Ahu and Hoata did not worry about their visiting a sacred site that may have been tapu when they had overlooked the whole of the valley of the big river settlement, as Hoata had to tell her husband Kamaka, that his daughter Hinewai had been beaten by her new husband. What made it worse that Tui her young husband had beaten her so badly she had lost the baby she had been carrying which they had all been unaware of.
“Please come with me when I tell Kamaka” pleaded Hoata. “I may be lost for words to explain what has happened.”
“It is your family matter, but we will ask if I may be present when you talk to him” Ahu replied. ”But first I must go home and talk to Ahuahu and Tangaroa. I will come when we have eaten.”
Ahuahu was making a little toy canoe for Tangaroa when she arrived home. He was carving it out of wood and making little outriggers that were tied on with flax to make it look like the real thing. She bent down and hugged the little boy then rubbed noses and touched Ahuahu first on the shoulder then on the face looking sadly into his eyes.
Ahuahu finished off the boat and then asked Ahu if she needed to talk. She nodded and then bent down and undid the sling to take her sleeping baby out and hand her to him. As Tangaroa played with his boat Ahuahu waited for Ahu to talk.
“It has been a long day with much sadness” said Ahu bluntly. “Hinewai is being beaten by her husband and is very unhappy.” Hoata wants me to be with her when she tells Kamaka as it is a very serious matter. But let us eat first then I will go to be there for her.”
Ahuahu nodded and then they ate together and prepared the children for bed.
Later that evening when Ahu had returned from her meeting with Kamaka and Hoata, she told him what had happened.
Kamaka was surprised that Ahu had come to see him that evening and looked enquiringly at Hoata his wife.
“Husband” said Hoata. “We visited Hinewai at the Big River and she is not happy. I have asked Ahu to be here as she can tell you what she has learned too. Hinewai’s husband Tui beats her regularly and she has many bruises on her that we could see. She told us that she has lost a baby that she was carrying because of the beatings.”
Kamaka looked at Hoata and asked “Why is Ahu here? Is it not enough to hear this, must I also be shamed in front of Ahuahu’s wife?”
“May I speak, Kamaka?” asked Ahu.
“Kamaka, I too felt ashamed when I saw and heard Hinewai tell of her life at Big River. For all the trouble that she was here I would gladly have her back rather than know that she is being hurt by a cruel husband, young though he may be. She went into the marriage full of hope and the desire to be a happy and fulfilled wife but her life is of fear and pain and humiliation. You remember her as a funny, silly girl with her whole life stretching out before her. Now she has no hope anymore. I am so ashamed that I wanted her gone.” She said this with her eyes on the floor in her sadness and not looking at Kamaka.
Kamaka put his hand up to stop Ahu from talking. “Ahu, I do not want you to look on me as I think and talk about Hinewai, I am much grieved. Go home to Ahuahu. You are very welcome here but we must discuss how we can help Hinewai alone. It is a difficult whakahaere for us to organise”
The next day Kamaka had gone from the village. Later that evening he returned and he brought Hinewai with him. She followed him silently with her head bowed. Hoata later told Ahu that Kamaka had returned all the gifts that he received when Hinewai was given to Tui and in addition he had to give much more in the way of carved goods and tapa cloth to buy her back. Their village chief approved of his action and suggested that Hinewai might be the second wife of one of his sons. But this was merely a gesture to indicate that she was welcome back in the village and it was not a serious proposal.
A few months later she married a pouaru or widower named Torangi but was never able to have any children of her own. It was said that she took young men as lovers but not all ears heard of that.
Whakahaere - Operation
Pouaru - Widower