Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Mahuika's Tales No 33 The battle between men and fish (part 1)

                            A Maori gourd

The next time Mahuika went to Black Sands she came with Ahu and Ahuahu son Aotea and his family. There was a big celebration to be held at the hot springs in the meeting house there of their family. Tangaroa and Horowai were now the custodians of the springs and were well respected. Mahuika was glad they invited Hekeheke and Maui too. When she thanked Tangaroa he replied. "We know she is your family now, therefore she belongs to us too." But if you tell us a story it must be one we have never heard before. Have you one to tell?"

I have story that I do not really understand but I will tell it to you. Then each of us can try to interpret it. So after their meal and with everyone settled in anticipation Mahuika started her story:

There was once a man a long, long time ago who was cross with his wife who when he returned from fishing was too lazy to help him carry the fish home.He saw her throw much away except for the the two or three that she would cook that day. She didn't use the fish drying rack like other women in the village but merely expected him to provide food everyday. Eventually he determined to leave her and find a better wife. So he went down to the great forest of Tane with a fire brand in his hand. There he prayed and chanted words to the gods before he went on his journey without talking to his wife.

"If my wife follows me and ask after me" he said to the trees, "Do not tell her of me being here for she is a lazy woman who wastes the food I fetch for us." The trees swayed in the breeze and agreed to his request. When he came to a stream he talked to the water too, "I am leaving my wife who is deceitful and tiresome. I work to obtain food but she throws it away and the maggots eat it. I'll shall go to find an industrious wife. If she comes after me you will know her by her loud voice. Please do not betray me." The stream gurgled its agreement.

So the man left the forest and made his way to another settlement and told the people there his story. They invited him to stay and promised to protect him.

When his wife realized he had gone she went in search of him. When she entered the forest she called out "O trees! Has my husband gone along this path?" But the trees were still and quiet so she returned home as night was falling.

The next day she spoke to everything he had touched around the house. "O fire my husband has gone, he would have taken a fire brand with him, where is he now?" But the fire just smoldered away quietly. Then she saw his drinking gourd "O gourd, my husband touched you with his lips, surely he said where he was going? What path did he take?"  But no sound came from the gourd's mouth. The she spied the clothing he had left behind "O garments you have touched his skin and covered him while sleeping surely he murmured what he planned?" But his cloak did not move at all. She found his fishing line and said "O line, you have fished with him so many time he would talk to you confidence, tell me where he has gone." but the line said naught. But his fishing line was silent. Finally she went to the entrance door and touched the framework. "O door, you knew of all his comings and goings you must know which way he went." But the door creaked no reply. The wife then threw herself on her bed and cried herself to sleep. 

In the morning when she woke she picked their water gourd to quench her thirst. For some reason the gourd who had listened her pleading with everything her husband had touched felt sorry for her, having been kissed by her husbands lips as she had been. As she drank the gourd whispered to her, "If you break me so I need never be your servant again I will show you where your husband went. I will take you to the river he crossed." 

So the woman cracked the gourd on the floor then said "When did my husband go?"

The gourd replied "He went in the morning."

So she set off carrying the gourd with her. The gourd spoke again. "You should follow him for you have news for him."

"What news is that gourd?"

"You are with child." The gourd replied with a cracked voice. 

When they reached the river the gourd again spoke, "You husband crossed the river here. Crack me again and I will take you across and lead you on."

So the woman cracked the gourd again so hard that she broke it into pieces. When they got to the other side the gourd could no longer speak and both it and the woman became lost as they were confused by the enchanted river. They wandered about aimlessly but in the end she had to return home again. After a few months she gave birth to a son so could not search for her husband any more.

She prayed everyday to the god Tangaroa asking forgiveness for the way she wasted the food her husband had provided for her. She told him of all her troubles bringing up her son without a father telling him everything and hoped that he could help her.

Tangaroa listened and decided to help her so he gathered all the fish in the world together to solve the problem.

Mahuika stopped telling the story at this point and spoke the the family who were still listening. 
"Now this is where the story changes in a way you cannot imagine. The next time we meet I will tell you what happened."

Although everyone was disappointed they could see that as many of the children had fallen asleep either on the floor or in their parents arms so they would have to hear the second half of the story another day.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

He sat where they sat

He prayed
Where they sat
He yearned 
For days passed
He wept
At her coffin 
He couldn't let go
Why should he?

Picture from The Christian Universalist Association

I wave back at her

There is my sad face
The water is a mirror
Your heart's been stolen

Keening and rocking
I’m on the bridge to nowhere
My bones ache with love

I picture your face
And feel the warmth of your limbs
Now out of reach

I sway to and fro
To sink in oblivion
And taste death’s sharp sting

So twice I falter
Then I see this lone rower
Who smiles up at me

I wave back at her
There’s a way out of this mess
Life is not over

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Saying Goodbye

I whispered to her
Not one word did she reply
She slept on untroubled

I lay my head down
And felt the warmth of her skin
On my fingertips

How many goodbyes
How many kisses goodnight
Before the bell rings?

And then the call comes
It is hard to say goodbye
When your love has flown

The fire of your life 
Is finally extinguished
Burning everything

Picture by

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Political Aide

She knows I watch her
Seeks emotional release
Part of my service

I'm playing once again
Her eyes, that impassioned speech
Political of course

Fire in her belly
And elsewhere I am hoping
What a pervert I am

She catches my eye
Animating the whole hall
She is mine for sure

She knows I watch her
Seeks emotional release
Part of my service

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Mahuika's Tales No 32 The Kaka and the Kea


The Kea                                                             The Kaka

Once again Mahuika was visiting Black Springs and she had gone to visit Hekeheke in her whare. She heard laughing inside and so sang out to her to tell her that she was there. Hekeheke came out with baby Tamahika in her arms and she was still laughing.

“Come on in Mahuika” she said rubbing noses with her. I was just telling Maui of the story Hinewai told me about the Kaka bird that she heard when she lived an the village in the forest.”

“Is her former husband still there?”

Hekeheke shook her head, “The pakeha have taken over logging the trees there, the forests have been stripped and he now lives with one his former wife's sons. The Kakas do not call there any more. I should like to go back to Rotorua to see if there are any there still.”

“You should”, remarked Mahuika, “Now please tell me the story.”

They sat down outside and Mahuika held little Tamahika in her arms as Hekeheke began her story.

“One day the Kaka was flying away from the forest for change when he saw the Kea who in those days had bright red plumage on his body which was admired by all the other birds. The Kaka wished he has such beautiful feathers and when the Kea was resting, the Kaka sidled up to him and before the Kea could defend himself the Kaka stole his bright red feathers from him leaving him some of his own and quickly flew a way.

The Kea jumped up and tried to chase the Kaka but with some feathers short he couldn’t catch him. So the poor Kea had to manage with the Kaka’s dull feathers that were left but he determined that one day he would get his own back.

The Kaka knew that the Kea would search him out so he carefully placed the bright red feathers on himself under his wings where they would not show unless he was flying. To do this he decided to live in the forest and spend his life hiding there among the trees.

Eventually the Kea came to the forest where the Kaka lived and found him perched high on a branch.

“I want my feathers back, Kaka, you stole them from me.”

The Kaka looked down at the Kea keeping very still, “Foolish bird, you can see I do not have your feathers on me.”

The Kea stared hard at him and reluctantly turned away and flew back home as he could see none of his feathers were on the Kaka. With the Kea gone, the Kaka was able to fly again and show off his red under his wings”.

Baby Tamahika had fallen asleep in Mahuika’s arms. “Thank the gods I have you Hekeheke, you have fulfilled all my hopes and dreams.”

Dum and the wanderers

                   Australian aboriginal cave painting

18. Dum and the wanderers

The numbers living in the cave had risen and there were grumblings in the cave as some of the men wanted to move away. They were not happy staying in one place all the year round. They were the wanderers as Dum called them. They never wanted to stay in one place for long thinking that there was always somewhere better to hunt or fish or steal women than where they were.

The danger of not wandering like many others was that food and water had to be available all the year round. Many of animals and birds came and went with each season and winter was very hard when those that were left were thin and hungry just like them.

Each year a few would drift away, some would return a few weeks later with tales of hunting and the chasing and trapping involved. Dong and Grunt were tempted to go but Yum felt safe with Dum who always seem to come up with ideas of how to find food. He had invented the fish trap and the basket and he had rid the cave of bears. Even the other men in the cave had made stone axes like his rather than just use a spear. The spear was good but when thrown you might have retrieve it from an angry animal who was keen to stay alive. In fact a few of the men now carried two or three spears with them when they hunted.

Dum talked to Yum about moving. Yum thought about it for some time then shook her head. “If we wander like the others it is hard on the mothers with small children, but worse with toddlers like Wah-Wah who are heavy to carry all the time and cannot keep up with the adults. We feed ourselves quite well here and with some leaving, the hunting close by will be easier.”

Dum bent over her and touched her face with his fingers. She looked up at him and smiled “There is one more thing; we have another baby on the way.”

“Good”, Dum said simply as he stroked the hair on her head.

When Dong heard that Yum was staying she looked a little disappointed. She was silent for a bit then said. “Perhaps little Bonk and I will stay with you too. Dum will look after us all, won’t he?”

Yum shook her head laughing “No, not in that way he won’t”.

Dong blushed, laughed too and shook her head, “No of course Grunt will agree to stay as well, he likes Dum. We have never gone hungry with Dum around.”