Topic: Traditional Story: Te Maero o Hautere
In Māori tradition, the fearsome Maero (or Mohoao) are wild, violent men with long, bony fingers, hairy and unkempt with long dirty hair. They killed their prey (often people) with long, jagged fingernails and then ate them raw.
Purukupenga set off for the forests of Hautere and the land of the maero.
Purukupenga arrived at a place at the top of a rock face, the edge of a ravine. The cave of the maero, te ana taipo, was on the opposite side of the ravine. The maero smelled the smell of a human being. The cave entrance crashed open and out swooped the maero, gliding on its great bat wings across the deep gorge.
Purukupenga was ready. He turned to face the maero. He thrust the flaming torch at its face. The maero, surprised and blinded, faltered and fell. As it fell, its talons caught on the top edge of the rock face. Swiftly Puru struck at the claws clutching the rock edge with his mere. The talons snapped with the crackle of dry, rotten wood from the bloodless body of the maero. The monster roared with pain and anger. Nothing like this had ever happened to it before.
Puru danced a haka. He called the maero a taurekareka and other names. "I will say the karakia tupapaku over you," chanted Puru.
Up in the tree, a kaka laughed. The maero flew at Purukupenga in a fury. Again the flaming torch flashed in its face. The sharp-edged mere of Purukupenga cut into its head again and again.
The skull of the maero, and its claws and its body, collapsed under the blows of the mere into a mass of brittle, broken sticks.
The kaka laughed again. The kereru in the puriri tree cooed with approval.
Puru danced another haka and chanted "I have beaten the taurekareka. Ka nui te pai! Ka nui te pai!" He thrust his torch into the pile of broken bones of the maero. Purukupenga danced another haka while the crackling flames turned the remains of the maero into a pile of white ashes.
That was the end of the maero of Hautere. Somewhere up there in the bush there is still a cave, te ana taipo, which contains a pile of big, old bones.
Other stories are are found off the article - An Introduction to this collection
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