Friday, 25 October 2013

Mahuikas Tales No. 10. Hinemoa and Tutanekai

This story was also posted on the Sunday Scribblings site as their prompt was Myth this week. Hopefully Mahuika will return next week to relieve the teenager Hekeheke of the temporary task she was left with. To find my other stories just click Mahuika on the Labels bar.                      



Mokoia Island on Lake Rotorua

Having told her first story to the children while Mahuika was visiting Black Sands, Hekeheke became more confident and decided to tell a longer story next time. It was one that had always been her favourite. With all the children gathered around her she began.

A long time ago there lived a beautiful and high ranking young maiden (puhi) by the name of Hinemoa, the daughter of a very important chief at the time. They lived at Owhata on the eastern shores of Lake Rotorua where I used to live. Because of her rank, Hinemoa was not permitted to meet young men by herself. A husband would be chosen for her by her family and their tribe. Many young men came from far and wide to offer to marry her whose beauty was well known. However none of the suitors gained the approval to wed her.
On Mokoia Island in the centre of Lake Rotorua lived a family of several brothers. Tutanekai was the youngest of them. His mother had had an illicit affair with Tuwharetoa who came from another tribe and later Tutanekai was born. Luckily his mother’s husband was a kind man and agreed to take his wife back and to raise Tutanekai as his own son as he still loved her and did not want to give her up.

Each of the Tutanaki’s elder brothers had declared their love for Hinemoa and set out to win her hand, but none of them won approval from Hinemoa's people.
Whenever visitors came to Hinemoa’s village for meetings many young chiefs saw Hinemoa and fell in love with her. Tutanekai knew however because of his lowly birth that he would never win approval from Hinemoa's family. Tutanekai however was extremely handsome and excelled at the games of the time when the whole village and their neighbours would come to watch the men compete. It was Tutanekai's skill in these events and his good looks which caught Hinemoa's eye. She fell in love with Tutanekai and at each tribal meeting they would search each other out and look at one another. Sadly they were only able only to convey their feelings through their secret glances of longing and had never spoken as that was forbidden as she was puhi.

Neither of them could see any way their love would ever be fulfilled. Tutanekai would sit on the shores of Mokoia Island with his friend Tiki and play sad music on his flute. On very still evenings his music would reach across the lake to where Hinemoa also sat thinking of him with longing as she knew that it was him playing. She was full of sadness as knew she could never marry anyone but Tutanekai. Her family began to suspect she wanted a man they considered unsuitable and in order to prevent her sneaking away by herself pulled all the canoes on the lakes edge far from the water as they were too heavy for her to move by herself.
Night after night she listened to the music of her would be lover until her heart was breaking with sadness and she knew she could take no more. It was then she decided, if she could not use a canoe, she would have to swim. The next night, she told her people she was going to watch the evening entertainment, but in fact she headed for the lakefront, after collecting six calabashes from the cooking house. She rested by the rock named Iri iri kapua while she tied the calabashes together to form floats.
She then slipped in to the water at a beach called Wairerewai and swam for Mokoia in the dark heading for the sound of the flute being played by Tutanekai. She finally made it to Mokoia Island, but she had become so cold during her swim, she headed straight for a hot pool there named Waikimihia close to Tutanekai's house.

Once she had warmed herself, Hinemoa realised she was naked and was too shy to approach Tutanekai's house without clothes. It so happened at this time Tutanekai became thirsty, so he sent his servant down to fetch a calabash of water. The servant had to pass quite close to where Hinemoa sat in the hot spring warming herself. As he passed the pool, Hinemoa in a gruff voice called out to him 'Mo wai te wai?' (For whom is the water?) The slave answered; ‘Mo Tutanekai' (For Tutanekai) 'give it to me' demanded Hinemoa, and as soon as the slave did so she smashed the calabash on a rock at the side of the pool. When the slave returned to Tutanekai and told him what had happened, Tutanekai made him go again. Again Hinemoa challenged the slave and once again smashed the calabash. 

This time Tutanekai became angry and decided to go down to the pool himself. He dressed himself, and took a flat weapon made of greenstone called a mere and headed for the pool. Once there, he challenged whoever was in the pool to show themselves. No one moved. Hinemoa had shifted under a hanging rock which provided some protection for her naked body. She stayed there still and quiet. Then, Tutanekai felt around the edge of the rock and came to where Hinemoa hid. He grabbed her by her long hair and pulled her clear. 'Who are you and why do you annoy me?' he cried.
She answered, 'I am Hinemoa…I have you'. Tutanekai couldn't believe his ears. And when she stepped out of the water, he was sure he had never seen such a beautiful woman in all his life. Tutanekai took off his cloak and wrapped it about Hinemoa picked her up and took her to his whare to sleep. 

The next morning the people of the village rose to prepare the morning meal and remarked that Tutanekai was sleeping late that morning, as he normally was up first. After a while, his father began to think he might be ill so sent a servant to check on him. The slave went to Tutanekai's whare and as he peeked in saw four feet instead of two poking out from beneath the covers. The slave ran back to report this to his master and was sent back to investigate further. It was then he recognised Hinemoa. Such was his surprise, he began to call out 'It is Hinemoa. It is Hinemoa who lies with Tutanekai'.
The brothers would not believe the slave, and nor did any one else, but with all the noise Tutanekai stepped from his house with Hinemoa on his arm. It was then the people noticed canoes heading toward the island, and knew it was Hinemoa's family. They feared a battle would be fought and thought Hinemoa would be taken away from Tutanekai forever. 

At this point all the boys listening got excited because they thought there would be a battle.

Upon arrival her father asked where his daughter was. She appeared holding Tutaneki's hand pulling him forward. Her father then accepted that she had chosen Tutanekai herself so there was much rejoicing between the two tribes and lasting peace maintained between them as they knew now that the couple were meant for each other.

When Hekeheke finished the story all the girls looked pleased but the boys were cross as there had not been any fighting. Once again she realized that each would remember the story for different reasons. She smiled and was happy with the way she had told the story, but she still wanted Mahuika to come back soon as telling stories was not easy.


  1. No stories can be tricky to tell..although you seem to have the hang of it!

  2. A story which meant different things to different people. A delight to read.

  3. Well, you can certainly tell I'm female because I love the ending. Ok, I wouldn't mind him having to fight for her or at least to have an entertaining argument first, but as long as the couple gets to stay together and not lose anything I'm happy.

  4. Very well written. Wonderful imagery.