The continuing story of Ahu and Ahuahu her husband in a Maori village in Aotearoa before European settlement of New Zealand. (Have you missed an episode? Click on Ahu in the labels bar for previous posts)The pakeha started building a road between Big River which now had a pakeha name and another town they had established further north that was a centre for the intensive farming that had been established there. It replaced the old bridle trail they had used to ride their horses and to drive their cattle and sheep along. The road was intended to run parallel to the foothills of the smoking mountains to way past the settlement of Rocky outcrop. The names of the towns did not sit well on the tongue so the Maori people continued to call them by their traditional names. The uniformed men from the pakeha army came to recruit the Maori men to work on this road. Only two men went from Black Sands but Hoku told Ahuahu that many men from Rocky Outcrop had gone.
Once Tui sisters had been informed of his wedding to Hekehoru, preparations were made for it to be held when the days were longest and a new whare was prepared for them by Ahu and Hatiti. Tui’s mother was ill as she still had not recovered from the shock of her first son Paikea’s death some years ago and could not get involved and was but a shadow of herself. She was not even excited at seeing her daughters and their families again after so many years. She had retreated into her memories and her sorrow and seemed not to understand what was happening.
The married couple's happiness was apparent to all and the village was full of Tui’s sisters’ family being introduced to everyone. As children and grandchildren of the old chief everyone wanted to speak to them and the young men of the village were making eyes at the visiting girls and the Black Sands girls slyly looking at the young men that had come as well. They dreamed of marrying into the respected family of the old chief.
Hoku from Rocky Outcrop had been permitted to come to the wedding and be with Aotea as they too would be married soon. She was accompanied by Ruaimoko her father who also came to discuss Hoku’s wedding to Aotea in a few moons time.
He and Ahuahu spent much time discussing the future of their villages in particular the new road that was clearly going to impact upon their lives.
“I have lost many men, seeking work on the pakeha road, Ahu” Ruaimoko said. “They like the idea of having coins to spend on pakeha goods and bringing presents for their girlfriends.”
Ahuahu smiled and shook his head “It is their way to control us. They do not like us but are happy that we should want to be like them so that the fighting between us stops. Don’t you think they could build that road better by themselves?”
“You are right, Ahuahu, they do not like us, so they pay our men to work and not to fight.”
“There is more than that,” responded Ahuahu “Already we have lost Paikea the old chief’s son to their ways. He liked their drink and died in a fight with the pakeha. They want the whole of Aotearoa for growing their crops, for keeping their animals and for mining the ground. Here in Black Sands we are ignored because we have just the hot springs, the black sandy beach and no harbour. We have nothing they want so we are left alone.”
“How can we be left alone at Rocky Outcrop, Ahuahu?”
“There is one more thing that they do respect, Ruaimoko.”
“What is that?”
“It is our sacred sites, places where we talk to our gods, where even we tread carefully or must not go and where we must show respect and behave with care. When they know of this they will record it their books and try not to offend us. They already know of our hot springs and have been told not to enter the forest on the way to Gannet Island because there is a sacred stone there.” At this Ruaimoko looked at Ahuahu quizzically. “Yes, the black stone that marks the boundary between Black Sands and Gannet Island.”
“The whole of the land between our village and Rocky Outcrop has many such places, now is the moment Ruaimoko to talk about these and be prepared to tell the pakeha if they visit you.”
“But I have not mentioned them before, Ahuahu.”
“No, of course not they are secret and sacred places. You wouldn’t tell the pakeha unless you were threatened, would you?”
“Knowing you, Ahuahu, you have already planned some more, haven’t you?”
“Ahu and I know of many sacred places. There is Gannet Island where the spirits of Ahu’s parents and many other fishermen are that the god Tangaroa kept for himself; there is Fern Gully where two young lovers met and escaped to freedom; then there is a great rock overhanging the ocean protecting the people that live in its shadow. This is where the god of the land and the god of the sea agreed they could live together but kept an eye on each other just case. You may know of this place yourself Ruaimoko. This is the moment to ensure our history is told, of what is sacred to us and we must keep safe for all time.”
Ruaimoko smiled “You have already decided that Hoku and Aotea will be the custodians of the secret at Gannet Island, haven’t you? Next you will tell me Tangaroa and Horowai are the custodians of the secret at your hot springs. Reluctantly you tell the pakeha the secret thus ensuring they will respect our right to be in possession of land they do not really need.”
“This will be our land and our children’s land, Ruaimoko.”
There was a shout outside the whare, “Ahuahu, Ahuahu!”
Then Houhia Ahuahu’s youngest child burst in, "Tui’s mother has died, father."
Ahuahu nodded. “She wanted to die Houhia; she needed to see her husband and her son Paikea again. She is happy now.” He then turned smiling at Ruaimoko “Two weddings and now a funeral. I think we will bury her overlooking the sea on the way to Big River she will see the Black Sands beach for all time there I believe there is a marker at this place from many years ago.”
Houhia stared at Ruaimoko and couldn’t understand why he was laughing.