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No. 29 (December 1959)
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PUHIWAHINE — MAORI POETESS

Second Instalment

Some of Puhiwahine's songs, and her love affair with Mahutu are still famous in the Maori world today. Mr Pei Jones, the noted Maori scholar, has written a long essay on her life and songs which is being presented in this magazine in five instalments. In our last issue Puhiwahine's early life was described and her unfortunate love affair with Hauauru. Following this episode she made a trip to Otaki on which she composed a long and delightful action song. After this, still trying to forget her unfortunate love,’ she continued travelling from place to place.

From Paripari, the Taupo party went on to Orahiri where they were the guests of Te Anatipa, the chief of that place. Stories of Puhiwahine's romantic life had preceded her, and she was the subject of a good deal of gossip among the women of the Maniapoto tribe. Her broken romance with Hauauru still seemed to have had an effect on her during her stay at Orahiri, for during the whole time she was there she maintained a subdued composure. Their host, Te Anatipa, made tentative advances to her but received no encouragement whatsoever, and all he got for his pains was an angry outburst from his wife, Huriana, in the presence of his guests.

Puhiwahine's brothers had to return to Taupo from Orahiri, and after giving their sister some good brotherly advice, they returned home and the rest of the party went on to Ahuahu on the Kawhia Harbour. Te Poihipi, the chief of Ahuahu, treated his guests in a most lavish manner with frequent feasts, and several canoe excursions to many of the villages around the harbour. Before long, as opportunity offered, Te Poihipi made love to Puhiwahine. He was most circumspect about it and the Taupo never suspected anything was afoot. There were many places of interest to visit, and among other places they called at was Maketu; the place where the ancestral canoe, Tainui, was hauled ashore to its last resting-place. At this sacred spot the Taupo people were so preoccupied with the interesting and pleasurable experiences of the festivities specially arranged for their entertainment, that they did not notice that Te Poihipi and Puhiwahine were missing until the time came to move on to another village.

It was two weeks later before the excursionists returned to Ahuahu. The fears of the elders of the Taupo party of an escapade on the part of Puhiwahine were more than realised. When the canoes were beached the party was greeted by Puhiwahine with the startling news that she and Te Poihipi were going to be man and wife! The elders remonstrated with her, and they lost no time in calling on Te Poihipi to explain that, in the absence of the brothers, they could not approve of the marriage of their kinswoman. The matter became the subject of a tribal discussion with Te Poihipi's people, and the upshot of it was the Taupo party decided to move off to Whatiwhatihoe, where it had been previously arranged they were to be rejoined by Puhiwahine's brothers.

A COUSIN LOVER

Whatiwhatihoe in those days was an important meeting place of the tribes. The site of the village is on the western bank of the Waipa River at the foot of Pirongia mountain. Tribal gatherings there used to attract hundreds of tribesmen from far and near. Among those present at the time of the arrival of Puhiwahine was her distant cousin, Te Mahutu Te Toko, of the Maruapoto tribe. He was a striking figure of a man with his face only recently tattooed by the leading artist of the Maniapoto—the same man who had done the tattooing on Te Heuheu (Patatai) Tukino. Te Mahutu was a fine orator, a good singer and a lively conversationalist. When these two ardent souls met it was a case of love at first sight. Puhiwahine's two brothers had not arrived, and she became obstinate and deaf to the arguments and pleadings of her elders. The brothers had been delayed and the two lovers were constantly together. Many days passed before Ketu and Maraku

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arrived. When they learnt of the love affair of their sister they lost no time in taking charge of her, and on the same day they set off for their home in Taupo by way of Kihikihi and Parawera. The party stayed at Owairaka near Parawera for some days with some of their Ngati Raukawa relatives.

It was here that Puhiwahine composed her love song for Te Mahutu, a song which became the most popular of her many songs. Among the tribes throughout the land it is sung as a farewell song at the end of their tribal gatherings.

HE WAIATA AROHA MO TE MAHUTU TE TOKO

Ka eke ki Wairaka ka tahuri whakamuri,
Kaati ko te aroha te tiapu i Kakepuku;
Kia rere arorangi te tihi ki Pirongia.
Kei raro koe, e Toko, taku hoa tungaane,
Naaku ano koe i huri ake ki muri;
Mokai te ngakau te ãta whakatau iho,
Kia po ruatia e awhi a-kiri ana.
Ko taku tau whanaunga no Toa i te tonga,
No Mania i te uru, ka pea tãua.
I ngakau nui ai he mutunga mahi koe.
Kaati au ka hoki ki taku whenua tupu,
Ki te wai koropupu i heria mai nei
I Hawaiki ra ano e Ngatoroirangi,
E ona tuahine Te Hoata, u, Te Pupu;
E hu ra i Tongariro, ka mahana i taku kiri.
Na Rangi mai ra ano nana i marena
Ko Pihanga te wahine, hai ua, hai hau,
Hai marangai ki te muri, e, i, kokiri!

From the heights of Wairaka, as I backward gaze,
An outpouring of love leaps over Kakepuku,
Soaring heavenwards to the peak of Pirougia
Below there is you, O Toko, my cousin lover.
It was I who forsook you,
Slave heart mine not to seek a lingering farewell;
With two nights more in close embrace.
You are the one I cherish dearly;
My kinsman by Toa from the south,
And Mania in the west, so ‘paired’ off are we.

10

Determined was I to end life's toil with you,
But now I return to my native land;
To the boiling pools there, which were brought
From distant Hawaiki by Ngatoroirangi
And his sisters Te Hoata and Te Pupu;
To fume up there on Tongariro, giving warmth to my body.
It was Rangi who did join him in wedlock
With Pihanga as the bride, hence the rain, wind,
And the storms in the west; leap forth (my love)!

On her return to Taupo, Puhiwahine led a quiet life for a year or two. In the meantime her song about Mahutu had become very popular and it soon had a wide vogue among the Ngati-Maniapoto and her own Ngati-Tuwharetoa. When it first reached the Maniapoto people the song was used by Mahutu's fellow chiefs, on occasions, to tease him. His answer to the bantering of the chiefs was to compose a song of short verses of a whimiscal and sentimental character, with a subtle touch of satire.

MAHUTU'S SONG

1

Haere atu au
Ka heru i taku pane,
Kia pai au ki te kotiro
E kai ra i roto…
U—, te kotiro ra!
(Kei whea, e Ma’?)
E haria ra e ana koroua!

2

Pukana whakarunga,
Pukana whakararo;

 

Often I went
To comb my hair,
Making myself good with the maiden
Whose memory gnaws on with…
Ah me—, that girl!
(Where is she, O Ma’?)
O'er yonder, led away by her elders.

2

Staring wildly to the zenith,
Staring wildly down to earth

 

1. Wairaka for Owairaka.

2. Kakepuku. A high hill on the edge of the Kawa swamp near Te Aawamutu.

4. Toko. Te Mahutu Te Toko.

10. Mania: for Ngati Maniapoto.

14. Ngatoirirangi. High priest of the Arawa canoe.

15. Te Hoata and Te Pupu. Sisters of Ngatoirirangi. These sisters were invoked by Ngatoiriangi when he was perishing with cold; they came to him from Hawaiki bringing the fires which are now the geysers of the thermal area.

18. Pihanga. A mountain near Tokaanu, of which the legend is told she was sought and quarreled over by the great mountains Taranaki and Tongariro, and Tongariro was the victor.

19. Muri. Indicates the district that has been left behind, that is: Pirongia which is west of Taupo. (As a cardinal point muri could also mean North).

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Pukana kau ki te kotiro
E kai ra i roto…
U— etc.

3

Tapahia i taku pane,
Ka whiu ki te marae
Hei oko horoi mo te kotiro
E kai ra i roto…
U— etc.

4

Mei rahi te kiore,
Kua eke atu au
Hei hari atu ki te kotiro
E kai ra i roto…
U—, etc.

5

E rere, e te kaahu,
Whakatopa i Turoto,
Arohirohi ki te kotiro
E kai ra i roto…
U—, etc.

 

Staring wildly in vain for the maiden
Whose memory gnaws on within…
Ah me— etc.

3

Come, cut off my head,
Cast it on to the courtyard
As a wash-bowl for the maiden
Whose memory gnaws on within…
Ah me— etc.

4

If only the rat was big enough,
Upon it I would mount
To take me to the maiden
Whose memory gnaws on within…
Ah me—, etc.

5

Speed onward, O hawk,
Soar onward o'er Turoto,
And look for that girl
Whose memory gnaws on within…
Ah me—, etc.

Picture icon

Te Mahutu te Toko.

There was a sequel to this love contrived, as an afterpiece with pathos, by the hand of fate to mark the twilight period in the lives of these two old-time Maori lovers. But a half century was to go by before this was to happen, and during this wide expanse of years they each lived a life of contrasting circumstances. Mahutu lived the life of a Maniapoto chief. When the war with the white man broke out he fought alongside his tribesmen, and when peace came he played a full part in the affairs of the Tainui tribes.

In the second summer of her stay at Taupo, Puhiwahine went over the ranges to her mother's people in the Tuhua district. It was on a hot summer's day when a strange man strolled into their village. Puhiwahine was in a lazy mood and was daydreaming by the swimming pool when she was roused from a reverie by the excited shouting of the children. On her return to the village she saw the stranger surrounded by a chattering group fo children. In his halting Maori he explained that he had come from Wanganui and was on a sight-seeing tour. He gave his name as John Gotty. Puhiwahine's people maorified his name to Te Kati. He said he was a German and had travelled in many lands since leaving his homeland. He was a tall powerful man in the prime of life. He had a fine bearing and in his general conduct he showed himself to be a man of fine principles. From the Taringamotu valley Gotty made excursions to various parts of the district, and several weeks went by before he decided to rest for a few days and then to return to Wanganui.

MARRIAGE

The few days rest was to prove a turning point in the lives of Gotty and Puhiwahine. During these leisurely days Gotty found time to observe with increasing interest her graceful manner and charming ways. Puhiwahine was on her best behaviour, and in a happy mood she fairly glowed with the joy of living. Before long Gotty declared his love and he began his wooing with Teutonic fervour. He kept on putting off his return to Wanganui, and continued with his courtship until he made her his wife.

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By this time he had agreed to the tribe's invitation to remain with them and to make his home with them. He built himself a home at Miringa and set about clearing the land around it. After some months he went through to Wanganui, and on his return he brought a canoe load of house-hold goods, seeds, plants and tools. By the following summer he had established an orchard. By this time he had come to the conclusion that the great distance that separated his home from the European settlements was a handicap that he would be faced with for a very long time, perhaps all his life; and when his wife told him she was an expectant mother he made up his mind to return to Wanganui without any further delay. Puhiwahine expressed a wish to go with him. A canoe was obtained and the two set off down the Wanganui river on a journey which was to take them several days.

At all the principal villages they were invited ashore and were welcome guests of the chiefs and tribes of the river. All these people knew of Puhiwahine's romantic life, and at three villages the chiefs declared their love of her in the poetical and classical language of the race. It was, perhaps, just as well for Gotty's peace of mind that these declarations were made in this manner—the expressions used were well beyond his limited knowledge of the language.

On arrival at Wanganui, Gotty lost no time and in a short while he had a home ready and they went into occupation. Some weeks later Puhiwahine told her husband when her time was near she wished to be taken back to her mother's people. He was an understanding man, and some months later he brought her back to Miringa; and it was there, in the house he had built, that their first-born child—a son—was born. He named the child, John or Johann, after himself, and for a second name he called him Wolfgang. This event is recorded in a newspaper article as having taken place in 1847.

After the birth of his son Gotty returned to Wanganui. There had been outbreaks of fighting in various parts of the country; and Gotty on arrival lost no time in offering his services to the armed forces. He had had military training in Germany and was an expert swordsman. The fighting died down and ceased altogether after Governor Grey had gone through to Wanganui, accompanied by Te Wherowhero (Later first Maori King) and the Ngapuhi chief Waka Nene. These two powerful chiefs, who had been erstwhile enemies, were able to persuade the chiefs of the river tribes to cease fighting.

Gotty had been given a contract of supplying the armed forces—a particularly dangerous undertaking, as he had to go through hostile territory at times in order to fulfill his contract. When the fighting ceased and other arrangements had been made for supplies, he returned to civil life. He then sent word through to Miringa for his wife and child to come through and join him. This was early in 1848, and Puhiwahine went down the river by canoe in easy stages. She finally arrived at Putiki and sent word across to the town of her husband to come over and fetch her. Leave from military commandant, Major Patience, had to be obtained before any resident of the town could cross the river. When Gotty asked for leave the commandant decided he should take someone

Picture icon

John Gotty or Johann Maximilian Goethe

else with him in case of treachery. A man named Edward Curton went with Gotty and brought back the mother and child to their home.

A year or two later Gotty took over the Rutland Hotel, and it was there Puhiwahine gave birth to her second son. This son was named George. When his two sons grew up Gotty placed them in charge of a clergyman, the Reverend Marshall, who acted as tutor for them. They proved to be very apt pupils. In 1860 John was enrolled at the Nelson College, and in 1861 George joined him there. On account of ill-health George only had one year at the college, but his elder brother remained there until the end of 1863.

For a year or two, after settling down in Wanganui, Puhiwahine seldom saw any of her own race. There was unrest among the tribes in various parts of the country, and isolated incidents had led to some fighting between the troops and Maori guerilla bands. On account of this state of affairs most Maoris were looked upon with a great deal of suspicion. This was especially the case with anyone of standing among the tribes who were involved in the fighting or allied to

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them. It was a well known fact that Puhiwahine was a person of some consequence who had relatives among the disaffected tribes. Her tribal affiliation to the restless and warlike Ngati-Toa—who, under the leadership of Te Rangihaeata, the nephew of the redoubtable war lord, Te Rauparaha, had made raids on Wellington—was a fact she never attempted to hide.

It was under these circumstances that she pondered and brooded over the fate of her kinsmen, and out of this mood emerged her song of war; a song of which the theme is far removed from her previous compositions. For one who was a coquette the song may be considered as unusual:—

HE WAIATA MO TE PAKANGA (A SONG OF WAR)

Ma wai ra taku mate
E huti ake ki runga?
Ma te Atua Nui,
Maana i runga nei.
No te kore ano;
Te kore-te-whiwhia,
Te kore-te-rawea—
Na wai hoki te kore?

E whitu nga tau
E kawea ana te patu
Ki te rakau hoari,
Ki te rakau pu hou.
Whakatuputupu, whakatuputupu!
Kaore ana ra;
Kei tua o Manuka.
I te ra e puta mai,
Te hau o pungawere,
Hei whakariu ake—
Mania, ka paheke atu ana,
Ki te wai tai!
Mimiti, pãkore
Ki te waha o te parata!

E au kai tu,
E au kai rere,
E au kai whakatokihi;
I runga o te tumuaki
O Te Poihipi,
Me tohu hoki koe
No Ngati-Karetoto,
He pahi mahi kai
Maaku ma te tau, e,
Te tau, e, i…

Who will it be to raise
My fallen ones again?
None, but Almighty God,
He who reigns above.
All about is now a void;
An empty void,
A dismal void—

Tell me, who caused the void?
For seven long years
The patu has opposed 10
The unsheathed sword,
And the loaded gun.
Be prepared, be prepared!
The worst is yet to come;
It is still beyond Manuka.
But the day will dawn,
The day of the spider's wind,
Which will rend all asunder —
Slipping, all will slide onward,
Onward into the salty sea! 20
Flowing outwards ‘twill expose
The gaping mouth of the sea monster!

I now eat on my feet,
I now eat in haste,
I now eat in secret;
For all now rests upon the head
Of Te Poihipi,
The one bespoken
By the tribe of Karetoto,
The food-gathering tribe 30
For me your cherished one,
My beloved, alas…

(To be continued in our next issue)

9. Seven years. The period of sporadic fighting in various parts of the country, following Hone Heke's War in the north.

10. Patu. A short flat weapon for hand to hand fighting. One made of whale bone was called a patu-paraoa.

15. Manuka. The harbour on the western side of the Tamaki isthmus, where the city of Auckland now stands. Sometimes called Manukau. At the time the only fighting on a large scale was that of Hone Heke, hence the expression “beyond Manuka.”

17. Spider's wind. Hau o pungawere. Before a hurricane, or stormy weather the spider will disappear into holes and crevices. Hurricanes, on that account, are called ‘spider's wind.’

23. I now eat etc. The manner of eating of one who apprehends danger.

27. Te Poihipi. One of Puhiwahine's former lovers. It is said he endeavoured to persuade the people of Kawhia to go north and join in Hone Heke's War.

28. The one bespoken. This is a reference to her broken romance with Te Poihipi. His tribe, Ngati-Karetoto, had opposed his marriage to Puhiwahine because he was already be-spoken as a husband for a young woman of his own tribe.

30. The food-gathering tribe. A captious expression by the poetess, inspired by the recollection of her broken romance.