Sunday, 29 April 2012

How Ahu was orphaned

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.)

Note in this episode we tell of Ahu’s early childhood. All the family are gathered together and even Moana is home with them too. Ahuahu narrates the story on this cold and wintry night. 


Ahu could not remember her mother’s or her father’s names only that they lived just outside the Village of Gannet Island to the north or perhaps that is what she had been told. Her father was a fisherman as most men were and her mother had come from Rocky Outcrop long before the fighting and enmity had started between the two villages.

Because he had not yet had a son her father treated Ahu as if she were a boy and insisted he take her fishing. Her mother said that as Ahu was only about five years old said she would always come too. Her father was not a kind man and would scoff at his wife that she came from a village where the fishing was poor. She said nothing as she felt alone now and shamed that she had been given away to marry this man from the south and hurt that he did not cherish her. She had given him a girl child, but a boy child would not come for him to boast about. So she mostly kept her mouth shut except when she and Ahu were together.

Ahu’s mother loved Ahu tenderly and would wrap her up in her arms and talked to her of the birds and the insects and of the plants and the secrets of the forest that had been her home. Ahu listened but the words were but songs of love to her as she nestled into her mother’s warm body and she often fell asleep in this way.

It was springtime and Ahu’s father wanted to take the boat across to Gannet Island and for him to fish while his wife and Ahu would search for birds’ eggs to take home. There were thousands of birds on the island not only gannets but terns and silver gulls and even the larger pacific gulls as well. Then there were sea eagles and the osprey that did not live there but came to pick up chicks and steal the eggs too. After they had been put ashore, Ahu and her mother walked up and down by the side of the nesting birds’ not threatening or stealing eggs but just getting the birds used to them being there. Every now and then they would sit on the guano covered rocks and talk but not keeping still but moving slightly so the birds knew they were still there and formed part of their environment.

After they had been there for about an hour they walked slowly by the nesting birds and when a scrape of pebbles had been temporarily abandoned by a bird they took the exposed egg and hid it away in the bags they were carrying and sat down again as though they were not the robbers. By early afternoon they had collected enough eggs and apart from a few pecks and scratches they were unharmed. Ahu remembered her mother saying “Even if you have to steal do it with love” she then smiled at Ahu and said reassuringly, “They will know there is still yet time for them to lay more eggs”. She then turned to Ahu and said, “Whatever you do in your life do it with love and the gods with look on you with kindness.”

They got back to the sheltered cove where they were to meet her father and saw him slowly paddle his way toward them. The tide had turned and the wind had risen and both Ahu’s and her mother’s hair streamed out from their heads with the storm approaching. With much difficulty her father came close to the rocks where they waited and he shouted at them as they scrambled aboard breaking a few eggs as they did so. Her father cursed the unruly sea while Ahu prayed that they would be safe and slowly they made their way off shore again to navigate around the island and back to the mainland beach.

Out of the lee of the island the waves were high and the wind blew relentlessly and they were at the mercy of the waves despite both her parents paddling furiously to get away. It was no use, the wind and the tide threw them back on to the island’s rocks and the canoe was overturned. Ahu was still grasping her bag of eggs when she was thrown overboard and went under then bobbed to the surface again gasping for breath and swimming as best she could towards the rocks. Luckily she was tossed between two large boulders into a pool of water behind them and was able to scramble to safety out of the reach of the waves. As soon as she could get to her feet she turned and looked back to find her parents but there was no sign of them or of the canoe either in the wind tossed waves.

She found her way to a higher point on the island facing the shore and searched long for them or for any other canoes on the water but there were none. So as the day darkened, soaking wet and frightened she had to stay all night on the island and hid under a rock with only the wet tussock grass to lie on. She was found the next morning by some men from the village. She was then taken to her aunts; her father’s sisters who then had the responsibility of looking after as she was now an orphan and called feeding child, unwanted.

For all the hardships and unfriendliness of her aunts and cousins she never forgot her mothers words, “Whatever you do in your life do it with love and the gods with look on you with kindness.”

When she became of marriageable age Ahu was told that she should marry and no longer be a burden to her relatives. They had chosen Ahuahu for her who was another orphan in the village who came from an island far, far away. She was scared but for her it was the first day of her new life.

Feeding child - Is a term used to describe a child orphaned or abandoned and in the care of relatives and thus a burden to them.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Just when things could get no better

I loved you for so long 
And now it’s all a bloody mess 
I will miss you though 
Will you too? 

I loved that kinky smile 
As we met in secret and you held me tight 
I will miss you though 
Will you too? 

I loved that tender kiss of yours 
And the scent of your auburn hair 
I will miss you though 
Will you too? 

We never made any plans 
There was no need for that 
When every word was 
A tender loving touch 

How was it that your man 
Found out and wrote my wife a letter? 
I will miss you though 
Will you too?

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Ahuahu and the delegation (No 49)

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.)

Ahu and Ahuahu discussed the meeting with the chief that night. Moana was so excited that she wanted to talk to them too even though they had already said goodnight to all the children and Ahuahu had briefly told Hatiti what had happened holding her tenderly and combing her hair before he returned to Ahu to discuss their meeting with the chief.

“Did Moana and Paikea speak to each other?”

Ahu nodded, “They first had to rub noses again and hugged each other. Then he asked her if she would sing to him as he had heard that she had done this on the fishing boat. She refused saying that there would be too many fish washed up on the shore if she did that and laughed at him when he believed her. Moana has achieved her goal in being acceptable to the chief and his wives. It is up to her now, we must not interfere. But tell me husband what do you really think about the Rocky Outcrop people will they want to come this far and take land from us?”

“I do not think so Ahu. They have stretched their territory to far more than a day’s journey. They cannot defend that without having Black Sands as a friendly neighbour. They need to talk to us. For years when we were at Gannet Island we enjoyed the abundance of fish but the village council there were foolish as they thought that they could defend their territory by aggression rather than negotiation, now they are no more. We must be wiser than that. Sleep now Ahu and be happy in my arms, our children are safe here.”

Two days later Moana told them that she had again found the black rock on the hill in the wooded area overlooking the bays to the north of them. The ruanuku or sage had performed a ceremony there to describe the limits of the Black Sands community. Later the Village chief instructed him to do the same to the limits of their territory to the south half way to the Big River estuary and to the west before the sacred mountains.

It was barely a day after this when the delegation from Rocky outcrop came to discuss their occupation of the Gannet Island land. Ahuahu sat with the other members of the village council and welcomed the visitors. They put down their traditional weapons as they entered the meeting place and formally rubbed noses and the sat down in a circle. The Black Sands chief started the proceedings with a lengthy and formal address offering his hospitality and that of his village and inviting them to visit the Hot Springs now that they were there.

A ceremonial drink was offered and this was passed round for all to partake. Then the lengthy talking in riddles from both sides commenced. Would the village at Gannet Island be rebuilt? Did they need help? Was the Black Sands village visited by the pakeha? How did they repel them? Eventually the extent of territories was brought up. The men from Rocky outcrop laid claim to the bays where the whale was caught. This was countered by the fact that these bays were more accessible from Black Sands. Thereupon the men from the north said that on a clear day they could see the headland with the bays below from Gannet Island so it was rightfully theirs. This was laughed off by one of the Black Sands men when he said that Gannet Island could be seen from their beach on a very clear day too so perhaps that island belonged to them. There was much grumbling at this and the Black Sands chief finally said there was an ancient black rock marker to indicate the extent of their territory to the north which had been placed there many years ago. The fact that it was black indicated that their village had placed it there.

This in turn was disputed and Ahuahu reluctantly raised his hand to speak. “That stone has a great significance for our village for directly to the west of that stone far inland where the sun sets in the foothills of the sacred mountains, is the Ngerengere settlement. Black Sands has always taken responsibility to care for these people afflicted by leprosy. By extending your territory south of that black rock would you take that responsibility from us?”

There was immediate huddle by the men from Rocky outcrop and after many minutes of private discussion their chief spoke again. ”We agree that if you continue to take responsibility for the ngerengere people the black rock will continue to be division of our lands extending to the west from the sea to that settlement. We will visit this rock with you guidance to formally make this our pact.”

With that the business of the meeting was finally finished. Again the chief of the Black Sands village invited them to visit the hot springs but with less enthusiasm after such a marathon discussion.

“We would gladly take up that offer on less formal occasion,” replied the Rocky Outcrop chief who then turned to Ahuahu. “Were you not from Gannet Island yourself? We have a young man Torangi who is now with us that tells of a man named Ahuahu who was a fine fisherman there. He said that like you he had a scar on his face.”

“Torangi is a common name but yes I do remember him. I hope he is a good fisherman for your village too. He knows the waters of Gannet Island well.”

With that the men from Rocky outcrop were gone. The village chief beckoned to Ahuahu. “Is what you said true that the Ngerengere village is on a line west of the black rock?”

Ahuahu smiled. “Who knows what the gods decide? I have not yet seen that black stone for myself and the ngerengere settlement must be half a day’s walk from the coast even if you could travel a straight line through that impenetrable forest.”

“But now we have to look after the ngerengere.”

“Talk to the women of our village, they already do this, and even if they didn’t it is a small price to pay to stay at peace with the men from the north. They do not need those bays of ours now they have the riches at Gannet Island. They were just testing our resolve. They backed down when they heard about the ngerengere, and thought it would be better to have friendly neighbours.”

“If I had marriageable daughters Ahuahu I would offer you one.”

Ahuahu laughed. “Two wives are enough for me at the moment.”

ngerengere - leper

Wednesday, 18 April 2012


I think it's over

I say, no more dependence

I say, we beak up

You say, it is not

Your calm eyes belligerent

Your hand touches my hair

We kept this up long

We knew no break up is easy

We still love each other

I squirm as you speak

You weep sad tears of regret

We kiss and make up

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Moana reveals the whereabouts of a black rock (No 48)

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.)

Ahu had primed Moana on how she should act when they were visiting the chief and his family assuming it was a matter that affected the village. When they arrived the men greeted each other first and the women did likewise, and then the men and the women. Moana was regarded equally and with the entire nose rubbing she looked forward to greeting Paikea the most. As instructed she lowered her eyes but when they rubbed noses, Paikea whispered “I wanted to see you again.” Moana blushed but said nothing and sat with the women.

Ahu and the chief’s wives noted her behaviour and nodded with approval.

“We will eat then talk” said the chief. During the meal there was much discussion of fishing and the vegetable gardens and the chief said “I hear you are catching more than you expected with the bait you are using Ahu.” referring to Moana singing on their boat.

“Yes we catch the fish but too much small fry and rubbish as well that we don’t need.”

The chief roared with laughter. Then his face then turned serious. “When we have finished the meal I need to talk to you about Gannet Island village as we have had a message from village council at Rocky Outcrop that they want to discuss the boundaries between our lands.”

“It is many years since Ahu and I were at Gannet Island. I do not think we had an agreed boundary between Black Sands and Gannet Island. We were never short of food there.”

At this the chief shook his head, “No, I do not need to question only you but Moana; she may know more. Young Paikea said she claimed to have big ears. I want her to talk to us with Ahu in the room so she can feel relaxed.”

And so it was that the Chief, Ahuahu, Ahu and Moana sat together. Paikea was also in the room and sat just behind his father. They first discussed how the men from Rocky outcrop had taken over the Gannet Island village. Moana said not a word when she heard that was indeed what had happened but just looked sadly at Ahu.

“What do you think they will do Ahuahu?” asked the chief.

“They have wanted to have the wealth of the fishing grounds around Gannet Island for years, now they have them, and there is no threat from the men in the old village who have now either been killed or have fled. They will be content for a while. But they have an insatiable hunger for power. They achieve this through threats and bullying. We must show them that there is some sign of our ownership of the land to north as far as or further than the bays where we caught the whale otherwise they will soon be sitting on our black sand beaches.”

“I hoped you would not be so blunt, Ahuahu.” Then turning to Ahu; “How far south did the women’s business take you when you lived there?”

“It was not far from the Village certainly no further than the hill where there is an old stone pit. But I do not remember there ever having a dispute with the Black Sands village.” Ahu replied “There was never any cause for that.”

They then looked at Moana.

“Moana, what can you tell us about the land between the two villages?”

“My mother and father never considered that there was a fixed boundary. However I know there is a black rock high on the hill above the bay where the whale was caught. I rested there for two nights after I had escaped from Gannet Island. There are no other stones like it around. It is off the beaten track. It may be significant.”

The chief smiled, “Yes I heard that you were watching us. If it is a stone that has travelled it could be a marker that this village would have placed there to show the extent of our land. Who else but the old people of Black Sands would have placed it there many years ago?”

Paikea now spoke “We should fight more often to better know our property.”

The chief shook his head sadly, “We are trying to avoid fighting Paikea. Why do the young think that fighting is honourable when so much sadness comes out of it? We fought the earthquake, we are punished by the winds and we battle the sea daily, then there is the pakeha. Surely that is enough. We fight only when have to.”

Ahuahu then spoke again. “Those bays under that hilltop where the whale was caught are more easily reached from our village. This is proof enough that they belonged to our village.” The Chief grunted in agreement.

“Moana” said the chief “I need you to show one of my men where this stone is. He will take a holy man with you to reaffirm our claim to that boundary. We will have evidence then for the council of chiefs should there be a dispute. Do you think you can find it?” Moana nodded in reply.

“Father, may I go too?” asked Paikea.

“No, boy you might kill someone!” the chief said laughing then seeing Paikea’s hurt face added. “Go take a walk with Ahu and Moana while I discuss another matter with Ahuahu.

The two men were left alone. Ahuahu looked at the chief in anticipation.

“Paikea and Moana may now speak to each other but they must be accompanied. I have had good reports about her and I like her she will be a valuable asset to our family. They are yet still too young though,” Then he added with a grin, “Especially Paikea.”

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Blow, blow thou winter wind

In Australia as winter approaches even I have my problems but mainly with old age and forgetfulness.

I hate the winter

The ice, the rain, that cold draft

From under the door

Sitting frustrated

I must locate the source now

For me it is war

One more sweater on

And now fill the kettle up

To make a hot drink

I see the problem

Slam that stupid back door shut

Ah! Serenity

Sunday, 8 April 2012

An invitation to eat with the Head man (No 47)

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 did as she was told and worked hard to be accepted in the village community. Although she sometimes went fishing with Ahuahu and Kamaka again, word soon got around and the other fishermen would always try to fish near them.

Ahu and Hatiti took her with all the children to the Hot Springs to visit Hatiti’s relatives from her first marriage but Hatiti was so overcome with sadness that they did not stay long. It was not long after this Moana befriended the old widow Hirini and started taking her to the Hot Springs to bathe. She had to walk at the old woman’s pace instead of dashing about as she would normally do. The old woman taught Moana to cook food in the hottest springs by dangling a pot on the end of a rod and immersing it in the near boiling water.

She also looked after Ahu and Hatiti’s young children while the two mothers were working in the vegetable plots or gathering vines and leaves from the forest and at other times she would accompany Hoata, Kamaka’s wife to help her on the Taro plot too.

If she ever looked on the young men in the village no one could vouch for it as her eyes were always looking down when they were close.

At their evening meal one day Moana could not contain her frustration. “I have been here for more than two moons now and not yet set eyes on Paikea, Ahu.”

“No, but that is good, Moana. You have not seen him because you have been busy but I expect he has seen you.”

“It is possible you will see him soon.” said Ahuahu. I have been invited to discuss some matters with the chief regarding the village at Gannet Island. He would like you there too as you may be able to tell him more about the Gannet Island village. Ahu will come with us and you both will sit with the women to answer any queries he has.” Moana nodded her head in agreement but her heart beat faster at the thought she would see Paikea in his home. This was a treat she had been waiting for.

Later Ahu spoke to Ahuahu. “Hatiti may feel left out if Moana and I accompany you to the chief’s house. Be with her for the next few nights to show her how important she is. So for the next three nights Hatiti had Ahuahu all to herself. “Surely husband, I will have your child now.” She said after Ahuahu had woken her in the middle of the night to make love to her again.

“I love the fullness of your body, Hatiti, the way your eyes show me you love me, the way your lips are so full with words of love and your breasts so full of the nourishment for our children. I love it when you wear that white tipped feather in your hair, when I see that as I come home I know I can always rely on your love.”

Hatiti was very happy with Ahuahu and how he had spoken to her in this way, she knew she loved him now even more than Kaihutu her first husband and did not mind that she would not be going to the chief’s house. When she awoke the next morning she felt her belly and prayed to Papatuanuku, “Mother of all, bring me a child for Ahuahu.”

Ahuahu still drowsy from sleep heard her and whispered as he stroked her fondly, “She will, she will, my wife.” And Hatiti cried openly for joy as she lay her head on his chest and held him tight.

Papatuanuku – female goddess

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

My Gripe

Oh forget the hype
One thing that makes me growl
Is politicians

I wish I could wipe
The grins from their faces foul
As they prance about

And pick the fruit so ripe
To fill their own secret bowl
And all justified!