Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Ahuahu makes a deal (No. 105)

                                                                         Ahuahu's land

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)

Whilst Rauora and Hakeke were beginning their liaison  Ahuahu was occupied contemplating the possibility that the pakeha might suddenly demand land or access to the sea from the road that led from Big River to Auckland in the north.

The land at Black Sands and Gannet Island had been passed down to the families that had always lived there or had taken it by force. Neither Ahuahu nor Ahu had rights to the land to say that it belonged to them it belonged to other families. Unlike European cultures at that time, women could own land in their own right and Hoku was now the owner of the land at Gannet Island and Fern Gully. Hoku’s father Ruaimoko had taken possession of the land when Rocky Outcrop had won the battle for that village. His other children inherited the land at Rocky Outcrop. However the traditional village of Gannet Island became Hoku’s when Ruaimoko died. Ahu was very happy about this as Hoku, Aotea’s wife now owned land she had lived on when she was growing up and where she had met Ahuahu and it would belong to Aotea’s children.

But the traditional owner of the land at Black Sands was old Ikaroa, custodian of the hot springs. He had promised he would leave the whole of Black Sands to Horowai his only grandchild and her husband Tangaroa. The land where the old ngerengere leper settlement was now in the pakeha church’s hands. It was separated from Black Sands by the road that led from Big River inland past both Black Sands and Gannet Island and formed the boundary of these two settlements…almost. When the road was built a large area of land opposite the entrance to the Ngerengere land was not used and no longer in traditional ownership. Much of it was light woodland as it sloped up to the forested hills. Ahuahu thought a lot about this land as it formed a buffer between the road and access to Black Sands as well as to Gannet Island.

Ahuahu went to see Ikaroa. The old man was nearly blind and was very weak but he recognised Ahuahu’s voice and welcomed him into his whare. “Sit, sit down with me Ahuahu. What do you wish to talk about?”

“Do you remember all those years ago when we were disputing with the men from Rocky Outcrop who had overwhelmed Gannet Island and were eyeing our land as well?” Ahuahu asked.

“But of course.” Ikaroa replied. “I kept silent then as I knew too much. How I laughed when you frightened them off by claiming responsibility for the Ngerengrere. We never had talks with Big River but we gained there as well with those black marker stones being found that none could dispute.” Here Ikaroa laughed and said “How glad I was that Tangaroa married Horowai. They deserve to own this land when I die.”

Ahuahu nodded in agreement, “Way back then, we said that our land stretched as far as the foothills to smoky mountain. That is not important now as the pakeha have built a road and claimed the land to the west so that they can cut down the forest there. The Ngerengere land is theirs too but my concern is the land between the road and our land here; just who does that belong to?”

“You Ahuahu!  Aren’t you are the one that claimed much more that we ever owned. Who will dispute us…dead men? I know where my boundary ends. No one disputed the land belonged to our village then, therefore that land belongs to you or whoever you decide. You have done so much for this village you deserve it.”

Ikaroa though for bit then said. ”What do you want to do with it?”

“You may not like this, Ikaroa. But I may leave it to Houhia, if she gets married to the pakeha Tiemi…and I think she will. I want her to own it so that he can farm it like a pakeha farmer. It will form a buffer between the road and the two villages of Gannet Island and Black Sands. Who will attempt to take our land if there appears to be a pakeha owner here already?”

Ikaroa laughed “Oh, I like that Ahuahu. Do you not think that I am always worrying that when I die the pakeha will take our precious land away?”

As Ikaroa thought about he asked “When will they get married?”

“He hasn’t dared to ask her yet as I think he feels we will want him to live here.”

“But you want him to do that, don’t you?”

Ahuahu laughed, “Of course, he looks at her like she is something very precious. But to get her he has to fight for her and understand how much our land means to us.” They continued talking for some time until Ikaroa said “I must rest now.”

A few days later Ahuahu suggested Tiemi walk with him up to the pakeha road.

“You know all about plants Tiemi. Tell me about this land,” Ahuahu pointed up and down the road on the side that ran down to the sea.  “What would a pakeha farmer plant here?”

Tiemi got down on his haunches and examined the soil. Then he walked further away from the road and dug at it again, sniffed it and even tasted it, then spat it out. “How much rain do you get here?”

“Rain we always have,” was Ahuahu’s reply, "The stream here flows out to sea close to Gannet Island for most of the year.

Tiemi nodded, “If you grow a crop like wheat to make bread or oats or even vegetables you wouldn’t need much fencing. But if you keep animals that would feed off the grass that grows and other plants then you would need fencing and sheds to keep them on your land. In the winter, unless you kept sheep you would need to have shelters for them. Sheep would survive even if it snowed as their wool would keep them warm in the winter.”

Ahuahu nodded, “This is my land Tiemi; it could be Houhia’s one day. You cannot reach Black Sands or Gannet Island from this road except through this land unless you travel along the shoreline and over the cliff tops.” At this Tiemi nodded in understanding.

Ahuahu went on, “If you marry Houhia you could farm this land and would have the only access to our villages from the road. It matters not that you grow your wheat or your oats even fatten cattle or sheep.”

Tiemi gulped with the thought of farming land here.

“But remember Tiemi, Maori women own the land bequeathed to them not their husbands, therefore should I give it to Houhia it would hers and her children’s land. Dare you take this step and live here to ensure our villages are not taken over?”

“But this does not include the villages themselves Ahuahu?”

“Oh no Tiemi, the villages and the coastal land we look after belong to others not me. Only this land here is mine.”

Tiemi thought a little then asked, “But what of your other children, Ahuahu? Would they not want it?”

“Horowai, my son Tangaroa’s wife will be the traditional owner of Black Sands land when her grandfather Ikaroa dies. Hekehoru married Tui the son of the old chief before me. Believe me she is well provided for.”

“Hoku became owner of the land at Gannet Island when her father died. She has given the island itself to her husband Aotea and to Rauora my youngest child jointly and the rights to fish there. Only this land here is mine.” 

“I would have to give up my job and live here then to farm it.” ”Yes, I was hoping you would say that,” smiled Ahuahu. “But the land will still go to Houhia and her children.”

Tiemi gulped with nervousness. “When do you want to know my answer?”

“You will tell me if Houhia agrees to marry you. She knows I am talking to you today.”

“I will need to discuss this with the authorities in Auckland. But I think this will be permitted as there are already disputes over land occupied by our people when the Maori owners were unaware that they had sold the land according to our law. So I can rent it from you.”

Ahuahu nodded, “If Houhia marries you.”

“I will go to Auckland to advise the authorities that is my agreement with you.”




  1. This sounds like a good strategy, and I hope it works out for the long term. I suspect it won't, though.

  2. ahuahu is as slick as ever. I hope Tiemi goes for it.