Everyone was eager for Ahuahu's next story after his short story about the Rat and the Octopus.
So they all settled down again and waited for him to begin. Houhia's little toddler had tottered over to Ahuahu and had settled in his lap as he started tell the story.
"Ati was a humble planter who lived a long time ago in the village of Arorangi on Rarotonga. One day when he went to his garden plot he discovered some of his crops were missing. So he visited his neighbors and asked if they had taken anything hoping they would say they had but forget to tell him, but they said no. He even suggested that it was their children or their animals they kept but nobody would admit to it."
"So he went away determined to catch the thieves should they return. So he hid in the bushes nearby and waited for the thief to come back. But despite waiting and trying to keep awake for several nights the thief did not return. Then one night, when there was a full moon, Ati was almost ready to doze off as he was so tired and becoming more convinced that by telling his neighbours the whole village had been warned off scaring the thief, when he heard the sound of splashing and dripping water. He glanced over to the pond that was close to his garden area and saw that it had a mysterious glow about it that was not from the moon. Then suddenly human figures began to emerge from the pool. They were almost like him except that they were white-skinned with white hair and eyelashes. He watched more in amazement than fury as they entered his garden area and uprooted and helped themselves to his kumara and other vegetables. When they had gathered enough they re-entered the pool and disappeared under its water.Ati tried to follow them but could not hold his breath long enough to stay under the water. He didn’t realize the pool was so deep and he had to give up. He then planned how he would capture these white-skins (momoke) the next time there was a full moon."
"Another twentyeight days passed and Ati lay in the bushes again, but this time he hid near the pool and watched the momoke steal his vegetables. While they were busy he threw a net that he had woven like a big fishing net over the pool to capture the momoke. When they saw him they rushed back to the pool and jumped in but as there were so many they broke the twine netting and all but one was able to escape. Ati, however was pleased he had caught this one and bundled up his captive still struggling in the net back to his home and made sure it didn’t escape."
"When morning came he took a good look at his captive and realised it was a woman. Not only did she have very fair skin and blonde long hair but even her eyes were pale. However as she was so beautiful he decided to make her his wife. At first she was unhappy about this especially as she could not go outside in the daytime because the sun was so bright that it hurt her eyes and burned her skin. However gradually she became accustomed to living in Ati's world keeping in the shadows and slept with him and eventually she bore him a son."
"Ati thought that they were very happy together. However, one day when Ati came home, he found her crying. She asked him if they could go and visit her parents as she wanted to show them their child. So that night the three of them went down to the pool. Ati held their son and they all took deep breaths before they dived in. Down, down they went but Ati could not hold his breath any longer and had to come again for more air with the baby. He tried again and again but still couldn’t make it. His wife however did not come back again to help them. Eventually, he gave up, and sat by the pool with their son crying and mourning for her knowing she would probably never return to the surface again. He named his son Ati've (which means separation) and sealed off the pool for ever."
Ahuahu had finished his story but went on to say “I expect if you ever go to Rarotonga you will still find a few people that are descended from Ati’ve. However it is so long ago since I was there I do not remember ever seeing anyone so fair. I do remember that the word for their descendants was momoko which meant white person.”
Here Ahuahu laughed and corrected himself, “No I do not mean white man like Tiemi here, because as you can see that by working outside in the sun it has made him brown almost like one of us.”
Everyone laughed and Houhia bent over Tiemi the former botanist now a farmer and rubbed noses with him. Houhia then came over and talked to Hekeheke.
"As you can see, Hekeheke I too will soon have my second baby. When is yours due?"
"Very soon Houhia, he is already telling me it won't be long", Hekeheke smiled smiled patting her tummy.
"My first one quietened down before he came, I expect yours will do the same. I do hope I have a girl this time. My father Ahuahu said that all the women in his life have made his life beautiful so I want that for Tiemi too. But look at Ahuahu now and see how baby Tiemi has fallen asleep on his lap."
"You don't know how lucky you are, Houhia," Hekeheke replied.
Houhia then put her arm around Hekeheke in a pakeha gesture, "I am so sorry, I forgot that you lost your father. But you are one of our family now."