Go to National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa
Volume 7, 1874
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8. Tinirau, and Hine-te-iwaiwa.

Tinirau was spoken of as the most handsome man of his time; and when his fame reached the ears of Hine-te-iwaiwa she was determined to have him. So she made up her mind to go to the place where he lived. Her heart was already so full of him that, as she went along the sea shore every time she found a fish thrown up by the waves, she sang, “Fish, fish, art not thou a fish thrown here by Tinirau?” When she came to Tinirau's place, and before she was seen by any one, she found his looking-glass wells, where Tinirau used to go to dress and to look at his handsome image in the water. There were three wells, with railings and sheltered seats. She broke all the railings and the shelter.

Now it happened that two servants of Tinirau's house passed by the wells. The name of one servant was Ruru-mahara (remembering, or intelligent owl), and that of the other Ruru-wareware (forgetful, or stupid owl). When they came home, Intelligent Owl said that Tinirau's looking-glass wells were broken. Tinirau, upon hearing this, asked for the particulars. Stupid Owl said, “I saw nothing broken; the wells are all right.” “But they are broken,” said Intelligent Owl, “I have seen it.” “I saw nothing broken,” said Stupid Owl. Then Tinirau said he would go and see for himself.

When he came to the place, there stood Hine, by the broken wells. She darted a flash of lightning at him; he darted a flash of lightning at her; and then they fell in love with each other, and sat down together and talked of love. When they had sat awhile, Tinirau said to Hine, “Let us go home.” “No,” she replied,” “let us stay here.” “But we have nothing to eat here,” said he. Then she chanted—

"Let down, let down! drop down, drop down!"

and there lay a heap of food by their side. Toward evening, when the air began to feel chilly, Tinirau said again, “Let us go home.” “No,” said she, “let us stay here.” But the night is chill, and we have no warm clothes here.” Again she chanted—

"Let down, let down! drop down, drop down!"

and there lay a heap of warm clothes by their side.

Tinirau had two wives at home. The name of one was Makai-atua-uriuri, and that of the other Makai-atua-haehae. When Tinirau did not come home, the wives, next day, sent the two servants to look for him. When the

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servants came back, the wives asked, “Have you seen him?” “Yes.” “Where is he?” “By the wells.” “What is he doing there?” “He is not alone,” said Intelligent Owl, “there is some one with him.” “I saw no one with him,” said Stupid Owl, “he was quite alone.” “He was not alone,” said Intelligent Owl, “there was some one with him.” “No, there was no one with him,” said Stupid Owl. Then Intelligent Owl said, as if in desperation, “I assure you I saw two heads and four feet.” That was enough for the wives; they both got up, each armed with a club, and went to the wells.

When they were seen coming, Tinirau said to Hine, “There come your sisters-in-law; now defend yourself.” Hine replied, “If they come with evil intent, I shall be a match for them.” Then she caught up a flint in one hand and a club in the other, and stood on her defence. First, one of the wives aimed a blow at her head, but missed, because Hine jumped aside, and at the same time struck her assailant with the club and killed her. Then the other wife struck at her, but missed also, and was at the same time killed by Hine, with the flint in her other hand.

Now the two lived happily together for some time. In due time also a child was born. But their happiness was disturbed by a brother of Hine, called Rupe. In former heathen times Maori brothers could sometimes be cruel to their sisters, their love to them being of such a selfish nature that they disregarded their sisters' happiness. But this brother appears here more like a spirit than a brother of flesh and blood. One day Tinirau and Hine with their child were sitting in the pleasant shade, and were very happy, cleaning each others heads, when all at once there came a cloud of thick mist, shaped like a large owl. This misty apparition contracted and became a man, who sat down by them and began to cry, as was the custom when long separated friends met again. In the cry the stranger sobbed:

Rupe—Rupe—the—brother!
Hine—Hine—the—sister!

Then Hine answered in her cry:

That—means me—Hine-te-iwaiwa!

Thereupon the brother snatched up his sister and her baby and hastened away with them. Tinirau cried after him, “O Rupe! bring back our sister;” but that was of no avail.

When Tinirau had somewhat recovered from his surprise and sorrow, he thought of a way to follow his wife and child. He bad a large tame fish, which was one of his ancestors, called Tutunui, on which he occasionally took a ride over the sea, his pet seabirds accompanying him on such excursions. Now he went to the sea shove and called for Tutunui, who soon made his

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appearance, and Tinirau got on his back and rode away over the sea, his pet birds flying and screaming over him. When they came near an inhabited place, then the birds hovered and screamed over the same, to see if Hine was there; and when they ascertained that she was not, then they flew screaming away to another place, Tinirau following them on the back of his fish, Tutunui.

While so proceeding, he happened to meet an old acquaintance, named Kae, who came paddling along in a small canoe. They both stopped to have a little chat, in which Kae persuaded Tinirau that they should change their conveyances. Then Tinirau stepped into Kae's canoe, and Kae got on the back of Tinirau's fish. Before they parted, Tinirau charged Kae to get off while still in deep water, and on no account take their ancestor into shallow water. Kae promised that he would do so. Then each pursued his way.

Tinirau paddled away in the small canoe, following his birds. But he found it slow work, and not so easy as riding on his tame fish. Luckily he met another acquaintance, named Tautini, who possessed a large tame Nautilus, which he kindly lent him. On this he could sail nicely by the wind, following his screaming birds. So they went on over the sea, trying many places, over which the birds soared for awhile, circling and screaming, and then flew away to another place. At last they came to a place where the birds would not leave. They kept on flying round and round and screaming always over that place. By this Tinirau knew that his wife must be there, so he let go his Nautilus and went ashore.

When he had gone a little way inland, he met a girl carrying baby's clothes. He asked her, “Where are you going?” “I am going to wash the clothes for my sister's baby,” said the girl. “And who is your sister?” asked Tinirau. “My sister's name is Hine-te-iwaiwa, and her baby's father is called Tinirau,” she said. “Let me help you to wash the baby's clothes,” begged Tinirau. “No,” said the girl, “I can do that myself well enough.” However, Tinirau begged so hard to let him help her washing the baby's clothes, and to beat them to make them soft, that she at last let him. Then the girl went home with them, leaving Tinirau there by the water.

When the girl came home, she told her sister that she had met a stranger, who had insisted on washing some of the baby's clothes, and that she had let him. Hine asked what sort of man he was, and when the girl described him, she asked for some karetu grass, which she wound into a charm, called a tamatane; this she gave to the girl and told her to go and throw it at the stranger, and then to come back and tell her if he had caught it or not. The girl did so; and when she came back she told her sister, “I just threw it at him, and he caught it at once.” Hine was satisfied.

In the evening she told the girl to go to the common house, to sleep there.

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"If they will not let you,” she added, “tell them that I sent you because I wished to be alone with my child.” So the girl went. But the common people would not let her sleep there, arguing that, as she was the nurse of a sacred child, it was against the rule of the tapu that she should sleep in a house among common people. But the girl said, “Hine has told me to sleep here because she wished to be alone. And as for the child being tapu, that might be if it had a father; but a child without a father———.” At last she was permitted to stay.

The door of Hine-te-iwaiwa's house was a slab of polished greenstone, and had, therefore, a metallic sound when moved. In the night a noise was heard as of the door being opened. Then some of the common people called out, “Hine! who is there that opens the door of your house?” “I myself,” she replied, “I wanted to go out.” But it was Tinirau, who had found his wife and child. Next morning she called all the people together, saying “Come and see your brother-in-law.” Then there was a great meeting and crying to welcome the stranger, the husband of Hine-te-waiwa and father of that wonderful child, that was made so much of by all the people of the place. Now Tinirau abode at that place. It is still the feeling among the Maori—and Europeans who have lived long among them feel it too,—that when there is one child, a descendant of high chieftainship, everyone in the community is concerned about that child.

We must now return to Kae, whom we left riding away over the sea on the back of Tutunui, Tinirau's pet fish. When he came near shore, and the water began to shoal, Tutunui shook his back, intimating to Kae that he must now get off. But Kae, contrary to his promise to Tinirau, kept his seat and urged the fish on toward the shore. When they came into shallow water the fish kept on shaking to get Kae off; but he held on, and drove the fish still further into the shallow water; when at last his gills were filled with sand, and he died. Then Kae cut him up and roasted and ate him.

While Tinirau's mind was occupied with seeking his wife and child he had no time to trouble about his pet fish; but now, since he had found them, and when the crying over the reunion was over, he became uneasy about Tutunui, and what might have become of him. Day after day he sat on the brow of the headland and looked over the sea, and sniffed at every wind, but no sign of his fish would come to him. At last the south wind blew, and then a savoury smell was wafted to him from some distant shore. Then he knew at once that it was the savour of Tutunui, his fish and ancestor, being roasted by Kae. He went home crying, “O! the savour of Tutunui, that the wind is bringing to me!” Then all the women of the place gathered together and assisted Tinirau, crying over the death of his ancestor.

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After some days of crying and howling Tinirau felt his mind so far relieved that he could think of vengeance. He wished now to get Kae into his power; and to attain this he persuaded some women to form a band of dancing girls, to go out performing from place to place; and so, when at Kae's place, to get him by subtilty into their power and to bring him over alive. You can know him,” he added, “by a peculiar fastening of his clothes, and by his upper front teeth being broken, which he shows when laughing.”

When all had been arranged, the band of the dancing girls, called by courtesy Tinirau's sisters, sailed in a canoe over the sea, following the pet sea-birds as their guides. When they came to a settlement they performed there for the night, and then continued their voyage next day. So they went on from place to place. At last they came to Kae's settlement, over which the birds kept up a long and continuous screaming. The girls landed, and arrangement was made for their play. Kae was sitting by the middle post in the large house, in which the performance was to be given. His appearance answered the description given them by Tinirau; still the girls wished to be sure to get the right man, and therefore tried to make him laugh. But Kae seemed to be wary; he kept his face bent down, and his mouth shut. The dancing went on and the spectators laughed; but Kae did not laugh. Wilder and wilder went the dancing, louder and louder rang the applause and the laughter of the spectators, till at last Kae too laughed and thereby showed his teeth. Then the girls saw that his upper teeth were broken and they were satisfied that he was the man. By and by the play ceased, the house was hushed, and all the people, Kae among them, fell into a deep sleep, through a charm laid on them by the dancing girls. But these kept awake. They went outside to arrange the net in which Kae was to be carried away, and to perform the enchantments so that he could not wake up.

When all was ready, they went again into the house, lifted Kae gently into the net, and carried him to the canoe, and then started for home. They landed about day-break and informed Tiniran that they had got him. Now all the people came together to look at Kae, who was still fast asleep. Then Tinirau made him wake up. At first Kae believed that he was still at his own home and that Tinirau, with his people, had taken the place by surprise; but Tinirau bade him to look round and see if that was his own place. No, it was not; he found himself a prisoner. Then Tinirau began to kill him, and Kae howled. “Ah,” said Tinirau, “Tutunui also cried for his skin, when you had no pity upon him.” So Kae was killed, as a satisfaction for Tutunui.

After Kae had been killed Tinirau lived an easy, lazy life. This made the people grumble. It seems they were willing enough to work for Hine and her wonderful child; but they did not think that Tinirau, who was a stranger

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to the place, was entitled to such a consideration. One evening, when Hine, with some other women, was sitting by the fire, one of them said to her, “Your husband seems to take it very easy; he never goes to work to get food for you.” At this casual remark Hine felt sorely offended. She went away, and was afterwards found by her husband, sitting alone and crying. He asked her what the matter was; and she told him that she had been so much hurt by having heard the people grumbling about him that he never worked to get food for her. “O,” said he, “do not take it so seriously; we will satisfy them.”

That evening Tinirau said to Hine, “To-morrow you tell your people to go to the forest and cut down trees, and carry the timber home, and build storehouses and stages for food.” Hine did so; and the people obeyed her. The work went on; day after day timber was cut and brought home, and stores and stages were built. The people began to grumble, saying, “Where is the food that is to be stored.” Still Hine, at the instigation of her husband, kept them at work, till the grumbling became very bad, when they were told they might leave off and rest.

In the evening Tinirau went to the sea beach, with a new kauati (pieces of wood by the friction of which fire is produced), and performed his enchantments till late at night. When the charm was well laid on he went home, and and the sea began to throw out fishes. The first fish fell in the yard of the private house, where the child and its parents lived, but the rest fell on the new stages. That night the people in the common house were still talking about the useless work they had performed in erecting those stages when there was no food to be stored, when they were startled by a strange noise, a continuous bumping on the new built stores, with sounds like live fish kicking with their tails on dry ground. The night was so dark, and the noise so awful, that no one ventured to go out. By and by there was a crash of a store breaking down under the weight of the fish; still the bumping and kicking went on, even close before their door, and then there was another crash and break down of a whata or store. So a fearful night was passed. With the breaking of the day the sounds had ceased; and when the people opened the door, there was a sight! Fish and broken down stores were mixed into a huge heap. There was no road for the people, they had to climb over the heap of a confusion of fish and broken timber.

But the yard of the child's house was clear. There was only one fish, the first one, lying before the door of the house.