Volume 45 1936 > Volume 45, No. 177 > Tutae-poroporo, by T. W. Downes, p 1-4
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TUTAE-POROPORO.

THE following version of the story of the taniwha Tutae-poroporo was given by the old and well-known chief Te Anaua, in support of his claim to Whanganui. The original is stamped with the Government seal and was given to the writer by the late Elsdon Best about thirty-five years ago.

A taniwha is one of the very great chiefs who after death becomes a spirit within a fish. Tutae-poroporo was one of the greatest of this kind of fish and lived at Poutou (? Poutu), near the lake Rotoaira (Roto-a-Ira), from whence he came to Whanganui to a place called Retaruke (108 miles upriver), from thence to Pipiriki, and then to Taumahaute (Shakespeare cliff, Whanganui). He destroyed a canoe, men and all, and everything that came in his way, until he himself was destroyed by Aokehu, the progenitor of the Whanganui tribes, who went to Arapaua in search of Ngataha's daughter after he was himself tattooed. His intended wife recognized him and they slept together. After he had been with her for some time, her father asked him what the food of his own land was. Aokehu replied, fish, kumara, and kao. Ngataha said he was not in search of fish but of kumara, and asked at what season the kumara was dug up. The reply was, in the summer during the kao 1 harvest. Ngataha's party with Aokehu his son-in-law and his daughter came to Otaki, where they combed their hair; the daughter said, when she combed the hair of her husband Aokehu, that his head would make a good tapuke-kai, or food-plate. She proved unfaithful to him so he endeavoured to decoy her to Whanganui, so that she might be destroyed by the taniwha there. Formerly the taniwha was the punisher of evil people. When a man - 2 or woman committed adultery or other crime, the spirit of the taniwha entered into their mind and constrained them to bathe in the river, on or near which he resided, when they were pulled under the water and eaten by the taniwha. When they came to the west side of the Rangitikei he said, “We are now close to home,” and they soon smelt the kao, or dried kumara, at Whanga-ehu. Then they saw the sea in an angry state up to Te Karaka, which is a bold bluff. The father-in-law asked what had occasioned the roughness, and Aokehu replied, “It is nothing but my home regretting my departure and welcoming me back to my abode.” When they had reached the mouth of the Whanganui, the whole of the party was destroyed except the daughter, whom the father took up into his own canoe. One hundred and forty were destroyed, and Aokehu was also swallowed up in the belly of the sea-monster, or taniwha; but as he was the last swallowed, he made his escape by taking his weapon, a tātere (a saw-like weapon made from the teeth of the shark called tātere), killed the taniwha and got ashore.

When the Whanganui tribes ate the monster taniwha, the land of Whanganui was dried up, having previously been flooded. Aokehu's valour for killing a taniwha was soon spread abroad; his sister Mata-wai was wife to Kau-moana, who begot Tupuake; his (? child) was Aokehu. Aokehu's wife was Eringa who begot (bore) Paku-taonga, Tio and Tauwekeiti. Tio begot Ringa, he begot Rapia, he begot Hamarama. Tauwekeiti begot Kakai-tauria, he begot Te Aoketahi and Te Keo. Te Keo begot Mare-ua, who begot Hakaraia.

Family Tree. Kaumoana, Tupuake, Aokehu=Eringa, Pakutaonga, Tio, Ringa, Rapia, Hamarama, Tauwekeiti, Kakai-tauria, Te Aoketahi, Te Keo, Marena, Hakaraia
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When Aokehu's valour was known among the Ngarauru (or Waitotara tribes) they came to Wai-puna and found Aokehu who, with one hundred and forty of his men, went to destroy Te Wawaiti at Patea, which was a taniwha; when that was killed they went to Ngatiruanui and destroyed another taniwha called Ngahapi. Aokehu also killed one at sea called Ekaroa. The Ngarauru people gave one of their chief's daughters, named Tukaniti, in marriage to Aokehu. On his return home he settled at a place near Purua. This is the history of the tupuna of the Whanganui people.

Tinanga was Rehi Turoa's mother and half-sister to Te Anaua, which gave him a claim on Whanganui.

A very old Whanganui waiata mentioning the taniwha Tutae-poroporo was given to the writer more than thirty years ago by Parete Wereta. Te Whatahoro was present when the waiata was recited by Parete Wereta, and the writer remembers that a dispute took place between the two regarding one of the obsolete words. The consequence was that no attempt at a translation was made at the time, and now it is feared that only a hazy idea of the general meaning can be given.

WAIATA.
Nei ka noho i te whare,
Kopana i te tito panā,
Nau i ki mai kaore aku puakanga,
Maku e tiki atu ki te pu ki te weu,
Ki te aka ki ata pore,
Maku ano ko taua aruhe no koure tahi ka iri Tara-moana,
Waiho i te whakaruru tu e tai noho pupuke kai,
Roto i to hinengaro i tikina atu ai nga whatu i rukuhia,
Mau (e) kimihia ki reira,
Mau ka kitea ki reira hoaina,
Ka ngawha koia te Awhio-rangi,
Ka tipu te tangata, ka makona to takapu e tito mai na,
Koia ano kei a koe e Kahu-taka mai au he rakau whatiwhati,
Ka whati te tokotoko Kauika nei e Maihi-rangi,
Ki ahau e Tama, he ika e tere ana na te Pu-o-te-Kawa,
I u tiki ki runga ki te Wai-tahu-parae,
Tirohia iho ra ki te rua o Tutae-poroporo
E tuwhera kau ki runga ra,
Na to tipuna iara, na Aokehu i whakarawe e au,
Ki te pa to taua a Tama hokai,
I taia a a timuaki,
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I hoki mai hoki koe i Taepa-tahuri e,
Nau ka puta mai ki taku tipuna Rua-rangi,
Maku e hoatu hei pukepuke karanga,
Hei tino tangata mo roto i Murimotu
E tino tangi ana koe na -a -a.
Reside I within my habitation
Collecting thoughts but dimly visioned
You have stated I know not truth
So will I reach down to foundations
The very root of all our (Maori) knowledge
Starting with the fernroot.
Your ancestor Tara-moana
Who was killed and hung in the shade
Of the all-embracing, food-heaping tide—
But spread not this story abroad
Let your thoughts dive (into history)
For the sacred stones
Search, and these shall be revealed
Awhio-rangi (the sacred axe)
Was shapen from these stones
And man came forth, was satisfied
And added to the sacred lore
Which you have now received from Kahu-taka
Some affirm this lore is incorrect
And liken it to broken weapons,
Used by Kauika and Maihi-rangi.
To me, O son (these reports are as)
A fish floating on the sea,
Drifting along by Te Pu-o-te-kawa
And thence directly to Wai-tahu-parae
To investigate the lair of Tutae-poroporo
Which is open to view yonder.
It was your ancestor Aokehu
Who created history about the pa (or people)
Go forward O son, grasp the head
Of matters difficult from which you formerly
Returned affrighted, from following Taepa-Tahore
Through my ancestor Rua-rangi
You came into existence
And I have given to you
Even as a hill top to call from
And thus create in you
A man of knowledge and of power
Within the Muri-motu district
Where you can continue to lament
(O'er past events).
1   Kao harvest is in the original manuscript but what it means is uncertain as kao is generally recognized as preserved or mashed kumara.