Sacred Texts  Pacific  Index  Previous  Next 

p. 215

The Loves of Takarangi and Rau-mahora

THERE was, several generations since, a chief of the Taranaki tribe, named Rangirarunga. His pa was called Whakarewa; it was a large pa, renowned for the strength of it fortifications. This chief had a very beautiful daughter, whose name was Rau-mahora; she was so celebrated for her beauty that the fame of it had reached all parts of these islands, and had, therefore, come to the ears of Te Rangi-apitirua, a chief of the Ngati-Awa tribes, to whom belonged the pa of Puke-ariki, on the hill where the Governor's house stood in New Plymouth. This chief had a son named Takarangi; he was the hero of his tribe. He, too, naturally heard of the beauty of Rau-mahora; and it may be that his heart sometimes dwelt long on the thoughts of such great loveliness.

Now in those days long past, there arose a war between the tribes of Te Rangi-apitirua and of the father of Rau-mahora; and the army of the Ngati-Awa tribes marched to Taranaki, to attack the pa of Rangirarunga, and the army invested that fortress, and sat before it night and day, yet they could not take it; they continued nevertheless constantly to make assaults upon it, and to attack the garrison of the fortress, so that its inhabitants became worn out from want of provisions and water, and many of them were near dying.

At last the old chief of the pa, Rangirarunga, overcome by thirst, stood on the top of the defences of the pa, and cried out to the men of the enemy's army: 'I pray you to give me one drop of water.'

p. 216

[paragraph continues] Some of his enemies, pitying the aged man, said: 'Yes'; and one ran with a calabash to give him water. But the majority being more hard-hearted were angry at this, and broke the calabash in his hands, so that not a drop of water reached the poor old man; and this was done several times, whilst his enemies continued disputing amongst themselves.

The old chief still stood on the top of the earthen wall of the fortress, and he saw the leader of the hostile force, with the symbols of his rank fastened on his head: he wore a long white comb, made from the bone of a whale, and a plume of the long downy feathers of the white heron, the emblems of his chieftainship. Then was heard by all, the voice of the aged man as he shouted to him from the top of the wall: 'Who art thou? And the other cried out to him: 'Lo, he who stands here before you is Takarangi.' And the aged chief of the pa called down to him: 'Young warrior, art thou able to still the wrathful surge which foams on the hidden rocks of the shoal of O-rongo-mai-ta-kupe?' meaning: 'Hast thou, although a chief, power to calm the wrath of these fierce men?' Then proudly replied to him the young chief: 'The wrathful surge shall be stilled; this arm of mine is one which no dog dares to bite', meaning that no plebeian hand dared touch his arm, made sacred by his deed and rank, or to dispute his will. But what Takarangi was really thinking in his heart was: 'That dying old man is the father of Rau-mahora, of that so lovely maid. Ah, how I should grieve if one so young and innocent should die tormented with the want of water.' Then he arose, and slowly went to bring water for that aged man, and for his youthful daughter; and he filled a calabash, dipping it up from the cool spring which gushes up from the earth, and is named Oringi. No word was spoken, or movement made, by the crowd of fierce and angry men, but all, resting

p. 217

upon their arms, looked on in wonder and in silence. Calm lay the sea, that was before so troubled, all timid and respectful in the lowly hero's presence; and the water was taken by Takarangi, and by him was held up to the aged chief; then was heard by all, the voice of Takarangi, as he cried aloud to him, 'There; said I not to you: "No dog would dare to bite this hand of mine?" Behold the water for you--for you and for that young girl.' Then they drank, both of them, and Takarangi gazed eagerly at the young girl, and she too looked eagerly at Takarangi; long time gazed they, each one at the other; and as the warriors of the army of Takarangi looked on, lo, he had climbed up and was sitting at the young maiden's side; and they said amongst themselves: 'O comrades, our lord Takarangi loves war, but one would think he likes Rau-mahora almost as well.'

At last a sudden thought struck the heart of the aged chief, of the father of Rau-mahora; so he said to his daughter: 'O my child, would it be pleasing to you to have this young chief for a husband?'--and the young girl said: 'I like him.' Then the old man consented that his daughter should be given as a bride to Takarangi, and he took her as his wife. Thence was that war brought to an end, and the army of Takarangi dispersed, and they returned each man to his own village, and they came back no more to make war against the tribes of Taranaki--for ever were ended their wars against them.

And the descendants of Rau-mahora dwell here in Wellington. They are Te Puni, and all his children, and his relatives. For Takarangi and Rau-mahora had a daughter named Rongouaroa, who was married to Te Whiti; and they had a son named Aniwaniwa, who married Tawhirikura; and they had a son named Rerewha-i-te-rangi, and he married Puku, who was the mother of Te Puni.

Next: Stratagem of Puhihuia's Elopement with Te Ponga