Saturday, 31 August 2013

Mahuika's Tales No. 2. Rona and the Moon

                           The full moon
One day in the winter evening was drawing in and Mahuika had gone around to Hoku and Aotea’s whare to share a meal. Their two children Aotaki and Ahuru were there as well as some other children from the village and they were all playing on the floor inside in the warm.
When the children saw her arrive they all rushed up to welcome her and pleaded with her to tell them a story. She nodded and then said before I start shall we have a look outside and see what is there in the sky. So they all rushed out on to the porch and started looking around. “No, no children it is higher up. Look up there.” So the children all looked up and saw the darkening sky and the stars coming out and then one boy shouted “Look at the full moon there just above the treetops.” The great round shape of the moon could then be seen.
“Yes, look at the moon children, then let us go back inside and I will tell you a story.”
So the children watched the moon for a little while and then Mahuika ushered them back inside sat them down and started her story.

Many, many years ago Rona lived with her husband in their hut in a small village that was next to a gentle river.
One night her husband was thirsty and he said "Rona I want a drink of water". Rona was warm and comfortable in her bed but her husband insisted so she got up to get him water from the taha (gourd) that was hanging up outside. Unfortunately the taha was empty and Rona did not want to walk to the river to get more water. But her husband said he was very thirsty and so Rona stormed out of the hut angry that she had to walk over to the river in the dark. 

She filled her taha at the river and as she was coming back home the moon disappeared behind a cloud and in the darkness Rona stubbed her toe on a big rock. She cursed the moon for hiding its light from her and causing her to hurt her toe. The moon heard her cursing and he was angry with her. "Rona, it is not my fault that you are out walking in the night time" he said.
But Rona was angry too as she was in pain and she cursed the moon again for making her trip. So the moon became very angry indeed, so much so that he decided to punish Rona by capturing her and bringing her up to him in the sky. Rona felt the moon pulling her and she held tightly to her taha full of water  and then to a tree, fighting to stay down on earth. But the moon was too strong and he pulled Rona up even though she still held on to the tree which was then ripped up by its roots and so he brought Rona, her taha and the tree up to the moon with him. And she remains there until this day clutching her taha filled with water and her tree.

Mahuika then said “Let’s go outside again to see if we can see Rona.” So she took the children outside again and pointed to the silvery moon and said to the children “Can you see the shape of the tree on the moon and isn’t that Rona hanging on to it still?”
The children all looked up at the moon and pointed to where they thought where the tree was with Rona still holding tight saying, “Yes, there she is.”

But one little girl shook her head and said “My husband will have to get his own water. I do not want to go to the moon.” At this everyone laughed as they went back inside.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013


Broken Date

I did not anticipate

I’d be alone that the gate

I was early you were late

Seems now that I have no date



I was fearless

You were shameless

Now were homeless

With a baby blessed


What I’ve seen

Your eyes they’re so serene

Your nose the cutest I have seen

And your fingernails are so clean

Don’t look at me I haven’t a bean

Mahuika's Tales No. 1 The story of the Kumara

                           A pair of toroa (albatross)

Mahuika was the wife of Ruaimoko the head man at Rocky Outcrop before the village was taken over by the pakeha (white men) from across the sea. Sadly those men from far away who smelled so bad had found gold and other metals in the ground and creeks around her village and soon the people there had to work for the invaders or flee to Maori villages which did not attract the men with guns. Soon after Ruaimoko and Mahuika had settled at Gannet Island with Ruaimoko’s youngest daughter Hoku and her husband Aotea, Ruaimoko died. Mahuika however was happy to live close to Hoku and Aotea as she did not have children of her own.

She was a renowned storyteller and all the children of the village would gather around her to hear the Maori legends from her. She spoke in such a way that all her listeners were proud to be Maori with their history that stretched back to the days of the gods. They also knew that by the telling of stories of the old life that was disappearing their traditions were being implanted in the children’s minds so perhaps one day they would pass them on to their own children too.

Sometimes Mahuika went to Black Sands to visit Aotea’s family there too and it was not long before the children there would know it and seek her out and plead with her to tell them stories of the old ways, their gods and the heroes and heroines that had lived long ago. But most of all they liked the way she would tell the stories so that they too were involved and felt that they were there looking on perhaps hiding behind a rock or a tree as the events being told took place in front of them.

One evening the women and children at Gannet Island were on the beach picking up pipis and other shellfish and placing them in woven baskets when some of the children saw Mahuika sitting in the dunes resting so they rushed up to her. One boy noticed she was looking in the sky.

“What are you looking at Auntie?” he asked.

“The wind is blowing from the sea. Can you see those two birds flying high up in the sky?”

The boy nodded.

“Those are a pair of toroa (albatross) that have come too close to land. The wind has blown them here. They will fly away again soon.”

“Don’t they like it here then?” said a little girl that also joined them, looking up and trying to find the birds.

Mahuika shook her head. “Let me tell you a story about a pair of toroa from a long time ago.” By this time four or five other children had run up from the beach and sat down in front of her. She smiled and nodded at them all and began her story again.

1. The story of the Kumara
Many years ago a Maori man by the name of Pourangahua  left his home one day and travelled by boat to the great land of Hawaiki which is where our ancestors came from. There he visited friends and ate their delicious kumara (sweet potato) for the first time. He stayed for many months for he was lucky to be guest the great chief named Raukapanga.
When it came time for Pourangahua to return home, he asked Raukapanga if he could borrow two of his huge birds, the toroa (or albatross) that he kept as pets to help him take some kumara tubers home with him. Raukapanga was reluctant to loan his birds to Pourangahua because he loved them very much. Eventually he agreed but gave him strict instructions on how to care for them.
Pourangahua left on the back of one of the birds carrying two bags of kumara as a gift from the chief. The chief had explained to Pourangahua that once he reached the shore of his land Aotearoa, he would have to get off the bird and continue his journey on foot and carry the kumara himself. This is because the toroa much preferred flying over the sea as flying over the land would tire them out too much.
But Pourangahua was lazy and he made the birds fly him all the way home over the mountains and valleys to his village.  Because they had to fly so far the bird that had carried him was very tired. When the birds were finally allowed to return home the one who had had the most to carry flew slower than normal and was attacked and killed by a huge evil spirit. Luckily the other bird made it home safely, with tears rolling down his eyes because he has lost his mate.
The chief in Hawaiiki was furious about this when he learned what had happened to his pet bird and so he sent a plague of caterpillars to destroy the kumara crop that Pourangahua had been planted from the kumara that he had given him as a gift; so Pourangahua gained nothing from his visit to Hawaiki
Pourangahua realized that the plague had been sent to destroy his crop was because he had done wrong, so he would never be able return to Hawaiki again as he would surely be killed for his cruelty to the pair of toroa..

Then Mahuika then said “Nowadays if you are lucky enough to see a toroa up close you will see that it still sheds tears every time it eats food as it remembers its mate so now they keep their distance from man. They do not trust us anymore.”
The children all looked back up the in the sky searching for a long time to see if the birds were still there but by now they had gone.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Mahuika's Tales No. 4 Te Houtaewa the runner

                       Hangi - Earth Oven

One day the children at Gannet Island village were sitting down waiting for Mahuika to start a story for them but she did not begin. “Why do you not start the story Auntie” asked one boy.

“Because there is one of you missing” she said. So all the children started looking at each other to see who was missing. Then one boy shouted out “It is Maranu, look he is coming now” and there he was, racing as fast as he could in case he had missed a part of the story.

Mahuika smiled at him as he arrived and said “It is lucky you can run as fast as Te Houtaewa otherwise you would have missed the story.”

“Who is Te Houtaewa Auntie?” all the children then asked.
“Well Te Houtaewa was the fastest runner of his day but he was a naughty boy and played many tricks especially on the neighbouring villages. I will tell you his story."

One morning his mother wanted some kumara (sweet potato) for the hangi (earth oven) and asked Te Houtaewa to go to the village garden at Te Kao a short distance away to fetch some. He agreed to fetch the kumara and bring it back in time to put in the hangi that afternoon.

Instead of going to the nearby gardens in their village, Te Houtaewa set off for the village of Ahipara as he wanted to annoy some Te Rarawa people who lived there as boys do. Carrying two large baskets for the kumara, he ran like the wind completing the journey over the hard sands of Te Oneroa a Tohe beach much quicker than anyone else could. As It takes a few hours to get a good hangi to heat up properly he knew he had plenty of time. On reaching Ahipara, he went straight to the villagers’ kumara pataka (a storehouse raised on stilts for the sweet potatoes) situated at the base of a hill.

While Te Houtaewa was filling his kete (baskets) with kumara he was spotted stealing the food and they recognised him immediately. "See who it is,” one said. “It is Te Houtaewa. Let’s catch him and we will punish him and make him work for us instead."  Te Houtaewa stood up with one kete in each hand he saw a line of people blocking his escape. Quickly he ran in the opposite direction up the hill. Not realising what he was doing they chased after him.

As he ran, the blockade which had been formed against him at the bottom of the hill was broken up with some men chasing and some staying where they were and the ranks opened up. So he turned and waited for the oncoming pursuers. As they came closer, Te Houtaewa unexpectedly rushed back past them through the gaps and headed back down the hill sending those waiting sprawling as he pushed by them headed for the beach. Te Rarawa people were so astonished that Te Houtaewa still carrying his baskets of kumara reaching the beach had headed for home.

The Te Rarawa people were very angry at being fooled by Te Houtaewa. They sent their best runners after him, calling out to him to stop. But Te Houtaewa continued to speed along the hard sand, even though he was little slower now with his heavy load.

He must be tiring carrying those heavy baskets of kumara. We will catch him soon." His pursuers said as two of their fastest men separated from the main band and nearly caught up to Te Houteawa. But he was still too fast and they never caught him.

When he finally reached home, Te Houtaewa found his mother waiting for him with the hangi now ready for the kumara to be placed in it. She never knew what her naughty son had been doing during the time he had been away.

Mahuika smiled at them as she finished her story.

“You were not stealing some kumara were you?” said one little girl turning to Maranu, the boy who arrived late.
Maranu shook his head smiling. “No, but I was running an errand for my mother.”

Sunday, 25 August 2013


I’m doing solitary

I’m on my own so to speak

Without a partner


The winter is cold

Spring doesn’t blossom for me

It is my autumn


I talk to myself

With no-one to kiss goodnight

Nobody argues


If I make a mess

It is me that cleans it up

And wash the dishes


So I have to flirt

With everyone that I meet

I hope you don’t mind

She has such beautiful eyes

I have had enough, I am going to pieces. Every time I sit down in a restaurant whether with family, friends or even strangers, I fall in love with the most engaging woman in the room. Something in me cries out and says, “Make eye contact with her, she is beautiful”. And so I do because she has eyes that laugh.

What mad gene or electrical impulse in my brain makes me do this? Perhaps the urge springs from loneliness? Perhaps it is me turning back time’s wind of change as it searches me out blowing in gusts to remind me that I am getting old. Regardless of that I cleverly follow the train of conversation around the table and I join in. You can’t keep me out because I want to talk directly to her. And so it is that the two of us are soon in a fierce discussion about politics, study, work and even children.

As each of the company cries out some bitter objection to what either of us is saying, I glance over to where she sits and find that she too is playing the game and smiles at me. And I notice her hands they are beautiful too. It is funny how much you can tell from a person’s hands. Then when that subject is exhausted at the table we alone continue talking together quieter now about nothing important; the future development on the road south or somebody we both knew at work years ago. Perhaps we are both hooked?

I am hopeless. She is probably half my age and her husband is there and he is interesting to talk to as well but regardless of that I still breathe in the scent of her. “Stop it” I tell myself. So I order another coffee and soon I hear the steam and hot water attacking the coffee grounds in the filter and before long the cup is placed before me. I stir the coffee pointlessly and wonder whether I dare look her way again. She has such beautiful eyes.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Forgotten Anniversary

I'm so irrational

There is a chill in the air

Must be my mistake


Something is amiss

But there’s a distinct fog there

Perhaps I’ll charm her


Shall I try flowers?

It may make her less sullen

Maybe chocolates?

The two weddings (Nos.107)

Final chapters

Ahu and Hatiti decided that the siblings Houhia and Rauora should both be married to their partners in the one ceremony and feast for the whole village to celebrate the event. They were virtually twins having been born on the same day both with the same father Ahuahu but chosen completely different partners.   

Whilst Houhia had not yet made love to Tiemi the English scientist, Rauora and Hakeke would find every opportunity to disappear and laugh together on a deserted beach or in the forest on the pretext of fishing together or gathering fruit and other things for their families. This was quite normal for young people at that time. Everyone guessed what they were doing but in the end Hunapo, Moana’s husband suggested one day to Rauora that they should go fishing together.

They talked about the sea and the bait and the weather until Hunapo finally spoke out directly to Rauora.

“You are the chief’s son Rauora, it would be best if Hakeke is not fat with child when you get married.”

Rauora looked down at his feet. “Has she said anything to Moana?”

“She doesn’t need to. Even I can see you both look as though you have been married for years. We can see you are already husband and wife.”

“We could not wait Hunapo. There is no shame in it. We will have a joint wedding ceremony with Tiemi and Houhia in the village after they get married at the pakeha chapel by the priest at the Ngerengere settlement there.”

At this Hunapo looked at Rauora and raised his eyebrows questioningly. Rauora continued “This is because they need to have their marriage registered on a piece of paper by the pakeha officials.”

Hunapo nodded. “Moana still thinks that you should stop seeing Hakeke until the day of the wedding ceremony.”

Rauora thought for a while and nodded sadly. “She is part of me now Hunapo. I always want her to be laughing with me.”

Hunapo shook his head. “I looked after Moana for many weeks before I took her to be my wife after her first husband died. Let Hakeke yearn for you like we did with each other. Let her need you and you need her and then your marriage will be long and happy. Moana is a precious gift for me, so let Hakeke be without you for just a little while…” Hunapo paused and then added “And you will find she will be even more beautiful.”

Rauora nodded glumly unconvinced. 

In the morning before the traditional joint wedding ceremony, arrangements had been made for Tiemi and Houhia to be married at the little mission chapel where Houhia had to promise to love, honour and obey Tiemi. Ahu and Ahuahu attended the service with a few of the village people who were brave enough to enter the building. When the service was over the couple signed the register, Tiemi writing his full name and Houhia marking the space for her name with an H. They had both agreed that she would make this mark instead of a cross as Tiemi explained it was the first letter of her name in his language and Houhia thought it was like a symbol of them both coming together and holding hands. When she said that he knew once again that he had made the right choice and they would be happy together. Already he had cleared some of the land on the property belonging to Ahuahu on the road and a small shack had been built for their home. Tiemi promised Houhia it would be a proper house one day but Houhia thought that it was enormous already with four rooms and an indoor fireplace for cooking with smoke that came out of the chimney on the roof.

After the pakeha ceremony they then returned to Black Sands and the Traditional wedding ceremony and feast began for Ahuahu’s two youngest children. Most of the village were in attendance in accordance with the Maori custom and Tiemi was dressed up in Maori clothes.

Ikawhenua and his wife, Horowai’s grandparents were brought down to the main village from the Hot Springs. The old man sat by Ahuahu’s side and whispered to him. “Ahuahu, we have done as much as we can to protect our land, we must leave it to the young ones now to keep it safe.”

Their heads were almost touching as they remembered the past and spoke of their hopes for the future as the young people danced and the newly married couples looked at each other with longing.

Tiemi was somewhat overwhelmed as he had been dressed up in traditional Maori cloak and held the symbolic warriors weapons. “You look very fierce Tiemi,” Houhia said “will you protect me and the whole village as well?”

“Can I put them down now?” he asked and she laughed, nodding and beckoned Tangaroa to relieve Tiemi of them.

“If you are not doing anything later I will show you how to use them” Tangaroa said as Houhia burst out laughing and whispered “Good, Tiemi has nothing planned.” Tangaroa then slapped Tiemi on the back and said “No, I just remembered Horowai wants me home tonight. You will have to work how to use your weapon by yourself.” He then roared with laughter again and called out as he walked away “But we can go fishing tomorrow…early.”

Houhia looked into Tiemi’s eyes, “Men like to joke at the wedding when we leave our old lives behind.”

Meanwhile Rauora sat with Hakeke and held her hand. “You have not eaten anything, Hakeke. Do you not want some fruit?”

Hakeke looked into his eyes, “I feel a little sick” then smiled a weak shy smile “Rauora, I think you have given me all I need.” She paused swallowed and then went on, “I did not think there would be three of us quite so soon.”

Rauora beamed all over his face and with his fingers played with Hakeke’s counting them and running his index finger over her palm. Hunapo came up and rubbed noses with them both and said to them, “I will not moan at you any more. You can have your babies now.” With that they all laughed.



This is the last chapter of the Ahu saga. I would like to think that there were a few communities like Black Sands that kept their own identity but sadly most of the land was stolen or the owners were cheated out of it. The Maori were a conquered nation and it has taken many years for a small proportion of the land to be returned to the original inhabitant’s descendants. However their language, art and customs are still alive despite the lives lost and the tears that have been shed. This story and characters in it are fiction and I thank the Maori nation for providing the stimulus for this saga.

Although we leave Ahu and Ahuahu at this point the teller of traditional Maori stories, Mahuika the widow from Rocky Outcrop, who we have  met before will be starting a series of her tales soon as she tells the children in the villages about their past.


Sunday, 18 August 2013

Love beyond measure

I never knew until I met you

How powerful love could be

I took my hand and placed it

On your cheek and stroked it

In our secret world of romance

You sang a rhapsody to me


We had eyes only for each other

On our blessed wedding day

I placed a ring upon your finger

And started on our life together

Laughing, joking with each other

Until the babies came our way


Oh what joy we had unbounded

And what sadness there came too

All life’s trials and tribulations

Together as we then bore them

Until you left me one sad day

To ever chase you as lovers do

Nestle in my arms

I dreamed of you again last night

So many years since you took flight

And cruelly crushed me to the floor

As without a word you slammed the door

I searched for you in every place

Were you that star in darkest space?

You used to nestle in my arms

Yes, this is a tribute to your charms

Your lips, your eyes they all were mine

Your laugh, your smile were all so fine

Who persuaded you to go away

Why was it you could not stay?

If I change, would you love me more?

My heart would be an open door

How long a period must I wait

Or have you really shut that gate?

What degree of affection do you need

How long must my poor heart bleed?

What vision splendid it would be

A rekindled love for you and me

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

The Cheat

His Story:

Need my regular

I am so late home again

She may be asleep


Her Story:

I am so distraught

He is a habitual liar

I’ll regulate him


Police report:

Just the usual

Body found, wife is distraught

Domestic gone wrong

Sunday, 11 August 2013

The path of love

When you’ve held her hand

And visited a land of delight

Try not to let go


When you’ve found the path

And discover bliss at last

Then tell no-one so


When you wake at dawn

And find your love is still warm

You must tell her so


When your parting make

Linger and finger her hair

She will love you more


When you meet again

Then hold her and kiss her nose

That you’d missed  before


When the street is full

Then clasp each other tight

She is your whole world

Reason striking a blow

The crows are circling

Over the scattered remnants

Of our long lost love


Straws blown in the wind

We once illuminated

Each others lives


Now alone again

My face so concrete and stern

You wallow in grief


Our love could not last

These pounding hearts were no match

For stark reality


Where’s the incentive                      

And what stars can we hitch to

When love’s race is run

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Just me and Joan Baez












Joan Baez





So you found me out

The lying oaf that I am

And you went berserk


So you said these words

“You’re a duplicitous swine”

And so much more too


You were pretty hurt

Well I can’t quibble with that

Your tears flowed freely


I’ll have to go to

Joan Baez’s concert alone

Her songs will suit me


Note: I managed to attend Joan Baez's first Australian concert for 20 years in Adelaide this week. What a great nostalgia trip. (P.S. I was not alone.)


Sunday, 4 August 2013

I love you so much

The sensuous shadows across the landscape

Are like your breath as you lean over me

And steal a kiss as I am dreaming

I hold your head in my hands and feel

The threads of you hair in my fingertips

Which swings free as you send me kisses

They are the bread of life for me

Being in love is the salt of all seasons

That requires no plans only constancy

We are drawn to each by the others spell

Our gravity attracts the other with desire

We are the shoes that fit so snugly

I love you so much

Our love is now gone

I am become nothing

What I was is long gone

And have no voice to sing


I hear the children play

Their games are not for me

‘Cos I’m done so they say


I wear shoes on my feet

I’ll not be absorbed by

The earth that would me eat


My mind is rambling on

And coins have a dull ring

Everything is now gone


Your eyes, your lips, your hands

All our love has now fled

Blown away with the sands