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.)
It was spring again and Ahu, Hatiti and Hoata
were working in the vegetable plot. Only Aotea was with them. Moana had taken
charge of the older ones and Tangaroa and Hoata’s son Paikea had gone fishing
with their fathers. Aotea was now chewing on anything that he could fit into
his mouth which required constant vigilance in case he decimated the insect
population. He was always tottering after the other children especially Horowai
and they always cuddled up together at night.
Hatiti was talking to her step-mother Hoata
and Ahu could hear they were talking about Hinewai her sister who had been
banished from the village for unseemly conduct. Rather than join in the
conversation she told them she would return home with Aotea and see how Moana
was coping with the other children.
She need not have worried. Out in front of
their houses Moana had got the little ones to sit with her and was drawing with
a stick in the sand and telling them what she had drawn. There were other
children from the village that had joined them and everyone would shout out
what they thought she had drawn.
When Ahu reached them there was what appeared
to be a fish’s tail coming out of a wavy line in the sand. The little ones made
a sign of a wiggly fish with their hands but it was the older ones that shouted
out either “It‘s a whale” or a “A dolphin”, the latter answer coming from the
girls. Moana nodded to them.
“Yes, the dolphin is a sign of friendship and
happiness. It shows that that they and the whales are our friends and can warn
us if there are sharks close by.”
She then smoothed out the sand again and drew
a hook in the sand. Before she had finished, Hekehoru called out “Daddy” and
everyone laughed because everyone knew what a good fisherman Ahuahu was. At
this Moana leaned over and hugged Hekehoru.
“This is the fish hook and is a sign of power
and courage and she drew out a talisman that was around her neck. She showed
them the carved bone hook with its symbolic carving.
“Who else would like to draw in the sand?”
One of the onlookers, a boy put up his hand,
so Moana gave him her stick and the boy who was about six years old very
carefully drew a spiral in the sand with his tongue poking out his mouth as if
this aided his concentration.
When he was satisfied he gave the stick back
to Moana. The children looked at the spiral and some thought it was a snail or
a sea snake. One even thought it might be seaweed. At this Ahu laughed and
Horowai looked up at her and said “Auntie, do you know what it is? “
“Yes, but Moana should tell you.”
Moana nodded with a smile “For me it is a
spiral, like a fern unfurling for the first time. It means new life. It is a
very special symbol for us. Is that what you have drawn Rapata?”
The boy Rapata nodded then said “My mother
says it is called a Koru. She has one carved out of greenstone.”
Ahu then went inside their house, and heard
Moana gradually break up the gathering of children to send them home. She came
in a few minutes later with Hekehoru and Horowai. The little ones immediately
got down on the floor to play with Aotea who was crawling and shuffling around
by himself on all fours. Moana then went up to Ahu and hugged her and rubbed
noses with her. “I am so happy here Ahu. I can feel you all loving me.”
Ahu wrapped her arms around her and then said
quietly. “Do not try to hurry into marriage until you have enjoyed life a
little first. When you are married it will be hard work regardless of the love
you have for your husband. We are so glad you are settling down and not
so wild any more.”
Moana shook her head and grinned shyly at Ahu.
Ahu continued, “I have seen many wives who
cry a lot now despite having wanted to be married. Has not Hatiti told of her sister Hinewai who really was a wild one? She wanted to marry so much but was beaten by her first husband.
Marriage can be very hard. You are safe
here, and have become respected. I do not want you to look back later on your
time with us wishing for it to return.”
They could say no more as Hatiti had returned
and could be heard washing her feet outside. Horowai left the others on the
floor and ran out to meet her mother.
Later that evening as Ahuahu was talking to
the children before they went to sleep Hatiti spoke to Ahu.
“Ahu, as you are Ahuahu’s first wife I must
tell you that I am with child as I have missed my monthly cycle.”
“I hoped you would be, as I too am with
child again,” replied Ahu, “I cannot believe this one will be my fourth.” She paused
and then placing her hand on Hatiti’s belly she said. “I wonder if they will
Hatiti grinned. “I think we should clean up
Ahuahu’s face of hairs tomorrow. You can sit on him while I pluck them out.”
“That can be our present for him, for what he
has given us.” laughed Ahu.
The two women were still laughing when Ahuahu
returned to sit with them.
Note: Many Pacific
islander men were not all that hirsute on their faces and would have the hairs plucked
out or shaved off with sharp shells.