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
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.