Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Aotahi the bright star (No 98)

A story of Ahu and Ahuahu and their family in a Maori village in Aotearoa during European settlement of New Zealand. (Click on Ahu in the labels bar for previous posts)

Hoku and Aotea’s first child was born early in the morning on a clear night when all the stars were shining. The sea was calm and seemed to sing a gentle lullaby too for the baby as the ripples of water kissed the shore. Mahuika, Hoku’s father’s second wife was with her when the baby was delivered and she exclaimed “This is good for the child even Aotahi the brightest star in the sky has seen her born.”

So the Hoku decided that the baby girl would be named Aotahi too which pleased her husband Aotea as the sound of his name was connected to his first child. Hoku meanwhile just smiled with satisfaction after the effort of bringing her first baby into the world. When they were alone together Hoku whispered to him “Ahu told me she was the one to choose your elder brother Tangaroa’s name, do not be cross with me for choosing ours.”

Aotea looked at her with love “I love that you are a strong woman like my mother Ahu.  Sleep now while I send a message to her and Ahuahu that you have given them another grandchild.” Hoku closed her eyes while Aotea stroked her right arm while her other one was wrapped around the baby who probably wondered why he had been pushed out of his home as he snuffled and breathed the air of his new world.

Ahu received the message and came to Gannet Island from Black Sands later that afternoon but Ahuahu did not accompany her as he had received a visitor. The visitor was Tiemi the botanist from Auckland which was now a major port for the pakeha on the north western tip of their land with access to sea on both the east and the west coasts. There were many pakeha there, building houses and warehouses and there were also pakeha soldiers in uniform.

Ahuahu knew that Houhia was intrigued by this man from overseas. Ahu and Hinewai had told him that she still spoke of him months after he had visited Black Sands.

“Do you want to speak to me alone, or do you want to address the village council, Tiemi?” Here Ahuahu paused then said more pointedly “Or is there someone else you wish to talk to?”

“Perhaps we can talk of many things, Ahuahu. I have been here before so I will tell you that I come in friendship and have nothing hidden from you.”

Ahuahu nodded. “Do not be offended Tiemi, but we will talk in the meeting house. There we will not have children coming to look at you or have their ears to the walls.”

Tiemi smiled and nodded his agreement. They went to the large meeting house, sat down and Ahuahu beckoned to Tiemi to talk.

“My people will soon ask all the chiefs of the land to agree to a peace treaty to stop the fighting and to bring law and order in your land and between all your villages and with us.”

Ahuahu nodded slowly “Yes, I have heard that this may be the case.”

“The government for the whole of the country,” continued Tiemi, “will establish laws for all the people, and ensure the killing stops. We want to live here too, in peace with the Maori’s help.”

“We know you are stronger than us, Tiemi. This is because we are not one people but still fight among ourselves. I am aware the council of chiefs will meet to decide if they will accept this treaty. Even head men like me will be asked for our opinion. What you are telling me is known by most chiefs but regardless of whether we agree or not you will still be here even if we say no.”  Here Ahuahu paused then said to Tiemi, “You must know that all the chiefs of this island know they must make this decision. So why are you really here?”

“I want Houhia to be my wife.” Tiemi said bluntly.

“Have you asked her? Because I am sure she would have told us if you had.”

Tiemi sadly shook his head “I have been away for a few months. I have thought a lot about her in that time. I want her to help me in my work.”

“That is not a good enough reason.”

“I think she wants to be my wife.”

“But then you will take her away; away from her people. She has a great attachment to our land. She loves her family; would you take her away from all that?”

“Wives follow their husbands, Ahuahu. I will ask her.”

“Maori feet stand firmly on this land, they are part of the sea as it nourishes them, and of the air that they breathe, the plants and the trees talk to them and heal them and the water in the stream quenches their thirst. If you take her away you will always find that her spirit remains here in this place.”

“May I speak to her?”


“But not with Hinewai as well,” Tiemi said.

At this Ahuahu laughed.” Houhia is strong and will make up her own mind. If she says yes she may even want you to have a moko to celebrate the event and for you to become a Maori!”

Ahuahu thought about it for while then said. “My son Aotea and his wife Hoku have just had their first baby. I am going up to Gannet Island to see them. You can come too, we will go tomorrow. We will ask Houhia if she wants to come as well. You can talk then and be like a Maori too for the next few days and do things our way. Remember Tiemi, no decision has been made and do not expect an answer immediately. Houhia will not be swayed by coins or pakeha clothes.” 

They returned to Ahuahu’s whare and found that Hatiti and Houhia and Rauora were all there. Ahuahu noticed Houhia blush and bow her head in embarrassment.

“Tiemi has come to discuss some matters concerning the council of chiefs meeting with me. He will stay a few days. Tiemi can sleep in Hatiti’s old house with Rauora. I will walk up to Gannet Island tomorrow and Tiemi will come with me.” He paused then asked “Did you want to come too Houhia?”

With her eyes still trying to look down she nodded her head wondering why Tiemi had come. Later as she tried to sleep the rain fell outside and she remembered Ahu telling her that had she been a boy when she was born she would have been named Iorangi after the rain which fell so heavily that day. She thought really must find out more about Tiemi as she gradually fell asleep.

Aotahi - Canopus, a bright star

Moko - Tattoo 


  1. It is true that Houhia will probably never feel fully at home away from her people, but she will go anyway. Love makes us pioneers.

  2. I wanna see him get a moko. :)

    It's fun to see this story continue. Thanks.

  3. I tried to get away Alice, but they dragged me back and each insisted on telling me their stories too. There is still more to come!