Sunday, 30 December 2012

The New Priest (No. 78)

The continuing story of Ahu and Ahuahu her husband in a Maori village in Aotearoa before European settlement of New Zealand. (Missed an episode? Click on Ahu in the labels bar for previous posts.) 

Black Sands heard no more of Pastor John with his defiant attitude and of him wanting to talk to the people in their village. However a month or two after his visit another priest from Big River called in to pay his respects to Ahuahu.

The man who was quite old and grey was taken to Ahuahu and approached him respectfully by removing some clothing and his shoes and walked up to Ahuahu from the side rather that in front of him and knelt down. Ahuahu nodded and asked him to sit down by his side. Ahuahu offered him some refreshment and Hatiti brought him water and some fruit to eat.

“You have not been here before priest. I am Ahuahu headman of this village. Did you want to see the village and its hot springs?”

The old man grinned, “No, Ahuahu, I have heard much about the hot springs and the many visitors you have here. There is a lot of talk about the place both by your Maori neighbours and by the pakeha that have been here too. I do not need to know any more now; later perhaps. I have another reason to visit you.”

Ahuahu nodded, “Tell me the purpose of your visit then, priest.”

The old man, smiled “Call me Rapata, my pakeha name is Robert but it is not a word it easy for you to say, so in Maori it is pronounced ra-pa-ta.”  

Ahuahu laughed “We had another priest here we did not like saying his name which was John. It did not sit well on our tongues.”

Rapata laughed as well “He knew his name was Teone or Hoani here but would not use them. Yes, I know this man.”

“Have you come to ask for what he wanted?”

Rapata laughed again and slapped Ahuahu on the shoulder. “No Ahuahu, I come with much more important request.”

Ahuahu was amazed this man was acting just as though he were a Maori himself, respectful, laughing a lot, slapping in a friendly way and apparently telling the truth.”

“I will hear you, Rapata.”

“Good, Ahuahu. I have been told you care for the Ngerengere people in the foothills. Is that the case?”

“Yes, it was agreed many years ago that when the boundaries of our land were settled with our neighbours we would be responsible to provide food and clothing for the ngerengere people there. Our women have always visited them and tell them what is happening in the world outside.”

“Good, good, Ahuahu. We would like to help you do this. Would you agree to our church setting up a mission to help these people to live their lives in peace and safety with pakeha workers caring for them and tending them especially if they are sick and dying? We have people that are experienced in this a work and may be able to relieve their suffering and make their lives more fulfilled. Did you know many ngerengere often hurt themselves because they cannot feel the cuts and breaks they do to themselves? So they have missing fingers and toes and wounds that do not heal.”

“You should talk to my wife Ahu. She goes regularly as do other women from this village. They can take you but first this must be discussed with the village council. Will you stay the night and visit the ngerengere another day? They may be frightened of you as you may be the first pakeha they have seen so someone from the village must be with you at all times.”

“I will stay here until you give me permission to go there Ahuahu.”

“Just why would you do this for them, Rapata?”

“Ahuahu, there is a lot more that the pakeha can do for the Maori people. It is not just us saying you must do this or do that. It is also showing what we can do for you. You may like us better if you see that we can give you something without taking anything from you.”

“I want to believe you Rapata, but one pakeha that is good still leaves hundreds that are bad. However let us see what the village council think tomorrow. Tonight you may talk to Ahu and Hatiti with me; their two heads may be wiser than my one. The children however will stare at you as though you are a sea monster.”

With that both men laughed together.

“We will not need the woman that can speak English then, Ahuahu?”

“Hinewai?  She does not live here but in a village in the forest.” Ahuahu pointed to the hills to the west. ”You speak our language very well so we will all be able to understand you.”

“One day, I will meet her perhaps.”

“One day, perhaps, Rapata. She, like many of us has a heavy load to bear.”

“Most of us do, Ahuahu, most of us do.”

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Looking for me?

If you are looking for me or wonder where I am, don't worry as I am moving house and communications will be cut for a few days. Have a beautiful Christmas holiday wherever you are.

What do I wish for?

What do I wish for?
To be always at your side
Knowing you are near

What do I long for?
Your touch that makes me shiver
With such a delight

What do I dream of?
Being with you forever
Springtime and in fall

Such a pair like us
Will surely last a lifetime
In such utmost bliss

Your eyes say it all
We are one united soul
Passionate lovers

Saturday, 15 December 2012

News of Paikea (No. 77)

The continuing story of Ahu and Ahuahu her husband in a Maori village in Aotearoa before European settlement of New Zealand. (Missed an episode? Click on Ahu in the labels bar for previous posts.)

Moana’s time to give birth came and she went to see Ahu and asked that Hinemoana could be looked after by Ahu and Hatiti when she had the new baby. “Should you not ask Paikea’s mother to be involved, Moana?” was Ahu’s response.

“I should I know, but since Paikea left she has hardly spoken to me,” replied Moana. “She has merely asked to see Hinemoana or looked after her while I rest, but she is embarrassed and cannot talk about Paikea leaving. She does not blame me but was shamed by the bruises that all could see on my face.”

“Perhaps if I walk with you to see her now she will be less worried, and we can say she can help you. Come let us do that now.” So the two women with Hinemoana toddling along between them walked slowly to the old woman’s whare.

As they entered the building they heard wailing inside and they found Paikea’s mother prostrate on the floor tearing her hair out with Aperahama, Aio’s husband from Agate Hills trying to comfort her. He had brought news that Paikea had been killed. He explained that he had gone to Moana’s home first but as she was not there had come here to Paikea’s mother instead.

He told them that Paikea had been at a Pakeha town many miles to the south of Big River. He and some other Maori men had been drinking and got involved in a brawl with the pakeha and Paikea alone had been killed and the others were injured.

Moana’s face turned pale and she sank to the floor in shock. Paikea’s mother smashed her head down on wooden bowl to knock out her teeth. Ahu turned to Aperahama and said to him, “Take Hinemoana back to our whare and get Hatiti to look after her.” She looked down to Moana who was grasping at her belly. “Moana, is the baby coming?”

Moana nodded, “I think it is Ahu.” She then doubled up with pain again as Ahu turned to Paikea’s mother and said to her “We came round to ask if you would help Moana deliver her child. The shock has made the little one arrive early; will you come and help us?”

The old woman looked up her face all bloody and shook her head sadly “What has happened to our family Ahu? Why have the gods looked away?”

“The sun comes up every morning,” said Ahu, “Some of us will be here to see it but …” She was interrupted by Moana gasping with pain again, so she said. “I must take Moana down to the trees, her baby is coming quickly. Remember there will be part of Paikea in this new baby Haumiatikitiki,” calling the old woman by her proper name. She then helped Moana get to her feet and they walked out into the fresh air and made their way slowly to the women’s birthing site.

Luckily no damage was done to the baby by the shock to Moana and she delivered a baby boy quickly and was soon back in her own home again. Hatiti came round to assist her and brought Moana's daughter Hinemoana back too. Moana still continued to cry and no one knew whether it was through the shock of losing Paikea this way or something else that had changed in her life. Once she had got the baby to suckle and had taken some food and saw that Hinemoana was settled and sleeping, she thanked Hatiti for staying with them that night.

Hatiti said, “Moana we are much alike, my first husband was taken from me suddenly and my grief was overwhelming. You had much of your grief before Paikea was taken away but you have the joy of having your children with you still and there is much life ahead for all of you as there was for me. You are safe and loved here, this is your home.”
“I feel ashamed Hatiti, I hoped that Paikea would never return for making me unhappy but the gods merely laughed and granted my wish in this way and now I feel guilty. I did not want him dead as it is but a short time since I was so proud to be his wife.”

“He has not died because you wished it but because he could not see happiness was with you not in fame or trying to be strong and wise like his father. All of us have our own paths in life Moana. Let us hope there will be someone to walk by your side looking at you rather that to the heavens for happiness.”

Moana looked up at Hatiti and smiled sadly. “One of my greatest joys is feeling part of Ahu and your family. I understand now all what you have told me. Many years ago Ahu said it would be difficult being married to a Head man’s son.”  Moana was quiet for a little then reached out and touched Hatiti on her arm and whispered. “Would you ask Ahuahu to tell Hunapo that I have given birth to a son?”

“I am sure the whole village will know of this event Moana; but he will not come to see you without others present for at least a full moon. Let’s hope he will still provide you with fish and play with Hinemoana then.”

Moana then whispered to Hatiti “He will look always after us. He told me once that as he had been feeding the new baby inside me for months he considers it his too!”

Hatiti whispered back, “Oh why couldn’t you have looked on him first Moana?”

With Moana weeping silently again the two women then settled down to sleep while the new baby snuffled quietly by their side.

A few weeks later Hunapo went to see Paikea’s mother and spoke to both her and Tui. “I have come from Ahuahu,” he said. “Everyone knows I have provided Moana with fish for some time. Ahuahu said that I could do this in Paikea’s absence and I speak with you now out of respect for Paikea and to assure you she and the children will continue to be cared for by me.”

Tui looked at Hunapo, “You have shown respect to Paikea and this family in telling us this. Hekehoru has told me that you have been quite open in dealing with Moana in her need and have spoken to Ahuahu regarding this. Moana will therefore no longer be of this family but be your responsibility from now on.”

They formally bade farewell and Hunapo returned to Moana to tell what he had done. Moana was quite silent as he explained to her only nodding as he spoke. When he had finished she patted the floor by her side. “Sit with me Hunapo you are my husband now. Bring all your things here and we will live together. I have decided to call the new baby Ikawhenua. My babies are your babies they have no other father now and we will be sure to have many more.”
“You have named the baby Ikawhenua because that is where I first saw you and wanted you so many years ago,” said Hunapo. “You honour me Moana, I will love and cherish you till I die.”

“I know you will Hunapo.”

Haumiatikitiki - Girl’s name meaning Guardian of the Fern Root

Ikawhenua     - Boy’s name meaning Fishing Grounds

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Marina Appears

(Mark and Marina the mermaid part 8.  Mark has carefully planned a rendevous with Marina the mermaid (now pregnant), at a remote cove to meet her secretly close to where she will give birth)  
The day that she should have appeared in the little secluded cove came and went. My eyes strained to find any clues to her being in the water observing me or just swimming on the surface and diving similar to the sea lions that might show themselves once in a while. I moved from the beach and clambered up the rocky cliffs to get a better view but if she was there in the sea she wasn’t letting on. So I made my way down to the cove area again and as the sun sank in the sky pulled my sleeping bag out to prepare for the night.

Just as the light was just failing I heard her call out. She mimicked the bird call “Maaark, Maaark,” Just the once. So I risked calling back “Marina” just the once myself then repeated it after a few seconds so she could check the direction that my call came from. Then I got up and walked down to the water’s edge careful not to be too close in case a bigger wave pulled me off my feet.
I waited what seemed like ages thinking that her call was in fact a bird’s after all, and then with a whoosh she came up with the next breaker and lay there at my feet. I was so relieved I could say nothing but bent down and held her in my arms and hugged her. This was a mistake as the next wave came in and washed over me soaking me and I risked being pulled into the turgid sea and being toppled over.
Marina held on tight and with a couple of flips of her tail pushed the both of us up the shingle bank. Every part of her within kissable distance I was kissing and licking and hugging as the sea continued to wash over my feet and her tail that still dangled in the water.
“Let’s get up the beach a bit I said.”
She laughed, “I was going to say let’s get back in the water.”
In the end she agreed that I should pick her up and carry her up to my sleeping bag, whispering to me “Is there anybody close by?”
“No, we are far from any habitation and the park rangers that look after the area will have gone home by now.”
She nodded in satisfaction and took my hand and placed it on her tummy, “He’s there,” she said simply. I bent down and kissed her cold tummy and progressed up to her neck and chin and then kissed her gently on the lips. “You are a clever girl.”
She nodded contentedly and I wrapped her in my arms and placed one leg over her flipper to make sure I had all of her close to me and whispered “I missed you.”
She nodded in reply but was alert as ever wanting to check the surroundings in the poor light before the moon rose. “There is an old sea lion smell, and this thing we are lying on, who has been on this …it is not only your scent is it? I bent down to sniff at it. It just smelled of sleeping bag, not really of me or anyone else…or did it?
From my silence she knew it was my wife’s scent she could smell. “That’s all right then.” She said quietly, but still pushed it away and lay on the pebbles instead. So I changed the subject and said. “Have you found somewhere safe to be?”
She nodded cautiously, “Wives do not tell husbands everything, Mark. My only concern is to bear this child…our child.  You have done your job, but I know you want to be involved and care for me and the calf very much. I love that you feel that way but it is not natural for mer people to think this way. You think like a woman and are too soft. You love too intensely and I cannot risk your feelings putting the little one at risk.”
She then continued, “One day if you cannot find me you will want to get a boat and look for me. You must not do that. Already you have suggested in your thoughts that I should be checked to see if the baby is safe inside me. He will stay inside me until he or she comes out. That is my decision not yours. You do not know the way of the sea. If I lose the little one you must realise I will turn away from you and look for one of my own kind to try again. I will do this until there is no hope left and you are no longer in my mind such as you are now. The sea is cruel and those that survive here appear so too. We do not love as you do but with determination and an instinct for survival. Our paths have crossed; I love you but will turn away from you unless my species can continue.”
She sensed my bitter disappointment that it was not me but her kind that was uppermost in her mind. “I love you Mark for little things as well as big. I notice how you check my tail and back for scratches which might become infected, I love that you look at me and lavish me with such gentleness, no mermaid ever expects that!”  She ran her fingers over my chest. “Even in our differences you see me so much more worthy than yourself. I do not deserve that.”
“I do not understand.”
“I am built to manoeuvre on beaches and shingle, yet you pick me up. You touch every part of me and consider it beautiful. When you talk to me you do not say how much better it is to walk on two legs or be constructive and built boats and those planes that fly in the sky, or catch fish in their thousands rather one or two in your hand because that is all you really need. You do not consider me to be abnormal.”
“Shush Marina, I do understand. The most important thing is the baby. I will go away later like a merman, but like a human I will return every month to check if you are well. I will worry alone and then rejoice when we are together again. Though please say if you need me to bring something for you, anything at all.”
“Just come and check on me once a month, Mark. That is all.”
“When will the baby come?”
“I know, but I cannot say. It will be a dangerous time for the two of us and there is no one to help me.” She paused and then said, “We are very protective at that time, and would not want mermen there either let alone land creatures.” She said with a little smile.
“But wouldn’t the dolphins help if there are no mermaids to help?”
“How did you know about that?” Marina said surprised.
“Well they quite like and trust us, don’t they?” I replied.
“No, they are using you; playing with you perhaps.” She smiled and then she went on “But, yes, they will help to protect me and the baby...I hope…if they haven’t anything better to do.”

Sunday, 9 December 2012


Oh that you would see
My eyes are always on you
And yours are sparkling

Oh that you would hear
My love for you a-telling
And you are listening

Oh that you would feel
My fingers you caressing
You murmur a sigh

Oh that you would love
My lips that are you kissing
As you hold me tight

Oh that you would dare
To share your life with me
Love everlasting

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Moana and Hunapo (No 76)

The continuing story of Ahu and Ahuahu her husband in a Maori village in Aotearoa before European settlement of New Zealand. (Missed an episode? Click on Ahu in the labels bar for previous posts.)

Hunapo, one of the other fishermen at Black Sands noticed that Ahuahu always took some fish for Moana when he returned home so he said, “Your family is large Ahuahu, let me take Moana some of my fish in future.”

“We can both do it Hunapo. She is with child now so she may be pleased to receive a little extra.”

Hunapo was very careful with Moana and was never seen to enter her whare. He would talk to her and play with Hinemoana outside after he had given them some fish but never stayed long. No one could ever say Moana looked at him directly as she was very discreet too. It was said they used to meet on the beach in the evening to talk but as the new baby was now a noticeable bump in Moana’s tummy no one thought much about it as he spent most of his time finding shells for Hinemoana, while Moana sat on the beach talking with other villagers.

There had been gossip regarding Paikea’s disappearance but his mother explained that Aio her daughter wanted him to help them at Agate Hills and Moana no longer appeared sad.

One day Hinemoana cut her foot on a shell at the beach so Hunapo who had just grounded his canoe after fishing at sea came over to Moana, and carried Hinemoana back to Moana's home where they managed to clean the cut and stop her crying. Hinemoana sat in Hunapo’s lap chewing sadly on a bit of oca root and then fell asleep in his arms.

“Now you are here, would you like to eat with me, Hunapo?” Moana said as she looked at him cradling Hinemoana in his arms; "She is asleep now so we will not disturb her and that way you do not have to prepare your own meal tonight.”

“I shouldn’t, Moana. People will talk.”

“They won’t, not with me almost ready to have a baby. Everyone saw you bring Hinemoana back here crying.”

Hunapo nodded his assent and his heart filled with love for her. But he didn’t know what to say to her so he bent over Hinemoana and brushed his lips on her forehead rubbed her tiny nose with his.

Moana saw him do that. “Thank you Hunapo, she has missed her father and she likes you.” She then went back to preparing the meal and fussed about outside with the fish on the fire while he continued to cradle the little girl.

When Moana came back in, she came over to him and picked Hinemoana up and placed on her sleeping mat on the floor. Then went to get their food and gave him his. Trying desperately to avoid eye contact with him she asked him “Why have you never married, Hunapo?”

Hunapo could not answer as he was eating. When he had emptied his mouth he said, “Please do not ask that question, Moana.”

“You are not tane moe tane are you?”

Hunapo laughed so much that he nearly choked.

“Moana,” he finally got out, “I was in a boat and heard you sing to the fish at sea all those years ago. I promised myself that I must find someone like you to marry, but sadly there was only one of you and Paikea claimed you.” He paused and then went on. “I should not have come in here tonight. Because you will you know now that I do not want Paikea to return.”

Moana bowed her head in embarrassment, but whispered to him quietly, “Neither do I.”

Hunapo reached over and gently touched Moana on the face. He then did a very bold thing and let his hand touch her on her swollen belly gently patting her and then said “If he does not return home, I will look after you and the children.”

“I knew you would, Hunapo, I could read it in your eyes.”

“What should we do?”

“I will talk to Ahuahu and Ahu. It is over six moons since Paikea has gone and there has been no word. I will ask Ahuahu’s advice but tell him you will protect us.”

Hunapo shook his head, “No, I will talk to Ahuahu. He must think that I approached you first.”

“But you did, Hunapo, right at the start and Ahuahu knows that.”

They just sat looking at each until Hunapo said to her, “I never thought that you would look at me Moana.”

“Hunapo, you have made my life worth living again. I will not cry myself to sleep tonight but sing with joy.”

Hunapo was by this time caressing Moana on her arms and on her face. He then leaned over and held his face against hers and nibbled at her with his lips. “I will go now while it is still light.”

Hunapo made to get up but thought better of it and laid his head between her breasts, sighed with contentment as he hugged her but then got up and left the whare.

As he walked through the village to go back home, he felt as if he was as tall as a tree; he had never felt so happy in all his life.


Tane moe tane – homosexual, but literally, man with man.

Whare - dwelling

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

The Long Wait for a Mermaid

(Mark and Marina the mermaid part 7  With a chance that Mark has got Marina the mermaid pregnant he plans to meet her at a secret location close to where she will give birth)
As we parted that last day on the beach close to where I had rented my holiday shack I looked at her not wanting to let her go. She glowed with health and I loved that her body of necessity was well covered with a soft layer of subsurface fat to keep her insulated against the cold water.

We had talked again of many things; none of importance and as the tide returned up the beach again and started to hide the rock pools she edged nearer the water and pulled me with her. We both swam out into the sea. The waves broke over us and although I could still touch bottom the strength of the waves kept pushing me further into shore. She then let go of my hand and without saying another word disappeared under the surface. I watched where I thought she would be headed but braver than me she did not look back but was gone from my sight.

I felt terrible. I had another two or three days left at the shack and spent each day returning to the beach hoping that she had changed her mind and wanted to see me again. That did not happen. So on the last day I packed up and, loaded my stuff in the car which had not been driven once all the time I had been there and returned home.

I had noted in my diary what day I should start visiting the cove where she had planned to be and had that anxious thought that she didn’t have a diary so how would she work out when to look out for me? Isn’t it curious, that every advancement that man achieves; he loses more than he gains? It was only when I slowly worked out that she could calculate the time and the passage of days by the moon quarters and by the tides and of course by the sun that I relaxed a little. There were probably a lot more clues too that humans had long forgotten or had never worked out for themselves. I will tell you a secret though, I pretended to be her and collected a pile of 30 cockle shells and each day when I woke up I would move one from the pile to a new one. So I knew that when the first pile was emptied it was the day we should meet hoping she was doing the same.

So I opened up my house again, spent a whole day cleaning it up from a few days of neglect and I watered the garden, pruned the roses and returned to being a wasteful human again. Then I spoke to the kids on the phone and settled back into a normal life as seen by them but an anxious one for me as I relived those few days with her. I did think that perhaps I had been manipulated by her but even if she had, I didn’t mind, it had been worth it.

I checked with the Parks and Wildlife office about doing a study of the interaction of land and marine life in the conservation park where I knew she would be and they were enthusiastic and encouraged me to talk to the rangers on site, so I harvested a few leaflets and took them home.

I took a trip down there and spent some time talking to the rangers about birdlife and vegetation and the possibility of seeing other animals in the park and on the shore. So they knew I would be a frequent visitor and hopefully I would be just as a common sight as the honeyeaters, lizards and crabs that were already there.

And so it was; me with my backpack and binoculars, walking boots and sunglasses and I now barely received a nod from the staff if ever they saw me.

The cove that Marina had told me about was not easy to access. The larger more frequented beach was bad enough with warning signs and discouragement to enter the water and of not approaching any sea lions or fur seals that were resting on the beach. Her little cove however was quite a battle to access only by leaving the footpaths and making a precarious descent down to the tiny beach through thick scrub and clambering over rocks.

Having descended to the coarse sand and shingle I looked to see where the high tide mark might be then I ventured out as far as I could without entering the water to see if there were any signs of her being there. There weren’t which was both good and bad. One, she was being careful; but two, she may not have got here yet. The main thing was that I was sure that her choice of such a secluded place was well thought out indeed. This was especially so when I made my way back to my car and got lost over and over again and was lucky to get out the park before closing time.

I began to take photos of the things I was supposed to be interested in so if anyone asked how I was doing I would produce the camera and find evidence of the little bird or lizard to prove that I really did know what I was doing.

Then I experimented with leaving the car outside the park so if in future I stayed after closing time they wouldn’t set up a search party looking for me, thinking I was still in the park. This was just in case I couldn’t leave Marina if I found her.

Next I set up a cache of food and water hidden close to the cove including long life milk and dried food in plastic zip lock containers. My diary and shells told me that I had less than a week to wait so I spent a few days at home and then returned to the cove with just one day to go.  I regularly walked into the park with binoculars round my neck and talked to no-one. Unnoticed and as fluid as the movement of the tides I made my way to the cove and back day by day.

However my longing for her was overwhelming, if she didn’t appear I would be devastated.

Monday, 3 December 2012

You are the light of my Life

When I look at you
You are the light of my life
You brighten my day

When I speak to you
You listen to me with love
You have trust in me

When I dare to touch
You smile and encourage me
And fast my heart beats

When for you I yearn
I know that you wait for me
No matter how long

When I hold you close
We melt together to be
One being in love


We are gathered here
So those greeting words go
Together in prayer

Bidden to celebrate
Our life in all its fullness
And joy in being

So in the spring love
Joined in happy wedded bliss
Eying each other

Soon they are smiling
A bundle of joy and more
Their love is complete

The names that they choose
Link gathered families
And bonds are strengthened

Sadness is ever close
When parting prayers are spoken
As lives reach their end

We are gathered here
So those greeting words go
Together in prayer

Friday, 30 November 2012

Whatever happened to Moana and Paikea? (No. 75)

The continuing story of Ahu and Ahuahu her husband in a Maori village in Aotearoa before European settlement of New Zealand. (Missed an episode? Click on Ahu in the labels bar for previous posts.)

Let me tell you what happened to Moana and Paikea. Moana’s first child had been born safely and it was a little girl and they called her Hinemoana, meaning sea maiden. Between you and me Paikea had only thought of boys’ names for the baby before the birth as he was sure the baby would be a boy. He finally accepted that the name Moana chose was excellent as it linked both mother and daughter with the sea. Sadly Paikea’s father, the old head man had died before the baby was born so only his daughters had produced grandsons for him and they lived far away. Paikea found it hard to accept that he would probably never be chief like his father. As Moana was busy being a mother she was no longer involved in village affairs and giving advice to the village council or helping Paikea not to make foolhardy decisions.

Paikea’s mother and his father’s second wife would spend much time with Moana and the baby and he felt that he no longer knew what was happening in the village except through their women’s talk. Moana was settled now as she regularly had Ahu and Hatiti visit her and she them, but the whole dynamic in the village had shifted and Paikea’s family were no longer at the centre of things but Ahuahu and his family were.

It was really no surprise to Moana when Paikea spoke to her one night when the Hinemoana had been fed and put on her mat.

“Moana, I do not feel that our future is in this village. I think we should live at Agate hills with Aperahama and Aio‘s family there or with my other sister who lives close to the smoky mountains.

“Do you not want to stay and one day be chosen for the village council, Paikea?”

Paikea shook his head doubtfully, “When my father was the chief, it seemed as though I would be headman too one day. But things have changed now. Ahuahu is head man and you are a mother so they do not call on you for an opinion like they used to. Even Tui my brother seems closer to Ahuahu than I ever was and speaks to him of village matters. I have noticed Tui is even looking at Hekehoru, Ahu and Ahuahu’s elder daughter, but worse still she is looking back.”

They were silent for while then Moana spoke.

“I do not want to leave, Paikea. I live closer to my mother here, who lives in the forest to the west” she said pointing, “and Ahuahu and Ahu showed me how to behave in order that I could marry you, they are family to me. No, I do not want to leave. I have been made welcome here, I am respected and have a place in village life, I am happy and this is my home now.” She paused and then said, “Hekehoru is a beautiful girl, what is wrong with Tui looking at her. In any case I am sure he looks at other girls too. You are too jealous of Ahuahu, Paikea. That is no way to be headman.”

Paikea reacted immediately and hit her with his fist. She didn’t cry out, but just sobbed into her arms.

Realising what he had done he tried to hug her in his arms but he could not say sorry. He tried to touch her but she became wooden and didn’t react. He tried to pat on the back but she got up instead.

“Where are you going?”

“To put water on my face”

“You upset me.”

“Go to Agate hills by yourself. You may need some time away from me,” she said as she found the bowl of water in the darkness and splashed it on her face.

“Come back here and lie down and let me hold you.” He said.

“When you come back from Agate Hills you might be able to touch me again if you have changed back to the man I loved.”

There was another long silence then Paikea spoke again.

“Why did my father choose Ahuahu as head man; and why did he have to die?” He whined. Moana said nothing as she knew his fists were still clenched. She curled up on the floor by the side of Hinemoana with a protective arm around her.

Moana never spoke to Paikea again, she had even not told him she was pregnant again. He had gone by morning and he never returned to Black Sands. When his mother saw Moana with a bruise on her face and a split lip, she said nothing but returned home and cried. She knew that Paikea had shamed the family and the memory of his father. She wanted to blame Moana but knew that it was not her fault so kept silent.

Moana went away with Hinemoana too for a little while to the village where the Kakas call. She told Ahu she was visiting her mother who was not well to help look after her brothers and Torangi. She did not really need to go as Hinewai could have managed but everyone thought she went because Hinewai was needed so often at Black Sands to talk to the pakeha in their language. Even though Hinemoana could toddle around now she still had to carry her.

Later when Moana returned, Tui, Paikea’s brother came round to see her to ask if she needed any help. She looked at him closely and noted that he touched her longer in greeting than he should have done.

“You may come to see Hinemoana your niece, Tui. But remember once someone has put their hand in the ants nest they do not do it again.”

“I am ashamed of what happened, Moana. I am not like Paikea. I want to help you.”

“You do not know what happened, Tui. I thought you liked Hekehoru; go and help her instead.”

Tui’s face fell. “Am I that obvious, Moana?”

“Yes, everyone looks beautiful at your age Tui, especially brothers’ wives with tears in their eyes.”

“They said you were wise, Moana.”

She shook her head, “No Tui, not wise, but wiser now. You may come again but not to look at me in this way.”

“You won’t tell Hekehoru, will you?”

“Just go, Tui. I will tell no one.”

Later Moana approached Ahuahu and spoke to him in the village. “Paikea has gone to Agate Hills, Ahuahu.”

He looked at her eyes which were full of sadness. “Come and talk to Ahu, Hatiti and me tonight Moana.” So she took Hinemoana with her that evening and stayed for a meal and as they talked both Hatiti and Ahu played with Hinemoana.

“Who will provide for you Moana while Paikea is away? Tui looks after his mother and aunt doesn’t he?” asked Ahuahu.

”Tui has enough to do. Hinemoana and I will manage. Perhaps if I sing on the beach the fish will jump into my basket.” She said smiling sadly then continued, “Paikea may not be gone long.” She looked down as she said this.

She would not tell them anymore but later when Ahu held her face in her hands, she understood everything. “And there is another baby on the way, Moana, isn’t there?”

The tears in Moana’s eyes told it all. “I wanted to tell you Ahu,” she whispered, “but no words would come out, it hurts so much.”

As Ahuahu would pass her whare before returning home from the sea, she always had fresh fish to eat. She knew who her real family were. Tui meanwhile was now holding hands with Hekehoru.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Fish and Kisses

Mark and Marina the mermaid - Part 6 (Story so far: Recently widowed Mark has found a Mermaid on a deserted beach that needs help. In fact they both need the other for different reasons).

We agreed to meet again one more time before Marina moved on to a safer habitat to have her baby. Somehow we had to work out from our own perspectives exactly what part of the coast we were talking about. Marina knew where she wanted to go but I had to try to turn the road maps of the state into oceanographic maps for her by describing the coastline in detail and of the contours of the land, the islands even exposed rocks, river mouths and possible wildlife that existed close by. Luckily as I knew the State well from the land we just had to say snap when we were talking about the same stretch of coastline.   

I thought at one point of asking my daughter who had an in ground salt water swimming pool in her back garden if we could use that for 9 months, but the regular cleaning of fish bones and other more dubious debris might have been a problem.

Luckily it was warmer again the next day and as Marina was itching to be on the move again I once again took a packed lunch of some filleted fish, Tommy Ruffs this time, bread rolls and some fruit for her to try. I was getting quite used to eating raw fish!

It didn’t start well as I tried to explain about the map I took to show her. I told her we were looking at it as though you were high in the sky facing down to recognise the shape of the coast and where rivers entered and where big harbours were with ships and so on. For all the brilliance at telepathy a person living in the sea doesn’t have a great concept of looking down from the clouds.

So we restarted our conversation by getting on mutually agreeable terms such as vegetation, river mouths, cliffs and water temperature. Eventually we homed in on a stretch of coast we both knew that was not near coastal towns, was a marine sanctuary, and where a conservation park on the land side had a little cove where we could meet that was close to where she felt safe. It was only about 60 miles from where I lived so it was fairly close but being a conservation park could be closed at any time in bush fire danger, and the cove was very difficult to access from land because of cliffs and with no pathways through the scrub. From Marina’s point of view it was fine although there were a few New Zealand Fur Seals in the area she said but not actually breeding but just day trippers as it were or youngsters who had lost their way. Nowhere else suited Marina who started to see the future with a bit more confidence as she pictured the location in her memory bank and decided that this was the place to have her baby.

I wasn’t so sure, as I was warmer blooded than she was and I knew the sea there was cold even in summer. There was nothing but the Southern Ocean between it and the South Pole!

“When will you know if you are pregnant?” I asked.

“Three or four weeks, but I feel sure now.”

“Is there anyone else that can help you; that you can contact?”

“I don’t think so, as there are so few of us now.”

“Will you need help with the birth?”

She shook her head, “I have done it before.”

What I didn’t say and tried not to think about when I was with her was how much happier I would be if she could be examined by a doctor or vet or whatever later on to check on the embryo to ensure it was viable.

I still had another few days at the shack and so I asked if she would make her way down to the birthing site straight away or go somewhere else.

She looked at me in my eyes and I knew she was reading my mind. So I clenched my teeth and tried to clear my mind completely and concentrated on the shape and colour of the pebbles on the beach.

I got a prod in the ribs for that. “Don’t!,” she said smiling. “I was just going to say I am not used to anyone else worrying about me so much. You do it all the time. I must manage on my own.”

“What if he or she is a human baby and not a merchild?” I asked “Or if he or she is mixed up; different from either of us?”

“Mark, stop worrying. Here is what we will do. Meet me in the cove at midday in exactly…” Here she paused and looked at her fingers, and then took hold of both of my hands and said “Three” holding her hand up, “Times all your fingers, Ten. That makes Thirty days.”

I nodded, but added “If it is a very hot day they might close access through the park so I will come every day from number 30 on until we meet. Do you agree?” and then went on, “Can we meet again here tomorrow? I have only just found you.”

“You would be a hopeless Merman, Mark. I am not used to being wanted all the time. Let us go for swim together then we will see what fish you have in your bag. You have brought some haven’t you?”

I nodded and so I picked her up and carried out into the sea and carefully put her in the water.

“Everything you do is so gentle Mark." Then she whispered faintly, "Touch me like you did the other day.”

So we played with each other in the water until the thought of that fish in my bag finally outweighed my caresses and she insisted I carry her back to shore to have our lunch.

Monday, 26 November 2012


Was it that hard, dear
To keep your promise to me
To stay together?

Where have you gone now?
Leaving me to yearn for you
That love of yours lost

In Spring you are here
When the daffodils bloom
My tears are showers

The heat of summer
Stirs the warm scent of your body
For me to yearn for

And as the Autumn 
Leaves fall you whisper to me
The wind sings your song

Was it that hard, dear
To leave me cold in Winter
And crying alone?

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Hinewai and the pakeha (No 74)

The continuing story of Ahu and Ahuahu her husband in a Maori village in Aotearoa before European settlement of New Zealand. (Missed an episode? Click on Ahu in the labels bar for previous posts.)

The purpose of the young priest’s visit to Black Sands was to ask permission to speak to the people about his god in their village. Once again Ahuahu called on Hinewai to help translate the pakeha’s words. Ahuahu assembled his village council with Hinewai by his side and the priest next to her. The young man in black slowly explained, speaking in poor Maori, what his missionary society wanted him to do.

Everyone looked blank so Hinewai said, “He wants to come to talk to us about their gods and we can talk to them here,” started Hinewai; she then continued to translate the words he spoke.

“Does he not know that we have our own gods that look after us and who we thank for providing for us and punish us when they are angry? Does he not know that our gods are all around us; when we fish at sea, when we are in the forest and when are in our homes?” said one.

“When I am in danger at sea, I cannot come back to shore and pray to him here, I am just trying to stay alive,” said another.

“If I hurt myself cutting timber in the forest I cannot rush back to sit where you have talked to us for help. I have got to staunch the bleeding there.” said a third.

The young priest felt it was getting out of control and turned to Hinewai, “Please help me, Hinewai”

She spoke up “What he wants will not be a place to get your wound fixed or to find a better way over a reef. It is a meeting place where this priest can talk to us about his god and what this god can do for us. He says his god is with us always, wherever we are.”

Hinewai then whispered to the priest “Just what do you want to say? Are there no fishermen in your book?  If there are tell us about them.”

Pastor John looked at her in gratitude, “Do you know about the book Hinewai.”

“You do not want to know about me. Just tell them about the fishermen.”

As Pastor John stood up to address them Hinewai pulled him down to sit. “It is rude to stand and talk down to people” she said.

So he sat and started again. “There is a man in my book that was a fisherman and I want to tell you about him.” He then continued as they all settled down. “A long time ago, far away, a baby boy was born and when he grew up learned to be carpenter then later as he walked by the sea and talked to the fisherman there just as I am talking to you now, he said to them ‘Put down your nets come with me and I will make you fishers of men. That man was the son of God. That is who I want to tell you all about. He gathered those fishermen to work with him to tell all the people in that country of the God that loves them.”

This time, all the village council were listening to him properly as he spoke and after each sentence Hinewai would repeat it so they understood it fully.

“This powerful God gave his only son so that whoever believed in him should have everlasting life. Just like those fishermen I am trying to do that job too. I tell everyone of this man whose name is Ihu so that by believing in the father, the God of all, your lives and your family’s lives will be better and when you die you will meet this God in heaven.”

“But you are not a fisherman said one of the men. What are you?”

“No, I am not a fisherman but I was a carpenter so I can help to build a church in this village if you let me. And if I stay perhaps you can teach me to fish.”

“I will help you fish, pakeha,” said one of the council members.

“What else did this man do?” said another.

When the members of the council heard Hinewai repeat what he said; some nodded and others asked what one or other of the examples meant. Another one said “Normally I would spear the man that looks at my wife, should I just knock his teeth out now, is that forgiveness?” And the other men laughed.

Eventually Ahuahu got to his feet, “I think we have talked enough for today pakeha priest. We get so many visitors from far away to enjoy the hot springs. I would not want our traditional visitors to see the pakeha have taken over this village. Would it not be more appropriate to talk to the village people close to the sea which would remind people of what you have just told us, that it is all about being fishers of men? Think on this and we will consider your words.”

“You may call me Pastor John, Ahuahu. May I expect your answer soon?”

“Return in a week’s time to give the council time to discuss the matter among ourselves first. Hinewai will return then too to help us understand you.”

The meeting then broke up. Pastor John left the building and called out to Hinewai as she had already left, “Hinewai, thank you for helping me; why did you do that?”

“Ahuahu asked me to; and for no other reason. I have lived with your people and I hated every one of them. You always take more than you give.”

“I do not understand.”

“You want to build a pakeha building in this village. We do not want that. We know how to build dwellings and meeting houses and stores. You think you are helping us but you are hurting and killing us and harming our way of life. Our chief Ahuahu speaks to you because he welcomes most visitors here and is trying not to offend you. He will talk with you but will always expect you to cheat the Maori people, to take what does not belong to you. I would rather you went back and said that this village is not suitable.”  

“But I am not like those that hurt and cheat you. I want to show you the good things that you can have now we are here.”

“We had what we wanted before you came, Pakeha. We did not want your pigs, or metal axes or knives, or shiny mirrors. We do not like the way you smell, we do not like the way you drink rum and get violent. We do not like the guns you have brought and exchange them for land that does not belong to you so that we kill each other with them. And we especially do not like you abusing us because we are different from you. You do not respect our gods, or our land and you take our women and use them and sell them to each other.”

“No Hinewai we do not do those things. We are establishing law and order here.”

“You know nothing, priest. Your law is for you, not for us. You do not respect us, or our own law, our land or our sacred sites. I know priest because I was sold to the white man for their use in exchange for guns so that the men that sold me could fight other villages to control them. Why do you think I can speak to you in your language? It is because I had to learn it to understand what you say. You are just as guilty as the men that bought me.”

“Hinewai, I am sorry that you have been hurt, I will pray for you.”

Hinewai laughed “I can pray to my own gods. I will pray that a tidal wave comes and wrecks your boats and floods your buildings. I will pray that the smoking mountain will erupt again and burn you with lava and destroy you utterly and every dirty pakeha that ever touched and abused me.”

With that she walked away from him.

A week later Hinewai was sent for again while she and Hatiti were visiting Horowai at the Hot Springs so she returned to the main village. Again she helped Ahuahu speak to the pakeha priest.  Pastor John found it difficult to look at Hinewai who seemed unconcerned about their previous conversation. The village council took him down to the old village that had been flooded by the tidal wave many years before. The forest had reclaimed most of the area except for the path to the sea from the new village. Ahuahu pointed to a tree shaded area and said “This is where the village council will permit you to talk to our people.”

The priest looked toward the sea and could just see the line of blue over the dunes a short walk away and then he turned and looked back up to the village and could just see the smoke of the fires and hear the laughter of children further up the hill.

He nodded the asked “Who uses this path to the beach.”

“Everyone,” was the reply. “It is our main route to the beach.”

“Most of us have our boats stowed in the dunes there” said Ahuahu pointing over to the sea where the trees reached the beach.

“It is good here,” said Pastor John, “I would be happy to build a little church here.”

Ahuahu shook his head. “We do not agree to you building here but only that you may talk to the people that want to listen to you.”

“But I will build it with help. I told you I was a carpenter that works with wood.”

Ahuahu still shook his head. “You want to talk to the village people. They will be told you will talk to them here. But we have not agreed on a building.”

“Pakeha priest, you want more than what is offered,” said another member of the village council. Others were murmuring their dissatisfaction so Hinewai translated.

“They want to know if you want a building to sleep in and bring your wife or just to store food and weapons in,” translated Hinewai. “Ahuahu has agreed to you talking to the village people. That is not enough is it? You want more.”

“But in the towns like the port at Big River we have built a church building.”

“We can tell our people that they can visit you there then.”

“Why do you try to thwart me all the time, Hinewai?”

“What do you mean thwart? I do not know this word.”

“Why do you oppose me? I mean.”

Hinewai shook her head and shrugged. “The people will come and sit on the ground here and listen to you because Ahuahu will tell them you want to talk to them. He did not say you can build a pakeha town like Big River here.” With that she walked away from him.

“Hinewai, Hinewai, please come back.”

Hinewai hesitated, turned and went back.

“I knew a pakeha man once, priest” she said. “He insisted on reading me the bible after he had taken me. But at least he did not hit me. He knew he was doing wrong so he told me about his god to atone for using me. He must have liked me as he read to me a lot.”

Pastor John lowered his eyes as Hinewai continued.

“He told me about that son of God who talked to his friends by the sea and to the hundreds of people who wanted to hear him but it was always in the open air. Why can’t you be like that? This is our land not yours. You will not be satisfied until you stolen everything from us and killed us all. There is no difference between the men that used me and you. You are trying to take something from us that we do not want to give you.”

With that she turned away from him and went to Ahuahu. “I will not speak to the pakeha priest again. He will always try to cheat us. No pakeha will ever respect our ways.”

“I agree Hinewai, we have finished here. I will talk to him.” Ahuahu beckoned the priest.

“I have changed my mind priest, while you have been talking the spirits of our tupuna who died in this village years ago have spoken to me. They will not be happy if you speak here. This is their resting place they must not be disturbed. Find another village for your preaching.” Ahuahu then turned away.

Hinewai turned to the priest “Did you understand our chief, Pakeha?”

Pastor John nodded sadly. He had just lost something that had been given him freely. He just couldn’t understand these heathen people, they were so primitive. As soon as he heard the word tupuna he knew he had been beaten. How would he explain this to the elders?

Ihu - Jesus

Tupuna - Ancestors