Saturday, 4 August 2012

Hatiti talks of Hinewai (no. 58)

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.)

Over the following week, Hatiti slowly told them what had happened to Hinewai. Often she would find it difficult especially when she recounted the beatings and cruelty that she had endured as she wandered all over the north island of Aotearoa trying to find someone other than herself.

Although they tried not to prompt her at one point Ahuahu said “Why did she return to Torangi and how did she find him?”

Hatiti bowed her head and whispered that Hinewai had been given away to the pakeha men who had settled on the coast to catch seals and whales. Ahu and Ahuahu looked at Hatiti with amazement.

“She has been with the pakeha?” cried Ahu.

Ahuahu shook his head sadly, “Hatiti why did they not kill her?”

Hatiti could not look up and face them. But weeping openly whispered that she had been traded away to them along with foodstuff and some feather garments and tapa cloth.

Ahu rocked with grief at the news. “How did she escape, will they not come looking for her?”

Hatiti shook her head, “We think they are ugly and all look the same. They probably think the same of us. She was not wanted for her face and hair but only to make up for them not having their own women here.”

“How could she, with the pakeha?” moaned Ahu. 

Meanwhile Ahuahu was thinking hard. This was not good news at all. He wondered whether to ask outright or speak to Hatiti privately but this was no time for finesse. “Hatiti, I must ask you this. What did the pakeha give the men from the north in exchange for the food, the clothing and Hinewai?”

Hatiti at once realised that this was a serious matter for their people and her face was filled with horror. “Ahuahu, I am frightened now. I do not know exactly as Hinewai didn’t make mention of everything.” She paused, thinking back to her conversation with Hinewai, and then went on. “The men from the north received some metal spikes called nails, and some shiny metal that you can see your face in…” She paused there then grabbed hold of Ahuahu hand. “Ahuahu, I am sorry I should have told you straight away that they now have some metal weapons for cutting.”

“They are called swords, Hatiti. They are used for killing.” He then asked again, “She did not mention the banging stick that explodes, did she? The men from the north don’t have them, do they?” 

Once again Hatiti shook her head, “Would Hinewai know? She was just a cooking pot for them to trade. It would probably not be wise to tell of this openly, husband.” Ahuahu smiled grimly at her and said “You are right if they did have them they would boast to no-one.”

He then said he had better discuss this with the head man. “We think we have a good relationship with the men from Rocky Outcrop now but if pakeha weapons are being traded along the coast there will surely be more fighting. If some of our neighbours trade or steal for the sticks that explode we will have much trouble indeed.”

Ahu then looked up, “What will you do, Ahuahu?”

“It will be wise to report this to the village council then I must go up to see Hinewai and speak to her myself. But this time I will take Kamaka. He will want to see his daughter Hinewai to see that she is safe but I shall not tell him all that has happened to her. Perhaps we can get a message to her before then that I need to know only about the trading and nothing else.”

Hatiti nodded in agreement. She told Ahu later that she was so pleased to have Hinewai back home and safe with Torangi and Hauku. Hinewai said that she was just too tired out to think about wandering off again to search for what she could not find. Hatiti now saw there were deeper implications for their way of life in Aotearoa with the Pakeha determined to use their land for themselves.

“How is she really, Hatiti?” asked Ahu.

“She seems much older than me now: she is clearly wiser and wants to start life anew. She will be happy to talk to the trees in the forest there and play with Hauku’s children and just to ask forgiveness of Torangi who is still her husband. I think she will be pleased to see our father Kamaka. But I have no idea what they will talk about. When I was with her I just combed her hair and cried because I have my sister back. She talked and I listened, I did not ask anything of her. She is safe now.”


  1. Great story. You seem to know a lot about the history of NZ and about the Maories. Hinewai is name you encounter here regularly. I know a reserve which has that name.
    Where does your interest in come from?

  2. The last paragraph left me with a lump in my know why..beautifully woven together this week..jae

  3. This one is heavy considering the sacrifice Hinewai has made in order for the tribe to know of the trade and weapon production. So difficult for her sister, I can imagine how much comfort comes from her simply listening and combing her hair. Really feels like a developing episode this time. I hope that her time with the pakeha pays off, so to speak, in their preparation for what is to come next. A climatic feel this week.

  4. The ending shows so vividly how small things such as combing of can bring one comfort. It also foreshadows a time of trouble, suspense to keep your faithful readers on edge.

  5. Hinewai... is she simply a pawn, or is she willingly sacrificing herself for the good of the people she loves? I'm surprised at how deftly you delineated your characters, Robin, especially because the names are so similar. The final paragraph brought a tear to my eye... "I have my sister back." Lovely continuation of what I hope will be a novel someday! Truly. Love, Amy

  6. She is lucky they would take her back, but what a harsh life for Hinewai. And what a chilling future for the whole island.

  7. Paradise Re-Lost ;-)

    Why oh why do so many on this Earth have to steal Paradise from others instead of finding their own?

  8. This is another beautifully written installment. The tenderness of sister to sister is touching.