Saturday, 15 December 2012

News of Paikea (No. 77)

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.)

Moana’s time to give birth came and she went to see Ahu and asked that Hinemoana could be looked after by Ahu and Hatiti when she had the new baby. “Should you not ask Paikea’s mother to be involved, Moana?” was Ahu’s response.

“I should I know, but since Paikea left she has hardly spoken to me,” replied Moana. “She has merely asked to see Hinemoana or looked after her while I rest, but she is embarrassed and cannot talk about Paikea leaving. She does not blame me but was shamed by the bruises that all could see on my face.”

“Perhaps if I walk with you to see her now she will be less worried, and we can say she can help you. Come let us do that now.” So the two women with Hinemoana toddling along between them walked slowly to the old woman’s whare.

As they entered the building they heard wailing inside and they found Paikea’s mother prostrate on the floor tearing her hair out with Aperahama, Aio’s husband from Agate Hills trying to comfort her. He had brought news that Paikea had been killed. He explained that he had gone to Moana’s home first but as she was not there had come here to Paikea’s mother instead.

He told them that Paikea had been at a Pakeha town many miles to the south of Big River. He and some other Maori men had been drinking and got involved in a brawl with the pakeha and Paikea alone had been killed and the others were injured.

Moana’s face turned pale and she sank to the floor in shock. Paikea’s mother smashed her head down on wooden bowl to knock out her teeth. Ahu turned to Aperahama and said to him, “Take Hinemoana back to our whare and get Hatiti to look after her.” She looked down to Moana who was grasping at her belly. “Moana, is the baby coming?”

Moana nodded, “I think it is Ahu.” She then doubled up with pain again as Ahu turned to Paikea’s mother and said to her “We came round to ask if you would help Moana deliver her child. The shock has made the little one arrive early; will you come and help us?”

The old woman looked up her face all bloody and shook her head sadly “What has happened to our family Ahu? Why have the gods looked away?”

“The sun comes up every morning,” said Ahu, “Some of us will be here to see it but …” She was interrupted by Moana gasping with pain again, so she said. “I must take Moana down to the trees, her baby is coming quickly. Remember there will be part of Paikea in this new baby Haumiatikitiki,” calling the old woman by her proper name. She then helped Moana get to her feet and they walked out into the fresh air and made their way slowly to the women’s birthing site.

Luckily no damage was done to the baby by the shock to Moana and she delivered a baby boy quickly and was soon back in her own home again. Hatiti came round to assist her and brought Moana's daughter Hinemoana back too. Moana still continued to cry and no one knew whether it was through the shock of losing Paikea this way or something else that had changed in her life. Once she had got the baby to suckle and had taken some food and saw that Hinemoana was settled and sleeping, she thanked Hatiti for staying with them that night.

Hatiti said, “Moana we are much alike, my first husband was taken from me suddenly and my grief was overwhelming. You had much of your grief before Paikea was taken away but you have the joy of having your children with you still and there is much life ahead for all of you as there was for me. You are safe and loved here, this is your home.”
“I feel ashamed Hatiti, I hoped that Paikea would never return for making me unhappy but the gods merely laughed and granted my wish in this way and now I feel guilty. I did not want him dead as it is but a short time since I was so proud to be his wife.”

“He has not died because you wished it but because he could not see happiness was with you not in fame or trying to be strong and wise like his father. All of us have our own paths in life Moana. Let us hope there will be someone to walk by your side looking at you rather that to the heavens for happiness.”

Moana looked up at Hatiti and smiled sadly. “One of my greatest joys is feeling part of Ahu and your family. I understand now all what you have told me. Many years ago Ahu said it would be difficult being married to a Head man’s son.”  Moana was quiet for a little then reached out and touched Hatiti on her arm and whispered. “Would you ask Ahuahu to tell Hunapo that I have given birth to a son?”

“I am sure the whole village will know of this event Moana; but he will not come to see you without others present for at least a full moon. Let’s hope he will still provide you with fish and play with Hinemoana then.”

Moana then whispered to Hatiti “He will look always after us. He told me once that as he had been feeding the new baby inside me for months he considers it his too!”

Hatiti whispered back, “Oh why couldn’t you have looked on him first Moana?”

With Moana weeping silently again the two women then settled down to sleep while the new baby snuffled quietly by their side.

A few weeks later Hunapo went to see Paikea’s mother and spoke to both her and Tui. “I have come from Ahuahu,” he said. “Everyone knows I have provided Moana with fish for some time. Ahuahu said that I could do this in Paikea’s absence and I speak with you now out of respect for Paikea and to assure you she and the children will continue to be cared for by me.”

Tui looked at Hunapo, “You have shown respect to Paikea and this family in telling us this. Hekehoru has told me that you have been quite open in dealing with Moana in her need and have spoken to Ahuahu regarding this. Moana will therefore no longer be of this family but be your responsibility from now on.”

They formally bade farewell and Hunapo returned to Moana to tell what he had done. Moana was quite silent as he explained to her only nodding as he spoke. When he had finished she patted the floor by her side. “Sit with me Hunapo you are my husband now. Bring all your things here and we will live together. I have decided to call the new baby Ikawhenua. My babies are your babies they have no other father now and we will be sure to have many more.”
“You have named the baby Ikawhenua because that is where I first saw you and wanted you so many years ago,” said Hunapo. “You honour me Moana, I will love and cherish you till I die.”

“I know you will Hunapo.”

Haumiatikitiki - Girl’s name meaning Guardian of the Fern Root

Ikawhenua     - Boy’s name meaning Fishing Grounds


  1. Such is the cycle..i hope this phase has some calmer waters..losing teeth is losing wealth in dreams isn't it? seemed significant somehow..

  2. Dramatic turn of events, rapidly resolved for the better. If only modern day life was so gentle.

  3. There are a number of facets to this story, where Paikea's mother acts like the male head of family in knocking out her teeth, the mixture of feelings in Moana of relief and guilt, and of Paikea's family who readily accept Moana is not of their family anymore mainly because the younger son Tui wants to marry the present chief's daughter Hekehoru. None may like what has happened but each is trying to cope with it as best they can. Hunapo comes off the winner.

  4. I'm glad that worked out well for them even if it is regrettable for him to have died. His death matches well with the way he was going last time we saw him.

  5. It was good to catch up with events in the village after being on my travels for a while. This is a moving and bittersweet episode.