Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Mahuika's Tales No. 7. Mataaho guardian of the secrets

                       Waitekere Ranges

The children hadn’t heard a story for some days because there had been earth tremors and their parents had wanted to keep them close in case they had to escape to safer country away from the sea and the hot springs. But soon the rumbling stopped and everything returned to normal. It was typical of Mahuika to choose a story to fit what was happening around them and as the children gathered again to hear it Hekeheke joined them, smiled at Mahuika and said. “I wondered why all the children were missing then I realised that they must be here with you.”

Mahuika smiled at her so Hekeheke sat down with them and picked up one of the smallest children and sat her in her lap so that they could listen to the story together. So Mahuika began:
Long ago the land that lay between the Waitakere ranges and the Hunua ranges was fairly flat. There were no volcanoes present as there are today. The great canoes of our people had not yet arrived in Aotearoa (New Zealand) so nobody lived in this beautiful land. Well, nobody human lived here only the Patupaiarehe (Fairy people).
The Patupaiarehe were not very good at getting along with each other so they tried to avoid trouble by living in carefully chosen areas. A tribe of Patupaiarehe lived in the Waitakere ranges and a tribe of Patupaiarehe lived in the Hunua ranges.
It was a favourite pastime of the young Patupaiarehe of both iwi (tribes) to play a game called "dark run". On very dark nights when the moon did not shine, the young men would sneak out of their houses and race silently to the other tribal area. To prove that they had been there they had to return with a token to prove it.
One night the son of Waitakere whose name was Hui returned empty handed. All the other young ones laughed and made fun of him. The next time the dark run took place, again Hui took part but this time did not return with the others. Everyone was worried and his friends blamed each other for not taking better care of Hui.
Days later, the chief called a council of war and assembled the young men along the tribal boundary. They were about to begin their war chant when there was a shout and two figures appeared running across the plain. It was Hui and he was holding the hand of a beautiful young girl.
"Here, this is my token," he panted out of breath. "She is my beloved."
His father was delighted by his son’s daring in bringing her back and welcomed the girl into his tribe.
"Who is this girl?" said the people.
The beautiful girl raised her eyes and looked at Waitekere “I am a daughter of the Hunua," she replied. "My name is Wairere." 

However the fairy people of Hunua were furious when they learned that Wairere was with the Waitakere Patupaiarehe. They gathered a war party together and set off across the Tamaki plain. 

The high priest of Waitakere watched them coming and when they came close enough he took some magic hidden deep in the earth of the ranges and wove it into some deadly spells. Then he cast the spells at the advancing Hunua Patupaiarehe. Several Hunua fell, but many still kept marching on towards them.

Again the high priest reached down into the earth of the ranges for hidden magic and again he wove it into some really evil spells and hurled them at the Hunua Patupaiarehe. This time there was a stunned silence as one by one the Hunua Patupaiarehe fell and died. Suddenly the whole Tamaki plain heaved and shook. The ground cracked open and the high priest tumbled into the gaping earth and huge rocks were flung into the air. 

Mataaho, guardian of the secrets hidden in the earth, was very angry. He woke up his brother, Ruaumoko, guardian of earthquakes and volcanoes and pointed to the high priest who had helped himself to the magic. Ruaumoko shook with rage and Mataaho melted the high priest until he became a part of the magic within the earth. Then the two guardians hurled the magic into the air and hid the sun with thick clouds of smoke. They then threw more rocks into the air and melted them before they touched the ground. The Waitakere Patupaiarehe fled for their lives. 

Mahuika paused looking at the children whose eyes were wide open and and their mouths were agape. Then she continued:                                                                                                         
Many years later, just before the great canoes carrying our own people arrived in Aotearoa, an old Patupaiarehe man and woman returned to their old homeland and stared out across the Tamaki plain in disbelief and sadness. Wherever they looked they saw volcanos which had been formed after the magic of the land had been abused.

"So it was not a dream," cried Wairere.
"No," answered Hui, "and now there is no one left but us."
"Oh," wept Wairere, "These mountains of Mataaho, are all that is left of my tribe and yours." 

Wairere and Hui passed into the underworld many years ago but Nga Maunga a Mataaho, the mountains of Mataaho can still be seen poking above the skyline to the north of us, concluded Mahuika. She then pointed up towards the pakeha road that led to Auckland.

Even the teenager Hekeheke had tears in her eyes as she whispered to Mahuika, “It has happened all over again, hasn’t it? We Maori came after the Patupaiarehe fought among themselves and now the pakeha (white men) have taken over from us as we could not live peaceably together either.”


  1. I love the explanation they have for different things in your stories

  2. That could be said to be the story of mankind. Happens all over the world.