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.)
Both Ahu and Hatiti spoke to Ahuahu about Moana whilst she was playing with Tangaroa and the other children from the village in front of the houses. As they watched she seemed so young to for them to be talking about her fondness for the chief’s son Paikea and how she should be looked after now that she lived with them.
Ahuahu listened to the women talk and when they looked to him he was playing a hand game with Hekehoru who was on his lap. The women too had their babies with them, Hatiti was holding Aotea Ahu’s son who she had breast fed and Ahu was playing with Horowai Hatiti’s little girl. Ahu said, “Did you not want to discuss this?”
He lifted his face to theirs and smiled. “What you have learned I had already worked out. Paikea and Moana could not stop looking at each other when we returned the other day. The chief wanted to have her with him …to help his wives I expect, until I told him they were already looking at each other. As you say she will have to work very hard to catch his eye again with his father looking on and his mother and aunts checking her suitability. However despite what she says about not wanting to go to the village where the Kakas call. I think one of us should take her there to see her mother.”
Both women then shook their heads. “She does not want to be sent back there, Ahuahu.” protested Hatiti.
“She will not be sent back, Hatiti. She will visit her mother to assure her she is safe with us and that she has a home and work to do here. It will also help to show that she is becoming a responsible woman as you will persist in matchmaking.”
The two women agreed that he was right. They then started to discuss who should accompany her. In the end Ahu said it would be best that she went.
“Hatiti has never been there and is still feeding Aotea and I can see Ahuahu does not want to as Moana’s mother may not like the way that would look. We will tell Moana tonight and prepare to be at least two nights away.”
Hatiti then said “Look at the way Moana and Tangaroa play together they look so happy. Why couldn’t she stay young a little while longer?”
“Are you thinking of Hinewai, Hatiti?” asked Ahu.
Hatiti nodded sadly “Moana reminds me of her before she became a woman.”
Later that evening they told Moana of their decision. She protested at first but in the end she could see that it was a sensible thing for her to do.
“I will try to remember the way to get there.” said Ahu. “I only ever went there once when I was child it will be a bit of a search for us.”
“It is alright Ahu, I remember.” said Moana quietly.
“Oh Moana not another little lie, how many more are there?” asked Hatiti.
With tears in her eyes Moana said in a very small voice, “I think that is the last one.”
Ahu and Moana were gone early the next day. As it was still winter they had had cloaks on and carried baskets with food and knives, some dry firewood and moss for the journey and a present for Moana’s mother.
It was cold and windy but was not raining so they set a brisk pace heading west into the high country. They had long passed the Ngerengrere settlement and climbed higher still surrounded by an endless vista of ferns when Ahu said that they should stop for a meal as it was past midday even though they could not see the sun.
“Do you remember where we are Moana?”
“Yes, I think we may get there by nightfall but we may have to sleep out if it gets dark quickly.”
“Yes, we should stop well before dark as it is so cloudy in order to make camp and try to light a fire Moana.” replied Ahu.
They had just reached the edge of a tall forest when Ahu decided that they travelled far enough. They walked into the forest and made an encampment under a large tree clearing the ground and when Ahu had sent Moana off to find water she set about using the sticks and the string to start a fire. She extracted the dry moss from a package and placed it in a wooden dish. She then set up her fire making equipment and started to twirl the dry sticks in the little depression in the dish. Moana returned a little later with some water in some little bowls just as Ahu was teasing the dried moss into the centre to try to catch a spark. It took some time but eventually the sparks caught the moss and the dry leaves that Moana carefully placed in the bowl. Gradually the flames were fed with twigs and the fire was tipped onto the place prepared on the ground and it took hold.
After they had eaten their food and drunk the water from the stream Ahu decided they should sleep straight away with one cloak on the ground and one to cover them.
“We should be safe, Moana. So come under the cloak with me and we will keep warm.”
She wrapped her arms around Moana’s little body and said “Do you want to talk?”
Moana nestled into Ahu’s body and felt her warmth. “Ahu, tell me about men.”
“Yes, tell me what it is like to be with a man. I want to, but confess I do not know what to expect. I look at Paikea and I want him to touch me but do not know what will happen if he ever does.”
“Don’t hurry your life away, Moana. You are at an age now that you have started to feel differently, it is exciting and there will be laughter but there will be tears also. If I tell you now what I like, when you talk to Hatiti she may tell you something different. Both Hatiti and I love Ahuahu because he is a gentle man who treats us with care and consideration but we do not discuss details with the other. He is strong too but does not ever hurt us and is a good father. Do you want your husband to be gentle and to make you feel safe? “
“Yes, Ahu, and I want Ahuahu to be like a father to me now that mine has been killed in the fighting.”
“Just remember that the boys you meet may be just as worried as you when you are first alone together but then there are others that will not care. But do not expect him to behave as Ahuahu may do with me. You will know what makes you happy when it happens, when it does tell him so. Now try to sleep.”