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


  1. I can imagine two wives are enough..if only that moment before in someone's arms lasted just a little feels like a pre-cursor to a challenge ahead..Jae

  2. Brilliant episode! Can't say better than that; won't qualify the comment with waffle.

    (Thought: Are you attempting to be the John Steinbeck of the Antipodes?)

  3. Yeah, I like the way you got 'marathon' in here. And yeah, two wives are plenty (for now) thank you!

  4. Nicely balanced and ended well too.

  5. I love these stories, Robin. There is whimsy but also the territorial politics are seeping in. I don't want their idyllic ways threatened and now I'll worry for awhile. Your stories touch me that much! Peace, Amy

  6. In that place, I would offer Ahuahu one, too.

    All around the stone are people of amiable desires, they care for the well being of the unfortunate people in the west. Imagine our differences across borders, settling in such fashion.

    I'm not sure if I ever notice the prompt word in these pieces, the tone holds it altogether, but I like the way it made its appearance here.

  7. At the moment?! Oh boy.

    Ahuahu has the makings of a great leader. Also of a great character. You do him justice.

  8. Great segment of the ongoing saga! The political aspect adds a lot to it. I like that diplomacy wins out.