Wednesday, 30 April 2014

All the world's a stage

In trouble again
The atmosphere was acrid
Fire breathing dragon

Marriage is acting
Dramatic stage performance
Mine is a bit part

Quarantined, ousted
My comedy of errors
Just gets but faint praise

So I am looking
You might say that am resting
Until that starring role

photo from

Mahuika's Tales No 34 The battle between men and fish (part 2)

                       Kumukumu (Gurnard) looking bloodied and fierce

Part 2

The following evening Ahu and Ahuahu's extended family were gathered at their whare. Everyone was anxious to hear the second part of the story that Mahuika had started yesterday. She promised them an unusual twist in the story so after their meal the were soon gathered around eager to hear a story that none had ever heard before. When everyone was settled she began:

"After failing to track her husband down after he had left her despite getting some clues from his gourd that spoke to her, fate stepped in and she found that she was pregnant and gave birth to a son. As she struggled to raise him on her own she prayed to the god of the sea Tangaroa, to help her find her husband.

Tangaroa and lord of all the ocean's creatures was moved by her story, so he called on all the fish of Ranginui, sky god and father of all to come to an assembly and hoards of them came. In those ancient days all fish looked very much the same but of differing sizes. Some were as large as the whale that we know is immense and some as tiny as sprats. Tangaroa so cross that the woman had been deserted by her husband and had the raise her son by herself, told the fish that they were to find the man and slay him for his cruel act. He did this without consulting the woman.

He formed them in different companies and selected a commander for each. There was the Kumukumu (gurnard), Parore (bream), Haku (kingfish), Tamure (snapper), Whai (stingrays), Takeke (garfish), Araara (trevally) Patiki (flounders) and many others but the Tohora (whale) being the largest was made supreme commander. 

Tohora ordered his own people to stay at the rear of their forces to stop a panic if the smaller fish wanted to retreat. Then they proceeded to the village where the fugitive husband was living. They could do this for at that time so long ago the fish could move on land as well as in the water . 

The Kumukumu (gurnard) were in the forefront and led the assault and took a great punishment and those that escaped where covered in blood and cried out, which resulted in the present redness of the fish and the belief that it can be heard to cry if it is caught even today. So the Parore (bream) took their place and were spattered by the gurnard's blood which is why they have dark red spots on them now. Then the Haku (kingfish) were beaten back as well and the Tamure (snapper) were too. Even the Whai (stingray) were vanquished and many other fish took their punishment until the Tohora (whales) were able to push back the men who finally gave way and fled now weakened by the valiant efforts of all the other fish. 

Tangaroa then gave a speech praising all his troops for the courage they had shown against such an enemy. He told them all they now had the right to ask of one favor of him as a reward for their bravery in achieving victory over man. They could of course collect the spoils from the battlefield as well. So the fish all looked for a souvenir of their victory.

The Whai (stingray) found a barbed spear and asked Tangaroa for a tail like it, and it was given to them. The Tamure (snapper) saw a wahaika club and asked for one of his bones to be that shape, and this was granted. Patiki (flounder) picked up a fly swat from the village and asked to be that shape in future; Takeke (garfish) wanted a spear on his nose; on and on the requests came and each fish was granted a special color, feature or shape instead of all looking alike as they were up until that time other than being of differing sizes. 

Then the fish all returned to the sea, and content that they had achieved a great victory. 

The woman when she found out that the fish had defeated the men in the village where her husband had fled to wept when she realized that she was as badly off as before. Ranginui, god of all then decided that because of this the fish would no longer have the power to come on land but would have to remain in the seas and they have remained there ever since. 

Mahuika finished the story and looked at all the listeners who were amazed and dumbfounded at the turn of events. 

"But what does it mean, Auntie?" asked Atawhai who was Tangaroa and Horowai's daughter.

Mahuika smiled at her and then said, "What do you think Atawhai?"

Atawhai shyly said, "I think the mother should have not have asked for help, but somehow managed on her own. I think she had learned her lesson when her husband left her. She knew she made a mistake but by asking the gods for help you never know if they will favor you or not".

Mahuika smiled and clapped her hands. "How well you have understood this Atawhai".

Atawhai looked round to her parents and saw that they were smiling and nodding at her with affection.

                      Takeke (Garfish) with a spear on his nose

Author's note:

I have researched these old Maori legends for some time and it has been fun converting them to tales told by characters found in the Ahu and Ahuahu saga and Mahuika's Tales that have been posted over the last three years. I would like to thank the many unknown translators of the tales found both in books and on the web and hope that more might be told in the future. For the moment then we will say "hae kona ra" (goodbye) to our Maori friends of past times particularly Ahu and Ahuahu who started it all when I met them on a beach at Gannet Island nearly 200 years ago.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Night of terror

I am alive but not quite dead

I have become a cancer

I chew away at others lives

The beast has me in its grip 

The cheat I am is exposed 

The leaves of autumn fell 

I'm now channeled in winter’s grip
I cannot be released therefrom
I will never return back home
The devil has possessed my body
The beads of sweat drip down
The owl hoots from the branch
No, it does not speak my name
No longer do I have any hope
No, I do not deserve it

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Discussing Divorce

Over and over
Endlessly they argued on
Discussing divorce

Her tears flooded out
His anger was fuming
Because they’d both failed

She was still the same
He too was unaltered
But to part they must

If only we had children
Then we could be together
He just shook his head

He remembered her
The prettiest bride ever
Wed for a life time

What a day it was
She thought he was so handsome
With no storms ahead

Thursday, 24 April 2014

That Look

I looked in her eyes
She knew that look was forbidden
But smiled anyway

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Content in their love

Content in their love
Paul and Joan were quite adept
Pleasing each other

She loved his sweet talk
To him she was edible
Loving to eat her

Then when she said this:
“Enough of those viscous words
It’s action time, Man”

Mahuika's Tales No 33 The battle between men and fish (part 1)

                            A Maori gourd

The next time Mahuika went to Black Sands she came with Ahu and Ahuahu son Aotea and his family. There was a big celebration to be held at the hot springs in the meeting house there of their family. Tangaroa and Horowai were now the custodians of the springs and were well respected. Mahuika was glad they invited Hekeheke and Maui too. When she thanked Tangaroa he replied. "We know she is your family now, therefore she belongs to us too." But if you tell us a story it must be one we have never heard before. Have you one to tell?"

I have story that I do not really understand but I will tell it to you. Then each of us can try to interpret it. So after their meal and with everyone settled in anticipation Mahuika started her story:

There was once a man a long, long time ago who was cross with his wife who when he returned from fishing was too lazy to help him carry the fish home.He saw her throw much away except for the the two or three that she would cook that day. She didn't use the fish drying rack like other women in the village but merely expected him to provide food everyday. Eventually he determined to leave her and find a better wife. So he went down to the great forest of Tane with a fire brand in his hand. There he prayed and chanted words to the gods before he went on his journey without talking to his wife.

"If my wife follows me and ask after me" he said to the trees, "Do not tell her of me being here for she is a lazy woman who wastes the food I fetch for us." The trees swayed in the breeze and agreed to his request. When he came to a stream he talked to the water too, "I am leaving my wife who is deceitful and tiresome. I work to obtain food but she throws it away and the maggots eat it. I'll shall go to find an industrious wife. If she comes after me you will know her by her loud voice. Please do not betray me." The stream gurgled its agreement.

So the man left the forest and made his way to another settlement and told the people there his story. They invited him to stay and promised to protect him.

When his wife realized he had gone she went in search of him. When she entered the forest she called out "O trees! Has my husband gone along this path?" But the trees were still and quiet so she returned home as night was falling.

The next day she spoke to everything he had touched around the house. "O fire my husband has gone, he would have taken a fire brand with him, where is he now?" But the fire just smoldered away quietly. Then she saw his drinking gourd "O gourd, my husband touched you with his lips, surely he said where he was going? What path did he take?"  But no sound came from the gourd's mouth. The she spied the clothing he had left behind "O garments you have touched his skin and covered him while sleeping surely he murmured what he planned?" But his cloak did not move at all. She found his fishing line and said "O line, you have fished with him so many time he would talk to you confidence, tell me where he has gone." but the line said naught. But his fishing line was silent. Finally she went to the entrance door and touched the framework. "O door, you knew of all his comings and goings you must know which way he went." But the door creaked no reply. The wife then threw herself on her bed and cried herself to sleep. 

In the morning when she woke she picked their water gourd to quench her thirst. For some reason the gourd who had listened her pleading with everything her husband had touched felt sorry for her, having been kissed by her husbands lips as she had been. As she drank the gourd whispered to her, "If you break me so I need never be your servant again I will show you where your husband went. I will take you to the river he crossed." 

So the woman cracked the gourd on the floor then said "When did my husband go?"

The gourd replied "He went in the morning."

So she set off carrying the gourd with her. The gourd spoke again. "You should follow him for you have news for him."

"What news is that gourd?"

"You are with child." The gourd replied with a cracked voice. 

When they reached the river the gourd again spoke, "You husband crossed the river here. Crack me again and I will take you across and lead you on."

So the woman cracked the gourd again so hard that she broke it into pieces. When they got to the other side the gourd could no longer speak and both it and the woman became lost as they were confused by the enchanted river. They wandered about aimlessly but in the end she had to return home again. After a few months she gave birth to a son so could not search for her husband any more.

She prayed everyday to the god Tangaroa asking forgiveness for the way she wasted the food her husband had provided for her. She told him of all her troubles bringing up her son without a father telling him everything and hoped that he could help her.

Tangaroa listened and decided to help her so he gathered all the fish in the world together to solve the problem.

Mahuika stopped telling the story at this point and spoke the the family who were still listening. 
"Now this is where the story changes in a way you cannot imagine. The next time we meet I will tell you what happened."

Although everyone was disappointed they could see that as many of the children had fallen asleep either on the floor or in their parents arms so they would have to hear the second half of the story another day.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

He sat where they sat

He prayed
Where they sat
He yearned 
For days passed
He wept
At her coffin 
He couldn't let go
Why should he?

Picture from The Christian Universalist Association

I wave back at her

There is my sad face
The water is a mirror
Your heart's been stolen

Keening and rocking
I’m on the bridge to nowhere
My bones ache with love

I picture your face
And feel the warmth of your limbs
Now out of reach

I sway to and fro
To sink in oblivion
And taste death’s sharp sting

So twice I falter
Then I see this lone rower
Who smiles up at me

I wave back at her
There’s a way out of this mess
Life is not over

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Saying Goodbye

I whispered to her
Not one word did she reply
She slept on untroubled

I lay my head down
And felt the warmth of her skin
On my fingertips

How many goodbyes
How many kisses goodnight
Before the bell rings?

And then the call comes
It is hard to say goodbye
When your love has flown

The fire of your life 
Is finally extinguished
Burning everything

Picture by

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

The Political Aide

She knows I watch her
Seeks emotional release
Part of my service

I'm playing once again
Her eyes, that impassioned speech
Political of course

Fire in her belly
And elsewhere I am hoping
What a pervert I am

She catches my eye
Animating the whole hall
She is mine for sure

She knows I watch her
Seeks emotional release
Part of my service

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Mahuika's Tales No 32 The Kaka and the Kea


The Kea                                                             The Kaka

Once again Mahuika was visiting Black Springs and she had gone to visit Hekeheke in her whare. She heard laughing inside and so sang out to her to tell her that she was there. Hekeheke came out with baby Tamahika in her arms and she was still laughing.

“Come on in Mahuika” she said rubbing noses with her. I was just telling Maui of the story Hinewai told me about the Kaka bird that she heard when she lived at the village in the forest.”

“Is her former husband still there?”

Hekeheke shook her head, “The pakeha have taken over logging the trees there, the forests have been stripped nearly bare and he now lives with one his former wife's sons. The Kakas do not call there any more. I should like to go back to Rotorua to see if there are any there still.”

“You should”, remarked Mahuika, “Now please tell me the story.”

They sat down outside and Mahuika held little Tamahika in her arms as Hekeheke began her story.

“One day the Kaka was flying away from the forest for change when he saw the Kea who in those days had bright red plumage on his body which was admired by all the other birds. The Kaka wished he has such beautiful feathers and when the Kea was resting, the Kaka sidled up to him and before the Kea could defend himself the Kaka stole his bright red feathers from him leaving him some of his own and quickly flew a way.

The Kea jumped up and tried to chase the Kaka but with some feathers short he couldn’t catch him. So the poor Kea had to manage with the Kaka’s dull feathers that were left but he determined that one day he would get his own back.

The Kaka knew that the Kea would search him out so he carefully placed the bright red feathers on himself under his wings where they would not show unless he was flying. To do this he decided to live in the forest and spend his life hiding there among the trees.

Eventually the Kea came to the forest where the Kaka lived and found him perched high on a branch.

“I want my feathers back, Kaka, you stole them from me.”

The Kaka looked down at the Kea keeping very still, “Foolish bird, you can see I do not have your feathers on me.”

The Kea stared hard at him and reluctantly turned away and flew back home as he could see none of his feathers were on the Kaka. With the Kea gone, the Kaka was able to fly again and show off his red under his wings”.

Baby Tamahika had fallen asleep in Mahuika’s arms. “Thank the gods I have you Hekeheke, you have fulfilled all my hopes and dreams. You are the daughter I longed to have.”

Dum and the wanderers (Dum tales 18)

                   Australian aboriginal cave painting

The numbers living in the cave had risen and there were grumblings in the cave as some of the men wanted to move away. They were not happy staying in one place all the year round. They were the wanderers as Dum called them. They never wanted to stay in one place for long thinking that there was always somewhere better to hunt or fish or steal women than where they were.

The danger of not wandering like many others was that food and water had to be available all the year round. Many of animals and birds came and went with each season and winter was very hard when those that were left were thin and hungry just like them.

Each year a few would drift away, some would return a few weeks later with tales of hunting and the chasing and trapping involved. Dong and Grunt were tempted to go but Yum felt safe with Dum who always seem to come up with ideas of how to find food. He had invented the fish trap and the basket and he had rid the cave of bears. Even the other men in the cave had made stone axes like his rather than just use a spear. The spear was good but when thrown you might have retrieve it from an angry animal who was keen to stay alive. In fact a few of the men now carried two or three spears with them when they hunted.

Dum talked to Yum about moving. Yum thought about it for some time then shook her head. “If we wander like the others it is hard on the mothers with small children, but worse with toddlers like Wah-Wah who are heavy to carry all the time and cannot keep up with the adults. We feed ourselves quite well here and with some leaving, the hunting close by will be easier.”

Dum bent over her and touched her face with his fingers. She looked up at him and smiled “There is one more thing; we have another baby on the way.”

“Good”, Dum said simply as he stroked the hair on her head.

When Dong heard that Yum was staying she looked a little disappointed. She was silent for a bit then said. “Perhaps little Bonk and I will stay with you too. Dum will look after us all, won’t he?”

Yum shook her head laughing “No, not in that way he won’t”.

Dong blushed, laughed too and shook her head, “No of course Grunt will agree to stay as well, he likes Dum. We have never gone hungry with Dum around.”

Sunday, 13 April 2014

The china doll

Briefly an affair
Her skin was like porcelain
My fine china doll

I loved her deep voice
The prayers she chanted sadly
Her wrists as they turned

Me, hooked once again
We would meet in the moonlight
And I swore true love

She loved gaudy things
But her family wanted papers
That I provided

Now left in limbo
Tumbling in oblivion
They’re free, but not me

For I remember
Her skin was like porcelain
My fine china doll

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Love has flown away

A bowl of flowers
Once told him that she was home
Now it was winter

Cold now without her
It rained on his broken heart
She bloomed not for him

No smile of welcome
No kiss or loving embrace
From damp clay’s cold grip

No longer complete
Lost in the arid desert
Love had flown away

Image from 

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Episode in Fairyland

To set myself a test I decided to write a Fairytale out of the unlikely prompt words 

The little fairy shivered
Hid beneath the mushroom cup
To avoid the gnomes

They came swaggering
Horrible leers on their faces
They were drunk again

She closed her eyes tight
Hoping they would go away
But they sat close by

Grunting listlessly
They fell asleep at long last
And smelling like skunks

She flew quickly home
Threw her friends spring blossoms
They all clapped their hands

Are you better now?
“Yes, I’m not moody any more
Oh, please forgive me” 

Picture by

Monday, 7 April 2014

Dum leaves his mark (Dum tales 17)

Because Dum had rid the clan’s cave of bears he was allowed to choose the bearskin of his choice. The rest of the members had to argue of who deserved the others or shared them in some way.

One side benefit of setting a fire in the cave was that the bat population had gone as well. They did not worry Dum and Yum as they had an overhanging ledge of rock to sleep under that no-one else cared for. Dum did not tend to sit up straight away when he woke. His main concern was to check that Yum and Wah-Wah were safe. Yum liked her hole in the wall too it made her feel special while the other women preferred to hear the chatter of their neighbours and listen to their secrets.

Yum would sometimes reach out when Dum was asleep and touch his face and wonder how such a strange and ugly man who thought things out rather than acting rashly should be so pleased with her. She knew she had a temper and would explode every now and then. Despite this Dum just accepted that and merely got on with his life providing for his family.

Yum was very grateful too that her man was now respected rather than laughed at. She determined to reward him in some way. Perhaps she would stop hitting him so much or perhaps there was some other way she could show her appreciation of how he looked after his family. She knew he really liked her as he always slept with his arm over both her and Wah-Wah each night.

Wah-Wah was growing too and soon would be tottering around and chasing birds and butterflies when spring came round again. His was the first bearskin garment that Yum made to see how it could be done and she was now busy working on one for herself and Dum. 

She went back to their sleeping place to tidy up. It was quite snug and dark in there. As Dum was out with Wah-Wah she swept it of out bits and pieces and so she laid her firebrand on the floor so that she could use both hands. As she brushed the debris out of their corner she glanced up to see a drawing of bears on the rock above. She knew at once Dum had done it. He would definitely get a reward tonight.

Sunday, 6 April 2014


A powerful call
Tough as diamonds probably
To break up with you

I watch you dancing
Your pleated skirt swings around
Am I still in love?

Have I the power
Risk a waterfall of tears
Saying that goodbye?

Will I once again
Suspend that big decision?
Oh, what a coward

I’ll take you back home
I will unzip and unstrap
No details discussed

There’s a barrier
You love me without measure
Just who’d give that up?

Friday, 4 April 2014

I lay beside you

My streams of romance

Are lost within my conscience

With memories of you

I touch the water
and see your reflected face
Kiss the drifting weed

We splash in heaven
And embrace in paradise
I have not lost you

I breathe in your hair
Where is the summer of love?
Where is our passion?

I lay beside you
Warm body of my delight 
Renewing the streams

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Mahuika's Tales No. 31 The love story of Tahito and Tao

Mahuika was spending time at Black Sands. All knew she came to see Hekeheke and the baby even though she stayed with Ahu and Hatiti.  The whole family were once again invited to a meal with Mahuika as guest of honour and all expected to be entertained by the stories of long ago. When they were all settled Mahuika noticed that Hekeheke was wearing a shell necklace and asked her about it.

Maui made it”, she laughed. “He must have done it secretly and then one evening he put it round my neck.” She lowered her eyes and then said with a little smile, “Do not be surprised if we have another baby soon. I had to thank him properly...this was all I wore.” She fingered the necklace and blushed.

Later as the story telling began Mahuika told the tale of a shellfish that carried a message.

“A long time ago it was thought that messages of love could be sent to someone far away by sending a messenger such as a bird or even their feathers that you could whisper to and let the breeze take them away to relay your feelings to the one you love.

As we live by the sea we use different ways and can talk to seashells of our love and then place them in the sea for them to be carried away by the tides to the ones we love. Hopefully they will be walking by the shore where the shell is washed up and find the one your message is in.

This happened to two young people that had met briefly at a meeting of their clans at Opotiki. Tao-putaputa was the girl who lived at Opape and Tahito was the man who lived at Titirangi far from each other. They were introduced to each other briefly at the gathering but did not make conversation. When Tahito returned home he remembered Tao-putaputa and how beautiful she was and regretted not making his feelings known. The more he recalled her beauty, the way she walked and the soft look in her eyes the more he was determined to find her again.

As she had not shown the slightest bit of interest in him he knew he must appeal to some unseen power to work magic on Tao for her to remember their meeting and perhaps desire him. So Tahito made a necklace out of tiny shells and placed it in a ngaruru shell (turban shell). He took it down to the beach recited a charm and cast it into the sea hopefully to be carried to her. Over the next weeks the shell and the necklet inside was borne by the tides from Titirangi all the way up the coast to Opape.

Tao often went walking on the beach looking for paua shellfish but on this day she could not find any as there was virtually nothing on the beach that day except the ngaruru shell that had been washed up on the tide line. She ignored it but still walked along the beach and every time she looked at the surf there the ngaruru was.

Finally, annoyed that the shell seemed to be following her she went to pick it up. She saw the necklace inside, took it out and naturally placed it around her neck. The moment she did so she immediately thought of the man she had met so many weeks before at the tribal gathering. Her yearning for him was so great that she determined to search him out even though it was many days journey to the south.

When she arrived at Titirangi she asked for him and when they finally met again, she nodded at him and just said “Yes”. Your charm has worked.”

Everyone was very pleased with the love story especially Hekeheke who was crying her eyes out.


The gaunt figure stirred

His coffee break now over

He got back to work

He dug the damp soil

Springtime was his favorite
Life in renewal

Vile bodies wriggled
Decomposure meant good crops
He smiled happily

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Dum and the angry bears (Dum tales 16)

The bears were back. It was late autumn and the leaves were falling from the trees. The men could hear the roaring of the beasts in the forest and it wasn't safe to hunt there any more. It was difficult to argue with a bear especially an angry one. Mind you they were angry all the time “Much like Yum” thought Dum with a smile. He then glanced at her and saw the frightened look on her face. Now that she had Wah-Wah she had softened and her eyes spoke different words from those from her lips especially with him. She knew now he was a good husband and father.

The men talked among themselves but the women already knew that they might have to leave the cave that winter. They had either to fight the bears or give up their cave to them without risking a confrontation.

Somehow they had to find an alternative home because it was not easy to argue with an angry bear and even less with an angry mother bear. Some men suggested they join up with the other tribe who lived in the mountains. Some wanted to go south where it was not so cold but where food was scarce.

Dum didn't say much merely saying they should wait until the bears chose their cave. Grunt looked at Dum and saw a twinkle in his good eye.

“What do you think we should do Dum?” he asked.

“Let them look at the cave first, it may not suit them.”

“What are you thinking of doing?

“I think we should gather a lot of wood for the fire. It will be cold in the winter. It doesn't matter if it is still green it will eventually dry up; especially if we keep it inside the cave.”

“But what about the bears?” asked Grunt.

“They will decide if they want to stay when we have gone.”

Dum wouldn’t say any more but suggested they collect a lot of firewood and kindling and keep it near the entrance of the cave and even put some inside to start drying out.

It was not long before the bears came and growled with annoyance to see the cave occupied. It was lucky that few people were inside when the first bear pushed his way in through the low opening. They could see the bear and the bear could smell them and that small advantage allowed them to escape before it seized them. It was not long before a few roars attracted his mate and the bear family had settled in the cave.

All the cavemen gathered together to work out where they could spend the night. 
At Dum’s suggestion they built a few fires and slept inside their perimeter with two of the men keeping watch. “We must not let the fires go out” shouted Dum.

When it was Dum and Grunts turn to take watch they talked for a bit then Dum said he would go for a walk. He took a fire brand with him and close to the cave entrance he could hear the snuffle snorts of the bears inside so he set fire to the piles of branches and leaves that he and Grunt had place by the opening and then threw the flaming brand into the cave to burn the timber inside as well. With that he ran as fast as he could back to the encampment. Before long everyone had woken by the roars of the bears inside the cave who overcome by smoke were prevented from leaving by the fire at the entrance.

Grunt with a worried look asked Dum “Won’t they come and chase after us now?”

Dum shook his head “If any escape they won't come towards another fire will they?”

In the morning they checked the cave; the bears had not escaped but had died from the heat and smoke. Yum was very pleased. She went up to Dum and asked whether they could use the bear skins.

“It will be a lot of work but we can try.”