Monday, 10 June 2013

Tawhao: A love story

We have learned a bit about Hoturoa, Kahu and Raka, but the next names on the Hoturoa line are hazy because information about them is sparse; these being Hoturoa's sons Hotuope and Hotumatapu on the traditionally used Tainui genealogies. I still prefer the theory that these were actually his brothers.
Following Hotumatapu come the names Motai, Ue, Rakamaomao, and Kakati; all these equally short on information. However, a quick review of the whakapapa of the various canoes down to kakati and his son, Tawhao, would be useful. 

Canoes:  Tainui                                 Kurahaupo                                Aotea                              Tokumaru
               Hoturoa (Captain)             Taumauri (Captain)                                                          Awangaiariki (captain)      
               Hotuhope                             Tuoho                                                                                Kamo
               Hotumatapu                       Puhiani                                                                              Tokoa
               Motai                                   Puhirere                                    Turiapateanui                  Hikamatea
               Uetapu                                 Puhiarahina                              Turimatakino                  Hikatauaronui
               Rakamaomao                      Hoea                                         Turimataoneone             Rakeiwhakairi
               Kakati ---------+--------  1. Ururangi ----------+---------  2.Kurawakaimua              Rakeiora
                                   Tawhao                                  Tuhianga                                                     Tumomi
                                   Whatihua                               Haumia                                                      Mawake

Kakati had two wives, the first being Ururangi from the Kurahaupo canoe. His second wife was Kurawakaimua from the Aotea. He had two sons who became principal chiefs; Tawhao from Ururangi and Tuhianga from Kurawakaimua. Our Hikairo line from Kakati descends through Tawhao who also had two wives; Ruaputahanga from the Aotea and Apakura from Tainui. We come through Apakura, the junior wife.

Fortunately, there is some good korero (history) on Tawhao, the son of Kakati, a prominent Tainui chief and by his time the people of Tainui had truly established their domains with territories stretching from Kawhia over to Pirongia and along the Waipa and Waikato to as far as Auckland. Additionally, much of the king Country from Otorohanga south was under Tainui control. After Kakati's death, Tawhao became the paramount chief of all that territory. Here's his story as it has been handed down through the ages. 

TAWHAO was the son of Kakati by his first wife, Ururangi. It is Tawhao who was the principal ancestor to Ngati-Apakura from which emerged Ngati-Hikairo. He spent his childhood around Kawhia but in his adult years he lived at Te Whaanga, near Whaingaroa (Raglan).

Tawhao married Punuiatekore but the couple were childless, a cause for concern in those old days. It was expected that males and females cohabit (marry) before nineteen years old and have their first child before twenty one, that first child being the one to carry the next generation. The firstborn child was crucial to the future of the family. Of course, the formula didn't always work as any number of things could happen; infant mortality was high so the child might die. The child could be killed during a raid by an enemy tribe, or, as in the case of Tawhao, a wife might be unable to conceive.

Being barren and understanding the need for offspring, Punuiatekore (the name means Unfruitful) suggested to Tawhao that he take her younger sister, Marutehiakina, as a second wife, a proposal to which he readily agreed. From Punuitekore’s idea emerged a quaint love story.

The saga began with Tawhao constructing a miniature raft on which he carefully placed his precious jade ear pendant. Proceeding to the shore, he gently placed the little craft on the water and pushed it out into the current. The raft drifted a while until it appeared a short distance away at a place known as Horea, the dwelling place of Marutehiakina. On the beach at Horea, a gaggle of children were playing in the water and spotted the raft. Excited feet splashed through the water to retrieve it but no matter how they tried, they could not snare it; it kept drifting tantalizingly out of reach. With the group, as it happened, was Marutehiakina who, after watching the children for a while, decided to observe the curious little craft more closely, and in doing so spied the token it carried. Realizing it was important; she reached out and captured it with ease. Immediately she recognized whose pendant it was and its symbolic proposal. Without delay she hurried off to her sister's dwelling and offered herself as Tawhao's junior wife.

Ironically, as the story goes, both women became pregnant at virtually the same time. A son was born to each but Marutehiakina delivered first with her older sister giving birth soon after. Marutehiakina named her son Whatihua and Punuiatekore called hers Turongo. Marutehiakina, standing on the premise of her son being the firstborn (tuakana), accredited him superior rank over his half-brother.

As might be expected, Punuiatekore took umbrage at this slight as she believed that as the senior wife her son retained the higher title. So who was right, the second wife with the firstborn son or the first wife with the son born second? Whose son would wear the mantle for the next generation? It was a problem that was to vex the family for the whole of that generation and in the process give Tawhao a lifelong headache. Not only would he have two contending wives to deal with, but also two hotly contesting sons.

All through their childhoods Whatihua and Turongo were in constant competition with each other; more so Whatihua who was the craftier of the two, Turongo being of a more obliging nature. At every opportunity Whatihua endeavoured to get the better of his brother. One would presume a lot of this was the result of the squabble between their mothers as to which boy had the right to the title of firstborn. Whatihua seemed more inclined to claim superiority than the good-natured and more popular Turongo who, as he grew up, became renowned for his bird snaring prowess and carpentry skills. He was also very appealing to the ladies. Whatihua, on the other hand, was more inclined towards the warrior life and through their childhood nearly always got the better of Turongo when it came to physical contests and craftiness.

Tawhao was a wise chief and did all he could to keep his sons from each other’s throats. He was well aware of their problem which blew out into a serious breech when they grew into men. This breech was the affair with Ruaputahanga, a celebrated puhi (beautiful young woman of rank) from the Taranaki district who came to Kawhia to marry the handsome Turongo. In a nasty act of trickery, Whatihua deceived the hapless Turongo and stole his bride-to-be and took her for himself. This was the last straw. Whatihua had done it again only this time in a particularly treacherous manner. It nearly broke Turongo's heart and spirit, and seeing this, Tawhao called the two sons together and made them both a proposition designed, one would think, to diffuse their enmity and also to keep them busy and apart from each other.

Tawhao was a mighty and powerful chief and had acquired huge swathes of territory from Kawhia all the way inland to what today constitutes the Waipa and much of the King Country. He announced to his sons that he was dividing his dominion in two and giving them these lands; Whatihua to have Kawhia northwards and inland to the Waipa while Turongo was given the lands east of Pirongia around the Kopua flats and Kakepuku then further on into the King Country where Otorohanga is today.

The stratagem must have succeeded because the stories seem to have gone quiet from then on. We might assume that Tawhao finally had peace in his house as his two sons kept out of each other’s way busily maintaining and expanded their inheritances.

Even in times of yore parenthood was not an easy business.

Written by David Bell

Sources used:

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