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p. 226

The Story of Te Huhuti 1

NOW this woman, Te Huhuti, was just like Hine-Moa. As Hine-Moa swam Lake Rotorua, so Te Huhuti swam Lake Roto-a-Tara. She belonged to the Ngati-Kahu-ngunu tribe and from her Te Hapuku is descended. The reason why she swam the lake is that she had fallen in love with Te Whatuiapiti, attracted by his handsome appearance.

She did not stop to consider the difficulty or the danger. No; all she thought was, 'Although the lake is wide and deep, what does it matter? Only let me try it and if I should sink, never mind, but if I should succeed, all the better.' (Now, my friend, just realize what this young girl had in her mind. She had no hesitation because for a long time she had longed to see this handsome young man--the darling of her heart.)

And so she swam and reached Te Whatuiapiti's home. As she was swimming she was seen by his mother and the old lady was

greatly surprised. Then she looked at Te Huhuti as she stepped out of the water on to the shore. What a lovely skin, gleaming like a white cliff! The girl slowly approached the old woman, who could now see how lovely she was, like a sunbeam lingering in the western sky.

As she came nearer the old woman said to Te Huhuti, 'You look lovelier than ever, like the rocky cliffs or like a ray of the setting sun.' The maiden kept silent. Then the old woman said, 'My dear, where are you going? And still there was no reply. Again the question was asked, and again without success. Then the old woman cried out, 'What nonsense! Why do you not answer me?' Then the maiden opened her lips and said to the old woman, 'Where is the house of Te Whatuiapiti? The old woman said, 'This is where we live, come along with me.' She took the girl by the hand and they went on to Te Whatuiapiti's house. He heard them coming and at once arose. He looked at her and greeted her warmly, as might be expected. He was glad at seeing the delight of his heart, and the maiden--well, she was happy at having reached Te Whatuiapiti with whom she had long been deeply in love.

And so they were married, and here are their descendants, and right up to the present time they keep in memory the feat of their ancestress Te Huhuti in swimming lake Roto-a-Tara, and we celebrate it in song--'Te Huhuti swam hither', etc.

You see that her descendants do not forget the part played by their ancestress. Te Huhuti was drawn to Te Whatuiapiti because of his personal attraction, but there were two other advantages possessed by him-one we might personify as Tahu and the other as Tu. Hence her reason for undertaking the journey across the lake, as she thought that by marrying Te Whatuiapiti she would share in these two, Tahu (the husband) for the harmony of peaceful days, and Tu (the warrior) for the bold face needed outside the home. Hence she was so keen to acquire Te Whatuiapiti as her husband.


226:1 This legend was not given in the original English 1855 version of the text, but was included in the 1854 Maori edition. The translation is by W.W. Bird.

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