Saturday, 16 February 2013

Rapata's work at the mission is over (No. 85)

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.)

For a year or two Rapata the pakeha priest continued to work at the mission for the Ngerengere settlement and as he became older he was assisted and finally replaced by a younger priest Father Anaru who Rapata had described as just the ticket to replace him. Hinewai didn’t understand that but could see that his mind was wandering. He told Hinewai he would stay there as it was nearest place to home for him after spending so much his life far away from his place of birth. She knew of course that he just wanted to know that she was close by and she was happy that she was.

Every month or so she would visit and talk to him; telling him what was happening in the villages and with her family. He was nearly blind and as time went on she knew that it mattered not what she said, but merely that he knew she had been there. Then one day she received a message from the young priest Father Anaru at the mission to say that he had died.  

When she went up there she said, “Did he tell you that he wanted to be buried down at Black Sands?”

He shook his head, “Normally he would be buried here at the mission.”

“Some time ago, he asked me if he could be interred in our burial ground closer to the sea,” she said. “He asked me to get Ahuahu’s permission to do this.”

“And you have done this?”

Hinewai nodded, “He sees no reason why he should not be buried there. Ahuahu will say a poroporoaki or traditional farewell there.”

“But he should have Christian burial, Hinewai, he is a priest.”
“We will merely say goodbye to him. You do what you have to do here and we will do it our way at Black Sands.” Hinewai said.
Father Anaru thought about this and finally agreed that he would hold a funeral service at the mission then his body could be taken down to Black Springs for the burial.
When the arrangements had been made for the service the next day, Hinewai then set off down to Black Springs to talk to Ahuahu.
As soon as she had left the mission she was overcome with emotion and cried all the way down to the village.

When she got to Black Sands she headed straight for Ahuahu’s whare. Hatiti rushed up to her and saw that her face was covered with blood where she had cut her face as a show of mourning.

“What has happened, Hinewai, why did you do this?”
“Rapata is dead, Hatiti. I need to talk to Ahuahu.”
“He is at the meeting house; do you want me to fetch him?” Hatiti thought for while then continued, “No he should be back soon, let me wash your face.”
Just then Houhia came in and started to smile when she saw Hinewai then frowned when she could see what she had done. She knelt down in front of her and laid her head on her lap and hugged her.
Hatiti then got up to fetch some water and said to Houhia. “When I am cleaning Hinewai’s face, go and fetch your father. If you see Ahu tell her to come home too.”
Later Hinewai explained to Ahuahu what she had arranged with Father Aranu.
Ahuahu looked closely at Hinewai, shook his head but smiled and said, “You had planned this all along, hadn’t you? What if I do not agree?”
“You will agree, won’t you Ahuahu? You do not want me to be singing my tangihanga with the pakeha priest up at the mission do you? It is better I remember him in this village among our own people.”
Hatiti then spoke up “Hinewai, this is your village too, please come and live here again.” She then turned to Ahuahu, “She can return can’t she?”
Ahuahu nodded, “Hinewai has always known she could return here. I told her some years ago. And Torangi has no claim to her anymore. We will find somewhere for her to live.”
So after Father Aranu had held a service at the mission, Rapata’s body was brought down by the men of Black Sands to their burial ground and Hinewai sang her song of goodbye to the only man she had ever loved.

Aranu           - Andrew
Ngerengere         - Leper
Poroporoaki        - Farewell address
Tangihanga        - Mourning song
Whare              - House

Forgive the change of font size, Blogger is playing games with me! Spammers are on my tail too!


  1. I know and understand the games that blogger can play...still reading and following along+++

  2. Sad and sweet at the same time, it speaks of love and compassion, and of forgiveness. I like the values that you write into your stories, Old Egg!

  3. Acceptance on a personal level and a community level - and of course loss and explore the whole gamut in this chapter..

  4. So sad that he should die like this. I had kind of thought he might be an interesting secondary character. That was sneaky of Hinewai. :) I feel I can trust her more now, so it' should be all right if she moves back into town, but I really don't want to see her move in with Ahuahu and Ahu.

  5. I enjoyed reading about these characters and how they interact.
    Love can make widows out of women who never marry.

  6. I had mixed emotions whilst reading this. Of course it's sad, but compassion shines through.

  7. Alice mentioned Hinewai and Ahuahu. She flirted with Ahuahu when she was a teenager, then later had two disastrous marriages. She now has matured and can speak English fluently. She is a very useful member of the community...but tricky! I don't think she likes me observing everyone and scribbling away.

  8. I can easily see her giving you wary/sly looks.

  9. This is so sad, but I am impressed by the fact that the people loved the priest and chose to honor him by allowing him to be buried as one of them. This is a touching episode.