Niwareka

Whakaruaumoko the youngest son of Rangi Potiki and Papatuuaanuku married Hine Nui te Poo and had Hine Oi.

Hine Oi married Putahanga and had Manutionga who married Ue Tanga whose daughter was Niwareka. Niwareka lived in Rarohenga with her family.


One day Ue Tanga and his people visited the village of Mataora in the world above and when Mataora saw Niwareka he asked her father if he may marry her to which he consented.

Niwareka became the wife of Mataora and lived with him in the world above after her family returned to Rarohenga.

One day Mataora beat her, and she ran away back home to the underworld.

Mataora realised his loss and followed her, and when he came to Pou Tererangi the house of Kuwatawata he asked, ‘Where is the road to the world below?’

Kuwatawata said, ‘There it is, at the back of the house.’

Then she opened the door to the dark world, and Mataora looked down and saw people walking about, and houses standing there.

He went below, and down there he met Tiwaiwaka the fantail, and asked him, ‘Have you met anyone?’

‘Yes,’ said Tiwaiwaka.

‘One came past who was crying and sobbing.

She has gone now.’

Mataora went on, and came to the fire used by the tattooers; Ue Tanga the Tohunga was there, tattooing a man.

Ue Tanga stared at the marks on the face of Mataora, then he stretched out his hand and wiped them off, saying, ‘Your tattooers in the world above don’t know how to do their work properly.’

Then Mataora was thrown down and was tattooed.

When he felt the pain, Mataora chanted this karakia:

Niwareka, Niwareka, kawe noa i a au
Ki te poouriuri, ki te pootangotango.

Whaakina te mamae o te ipo
Kai Ahuahu, kai Rangatira,
Kai Nukumoanariki.

Ko Kurareiara, ko Taranaki.

Kai Taranaki hoki te ipo, toro hohoro e.

The news of the chant of Mataora reached the house where Niwareka was living at Aroarotea, spending her time there weaving cloaks.

When she heard the song she went to the place where the tattooers were at work.

Her father Ue Tanga scolded her and told her to go away.

But she did not listen to him, and asked Mataora, ‘Will you chant your karakia?’

He did so, and she listened to him chanting part of his karakia, which was as follows:

Whaaki ki te Uru, whaaki ki te Tonga,
Whaaki ki te Whakarua, e.

Tirotiro ko Rangi ki te whetu,
Whakataha too mata ki te marama au nei.

He moko puhi raakau au nei,
He moko puhi raakau au nei.

Whaakina te tahu kia rongona,
Whaakina te tahu kia rongona.

Mokimoki te kakara kia urua, e i.

Ko ure kaa, ko ure kaa mai te Houpuni e.

Taki ai au kia whakarongo, e i.

When Niwareka heard this second karakia she realized that this was Mataora.

When Ue Tanga had finished, Niwareka took her husband into the house where she had been weaving cloaks, and she looked after him.

After his wounds had healed, Mataora said to her, ‘Let us return to the upper world.’

At first Ue Tanga would not consent because of the violent ways of the world above, so Mataora agreed to remain in Rarohenga with Niwareka and learn the ways of their people.

In time the family of Niwareka consented to Mataora returning to the world above with Niwareka under the agreement that Mataora give Kuwatawata one of the cloaks woven by Niwareka so as he may keep the doorway open between the worlds and Niwareka could return to her family.

So they went up, and when they reached Pou Tererangi again, they passed through it.

Niwareka left first and Mataora followed carrying the cloak he was to give Kuwatawata, but Mataora had other plans and refused to give Kuwatawata his wife’s cloaks as a payment for allowing them to travel over the road to the underworld.

When he saw this, Kuwatawata called after them, ‘Mataora, farewell.

The road to the underworld, and the road to the world above, are now blocked up for ever.

Living Man will never again travel that road.’

This pleased Mataora for now Niwareka could never run away from him again and return home.

Mataora lived with Niwareka in this world.

Hence this saying about tattooing:

‘It was Mataora who taught the art of Ue Tanga, The art of tattooing.’

This is another saying:
‘The essence of Mataora, The art of Ue Tanga.’

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