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Volume 11, 1878
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3. The Killing of Kataore.

When the fame of those victors who had killed the monster Pekehaua reached the various towns and villages of Tarawera, of Rotokakahi, and of Okataina, the people there were filled with wonder at the bravery of those men who had essayed to destroy that terrible and malicious man-devourer.

Then they began to think, very likely there is also a monster in the road to Tikitapu, because the travelling companies going by that place to Rotorua

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are never once heard of; their relations are continually enquiring, “Have they arrived at the place to which they went?” but there is no response; therefore they are dead. Hence it follows that the sad thought arises within, were they killed by some monster? or, by some travelling man like themselves? or, by some armed marauding party of the enemy?

But the chief of Tikitapu and of Okareka, whose name was Tangaroamihi, knew very well all along that there was a monstrous beast at Tikitapu, although he did not know that the beast there residing ate up men; the chief always believed that it dwelt quietly, for it assumed the very air of peace and quietness whenever the chief and his men went to the spot where it dwelt to give it food; and that beast also knew very well all its feeders, and all those who used it tenderly and kindly. Nevertheless, when they had returned from feeding it to their village, and any other persons appeared there going by that way, then that monster came down and pursued those persons and devoured them as food.

Now the manner of acting of this ugly beast was very much like that of a (bad) dog which has to be tied to a stick (or clog). For its knowledge of its own masters was great; whenever its master, Tangaroamihi, went there to see it, its demeanour was wholly quiet and tractable, but when people belonging to another and strange tribe went along by that road, then it arose to bark and growl at them; so that, what with the loud and fearful noise of its mouth, and the sharp rattlings of its rings and leg-circlets, great fear came upon them, and then he fell on them and ate them up.

Now when the multitude everywhere heard of the great valour of those men, the tribes all greatly extolled them, and wondered exceedingly at the prodigious powers of those four chiefs.

Then it was that the chiefs of Rotokakahi, of Tarawera, of Okataina, and of Rotorua began to understand the matter, and to say, “Oh! there is perhaps a monster also dwelling in the road to Tikitapu, because the traveling parties going from those parts to Rotorua, as well as those coming from Rotorua to these five lakes, are never heard of.” For when the travellers went to Rotorua by the road of Okareka they safely arrived thither; and so when they returned by that same way of Okareka they reached their homes in safety;—but if the travellers went from Tarawera to Rotorua by the road of Tikitapu, they never reached Rotorua at all; somehow they always got lost by that road.

And so again it was with the people from Rotokakahi, travelling thence to Rotorua; if they went by the road leading by Pareuru, they safely arrived at Rotorua, and also in returning from Rotorua; if they came back by that same road, they reached their villages at Rotokakahi in safety; somehow, there was something or other in that road by Tikitapu which

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caused men's hearts to dislike greatly that way, because those who travelled by it were lost and never heard of.

Therefore, the hearts of those who remained alive began to stir within them, so that some even went as far as to say—“Perhaps that chief Tangaroamihi has killed and destroyed both the travelling parties and the armed parties who travelled by the way of Tikitapu.” But that chief Tangaroamihi had shown his hospitality and expressed his kindly feeling to the enquirers who went to his town to seek after those who were missing.

Now, however, when the suffering people heard of the exceeding great valour of those four chiefs in their slaying of monsters, then they considered how best to fetch them to come and to have a look at Tikitapu.

So their messenger was sent to those brave heroes, and when they heard from him the message, they all bestirred themselves, that same 170, for they were greatly delighted to hear of more work for them in the line of slaying monsters. So they immediately commenced preparations for their journey to Tikitapu, some in pounding fernroot, some in digging-up convolvulus roots, some in taking whitebait (Galaxias attenuatus), and some in dredging freshwater mussels, all to be used as food on their journey to Taiapu, to the mount at Moerangi, for Moerangi was the place where that noxious beast called Kataore dwelt.

In the morning, at break of day, they arose and started, taking their first meal far away on the great plain, at a nice kind of stopping-place. When they had scarcely finished their meal they commenced conversation with the usual talk of warriors on an expedition; for at this time they did not exactly know whether it was really by a monster, or by the people who dwelt thereabouts, that all those who had travelled by that road, whether armed parties or whether singly, had been destroyed.

When this armed party took their journey, they also brought away with them the necessary ropes and such things, which had been previously made and got ready. They knew that such (as they had heard) was the evil state of all the roads and ways of that place, therefore they sat awhile and considered, knowing very well the work they had in hand.

However, when the eating and talking were ended, they again arose and recommenced their march. They entered the forest and traversed it, quitting it on the other side. Then the priests went before the party to scatter abroad their spells and charms, that is to say, their Maori recitations. But they acted just the same on this as on former occasions already related.

They recited all the charms and spells they had used against both Hotopuku* and Pekehaua, going on and reciting as they went; at last

[Footnote] * Though not once mentioned or alluded to in that story.

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they made up their minds to halt, so they sat down. Then it was that the people in the villages, under the chief Tangaroamihi, gazed watchfully upon that armed party there encamped, thinking it was a party of their enemies coming to fight and to kill; but in this they were deceived, it being altogether a different party.

A long time the party remained there, watching and waiting, but nothing came. At last one of the chiefs got up and said—“Where-abouts does this noxious beast that destroys men dwell?” Then another of those chiefs replied—“Who knows where, in the water, or in the stony cliff that overhangs yonder?” On this they set to work, and closely examined that lake; but alas! the monster was not to be found there; nevertheless, the appearance of that water was of a forbidding fearful character, that is to say, the fear was caused by the peculiar glitter of the water, as if strangely and darkly shaded, having the appearance of the water whence the greenstone is obtained. But notwithstanding all that, they could not detect any kind of chasm or deep dark hole in all that lake, like the hole in which Pekehaua was found.

Then certain of the chiefs said to the priests, “Begin, go to work; select some of your potent charms and spells.” So those were chosen and used; the priests recited their charms, causing stinging like nettles, and their charms of stitching together, so that the bubbles might speedily arise to the surface of the lake, if so be that the monster they sought was there in the water. At this time one of the priests arose, upon the word spoken forth by one of the chiefs of the party, and said, “It is all to no purpose; not a single burst, or rising, or bubble has arisen in the water of Tikitapu.”

Then they turned their attention upwards to the stony cliff which stood before them; when, before they had quite finished their spell, causing nettlestinging, and were reciting their lifting and raising charms, a voice was heard roaring downwards from the overhanging precipice at Moerangi, as if it were the creaking of trees in the forest when violently agitated by the gale; then they knew and said, “Alas! the monster's home is in the cave in the stony cliff.”

Upon this the whole body of 170 arose and stood ready for action; for glad they also were that they had found food for their inner man. In their uprising, however, they were not forgetful, for they immediately commenced reciting their powerful charms and spells; all were used, of each and every kind—none were left unsaid; the several priests made use of all,* that being their peculiar work.

They now set to work, and soon they got near to the entrance of the

[Footnote] * Seven or eight kinds of charms and spells are here also particularized, and then the remainder given in a lump.

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cave in the rock where this noxious cannibal beast dwelt. At last they got up to the cave, where the whole band quietly arranged themselves, and took a long time to consider how to act. At length the valiant, fearless men arose—men who had already bound monsters fast—and, seizing the ropes, went forward into the cave. There they saw that noxious beast sitting, and staring full at them; but, oh! such fearful eyes! Who can describe them? In appearance like the full moon rising up over the distant dark mountain range; and when gazed at by the band, those hideous eyes glared forth upon them like strong daylight suddenly flashing into the dark recesses of the forest. And, anon, lo! they were in colour as if clear shining greenstone were gleaming and scintillating in the midst of the black eye-balls! But that was really all that gave rise to the appearance of fear, because the creature's spines and crest of living spears had become quite flaccid and powerless, through the potent operations of the many weakening spells which had been used by those numerous warriors, that is to say, priests.

Then they managed to put forth their hands stealthily over its huge head, gently stroking it at the same time. At length the rope was got round the monster's neck and made secure; another rope was also slided further on below its fore-legs, and that was firmly fixed; twice did those brave men carry ropes into the cave. Having done all this they came out to their friends, those of the 170 warriors who had been anxiously waiting their return, and who, when they saw them emerge, enquired, “Are your ropes made fast?” They replied, “Yes; the ropes are fastened to the monster; one round the neck and one round the middle.” Then the enquiry arose, “How shall the dragging of it forth from its cave, and its destruction, be accomplished?” When some of the chiefs replied, “Let us carry the ropes outside of the trees which grow around, so that, when the monster begins to lash and bound about, we shall be the better able to make them fast to their trunks.” Then others said, “All that is very good, but how shall we manage to kill it?” Some replied, “Why should we trouble ourselves about killing it? Is it not so fastened with ropes that it cannot get away? Just leave it to itself; its own great strength will cause it to jump violently about, and jerk, and knock, and beat itself; after that, we having made the ropes fast to the trees, the destroyers can easily run in on it and kill it; or, if not, let us just leave it alone to strangle itself in the ropes.” So all this was carried out by those 170 brave warriors.

Then the several men having been all properly placed, so as to hold and handle and drag the ropes effectually; the word of command was given, “Haul away!” and then they all hauled with a will! But, wonderful to behold, entirely owing to the cave being in the face of the perpendicular

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cliff, almost simultaneously with the first pull, lo! the monster was already outside of the entrance to the cave. But then, in so saying, the potent work of the priests in reciting their raising and uplifting charms must be also included in the cause of the easy accomplishment. The moment that the monster's great tail was outside clear of the cave, then its head began to rear and toss and plunge, frightful to behold! On seeing this, they loosened a little the rope that held it by its middle; when, lo! its head was close to the trees, against which it began to lean, while it knocked about its tail prodigiously. The men, however, were on the watch, and soon the two ropes were hauled tightly up around the trees, notwithstanding the jerkings and writhings of its huge tail. There, at last, it was, lashed fast close to the trees, so that it could only wriggle a little that is to say its tail.

Then the armed men came on; they banged and beat and clubbed away at the monster, which now lay like a rat caught in the snare of a trap; and it was not long before it was quite dead, partly through the blows and bruises, and partly through the ropes; and so it came to pass that it was killed.

The fame of this great exploit was soon carried to all those tribes who had fetched and sent Purahokura on his errand to Tikitapu. Then they assembled at the place, and saw with astonishment their deadly foe lying on the ground, just like a stranded whale on the sea-shore, even so this noxious monster now lay extended before them. Then arose the mighty shout of derision from all both great and small, the noise was truly deafening, loud sounding, like that arising from the meeting together of the strong currents of many waters!

Early the next morning the people arose to their work to cut up their fish; then was to be seen with admiration the dexterous use of the various sharp-cutting instruments—of the saw made of sharks' teeth, of the sea mussel-shells, of the sharp pitch-stone knives, of the freshwater mussel-shells, and of the flints. Truly wonderful it was to behold, such loads of fat! such thick collops! This was owing to the cannibal monster continually devouring men for its common food at all times and seasons; it never knew a time of want or a season of scarcity; it never had any winter, it was always a jolly harvest time with it! How, indeed, should it have been otherwise? when the companies of travellers from this place and from that place were continually passing and repassing to and fro; therefore it came to pass that its huge maw was satiated with food—not including the food given to it by its master Tangaroamihi—and therefore it came to be so very fat.

So the big fish was cut up. As they went on with their work, and got

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at length into its stomach, there the cannibal food which it had devoured was seen! there it lay—women, children, men—with their garments and their weapons. Some were found chopped in two, both men and weapons; no doubt through the action of its terrible lips in seizing them! others were swallowed whole, very likely through its capacious mouth being kept open, when the strong internal blasts from its great gullet drew down the men into its stomach! For you must also know, that this cave is situated near to the water, so that whenever a party came by water paddling in their canoe to Tikitapu, and the canoe came on to the landing place, this monster, Kataore, seeing this, came out of its cave, and, jumping into the water, took the canoe with the men in it into its stomach, so that both men and canoe were devoured instantaneously!

The victors worked away until they had taken everything out of its big maw, both the goods (of clothing and instruments as before) and the dead; the dead they buried in a pit. Then they finished cutting up that big fish; some of it they roasted and broiled; and some they rendered down in its own fat, and preserved in calabashes; and so it came to pass that it was all eaten up, as good food for the stomach of man.

But when the news of this killing was carried to the chief Tangaroamihi, to whom this pet Saurian belonged, and he heard it said to him,—“What is this they have done; thy pet has been killed?” The chief enquired, “By whom?” and they answered, “By the tribe of Tama” (Ngatitama). On hearing this the heart of Tangaroamihi became overcast with gloom, on account of his dear pet which had been killed; and this deed of theirs was a cause of enmity and war between Tangaroamihi and those who had destroyed his pet; and it remained and grew to be a root of evil for all the tribes. Thus the story ends.

It should be briefly noticed, in conclusion, that the name of this chief (Tangaroamihi), is one highly suited to the event; or it may have been given to him at an earlier date, through his having a pet reptile. Tangaroa is the name of the god, or creator or father and ruler, of all fishes and reptiles; (though Punga is sometimes spoken of as a god possessing similar powers, but perhaps over only a certain natural section of those animals;* and mihi means, to show affection for, or to lament and sigh over, any one,—present or absent, living or dead;—so that Tangaroamihi might mean, (1) that this chief lamented over the death of one of Tangaroa's family, or tribe; or (2) that he ever liked and showed great affection towards one of them.

[Footnote] * Vide the beginning of the following fable,—“The Shark and the large Lizard,” and the note there,)