a stronghold or Pa and rendered the spot impregnable. This was held by a tribe of warriors of the Au-pouri for years against a powerful enemy of the Nga-ti-awa who vainly strove to dislodge them. At length the siege was raised; the assaulting party disappeared; where, the besieged could not tell, and seemed, moreover, not much to care so strong was their confidence in their chosen seat. The departure of the enemy drew off much of the war restraint. Meanwhile, years passed, and a stranger tribe ensconced itself at a small port on the western coast, known as Whanga-pe. The chief characteristic of this tribe appeared in their somewhat singular passion for rearing dogs. Each member vied with the other in the possession of dogs; dogs outnumbered their masters by tens and twenties. Suddenly, however, this flagged. The masters seemed embittered against their old pets, and the settlement, so resonant with the barking of these animals, was no quiet and almost oppressively still. The dogs were all killed, and the skins cured, and the tribe set off for the North, carrying their dogskins with them. They were no strangers to the spot they reached - the stronghold described - and the tribe, the former assailants. Stealthily they came; no suspicions roused the once again besieged. Secretly and diligently the besiegers wrought, in a covert sport, their dogskins into a wonderful mass. The fabric completed, large quantities of fish were caught, and attached to different parts of this strange dogskin tent, as it seemed. One starry, yet dark, night there arose a stir among the tribe, and they moved on for the pa. Silently they raised the dark dome, covered with strung fish, on the beach underlying the stronghold. Within it crept a chosen part of fighting men, and another lot stole stealthily up the ravines, and crouched under cover within rushing distance of the pa. Calmly the night wore on. With the faint glimmer of approaching day, the young men of the pa looked out of their whares. "What attracts that cloud of sea-birds?" say they. "What dark mass lies stretched on the sand yonder?" "A whale! a whale!" they shout, and youths and hale men rush along down the steep ridges to the prey beneath; none but decrepid age and children and women, busy lighting the hangis (native ovens) for the anticipated feast. Now they reach the beach. Only a few moments of time, and death in many forms springs yelling from the whale; the monster disgorges its dark band of enemies. The victims cast a back look on their Home. Oh, for their arms! They stand unarmed; their Homes are all ablaze; and down on them draws a cloud of destruction. Around them surges a wave of despair! What is bravery now? Without an effort, without a sound, young men and hale men and old grey-headed warriors bow down to their death. The end is complete; the design of years is accomplished; the coveted stronghold knows new masters, and, from its beetling heights and wild ravines, the wily children of the stranded whale look grimly down on the scene of their strategy and triumph.

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Wife and child

A woman of the Whiri-naki river named Miringa took to husband a man of the people who lived in Te Taheke up the Waima river on the Hokianga, when her husband was away in a war, the brothers of this woman went in a canoe from Whirinaki to Te Taheke and calling to her said "Come to our canoe, we have some pipis for you," this was all a hoax as she had a child a boy then not many months old, which her brothers did not like, when she arrived at the canoe they took her away with them and left the child, the relatives of the husband took the child and kept it and brought it up to man's estate, if the child had been a girl the brother of the woman would have taken it as it would have been a man's ruahine, but as it was a boy a rito, propagator, and would have been the "Taaunga" or "Kai Whakatu" ia ratou, that is would have been senior of the uncles therefore they would not take it.

Write out account of girl ………. waterfall at Te Taheke in Wai-ma, so that she could escape her ………., who she detested and would not marry.

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Nga-ti-awa and Nga-puhi

The wars which were constantly being waged between the Ngatiawa and the ancient people of the Kaitaia district, the Nga-ti-whatua was the cause of Kauri being made the leader of that section of the Nga-ti-awa who occupied the district of Kaitaia who commanded his people to cut a canal from the west coast into the lake in the swamp at the head of the Kaitaia river, so that the sea might flood the Kaitaia valley page (B No. 1 White)(88)thereby flood the whole valley and kill the crops of the Kaitaia people and for want of food starve them out of the district, this the people under Kauri undertook to complete, but the Hotos or Maire spade they used in working became all broken before the canal was cut through to this coast and the attempt was abandoned after which Kauri and his people migrated to Tauranga.

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Nga-ti-awa expelled from Kai-taia
(Te-Patu, Nga-puhi)

Fronting (and about a quarter of a mile from) Kai-taia mission station, is a steep hill, the termination of a long range, forming a spur at each end. At the top of one spur is an entrenchment of an old Maori pa, and near by there grows a scented moss, kopuru, which Maori ladies of olden time used to wear in a Hei pouch, fastened round their necks.

The pa belonged to Nga-ti-awa, who formerly lived at the North. A great battle was fought near the foot of this hill, between the Nga-puhi and Nga-ti-awa and other tribes, which ended in Nga-ti-awa's defeat, and subsequent flight to Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty.

On the opposite spur, called the Kerekere, are also remains of a pa of later date, which was occupied by Te-whiti and his braves. The view from this point is very extensive, and singularly lovely. Part of the Taka-hue range, far away in the dim blue haze, nearer and darker blue forest ranges and ferny hills, then the distant roadstead of Ahi-para, with the surf dashing up its rocky point, called Taura-roa, and sparkling in the sunshine, Lake Ta-ngongo, the long Awa-nui flatskirted for some distance on one side by a dark kahika-tea wood, part of Ranga-unu Bay, and Mount Campbell (Ohora) far away, form a scene of indescribable loveliness; everything looking so quiet and still now, once a scene of war and terror.

It was while Te-whiti lived in the Kerekere pa that Wai-tohi and other Nga-puhi chiefs came with their men to fight with the Nga-ti-awa tribe. Their last encampment was at a place called Oinu, about four miles from Te-whiti's pa. After dark they sent two men, who were to bring back what information they could gather relative to the strength of the pa. These spies entered the pa unnoticed, going about among the people for a while, till they were discovered. One was killed, the other escaped.

That night, Te-whiti addressed his people, "Listen to me, ye braves! Nga-puhi is coming to fight us. Be strong, and of good courage. Let the old men and the women and the children remain in the pa. To-morrow at early dawn we go forth to meet them fearing nothing. Ye braves, be valiant."

That night, too, a consultation was held in the Nga-puhi camp. Some were dispirited by the information brought, and proposed a return home, but Wai-tohi got up and spoke and said: "Let all cowards go back, and all the brave follow me; treading in my footsteps." (Me hoki te wawau te hukehuke, ko te toa e aru mai i au) and again he said "He kokako ka took i runga o Rau-mahoe" (a kokao (callaeas cinerea) stalks away on Rua-mahoe) a Proverb for a coward who runs away from a battle, or when any ………. begins he leaves the dispute and departs. So all stayed, not willing to be thought cowards. A Maori war party, while marching, observed the strictest silence - no one venturing to speak till command be given to halt.

Te-whiti of Nga-ti-awa with his men met Nga-puhi half away from their camp - each chief heading men, the attacking and the attacked. Te-whiti's weapon was a spear, Wai-tohi's a waha-ika. Each rushed forward to meet the other. Te-whiti sent the end of his spear through Wai-tohi's neck, while he, not waiting to draw it out, sprang forward, and struck Te-whiti down to the ground with his waha-ika. A general conflict ensued, in which Nga-puhi came off victorious. The Nga-ti-awa fought long and well for their families and homes, and sold their lives like true warriors.

The place was called Rangi-mangu (black day) in remembrance of what happened there, and still goes by that name. Wai-tohi did not die from his wound. Maoris generally do not fear death.

In those days they believed in a sort of Elysium, the entrance to which lay under the tangled seaweed, and deep water at the Reinga, where the men would have beautiful wives and an abundance of kumara, fish, and other delicacies. I never heard of fighting going on there as up here. It was always spoken of as being a very desirable country.

Told by Tara-ru.