Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Mahuika's Tales No. 21 The Miraculous Flowering
Hekeheke’s wedding to Maui took place at Black Sands towards the end of winter. Her mother and her mother’s new husband as well as Mahuika also went to support her. As Hekeheke was a close friend of Mahuika, Ahuahu the head man at Black Sands allowed them to use the Village meeting house and Maui’s family felt very proud to see what a great match their son had made for this offer to be made.
Hekeheke’s mother was surprised too that she was afforded such an honor when less than a year ago she had thought her own future was uncertain as a widow until she had been invited to live with a fisherman from Gannet Island after spending all her life at Rotorua. She had accepted for the sake of her children and was completely unaware until recently how close Hekeheke had become to Mahuika the former chief’s wife from Rocky Outcrop.
Neither did she have any idea that Hekeheke was a budding village story teller until late in the evening’s celebrations when after the speeches by Ahuahu and that by Maui’s father and Maui himself had taken place, Hekeheke touched Ahuahu’s arm and asked that she might say something.
Ahuahu nodded agreement stood up and then told everyone to be quiet as Hekeheke wanted to say a few words. And so she began:
On the shore of one of the lakes at Rotorua where I came from, began Hekeheke, there sat one day a long, long, long time ago a young Maori man and a beautiful kotiro, (young girl). The man expressed his love to the beautiful girl that he sought for his wife but she just laughed. She said that girls would not choose one man so soon when there were so many other men to choose from. She just said, we will see; she would wait; she would not accept anyone’s love until an Ariki or future chief of high rank and with many skills too, performed some great and spectacular deed just for her then she would become his wife. She would wed none but a great man, a man whose exploits no one could match. Much like Maui of old she explained.
At this point everyone laughed. Then Hekeheke went on:
The prospective lover accepted the challenge. “You will see what I can do,” he said, He turned to the tree under which they were sitting. It was a Kowhai tree and the season was about the pakeha month of August which is in the cooler months of winter in Aotearoa (New Zealand). The tree was quite bare like many deciduous trees with neither leaves nor flowers.
“I shall,” said the young tohunga (future leader of his village) “make this tree spring into flower before your eyes.” With those words he summoned up all the magical powers that he could command, which he had been taught him by the wise men in the sacred houses of instruction. With his eyes closed concentrating hard he recited some magical prayers. Then all in a moment a miracle happened! The tree above them burst forth into a blaze of blossoms. All its naked limbs and branches were covered in a breathtaking display of golden hanging flowers.
The girl was amazed to see such beauty and was overwhelmed by his show of love. No man surely, could rival that wonder that this future leader of his village had performed. So she turned to him, looked at him directly in the eyes and said “If your love for me can achieve this, then yes, I will be your wife.”
Her short story completed Hekeheke then said: “Today this has happened again and Maui has colored my life with the blossoming of our love and he is now my husband and I am his wife.” She then sat down again.
Mahuika looked at Hekeheke, stunned at her ability to speak so well on her wedding day in front of so many people when up till now she had merely told stories to the children.
Everyone cheered and Maui’s father got up and said laughing “This will be long night of celebrations." Looking down at his son he went added, "I do not think anyone will get much sleep”. He then clapped Maui on the back, “You have made the best decision in your life in choosing Hekeheke my son.”
Meanwhile Mahuika was crying, for her it was a mixture of pride and sadness.
The Kowhai tree blossoms first in winter and the leaves come later. This helps birds find food in hard times.