Puuraakau Tamanuiarangi

Tama and his wife Rukutia lived together at their home, where they had a son born called Tutehemahema, and a daughter called Merau. After them were Kukurumanuweka and Kukurupeti.

The company and children of Tutekoropunga came on a visit. The day after their arrival the children of Tama, girt about with dog-skin mats entertained the visitors with a haka. And when the children of Tutekoropunga performed their haka they wore red maro. Seeing this, Tama was so overcome with shame that he retired to the Uikura temple, where only chiefs and priests meet to consult the gods.

While he was there his wife was taken and insulted by Tutekoropunga, who, addressing the children of Tama, said, “Stay here with your father. Should he pursue me he will not be able to overtake me. There will be much to obstruct him on the land and on the sea he will meet with other obstructions, such as the foaming waves, and all the gods of the ocean." He then departed, taking with him the wife of Tama. The eldest child of Tama, called Tutehemahema, went to the temple where his father was, and, leaning on the window, looked in. His father looked up, and, seeing him, chanted these words:-

On the brink.
In the centre,
Assemble all
On the ocean.
Engulf them.
Give the battle-axe
And breathe.

His son said, “Our mother has gone with Tutekoropunga." Tama answered with an incantation, which he chanted:

Rukutia has gone to learn to haka.
Not jealousy, so fierce, can stay her now.
I dreamt a dream of other days.
On the brink,
On the centre,
Assemble all
On the ocean.
Come, oh! come
With the battle-axe
And breathe.

Tama came out of the temple, and went to the home of his children. He sat down and wept over them, and then asked, “Why have you forsaken your mother?” They answered, “She has forsaken you on account of your ugliness, and has become enamoured with Tutekoropunga, the noble-looking man." He asked, “And is it so?” They said, “Yes; it is because of your ill looks that she has forsaken you." He then said, “Remain here with your elder brother."

Tama departed, not knowing whither he went. He met a crane, and, envying the beauty of the bird, he made himself like to it, and flew away and alighted at a pool of water, where he saw old garments which had belonged to some of the ancient dead called Tekohiwai, Tuwhenua, and Tumaunga, strewn about. He went along the margin of the pool. Bending his neck, he saw a kokopu lying on one of the old garments, and he ate it. The residents of that region saw him, and one said to another, “Here is something, and it is eating off the old garments of our district.

For the first time has this strange thing been seen here." Another of them said, " Look at it: it has eight joints in its neck." Now, the women, Tuwhenua and Tumaunga, thought it was Tama, and they said to Tekohiwai; "Cook two fish." When she had done this they said, “Put them one over the other, and perform the respective ceremonies customary when offering to the male and female gods. Then take the flax you have used in these ceremonies and make nooses, and of these nooses take first that used in making the offering to the male gods, and throw it, with the fish, at the bird. Should it be caught by the neck, that bird is your elder brother in disguise." Tekohiwai did as she was told, and chanted this incantation:-

They come in shoals.
My hand-net is ready
To fall over his head.
Caught tight now.

She threw the fish: the bird ate it, and was caught by the neck in the noose of the male gods' flax. Again Tekohiwai threw the fish, with the noose of flax used in making the offering to the female gods, and chanted this incantation:-

Consume the procreating power
Of Tangaroa on land.
Consume the procreating power
Of Tangaroa on the sea.
Consume the procreating power
Of the mountain-peak.
Tekohiwai will noose you.

The power of her charm was now complete. She had caught the bird with the first noose. Taking hold of the noose, she led the bird towards the home of her ancestors; but on the way the bird again became a man, and he was recognized as Tama.

They asked him, “What brought you here?" He answered, "To obtain your services, to make on my face the lines I now see marked on your faces." The face of Tama was then marked all over, but when he went to bathe it all washed off: this took place a second time. He then asked, “I see you are tattooed so that when you wash it does not wash off; but mine is gone so soon as I bathe." They said, " Rise, and go to your other ancestors, Taka, Ha, Tuapiko, and Tawaitiri, with whom you will find the soot to make the moko permanent."

Tama went to his ancestors, and was asked why he had paid the visit. He answered, "To obtain the knowledge of the art I see exhibited on your faces." They said, "But it is a very painful operation." He said, “It cannot be death, as you have borne it, and live." They said, “But some die under the performance."

However, on the following day the instruments were got ready, and so soon as Tama had laid down and shut his eyes, and the operator had cut some of the lines on his face, he fainted away. On recovering consciousness he exclaimed:-

O Taka! O Ha,
Tuapiko, and Tawaitiri
I shall expire.

His ancestors said:-

We do not cause the pain:
It is the instruments,
And blood, and severed flesh.
Now darkness comes
Black darkness covers thee,
And he is watchful.
We are also watching now.

Tama again fainted, and, recovering consciousness, he exclaimed:-

O Taka! O Ha!
In agony I shall die.

And again his ancestors said:-

We do not cause the pain:
It is the instruments,
And blood, and severed flesh.
Now darkness comes
Black darkness covers thee,
And he is watchful.
We are watching.
Drink water, and be refreshed.

Tama now went and bathed and said:-

Man near death
Reels and trembles,
And beloved ones
Show their affection.

He then lay down with his face to the earth, and one of the operators kneeled on him to cause the blood to flow from the punctures. Again he fainted away, and was carried to the settlement in a litter. A fire was kindled, and he was laid near to it.

After three days he could see things around him, and day after day the moko healed, and he could walk about and go to bathe. Soon he recovered and said to his ancestors, “I will now return home to my children." But before he left them they gave him some mats. The day following his arrival at home, he said to his children, "Stay here while I go in search of your mother." He then attired himself in the mats he had received from his ancestors, and over these he wore some poor and dirty ones, so that he might not be recognized. He took a maipi and some obsidian with him, and went on his journey chanting this incantation:-

O obstructing mountain i
Thou, now standing yonder,
Stand aside,
That now I may,
With path all clear,
Travel on,
With song resounding
That now I may,
With path all clear,
Travel on,
With song resounding,
Along the road
Which echoes still.
The path of Tama
Still vibrates
With song resounding.

On he went and came to a bramble: this he cut with his maipi. He next came to the barbs of a tumatakuru; these he cut and cast aside. Next he came to a tarainea; this he pushed aside with his maipi, but cut it with his obsidian. Having got out on a plain, he met some people gathering firewood, who called to each other and said, “Here is an old man for us." Tama said, “Do not make me carry a burden." Some of them said, " Let him go where he likes, and do not put firewood on his back." They then informed him that they had come to collect firewood to light the house of the wife of Tutekoropunga, so that she might dress herself, and also to give light to those who were to dance the haka.

Tama went to the settlement of Tutekoropunga and entered the house, and sat down at the foot of the main post supporting the house. When evening came the fires were lighted, and the people called on Rukutia to haka.

Tutekoropunga gave her a maro, she put it on, and was just about to begin, when Tama said aloud, "The eyes are wet, the eyes are wet." She wiped her eyes, and stood up again to commence; but Tama, who was sitting in the midst of the audience, again said aloud, “The eyes are wet, the eyes are wet." She again sat down and wiped her eyes. The female part of the audience said, “For the first time, O Rukutia! You now wipe your eyes." Tutekoropunga was offended at this, and struck Rukutia, and she wept; then all the people were told to retire to their own homes.

Tama performed his ceremony of enchantment over those who remained in the house, and when they had thus been put to sleep, he took out the garments which he had hidden in his armpits, and showed himself to Rukutia when she had recovered from the effects of the insult of Tutekoropunga.

She exclaimed, “What a sweet perfume! You have come from Tama, my husband." He opened a tahaa in which filth had been put, and when the smell was perceived she exclaimed, “Oh! How disagreeable! Our house is filled with a bad odour." He opened a calabash which was filled with the mokimoki. She exclaimed, "How sweet the scent of the mokimoki! You have come from my husband, Tama."

Tutekoropunga now spoke and said, " Yes; but how dare he attempt to come here in the face of my obstructions!" Rukutia exclaimed, "I think the twinkle of the eyes of this man proves that he is Tama, my husband." When all were asleep Tama went out of the house and washed himself, and put his hair up in a knot on the top of his head, and attired himself in the mats he had brought with him, and looked in a pool of water to see that all was right. He then came back and sat down in the house, and performed his enchantments to make those in the house feel a desire to leave it for a while.

He also went outside and sat close to the door, and as Rukutia came out he took hold of the hem of her garment and gave it a slight pull. She looked round and recognized him as Tama, her husband, and said, “I will return to our home with you." But he said, “Stay with your husband." She answered, “He is unkind, and beats me. I will not stay with him, as I shall soon die." Tama said, “Stay with your husband. You left me because I was an ugly man: stay with Tutekoropunga. But if you will return to me, climb on a whata, and when the streaks of day are seen, in a loud tone call these words:-

“Shoot up, O rays
Of coming day
And also, moonbeams,
Shine ye forth,
To light the path
Of the canoe of my
Husband Tama."

Tama at once left the place and returned to his own home, and prepared a canoe, and collected a crew, and, taking some ashes, and a box of oil, and his greatly-prized red feathers, set out to visit his wife. On his voyage the sea became rough, and he poured some of the ashes on it and it became calm, because the god who made the rough sea began to eat the ashes. Again they met other gods on the sea, to whom they threw the box of oil. This the gods chewed; and Tama went on and met other gods, to whom he threw some chips, which amused them ; and Tama went on, and when the streaks of the light of morning were seen they arrived opposite to the home of Tutekoropunga, and heard Rukutia calling aloud from the whata,—

O ye above! descend;
O ye below I ascend.
I see the shadow
Of the canoe of
Tama, my husband.

On hearing this Tutekoropunga, who was in the house, called aloud and said, “O women! Do not heed what she says. Stay in your houses, and do not go to see the noble-looking Tama. He cannot come here: I have put obstructions in his way which he cannot overcome." Tama, in his canoe, came on till he was below the home of Tutekoropunga; then one of the crew stood up, and the women on shore saw him, and said to Rukutia, “Is that man your husband ? " She answered, “He is my brother." Another of the crew stood up. The women asked, “Perhaps he is your husband?” She said, “He is my father." The women said, "Well, he is noble looking." Another of the crew stood up, and the women said, "He is your husband?" She said, "He is my uncle."

Now Tama called aloud, and said, “Swim this way, swim this way." The women now called to Tutekoropunga, and said, “O Tutekoropunga! Do you sit still whilst your wife is going to Tama, the noble-looking man! “Again Tama cried, " Swim this way, swim this way." Rukutia went down to the shore and swam off towards the canoe. The old men who occupied the centre of the canoe called to her to swim to them, but Tama called and said, “Swim towards me." She swam towards him, and when she had got near to him Tama stood up, and the glow of the red garments which he wore reflected their beauty in the water.

The females on shore again called to Tutekoropunga, and said, “Do you still sit in your house, O Tutekoropunga! You ugly man, come and look at Tama, the noble fellow." Rukutia had got close to where Tama was. He put forth his hand and took hold of her hair, and with an axe severed her head from her body. He then exclaimed, “O my crew! You can have her lady from the waist down to her feet." Then he with a loud voice called out, " Paddle on, and let the head of our canoe be put towards the sea." When this was done the new name of the canoe —Whakateretereteururangi— was first known in this place. This name was given because of the beauty of the red garments of Tama. The head of Rukutia was wrapped up in the red garments, and Tama returned to his home, and buried it at the side of his house. Now Tama lived all alone in his house of mourning, and wept for his wife Rukutia, and chanted this song as he wept:-

Her praise is ever heard
"Tis praise of kindness.
I am shorn of all,
And live in silence,
Friendless and alone,
I would, could I
But haste me
Far up to the heavens.
Oh I that wanderers from above
Would come,
That I might weep
In the house of
Him, the god of
Blood-red crime
O spreading heaven
Urge me to be brave,
And not with tears
Atone for my spouse.
Stir up my inmost
Soul to deeds of daring
For my fell calamity.
Has Merau
Become extinct,
That I for ever
Still must weep
Whilst day on day
Succeeds, and each
The other follows?
Grief to grief now
Gathers all my woe,
And floods my heart with weeping;
Yet I dread agony,
And withdraw me
At fear of e'en
One drop of rain.
At eventide,
As rays of twinkling stars
Shine forth, I'll weep
And gaze on them,
And on the paths they take.
But, oh! I float
In space for nought.
Oh I woe is me!
Like Rangi am,
And Papa once divided.
Flows with flood
The tide of keen regret,
And, severed once,
For ever severed
All for love.

Tama lived alone till summer came; and when the tender shoots of the tupakihi were budding forth he heard a sound. He listened: he thought it was a blowfly singing, "U-u-m, u-u-m! Oh! My head cut off." He went towards the spot where he had buried the head of his wife. He uncovered the place, and in the pit where the head had been buried he saw Rukutia sitting restored to life, her face radiant with smiles, and heard her voice of joyful greeting.

© Copyright 2007-2020 Te Whare Waananga Auturoa - All Rights Reserved.