Puuraakau Te Whiti a Poutama

The real reason why Ruawharo was upset in the fishing net was this: Ruawharo was caught by Whatiuamarae in the act of adultry with Takarita, wife of Uenuku. Whatiua reported this to Uenuku, saying, “O Sir! As I came along I found Ruawharo and Takarita sleeping together.”

On hearing this Uenuku seized his weapon and proceeded to the spot, but found on arrival that Ruawharo had departed, so he killed his wife Takarita, who at the time was suckling her child Ira. Uenuku cut out the woman’s heart and gave it to the child to eat, and hence is the origin of his name, Irakaiputahi. If Ruawharo had been found there he also would have been killed.


Ruawharo and his younger brother Tupai fled to Waihao. Now that place was where Uenuku and his people drew the net for the fish. Uenuku well knew that Ruawharo was accustomed to rush to the net to seize the best fish, so he sent to Poutama, to Harutea and Kohiwai, a message, “If Ruawharo dashes at the net, cast the lower part of it over his head.”

When Ruawharo got down to the beach there was the net outside; it was then dragged ashore, and when Poutama and his companions saw Ruawharo they passed the net over his head, so that he fell down within the net where he was speared by the stingray and other fish.

Ruawharo now proposed to raise a war party to kill Poutama and his companions, and therefore went off to Titirangi, to the high chief Tamatea, to engage his aid in destroying Poutama, who said to him, “Would you kill those who provide food for our elder brother? Commit two offences, the one on his wife, the other on his food?” Ruawharo replied, “Enough! I shall go to Te Pakaroa, and see Pawa and Taikehu.” To this Tamatea replied, “What is the use of applying to the toka kaumapu? It were better to apply to our elder relative Te Tokimatangi.”

Ruawharo then went to Te Pakaroa village to consult Pawa, Taikehu, and Titakaauahi, who were the chiefs of the Whangaraa district. Pawa would have nothing to do with the matter. Ruawharo and his brother Tupai then went to their old female relative Aparangi and her son Haunui, and said to them he had been injured by his elder Uenuku. “I was overcast in the long fishing net by Poutama.”

His senior relative Haunuiapaarangi replied, “Sir! You are an adult, why don’t you make a net for yourself? You are constantly meddling with the net of your elder relative Uenuku. You do not seem to remember that you have desecrated the sacred pillow of our elder; stand on one side, for you will never be able to avenge your supposed wrongs, he is a great and powerful chief, is our elder relative.” Ruawharo was very much cast down by this, and said to Haunui, “I thought that by turning aside to you, to the great chief, I should receive succour.

But as you will not do so, I shall go to our elder relative Timuwhakairihia in order that he may teach me the tahumaero, tahukumia and ngapokino o Whiro”. To this Haunui replied, “Why use those powers of darkness? Act above board according to the rules of light.” But Ruawharo and Tupai would not listen.

When they got to Tuaropaki, the home of Timuwhakairihia, they found the wife of Timu washing herself. Ruawharo called down to her, “Kapua! Is Timu at his house?” “The elder relative of you two is at his home!” Then Ruawharo said to her, “Come up here that we may salute you.” On her doing so they both assaulted the woman. Ruawharo then said to her, “You go on before, we will follow later.”

Timu in his house saw two little miromiro birds sporting in the corner of his window, and then both fell down in front of him. He took this as an omen and said, “Your action is wrong, and your two hearts will be roasted with the ribs of Kaahutiaterangi. Who can it be that has defiled me?” As Kapua reached the house she said, “O Sir! Thy younger relatives, Ruawharo and Tupai are coming.” Timu asked, “Where are they?” “I saw them on the far side of the stream coming along.” When Kapua sat down her husband saw some red ochre on her garments, and therefore knew that she had been with Ruawharo.

After this they both went forth from the house where Timu, taking some of the red ochre painted it over the door of the house and said, “O Kapua! Cook some of my fish for the guests.” Ruawharo and Tupai now approached to salute the old wizard, who said, “Enter the house! What is it? Have you two come for some particular object?” Ruawharo replied, “That is so!” The two men then entered and there inhaled a long breath and with it much soot of the house, which caused them to rush forth and be violently sick and affected with diarrhoea.

Now a certain presentiment came to Haunui, and so he came to Timuwhakairihia, and asked the latter, “Have you not seen our younger relatives?” Timu’ replied, “O they are probably behind the house, very diarrhoetic.” Haunui asked, “What ails our younger relatives?” “The slaves have been amusing themselves with my wife Kapua.” Haunui replied, “O Sir! Suffocate these pestilential persons who trouble us.” But Timu said, “Enough! They have been eating excrement and that is their punishment.”

Haunui still urged that Ruawharo should be killed, saying, “There are two reasons; the offence against thy elder brother Uenuku, and against thee, club them!” But Timu replied to Haunui, “Shall he have two punishments? the eating of excrement, and the broken head? Go, and bite their heads; for they have been quite four nights afflicted thus.” So Haunui went forth and breathed on the heads of his younger relatives, and then came back to them the spirit of life, and they were able to vomit up the filth. The two men were overcome with shame. Haunui was very angry with his younger brothers.

Timu now asked Ruawharo, “What is the reason of your being seen here?” Ruawharo replied, “I came to fetch some sacred fire, and volcanic fire. Timu said, “This is Orongonui.

Return home, and come back in July in winter time; at the end of the winter.” So Ruawharo, Tupai, and their elder relative returned. When July came in the winter time, Ruawharo and Tupai came back. Hapekituarangi followed them; and when they came to the place of Timuwhakairihia, the latter said, “Let us go to Maukurangi to the house Huriwhenua, and there will I explain the meaning of the kete uruurutapu”. When they reached the place the door was opened by Tuaropaki and Tuarorangi, and the stone ‘Whatukuraamoamo a Tane’ was secured and taken to the turuma attached to the house Huriwhenua, where the ceremony of ‘biting the rail’ was performed.

Then Timu’ asked, “O Rua! How about the karakia?” “Before and behind.” Timu’ replied, “You will never acquire the knowledge of Huriwhenua.” Then he said to Hapekituarangi, “O Hape! Let us hear yours.” So Hape stood forth and commenced the ‘Ahuahu’ karakia, then the ‘patataki,’ then the ‘kauwahe o Rongotea,’ then the ‘kupenga rauiri,’ and then the ‘aho takitaki.’ After this the ‘paehuakai,’ the ‘poupouwhakahoro,’ ending with the ‘hikutoto.’ Then was called the ‘haurorowhio’, the ‘taururangi,’ and ‘puangiangi’, all offered to Whaitiripapa.

After the ‘puangiangi,’ Hape knelt on the ‘Whatukura a Tane’ stone. Then said Timu, “Let us go into Huriwhenua house, for you have accomplished all the outside part. The house Huriwhenua was then entered, the door closed, and Hapekituarangi was purified on the whatuwaiapu, placed at the central pillar of the house.

Ruawharo now said to his brother Tupai, “Of us two you had better return.” Tupai replied, “Leave me by the side of the fire.” The door was closed and then Tangaroaatimu commenced the karakia. Timu said, “O Rua! do you want the ritual for use at sea, or inland?” Ruawharo replied, “Both of them.” But Timu said, “The whatukaiakura has not yet been finished” and then he asked Hape, “Which of the whatu do you select?” The latter said, “Leave me on shore with the Whatu a Tane,” which ended the matter.

On the third séance Tupai also entered the house, and proceeded into the corner and stayed there. The door of Huriwhenua was closed and the teaching of the spells commenced. Timu asked, “O Rua! Who will occupy the passage near the fire?” On this Tupai advanced from his corner and stood there. A number of spells were repeated by Timu ending with the ‘Maikikunawhea,’ and it was then seen that Tupai had correctly acquired the whole of the ‘basket’ of the uruurutapu, so Timuwhakairihia said to him, “You come away and stand on one side; in future your name shall be Tupaiwhakarongowaananga.
The teaching of the Wharemaire ended here, and each student returned to his own place. This incident is known in our history as ‘Te Whiti a Poutama.’ Ruawharo and his younger brother Tupai, returned to Titirangi in the Whangaraa district, where Tamatea lived, abandoning the village of Uenuku, and dwelt in the presence of Tamatea until the time of his migration to this island of New Zealand, when they both embarked with him on board the ‘Takitimu’ canoe.

The insult to Ruawharo at ‘Te Whiti a Poutama’ was never avenged, nor the words of Uenuku, to the effect that if he had caught him he would have cooked Ruawharo as a relish for his wife, Takarita; nor the feeding of the two men by Timuhakairihia with filth at the rail of the latrine, from that time down to the migration to this island. Enough of that.
When in after days Ruawharo learnt that Paikea had arrived from Tahiti at Whangaraa a few miles north of Gisborne, New Zealand he went to visit him, and to present him with a basket of seed kumara. When at Whangaraa they saw smoke arising from Pakarae a river to the east and near Whangaraa, Ruawharo asked, “Whose fire will that be?” Paikea replied, “It is thy nephew, Irakaiputahi.” Ruawharo then proposed to Paikea that they should go and kill Ira, “as payment for the words of his father inciting the people to cast the net over me, and his other words that I should be eaten as a relish for Takarita, the daughter of Whena.” Paikea replied, “Why did you not avenge your ill treatment on the other side of the ocean? Those occurrences took place across the ocean, and yet you bring your ill will to this place and want now to avenge your wrongs.” To this Ruawharo replied, “Enough! If that is your attitude, I shall return to Nukutaurua.” 

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