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The ancient history of the Maori, his mythology and traditions .. (Volume 1) online

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food could come from to fill them. He now saw Rehua
unbind the aute {d) (strings by which his hair was tied in
plaits on the top of his head). It flowed over his shoulders.
He shook it over the empty calabashes, and out of it
flew a number of koko [tui, or parson-birds), which had
been eating the vermin in his head. These birds were
caught by the people of Rchua, and killed and plucked, and
put in the calabashes and cooked, and brought and placed
in front of Rupe, who was invited by Rehua to partake of
them. Rupe said, " I shall not eat of them. I saw you
unloose your hair and shake the birds off your head. I
will not eat of them, as they have lived on the vermin ou
your hcad.^^ Rupe durst not eat them, as Rehua was his
elder and lord.

Rupe asked Rehua, " Have you heard any murmur of
voices from below ? " Rehua said, '' Yes, I have heard a
confused noise of voices at Motu-tapu (sacred island)."

Rupe transformed himself into a pigeon, and flew down
to Motu-tapu, and lighted on the sill of the window of the
house of Tini-rau (many hundreds), and was seen by the
people of that place, who exclaimed, " A bird ! a bird ! "
Some said, " Spear it, spear it." Bird-spcars (here) were
brought, and an attempt was made to pierce it ; but the
bird dexterously turned the spear aside, and the point of
the spear was broken by striking against a tree. They
now made a noose (tari) and attempted to put it over the
head ot the bird ; but it bowed its head and turned its


neclc, so that the noose was of no avail . Now, the sister of
Rupc^ wlio was wife of Tini-rau, said to those who were
attempting- to take the bird, " Let it stay, that I may look
at it/' Having surveyed it, she reeognized it as her
brother, and asked it, '' Why did you eome here ? " The
bird opened and closed its mouth, but did not speak. She
now said to Tini-rau, " O friend ! this is your brother-in-
law." He asked, '' Who is it ? " She said, '' It is Rupe."
On that day she gave birth to a child. Rupe now
sang this song to his sister as he sat on the tree : —

Hina — yes, Hina (d) is the sister,
And Eiipc is the elder brother.
By •which way come ?
From beneath.
From above.

Let your path be upward,
And express your love —
Express it to those at Motu-tapu.

His sister also sang a song to him thus : —

Rupe is the elder brother,
And Hina the sister.
By which way come ?
From beneath,
From above.
Ascend your path
To Eehua.

At once, when his sister had ended her song to him, he
caught her and her child up, and flew away with them to
Reliua ; but in the flight the placenta fell into the ocean
and was swallowed by a shark, and hence the egg-like balls
found in the shark.

They went to Pu-tahi-nui-o-Rehua (principal home of
Rehua), which they found in a veiy dirty state; and Rupe
said to Rehua, ^' O Rehua! verily your place is dirty;" and
again he said, " But never mind, O old man ! If each piece
of dust were an insect you could slap it and frighten it
away." Rupe thought he would clean the home of Rehua,
and therefore made two wooden spades (papa) — the name
of one spade was Tahi-tahia (sweep away), and of the other


E-ake-rakea (scratcli away) — with wliicli lie cleared the place
and made it heautiful. Riipe also made a heke-tua (filth-
pit)^ into which he put the filth. To this he placed a post,
by which any one going there could hold. The name of
this post was Te-pou-o-whai-tiri (the post of Whai-tiri).

Now, at this time the son of Rehua was out on the sea,
and on his return he exclaimed, " Oh ! this settlement has
been cleansed;" and, seeing the heke-tua, he wished to
prove its utility. He was in the act of lifting one foot
up, and reaching out his hand, having got hold of the post
of Whai-tiri, he bent forward, when the post fell, and with
it he went down, and was killed. His name was Kai-
tangata (man-eater) . His blood is still seen iu the red
clouds of the sky, and hence the proverb, " Kai-tangata's
blood marks the sky red."

E,upe, by his deceit, was the cause of the death of the
son of B-ehua. Rupe's original name was Maui-mua (first-
born Maui) : not till he had turned himself into a pigeon
was he called Rupe.

rupe and hina-te-iwa-iwa. (another reading


This is the tale of Rupe and his sisters, who were
named Hina-te-iwa-iwa (glimmering moon), Hina-te-ota-
ota (the new moon), Iti-iti (the diminutive), Ma-rcka-reka
(the pleasant), Rau-kata-uri (music, or laughing leaf of
the young shoot), and Rau-kata-mea (leaf that ever laughs,
or makes music).

Rupe came from the heavens in search of his sister
Hina-te-ota-ota, and found her at Motu-tapu (sacred
island). He came to the window of her house, and wept,
and chanted these words : —

It is Hina,
It is Hina,
Who was lost
At Motu-tapu.
Yes, truly
She is here.


His sister sat still in the house, and, weeping, also
chanted this song in reply : — ■

It is Rupo,

It is Rupo,

The elder hrother.

Yes, truly

He is here.

After they had so wept and sung, Eupe stayed at the
home of his sister for days and months, even till the Mangere-
mumu (the cold winter months, when man cannot work,
but sits and murmurs). Then he returned to his home in
the heavens. On his way thither he arrived at Tawa-tu-
papa (flat-topped ridge), where he was overtaken by Te-
ngana-o-talmhu (intense cold of the ridge-pole nearest the
sky). So he chanted this incantation to cause feathers to
grow on his body : —

Grow, feathers ! grow !
Flap, oh ! flap the wings !
Skim in the sky. Oh, fly !
The bird floats in the sky ;
With new-fledged pinions
The bird soars — the bird of Tane.

Though Rupe flew and struggled upwards, he was
beaten down by the Ngana-o-tahuhu, and, thus detained,
he became hungry, and partook of the vermin of the head
of his great progenitor, which made his voice to become
hoarse. Hence the pigeon (who is the offspring of Rupe)
can only moan and say, " Ku, ku.'^ But when the season
Paki-o-takapou (the calm warmth of summer) arrived the
great heat of the third month matured his feathers, and
Rupe was enabled to ascend to his home again.

It was Rupe taught man the art of fashioning stone
axes, and also how to make the handles for them. He
said, " Make the handle in the shape of man's leg and
foot, so that the part which resembles the calf of the leg
maybe held in the hand, and to that part which resembles
the sole of the foot the axe may be fastened.''

He also showed man the various purposes to which the
axe could be applied.


Whai-tiri and Kai-tangata (or Awa-nui-a-rangi)j Rata


Whai-tiri's (thunder) custom was to eat men ; and when
this news came down to this workl Awa-nui-a-rangi (great
river of heaven) climbed up to the heaven of Whai-tiri.
On his arrival she was absent from her home on a man-
killing expedition^ and to obtain human flesh for a burnt
offering at the dedication of the house called " Raparapa-
te-uira^^ (flashing lightning). Awa-nui-a-rangi asked the
guardian of her housc^ " Where is Whai-tiri ? " The
guardian answered^ " She is above, killing men for bui'nt
offerings for her house/^ ''When will she return ? '^ said
he. " Her return cannot be mistaken/' was the reply :
" the noise her legs make will be the signal." Awa-nui-a-
rangi waited and listened for some time, and heard the voice
of (Whai-tiri) Makere-whatu (dropping hail) pealing so
that his ears were deafened. Awa-nui-a-rangi asked the
guardian, "Where shall I conceal myself from her, lest she
should kill me ? " He was shown to the recess of a win-
dow, where he stayed till Whai-tiri arrived. She had two
prisoners: one she killed, and the other, called Te-ai(ahi)-
ahi-o-tahu (the fire attendant of the husband), was taken by
Awa-nui-a-rangi for his wife, Te-ahi-ahi-o-tahu gave birth
to Kiri-kiri (pebbles), who begat Rotu-henga (performer
of the thank-offering ceremony over food for the workmen),
who begat Ngongo-tua (suckle on the back), who took
Rangi-tc-iki-wa (heaven-devouring space) and begat Tama-
nui-te-ra (great child of the sun), who begat Ao-whaka-
maru (beclouded day) , who begat Ue-te-koro-heke (trembling
old man), who begat A-niwa-niwa (unlimited good, the
rainbow), who begat Poro-u-rangi (adhered to the end of
heaven) and his younger brother Tahu-po-tiki (companion
of the last born).

To go back to Whai-tiri, who misjudged Kai-tangata, as
is shown by the remark made by Awa-nui-a-rangi, " Let
that one live as the finale to the conference with Kai-


tangata (man-eater) " — Wliai-tiri had been fully impressed
with the idea that man was to he eaten; hut found such
was not the case^ and she afterwards took Kai-tangata
(man-eater), whose other name was Awa-nui-a-rangi, as her
husband. Kai-tangata was not a descriptiAC name. They
begat llema. When Ilema had grown to maturity, Whai-
tiri asked, in regard to the acts and disposition of Kai-
tangata, " Why in all this time has Kai-tangata not eaten
man's liesh ? " and was answered, " Kai-tangata is but a
name." She observed, " I thought men were to be eaten,
and this induced me to come down."

Whai-tiri now determined on driving the food away, so
that it should not be all consumed through being so con-
venient and easily obtained by her husband; and now he
had to seek long before he could get any.

When the time came for her to return to her home, she
said to her fellow-wife, " Remain here, O woman ! with our
child and our husband. Stay here. I am the cause of food
being scarce and hard to be obtained by our husband. I am
called Whai-tiri-whakapapa-roa-a-kai (the cause of long
action being taken before food can be obtained) . This,
her full name, was now for the first time given by her, and
it remains to this day a proverb of the tribes. Whai-tiri
now taught her fellow-wife the ceremony and incantations,
the performance of which would prevent blight and cause
food to become abundant. She said, " When our hus-
band comes back from the sea, tell him to bring two
pieces of sea-weed. One must be dried by the heat
of the sun and then thrown on our house ; the other
you must take and pass it through a fire, and repeat in-
cantations over it, and breathe on it, and then throw it away.
If you remember to do this, food will be plentiful for you
and our child."

Now, a cloud had come down and rested on the earth,
and this cloud then enveloped her, and she was taken
up to the heavens. Some time previously Whai-tiri had
said to her fellow-wife, " If our child has children let the
name of the first be Ta-whaki (wanderer), and the name of


the second be Karihi (sinker of a net). They can climb
up to the heavens above."

When Kai-tangata came on shore Ahi-ahi-o-tahu said,
" O man ! the woman "vvho lived with us was a goddess.
She has gone to heaven. A cloud came down for her,
and now she is there. We hear her voice as it booms
in the thunder every year." Ahi-ahi-o-tahu then taught
him the ceremonies and incantations which she had learned
of Whai-tiri. That night Ika-whenua (fish of the land) fell
from heaven as food for her child. It lay in heaps, and
partly covered the trees ; and when Kai-tangata went to
sea for fish, he was able for the first time to procure a

Hema had now grown to maturity, and took Ara-whita-
i-te-rangi (crooked road to heaven), who begat Ta-
whaki and Karihi. When these two became men they
heard what had been said of them by their grandmother- —
that they were to climb up and follow her. They at-
tempted to climb up. Ta-whaki succeeded, but Karihi
failed and was killed, because of his presumption in en-
deavouring to take precedence of Ta-whaki. Ta-whaki
took his younger brother's eyes out, and carried them to
the settlement of Whai-tiri, and his body he buried.
He found Whai-tiri blind, but she was counting taro-
bulbs for her grandchildren, Maikuku-makaka (crooked
finger-nails) and Hapai-o-maui (Maui's butler) . Whai-
tiri had counted nine, and as she was taking the tenth
Ta-whaki pushed it away. She again counted her
^aro-bulbs, and when she had counted to the eighth
he pushed the ninth away. In this way he pushed all
aside till she had only four bulbs left, when she said,
" O me ! I am quite perplexed. The taro were here, but
now nearly all (which were for my grandchildren) have
gone." Again she counted them, and when she had
got to the third Ta-whaki pushed the fourth away; and
again she counted, and he pushed the third away. She
had only two left. Grasping these, she said, '^ You
may not be far from me, O man who are so deceiving


mc ! and it may be you arc one of those of whom I

Online LibraryJohn WhiteThe ancient history of the Maori, his mythology and traditions .. (Volume 1) → online text (page 8 of 27)