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No. 28 (September 1959)
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We are pleased to be able to present in this and following issues the life history, and the songs of the poetess Puhiwahine. Mr Pei Jones, the noted Maori scholar, has made a painstaking study of her, and translated and edited all the songs of which her authoriship is certain. Until now, only one of her songs, the famous ‘Ka eke ki Wairaka’ has ever as far as we know, been published. It is expected that there will be five instalments which will not only be the first detailed study ever made of a Maori poet, but they will also add an interesting chapter to the history of the Ngati Tuwharetoa.


First Instalment

Among the women of our race there is not a more captivating, romantic and talented figure in the colonial history of New Zealand than the poetess Rihi Puhiwahine Te Rangihirawea. She knew personally most of the notable chiefs and leading women among the tribes of her eventful and colourful times—when tribes still fought their wars of revenge and conquest; when whalers, adventurers, missionaries, traders and colonisers of the Pakeha race found the country to their liking and began settling in Aotearoa; ‘when the patu opposed the sword and gun’, as the poetess herself has described the wars against the Pakeha; when some of the greatest poets of the race were in their prime; and, inspired by the exciting events which followed one upon the other in rapid succession, they composed and sang their songs of love and hate, and of peace and war—and Puhiwahine was among the most colourful of them all.

Her birthplace was on the left bank of the Taringamotu stream opposite the now abandoned pa of Petania. She died at Ongarue on the 18th of February 1906, and was buried in the Ngati-Raerae cemetery at the northern end of the township. In 1944, following the construction of the main road alongside the cemetery, her remains were removed and brought to Oruaiwi in the Taringamotu valley, fifteen miles from Taumarunui by the Waituhi Road. At the junction of this road with the Pungapunga Valley Road is the little family cemetery called Te Takapu-tiraha, the last resting-place of Puhiwhine. The names, Oruaiwi (The Place of the Two Tribes) and Te Takapu-tiraha-o-Tutetawha (The Place where Tutetawha lay face upwards)—to give it its full name—commemorate an important pact between famous ancestors; Te Kanawa of the Maniapoto tribe, and Tutetawha of the Tuwharetoa. Puhiwahine was descended from both these ancestors and on this account, and because the cemetery is only three or four miles up-stream from her birthplace, no more fitting spot in the Maori mind could have been chosen for her last resting-place: ‘on the couch from which there is no rising, and on the pillow that slips not.’


Hinekiore, Puhiwahine's mother, was of the Hinemihi sub-tribe of Ngati-Tuwharetoa of the Taringamotu valley and the Tuhua district. She also had ancestral links with the Maniapoto tribe to the north, and the Toarangatira tribe of the Waikanae and Porirua districts in the south. As a member of the Hinemihi sub-tribe she was a

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high priestess of the bird cult, and during the bird-snaring seasons of the year, on the Orangi-teihi hills above Oruaiwi, two special bird-snaring trees—named Te Ipu-whakatara (The Coveted Calabash) and Te Ara-mahoe (The Pathway to the Mahoe trees)—were reserved for her.

In her time Hinekiore was a famous song-leader, and she also composed a number of songs of the of a topical nature and were couched in deroga-tory terms concerning the unseemly behaviour of the person named in them; or were in reply to some gossip about the composer or her relatives. The early marriage of the widowed Raerae, an ancestress of the writer, was the subject of one of Hinekiore's satirical and censor-ious compositions. There is a long story with regard to this patere—too long to tell in this account—and it must suffice here to explain that in Maori society it is considered a high compli-ment to be the subject of chastisement and castiga-tion, especially in song. The poetesses of the race would not be bothered with ordinary men and women. On this account many of the old songs of this nature have been rescued from oblivion by the descendants of those people who are named in the patere.

When Hinekiore died her body was placed in a carved waka (canoe), specially made for her, and it was taken to a secret burial cave of her people. The people who knew where the cave was had died, and for many years a fruitless search was made for it. By a coincidence a leading member of Ngati-Hinemihi, Tuari Ngarama, stumbled upon the entrance to the cave at the time when Puhiwahine's remains were brought from Ongarue in 1944. Mother and daughter now share the same grave at Te Takapu-tiraha.

Very little is known of the life of Puhiwahine's father, Te Wetini Te Rangihirawea—as he was known in early life. In later years he was called Rawiri Te Rangihirawea. He was a close relative of Tahuri, the wife of Te Heuheu (Patatai) Tukino, the donor of the Tongariro National Park. He and Hinekiore had a family of three; two sons, Ketu and Te Maraku, and their daughter Puhiwahine.


The parents of Puhiwahine spent most of their married life and brought up their family at Oruaiwi. Sometimes they went to live among their kinsmen of Ngati Tuwharetoa on the shores of Lake Taupo. From her mother Puhiwahine learnt the traditions of her people, and she was also taught the tribal songs and the proper technique of the poi dances and the pukana, or posture dances, of her Tuwharetoa people. Puhiwahine was a very apt pupil and at an early age she became an accomplished singer and an artistic performer in all the popular action songs of the tribe. Puhiwahine grew up into an attractive and fascinating young woman whose artistry, wit and charm captivated everybody. Her accomplishments made her a very popular member of the tribe, and she travelled extensively with her Taupo people on visits to other tribes. During these travels she captured the hearts of many notable chiefs, both married and unmarried.

Puhiwahine remained fancy free until she accompanied a party of her Taupo people into the Waipa valley in the foothills of the Rangitoto ranges. At Araikotore, Puhiwahine met Hauauru, a young chief of the Matakore sub-tribe of the Maniapoto. Puhiwahine fell violently in love with Hauauru, but because he was already married her two brothers would not agree to a marriage that would have made her a secondary wife for the Maniapoto chief. The party moved on to other villages and the affair with Hauauru was broken off. Wherever the party went Puhiwahine was admired and courted by the chiefs. They visited Kawhia, and later returned home by way of the Waitomo valley. Sometime later Puhiwahine was taken through on a visit to her Ngati Toa kinsmen in the south. During the whole time she kept thinking of her romantic affair with Hauauru.

Her trip to the south was a very interesting experience for her. She was made welcome every-where she went, and her Ngati-Toa kinsmen lavished hospitality in various ways upon her. By boat, a gig, and by ship—all novelties to her—Puhiwahine was taken to all the principal villages of the tribe. As a special treat she was taken to Wellington, and from there she crossed over to the South Island to make calls on some of the Ngati Toa who had settled there. Before returning home Taiaroa, the high chief of the southern section of the South Island, invited her to his home. She met many of the European people who had settled in those parts, and by the time she set out on her return journey home she had quite a smattering of English words. In some of the songs she subsequently composed she introduced a number of these words—in Maorified form—much to the annoyance of purists in the language of our people.

On her return from the south, Puhiwahine joined a party of her Taupo people on a journey into Maniapoto territory again. Her behaviour during the two years that had elapsed since her first trip amongst the Maniapoto had been above reproach, and it was thought nothing untoward would happen on this trip. On this occasion the first village they visited was Waimiha, and from there they went by way of Herepu and then on to Paripari, the home of Tanirau, better known later as Taonui, a Maniapoto chief of the Ngati Rora subtribe, and a first cousin of Hauauru.

It was from Tanirau that Puhiwahine learnt Hauauru had taken a second wife since they parted, and that he was about to take a third. (Hauauru later on had four wives). This news came as a severe blow to Puhiwahine and she

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became ill in mind and body for many days. The people had a most anxious time with her. The womenfolk took it in turns to attend on her; they sang songs to her, and invited her to take part in the action songs. At last they were able to rouse her from her melancholy state, and when she joined them in their songs and dances her people rejoiced.

It was at this time that Puhiwahine composed two of her many songs. These songs, inspired by her love for Hauauru, are known as Puhiwahine's Songs for Hauauru:—


E noho ana hoki ia nei
I roto koia o taku whare;
Moe matatu ko au anake.
Katahi nei hanga kino na te Atua!
E rua aku tau e huuna ai koe,
Naaku ano koe i whakarere.
Te mau atu ai ki te toka;
Te ueue nuku, te ueue rangi,
Whatawhata i runga, whatawhata i raro,
Hau kokouri, hau kokotea.
Nga tai o te kura e whati mai nei
Mauria atu ra ki te peka o te ariki,
I huuna ai te kai i a taua.
Kia hoko kumara
Hei kawe atu ra i ahau.
Nga whakakoronga kei Rangitoto;
Kei te tupuranga mai o Hawaiki
Mo aku mahara e takoto nei,
E, i!


In solitude I now abide
Within this house of mine;
Restless sleep is with me alone,
Alas, what an affliction God has dealt!
For two years you were lost to me,
And it was I, alas, who left you.
Would that I had clung to the rock;
Then nought on earth, nor in the heavens,
Would have moved above, or here below,
With the howling gales or stormy winds. 10
Now I but faintly see the waving plumes
Beckoning to me from the noble one,
He for whom I now deny all food.
‘Tis vain to proffer a kumara feast
As a lure to take me away.
This yearning is fixed on Rangitoto;
Firmly planted there as if in Hawaiki
Are my thoughts that abide with me,

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Muri ahiahi takoto ki te moenga,
Maringi taharua he wai kei aku kamo.
Mai ano o Tukeka kia tangihia iho,
He mea ka wehewehe o taua nei tinana.
Tera Te Tuhinga ka moiri ki runga,
Ara haerenga atu mo te kare-a-roto;
Tangi kau atu ki taau, e Pare,
Mehe he takakau koe kihai i whakaroaia iho.—
O riri, e Ketu—Ki toou pai, e Hauauru.
E kore to haate e ruihi i ahau
He maunga aroha mooku ki a koe, i, i.


With the fall of eventide I lay me down to rest;
Two cascading streams fall from mine eyes.
Ever since Tukeka died I am for ever weeping,
Because of this our parting.
Yonder is Te Tuhinga rising on high,
It marks the pathway for the love within.
Ah me, I am weeping for your kin, O Pare.
Tho' angry you be, O Ketu—because of your charm, O Hauauru.
And I shall not lose your haate, J
For ever with it abides my love for you, ah me.

During her stay at Paripari, Tanirau was solicitous towards Puhiwahine. A romance might have developed if her brothers had not decided it was time for the party to move on. Tanirau was a fine figure of a man, but like his cousin Hauauru he, too, was a married man. The brothers had observed that Puhiwahine, as a reaction to her recent heartache, was working herself into a defiant mood for some madcap escapade. At the leavetaking with Tanirau and his people Puhiwahine sang her latest song—composed as a relief and an antidote to the mental disruption of the time. The theme of the song was based on her recent trip to the south, and in it she made mention of many notable people; some of whom were related to her and were well-known chiefs of that time. She sang her song to a lilting refrain and to the accompaniment of the pukana, or posture dance. None excelled Puhiwahine in the pukana, and she sang her song with flashing eyes, quivering hands, the haughty stare, and the fine turn of the head to emphasise the words. A suitable title for the song might be A ‘Trip to the South’.



Aue i! ko te tohe a Nepia nei,
I wawata mai ki ahau;
Ko ‘Ku, ko Pateriki
Aku akitiwha mau tonu.
Aue a rara! ko Nini, ko Te Arawai,
Aku raukura titi tonu.
Ko ‘Kiekie, a Tauteka,
Taku mahunga i runga ra.
Au e! ko Maniapoto tungaane,
Hei ariki koe ki ahau,
Mokai te ngakau nei.
Tera te hoki atu na
Ki te puke ra i Tararua;
Ko Te Whatanui koe,
Ko te ngako a Pakake nei!
Engari koe i maka tika tonu
Ki au taku mau nawa.
Whiti mai nei ki Parewanui,
Ko Kawana Te Hakeke;
Engari koe i kikini tonu,
I raraku ki a ngeau nei.
E pa, kei kore mai i a koe
Te mea pononga tonu nei.
E hori ana koia?
Tika tonu tenei!


Ah me! a persistent one is Nepia,
Who often daydreams about me;
But ‘Ku and Pateriki,
Like my kerchiefs, are always with me.
Here now are Nini and Te Arawai,
Like waving plumes, fastened on me.
There is ‘Kiekie, son of Tauteka,
My head ornament art thou.
Ah me! cousin Maniapoto,
You are my prince. 10
Who humbleths my slave heart within.
Now I am returning.
To the hills of Tararua,
Where you live Te Whatanui,
The fat portion of Pakake'.
It was you who wooed me
And sought to make me your own.
I fled across to Parewanui
Where Kawana Te Hakeke lives.
But you slyly pinched, 20
And then rudely clawed at me.
O sir, you should not belittle me so.
This person of mine is a cherished one.
This is not lying, is it?
No, it is truly spoken.


5. Te Tuhinga. A high hill near Hauauru's home at Araikotore.

7. Pare. In full, Paretekorae; Hauauru's aunt.

9. Ketu. Puhiwahine's brother.

10. Haate. Shirt, maorified. A present from Hauauru.

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Aue i! reiruatia i te one
Ka moe kei Otaki,
Ko Tene, ko Tamehana nei.
Whakarongo ra, e Tireni!
No runga rawa au nei;
Na Takamai-te-rangi au,
Na Mahutu au,
Ko ‘Kiore tooku whaea.
He muringa ra a Werawera;
Naana ko Te Rauparaha;
Taana ko Tamehana nei,
Taana ko Waitohi nei;
Taana ko Wiria Matene nei.
Whakawhitiria i te pooti,
Ka u kei Porirua;
Ko Rawiri Kiingi nei,
He pine koe no taku hooro,
Titia iho maka tika tonu.
Me ui ki a Te Huka Tuungia,
“Kei whea te rori tika tonu?”
Ka eke au i e kiiki,
Ka taana kei Poneke.
Ko Wi koe, a Ngatata nei?
Awhi mai nei ki au aku papa;
Wawata mai ki au aku tungaane.
Kia riterite ki ahau
Kia tau ai tangata
Te homai mate ki ahau,
Te homai natu ki ahau.
E hori ana koia?
Tika tonu tenei!


Ah me! I must hurry along the strand,
And rest the night at Otaki
With Tene and Tamehana.
Now listen to this, New Zealand!
From the very highest am I; 30
I am of Takamai-te-rangi,
I am of Mãthutu,
My mother was ‘Kiore.
Werawera was of junior birth;
It was he who begat Te Rauparaha
The father of Tamehana
And of Waitohi too,
From whom Wiria Matene descended.
Now I shall cross by boat
And make a landing at Porirua; 40
To be greeted by Rawiri Kiingi,
You who are the pin of my shawl,
Nicely fixed and firmly fastened.
I must now ask Te Huka Tuungia,
“Where is the direct road?”
I will then go aboard the gig,
Which will turn towards Poneke.
Are you Wi, the son of Ngatata?
Come now all my uncles and embrace me;
And my cousins, you may daydream about me. 50
Only those of equal rank with me
May be the privileged men,
Who may dare be bold with me,
Or to come near and caress me.
This is not lying, is it?
No, it is truly spoken.


Aue i! ka awheawhe mai te uru;
Tino tata a Raukawa.
E pa, Taiaroa Waitere,
He tauhou tonu au ki konei,
Ki te wai ra i tere ai te pounamu;
Kia whakakaia ki oku taringa,
Kia whakamaua ki tooku kaki,
Kia puritia ki oku ringaringa,
Aue i! aku taringa tonu tenei
E mau ai Tawhirau,
E mau mai ra i a Te Taitua;
Ko taku kaki tonu tenei
E mau ai Nga-pi-rau,
E mau mai ra i a Topeora;
Ko taku ringa tonu tenei
E mau ai Patu-moana,
E takoto mai ra i Kapiti, rara.
Aue i! nga nui ra o aku mãtua,
E kore e taea te korero.


Ah me! far off are the western lands;
Close by now is the sea of Raukawa.
O Taiaroa Waitere!
I am quite a stranger here, 60
Where waters flow over the greenstone;
Which I'd love to wear on my ear,
Or to have suspended from my neck,
To hold in my hands.
Ah me! these ears of mine
Once wore Tawhirau,
Now worn by Te Taitua;
And from my neck
Once hung Nga-pi-rau,
Now worn by Topeora. 70
This hand of mine
Once held Patu-moana
Now lying at Kapiti.
Ah! the treasures of my fathers,
Whose tale will never be told.

1. Nepia. A chief of the eastern shores of Lake Taupo.

3. ‘Ku. In full, Maraku, Puhiwahine's brother Pateriki. Puhiwahine's cousin, and son of Ngamotu.

4. Kerchiefs. Maorified in Maori text as ‘akitiwha’.

5. Nini and Te Arawai. No information available.

7. ‘Kiekie. In full, Te Herekiekie, a Taupo chief.

9. Maniapoto. A chief of Taupo.

13. Tararua. The mountain range south of Manawatu River.

14. Te Whatanui. The famous leader of the Raukawa tribe of the Manawatu-Horowhenua district.

15. Pakake. In full, Pakake-taiari, a Ngati-Tuwharetoa ancestor.

18. Parewanui. The tribal meeting-place of the Ngati-Apa near Bulls.

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(Continued in our next issue)

19. Kawana Te Hakeke. A chief of the Ngati-Apa.

27. Otaki. The principal meeting-place of the Ngati-Raukawa.

28. Tene. No information available. Tamehana. Te Rauparaha's only son by his wife, Te Akau.

29. New Zealand. Abbreviated in Maori text, in Maorified form, as “Tireni” (Zealand).

31. Takamai-te-rangi. The great-grandfather of Puhiwahine.

32. Maahutu. Grandfather of Puhiwahine.

33. ‘Kiore. In full, Hinekiore.

34. Werawera. Father of Te Rauparaha.

35. Te Rauparaha. The famous war-leader and chief of the Ngati-Toa.

36. Tamehana. See note to Line 28 ante.

37. Waitohi. Elder sister of Te Rauparaha.

38. Wiria Matene. Better known as Matene Te Whiwhi, grandson of Waitohi, by her daughter, Topeora.

39. Boat. Maorified in Maori text as “pooti”.

41. Rawiri Kiingi. Also known as Rawiri Puaha, a nephew of Te Rauparaha.

42. Pin. shawl. Maorified in original text as “pine” and “hooro”.

44. Te Huka Tuungia. No information available.

46. Gig. Maorified in original text as “kiiki”.

47. Poneke. Wellington. Maorified form of Port Nick (Nicholson).

48. Wi Ngatata. Wiremu Ngatata, a chief of the Ati-Awa.

57. Western lands. In Maori text, Uru. Geographical term used for lands from Kawhia northwards.

58. Raukawa. Maori name for Cook Strait.

59. Taiaroa Waitere. Ngai-Tahu chief of the South Island.

66. Tawhirau. A tribal greenstone ear pendant of the Ngati-Toa.

67. Te Ta tua. No information available.

69. Nga-pi-rau. A greenstone heitiki of the Ngati-Toa.

70. Topeora. Daughter of Waitohi, and a famous song composer. See note to line 38.

72. Patu-moana. A greenstone mere, war club, of the Ngati-Toa.

73. Kapiti. Kapiti Island, formerly the island fortress of the Ngati-Toa.