Tama te Kapua

In Raiaatea, Houmaitawhiti and his sons Tama te Kapua and Whakatuuria became involved in a skirmish with the Uenuku Whakarongo, who was suffering from a boil.

When Uenuku witnessed the pet dog of Houmaitawhiti called, Pootaka Tawhiti, eating his discarded bandageused in treating his boil, so, he killed the dog and ate it.

Soon the sons of Houmaitawhiti begun missing Pootaka.

They went everywhere searching for Pootaka, but the dog was nowhere to be found; they went from village to village, until at last they came to the village of Uenuku, and as they went, they kept calling Pootaka Tawhiti.

At last the dog howled in the belly of Uenuku, “Ow!”

Then Tama and Whakatuuria called Pootaka again, and again Pootaka howled, “Ow!”

Then Uenuku held his mouth shut as close as ever he could, but Pootaka the dog still kept on howling in his inside.

Then Uenuku said as follows, and his words passed into a proverb, “Oh, hush, hush! I thought I had hidden you in the big belly of Toi, and here you are, you cursed thing, still howling away.”

When Tama and his brother heard this, Tama asked, “Why did not you kill the dog and bring it back to me, that my heart might have felt satisfied, and that we might have remained good friends?”

“Now, I'll tell you what it is, O my relations, you shall by and by hear more of this.”

As soon as the two brothers got home, they began immediately to make stilts for Tama, and as soon as these were finished, they started that night for village of Uenuku, eventually arriving at the fine Poporo tree of Uenuku.

They remained there eating its fruit for a long time, and then went home again.

This they continued doing every night, until at last, Uenuku and his people found that the fruit of his tree was nearly all gone, and they all wondered what had become of the fruit.

Eventually they looked for traces, and soon found there were some, the traces from the stilts of Tama.

That night they kept watch on the tree.

Whilst one party was coming to steal, the other was lying in wait to catch them.

This latter party had not waited very long, when Tama and his brother came, and whilst they were busy eating, those who were lying in wait rushed upon them, and caught both of them.

They seized Whakatuuria at the very foot of the tree; Tama made his escape, but they gave chase, and caught him on the seashore.

As soon as they had him firmly, those who were holding on cried out, “Some of you chop down his stilts with an axe, so that the fellow may fall into the water;” and others cried out, “Yes, yes, let him fall into the sea.”

Then Tama called down to them, “If you fell me in the water, I shall not be hurt, but if you cut me down on shore, the fall will kill me.”

And when those who were behind, and were just running up, heard this, they thought well of it, so they chopped him down on shore, and down he came with a heavy fall, but in a moment, he was on his feet, and off he went, like a bird escaped from a snare, and so got safely away.

Now all the village began to assemble to see Whakatuuria put to death; and when they were collected, some of them said, “Let him be put to death at once;” and others said, “Oh, don't do that; you had much better hang him up in the roof of the house of Uenuku, that he may be stifled by the smoke, and die in that way.” 

And the thought pleased them all, so they hung him up in the roof of the house, and kindled a fire, and commenced dancing, and when that ceased, they began singing, but their dancing and singing was not at all good, but indeed shockingly bad.

This they did every night, until at last a report of their proceedings reached the ears of his brother Tama and of their father.

And Tama heard, “There's your brother hanging up in the roof of the great house belonging to Uenuku, and he is almost stifled by the smoke.”

So, he thought he would go and see him, and ascertain whether he still lived in spite of the smoke.

He went in the night, and arrived at the house, and gently climbed right upon the top of the roof, and making a little hole in the thatch, immediately over the spot where his brother hung, asked him in a whisper, “Are you dead?” but he whispered up to him, “No, I'm still alive.”

And his brother asked again in a whisper, “How do these people dance and sing; do they do it well?”

And the other replied, “No, nothing can be worse; the very bystanders do nothing but find fault with the way in which they dance and sing.”

Then Tama said to him, “Would not it be a good thing for you to say to them, "I never knew anything so bad as the dancing and singing of those people;" and if they reply, "Oh, perhaps you can dance and sing better than we do," do you answer, "That I can."

Then if they take you down, and say, "Now, let us see your dancing," you can answer, "Oh, I am quite filthy from the soot; you had better in the first place give me a little oil, and let me dress my hair, and give me some feathers to ornament my head with;" and if they agree to all this, when your hair is dressed, perhaps they will say, "There, that will do; now dance and sing for us."

Then do you answer them, "Oh, I am looking quite dirty; first lend me the red apron of Uenuku, that I may wear it as my own, and his carved Mere as my weapon, and then I shall really look fit to dance; and if they give you all these things, then dance and sing for them. “

“Then I will go and seat myself just outside the doorway of this house, and when you rush out, I'll bolt the house-door and window, and when they try to pursue and catch you, the door and window will be bolted fast, and we can escape without danger.”

Then he finished talking to him.

In time Whakatuuria called down to Uenuku, and to all his people, who were assembled in the house, “Oh, all you people who are dancing and singing there, listen to me.”

Then they all said, “Silence, silence, make no more noise there, and listen to what the fellow is saying who is hanging up there.”

“We thought he had been stifled by the smoke, but no such thing; there he is, alive still.”

So, they all kept quiet.

Then those who were in the house called up to him, “Holloa, you fellow hanging up in the roof there, what are you saying; let's hear you.”

And he answered, “I mean to say that you don't know any good dances or songs, at least that I have heard.”

Then the people in the house answered, “Are you and your tribe famous for your dancing and singing then?” and he answered, “Their songs and dances are beautiful;” and they asked, “Do you yourself know how to dance and sing?”

Then Uenuku said, “Let him down then;” and he was let down, and the people all called out to him, “Now dance away.”

And he did everything exactly as Tama had recommended him.

Next Whakatuuria called out to them, “Make a very bright fire, so that there may be no smoke, and that you may see well!” and they made a bright clear fire.

Whakatuuria then he stood up to dance, and as he rose from his seat on the ground, he looked bright and beautiful as the morning star appearing in the horizon, and as he flourished his Mere his eyes flashed and glittered like the mother-of-pearl eyes in the head carved on the handle of his Mere, and he danced down one side of the house, and reached the door; then he turned and danced up the other side of the house, and reached the end opposite the door, and there he stood.

Then he said quietly to them, “I am dying with heat; just slide back the door, and let it stand open a little, that I may feel the cool air; and they slid the door back and left it open.

Then the lookers-on said, “Come, you've rested enough; the fresh air from outside must have made you cool enough; stand up, and dance.”

Then Whakatuuria rose up again to dance, and as he rose up, Tama stepped up to the door of the house, and sat down there, with two sticks in his hand, all ready to bolt up the sliding door and window.

Suddenly Whakatuuria, as is the custom in the dance, turned round to his right hand, stuck out his tongue, and made hideous faces on that side; again he turned round to the left hand, and made hideous faces on that side; his eyes glared, and his Mere and red apron looked splendid; then he sprung about, and appeared hardly to stand for a moment at the end of the house near the door, before he had sprung back to the other end, and standing just a moment there, he made a spring from the inside of the house, and immediately he was beyond the door.

Up sprang Tama, and instantly bolted the door.

Back ran Whakatuuria; he helped his brother to bolt up the window, and there they heard those inside cursing and swearing, and chattering like a hole full of young parrots, whilst away ran Tama and his brother.

A stranger who was presently passing by the house pulled the bolts out of the door and window for them, and the crowd who had been shut into the house came pouring out of it.

The next morning Uenuku felt vexed indeed, for the escape of those they had taken as a payment for the fruit of their luxuriant Poporo tree, and said, “If we had had the sense to kill them at once, they would never have escaped in this way.”

“In the days which are coming, that fellow will return seeking revenge for our having hung him up in the roof of the house.”

So, before long Uenuku went to make war on Tama and his people, and some fell on both sides; and at length a breach in the fortifications of the village of Houmaitawhiti was entered by a storming party of Uenuku, and some of the fences and obstructions were carried away.

Then the people of Houmaitawhiti cried out, “Oh, Hou', oh, here are the enemy pressing their way in;” and Houmaitawhiti shouted in reply, “That's right; let them in, let them in, till they reach the very threshold of the house of Houmaitawhiti.”

Thrice his men called out this to Hou, and thrice did he answer them in the same manner.

At last up rose Hou with his sons; then the struggle took place; those of the enemy that were not slain were allowed to escape back out of the town, but many of the slain were left there, and their bodies were cut up, baked, and devoured.

Whakatuuria was also slain in that final battle.

Then, indeed, a great crime was committed by Hou and his family, and his warriors, in eating the bodies of those men, for they were their near relations, being descended from Tamatea Kai Ariki.

Tama te Kapua Departs for Aotearoa

Not long after this Tama decided that he would leave Raiatea and depart for Aotearoa, to which Hoturoa decided to follow suit in the Tainui Waka.

A large tree was felled and from this the waka which came to be known as Te Arawa was formed.

The men who turned this log into a beautifully decorated waka were Rata, Wahieroa, Ngaahue and Parata.

Hauhau te Rangi and Tuutauru -made from Aotearoa greenstone brought back by Ngaahue- were the adzes they used for this time-consuming and intensive work.

Upon completion, the waka was given the name Ngaa Raakau Kotahi Puu a Atua Matua in memory of Atuamatua, the grandfather of Tama.

When the Tainui and Ngaa Raakau Kotahi Puu a Atua Matua waka were ready to start from the beach of Whenuakura, and, after all had been arranged, Tama, Tia, Oro, Maka and Hei returned to take farewell of their old father Tuamatua and his son Houmaitawhiti.

Tama turned on one side and beckoned secretly to Whakaotirangi, the wife of Ruaeo.

Whakaotirangi came outside her house, followed closely by Ruaeo.

Tama then hastened his return to the Waka, whilst his friends went straight on to present their heart-felt love to Tuamatua and Houmaitawhiti.

They saluted him and the old man returned their greeting.

Tuamatua then asked “Where is the variegated cloud?”

Oro knew at once that the expression referred to Tama, who like the clouds of heaven constantly changed his aspect, sometimes red, sometimes black, or sometimes many-hued, such was the character of the thoughts of Tama.

He was a man of supreme knowledge in that generation.

It was through this great knowledge that he saved himself at the battle of Te Karihi Potae, where he alone of all the Ariki escaped in that massacre; it was he only who understood how to step upon the upper rope of the fishing net, and hold the lower rope to which the stone sinkers were fastened.

He held it fast with his hands and then jumped outside, right over the net, and so escaped whilst all his companions were caught.

The stratagem of Ihu Motomotokia was his idea, and he prevailed on Ngaatoroirangi to adopt it.

Oro and the others therefore knew to what Tuamatua referred, and the former replied; “He turned off to the dwelling of Ruaeo; probably he has returned to the sea-shore by now.”

So, the old man hobbled down towards the beach but his son Houmaitawhiti objected, saying; “Stay here, I will go and bid farewell of your relatives and your grandson Tama.”

When they reached the sea-shore, Tama was urging the men who were launching Tainui, to aid in also launching Ngaa Raakau Kotahi Puu a Atua Matua.

When Tainui was afloat, all hands then joined in dragging Ngaa Raakau down to the sea.

Whilst the crew of Tainui were loading her, Tama turned towards them and called out to Hotu Awhio -who was the son of Hoturoa, captain of the Tainui- to say to his father; “Delay your paddling, let us all start together.”

This was told to Hoturoa, who consented as he did also to the request of Tama, that the latter should take Ngaatoroirangi and his wife Kearoa on board Ngaa Raakau.

Tama saw that Kearoa had embarked Tainu, whilst Ngaatoroirangi was still standing on the shore.

So, Ngaa Raakau was put afloat at the same time as Tainui.

Tama then ordered the embarkation, and whilst the crew were getting on board, he went to try and persuade Ngaatoroirangi, saying; “Let both of us embark on board the Arawa.”

“There is no man who knows so well the rites of our old man Tuamutua; you alone possess the knowledge of the priestcraft, and of the power of Tuamatua, hence I ask you to come with me in that Waka.”

The old man -Ngaatoroirangi- felt compassion at these words, and therefore called to him his wife who had already embarked on Tainui, and settled down in her place.

Therein did Kearoa jumped ashore, and came along the sands to Ngaa Raakau.

So, soon as Tama saw that Kearoa had waded ashore he urged his crew to hasten aboard Ngaa Raakau; and as he did so he glanced at Whakaotirangi.

He then saw that her husband Ruaeo was there also.

He approached Ruaeo and said; “Friend, be quick, fetch my comb, which is hidden below the window of my house, it is stuck into the wall, and let your search be effectual that you may find it.”

Ruaeo went and finding the house open, entered.

Whilst there he heard the voice of Houmaitawhiti, bidding farewell to the voyagers, saying; “Oh my sons, Oh Hei, Oh Oro, Oh Maka, Oh Tia! greeting, proceed on your way.”

“When you arrive at the land to which you are going, be steadfast; in indolence there are all kinds of death.”

“Rather hold by war in which is glory and honorable death.”

The chiefs understood the words to mean, that it is better to die in battle, rather than in the ordinary way, or in slothfulness, which is the death of dogs and the thoughtless.

The two Waka had by this time reached some distance from the shore, whilst Ruaeo assiduously sought for the comb of Tama.

After Ruaeo had been sent away by Tama, the latter advanced towards Whakaotirangi and said; “O, go on board the Waka and arrange a position for yourself, at the third thwart from the stern, i.e., at the platform.”

“Lo, my place is just beyond, let us be there together.” 

When all hands had gathered on board, Tama and Ngatoro were left below on the sands.

Said Tama to Ngatoro, “Let us shove off this Waka,” so they pushed her off, and both jumped on board, whilst at the same time the sails were hoisted, of which there were two.

When the old fellow Ruaeo came forth from the house, those who had been down to take farewell of the voyagers had nearly reached their homes; so, he ran down to the shore expecting to find there his wife Whakaotirangi.

When he reached the sandhills of the beach, the sails of Te Arawa were disappearing in the distance.

It was enough, poor old man; the tears glistened in his eyes.

Then he reflected and said to himself; “No wonder there was no comb where I searched for it; it was a blind, whilst Tama carried off Whakaotirangi.”

“Ah! presently you will be put to confusion by me!”

Indeed, Ruaeo afterwards met with Tama on this side of the sea, when they quarreled, and Tama was put to shame.

The Journey to Aotearoa

So, Ngaa Raakau sailed on, and while at sea Tama became desirous of Kearoa.

Ngaatoroirangi noticed the glint in the eye of Tama and took precautions to protect his wife during the night while he was on deck navigating by the stars.

This was done by tying one end of a cord to her hair and holding the other end in his hand.

However, Tama untied the cord from the hair of Kearoa and attached it to the bed instead.

He then made love to her, following this pattern over a number of nights.

One night however, he was nearly discovered in the act by Ngatoro, but just managed to escape.

In his haste he forgot the cord.

Ngaatoro noticed this and therefore knew that Tama had been with Kearoa.

Enraged Ngaatoro caused Ngaa Raakau to descend to Te Waha o Te Parata; in consequence of the evil conduct of his friend Tama towards him.

When the waters had reached midships, Ngaa Raakau was on the point of foundering and Kearoa called out, “O! Toro, O! The pillow of Kearoa has fallen!”

But the old man gave no response, twice, thrice, there was no response.

It was not until the voice of his nephew, named Uenuku Whakarorongarangi, was heard calling on his uncle in these words; “Tana nui, O! You have the power, return your people to the world of light!”

Upon hearing that the heart of Ngatoro was touched, and he caused the Waka to emerge.

Some of the goods on board fell overboard, but Whakaotirangi had presence of mind to dive for and save her basket of Kumara.

Immediately after the calming of the seas, a shark -known as an arawa- was seen in the water.

Ngaatoro immediately renamed the waka Te Arawa, after this shark, which then accompanied them to Aotearoa, acting in the capacity of a kaitiaki.

Te Arawa then continued on to Aotearoa without incident.

Finally sighting land at Whangaparaoa, the crew took their Kura -feather headdresses- and foolishly cast them overboard due to the beauty of the Pohutukawa bloom.

Tama said to Ruarangimurua and Ika, “Let us throw away our Kura, overboard, for see, the trees bear them in this country and are in abundance.”

His friends consented and threw away their Kura.

The names of those Kura were Tuhepo and Tuheao.

After the Waka had passed on, the Kura drifted on shore and was found by Mahina.

Hence this “saying” for a thing found; “O! it is a drifted Kura of Mahina; thy property will not be returned to thee!”

Tama te Kapua and Hoturoa Part Ways

Upon Te Arawa making landfall at Whangaparaoa on the Eastern Bay of Plenty, an argument took place with members of the Tainui Waka over a beached whale and the ownership thereof.

Tama again resorted to trickery and took possession of it despite rightful claim of the Tainui.

When Tainui first arrived at Whangaparaoa, a whale had drifted ashore there.

They obtained some flax from which they made a long rope, and tied one end to the whale, and fastened the other to a tree ashore.

Then Tainui was hauled up on the beach, and the crew went to explore the land and find a suitable place to settle on; they were overtaken by night, and remained at the spot they had selected.

After them Te Arawa arrived at Whangaparaoa, and saw the whale lying there with the rope attached.

They knew from the Waka that it belonged to the party of Hoturoa, and that theirs was the rope tied to the whale.

These people now made a rope for themselves, and scorched the flax at the fire so that it might appear dry; then they set to work to do the same with the leaves, they used at their camping place, so that the others might think they Te Arawa had been there some time.

After this they fastened the rope of scorched flax, of Tama, to the whale, and placed it beneath that of the Tainui men, and buried the shore part in the sand.

When the Tainui men returned to cut up their whale, they beheld another rope attached; they asked whose it was, and were told it belonged to the men of Ngati Ohomairangi.

Hoturoa and his people declared the whale was theirs; “It was our waka that arrived first, and ours was the first rope attached.”

Tama replied, “Not so! It was our Waka arrived first! and ours was the first rope attached.”

The rope of Tama was then taken up; it was quite dry and not green flax like the other.

Then their camp was examined; truly it was so! the leaves, etc., were quite dry, as well as those of their shelters, all had been scorched to deceive.

And so Hoturoa was defeated, and the whale became the possession of Tama and his party.

Hence was Hoturoa down hearted, and gave the command to his people to depart that place.

The Tainui crew eventually reached the Hauraki gulf and the Waitemata harbor, then they dragged their Waka over the narrow portage between the Waitemata and the Manukau harbors and eventually sailed on from there coming to final rest at Kawhia, where, at Maketu, the waka was finally hauled ashore and retired from use.

The Journey to Maketu

After leaving Te Arawa then travelled northwards towards the Coromandel Peninsula, where Tama sighted the mountain Moehau.

When Te Arawa re-entered Tikapa Moana, Ngaatoro said; “Let our waka course be turned, that we may approach the island there, so as to allow our ara to touch the soil of this main land.”

The reason of this was a certain stone which Ngatoro had brought with him.

So, Te Arawa returned and drew near to the island which stands off Poihakena -Port Jackson- at the northern end of the Coromandel peninsula; the name of that island is Te Poito o Te Kupenga o Taramainuku.

After the stone had been left, Tama asked: “What is the meaning of leaving this stone here?”

Ngatoro replied, “Thou art left here, O stone! that thou mayest be embodied in the incantations of the descendants of the people on board this Waka, as a mauri, in the invocations to ward off evil.”

When Tama learnt that that was to be the mauri for all on board the Arawa, he conceived a desire to return to that neighborhood and live there.

So Tama arose, and addressing the chiefs said, “Listen all of you, whatever part of this mainland our Waka may finally arrive at, I shall return here; the mountain top yonder shall be my home.”

At the same time, he pointed to the summit of Moehau mountain whilst all the people remained in silence.

He then added, “My body shall rest here in this place forever.”

After this the Waka was detached from the island, and all on board the Arawa whispered to one another, some saying, “Whenever our Waka reaches the land, hasten to arise and take possession of a portion, behold the example of our friend, who directly took possession of yonder mountain.”

Others said, “O, that was not the reason of his taking possession of this part as a permanent residence, but rather in consequence of the explanation in reference to the stone, that it should be our mauri, for us and our descendants; that was the reason.”

After this event; Te Arawa came straight on, towards the south-east and touched at an island off Ahuahu, the name of which is Reponga; here were left the celebrated birds, Mumuhou and Takereto.

The occupation of those birds is, to foretell the winds, the north-east wind, the signs of fine weather, the wind when the sea will be calm.

The Waka then sailed on; at daylight she was between Matarehua and Wairakei and the shore was distinctly to be seen.

Tama at once sprang up and called out, “That point there -Maketu point- is the bridge of my nose.”

Tia eagerly arose and said, “That hillock to the south there, and hitherward to the mountain, is the belly of Tapuika.”

Hei, interrupted the proclamation of Tia by saying, “From behind the mountain there, extending to that other range of mountains indistinctly seen in the north, is the belly of my son Waitaha.”

Hei thus took possession of all that extended northwards to Katikati.

Te Arawa then entered the mouth of the river at Maketu, and the bows struck the shore at Ongatoro.

The stern anchor was then let go, hence probably the allusion to the stone in that place, “that is the anchor of the stern.”

The painter of the bows was then fastened to a great rock, the name of which is Tokaparore.

When all this had been done all the people landed.

Te Arawa lay where it had been beached until being burnt by Raumati of Taranaki some years later.

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