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No. 51 (June 1965)
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The Finding of Te Awhiorangi
Te Kitetanga o Te Awhiorangi

Te Awhiorangi is an adze, one of the most sacred possessions of the Maori people. It is said that in the beginning, when Tane separated Rangi the Sky and Papa the Earth, it was with this adze that he cut the sinews that bound them together.

Te Awhiorangi is said to have been brought to Aotearoa in Turi's canoe Aotea, which had been made from a tree felled with this adze. During the journey the Aotea was in danger of sinking into Te Korokoro-o-te-Parata, the Throat of Parata (the monster believed to be the cause of the tides). Te Awhiorangi, called upon by Turi in his incantations, is said to have saved them from the depths.

According to another version of the story, Te Awhiorangi was brought here in the Takitimu canoe by Tamatea-ariki-nui, who used the adze to cut a path through a storm encountered on the voyage. This account says that Te Awhiorangi passed to Nga Rauru after Turi's daughter Tane-roroa married Tamatea's brother, Uenga-puanake.

The name ‘Te Awhiorangi’ is usually translated as ‘The Encircler of Heaven.’

The Maori text published here is a contemporary account of the finding of Te Awhiorangi in 1887, after it had been lost for seven generations. Written by Wiremu Kauika, it appeared in 1888 in issue no. 71 of the Maori newspaper ‘Te Korimako.’ The translation is by ‘Te Ao Hou’.

Waitotara is about 20 miles north of Wanganui.

Te Kitetanga o
Te Awhiorangi

E rongo korero kau ana nga iwi katoa o te motu nei ki tenei Toki, ki a Te Awhiorangi, kahore ano i kite tuturu noa tae mai hoki ki a matou, ara, ki te iwi Nga Rauru, ara, ki te iwi nana i huna taua Toki, ara, na to matou tipuna i huna, na Rangitaupea. Tae mai ki a matou ka tuawhitu nga whakatipuranga; a, katahi rawa ano ka kitea inaianei a Te Awhiorangi. Koia i tuku atu ai, kia haria e to tatou mokai, ara, e Te Korimako ki ona wahi e rere ai ia, kia kite nga iwi katoa, Maori, Pakeha, i nga wahi katoa.

E hoa ma, tena ra koutou. Tena ano tetahi kainga o matou e tutata ana ki Waitotara, ko Okotuku te ingoa. E rua tekau nga tangata o taua kainga ki te mahi hakekakeka i runga i te 4 ½d. mo te pauna i te taone o Waitotara, Titiriki. Ka haere te iwi ra akuanei, ko tetahi wahine he kotiro, ko te ingoa o taua kotiro ko Tomairangi i moe i a Te Potonga Kaiawha. Ko taua kotiro he tauhou ki taua wahi; kahore e mohio ki nga wahi tapu, ki nga urupa tupa-paku. Ko taua kotiro i haere mai i Ngai Tahu; no reira te whaea, ko te papa no matou, ara, no Nga Rauru.

Katahi ka haere te kotiro ra, tona kotahi,

 

The Finding of
Te Awhiorangi

All of the people of this land have heard of the axe named Te Awhiorangi, but they have not actually seen it. Nor have we of the Nga Rauru tribe seen it until now, though it was our people who hid this axe; it was hidden by our ancestor Rangitaupea. That was seven generations ago; and now, for the first time since then, we have found Te Awhiorangi. It is for this reason that we have permitted our friend Te Korimako to carry word of this wherever it goes, so that people all over the country, Maori and Pakeha, may hear the news.

Friends, greetings to you. Near Waitotara there is a place of ours' called Okotuku. Twenty people belonging to that place were gathering hakekakeka (an edible fungus), which is sold at Waitotara for 4 ½d a pound. Now these people were accompanied by a young woman named Tomairangi, the wife of Te Potonga Kaiawha. This woman was a stranger in this part of the country and did not know the sacred places and the burial places, for she had come from the Ngai Tahu tribe; her mother belonged to Ngai Tahu, and

 
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titiro tonu atu te kotiro ra ki te rakau e tipuria ana e te hakekakeka, katahi ka rere atu te kotiro ra, e mau ana nga ringa. Katahi ka uira mai te Toki ra, katahi ka titiro atu te wahine ra, kua kite atu e tu mai ana i te putake o te puketea. Katahi ka hamama te waha o te wahine ra, ka aue haere, katahi ka tuku tena, haere mai te whatitiri, haere te kapo, te hukarere, katahi ka tino porangitia te wahine ra, ka tangi haere. Ka rongo te tane a te wahine ra e tangi haere ana te wahine, kua mohio tetahi kaumatua ko te Rangi Whakairione te ingoa, katahi ka karakiatia. Ka mutu tena, katahi ka huihui te iwi ra i te parae, katahi ka ui te kaumatua ra, ‘Ko wai o koutou i tae ki Tieke?’

Ka ui atu te kotiro ra, ‘Kei whea a Tieke?’

Ka ki atu te kaumatua ra, ‘Kei tua kei te kopounga o Waione.’

Ka ki atu a Tomairangi, ‘Ko au, Kahore au i mohio he wahi tapu tera. Engari kotahi te mea i kite ai au i reira, ano he atua, ka nui taku mataku.’

Katahi ka tikina, ka tirohia, ka mohio ratou katoa ko Te Awhiorangi. E noho ana ano nga Kaitiaki, ara, nga uri o Tutangatakino raua ko Mokohikuaru. Katahi ka karakiatia e Te Rangi Whakairione. Ka mutu, katahi ka tangohia mai e ratou, katahi te iwi ra ka tangi; ka mutu, ka tangohia te Toki ra, ki ko mai o te kainga takoto ai.

Engari ko te wahi i takoto ai taua Toki kei te mohiotia e Nga Rauru katoa, notemea he mea ki ake ano na Rangitaupea ki ona uri, ara, ko ona kupu ake tenei, ‘Ko Te Awhiorangi kei Tieke e takoto ana kei runga i te mania i runga ake i te ana tupapaku.’ Ko taua wahi kahore e taea, katahi rawa ka taea inaianei, no te 10 o nga ra o Tihema, 1887.

Katahi ka huihui te iwi Nga Rauru katoa me etehi o Whanganui o Ngati Apa, ara, te 300 tangata hui atu ki nga wahine no te 11 o nga ra. Katahi ka whakaaria taua Toki i te rima o nga haora i te ata tu; i whakaaria ki runga i tetehi rakau kia pai ai te kitenga o te katoa. Katahi ka haere nga tohunga i mua hei karakia, ara, a Kapua Tautahi raua ko Werahiko Taipuhi; ko te iwi katoa kei muri ake i a raua he tuputupu katoa e mau ana i nga ringa o te iwi katoa, hei tangi ki a Te Awhiorangi.

Katahi ka haere ka whano tata, katahi ka tuku te whatitiri, haere mai tena uira, te kohu, ano he po. Katahi ano ka karakiatia e nga tohunga; ka mutu tena, ka marama hoki. Katahi ka tukua nga tuputupu, me nga kakahu Maori. E ono nga parawai, e wha nga koroai,

 
 

her father belonged to our tribe, Nga Rauru.

This woman went away on her own, and saw a tree which had a great deal of fungus growing upon it. She went up to it and took the fungus in her hands. Then a flash of lightning came from the axe and the woman looked in that direction and saw the axe standing up against the root of a pukatea tree. Then she shouted with fear, and cried and sobbed. There came thunder and lightning and snow, and the woman lost her senses completely, and fled weeping. Her husband heard her weeping, and an old man named Te Rangi Whakairione, realising what had happened, chanted incantations.

Then the people assembled in an open place, and the old man asked, ‘Which of you has been to Tieke?’

The young woman said, ‘Where is Tieke?’

The old man said, ‘It is at the source of the Waione River.’

Then the young woman Tomairangi said, ‘I did not know that the place was sacred, but I saw something there, and it was like a god, and I was very much afraid.’

So they went and looked, and all of them knew that this was Te Awhiorangi. It was watched over by guardians, the descendants of Tutangatakino and Mokohikuaru. Then Te Rangi Whakairione chanted incantations, and after this they brought it away, and wept over it; then they took the axe, and laid it down a short distance from the settlement.

The place where the axe had been deposited had been known to all of Nga Rauru, because Rangitaupea had told his descendants where he had put it, saying. ‘The axe Te Awhiorangi is deposited at Tieke, in the open place above the cave where the dead are laid to rest.’ Since that time no-one had visited that place, but now, on the 10th day of December, 1887, it has been visited.

On the 11th day of the month there assembled together all of the people of Nga Rauru and some of Whanganui and Ngati Apa; that is to say, three hundred people, including women. The axe was exhibited to the people at about five o'clock in the morning; it was hung up in a tree so that all of the people could see it properly. The priests who were to chant the incantations went in front of the procession; their names are Kapua Tautahi and Werahiko Taipuhi. All of the people followed them, carrying in their hands green branches for the ceremonial weeping over Te Awhiorangi.

 
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e wha nga paratoi, e rua nga kahu waero. Ka oti, katahi ka tangi te iwi katoa, ka roa e tangi ana. Katahi ka waiata mo taua Toki, ara, mo Te Awhiorangi. Koia tenei:

E noho ana i te ro o toku whare
O te ao kai whitianga te ra a i.
Kei te mania kei te paheke i
Aka taringa me kohea to whare i tanumia ai.
Te muka mo to kaha whiri kaau
He muka ano taku i tu ki te aro auahi
Te angiangi matangi te whakararau o te rangi, i ei,
Kotia ki te uru o te rangi Te Whakapakinga,
Whakaupokoa te kaha mo nga atua mo taku Toki,
Ka hua hoki au i maka ki uta ki a Tane
Maka ki tai ki a Tangaroa hiringa wareware
Te ika wareware ou taringa whakaharore popoia mango
Ko te whakaipuipu te waka o Maru korenga te ika, i,
He wareware kihai i rongo i nga tupu i te hakunetanga
I te rukuhanga matua i te kahui kore ngaro atu ki te po-o, i
Te kitea ko Turou Pokohina, whakaturia niu wananga,
Ko Hahau Tunoa te waka o Te Kahuirua i ruku ai nga whatu-u-i,
Ka rewa ki runga ra ko te whatu a Ngahue hoaina
Ka pakaru Tehorutu whenua, Tehorotu Maunga,
Ko tumutumu ki rangi whakarawea ki a Kewa
Ko te kauri whenua whakarawea ki maui ko te i hono
Ko Te Awhiorangi whakarawea Rongo, haua iho
Ko teretere ki ao ko te kopu huri te ika ki rongomai
Koe ehara i te Toki Thuwareware ko te aitanga tena a
Hinepoa i ra Pawake e i, noku te tipuna i
Whiti ki rawahi ko Torokaha ko Te Rangiamio te waka a, i
He waka utanga nui taku waka ko Torohakiuaua
Ko whakamere te ika, he waka aha tou waka
Te waka hoenga nga hoenga papaki hoenga parareka
Te taroa te ngoringori ki runga, a, i.
He nui noa atu nga waiata mo Te Awhiorangi.

E hoa ma, e nga iwi katoa o nga motu nei, ko te ahua o Te Awhiorangi he Toki kura i penei te ahua me te tainakapu, engari pena ai

 
 

As they came near to the axe, thunder rolled and lightning flashed, and a mist came down, as dark as though it had been night. Then the priests chanted incantations, and when they had done this, it became light again. Then the people laid down their branches, and a number of cloaks. There were six parawai cloaks, four korowai cloaks, four paratoi cloaks and two dogskin cloaks. After this all the people wept; for a long time they continued to weep there. Then they sang a song concerning this axe Te Awhiorangi. Here it is:

(The song is an ancient one, with words and allusions which are now difficult to understand. A translation has not been attempted here.)

There are very many songs concerning Te Awhiorangi.

O friends, and all the tribes of these islands, in appearance Te Awhiorangi is of a reddish colour, somewhat like the substance of which a china cup is made, but it is also speckled like the belly of the shining cuckoo. But indeed, this axe is like nothing but itself. When it is hung up, you can see yourself reflected it in. It is one foot six inches in

 
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me te takapu whakarauroa (pipiwharauroa) te whakairoiro; otira kei a ia anake tona ahua. Ki te iri mai, kite tonu atu koe i to wairua i roto. Ko te roa, kotahi putu e ono inihi; ko te whanui o te mata, e ono inihi. Kotahi inihi te matotoru; e rua inihi me te hawhe te kumenga i te mata kia roa te koinga pena ai me te heti a te Pakeha te hanga.

E hoa ma, e nga iwi katoa o nga motu nei, tenei te oha atu a to tatou tipuna, ara, a Ruatitipua. I kimihia hoki e Ruatitipua ki roto i te kahuikore; te anga ki runga, ko te whatu a Ngahue, ara, Te Awhiorangi. Ka whakarawea e Ngahue i te rangi ki a Tane i tana wa e awhi ana ano a Rangi raua ko Papa; katahi ka tapahia e Tane nga uaua o te Rangi raua ko Papa.

Ka wehe a Rangi, ka wehe a Papa; ka waiho te ingoa o Tane, ko Tane Tokorangi, ka waiho a Te Awhiorangi hei mana mo nga toki katoa i te ao nei. Ko te pare o Te Awhiorangi ko te Rangi Whakakapua; te kaha, ko Kaawekairangi; te kakau, ko Mataaheihei; ko Whakawhana-i-te-Rangi, koia Te Aheihei e tu na i te Rangi i heke ariki tonu mai a Te Awhiorangi; i a Tane Tokorangi, a, tae noa mai ki a Kakaumaui, mau tonu mai ki a Turi; ka eke mai i runga i Aotearoa, ka whiti mai ki tenei motu, whakarawea ana e Turi ki tona tamaiti matamua, ara, ki a Te Hoko-o-terangi. Ka haere tonu te Toki ra i te hekenga ariki tae noa mai ki a Rangitaupea, whakanohoia ana e Rangitaupea ki ona maunga ariki, ara, ki Tieke, ki Moerangi, i runga i tetehi waiata mo Te Awhoarangi; koia tenei, engari ka pokaia e au ki waenganui:

E amo ana a Rangi tana toki
Ko Te Awhiorangi e whiri ana i tana kaha
Ko te rangi whirirua a Pare-te-rangi Whakakapua
No te haurarotanga ko te kaha a Paepae i whakarawea
Kia Ru ko te waro uri hoake ki a Tane
Ko te mau tongatea ko te toki mata i tika
Tuaia ki te tangata ka urupa a te toki ka eke i Moerangi.

E hoa, kei a matou e takoto ana a Te Awhiorangi, ara, kei te iwi Nga Rauru e noho ana ki Waitotara inaianei. E hoa ma, tena koutou! Ma te Atua tatou e tiaki. Na to koutou koa aroha.

na Wiremu Kauika

Kaipo, Waitotara, Titiriki,

Takiwa o Taranaki,

Hanuere 6, 1888.

 

length, and the blade is six inches wide. It is one inch thick. The edge is two and a half inches long, to give it a sharpness such as that which the Pakeha puts on edges.

O friends, and all the tribes of these islands, this is the sacred relic of our ancestor Ruatitipua. He sought it amongst the Hosts of the Void (‘kahuikore’); when it came, it was the stone of Ngahue, that is Te Awhiorangi, employed by Ngahue. It was employed by Tane at the time when Rangi the Sky Father and Papa the Earth Mother were still embraced; with it, Tane cut the sinews binding Rangi and Papa.

Rangi stood apart; Papa stood apart: from that time, Tane was known as Tane Tokorangi (‘Tane who propped up the Heavens’), and Te Awhiorangi became the representative and spiritual source (‘mana’) of all the axes in the world. The head of Te Awhiorangi is named Te Rangi Whakakapua, the cord is named Kaawekairangi, the handle is named Mataaheihei; Whakawhana-i-te-Rangi (the rainbow), hence Te Aheihei, standing in the heavens from which Te Awhiorangi in so noble a fashion descended.

From Tane Tokorangi it went to Kakaumaui, and so to Turi. It came to Aotearoa, crossing over to this land. It was given by Turi to his eldest son, Te Hiku-o-te-rangi, and was handed down as an heirloom by the aristocracy until the time of Rangitaupea, who placed it on his sacred mountains, on Tieke at Moerangi, according to a song about Te Awhiorangi. Here it is; but I will begin in the middle:

(A translation of the song has not been attempted here.)

Friends, we have this axe in our possession, we the Nga Rauru have it now, we who reside at Waitotara. Friends, greetings! May the Lord watch over us all. From your friend,

Wiremu Kauika

Kaipo, Waitotara, Titiriki, Takiwa o Taranaki, January 6, 1888.

The historic turongo anglican church which was built in the 1850s at Moutoa, near Foxton, has been shifted to Pouto Pa, near Shannon. After renovation by the church's parishioners it was rededicated last March by the Bishop of Aotearoa, the Rt. Rev. W. N. Panapa.