Topic: Traditional Story: The Pet Tui of Kahukino

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The ancestors of Ngaiterangi of Tauranga Moana once lived in the Opotiki area. Their pa was Tawhitirahi, set on high cliffs above the stream called Kukumoa. From here they could see along the coast and out into the Bay of Plenty. There was plenty of kaimoana there for them to eat. There were tuna and koura in the river, plenty of aruhe around about, birds to be snared, and berries to be gathered in the bush covered ranges inland. The chief of this pa was Kahukino.

Archived version here.

One day the people of Tawhitirahi received a friendly visit from an ope of Ngati Ha, a neighbouring tribe. These people were ancestors of Ngati Pukenga of Tauranga Moana. The chief of Ngati Ha greatly admired the pet tui that belonged to Kahukino. This tui was well known, not only for its beautiful singing but it could also talk. The bird had also been taught to take part in rituals and karakia. Sometimes the karakia was for supplies of food. It was also believed the tui could bewitch people. The chief of Ngati Ha wanted this tui for himself. When the visiting ope was about to leave he asked Kahukino for his pet tui. In other circumstances a gift would have been made of something admired by a visiting chief. In this case Kahukino could not bear to part with his pet and he refused to give away the tui.
The chief of Ngati Ha was very angry. He interpreted this refusal as an insult and went off home in a very bad temper. Not long after, Tawhitirahi was attacked by Ngati Ha. It was a surprise attack at night, led by the chief of Ngati Ha. The pa was taken and many of the people killed. The survivors fled inland, into the forest-covered ranges. This was the beginning of the many wanderings of the ancestors of Ngaiterangi, and all because Kahukino would not give away his pet bird, the talking tui.
The refugees from Tawhitirahi wandered among the forests and gorges of the Motu, and over the ranges inland of Turanganui, in the Poverty Bay area. They could not stay long at any one place as this was hunting ground claimed by other tribes. Finally they were taken in by Waho o te Rangi, chief of Ngati Rangihokaia, a hapu of Aetanga Hauiti, descendants of Takitimu people who had settled in the Poverty Bay area. By this time the chief of the Tawhitirahi people was Romainohorangi. Under his leadership the people stayed here and worked for Te Waho. This was not a happy time as they were little more than slaves. Romai grew old and his place was taken by his son Rangihouhiri and the people became known as Ngati Rangihouhiri.
Te Waho was also growing old. While he remained alive he knew he could keep control of Ngati Rangihouhiri as slaves. He feared some other tribe might take them after his death, or that they might attack his own people. To prevent this happening he decided it might be better to kill these slaves. Somehow Rangihouhiri heard about what might be in store for him and his people. For a long time they had considered ways of stablishing themselves somewhere as an independent people again. They pulled themselves together and withstood the attack by the people of Te Waho. Many of Te Waho's people were killed and others driven back in this fight. The people of Rangihouhiri decided to move on. They were attacked a second time by the combined forces of Aetanga Hauiti. Again Ngati Rangihouhiri showed their fighting strength.
Aetanga Hauiti decided to come to terms with Ngati Rangihouhiri. It was agreed among the chiefs on both sides that Ngati Rangihouhiri would leave the district. Aetanga Hauiti would help provide them with canoes. Some time passed while food supplies were collected together and the canoes prepared. One day Ngati Rangihouhiri sailed away from the East Coast from Whangara and headed north around East Cape and back into the Bay of Plenty. They landed at Torere and built themselves a pa there called Hakuranui.
Rangihouhiri and his people lived for a time in their pa at Torere but they did not feel comfortable there. The local people resented these newcomers building a pa and settling in for a long stay. Ngati Rangihouhiri had planted gardens nearby the pa, but the local people decided to make it difficult by harassing them when they went out to work in them. One day, two men of Ngati Rangihouhiri went out to plant the seed of the gourd in their gardens. Awatope suggested that they plant their seed by scattering it over the ground and then get away quickly back to the pa. Tukoko said he thought that was a sloppy way of doing things. The gourds would grow much better if the seed was planted properly by being put into little holes made with a stick and then covered with earth. Awatope quickly scattered the seed on his plot and took off back to the pa. Tukoko worked away at planting his seed. But he worked on too long. He was attacked and killed by a band of local men who did not want to waste this opportunity to get back at these unwelcome settlers. 

Ngati Rangihouhiri gathered together in their meeting house in the pa and talked things over. Finally it was agreed that this place was not worth fighting for. There were too many of these attacks to be comfortable. It was time to move again. They packed up and moved west along the coast. They looked longingly at their old pa at Tawhitirahi in the Opotiki district, but they could not settle there again. They did not want to go back to the place where they had been defeated, and if they did, Ngati Ha would only attack them again. And so the people of Rangihouhiri came to Whakatane. They were still refugees, wanderers, looking for a place to live.

Other stories are found off the article - An Introduction to this collection (please click) 


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