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The Legend of Toi-te-huatahi and Tama-te-kapua

The Dissensions which led to the migrations from Hawaiki

OUR ancestors formerly separated--some of them were left in Hawaiki, and some came here in canoes. Tuamatau and Uenuku paddled in their canoes here to Aotea; again, at that time some of them were separated from each other, that is to say, Uenuku and Houmai-tawhiti.

For in the time of Houmai-tawhiti there had been a great war, and thence there were many battles fought in Hawaiki; but this war had commenced long before that time, in the days of Whakatauihu, of Tawhaki, and of Tuhuruhuru, when they carried off Kae alive from his place as a payment for Tutunui; and the war continued until the time of the disputes that arose on account of the body of warriors of Manaia. Again after that came the troubles that arose from the act of desecration that was committed by the dog of Houmai-tawhiti and of his sons in eating the matter that had sloughed from an ulcer of Uenuku's. Upon this occasion, when Toi-te-huatahi and Uenuku saw the dog, named Potaka-tawhiti, do this, they killed it, and the sons of Houmai-tawhiti missing the dog, went everywhere searching for it, and could not find it; they went from village to village, until at last they came to the village of Toi-te-huatahi, and as they went they kept calling his dog.

At last the dog howled in the belly of Toi' 'Ow!'

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[paragraph continues] Then Tama te-kapua and Whakaturia called their dog again, and again it howled 'Ow!' Then Toi' held his mouth shut as close as ever he could, but the dog still kept on howling in his inside. Thence Toi' said as follows, and his words passed into a proverb: 'O, hush, hush! I thought I had hid you in the big belly of Toi', and there you are, you cursed thing, still howling away.'

When Tama-te-kapua and his brother had thus arrived there, he asked: 'Why did you not 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.' Then as soon as the two brothers got home, they began immediately to make stilts for Tama-te-kapua, and as soon as these were finished, they started that night and went to the village of Toi' and Uenuku, and arrived at the fine poporo tree of Uenuku, covered with branches and leaves, and they remained eating the fruit of it for a good 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 poporo tree was nearly all gone, and they all wondered what had become of the fruit of the poporo tree, and they looked for traces, and there were some--the traces of the stilts of Tama'. At 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 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 Whakaturia at the very foot of the tree; Tama' made his escape, but they gave chase, and caught him on the sea-shore. As soon as they had him firmly, those who were holding on cried

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out: 'Some of you chop down his stilts with an axe, so that the fellow may fall into the water'; and all those who had hold of him 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 safe away.

Then all the village began to assemble to see Whakaturia 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 Uenuku's house, 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; and 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 Uenuku's great house, 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,

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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 still looking quite dirty, first lend me the red apron of Uenuku, that I may wear it as my own, and his carved two-handed sword 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 your brother will go and seat myself just outside the doorway of the 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 two can escape without danger.' Then he finished talking to him.

Then Whakaturia 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

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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-te-kapua had recommended him.

Then Whakaturia called out to them: 'Make a very bright fire, so that there may be no smoke, and you may see well'; and they made a bright clear fire. 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 sword his eyes flashed and glittered like the mother-of-pearl eyes in the head carved on the handle of his two-handed sword, 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 Whakaturia rose up again to dance, and as he rose up, Tama-te-kapua 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.

Then Whakaturia, as is the custom in the dance, turned round to his right hand, stuck out his tongue,

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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 sword 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-te-kapua, and instantly bolted the door; back ran Whakaturia; 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 Toi' and 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.' And before long Uenuku and Toi-te-huatahi went to make war on Tama-te-kapua and his people, and some fell on both sides; and at length a breach in the fortifications of the town of Houmai-tawhiti and of his sons was entered by a storming party of Uenuku's force, and some of the fences and obstructions were carried; and the people of Houmai-tawhiti cried out: 'Oh, Hou', oh, here are the enemy pressing their way in'; and Houmai-tawhiti shouted in reply: 'That's right; let them in, let them in, till they reach the very threshold of the house of Houmai-tawhiti.' Thrice his men called out this to Hou', and thrice did he answer them in the same

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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.

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. Thence cowardice and fear seized upon the tribe of Hou': formerly they were all very brave indeed, but at last Hou' and all his tribe became cowardly, and fit for nothing, and Hou' and Whakaturia both died, but Tama-te-kapua and his children, and some of his relations, still lived, and he determined to make peace, that some remnant of his tribe might be saved; and the peace was long preserved.

Next: The Legend of Poutini and Whaiapu