Volume 66 1957 > Volume 66, No. 3 > The story of Kupe, by Himiona Kaamira, p 232-248
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(Translated by Bruce Biggs)

Kupe and Hoturapa. 1

Kupe was living at his home in Motu-tapu (Sacred Island), 2 which place is right at the mouth by which the river called Awa-nui-a-rangi (Great river of heaven), in Hawaiki-rangi (Hawaiki of heaven), reaches the sea. Kupe was skilled at building carved houses, adzing out canoes, and other crafts of the land. He was also a skilled seaman who would cause fish to turn their path to the places where he wanted them, and he could also catch the bird called albatross. Kupe could seize and secure it.

There came a time when Toto said that Kupe should come to Tumaakia. Kupe set out and reached the home of Toto at Tumaakia. Toto asked Kupe if he agreed to bring to completion the plan of his daughters that canoes be adzed out for them. Kupe agreed. Toto's daughters planned that their canoes would be very beautiful, and they themselves had thought of seeking skilled artisans to do the work. The canoes were to be for their voyage to Hawaiki-nui (Great Hawaiki) to see their grandparents, fathers, mothers, brothers, and junior sisters, 3 for Toto's wife and also his mother were from that place.

Then straight trees were sought. There were many good trees but they were far from the water. Then a tree with twin trunks was found; the trunks were very noble, and the tree was close to the water. Toto said, “Here are the timbers for us. They stood immediately below Hiku-rangi (Tail of heaven) hill, on the far side of Wai-kapua (Cloud water), on the south side of the river called Awa-nui-a-rungi. The clinging trunks were felled. Then they split apart, one lying to one side, and one to the other. At this point the daughters of Toto arrived. Their names were Rongorongo and Kura-maro-tini (Kura of the many aprons). The girls looked at the trees and Kura said, “This one is for me.” Rongo said, “And this one is for me.”

They went back to the village and Toto decided to call for more artisans to fashion the canoes so that the work would be finished more quickly. He sent for two experts, Turi-ua-nui (Turi of great strength) and Kauika. They came and Toto said that Rongorongo's canoe was to be completed first. Kupe said, “Good. They will carry on with Rongo's, and I will fashion Kura's.” The canoes were adzed out and each was - 233 nearing completion when Toto spoke to his daughters, saying, “I have this to say to you. When your canoes are finished you had better marry so that your journey to Hawaiki-nui will be tapu4 Presently you will have set out on the journey of the spirits of the old people.”

While they were living at that place there was also another of Toto's men there whose name was Hoturapa. His work was carving houses, carving weapons and ceremonial staffs, as well as other things. When the work was done Toto asked his daughters if they were agreeable to being married. The girls said that they wanted to marry. Toto asked Rongorongo, “Which one of these artisans do you like?” Rongo said, “Turi-ua-nui.” Toto said to Kura-maro-tini, “I offer you two, Kupe and Hoturapa, for I love Hotu who has lived with me for many years. Choose the one you want.” Kura answered her father, Toto, saying, “Let him be the one you like.” And Toto knew that she meant Hoturapa.

Rongo married Turi and Kura married Hotu, and they settled down. After a time Kupe realised that Kura desired him with all her soul. He laid his plans and suggested to Toto that he, Kupe, and Hoturapa should go fishing. Toto said, “That is quite alright.” At the time when Kupe and Hotu went to fish Kupe spoke secretly to Kura, telling her to go down to the shore to Motu-tapu, arriving there at the setting of the sun. Kura agreed. Kupe and Hotu paddled off, and when they were far out on the ocean Kupe said, “Let us fish here.” They cast anchor and fished.

Then Kupe prayed secretly that the anchor of their canoe should become entangled down below and be impossible to pull up. When Kupe had done this they fished on. When the sun sank Kupe said to Hotu, “We will go back. Pull up the anchor of our canoe.” Hotu stood up to pull in the anchor of their canoe. It did not budge. Kupe said, “Dive for the anchor of our canoe.” Then Hotu dived. When Kupe reckoned that Hotu had reached bottom he cut the rope of the canoe. He came back thinking that Hoturapa was dead, and that Kura was now available to him. (Hoturapa was a nephew to Kupe within their kinship group.)

When Kupe landed at Motu-tapu Kura had just reached the shore, and she got on board the canoe, and they sailed to Moremore-taakiikii on the north bank of the mouth of Awa-nui-a-rangi. Kupe called out to Uenuku and his people, to Ngahue and his people, and to other divisions of people who were under the protection of Te Ao-o-te-rangi-maunga. When they arrived at that place Kupe decided to come to look for the fish of his ancestor Maaui-tikitiki-a-Taranga (Maaui the girdle of Taranga), that is to say, this island.

Now the story returns to Hotu who had dived for the anchor of their canoe. When he appeared above the water there was no canoe and so he swam on aimlessly, for where could he swim to when he was far out at sea. Rangi-uru-hinga, a sea monster living at Moana-ariki (Chiefly sea) saw the evil that Kupe did to Hotu, and brought him back, right to - 234 Motu-tapu. He slept there and in the morning he went to Tumaakia and told everything to Toto.

Kupe's search for men for his canoe on the journey hither.5

These are the people : Kupe, Kura-maro-tini, Te Mauru, Wai-ehua II (Bailed water), Tama-ki-te-Hikurangi (Man at Te Hikurangi), Tamatea-uri-haere (Tamatea of a wandering people), Rua-rangi, Ripi-i-roa-iti, Te Rangi-poouri (The dark day), Tupu-te-uru-roa, Pari-i-Taane (Cliff of Taane), (Tiirairaka (Fantail),Kahu-nui (Great cloak), Whaauri, Te Tuhi-o-te-poo (The glow of night), Rangi-riri (Day of anger), Tuputupu-whenua, Matino, Makaro. These were the people of Hawaiki-rangi. According to the story of our ancestors these people were “immortals of heaven,” that is to say, they were all high chiefs.

Kupe saw that there were not enough people for the canoe. He decided to go to Nui-o-Whiti (Greatness of Whiti), which is the place called Pikopiko-i-whiti, or Nui-o-Wara (Greatness of Wara), or Maunga-roa (Long mountain). When their canoe landed there Kupe brought away from that place these men: Tutei (Watcher), Karere (Messenger), Pou-poto (Short post), Karihi (Stone), Turehu (Goblin), Pohe-te-nguu. These came from Nui-o-Whiti.

When he got these men Kupe's heart was glad. He felt that the canoe was well manned for its sailing from Nui-o-whiti to this land. They followed the path of the sun and they reached the place called Raro-poouriuri (Dark Raro). Then Kupe saw that they were being followed by Tupua-horo-nuku (Earth swallowing demon) and Tai-horo-nuku-rangi, the nets of Kahukura (Red Cloak). These were the men of Kiwa and Kama, sent to pursue Kupe For a long time the voyagers tacked about in order that they might escape those nets, but they could not evade them. Kupe realised that soon they would be caught.

Then he told Te Tuhi-o-te-poo and Rangi-riri to look at him, and he said, “I have done all I can by tacking about in order that we might escape, and we cannot do so. It is my wish that you two be” parent spirits ” for us and our canoe. Kupe recited the charms known as hiri-hiri over them, and when he had finished he went away. Then Te Tuhi-o-te-poo and Rangi-riri were thrown into the sea and they immediately became sea monsters. Immediately they leapt forward to point the way for their canoe and from that time they came straight on and escaped the “nets of Kahu-kura,” Tupua-horo-nuku and Tai-horo-nuku-rangi. Not long after leaving Raro-poouriuri they reached Wawau-atea-nui (Wawau of great light). Coming on from there Kupe saw the bow of the canoe almost submerging in the sea, and he knew that the canoe was going very fast. Three days after leaving Wawau-atea-nui they reached the land which is mantled in mist and continually crossed by clouds. He knew immediately that this was the fish of Maaui. Then he saw that the fish was not quite dead. Then he thought that it had been a long time that the fish had floated there, a hundred and fifty years, 6 and it - 235 had become very weak. Kupe decided that they would move on, killing the fish as they went along. They went along killing the fish and when they stopped and looked Kupe considered that the fish was dead. He said to his people, “The fish is dead. Now at last we can settle peacefully on our fish. This deed of Kupe was called “the branding of the island by Kupe.”

The story now returns to the adzing out of the canoe, 7 and those things which have not yet been told.

The Explanation of the name Hokianga.

Now we come to the time when Kupe was returning to Hawaiki. At the time of his return he was living here at Hokianga together with his people. He thought that he would leave his child Tuputupu-whenua as a “fountain head” for Hokianga. In the morning Kupe went to the spring taking his child Tuputupu-whenua with him. When they reached the spring Kupe spoke his farewell message to his child. Then he said the spell known as hirihiri for the child. Kupe then drank for the last time of the water of the spring. He bent down once, and a second time, and a third time, and then said these parting words, “Farewell, oh spring in Te Ao-maarama (The world of light). This is a going away. There shall not be a coming back.” So he ended his words of parting and he cast his child into Te Puna-i-te-ao-maarama (The spring in the world of light). He has been a taniwha8 from that day to this. The full name (of Hokianga) is Hoki-anga-nui (Direct return).

Before Kupe returned to Hawaiki he had a quarrel with his people which began when Kupe and his servants returned from fishing. When the earth ovens were opened the food was not cooked. 9 Kupe was very angry with his people and cursed them severely, and drove them away. Hence we have the name Kohukohu10 (Curse) from that day to this.

It is said that there were few people on the canoe on the return to Hawaiki and not long after Kupe arrived at Hawaiki-rangi a great war broke out there. It began with Tama-te-kapua11 (Tama the cloud) who had stolen fruit from the shady poroporo trees of Uenuku. 12 These trees were tapu since the old man had his usual resting place there. This old man, Uenuku was a priest, a sacred high chief. Therefore these poroporo were tapu, and accordingly the people were angry with Tama-te-kapua.

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Tama-te-kapua had made himself some stilts, and he had come on these stilts when he stole the poroporo. His act was a destruction of the tapu of one tribe by another. Therefore they were angry. Tama was awaited for three nights, and then he was caught. He was pursued and overtaken on the beach. Then Tama-te-kapua called out to the people, “If I am knocked down by you on the land I will not be killed. Rather knock me down in the sea and you will kill me.” (Tama-te-kapua was sitting up on his stilts, and springing high into the air.) The people thought that what he said was right. If he was cut down on the shore he would escape, no one would know where, and he would not be found because of the darkness. And so he was cut down in the sea.

Then Tama-te-kapua dived, and came up at a distance. The people waited listening. They heard nothing at all, only the sound of the sea. They were convinced that Tama-te-kapua was dead, and returned to their village. There they told all that had happened.

In the days that followed it became known that Tama-te-kapua was still alive, and then the trouble with Uenuku and his people developed. The ocean was placed under ritual restriction by Uenuku so that Tama-te-kapua and his people might not come down to the sea. Hatred towards him and his people grew, and there was fighting which lasted for three years. Tama-te-kapua was, defeated by Uenuku. This battle was called Moremore-taakiikii (Land stripped bare). This name Moremore-taakiikii was given because of the length of time they besieged the fort of Tama-te-kapua. The land was stripped bare. This was the occasion of the defeat of Tama-te-kapua and the death of most of his men. His fort was named Puke-rau-miro (Fort of interwoven leaves). Small tea-tree branches were woven together on the inner side of the fortifications. These were known as waawaa. Outside were woven rushes (wiiwii). Our elders say that this is the origin of the war dance which we perform:

O-a, o-a! Storm the wiiwii, storm the waawaa.
Storm the raised platform in the top-most stronghold.
Where stand the warriors and chiefs. 13
Charge! Charge!
Ah, storm the wiiwii, storm the waawaa.
Storm the raised platform where heads are bedecked with huia plumes.
Charge, ah charge!

After this battle, Nuku-tawhiti (Distant land), 14 one of the chiefs of the tribe said to them, “Friends, I know that this work will not cease. If there is another land beyond this one it is my wish (to go - 237 there). It is better to go so that some may survive. But where can we go ?” At this the old man Kupe stood up and said, “Kinsmen, I discovered a land at the setting place of the sun.” Nuku-tawhiti said, “How about it then, will you give me your canoe?” Kupe said to his grandchild, “Yes, my son, I had better give my canoe to you.” Nuku-tawhiti was overjoyed, convinced that this was a way of escape. At this time Kupe said to Nuku-tawhiti, “Let the canoe be adzed out a second time, so that more people may board her.” And he said, “I will adze it myself.” Nuku-tawhiti replied, “I will seek a helper for you.” He looked and found one among them, Toka-akuaku, father of Te Hou-o-te-rangi (The plume of heaven) who had Ruaa-nui, who came on Maamari.

The canoe was adzed thin by Kupe and Toka-akuaku. There were two adzes, Tauira-ata used by Toka-akuaku and Ngaa-paa-ki-tua used by Kupe. These were the adzes that adzed out this canoe a second time. The face, or cutting-edge of Tauira-ata was broad, that of Ngaa-paa-ki-tua was narrow. Their work was to make thinner the canoe which was very thick.

When they had finished their work of adzing out and removing (the excess thickness) from the inside then the canoe looked very fine and open. Then, too, it floated high. Toka-akuaku said to Kupe, “When, that is at what period will you attach the thwarts of the canoe ?” Kupe, said, “Oh son, that is a good question. Now pay attention to me. This is my word to you. On the next “fourteenth days” 15 the thwarts of the canoe will be lashed.”

The upper and lower transverse supports of the floor-boards were completed. On that same day the battens lying over the join of the top-strakes and the hull were lifted (into place), and the two plumes of the canoe were made fast. The upper plume at the bow was called Puhi-maroke (Dry plume). The lower plume of the bow was called Puhi-maaku (Wet plume). And that was the day that the two lashings of the stern-post were bound, the cross-lashing and the down-lashing, and made fast to the flat part at the extreme stern of the canoe. And that was the day when the upper and lower ornamental wands were arranged. And it was also the day when the final names were given to each part of the canoe. When that was done the propitiatory spells were said over each part of the canoe. And when all that was done the final spell was said, which was known as the “living soul” of the canoe. It was begun at the lower transverse support of the floor-boards and extended to the bow of the canoe. Here the (priest) turned, chanting as he moved, and came back until he reached the stern of the canoe. When that was done he came back behind the stern of the canoe and stood there. This is the part known as “foot-print.” Then he could see clearly along the bilge of the canoe towards the bow. This was the moment when the “living soul” was implanted in the bow, the bilge, and the stern of the canoe. When this was done the spells imparting power to the lashings were intoned. When the soul-implanting spell and the spell imparting strength to the lashings were completed, then all the things that I have to tell you were done.

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On that day the two spells of Taane-nui-a-rangi (Great Taane of heaven) 16 and of Tuu-matauenga17 to Tohi-nui-a-rangi (Great Tohi of heaven) above were completed. It will be for Tohi-nui-a-rangi to make them manifest, to complete them. 18 Then at last everything will have been completed, for the ihiihi-nuku will have met the ihiihi-rangi and it will then be called the “binding mana,” of Taane, that is to say, of the canoe.

So ended Kupe's instructions to Toka-akuaku. Toka-akuaku said to Kupe, “Oh friend, what is the reason for waiting until the ‘fourteenth days’ before we two work again on the tasks of which you have spoken?” Kupe answered, “Oh son, your question is a good one and it is right that you should understand these customs. Oh son, this custom is not of one day, nor yet of two or three. It is from the wide spaced heavens and handed down to us. The word of your ancestors says, ‘do not pierce the hull of Taane until the jaw of Tamatea-kai-ariki (Tama-tea eater of chiefs) 19 together with his younger brethren, appears above the horizon, so that they may gather at the warmed-over oven on the occasion of the binding by Tuu-matauenga. 20 When that is done we have reached the end of the things I have to tell you, and the completion of the canoe. Thus says the word of your ancestors:

‘Lash the battens in the sacred grove of Taane,
When the day lightens over Tarama,
At Koikoi-a-Rona (The horn of the moon),
At Te-kapua-nui (The great cloud),
When the moon rises above the horizon.
Now watch the glow of the tail of the Pleiades, as they touch the horizon. 21
Behold, that is Maatua-hau-tere,
His sign that he is near the sun
That is your eye, the eye of Tawhaki22
Glowing, flashing in the heavens.’ 23

Now, Toka, know then that the work on the canoe must not be completed before the night known as “the moon rising on the horizon,” that is before the full moon, also known as Te Raakau-nui (Great tree) and Te Raakau-matohi. Then only will it be correct. Likewise with - 239 house-building and gardening.” So ended Kupe's teaching. Toka-akuaku marvelled at the esoteric learning of Kupe which enabled him to understand all customs. Toka-akuaku said to Kupe, “Who will complete all this work on that day?” Kupe answered, “Our grandchild, Nuku-tawhiti alone will perform the ritual on that day, that is to say, he will bring it to completion. All the work of that day will be done by four men, myself, yourself, Ngahue and Rongomai.”

When it came to the fourteenth day all the experts came to work on the canoe. They brought their adzes again to adze, to set up the stern-posts, and to fasten the outside battens over the topstrakes. Again Kupe took Tauira-ata and Toka-akuaku took Ngaa-paa-ki-tua. Ngahue took Te Papa-ariari and Rongo took Tiki-te-pou-nui. There were four adzes. Nuku-tawhiti called out to the experts to come and stand beside the canoe. They came and stood there and then Nuku-tawhiti began his spell which was like this:

Tuu on the left side, and Rongo on the right side,
Leave your belt, leave your apron,
Oh Folded-belt, oh Girded-belt, oh belt with wide wings.

Two of the priests went to one side of the canoe and stood there. Two were left standing on the other side. Nuku-tawhiti stood up to recite the spell which would remove the mana of Kupe from the canoe. So this was done. This was the first spell which Nuku-tawhiti chanted.

His second spell consisted of the charms which would cause himself to enter into and to partake of the mana which had already been laid down for the canoe. When that was done he began to recite the covering spells for the canoe, going over each part until he came to the middle when he said to the four experts, “Perform the lashing of the canoe, you to your task, you to your task, you to your task, you to your task.” Here is his spell:

Struck with the mallet, struck with the chisel,
Struck by the axe of Tai-haruru (Resounding sea).
I speak upwards here,
To the great fringed eaves,
Of the house of the sea-god Tangaroa,
Broken by Nuku-tai-maroro. 24

The experts performed their work. Their first task was to lift into place the battens that lie outside the join of the topstrakes and the hull. When that was done they commenced to set the plumes of the canoe into - 240 place. When the lower plume was done, and the upper, they fastened the two rau-matangi-here to the lower bow-plume of the canoe. The lower plume was then called Wet-plume, or Plume-which-eats-water. The plume on top was called Dry-plume, or Plume-which-eats-the-winds. (An obscure sentence is omitted at this point.)

When that was done they went back to lift into place the upper and lower plumes on the stern-post of the canoe. When that was done they began to lash on the thwarts of the canoe. When that was done they turned to putting into place the carved papa-rau-kura for the three compartments of the canoe. First the one nearest the bow was put into place and the carved plank was called Papa-hirahira and the carving was called Mahere-tuu-ki-te-rangi (Mahere standing in the heavens). When that was done the carved plank amidships was completed and named Rua-waha-ariki (Pit which carries chiefs). Its carving was Papa-hono-tuutaki-o-Ruamoko. Then the stern papa was worked on, that is to say, it was put into place. When this was finished it was called Mahutu-rangi (Heavenly-Mahutu), its carving being Moko-tukupu-waananga-o-Ruaiwhekerangi.

When that was done Kupe said to Nuku-tawhiti, “Everything is done.” Nuku-tawhiti said, “Let us come and stand on the left side of the canoe.” All the experts went and stood on the left side of the canoe and Nuku-tawhiti spoke to them. His spells were chanted rapidly. Then they circled the canoe. Reaching the bow of the canoe, with the chant still continuing the experts turned and came down the other side of the canoe behind him, until they reached the stern. Nuku-tawhiti told the experts to stand at the stern of the canoe, two on each side. Then he went back a little way and stood facing them. The position which he took up was known as “at the stern of my canoe.” Then he could sight clearly along the sternpost and the bilge to the bow of the canoe. Then he recited the chants known as “complete the earthly aspect” and “complete the heavenly aspect,” and also the spells withdrawing the mana of Kupe from the canoe. When that was done he recited the binding spells of the canoe and the spells splicing the sacred lashings of the canoe. His rituals entered into and became one with those of the Kaahui-poo (Assemblage of the underworld). 25

Nuku-tawhiti recited the spells freeing them from all the doings of that day, and the spell withdrawing the “spirit-sharpness” from the adzes of the experts on the canoe. When all had been done Nuku-tawhiti said to Kupe, “On the next thirtieth day (of the moon) I will leave.” Kupe said, “If you go, make your way steadfastly to Hoki-anga, the sea inlet that has been mentioned before. There lives my child Tuputupu-whenua. I myself left him as a puhoro nuku maataapuna (spring issuing from the earth?) for Hoki-anga. Nuku-tawhiti said, “How shall I proceed straight to that place you mention?” Kupe said, “I shall send the elder, Puhi-moana-ariki, to bring you.” Nuku-tawhiti said, “Then it will be alright.” Puhi-moana-ariki was a sea-demon. Kupe said, “Do not take any food on your canoe. If you do load food you will not get across—you will drown at sea.”

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Thereupon Nuku-tawhiti thought that it might be better if he considered an extra canoe. 26 He spoke to Hou-o-te-rangi, son of Toka-akuaku, the brother of his wife Niwa, that is Aaniwaniwa (Rainbow). When he spoke to Hou-o-te-rangi, Te Hou-o-te-rangi said that he would speak to his child Ruaa-nui, because he was the person who owned a canoe. Hou spoke to his child. Ruaa-nui agreed, and said that Kupe should be asked to come to their home. Kupe was sent for, and when he arrived Nuku-tawhiti told him everything. Kupe said, “That is correct.” Ruaa-nui said that Kupe should give him directions for the sea-ways so that he might reach here safely. Kupe said, “Yes, prepare yourself for the journey. Complete everything before the fifteenth day which is the time to leave. I will be there and speak to you.”

Ruaa-nui settled down to prepare himself and his people for the voyage hither, and the food for provisioning the canoe. When all was done Kupe arrived. Kupe asked, “ Have you finished binding the lashings above and the lashings below ?” Ruaa-nui answered, “Yes, it is done. Tomorrow I shall be gone.” Kupe said, “ If you are going tomorrow, decide upon the course of the canoe. Niua and Ara-i-te-uru (Path in the west) had better go with you, to guide you; Te Kanapu-i-te-rangi (Lightning of the day) and Te Tuhi-o-te-poo (The glow of night) had better go with you too, to guide you. Tohi-nui-a-rangi will protect you. Tohi-nui-a-rangi is a god. He lives at Marama-huakina (Rising moon). Marama-huakina is the name of the first heaven above. When you go lay the bow of the canoe to the cloud pillar which stands in the south-west. When night falls lay the bow of the canoe on the star called Atua-tahi (One god). 27 Hold to the left of Te Mangoo-roa (The long shark) 28 and travel on. When day breaks hold to the cloud pillar again. It is good that Te Tuhi-o-te-poo and Niua, and Ara-i-te-uru are with you to lead you. Tohi-nui-a-rangi will guard you that you may land safely at the land I love. There are two main things you must take heed of. One is the spell for the “ sky-rope,” the second is the spell for the anchor of the canoe. It is good that you also have the spell for the canoe-rope. Cling to these to guard you and the Kaahui-poo. Ruaa-nui-o-Taane, hie thee to Great Hoki-anga, to the spring at Te Ao-maarama.

So ended Kupe's parting words, and he went away. They rested, and when day broke Kupe had returned together with Toto and his family, and Hou-taketake and his family, to watch the departure of Ruaa-nui-o-Taane. Maamari was loaded up. These are the people who are remembered: Ruaa-nui-o-Taane (Ruaa-nui of Taane), Te Maru-o-te-huia, Pehi-riri, Rua-tapu, Whai-putuputu, Ngoingoi-ariki, Te Hou-o-te-rangi, Patari-kai-hau, Toka-tuu-tahi (Rock standing alone), Te Toko-o-te-rangi (The prop of heaven), Tuaahu, Te Ao-kai-tuu (a grandchild of Kupe), Haraki, Manawa-a-rangi (Breath of heaven), Kura-i-te-whatu, Kura-pounamu (Jade treasure), Papa-a-rangi, Tama-a-rongo, Hou-mai-tawhiti (Hou from afar), Matiti-ki-te-rangi (Matiti - 242 in the heavens), Tangaroa, Konuku-tau-rangi, Moe-hau, Tuu-te-wehi-wehi (Tuu the fearsome), Tuki-te-nganahau, daughter of Toko-o-te-rangi, Te Huri-nui.

These are the people who are revealed in the stories handed down by the elders. It is said that the people of this canoe were forty-two in number. According to their story Maamari was a very large canoe. The spells used at her felling, and dragging to the water are all lost, and also the majority of her people are unknown, not having been revealed. The elders of former times knew. Because of this custom, the hiding of history, the greater part of the story of Maamari is lost. It is good to recite the stories of her coming hither.

It is said that Hou-mai-tawhiti was the chiefly priest of Maamari. Hou-mai-tawhiti was a grandson of Kupe, a child of Toko-o-te-rangi.

When they were all come on board the canoe, then it was seen that they were without exception “demons of heaven,” that is to say, they were all high chiefs. Those on shore greeted them. Whakatau said, “Oh friend, Rua, depart. Now is the time to go.” Ruaa-nui arose and clove the way for Maamari. This was how he began:

The thunder crashes, the lightning flashes over Taihoro-nuku-rangi.
Flashing above the buttocks of Taane here, 29
And striking into the darkness, the palpable night.
Flashing on earth, flashing in the skies.
Taane it was who clove Taihoro-nuku-rangi,
Even to the sacred dwelling of the fish of Maaui-tikitiki-a-Taranga. 30
The great sea of Kiwa which lies here,
Is laced above, laced below, with the hair of Tangaroa. 31
Laced up by Nukutai-maroro.
Taimumuhu, Manini-kura, and Takahia-i-te-rangi
Are high born, and sacred chiefs.
Tohi-nui-a-rangi is the rainbow.
Tuki-te-nganahau is the living pillar.
Te Hou-o-te-rangi is a priest, a mortal chief.
The heavens grow from the threshold-of-Rehua, 32
The land grows from the centre of the fish of Maaui.
I recite my charms to ensure speed,
33Those ashore wait expectantly for those at sea,
Those at sea wait expectantly for those on shore.
Alike are the “great splitting,” the “long splitting,”
The “channel cleaving,” the “channel dividing,” the “channel-soothing.”
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Tuu, and Rongo, and Tama-the-channel-current,
Let this supplicant go out of the bay,
A chief putting forth to the flashing morning.
A separation of chiefs ashore from those at sea.
Yonder is Uheroa. The sea is beating against the tattooed buttocks of Taane-nui-a-rangi.
This is a journey of chiefs putting forth to the flashing morning.
I ascended to the top of Hikurangi
To my greenstone-doored food store.
The tapu was separated from my body,
The tears from my eyes fell in two streams on the clouds of heaven
Above Tuhirangi, the place where I now am, oh Tuu.
The floor of heaven standing here,
Pierce it above, pierce it below,
Smite the cover of heaven,
Soothe Taihoro-nuku-rangi.
The brow of Rehua is upthrust in the heavens,
Canopus rises, Orion's Belt is on high,
And I hold fast to the Smaller Magellan Cloud.
The moon rises on the horizon and I set out.
’Tis Aotea, Aotea, Aotea.

Rua-nui and his people landed here. They landed at Ripiro, in the Kaipara district. It is said that the last section of Ruaa-nui's chant belongs to the time when land was sighted, and the final spell was chanted. They landed here and Niua and Ara-i-te-uru went back again to Hawaiki to guide Ngaa-toki hither.

The account returns to the coming hither of Nuku-tawhiti and his people.

The Migration of Nuku-tawhiti:

When they were quite ready to come here Puhi-moana-ariki arrived. appearing before Nuku-tawhiti in the shape of a water-demon. He asked immediately who was to attend the mast of the canoe. Nuku-tawhiti said, “You.” He asked who was to attend the talisman of the canoe. Nuku-tawhiti said, “You.” Then Puhi asked again, “Who will set the sail?” Nuku-tawhiti said, “I will.” Again he asked who would attend to the ritual ensuring the sea-worthiness of the canoe. Nuku-tawhiti answered, “I will.” Puhi then said, “Everything is accounted for.” And so their conversation ended.

Kupe arose and farewelled his grandson, Nuku-tawhiti, “Greetings! Farewell! Do not put in food, that is, do not load provisions on your canoe. Above all do not do that.” Nuku-tawhiti answered, “I agree. I shall do as you have told me.” Kupe went on, “This is the last I have to say to you since there are four sea-demons to bear you on, and two immortals to guide you. It is my thought that Tawhirimatea will smooth the long swell of the great sea of Kiwa that lies before, when you have - 244 made fast the sail so that you may speedily reach Hokianga; be quick then to release Rapuwerowero34 lest he hunger too long, since he was set in place by you.”

When Kupe had ceased speaking to Nuku-tawhiti he spoke to the four sea-demons. Kupe said to them, “Hold fast, all four, to the ngana-hau-riri of the canoe, from bow to stern, as it floats on the back of Ngaru-nui (great-wave), as it travels on the Great-sea-of-Kiwa to Hokianga.” This ended the words of Kupe to the taniwha. Then he turned to the mana, that is to the immortals, Te Hiko-o-te-rangi (the Flash-of-heaven) and Mahere-tu-ki-te-rangi. He said, “My word to you concerns the spiritual mana, and the bodily mana, which you will guard, for I have appointed you as guardians of this expedition, that it may arrive safely at Hokianga.” This ended the words of Kupe to the immortals. He said a final farewell to his grandchild, “Farewell, my child, go in the midst of the Whirlwinds-of-earth and the Whirl-winds-of-heaven. It is well, my son, that there should be ‘a parting of chiefs ashore, and those on the sea.’ Yonder is Te Uheroa.’ Go to the places passed over by my body, and loved by me. Go to Pillar-of-fire, the place to which I have decided to send you.” So ended Kupe's farewell to his grandchild. It is said that Kupe had a great love for his canoe, Ngaa-toki, since he had built it in the first place. He adzed out only one canoe and then they came hither. Kupe and his people did many things here together with their canoe, and they stayed a long time. He returned thither and adzed the canoe out a second time, and completed everything. The canoe returned hither once more, and he knew that this was his last sight of her. Moreover, he loved his children whom he had left here.

While Kupe was speaking Nuku-tawhiti and his people were aboard the canoe waiting for Kupe to finish. When Kupe ceased it was for Tawhiri-matea to carry them hither. Puhi-moana-ariki set the mast of the canoe and the talisman. Nuku-tawhiti stood to lead the ritual—Ngaa-toki was set afloat:

The thunder crashes and the lightning flashes above Taihoronuku-rangi,
Taane raises the heavens, which were shut off by darkness
And palpable night. The heavens are brought together.
Taane opened the path of Tawhiri-maatea,
Southwards to Taihoro-nuku-rangi
To the house of Maaui-tikitiki-a-Taranga,
The great sea of Kiwa lying here.
Earthly-footsteps, Heavenly-footsteps, 35 storms and gales.
The navel of the sky standing above,
Is the division called Great-division-of-Heaven.
Stand large, stand long, stand darkly,
This is a setting-forth of chiefs, sacred,
And with the ritual objects, the whatu
And the ngana-a-hau-riri.
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The tide beats on the great tattooed buttocks of Taane.
Climbing to the sky, dashing, dashing to the threshold-of-Rehua.
Land appears at the base of Maaui's fish,
Tohi ki te kura i tohia36
’Tis Tawhaki, great Tawhaki of Hamanga
Go forth to the open sea
To the mortal world, to the world of light.

Our elders say that there is great wonderment concerning the spells of this canoe. All other canoes were charmed in order that the sea would be calm as they came here, but this one was charmed in a different way in order that the sea might be rough as it voyaged, and accordingly when Nuku-tawhiti had finished his spells, an exceedingly great wave arose. Then the canoe was lifted up and moved along on the crest, and it was held fast on top of the wave, and that was the manner of its coming here. The manner of their voyage hither to the second night, to the third day, or to the third night, and to the fourth day, has been seen. The appearance of the coming hither of that canoe, as seen in the imagination, was like porpoises surfing within a wave. (She was) held firmly by the sea demons, and driven right on to Hokianga. Here then is the song that remains to be sung by the children of these times:

Great wave, long wave, wave like a mountain range,
The wave that brought hither Ngaa-toki-maataa-whao-rua.

While they were travelling along out at sea the lament by Te Kehu for his grandchild Nuku-tawhiti was sung. This is the song:

Earth trembles, Heaven trembles,
The chiefs in that house rejoice.
Rejoice not! There has been a great defeat in battle at Te Puru-puru.
My treasure departs, garmentless from me.
Your oil-dressed hair did not approach me.
But is swirled about in the eastern sea.
Turn to the courtyard beyond Wharetawa,
Where they three warm themselves.
Before they are warm the paddle of Poupoto will have fallen,
Fallen on the paddle of Kura.
The bilge of your canoe is called Water-of-great-baling.
The bilge of your canoe is like Mahanga-puhi-a-nuku,
The bilge of your canoe is like Mahanga-puhi-a-rangi,
Flashing beyond Orongaru.
The bracken roots with which you were challenged will not return.
You have gone perhaps with the whaka-maroro-hau of Te Paatara.
And are stranded on the red strand of Kupe's sea.
You were far from me and did not come near.
Oh, son, of Te Kehu strengthened by the living spirit.
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Your breath, oh Kura, to my breath,
Lifted, lifted to the waters of land
Lifted, lifted to the waters of heaven
I cross to the mortal world, to the world of light.
Darkness grows, fear grows.
The axe of Haumia arrives,
Gather ye! Assemble!

So ended the song of Te Kehu. When they reached Wawau-atea-nui (Wawau-of-the-great-light) and left behind Raro-poouri-nui (Raro-of-the-great darkness), they came up against the nets of Kahukura and Tangaroa and Parakuwaiwai and others, such as Uheroa, that is to say the lords of the great sea of Kiwa that lies here. Then Nuku-tawhiti looked at the wave which was bearing them on. He had seen Puhimoana-ariki wandering about on the crest of the wave which was approaching the canoe, and Nuku-tawhiti knew that this meant trouble. Puhi said, “We are enmeshed in the net of Kahukura set here. Though we say our spells it will be in vain, we shall not escape.” Then Nuku-tawhiti saw that they were almost trapped. Then he called to Te Papaatara to stand and cut the upper rope and the lower rope of Tangaroa and the others. Papaatara arose and chanted the cutting spells over the upper and lower ropes of the net of Tangaroa. As soon as the chants of Te Papaatara ended Kahukura disappeared and they were saved.

Te Papaatara was the sacred priest of the canoe, Ngaa-toki-maataa-hou-rua. From that time the name of Puhi-moana-ariki was called Puhi-te-aewa (Puhi-the-wanderer), because of the wandering hither of Puhi on top of the great wave. According to what he said to Nuku-tawhiti they would soon have been enmeshed by Tangaroa, hence he was called Puhi-te-aewa. It is said that it was not long before they saw Tiireni (New Zealand) floating on the sea. They knew that they would soon land. They gazed fixedly at the land. Before long the whole mainland had lifted into view, towering over their canoe. They heard the surf on shore, and cried in their minds over the mountain ranges of the land. Their thoughts returned to Kupe who had been left behind. They reached Te Pirau, that is the mouth of Hokianga. Nuku-tawhiti said the spell to release Ngaa-toki from the grasp of Ngaru-nui. Then Ngaru-nui left, while Ngaa-toki was seized by the sea demons and held back. Then for the first time, as she settled down now, Ngaa-toki settled down on the parent sea. It appears that their position was a little beyond Kaiwaka. The sea was very calm and Nuku-tawhiti stood up to command his canoe. He ordered the paddles to be plunged into the water. The people began to paddle and he began to urge on the canoe. This was his beginning:

Swim on the sea, swim on the sea,
Swim now, oh Taane.
Split the foamy waves of Marerei-ao;
Ascend the sacred current of Taotao-rangi.
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The foam of Tangaroa is standing in crests, is descending
On the sacred plumes of my canoe,
I look down on the inner and outer rows of surf.
The handle of the paddle is lifted to the sky,
The head of my canoe is pulled forward
Onto the skin of mother earth lying here,
Onto the sacred head of Taane standing above.
The paddle of Pou-poto breaks in two.
And the paddle of Kura is taken,
He ariki whatu manawa.

When the spells of Nuku-tawhiti ended their canoe reached land. Nuku-tawhiti said to his people, “remain quietly aboard the canoe.” He went and plucked eight rimu shoots and brought them and gave four of them to the sea demons. He gave two to Puhi-moana-ariki and Rangi-uruhinga, and said, “You two take these shoots and give them to Kupe. He will cast them on the Chiefly-sea to float as a remembrance of me.” He said to Ara-i-te-uru and Niua,“These two shoots will bind you to Hokianga, as a sign of remembrance for you of me, to be shown by you to my descendants after me.” He gave two of the shoots to the gods Te Hiko-o-te-rangi and Mahere-tuu-ki-te-rangi. He said, “These two shoots are for you, for you to take to Tohi-a-rangi above, who will take them to Te Moana-wairua (the Spirit-sea) above, to float there as a sign of remembrance after me. Those shoots were named Kaahui-ao and Kaahui-poo. He took two shoots and said to the sea-demons, and to the immortals, and to the people, “I will throw these two shoots onto the land, where they will remain as the plant called whakapuna-a-waru, to preserve the chiefly prestige. One of the shoots was called Taku-heke-taahuhu and the other was called Taku-heke-takere, of the Kaahui-poo, of the Kaahui-ao. So ended the talk. He greeted Puhi and Rangi-uru, and the immortals. So Puhi and Rangi-uru, and Te Hiko and Mahere returned. They went back together to Hawaikirangi.

After they went Nuku-tawhiti went ashore to take the two rimu shoots, as a sign confirming their presence in the land. After that task was completed then at last the people went ashore. Tiirairaka came to challenge them. This was one of the people of Kupe's canoe, but it is a bird today. They were led to a stone which was all hollow inside. Their canoe was dragged into this rock cave and lay there. It lies there today, turned to stone. Great was Pou-poto's love for Tiirairaka because he was his friend in the time of Kupe. Pou-poto had come back again because Kupe had sent him. He was skilled at handling the paddle Taahoro-ngaru (beat-down-waves) in the bow of the canoe.

So end the stories concerning this canoe. They greater part of the history has been lost.

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  • BUCK, Peter H. (Te Rangi Hiroa), 1938. The Vikings of the Sunrise. New York, Stokes.
  • GREY, Sir George, 1853. Ko Nga Moteatea me nga Hakirara o nga Maori. Wellington, Robert Stokes.
  • — — 1928. Nga Mahi a Nga Tupunu (3rd Ed.). Wellington, Board of Maori Ethnological Research.
  • GUDGEON, T. W., 1885. The History and Doings of the Maoris. Auckland, H. Brett.
  • MCGREGOR, John, 1898. Popular Maori Songs, Supplement No. 1. Auckland, Champtaloup & Cooper.
  • NGATA, A. T., 1929. Nga Moteatea, Part II. Wellington, Board of Maori Ethnological Research.
  • SMITH, S. P., 1898. “The Peopling of the North.” Journal of the Polynesian Society, 6:supplement.
  • WHITE, John, 1887-90. The Ancient History of the Maori (6 vols.). Wellington, Government Printer.
  • WILLIAMS, H. W., 1957. A Dictionary of the Maori Language (6th Ed.). Wellington, Government Printer.
1   See Grey, George, 1955, pp. 90-93, for an account of these episodes written by Piri Kawau of Taranaki c. 1850.
2   A plausible translation of proper names will be suggested, where possible, on their first appearance in the text.
3   Maori kinship terms are classificatory and extend laterally to the limits of known blood ties.
4   Perhaps the implied meaning is that marriage would prevent their having love affairs while away on their journey.
5   According to Grey, George, 1955, p. 91 -(Pin Kawau's account) and White, John, 1887-91, v. 2, p. 179 (Eng.), Kupe's canoe was named Mata-ho (u) rua, although the name is nowhere given by Kaamira.
6   Time measurement in years marks this account as modern.
7   That is, the second adzing out of the canoe to make it lighter so that it would carry more people. It was then re-named Ngaa-toki-maataa-whao-rua.
8   A supernatural being, usually reptilian, and living in water.
9   A common cause of quarrels in legends.
10   A settlement on the north side of Hokianga Harbour.
11   Tama-te-kapua was captain of Te Arawa canoe. Here, and elsewhere in this account, Kupe is spoken of as being contemporary with others believed to have come with the “fleet.” This is confirmed by most genealogies. The evidence for 950 as the time of Kupe is very unsatisfactory.
12   Buck, Peter H. (Te Rangi Hiroa), 1938, pp. 271-2, gives an interesting account of the hypothecated substitution of poporo or poroporo, the name of an economically worthless New Zealand shrub, for the important kuru (breadfruit) of Polynesia, and the fortunate retention of kuru in an old Arawa chant. Such an explanation is unnecessary however, since poroporo is in fact the name of the breadfruit in some parts of Polynesia.
13   According to Wiremu and Akata Taahana the paaparahua was an elevated stage in the centre of the paa, where the warriors and chiefly elders stood. Cf. Williams, 1957, “tooii fig. warrior” and “tuumu-whakarae chief.”
14   The story now moves on to Nuku-tawhiti, the most important ancestor of the Rarawa people. The little that has hitherto been published about Nuku-tawhiti stems from John White, who lived in the Hokianga district from 1835 to 1851. See Gudgeon, T. W., 1885, pp. 106-108, where Nuku-tawhiti is said to have come on Maamari.
15   The three nights on which the moon appears to be full.
16   The procreator of all life, and god of the forest.
17   The god of mankind, and of war.
18   Here we have the first change of tense which makes it clear that the last paragraph, although in the past tense, is meant to be Kupe's instructions to Toka-akuaku.
19   The moon on the sixth, seventh, and eighth nights, thought to be a time of storms.
20   That is, by man. The reference seems to be to a ceremonial oven cooked on the occasion of the lashing of certain parts of the canoe.
21   The reference here is to the heliacal rising of the Pleiades.
22   Tawhaki is the personification of lightning.
23   At least three other versions of this have been printed, viz. McGregor, John, 1898, pp. 16 and 19, and Ngata, 1929, p. 206. None of the renderings are exactly the same.
24   The chant given by Himiona is untranslatable in its present form and the translation above is of another version chanted by Paora Temuera of Ngatiraukawa and recorded on the Ethnic Folkways Library record P433A-B, “Maori Songs of New Zealand,” issued by Folkways Records and Service Corporation, New York. The Maori is as follows:—
Patu-a-kuru, patu-a-whao,
Patua e te toki a Taiharuru.
I kii ake nei au,
Ki runga ki te hukahuka nui,
O te whare o Tangaroa,
I whati ai i a Nukutaimaroro.
25  A possible translation of an obscure sentence.
26   At this point is inserted the story concerning Maamari, hitherto considered the main canoe of Ngaapuhi and the canoe on which both Ruaanui and Nuku-tawhiti came. See Smith, S. P., 1898, pp. 18-21.
27   Perhaps Atutahi (Canopus).
28   The Milky Way.
29   That is, of the canoe.
30   The North Island of New Zealand.
31   God of the ocean.
32   Perhaps the horizon.
33   The following seven lines, with variations, have been published in Grey, George, 1853, pp. 154 (last 5 lines only) and 217; also in White, John, 1887-90, v. 5, p. 10 (Maori), Best, Elsdon, 1925, p. 154 (from White), and Kelly, L. G., 1949, p. 44.
34   Perhaps the name of the sail. Possibly Raa-puuweruweru.
35   The names of spells ensuring speed.
36   An obscure line.