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No. 39 (June 1962)
– 43 –
 

The Story of Tuwhakairiora

continued from page 23

my food, and feed me’. Whilst he was being ceremonially fed, a man called out, ‘O Tuwhakairiora, the enemy have all come down.’ He called back, ‘Attack them attack them’. Then he said to his feeder, ‘Give me the tail of my mackerel, and feed me that I may eat it up’.

When he had finished the tail, he rose, stood up, and looked round. Then he called to the battalion which was to enter the pa and burn it, ‘Up!’ They stood up, gave a shout and advanced in column, the battalions of the enemy fell back and broke—they had burst through. He called to the main battalion, ‘Up!’ Their uprising was as a sun rising from the depth. They gave a shout. He rushed to the front, and the braves followed him with the column. The battalion kept up a continuous shout. He had made his way into the centre of the enemy's battalions, striking down, as he went, two and three at a time with each stroke of his taiaha. And those behind him were doing the same. All the main battalions of the enemy had broken. He raised aloft the red crest of his taiaha, and it was seen by the battalion; then it was that the battalion broke and was beaten. And the pa was set on fire. The land was darkened with the smoke. There were two causes of destruction; the pa burning in the fire, while the army was slaying without cease the multitudes who were being destroyed—multitudes of children, infants, women, old men, and old women, and other things, houses and property, which were being destroyed by the battalion and the fire. And the wind wailed and sighed over the kainga, a cold blast from Hikurangi. So they were destroyed, the destruction going on till evening.

The army assembled at the camping place. When the army had been tended and fed, Tuwhakairiora sent some of his braves as messengers to Te Aotaki and the tribe, to carry back a portion of the slaughter and the overthrow of the pa. At night they set out. When the bellbirds of the early morning were singing, they reached the house where Te Aotaki was. When they had ended their story, he came forth, then he ate the portions of flesh which they had brought. When that was over, and the morning had grown light, he made the proclamation: ‘Ngati-Ruanuku had fallen, the pa overthrown is Tokaanu, the army slaughtered is Te Hiku-tawatawa (the tail of the mackerel), in the one day’. It was Te Aotaki who gave this name; it was what Tuwhakiriora said to his feeder on the expedition, ‘Give me the tail of my mackerel that I may eat it up’. Those names still remain; the pa overthrown is Tokaanu, the battlefield is Te Hiku-tawatawa.

In the morning the army arose to complete its work on the battlefield and in the overthrown pa. For many days they worked. They found the women, the children, old men, and old women, hiding in the ravines and head-waters of the streams, in difficult places; all were slain; the only survivors were those who fled in the night to Kokai and Tokatea. When the slaughter was ended, and all the business connected with it, the expedition returned. When they reached Okauwharetoa, the tohungas performed their incantations for removing the tapu.

Tuwhakairiora and his wife Ruataupare took up their abode with the tribe of Te Aotaki. He had avenged the death of his grandfather, and fulfilled the saying which his mother in her yearning had uttered. Tuwhakairiora did not take possession of the land, for it was already his. It was the murder of his grandfather which was avenged by him.

The following sayings refer to Tuwhakairiora: ‘The wind-compelling cormorant of Te Ataakura’. ‘The solitary one of Ngatihau’.

On page 39 there is a description of the way in which gourds were made into humming tops. Elsdon Best tells this story about a top of this kind:

‘When a certain meeting was held in the Waikato district prior to the war, for the purpose of discussing the matter of electing a Maori King, a trial of humming tops [was said to have been made] … The Waikato folk proposed that the representatives of each tribe should make a humming top, and that the tribe whose top hummed the loudest in a competition should have the privilege of electing one of its members as Maori King … each of the visiting tribes made a humming top of matai wood … but the local folk of Waikato made a large potaka hue, or gourd top, which they named Te Ketirera, and which hummed so loudly that its owners easily won the contest, and thus elected Potatau as King’.

Maoris in the Tokaanu district at Taupo have taken delivery of their own ambulance, for which they subscribed more than £1000. It is the first ambulance for a Maori subcentre of the St John Ambulance Association. The subcentre has eighteen enthusiastic members and is just over a year old.

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Miss Ruby McLean, a 21-year-old member of the Mercury Bay Aero Club, has become one of the first Maori girls to gain a private pilot's license. She has at least one predecessor, however, Mrs G. T. Cassidy, a Maori flyer whose maiden name was Kay Emere, Mrs Cassidy gained her license in 1955.