Sunday, July 15, 2012

Moana's Wedding (No 55)


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.)

When Moana walked through the village now, there was no man that could say that she looked upon him. Even those that were closest to her; Ahuahu, Kamaka, even Paikea would not even be greeted by a smile when they saw her away from home, but only by a respectful nod of the head with her eyes discreetly lowered. She knew now that she would become Paikea’s wife though barely sixteen years old, and when she and Paikea were wed, she would be part of the family of the head man. All the work that Ahu and Hatiti had done to prepare her for this honour had been worth while. Other women in the village looked on her and wondered why she, a girl from another village, a daughter of a dead fisherman would be given such an honour.  She had of course a great understanding and wisdom beyond her years. Her playful childhood had been put aside and the head man could see that if his son were one day to be a leader he must have a wise and sensible woman to support him. Paikea’s father had for some time now seen how wise she was about village affairs and he knew that for the most part this had been developed by both Ahuahu and his wives. He knew too that that the gods were telling him that his own life was past its prime and that even if Paikea did not get appointed on the village council in the next year or so he would one day with Moana’s help

Of course within her home with Ahu’s family, Moana behaved as she had always done. She was part of the family and would laugh with Ahu and Hatiti and play with the children all the time learning what being a wife and mother would mean for her.

Paikea was quite frustrated, there was so little time he was allowed to be alone with Moana. Her young body was blooming and although they touched she knew she must let him go too far lest they disgrace their families. “Why cannot I eat the ripe fruit in front of me?” Paikea asked as he fondled her. She desperately wanted him too but she merely said “Would you have my mother see me with child when she comes to the wedding? Wait a little longer and let us see if the mountains shake on our wedding night.” She then traced her fingers over his chest and ran them down over his body whilst letting her oiled hair fall across him. He gasped with desire as he could feel her so close to him. She nibbled at his lips and cheeks and then laid her head on his chest and continued to run her hands over his body.

“Touch me again” he urged. But she shook her head flicking her oily hair across him.

“Do you not think that Ahu or Hatiti do not know you would have me if I let you? But I must be faithful both to them and your family who have said I must be regarded as a puhi, a maiden of rank and must be a virgin when I am married.” With that she sat up and rearranged her clothing. “Your father has decided on the day of the wedding. It is on the next full moon according to your mother, has he not told you?”

Paikea nodded sadly, that seemed so far ahead as he looked at his fingers and the number of days that meant seemed enormous. “The closer it gets the greater my need for you.”

Moana’s laughed as she said, “There is a chance you may not like me when you finally can possess me. What will you do then?”

Before he could answer, Ahu called out to them. “Paikea, we need to discuss the wedding plans with Moana’s mother. Come out here and let us tell you what is proposed.”

The young couple joined the others in the main room.

“Soon I will fetch Hauku and Moana’s brothers from their village. It is necessary for you to tell your father, Paikea, that that she will at the wedding. We are not Moana’s relations but we will be with her family, so there will many supporters for Moana at the feast. They will stay with us until you are married and move into your new home close to your father’s compound. When she is with us you must not come to our house. But stay with your family until you are wed.”

Paikea nodded sadly in reply. He loved being with Ahu and Ahuahu where he felt part of their family too; when he was married that would all change as Moana would be part of his family instead.

For everyone else the days passed quickly and Ahuahu made arrangements for Hauku to give two decorative carved wooden posts to Paikea’s family as a wedding gift that had been made in the village where the Kakas call. This had been done by a deal with Torangi, Hauku’s new husband. They were magnificent pieces that would stand either side of the chief’s dwelling and the carvings depicted the gods of the sea on one post and the gods of the land on the other. In addition there were many other gifts of wooden bowls and pieces of carved jade. All this had been secretly paid for by Ahuahu so Moana’s family would not seem to be poor.

On the day of the wedding feast, Ahu’s family all accompanied Hauku and her children to support her. Moana was dressed in a feather cloak and carried symbolic wooden carved weapons and her hair was dressed with feathers and she solemnly bowed her head as she was led in front of the meeting house. Paikea was also there standing waiting in front of the building. The holy man advised of her arrival, called out the ‘Te Karanga’, a summons for them to enter. As they did so a welcome song was sung by the women inside the meeting house. Moana glanced sideways and smiled at Paikea but he was so nervous he just nodded in reply. Once inside they knelt together in front of the priest who called out the vows they were to obey and uttered the blessing or “Te Manaakitanga”, he then nodded to them and they turned to each other and leaning forward to perform the “Hongi” or rubbing of noses to signify that they breathed the air, the same air given to man by the gods and would give life and support to each other and their children. The holy man then gave his blessing and with that Paikea’s father came up to them and gave Paikea the Korowai, a special cloak that had been made for the purpose for him to give to Moana, a signal of his love and that he would always protect her.

As he did this, Hauku retrieved the cloak that Moana had been wearing. Then as the main ceremony was now over a song of departure was sung and the wedding feast began. The head man looked across to Ahuahu and nodded his approval.

Then Ahu looked at Ahuahu and smiled at him as she remembered her own wedding day long ago when they had merely been told they were to marry. There had been no ceremony that day; she had just moved her possessions from her aunt’s house to the hut that Ahuahu lived in. As orphans they had been no importance.Who would have imagined that their lives would have turned out like this.

13 comments:

  1. This read so easily..maybe it was a pleasurable instalment to write..perhaps marriage still works as a kind of social tool..jae

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  2. The best episode so far! Very easy to relate to the aspects of this tale, much enjoyed!

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  3. A wonderful, beautiful episode in an engrossing story!

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  4. Among the wealthy, marriage is always a big deal. I like it though, that in this society poor people can advance.

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  5. Ann (Bunnygirl) has hit on a very good point here. With no monetary system apart from wealth of possessions a persons worth was measured by their value to the community. Ahu, Ahuahu and even Moana have something that the Black Sands community have used and will need in the future; that is wisdom.

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  6. Utterly delightful. It is sad to think that eventually the 'white man' will arrive on the scene. Hopefully not in Moana's lifetime.

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  7. I agree with Leigh. I love Ahu's world, its customs. I've adopted a new focus on this culture, with Robin's helpful feedback (as a feminist, some of the rules were frustrating; then, remembering how I adapted in Puerto Rico, it all came back). This also reminds me of Chinese culture - the part where he loves her adopted family and grieves that he will not spend time with them, as SHE will assimilate into HIS family. Finally, the grace with which Ahu and co. put together a dowry of sorts, so that Moana would not appear to be of poor stock, was a nice touch. I love this world, Robin! Amy

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  8. This is beautiful. I was really hoping that something wouldn't come in the way to hinder the relationship before the wedding. Moana is just as deserving as she is blessed to be part of the head family. I hope that Paikea and Moana are allowed plenty of time with Ahuahu and Ahu and the rest of the family. I wish more modern day weddings were this sensible or even as simple as Ahu's.

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  9. I love this! The wedding was beautiful and I felt like I was there with them. Applause!!!

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  10. So lovely, this part of the ‘movie’, for that’s how vivid the images are. It seems no better mate but Moana could have been chosen for Paikea, and I look forward to their rare and ultimate success and along the way witnessing their collective wisdom working when faced with inevitable challenges…but of course I am also braced for tragedy, so rather, I should say I look forward to what you, Master Storyteller, reveal to us readers : )

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  11. Actually, I was hoping their lives would turn out like that right from the beginning.

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  12. I remember my wedding day. It was the cake. I just wanted one of those big beautiful cakes.

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