Volume 23 1914 > Volume 23, No. 91 > Pelorus Jack. Tuhi-rangi, by T. W. Downes, p 176-180
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- 176

[Pelorus Jack is assuredly the most distinguished of fish, for he alone has an Act of Parliament to protect him. This species of Cetacean is a white fish, said to be some 15 to 20 feet in length, that is in the habit of accompanying every steamer that passes through the dangerous waters of the French Pass, in Cook's Straits.

From the Maori account, secured by Mr. Downes, it would appear that this fish (or his ancestors) was known as long as eleven generations ago, and has been in the habit of accompanying canoes through the Pass long before the advent of steamers. We may possibly set down the account of the fish having come from Hawaiki in the times of Kupe, as a modern gloss. Mr. Downes tells us the following story was told by an old chief long before the white man discovered the habits of Pelorus Jack. EDITOR.]

IT was about the year 1860 that Te Matoro-hanga gave me the history of Tuhi-rangi, the fish you Pakehas call Pelorus Jack. I have been told that one of your friends 1 has written a little book in which he calls the fish Kaikai-a-waro. Now Kaikai-a-waro was not the name of the fish but of his home, so I will give you this history in order that the true story may be known:

When Tamatea, captain of the ‘Takitimu’ canoe, was at Whangarā, Titi-rangi (in Hawaiki, i.e., Tahiti), the report reached him that Kupe had found some new islands at the far end of the sea; so he said to Rua-wharo, “Go and ask your grandfather to come over and tell us what he knows about the matter.” Rua-wharo thereupon went to Rangiatea (island) and delivered his message. Upon the arrival of the old man, Tamatea asked for a report, and in reply his grandfather said the discovery was occasioned by Te wheke-a-Muturangi taking the bait from Kupe's fishing lines so that he could catch no fish. Kupe went to his priest to learn the reason and was told to bring his lines and hooks to the tohunga (or priest) for inspection. The tohunga advised Kupe to try again and to bind his bait to the hook by winding string round and round, also to - 177 pull in his line very slowly, so that the wheke (or octopus) could be speared as soon as it reached the surface. Kupe did this and killed a great many little wheke, but the author of the trouble, Te wheke-a-Muturangi fled to some distance so as to be safe. Kupe and Ngaki followed hard in their canoes but as they could not reach the great wheke Ngaki said to Kupe, “Go back for food and more people to paddle; I'll stay here so as not to lose the track of the fugitive wheke.” Kupe then returned to Rangiatea where he obtained food and men. He then informed his wife and family that he intended making a voyage in pursuit of the wheke, but his wife cried and pleaded that he should send some one else, till he became very angry and said, “What sort of talk is this. If you are not satisfied you shall come with me.” He thereupon took his wife and family on his canoe, but before he left he enquired from the tohunga if his journey would be successful. The priest told him that he would accomplish the object of his journey and kill the wheke at a far distant island that lay to the west and south, but that he would require a guide to lead the way to the island. The tohunga then told Kupe of Tuhi-rangi and ordered the fish to follow Te Wheke-a-Mutu-rangi and act as a guide to the canoes. He also told Kupe to watch the fish, for if Tuhi-rangi returned, the canoes were to return also, or disaster would result.

When they reached Aotearoa (New Zealand) Tuhi-rangi led the way from Hokianga to a rock called Rangi-whakaoma at Castle Point where there is a cave some fourteen feet deep in which Te wheke-a-Mutu-rangi took refuge, but he was driven out with sticks and fled south.

Looking from Patawa (a rock in Island Bay, near Wellington) Kupe saw the wheke floating towards Au-miti (the French Pass). He therefore ordered Ngaki to go on the far side while his canoe remained on the land side. Seeing the canoes on both sides of him the wheke got hold of Ngaki's canoe and capsized it. Immediately Kupe saw that his companion was in trouble he threw overboard a net full of calabashes (three or four, said Te Matorohanga), and the wheke being deceived, left Ngaki's canoe and laid hold of the calabashes with its feelers; thereupon Kupe seized his toki (or axe) and quickly killed the monster. When the wheke was dead, Kupe chopped its eyes out, took them on board his canoe, and when he came to Nga-whatu (or The Brothers Rock in Cook's Straits) he left them there, naming the place Nga-whatu (the eye balls).

After leaving the South Island Kupe went on to Matiu and Makaro (Islands in Wellington Harbour) which he named after his nieces, and from thence he went to Te Mana-o-Kupe island (in Cook's Straits), which he named after the man who killed the wheke. He then went to the South Island, and as he was approaching the main land he saw the cave Kaikai-a-waro on the left side of Au-miti (the French Pass), - 178 going towards Whakatu (or Nelson). There are two little knobs just before the French Pass is reached going from Wellington, and on the first of these Tuhi-rangi took up his abode. He was instructed to stay at that place by the tohunga because Potoru was drowned there when his canoe, the ‘Ririno’ 2 was swamped by the whirlpool. There is a rock on the left side going towards Nelson called Kawau-a-Toru which was so named because when the canoe was swamped Toru's pet comorant broke one of its wings, but swimming on shore it landed on the rock and has remained there ever since. 3

This is the reason why Tuhi-rangi was ordered to guard the canoes as they went backwards and forwards through the Pass, lest they meet the same fate as Potoru. There Tuhi-rangi has remained ever since, faithfully watching and guiding all through the centuries down to the present day. 4

Said my informant—“I did not hear about Tuhi-rangi being placed in the Pass because of Potoru's accident, from Te Matorohanga, but from Tariahi, of Hawke's Bay, but I give you proof that it is correct by a song composed by Rau-mata-nui, who lived eleven generations ago”:—

Family Tree. Rau-mata-nui, Tu-mata-roa, Te Rangi-tekehua, Te Rangi-tu-momotu, Muretu, Te Kaka-hou, Tu-te-pakihi-rangi, Wiremu-Kingi, Duncan King, Edward King, Daughter
- 179
He aha rawa ra,
Te hau e koheri mai nei,
He hau tonga pea,
Kikihi rawā ki taku kiri,
Tena rawa pea
Te iwi ka wehe i a au.
Maunga tunoa Tararua
Ka ngaro whakaaitu koutou, E koro ma e!
Ko te ngaro pea i a Tuhi-rangi,
Ki roto o Kaikai-a-waro
I waiho ai koe e Kupe
Hei rahiri waka,
Rere i Te Au-miti,
I raru ai Potoru,
Koia Te Kawau-a-Toru,
E roha paihau tahi noa mai ra,
I te au rona, i te au miro,
I te au whakaumu,
I waiho ake ai e Manaia
Hei tupa i a Nuku-tamaroro.
Ko te rite i a koutou
E ngaro nei i ahau,
E manuka noa nei au
I te ra roa o te Maruaroa-o-te-orongo-nui
Auē! ki au, E kui ma e!
E mahue rawa te wa kainga ki nga motu,
Ko wai rawa
Hei rauwiri mai i au ē ī.
Wherefore doth the breeze
Blow thus upon me?
Wind from the south perhaps,
Tingling the skin;
Perchance the silent bearer
Of greetings from my people
By far distance severed.
Tararua stands for ever
But lost seem my kindred
Lost like Tuhi-rangi
In his cave Kaikai-a-waro
Where left by Kupe
(In days that are past)
Left to protect canoes
Journeying through Te Au-miti
There was Potoru drowned,
And this the reason—
That Potoru's pet comorant
Stretches out but a single wing.
Waters rush in the whirlpool
Strong currents and deep—
- 180
Created by Manaia
To stop Nuku-tama-roro 5
From forcing a passage.
Thus are my kindred gone
To me lost for ever
This knowledge and thought
Ever remains with me
Through the long summer days.
Alas! O, ye women! pity me,
Left alone in a desolate home
Far distant from the islands.
Who now remaineth—
To protect and comfort me, alas!
1   J. Cowan.
2   There are two accounts of ‘Te Ririno’ canoe: one is that after meeting with Turi of the ‘Aotea’ canoe at Rangi-tahua (or probably The Kermadec Islands) she came on and was wrecked at Tama-i-ea. or Nelson Boulder Bank. The other is that the canoe came from Hawaiki, and then went on to the Chatham Islands.—See “Journal Polynesian Society,” Vol. XXIII., p. 83. EDITOR.
3   See “Journal Polynesian Society,” Vol. II., p. 149, for the story of Te Kawau-a-Toru. EDITOR.
4   Potoru and the Ririno canoe must have come some time after Kupe; but that is only an incident. T. W. D.
5   See “Journal Polynesian Society,” Vol. XXIII., p. 12, for an account of Nuku-tama-roro, and his pursuit of Manaia from Hawaiki to New Zealand.—EDITOR.