Sunday, 7 October 2012

The Pakeha get established (No. 67)

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.)

As Ahuahu first predicted the pakeha did not seem interested in the Black Sands village. They established themselves at the Big River estuary and were clearly intending to stay as they built houses for themselves. They built their fires for cooking inside their dwellings with bricks made from clay and those villagers brave enough to spy on the pakeha’s settlement could see smoke coming from the roofs of their dwellings hoping they were on fire.

Slowly the pakeha visited the neighbouring Maori villages, wanting to trade their trinkets and tools for fresh fish, vegetables and fruit.

Ahuahu was now head man and following the death of the former chief he invited Hinewai to help him speak to the pakeha when they came as she knew the language having lived with them for some time. Her husband Torangi would not accompany her saying that he would kill any pakeha he saw knowing how she had been used by them. She agreed to come but she would not stay for more than a day or two at a time; staying sometimes with Hatiti and sometimes with her father Kamaka and his second wife Hoata.

It was not long before the pakeha exploring the area came upon the settlement at Black Sands. At first they were curious as to the trade they could do. After the first two or three visits an arrangement was made for a more important man to visit the village accompanied by a guard of several pakeha with weapons. Ahuahu asked the visitor to enter the meeting house with his supporters if he wished to talk but that the men with weapons were to stay outside.

This was agreed to and they sat on the floor facing Ahuahu who had Hinewai just behind him and other members of the village council in the room as well. After the formal welcome Ahuahu said, “You have come far from over the sea to make a camp at Big River. What is the reason you have come here to our village?” Then Hinewai translated this.

“We come in peace and have come to create a port for our ships at the river’s mouth. We will trade with you if you have produce to barter until we can establish our own crops. We think this is a fine land to farm to produce food and to graze our animals.”

Ahuahu nodded after the translation then responded. “We are not like other villages. We fish and we grow our crops of course but here we have special responsibilities to the wider community.” He paused for Hinewai to translate for the man in uniform and then continued.

“Here we provide a special service for our people and those from villages far away.” Here Ahuahu indicated with his hands to the north, the east and to the south. “We have hot springs here that have a religious significance that can be enjoyed by ourselves and our neighbours to achieve good health. We are the custodians of these springs and welcome all who wish to visit and follow our traditions.”

The pakeha chief nodded at the translation as Ahuahu continued; “None but ceremonial weapons are permitted in our territory. It is a sanctuary and a place of peace. All our adjoining neighbours have agreed to the boundaries of our land which extends from the sea to the foothills of the mountains where the ngerengere settlement is which we also care for. There is a marker to the north and there is also one to the south. To the west from these markers to the smoking mountains is our territory.” Once again he paused to let Hinewai translate then after a nod from her that she had finished he wound up with this statement.

“We are at peace with our Maori brothers; we wish to be at peace with you too. It is under these conditions that you will be welcome here.”

The pakeha chief in uniform turned to his aides and spoke with them. Then he turned back to Ahuahu.

“What do you mean by saying that this place is of religious significance?”

Ahuahu took in the translation and replied, “The land, the sea and the sky are all sacred to the Maori people. This place is especially so for us as the gods of the earth show that they are close by. They have given us the springs for healing and we have the responsibility to care for them.”

At this, the pakeha chief turned and indicated to another of his party to join him. The man was dressed all in black with a robe unlike the others of his party who were either in uniform or wore loose fitting shirts and leggings.

Their heads were bent over in discussion and after they had spoken the pakeha leader looked up and said that the man he was speaking to was their holy man who could speak some Maori language and would like to address the people.

Ahuahu looked directly at the pakeha chief and said “Your holy man may speak with me and my people when I invite him. I will send a message to the Big River settlement when I wish him to talk with us. But for the moment would you like to visit the Hot Springs with some of your party?”

The pakeha chief seemed a little bemused by the rebuff to the black robed priest moderated by the complete turnaround in the welcome to visit the rest of the village. So he too was put in a difficult situation. Eventually he agreed that he and his aides would visit the springs while the rest of his party could remain in the main village.

Ahuahu instructed his people to provide refreshment for the visitors while he accompanied the pakeha chief to the springs. As they approached the pools the white men reached into the sleeves of their tunics to cover their noses with small cloths to mask the smell. They were escorted around the pools and warned of the hot ones and were shown the bathing pools where a few children were playing with their parents. Ahuahu introduced Kaihutu’s father who was Hatiti’s former father-in-law to the pakeha and got Hinewai to explain that this man’s family were the traditional custodians and guardians of the springs that maintained them and were entitled to the gifts received from the visitors. Finally they were escorted into the great meeting hall there and were invited to sit and receive a formal greeting. Ahuahu nodded to Kaihutu’s father who ceremoniously rubbed noses with pakeha chief and his supporters telling them that they were welcome and hoped they would return. All the while Hinewai translated as the white man spoke to Ahuahu. Eventually the Pakeha chief indicated that they should leave and Ahuahu escorted him and his party back to the main village where they exchanged gifts.

Soon after that the visitors decided to return to Big River. When they were gone Ahuahu said. “Hinewai, come and sit with me. Now tell me what else did you hear the other pakeha say?”

“They couldn’t quite make you out,” she said. “They were shocked that you rebuffed their holy man as though he was not important, yet you showed great respect to their chief by agreeing to send the man later.”

“His aides kept telling him that you were peaceable and careful not to offend them, but you were clearly protective of the traditional way of life here, and what you told them of the Black Sands country confirmed what our neighbours had already told them.” Here Hinewai paused. She chose her words carefully, “Although you rebuffed their holy man and did it with dignity so as not to hurt his feelings he was very annoyed. He was clearly expecting to get his own way. He uttered words like godless savages and worshippers of the devil.”

Ahuahu thanked Hinewai and said. “I fear that some will want to change the way we live. They do not look like visitors but conquerors but it is not the ones with weapons that are the most dangerous. You can look at a man with a weapon in his hand with respect, but the man in black would never respect our way of life. These men will never retreat.” He then went on, “Hinewai your life has been filled with sadness; you have been really hurt, misunderstood and abused. For all that when you were able to tell me what the white men were saying, I was so proud of you. You have turned what you have learned in your travels to great use and from it given us an understanding of the pakeha. You are now welcome to live here in Black Sands again.”

With that Hatiti entered and walked up to Hinewai and hugged her and rubbed noses. “Come and see Horowai and Rauora” and taking by her the hand pulled her away as Hinewai looked back at Ahuahu nodding her thanks.  


  1. I caught up with episode 66 and enjoyed how, with Horowai starring, it only made me wonder all the more how/if Haeata might figure back into the equation!

    And in this current episode, I’m so pleased Hinewai is welcomed back, but that is dampened with concern regarding the Pakeha's black-robed holy man and my wondering if Ahuahu handled him in the right way. So I look forward with great anticipation to tuning in again next week!

    Look at me, I'm a mess, just another Black Sands junkie ; )

  2. For Grey Tit's sake, keep the man in the long dress away from there!
    A nice, localised history lesson that I fear will lead to localised tragedy - but I'm hoping you have got good news up your sleeve.

  3. Very descriptive and it sucks you in!

  4. I'm not surprised Ahuahu is wise and able to tell where the real threat is, and that it's not necessarily the one with the weapon showing. Those guys in the black robes and turned collars ...well, that's a whole other soapbox.

  5. Robin, continuing to love this saga, although I see trouble brewing. I'm not at all surprised that Ahuahu made the observation that the "man of the black cloth" is more dangerous than those with guns. It's more true now than ever; it's the "Moral Majority" (even now, morphed into the Christian Right) that is slowly eroding the rights of women, people of color, and other minorities. My hub is one of the pastors I trust, because he's humble and wants us to think of others before ourselves. The UCC as a denomination also officially apologized to the Hawaiian people for their part in helping Anglos establish missions, etc., and leading to the installment of Western style rule. This only gets more interesting, Robin, but I could not ignore the parallels to today's United States. Amy

  6. I've missed a few episodes. I should back track a little. He's right, though, they will never retreat. This is a great story!

  7. I knew Ahuahu would make a great leader. This confirms it nicely.

  8. Ahuahu is a wonderful chief, wise as to see the unfortunate reality. I love that the concrete term in establishing a relationship here is peace. I hope that there are still people who can decorate their homes with words such as "sanctuary". Lovely piece and a great ending, love the reference to sacrifice and gift in the end.