Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Haeata makes an appearance (No. 99)

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)

The sun was shining again when Ahuahu, Houhia and Tiemi set out to walk up to Gannet Island together to see Hoku and Aotea’s new baby. Ahu had gone up the previous day and Tiemi was clearly uncomfortable that after admitting he wanted to marry Houhia to Ahuahu he was no longer in control of the situation. Ahuahu was obviously observing him and everything he did to determine whether he could permit Houhia to marry him if she wanted to.

Houhia also was nervous, she had almost given up the dream that Tiemi would return to Black Sands to ask her to marry him just as Hinewai had suggested he might do. But she wondered whether if this was the real reason that he was here again. They had not had a chance to speak to each other alone and he had not yet asked to do this.

After they had been walking some time she could not stand the suspense any longer and said to him “Why have you come back to us Tiemi, surely you do not need more plants to collect?”

Tiemi took a deep breath and then said “Do you want me to speak to you in pakeha talk or in your language?”

A tiny smile came across Houhia’s face as she slowly said, “My English is not good.  We would need Hinewai to be with us.”

A look of horror crossed his face and her smile broadened. “We will stay close to Ahuahu, so he knows what we are saying to each other. If you speak too softly he will ask what you have said. So speak up then he knows you are not saying secret things.” When she said that he looked into his eyes and he knew then that she loved him.

“I have asked Ahuahu if you could be my wife.”

Houhia’s heart skipped a beat. Tiemi had somehow done the right thing and asked her father first before he had approached her. So this was why Tiemi was with them so that Ahu should know as well and be able to discuss it with Ahuahu.

“Have you offered my father anything for me?” She asked.

Tiemi bit his lip. “I haven’t got round to that. I don’t really know what I should do. Is it not enough that you will be a wife of a Pakeha, an Englishman?”

“So I am not worth much to you then?” She teased.

Tiemi started to falter, he had not discussed this with anyone and now he was unsure of the protocol. Before he could say anything Houhia continued.

“My father will want to know where we will live. If you want to live here will you be a fisherman too? Or will you just count the trees in the woods while I do all the work? Will you build a whare for me and all our children? Perhaps you will take me away and put me in a pakeha house in a pakeha town away from my family and go and talk to other Maori girls in other parts of Aotearoa while you look at their trees and insects?” She paused then said “No, I do not think Ahuahu would like that.”

Tiemi was almost in tears “But I love you, Houhia.”

“I know you do, Tiemi I can see it in your eyes. But loving is not enough. Over the next few days let us work out how this could happen to see if it is possible. Look, we have nearly reached Gannet Island, this was the quick way. We did not show you this way before.”

Ahuahu rejoined them and said “You hands are empty Tiemi. Have you not learned anything new about our land today?”

Before he had a chance to answer, they had approached the first houses in the village so Houhia ran off ahead to find Ahu and Aotea.

Ahuahu then continued, “She is a very strong young woman isn’t she, Tiemi? Before we meet the others let us have a little talk by ourselves.”

After their talk Ahuahu noticed a woman picking some fish off a village fish drying rack. He went up to her and said, “We have met before some years ago. Are you not Haeata?”

The woman nodded, “Yes, I have seen you before too. You are Tangaroa’s father and head man. I have lived here with my husband since my father was allowed to stay here after the Big River village was destroyed all those years ago.”

Ahuahu thought for a little “Yes, I remember know, Tangaroa told me that your family were allowed to stay here if you married a widower. How is it that I have not seen you here before?”

“We lived at Fern Gully until it was decided that it would be safer if we all lived at Gannet Island in one village. My husband has now died so I am on my own again.” Haeata had noticed Tiemi standing behind Ahuahu. “So you have a pakeha murderer with you. I can kill him for you since his kind ruined my life all those years ago. It would give me great pleasure. My life is finished because of them so I have nothing to lose.”

“Haeata, we are all being slowly squeezed to death by the pakeha. We must finally make peace with them if we are to survive. The killing must stop.”

“You are head man Ahuahu; so you find me a young husband to make my life worth while so that I can have children for our people. But who would want me as a widow now? There were two young men that I could have married before I was traded away by my father; both have been snatched away from me.”

“I will think about this Haeata. Do not despair and don't kill any pakeha...especially this one,” he said with a smile nodding at Tiemi.

With that Ahuahu rejoined Tiemi and they walked on to Aotea’s whare by the beach.


  1. Such a cavalier way of talking about murder. Does Tiemi understand what Haeata is saying about him?

  2. Thanks for your visit Alice. Haeata came from Big River which was an aggressive and unreliable neighbour of Black Sands. This attitude is in her upbringing. The Maori were not an united nation and were still fighting among themselves when the white men arrived. Hopefully her life will change when Ahu and her family sort her out.

  3. Poor Haeata, her heart is full of hatred toward the foreigner.
    I like your story asbit's a new culture to me...but I have problem rembering the names, they all sound the same to me ;)