Ahu had walked a long way that day after leaving her village in fear of reprisals from the Rocky Outcrop men which she knew her village were attacking before dawn. She approached the women of the Black Sand village who were making baskets and talking around a small fire.
They stopped talking when she approached carefully from the side of their group rather than in front of them. “Haere mai” said Ahu politely, bowing her head. “Haere Mai” they responded, then nodded at her to sit with them and she did so ensuring her feet were facing away from them.
“Have you come far?” one of them asked.
“I have been walking for most of the day.” Ahu replied
“Is your village also by the sea?”
Ahu pointed enthusiastically indicating with her hand that it was to the north.
“By Gannet Island?” Ahu nodded in affirmation.
“And baby how old is he now?” Ahu indicated he was about a month old and this time the village women nodded.
“I have a message for you may I tell it?” Ahu said.
The women nodded again. “Speak daughter, what is your message?” said the elder one.
“I have seen Ngaire today; she said she remembers you every day.”
“You have been to the ngerengere?” This time Ahu lowered head slightly. “Were you not frightened child, that the evil would take hold of you?” This time she shook her head. “Our men have gone to the Rocky outcrop to fight them. I did not think it was safe for my baby should they also attack our village.”
“So Ngaire bade you come to Black Sands for sanctuary. Does your husband know you have come?” Ahu shook her head sadly. The oldest woman chuckling said “That is both foolish and wise.” If he returns he won’t know where you are but as he doesn’t your village cannot barter you in exchange for the attack.” Stay here, you have honoured us by speaking to Ngaire, you are safe here.”
“You must hope that your husband loves you enough to seek you out, should he be spared,” said another woman who was with child.
“He will find me” said Ahu, praying to Ranginui and Papatuanuku that it would in fact be so.
At this point, Tangaroa woke up and grizzled for a feed, so Ahu brought the baby’s sling round, took him out and fed him, feeling as contented as the baby now was that she had done the right thing.
Later she was asked to share the hut of the widow Atahai who was pleased to be able to talk to someone alone and to share her lonely life.
In less than a week Ahu was walking about the village as if it were her own and all the little girls wanted to hold and look after Tangaroa. Although the fishing wasn’t so good off the black volcanic sand beach the men still caught fine fish from their canoes in the ocean and the forests were full of berries and wildlife. There was even talk of capturing whales as they travelled north in the winter.
The women of the village showed her that there were some hot springs a short distance away where families would go and bathe in the sulphur pools in the evening, which Ahu had never done before.
“I wonder whether Ahuahu would like it here” she mused to herself. “Please let him find me.”
Atahai - girls name meaning kindness
Ranginui - male god and father figure or RangiPapatuanuku - female god and mother figure or Papa