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No. 52 (September 1965)
– 49 –

tinued to speak to each other, and our elder told him of the significance of Te Reinga. As the foreigner did not understand what he meant, our elder explained it again, lying down on the ship's deck, shutting his eyes, then pointing once more to Te Reinga in the north. However the leader of the foreigners turned away and spoke to some of his companions. and after they had talked for some time all of them stood looking at the map which our elder had drawn. Then they went off in different directions, murmuring to each other as they did so.

I and my two friends did not go wandering about the ship, for fear that we should be bewitched by the foreigners; we sat where we were, staring at the foreigners' home.

The leader disappeared for a while into his own part of the ship, then he came up on deck again, and approached my two friends and myself. He patted our heads, said something, and put out his hand towards me, holding the nail. My friends were afraid and said nothing, but I laughed, and he gave the nail to me. I took it in my hand, saying, ‘Very good.’ He repeated this after me, patted our heads again, and went away.

My friends said, ‘His gift to us shows his nobility; he is indeed the leader of the ship. Also, he is very fond of children. A noble man—one of high birth and standing—cannot be lost in a crowd.'

I took my nail, and looked after it very carefully; it went with me everywhere as my companion. I used it as the point of my spear, and also to make holes in the sideboards of canoes, to bind them to the canoe. I kept it until one day our canoe was capsized at sea, and my precious possession [literally, ‘object with supernatural powers’] was lost to me.

The leader of the foreigners again brought some of his possessions to our chief elder, and presented him with two handfuls of what we now know to be potatoes. At that time our elders thought that they were parareka (a kind of fern-root). for they were similar in appearance to this. Our elder took them and planted them in the earth, and every year since then we have had a supply of this food. They were first planted at Te Hunua [in the Wairoa district] because the chief who grew them belonged to Ngati Pou. After they had been planted for three years, a feast was given. The guests ate of this food, and seed potatoes were distributed among other Waikato and Hauraki tribes.