Friday, 29 June 2012

Ahu and Hatiti’s new babies (no 53)

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.)

The first rains of winter had come and both Ahu and Hatiti were heavily pregnant and uncomfortable. Moana quite willingly did much of the work in their home and was very interested in talking to the two mothers on how they felt. She had been allowed to listen to the unborn babies’ heartbeats when she laid her head on their tummies and she squealed with delight when she felt the babies move under her hand. She also combed the two women’s hair for them.

“Have you chosen names for the babies” she asked.

“Until the baby is born I will not suggest a name“, said Ahu. “I do not want the little one think he is a girl if I choose a girls name or a boy if I choose a girls name, so for the moment I call it little fish, because it wriggles so much. Hatiti has given hers a different name.”

Hatiti smiled “I call mine little shrimp, because I can imagine it all curled up happy inside me and that is what I called Horowai when I carried her too. I sometimes think of this baby as a Koru too, like a fern unfolding as it grows to become a baby. Do you want lots of babies Moana or do you just want to belong to Paikea first?”

“I know babies will come but I cannot imagine being a mother for a long time. Is that wrong?”

“No, no” both the mothers said at once. “First when you are married” said Ahu, “You have to discover each other, to explore and praise and hold onto and not let go until you think you are both the same person. Babies will come when they want to.”

Hatiti nodded as she stretched her body to get more comfortable “It is so good to hold on to someone and to please them and for them to please you. But remember not everyone has this. And it does not come straight away. Babies are beautiful but first you must make sure your husband only looks at you, the more he looks on you the more babies will come along.” 

“How do you bear to share Ahuahu with each other? I do not ever want to share Paikea with anyone.”

Ahu smiled and answered “Nor did I but the time may come when your husband could start to look on other women and perhaps choose one you do not like. Hatiti knows I chose her because we were so much alike and I knew she wanted him so much after he saved her. Ahuahu is very happy with her.” Ahu giggled a little “and we are both very happy with him. He loves us especially now we are both giving him more children, He is very proud of us...”

Hatiti interrupted, “Moana, run to Hoata and the other women I must go for a walk, my baby is coming.”

“I will walk down to the trees with you Hatiti; I will bring a tapa cloth to cover us as it is still raining outside,” said Ahu.

Moana had by this time disappeared and the women walked slowly in the rain through the village. Hatiti’s baby was not long in coming and just as the midwives arrived she was pushing down and the baby’s head had appeared. She gave a few more pushes and a little boy appeared looking very cross that he had been evicted from his nest and bawled lustily over the sound of the rain.

No sooner had she and baby been cleaned up when Ahu now said “It looks as though our work has not finished for the day” and found a sheltered spot and draped the tapa cloth over her head and squatted down.

Hatiti turned and called out “But Ahu, I wanted to be with you.”

Biting her lip as the contractions strengthened. Ahu shook her head “Go home Hatiti I will be there soon. Ahuahu will be very pleased with your son.”

The other women crowded around Ahu as Moana helped Hatiti get back home.

The rain continued and when they reached their house Moana said to the children “Hatiti has had a little boy. Now Tangaroa, for the moment take the other children around to Kamaka and tell him what is happening so we can prepare for Ahu to come home too. We will fetch you when they are both back here then you can see the babies.”

Tangaroa grabbed hold of Horowai’s hand and called the others to take them out of the house. But first he looked at Hatiti and smiled at her as she was wrapping the baby up and she returned his smile and said, “I know you will always look after Horowai for me.”.

Within an hour or so Ahu was also back with her little bundle. Ahuahu had also returned and was speaking to Hatiti when Ahu came through the door with Hoata both soaking wet and said as soon as she arrived “Had it been a boy I was going to call him Iorangi.”

Hatiti laughed “With all the rain we have had to day that would have been good name. If mine had been a girl I was going to call her Hoku. Just as well as there will be no stars out tonight.”

“Ahuahu, go fetch the children now while Hoata helps us to prepare our babies.”

Then just as he was leaving she said “Ahuahu, husband we have given you six children to build your family, we thank you for all the love you have shown us.”

“The gods have blessed us again my beautiful wives, you have both made me very proud.” He went back to each of them and in turn and placed his hand on their cheeks and looked into their eyes but said no more before he left the house.” Hatiti bit her lip as she knew he should not have touched her as she was tapu so soon after childbirth, but Ahu saw her worried look and merely said “It is all right, he has done no wrong and Hoata is here.”

The two new mothers then noticed that Hoata was crying. She wiped the tears from her eyes with the back of her hand and said “There is so much love in this home.

Iorangi   -   Rain

Hoku    -    Little star

Tapu     -   Taboo, forbidden

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

The Picnic

I could never understand
The logic of eating “en plein air”
A habit for which I had no care

My little heart would fall
When each event was planned and
Preparations made and put in hand

All but me were so excited
As hampers filled with food and drink
And even Dad would nod and wink

The trip was hell as discomfort reigned
Brother and sister jumped and played
In the car as I sat dismayed

And when we found the spot to sit
Far from home and comfort’s bliss
I would more and more my teddy miss

Parents sat and children scattered
But soon this changed as did the weather
As ants attacked and wasps did gather

Our food was clearly the attraction
As crawling emetts were pulverized
And wasps were flicked away from eyes

The clouds that up to now had taunted
Now let loose their fury wild
And Mum was no longer mild

With hasty packing we left the field of dreams
And turned my day from a nightmare
To head for home without one care

And when that night with Teddy tucked
Picnics I prayed from me please keep
and slept a night of blissful sleep

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Moana's Discovery (No 52)

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.)

One day Moana approached Ahu and Hatiti who were discussing babies and what they would call theirs when they were born. Moana listened to them quietly for a little while and when there was a lull in the talk she blurted out “Why do neither you nor Hatiti have a moko on your chin when so many other wives do?”

Ahu looked at Moana and sensing there was more to it than a simple question responded “Do you ask because you would like one yourself and feel that a future wife of a chief’s son should have one?”

Moana just nodded in reply.

“About a  year after I had Tangaroa I thought that I might have one done and both Hoata and I discussed it then,” Ahu said, “but when I found out that Hoata was to have one done because Kamaka, wanted her to look more like his first wife, Hatiti’s mother, it did not seem so important. I discussed it with Ahuahu and he said that in the islands where he came from not many women had a moko on their chin so that I could decide for myself. However he did say he would rather my lips were not coloured. What do you think Hatiti?”

“When Horowai was born,” Hatiti began, “I talked with Kaihutu my first husband about having a moko but as he died so soon afterwards it did not seem appropriate anymore. Now that I live with Ahu and Ahuahu I know the moko is not an important symbol for this family. She then said shyly “My lips are full enough without having a dye pricked into them to make them look fuller. Perhaps Ahu and I will discuss this again with Ahuahu, but have you not noticed his face does not have a tattoo either but that his legs do.”

Then Ahu nodded then asked “Does Paikea want you to have a moko, Moana?”

Moana agreed, “His mother and his aunts have them so he thought that I should have one too.”

“Moana, what is it that you think of when you see me or Ahuahu? What is special about Hatiti or even your mother Hauku?”

Moana glanced back at Ahu and shook her head. “I do not know Ahu.”

“Alright then” continued Ahu, “What is special about Ahuahu?”

Moana shook her head again “I still do not know, Ahu.”

“We are all different. We behave differently, we don’t do the same things as others, we love more intensely, we are strong and when we are together we are very strong indeed. Ahuahu came from over the ocean he was not born in Aotearoa but came here as a child.”

“Did you know Ahuahu saved many people from the village here when the Volcano erupted; he made a decision to take us to higher ground so we were not affected by the tidal wave that destroyed the village. Sadly Hatiti had returned here with her father too soon and was nearly killed but Ahuahu saved her when we all thought she had died and were already mourning for her. She loved Ahuahu from that day on and when she did marry but lost her husband shortly after Horowai was born I brought her back to live with us. I chose Hatiti for Ahuahu as it was better that we should all love each other. Ahuahu saved her life and deep inside knew that meant he was responsible for her. If you want to be a strong woman you must make decisions for yourself. You showed that strength by coming to Black Sands but now that you are here you must stay strong and make up your own mind, and not agree to what others say you should do, but decide for yourself.”

“Why is my mother Hauku different, Ahu?”

“She saved her family when the fighting occurred at Gannet Island and your father was killed. She did not stay but fled to her own Village where the Kakas call and chose to help Torangi a widower there who now looks after her. You had told her that you would search for Ahuahu and she trusted you to do that. She was strong and thought that you were too. Who knows what would have happened to you both had she not been strong.”

Moana nodded “You mean that my love for Paikea must make me stronger not weaker.”

“Yes, that is right Moana. You must discover that you are no less of a woman when you marry. You need to be strong, very strong. Why do you think that you are allowed to see Paikea? It is because his father thinks you are strong and worthy, do not let him down.”

With that Moana smiled and said, “Yes, I will make up my own mind and be strong, this is a wonderful discovery. I think I will go down to the beach  to see if Ahuahu has returned.”

When Ahu and Hatiti were alone with the little ones Hatiti said “you have not mentioned Moana’s mother Hauku’s new husband before or said that his name was Torangi. Is that Hinewai’s husband?”

“Hinewai left him Hatiti, I did not want to hurt you by telling you that they are not together anymore. I told Ahuahu but he said that Kamaka your father already had told him that this would happen. I am sorry his name slipped out.”

Hatiti then said “When you said we were all strong I did not put myself with you and Ahuahu. But you are right Ahu I am strong and I love fiercely, especially you and Ahuahu. Now that I know that Hinewai has left him, I feel it is better for them both. Would you have told me eventually?”

“Yes, once Kamaka mentioned Hinewai again, Ahuahu was going to tell him that he had heard Torangi was by himself now. If you like, talk to Ahuahu so he knows we have discussed it.”

“No, Ahu we can talk about it openly, you and Ahuahu are part of me now and I am so content. I just hope that Hinewai is safe but I am still frightened for her.”

“You are strong Hatiti, you made it clear you loved Ahuahu, you were brave enough to tell me so all those years ago. And when the gods took your husband I knew then that you belonged with us and we would not argue.”

Hatiti then reached out and gently traced her fingers on Ahu’s hand and they spoke no more.

Moko - Tattoo

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Nature’s dawn

It is one of those days
awake early once again
I struggle to get up
It is barely dawn and it feels cold

Reluctantly I draw the curtains
and when I do I see
the trees swathed in a lifting fog
and silence all around

It was so beautiful it seemed as though
I had caught the day slowly revealing
her enticing secrets
with but me to observe her

I quickly dressed
and hurried from my door and
walked briskly to the village pond
as the cold misty morning lingered still.

My breath puffing clouds
as I carefully made my way
to the edge of the water
where the birds too paddled

Slowly I squatted down on my haunches
to be less conspicuous and quite still
scarcely breathed as I too
became at one with the scene.

As they searched for food they were
lenient with me and paid me little account
as scarcely a quack or a chirp told
of my presence on those still waters.

Brightening now as the sun struggled
to burn away the ponds shroud
I felt exhilarated that I was too
Part of nature’s dawn.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Kamaka's first wife (No 51)

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 a hot day and Hatiti and Ahu were in their house wondering how they could keep cool. Moana had been permitted to visit Paikea and the little ones were happy to play inside with bowls of water and their pretend boats. The two women were lying on mats and fanning themselves.

Ahuahu was fishing as usual with his oldest boy Tangaroa and Kamaka with his son who was also called Paikea but was the same age as Tangaroa.

“Hatiti, you never talk about your mother, do you not remember her?”

“Yes I remember her well, Ahu. She was beautiful but I do not know whether Hinewai or I looked like her, we can never see ourselves in our parents can we?”

“How old were you when she died?”

“I was both too old and too young,” Hatiti replied sadly. “Perhaps I was 12 or thirteen years old and Hinewai a year or so younger. I was not yet a woman but I had to become one to look after everyone as she lay dying. She coughed a lot and spat out blood and could not breathe and we were all hurt and damaged by her death.”

Ahu nodded, understanding the pain of losing a mother.

“Kamaka my father couldn’t understand why she should leave him like that. He really loved her and it was very difficult for us all when she died. He could not look at us at first as we reminded him so much of her. We were always short of food and we had to beg from our neighbours as he could not or would not go fishing again.”

Ahu was by this time sitting half up leaning on her elbow and stroking Hatiti’s body and patting her gently as they talked.

“Slowly we sorted ourselves out and he did return to fishing. I seemed to grow up fast as I was then the housekeeper trying to recall all that my mother had taught me but was too silly to remember. But slowly it came back to me and we coped.  Well that is not true; Hinewai did not cope well at all and she was angry all the time at everyone. She was always trying to find someone to blame for the death of her mother. Her behaviour began to be erratic from that time on. I loved her but she never seemed to get over the loss and perhaps that is why…” Hatiti trailed off hoping that Ahu would understand what she was trying to say, but finished off with. ”She is just so different from me.”

Ahu nodded then asked “When did Hoata appear?”

“My father found her gathering shells from the beach as he was working on his canoe. They must have started talking and before long she was living with us.”

“Did you find that difficult?”

Hatiti laughed for the first time since she had been talking. “No, not at all, for a few years I could go back to becoming a teenager again and growing up properly while Hoata took control.”

“What was your mother’s name? I ask because no-one ever mentions her.”

“Hinapouri” At this Hatiti began to cry. Ahu lay close to Hatiti and wrapped her in her arms.

“And when the moon does not shine you remember her then?” Ahu stated.

Hatiti nodded then said “But when the moon returns I look up and tell myself she has not forgotten me. When I talk to you Ahu I feel as though we are almost one person. I thank you so much for sharing Ahuahu with me.”

“But I love you too Hatiti, I would have it no other way.”

“Oh, Ahu, I think my baby moved.”

Ahu reached out and laid her hand Hatiti’s tummy and smiled. “Yes there is a movement. Now touch me to see if mine wants to say something too.” And they both laughed forgetting their tears.

Hinapouri – Girl’s name meaning dark night of the moon

Wednesday, 13 June 2012


You are asleep now
As I cling to your body
And I breathe you in

I kiss your soft skin
And whisper some loving words
You murmur a reply

I struggle to hear
But I know not what they mean
You have been gone long

Taken from my grasp
Left quite alone without you
Emptying my soul

It is winter now
I need you more than ever
The wind is so cold

Sunday, 10 June 2012

How Ahuahu came to Aotearoa

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 hear of how Ahuahu came to Aoteoroa. This time Ahu tells the story of how when she and Ahuahu were first married they talked to each other of their past to get to know each other.

Ahuahu’s family had been travelling over the ocean for many days. They were in a large party from one of the big islands to the north and they had been voyaging south and west for new islands to settle. They were in one of several great war canoes filled up with provisions and water, fishing nets and lines and of course many weapons.

They could survive for weeks without a landfall. They caught the rain for drinking and ate their catch of fish raw with seaweed that they found floating on the water. Most seabirds steered clear from them now after so many were caught with nooses as they fought for a share of the catch of fish. These too were eaten raw and their feathers were carefully plucked and stored away for headdresses and for cushioning their heads when they slept.

In the lead boat there was a cry of land ahead. Ahuahu looked up excitedly but his mother continued preparing their meal from the fish caught by his father a little earlier.  Landfalls were nothing to her only more work and her hands were already full now.

“We are very far south, father. Is it a big island or just another atoll?”

“It is another small island Ahu. Look at the water boy. Do you see anything floating? The larger the land the more vegetation there will be floating far out to sea.”

Ahu nodded despondently. Another small island or coral reef would mean they would not stop long, and there might be little for them to reprovision the canoes with.

Another hour or so might get them to the reef and then there would be the excitement as they crossed it with everyone at the paddles ensuring they cleared the breakers and got into the lagoon safely.

They had not travelled the thousands of miles without experiencing this hazardous point many times and each crossing was dangerous but no one had been lost yet this way. Ahuahu had heard of other travellers been lost in crossing the reefs or by injury from stings from the scorpion fish and sea snakes and one mother and her baby had died in childbirth. As each death occurred they thanked their gods that they had not been chosen and praised them for their mercy. It was deemed a fair return for what they themselves had taken from the sea.

Late afternoon they had crossed the reef safely and entered the lagoon. The island was small but it rose a little above the sea and there were many coconut palms. Ahuahu’s father nodded approvingly. “Let’s hope it is decided that we stay here awhile. It will support us for a little while.”

They pulled their canoes up the sandy beach and a large party of men were sent to explore the immediate surrounds. Ahuahu’s father was sent to find fresh water and Ahuahu was left to look after the canoes. Meanwhile the women started searching the vegetation for edible fruit and to collect the fallen coconuts.

Ahuahu started collecting shellfish along the shore with another boy who had also been left behind to mind the boats. He placed them in a woven net that he dragged behind him in the shallows to keep the shellfish wet and fresh.

After they had collected quite a haul to eat he looked up and out to sea and he could another large canoe approaching the shore. He looked quickly back to land and could see neither the women nor any of the men close to the boats so he called out to both the right and the left of him to alert them that there were more visitors.

He turned back to look out to sea again. Meanwhile the other boy stared first at him then started running away towards the trees. “Stop, we must defend the boats” cried Ahuahu but the other boy was gone. Ahuahu returned to their canoes and selected a fighting weapon. He chose a koa a short spear with embedded shark teeth in the blade to defend himself while he stood guard over the boats.

Nearer and nearer they came to shore and when they saw him they started chanting a war cry. He stood facing them with his weapon raised. He wanted to turn to see if help was coming but dare not. When they landed their boats they cautiously took their time to get close to him. Their costume was different from his people; they wore cloaks made of feathers and their faces were all tattooed. Ahuahu stared them down and made slight advancing movements toward them brandishing his weapon. They in turn stared back at him and poked their tongues out at him and shouted insults. Still he would not turn and flee. Then their leader stopped a few feet from him and beckoned the other to stop too.

“You are too brave to kill, boy, you will come with us”. With that he swung his hooked tewhatewha with a greenstone blade embedded in it and struck at Ahuahu's cheek. Ahuahu let loose his koa and at the same time he instinctively put his hand up to protect his face but it was too late the blade cut in and he fell to the ground unconscious and his spear narrowly missed his adversary.

“Put him my canoe”, he indicated to one of his men. “And you others smash their boats.”

The leader looked up and down the beach and saw none of Ahuahu’s people appear. He sneered, “They have lost their best warrior but he belongs to me now.” He then picked up Ahuahu’s weapon and examined it. “They have travelled far from the north but this is as far as they come. 

Later when Ahuahu parents and the others returned to the boats they found only wreckage and knew they would have to wait until the Maoris warriors returned to fight them. They also knew that they would all die unless they ran away like cowards but this they could not and would never do.

Koa – A short spear often with teeth embedded in the blade.

Tewhatewha – A club with a greenstone blade. (Pronounced tew-ah-tew -ah)