Saturday, 25 August 2012

Talks at Rocky Outcrop (No. 61)

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.)

Ahuahu and Tangaroa set off for Rocky Outcrop the following day. Ahu was very apprehensive that Ahuahu had taken Tangaroa but he assured her it was friendlier to do that than risk Paikea saying something out of turn. They reached the little village of Gannet Island where the Rocky outcrop man had established a little colony of fishers to provide for the whole community further north. As Ahuahu passed it he told Tangaroa of the fishing there and pointed out the masses of birds circling the island. He told him that was where Tangaroa had been born and pointed the old grove of trees which used to be the women’s special place.  They rested there for a while and Tangaroa explored the old village trying to imagine their family there Then they went further north and Ahuahu told of the fighting between the two settlements that had persuaded Ahu to leave with Tangaroa as a baby to a safer place to bring him up. Tangaroa nodded at all this. And before long they could see the high cliffs that gave the settlement the name of Rocky Outcrop. They announced their arrival and were welcomed into the meeting house.

 “I have been expecting you” said the chief. “Who would they send when they smell the pakeha and get reports of their presence? It could only be you that could talk straight with us. Is this your son I see, not the Head man’s? You must want something.”

Ahuahu laughed, “We got on well the last time we met and I can see we will this time too. Tangaroa here is indeed my son. So when you talk to me you are talking to just one person not anyone else from our village. You may have news that I need to relay myself and not have it confused with another man’s interpretation.”

At this the chief laughed. “Let us eat and drink together and it matters not whether Tangaroa stays with us or talks with my children. No, better that he stay with us he has such a wise look, he really might find something out from them.” He roared with laughter.

“And as he is not yet ready to look at your daughters, perhaps next time he comes he will pick one out.”

The Chief smiled “I like you, Ahuahu. But now let us talk seriously.”

Ahuahu nodded, “It is obvious that the Pakeha are coming more and more to our shores but we do not see much of them at Black Sands. They clearly want to trade as we hear of them landing on our shores.” Here Ahuahu paused to look at the chief then went on. “They will want access to deep harbours and river estuaries. They will want fresh supplies of fruit and birds and may even want our timber and clothing. We have never seen a pakeha woman, so they may even want our women too if they have come from far away. What can they give us in return? Do we really need metal spikes and shiny objects?”

As Ahuahu was talking the chief from Rocky Outcrop was nodding his head but saying nothing.

Ahuahu continued “We know of their weapon which explodes. One was fired at us many years ago when we first encountered them on our beach. If any villages obtain these weapons it will not be long before we will be fighting each other rather than the pakeha.” He did not use the word musket lest he give too much knowledge away.

The chief looked at Ahuahu grimly “All what you say is true. In fact it is worse there are some villages further north that have allowed the pakeha to use their land. They want to live here, bring their wives, build their own whare and grow vegetables.” At this he laughed. “But why do you speak of this now? Why have you come today?”

“Simply this,” Ahuahu replied, “We need your protection.”

“You are too far away for us to protect you.”

“We have some knowledge of these weapons.”

There was a slight hesitation before the reply “You do not have them yet you know of them. But what do you know of them?”

“They are frightening weapons, explode and if pointed at a person can kill them easily from far off. But they have a weakness.”

Here the chief laughed and shook his head. “What weakness is that?”

“We will trade this weakness with you…for protection,” replied Ahuahu.

“Who do you want protection from?”

“Other villages that have the weapons that look on us with envy,” Ahuahu replied.

The chief nodded, thought for a moment then said, “We will protect you.” He then turned to Tangaroa. “Go talk to my sons now while I speak privately to your father.” Tangaroa turned and looked at Ahuahu, who nodded for him to do go.

“Yes we do have Muskets Ahuahu, but you knew that already didn’t you? I will also tell you who you fear too. It is the men from Big River; they tend to act without reason.”

Ahuahu smiled grimly and nodded, then spoke with the chief for another hour and went through what he had learned from Hinewai. The Muskets were effective but slow to prepare for firing and took even longer to reload, prime and fire again. If the bearer of a traditional weapon had not been hit in the first shot the shooter could be easily overpowered and killed and his musket taken from him.”

The chief bent his head toward Ahuahu, “What do you suggest then?”

“Do not use the weapon openly but seek cover before it is fired and have a man with traditional weapons by the side of the man with the musket.”

The Chief nodded “Why don’t you come to live here? I like the way you work things out.”

Ahuahu shook his head smiling.

“I knew you would not.” Said the chief, “But tell us if you receive threats from Big River and we will help you. Now let us see what our sons have been up to.”


  1. And so life begins to get more complicated and dangerous for these idyllic people. Sad.

  2. Wherever and whenever the correct weapons are needed to survive (not just sharp pointy things..)..sad but necessary maybe..jae

  3. Sad indeed is the knowledge that weapons, first aquired for protection, will soon be turned against each other. How true of human nature! An excellent chapter of your story, Old Egg!

  4. While the threat of war is great, the new alliance brings a flicker of hope to the gathering storm. I cannot wait to read the next chapter!

  5. It's sad to know how much their lives are about to change.

  6. They're coming. No stopping them. And everything they bring with them spells danger, including diseases against which the island people have even less defense than the muskets. I'm almost in tears, Robin. Amy

  7. It's nice that they are on such congenial terms. I'd love to see Tangaroa grow up and take a wife.

  8. *Sighs... it's all so clear. At least before the Pakeha arrived there were only sporadic fights between villages. Now once the white men settle all the true horrors will begin. This chapter makes me feel so sad because their whole way of life is about to change, forever.

  9. Why, really, must all good things come to an end?