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 was still sleeping but Hatiti was already stirring and fetching the little ones to feed them as Ahu busied herself outside.
“We are so lucky to have the two houses next to each other perhaps we could join them together, Hatiti. Would you agree with that, as the other one is really the house that was built for you to live in?”
“I have never thought of it as my house, but our houses. Of course it would be a good idea to link the two. But let us not talk about that; tell me about Moana; should we be concerned that she lives with us now as she is almost a woman?”
“Let me tell you what Ahuahu told me last night Hatiti, before Moana wakes. Come we will sit outside.”
Ahu told Hatiti about young Moana the wild little girl now growing into a woman who had lived in Ahu’s old village at Gannet Island. She had run away from the conflict between to the two villages to their north with the encouragement of Ahuahu who had advised their village chief of her background. When Ahu told Hatiti about Moana’s eye on the chief’s son Paikea, Hatiti laughed out loud causing the baby at her breast to cry with surprise and both women giggled with the thought of this little 13 year old from a different village should aim so high. Then Ahu explained that Paikea himself was smitten.
“It is not surprising that the chief did not permit her to stay with them then.”
With that Moana came out to greet them. “Is it that late, Ahu?’ she said looking at the sky, “I must have needed that sleep.”
“Come and sit, Moana. Tell us your story and why you have come here. Ahuahu told me there has been more fighting. What has happened to your family? Do they know that you have come here?”
Ahu knew her father had been killed and that her mother had fled with the younger children but she needed Moana to tell the story again in case there was more that Ahuahu should know and to check if Moana was being truthful.
Moana recounted the tale exactly as she had told Ahuahu.
“Where do you think your mother has gone? Do you think she is safe with your brothers and sisters?”
“Did you know that my mother and Hi’ilei’s wife Kiri were related? The only place that she may have gone is a village beyond the mountains to the west. I think that is where Kiri went with her children, back to her family but I do not know where that is.”
“Does she know that you have come here?”
Moana shook her head, “She left before I did but she knew that I would not go with her, but look for you, Ahu.”
“And Ahuahu you mean?”
Moana was silent for a moment but then with her head bowed she said “You and Ahuahu escaped from the village. It was not a good place to live with the threat of fighting all the time. I wanted to feel safe and happy too. I will help you Ahu.”
“Don’t you think you would have been a help by going with your mother and the children? If you could not do that why will working for me and Hatiti be better? Life is not a game anymore Moana, you will soon be a woman but you must gain respect by your actions before good things happen for you.”
Moana hung her head and she rocked as the tears flowed. Hatiti went over to her and put her arms around her. “Moana you do not know me I am Hatiti, Ahuahu’s wife too. Every life is filled with both joy and sadness. At the moment people here will look on you with doubt when they find out you left your mother when she was in danger. We will teach you how to be a good wife and mother. Life is exciting enough as it is without tempting fate by rash actions.”
Ahu nodded, “Do you want to stay here with us to find out how you can be a useful member of the village or should Ahuahu arrange to take you back up to mother’s village where the kakas call?”
Moana looked up immediately “How did you know the village where my mother came from?” She then burst out crying again. “Please may I stay here, I will be good and help. Please Ahu, please Hatiti.”
“First you need to wash yourself; you do not even smell like a woman but like a fungus. Next you must never lie to any of us again, in this house we only speak the truth and say it with love.”
“Ahu, I have a confession. I spoke to Ahuahu at Gannet Island because I had seen Paikea with Ahuahu in our village. I could have escaped with my mother but I came here instead.”
“Doesn’t it feel good to tell the truth, Moana? We love you even more now.”
“We cannot promise anything Moana, said Hatiti, whose arm was still wrapped around her. “But we will show you how best to win Paikea, but it cannot be done by throwing yourself at him as he will just walk all over you, use you and never marry you. You must been seen to be discreet and show respect especially to his mother and father. They are the ones to be impressed.”
Then Ahu spoke. “Remember Moana, his parents are looking all the time to make matches for their children. You must be strong and respectful and worthy of their desires. But they are traditional they do not want to see a modern girl flaunting herself in front of their son. They will want to see you working in the Taro plot, they will see you looking after ours and other children or even going fishing with Ahuahu. When they look at you your eyes will be lowered and they will only ever hear good of your name. In that way everything you want could be yours.”