Volume 5 1896 > Volume 5, No. 3, September 1896 > The story of the Whaki-tapui, and Tu-taia-roa, by Kerehoma Tu-whawhakia, translated by S. Percy Smith, p 155-162
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THE first husband of this lady, of Whaki-tapui, was Paihau. He was of the Ngati-Ruanui tribe, and was a chief of some note. I will relate the reason why that lady—Whaki-tapui—came here, to Whanganui. The following is the cause of her coming here:

The chief-like fame of Tu-rere-ao of Whanganui had reached even the dwelling place of Whaki-tapui, and in consequence she set her affections on him, hoping may-be, that in the future she might see him. There came a time when the sea being calm, her husband, Paihau, went forth to catch fish for them all. There were left at the village none but the women; all the men had gone to sea. After they had left, the lady Whaki-tapui felt a strong desire towards some taro; the reason being that her child was quickening within her. She proceeded therefore to fetch some—from her own taros. As she lifted the cover of the taro store in order to take some to appease her longing, her sisters-in-law stealthily watched her. The taros belonged to herself; no one else had any share in those which her sisters-in-law so stealtily watched her taking. She took some to eat, but only a few; and then cooked and ate them.

Subsequently her husband, Paihau, returned. When his sisters saw him, they went to him and said, “Your seed taros have been stolen by your wife; we saw her do it.” Paihau said, “What is it to you, such talk?” The sisters, however, continued to repeat the story without ceasing. Finally Paihau became annoyed with this talk, and went to ask his wife if it was true that she had eaten some of the seed taros. The lady replied, “It is true I ate some taros, because I felt a strong desire for some. I did not take any of the seed taros, but merely ordinary taros (for food). But go yourself that you may make sure. Those women invented the story that I cooked some of - 156 the seed taros.” On this, Paihau spoke angrily to his wife, who was overcome with deep shame; her crying was excessive, whilst a feeling of anguish pervaded her whole body.

And now she bethought her of the fame of Tu-rere-ao which had reached so far. She thought to herself, she now had ample cause for leaving Paihau. She then said to her husband, “The reason I went to fetch some of those taros was because of thy child within me, hence the desire; but what does that signify! I have been publicly accused by you all of stealing; I will never return to those taros.” Now, from henceforth the lady commenced to abstain from food, she had ceased to relish it; tears alone, by night and by day, were her sustenence, until a certain day came when Paihau again went to sea to catch fish. After he had gone, the lady absconded in pursuit of the fame of Tu-rere-ao, and to fulfil the longing of her heart for that individual. As the lady departed, she (by her incantations) drew out the expanse of ocean that it might be long, and hindered (by incantation) the canoes that they might be very slow in returning, in order that she might be well away on her flight (before the canoes returned). She also went to the tuāhu (where invocations are offered) to prepare herself. When finished, she came on her way. Some time after her, the canoes returned home. It was dark in the evening. All this time Paihau was expecting to find his wife at the village home; not so, she had been gone some time; he saw only the pillars of the house, there was no wife for him to speak to. Then was the man troubled on account of his fugitive wife, and lamented for her. This ended, away he went to the tuāhu to prepare himself; remaining there till midnight, by which time he had completed (his incantations).1 He then started in pursuit of his wife. His wish was to overtake her on the road. There was no chance of that, as the other (the lady) continued to charm her footsteps as she went. So did the husband; reciting the tapuae as he proceeded in pursuit. Each one used the matapou, or hindrance, against the other, though each was out of the other's sight. Thus they continued, endeavouring to understand one another's movements; one (at least) felt or knew something, that she would be followed by her husband.

Their common road was by the side of the sea; they slept not that night, but each pushed on. The wife, far in advance of her husband, came suddenly upon Tu-rere-ao, who was gathering kakaho (toetoe) reeds at Koko-huia, to be used in building a house for himself up the Whanganui river. As Tu-rere-ao looked up he beheld the lady advancing; at the same time she caught sight of him, and came - 157 straight to where he was. On her arrival they exchanged greetings. Tu-rere-ao then asked the lady, “Whence comest thou?” The lady replied, “I come from Ngati-Ruanui.” Then said Tu-rere-ao, “Where art thou going?” To which the lady answered, “I am coming here, attracted by the great fame of Tu-rere-ao, which has drawn me to Whanganui. Where pray, is Tu-rere-ao?” Tu-rere-ao said, “He is up the river. But you could reach him by my help; if you wish it, I will take you to that man.” To this the lady replied, “Yes ! I am willing that you should take me to him. Let it be at once, lest I be overtaken by my husband; lest I be caught here by him.” Tu-rere ao then asked, “Who is thy husband?” The lady replied, “Paihau is my husband.” Tu-rere-ao at once knew that the lady was Whaki-tapui, and said to her, “Let us go that I may convey you to the man to whom you came.” The lady had no idea that she was speaking to Tu-rere-ao himself.

So they proceeded to his camp, and that of his tribe; it was at Te One-heke the people were staying, awaiting his arrival. As they approached the camp the lady heard the men calling out, “Here is Tu-rere-ao and his lady coming along.” She thought to herself, “O! it is Tu-rere-ao himself who accompanies me.” Then Tu-rere-ao commanded the men to launch the canoes, which they did, and when afloat he said to his people, “Embark the kakahos on the canoes, and let us pole2 away at once; make haste whilst the flood is available to carry us along.” Directly the kakahos were laden they poled away, whilst the lady heard the name of Tu-rere-ao constantly repeated by the people, so that she felt sure it was really Tu-rere-ao; and her heart felt glad as they poled away from the camp at Te One-heke, which is situated at the seaward end of the present town of Whanganui.

When Paihau arrived at the place where Whaki-tapui met Tu-rere-ao at Koko-huia, the canoes were poling past Ara-moho. When Paihau reached Kai-kokopu, he had to come along the shore. The others continued on to Puraho-tau, on the opposite side of the river to Po-takataka; there they remained. They thought they had gone far enough, and that Paihau could not reach there on account of the distance, and the thick overgrowth of the path. By the time evening fell upon them, however, Paihau reached the shore of the river opposite their camp. As the people looked across, they saw him sitting on a rock. Some of them said, “Behold there is a man, sitting on the rock!”; and they greeted him, “Tena-koe!”; and he in return greeted them, saying “Tena-koutou!” Then the people asked about him, saying “Who is that?” The lady said, “O! that is my husband, Paihau.” Paihau now called out to Tu-rere-ao, “Has not a woman come in this direction?” To which Tu-rere-ao replied, “Here (she - 158 is), come across to this side; let a canoe be sent for you.” The other answered, “Enough! remain on that side with our lady (i.e., the lady of us two); I am returning. I came in pursuit of our lady that I might behold the man with whom she is, and so that I might speak to him of the child (unborn).” Then said Tu-rere-ao, “What of that? cross over to this side that we may speak together, and then return quietly in the morning.” Paihau answered, “Remain there with our lady; after I am gone, when she has a child, if a male, let his name be “The-potency-of-my-feet.”3 Then the man drew off his dog-skin mat as a covering for the, as yet, unborn child of Whaki-tapui, and left it on the rock. Paihau called out to Tu-rere-ao, “Behold the garment, a covering for our child.” He then sprung away from the rock, and stood on another at the brink of the river—that he occupied at first was in the midst of the water. That rock was named by him, Otu-moari. And then that man returned to his home.

And now Tu-rere-ao took Whaki-tapui as his wife. Subsequently they poled up to their homes—to Utapu, and their other villages. At the time Paihau returned, and after he had gone, they sent over and brought away the garment left there as a covering for the child; and Tu-rere-ao took charge of it. So they arrived at their homes. After some time the child of the lady—Whaki-tapui—was born, it was a male child. It was at once named4 “The-potency-of-Paihau” (Te-Mana-a-Paihau). So the child grew, and remained continuously at Whanganui, never returning to his father Paihau, because he was beloved and cherished by Tu-rere-ao as one of his very own children, and stood in the place of a first-born to his other children. Hence was it he never allowed him to return to his own parent, Paihau. And so he and his younger brother, Turanga-pito, dwelt together in harmony, which was continued down to their offspring, with much goodwill; no evil was between, nothing (but peace).

The Story of Tu-taia-roa.

And so Tu-rere-ao brought up his son Turanga-pito (the son also of Whaki-tapui), and he grew, and reached manhood; he bore arms, engaged in war, and other various matters; also in the many pranks and divertisements of those lively beings—young men.

Now the time came when Tu-rere-ao went forth with his people, together with the Whanganui tribes, to do battle with the Ngati-Mania-poto tribe at the head of the Whanganui river. Turanga-pito had become a man, that is, was of mature age. The tribes proceeded, - 159 and finally arrived at their destination; and then Whanganui gave battle to their enemies. They could not take the pa, so they besieged it; they could not take it even then. So Whanganui arranged a haka (a posture dance), when all the chiefs of Whanganui showed out, to pukana, (i.e., grimacing and dancing), so that the people of the pa might admire the performance, and come outside to look on. Not one came forth, they kept close; the people of the place had no desire (for such entertainment).

Then Turanga-pito sprung forward in front of the company who were performing the haka. The young fellow's acting was admirable! He danced from one end of the haka to the other. In the mean-time the people of the pa were delighted with the action of the hero, and wondered at his power of posturing. This was the sign for all of them to come forth to admire him. The people exclaimed, “What a very fine dancer the man is!” They were all very pleased as they looked on. When Hine-moana heard her people praising Turanga-pito for the excellence of his dancing, she also came forth to witness it. As she looked on (in delight), her heart laughed within her, and she determined to descend to the camp of the army in order that she might more clearly see what the young man was like. When the army saw her coming, some said, “Here is a lady!”; others, who had known and seen her before, exclaimed, “It is Hine-moana! it is the sister of Tu-iri-rangi.” When Hine-moana arrived, and had seen Turanga-pito, she immediately fell in love with him. And so they were married, peace being at once made; and thus ended the war between Whanganui and Ngati-Mania-poto. Hine-moana was brought away by Turanga-pito as his wife.

Some time after Hine-moana had left, her cousins, Ngoio-nui and Ngoio-iti became anxious about her. This continued until after the lapse of a year, when they decided to follow Hine-moana, in the chance of seeing her again, and ascertaining whether she was alive or dead. In any case they decided to go, even if she should turn out to be dead. So they gathered together a company amongst their people to act as soldiers, to fight, in case they came across an enemy. This done, they started. By this time two years had elapsed since the disappearance of their cousin. They arranged (between them) that the husband should be killed, and if they found their cousin they would bring her back to their own home. And so they came on their way, and finally arrived at the village of Turanga-pito. When they got there Turanga-pito had gone away to prepare the eel-weirs in the river of Whanganui, only his wife was at home within the house, and she was suffering from her recent confinement, a boy having been born to her. As evening fell, the good-woman heard the noise of footsteps, and thought it was her husband. As the noise increased, she knew it must be other people, and she felt alarmed. She continued to listen, and then—behold I appeared one of her cousins, who greeted her. She - 160 seized her child and pressed it to herself; an act of precaution on her part, lest the cousins should take the child and kill it,5 hence she caught up her child at once. Afterwards came the other cousin, who also greeted her; and then the rest of the men followed, all doing the same. Then the men asked her, “What is your child?” The lady at once thought, If I say it is a male child it will be killed by my cousins, I shall not be able to prevent it; but if I say to them your little child is a girl, it will be saved; I will deceive these men. So she said to her cousins, “Your6 child is a female.” At the same time she held up the child in her arms, taking care to conceal its sex from them. The cousins looked, and were convinced it was a female child, and said, “It is enough, remain in peace with thy child.” After this came the second question of the cousins, “Where is thy husband?” Again the lady thought, If I say he is away at the eel-weirs, they will await for him at the landing-place and kill him; rather will I deceive them and make them afraid; so she said, “Your brother-in-law has been gone some time to invite the people of his tribe to the birth of your child, and also to the naming.” They then asked, “When will he return?” The good-woman replied, “To-morrow morning will he return.” Said the men, “Where will be the end of his journey?” She said, “From Whanganui at the sea, to Manga-nui-te-ao inland, will be flitting the hundreds from those places, that was why Turanga-pito went (to bring them). They will come with food for the naming of your child.” They remained there that night, the company often going to the landing-place to search for canoes in which to return with greater speed to their own homes. When they found no canoes, they reflected that the good-woman had told them the truth. As dawn approached, the company began to feel apprehensive lest they should be overtaken there by Turanga-pito, because it was the day on which the lady had told her cousins that her husband would return. So the chiefs said to their party, “Let us arise and go, it is daylight, lest we be overtaken here by Turanga-pito. When he arrives, let him find us gone.” So the company left on their return.

Very soon after they had left, Turanga-pito reached home; but on his arrival at the landing-place, he had looked and found all about the treadings of men's feet. He knew at once it was a war-party that had thus trodden the sands, and according to appearances, probably both wife and child were dead. He quickly tied up his canoe, and hastened to climb up to the village to (find out) at once about his wife and child. When he arrived, there they were; they mutually greeted one - 161 another. He asked his wife, “Was there no man came here?” She replied, “Not so, some one came—your brothers-in-law. But they intended to kill my child. In consequence of my caution it was saved; I deceived them as to its sex, so they thought it was a girl, when really it is a boy.” Then she related all that had happened, and as he listened, Turanga-pito was troubled; he said to his wife, “Remain here, I am off.” Away went the man to raise a war party; he would not stop to eat, but went at once. It was not very long—on the same day—messengers reached all the villages of his tribe. During the night of the same day they all arrived at Turanga-pito's home. When they had assembled, Turanga-pito asked his wife, “What are the signs of your cousins?” (by which I may know them). She replied, “You will not miss them; even at a distance, as you go you will hear their ngoio (asthmatic breathing). One has a great deal of asthma, hence his name Ngoio-nui; the other has less, hence his name Ngoio-iti.” Those were the signs which his wife imparted to him, so that he might follow them with understanding; if he happened upon them he could kill them, not the others of the party, and thus he might get the credit; that was her wish.

At the first darting of dawn they followed them up; they proceeded on even during the next night. Turanga-pito himself acted as scout in advance of the company. When they overtook them, the others had arranged their camp for the night. Their weapons were collected together at the foot of a Pukatea tree, whilst the people slept a little beyond. The whole party was overcome with sleep, not one remained awake to guard themselves; and the weapons all laid piled at the foot of the tree, not one of them had been retained in their hands, as a precautīon in case they should be surprised by any war-party following them. Such was the foolishness of that company.

Then the party was surrounded by Turanga-pito's company, whilst they were still overcome with sleep. Turanga-pito advanced, bearing in mind the signs of the chiefs of the party which his wife had communicated to him. Hence he went straight for them when the rush took place; both the chiefs fell under his hand. As the weapons struck the heads of some of them, the others started up from their sleep to seize the arms which had been left at the foot of the tree, only to find them all taken by Turanga-pito's party. Their hands scratched the tree in vain, there were no weapons for them; all had been taken by the enemy. Then the skulls of the party were cracked by the pursuers. Thou doest thy work, O the man with the weapons! There is no apprehension (on thy part); nothing of the kind; nothing but the crushing of heads. They killed, until not one of that party escaped Turanga-pito and his men—all died. And then they returned to their homes, taking some dead men with them. They were very careful, however, towards Hine-moana and her child, lest evil befell them through the bodies which had been slain (being her relatives).

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And so was equalized the stratagem with respect to the sex of Tu-taia-roa. It was his own father that avenged this insult. That quarrel has remained as then left, and has never been renewed down to the present time.

Sometime after the battle related above, the child of Turanga-pito and his wife Hine-moana, was named. He was given the name of Tu-taia-roa. He became the “stone-pillar” from whom descended all the chiefs of Whanganui, even to the Rangi-tane tribe—all that sort are chiefs. As for me, I came from this ancestor, Tu-taia-roa; but not me alone, but all the taniwhas (great chiefs) of this river of Whanganui—that is, all the great chiefs who have been heard of in this island, commencing at the source, even to the mouth (of the river). Hence is the saying correct, “A platted rope, entire from source to mouth.” Even if this people turn upon themselves—the sea ward tribes against the inland—should a stranger tribe attack Whanganui, they gather together as one people. They cannot be overcome by other tribes, but the strange tribes will suffer at the hands of Whanganui. Hence the saying, “A spliced rope”; if broken it is made whole again.

This ancestral line of mine is a direct one; it is quite straight, and is nowhere broken, descending from Tu-rere-ao right down to me. This is the genealogical table.7

1  The author does not explain the nature of the preparations, but they would doubtless consist in various karakias, such as a tapuae to hasten his own footsteps, a matapou to hinder the footsteps of his flying wife, and others; besides probably invocating the help of the tribal god, in this instance most likely Maru.—Translator.
2  Most of the canoeing on the Whanganui is done by poling, not paddling.—Translator.
3  Te-mananga-o-oku-waewae, in allusion to his powers of travel in having (by the aid of his incantations) overtaken the fugitive, although she was assisted by water carriage.—Translator.
4  Tuatia, named; connected with which there were many ceremonies and karakias.Translator.
5  To kill a male child of an alien tribe would deprive that tribe of a future warrior.—Translator.
6  According to Maori custom, a child of a brother, sister, or cousin of the same generation is called a child of any one of them.—Translator.
7  See the Maori part. According to this table, Tu-taia-roa would be born about the year 1650. The story, which is historical, is a fair picture of Maori life in the seventeenth century.—Translator.