Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Rauora and Hakeke (No. 104)


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 following day Rauora went to fetch Hakeke to take her fishing. She was already waiting for him.

“Haere mai Rauroa,” she smiled and then continued “Hunapo has got some bait for us”.

Rauora nodded at Hakeke and replied. “Good that will save us some time.” He then turned and waved to Moana and called for Hakeke to go with him as they set off down towards to the beach. She ran along alongside him and said “You are different today. What is the matter?”

“I have had Ahu, Hatiti as well as Houhia all telling me how to behave when I am with you. We should have gone in secret.” He was silent for a bit then said “When we get back then all the questioning will start again. I did not want it to be like this.”

Hakeke was silent for a bit then said. “Should we not take some water with us?”

“I have already put some in the boat.”

Hakeke nodded “I have brought some fruit to eat.” Then as an afterthought said “Why not tell them what they want to hear.”

Rauora looked at her beautiful face with her eyes fixed on him. What he saw made him relax so he nodded in agreement. They got to the canoe and he dragged it down into the water. Then he checked that both paddles, the net and the lines and the basket they would use were there and told her to get in and sit in the front and hold one of the paddles while he waded out pushing it into deeper water. He then got in himself and grabbed the other paddle. “Use the paddle on whichever side is most comfortable for you and I will steer the boat,” he said.

She did this and they moved forward slowly at first as they breasted the waves and then when they had crossed the breakers they rode the swell out into deeper water. Once they were some distance from the shore he called out “Stop paddling now, I will try to find a good spot to fish.” Occasionally glancing back to shore to get his bearings he manoeuvred the canoe around then stopped paddling. Holding both sides of the canoe he shouted out to her “Turn around and face me while I hold the canoe steady.”

“Hunapo did not need me to do this,” Hakeke said.

“He probably did not want to look at you when he was fishing.” Rauora said with a grin.

Hakeke blushed but did as he asked as he bent forward and pulled out his fishing lines with the bone hooks and deftly threaded some bait on before handing one to her. “Throw it as far out as possible so they do not have to come too close to the shadow of the canoe.” He watched as she did this a little awkwardly but it was far enough out to satisfy him so he then threw his own. He wedged it between his toes then prepared a net with some bait attached to throw over the other side of the canoe that might pick up any fish being pushed into it by the current.

“Did Hunapo tell you that the first fish caught is thrown back for the god Tangaroa? This is to thank him and ask for a good catch.”

“Of course Rauora, my father was a fisherman too at Gannet Island before he was killed in the fighting with Rocky Outcrop. When he died my mother Hauku took us from there to her own village were the Kaka calls. But I can hardly remember him now.”

“I did not know that. Perhaps you know more about fishing than me then?”

Hakeke laughed. “Do not tease me. I was only about five years old then and we had to walk all the way to the forest with my brothers. Moana was not with us as she had come here instead to stay with Ahuahu and Ahu.”

“I can see you and Moana are sisters, you look very much alike.”

“She is so much happier now she has Hunapo. Did you know Paikea her first husband never came to see our mother and us even after they were married. We always had to come here. But I do not remember you, Rauora. Nor you me I expect.”

“Who remembers other people’s children, Hakeke, especially girls who live in the dark woods?”

Hakeke poked he tongue out at him and pretended to slap him and then said “Should we not have caught some fish by now?”

Rauora pulled in his line and threw it further out and then told Hakeke to pull hers in slowly. Hers too was untouched. “Look after both lines I will paddle a little further out.

“But there are other boats out there Rauora, won’t they mind?”

“No, only I will mind. They will laugh and joke with me for having you in the boat. I wanted you all to myself.”

Suddenly Hakeke squealed “Wait, there is tug on one of the lines.”

“Let it pull again to really take hold then we will see what we have.” Rauora stopped paddling and retrieved the line she indicated and slowly played it in until it was alongside. When she saw it she announced “It is a kumukumu, look at its wings and big eyes.”

Rauora placed his hand in the water folded the fins back and extracted the hook and threw it back into the water. He nodded to Hakeke and automatically she sang out:

“Hold tight to your fish Tangaroa; Hold tight to us with your fearsome power, please feed us today and keep us safe at sea and on the land.

Rauora nodded his thanks too and knew already that Hakeke would make a fine wife. “Those fish are bottom feeders Hakeke, there will be more down there.”

The other fishermen who were watching them waved and they waved back. Rauora rebaited the hook and threw the line in again. Then he checked the net and pulled a couple of fish out, bagged them in a Hessian basket attached to the side of the canoe and lowered the net back into the water. When he turned Hakeke was looking at him he hoped she felt the same way about him. They stayed in that spot for well over two hours, talking, eating the fruit and pulling in the fish they caught. By the time the tide was about to turn they retrieved the lines for the last time, filled the woven basket and paddled slowly back to shore.

The breakers were higher when they reached the shore and Rauora told Hakeke to stay in the boat while he beached the canoe. The canoe sped up and landed up on the black sand as Rauora jumped out and waded alongside to hold the prow steady. He beckoned her forward and she also jumped out lightening the canoe so they both could drag it further up the beach. When they had got it above the high tide mark he turned to Hakeke and touched her for the first time, rubbing noses and hugging her.

“We still have more work to do Hakeke, but I have been waiting hours to do that.”

“Moana will know I want you by the look on my face. She sees everything.” Hakeke said.

“Good.” Rauora replied as Hakeke reached out and took his hand and her fingers played with his just as he hoped she would.

They finally stowed the canoe in the dunes and made their way back to Hunapo and Moana’s house to share the catch still holding hands.

Kumukumu - Gurnard


  1. What a sweet and gentle courtship. It feels good to see them take to each other.

  2. Very sweet, and I love the pic that you led off with!