The Legend of Te Kanawa

Te Kanawa, a young Waikato chief, set out on a kiwi hunting expedition, accompanied by his dogs and a number of his followers.

 The hunt led them through the dense forest, and by the time darkness fell they had reached the summit of Pukemore. There was no Moon that night, and as the shadows group darker under the trees, they hastened to gather bark and dried wood and light a fire. After they had eaten they laid down between the root of a large tree. They were lying with their feet towards the fire, which died down to a dull glow. The bush was silent except for the noise of the soft wind in the tree tops.

Te Kanawa lifted his head and listened. He heard the sound of voices at some distance. Presently his companions heard it too. Thye sat up holding their bodies tense, and listening in silence, because the voices were coming closer. Someone was singing, and men, women, and children were talking together in loud tones. It could not be a taua, because women and children were among them; still less it could be a party of travellers, for they would not dare to walk through the dark forest at night. The only beings who would dare to travel through the forest and talk and sing were the patupaiarehe.

The patupaiarehe were very close now. The weird laughter and the haunting song sounded loudly on the ears of Te Kanawa and his men as they sat motionless in the fire alight. Te Kanawa saw a movement from the corner of his eye. He turned swiftly, and was in time to see a head disappear behind the root of the tree. One of the twigs caught fire and the flickering light danced on the leaves and showed his followers staring in front of them, petrified. The flame died down, and in the dull glow of more faces appeared from behind the tree trunks.

Te Kanawa thought of away to get rid of them. With trembling fingers he took the green stone tiki from his neck, a green stone ear pendant from one ear, and a white shark's tooth from the other, and hung them on a stick. The patupaiarehe came closer. Te Kanawa and has Hunter's shrank back, and it was only curiosity that brought the patupaiarehe crowding towards them.

The ornaments were left untouched, but their shadow was passed from hand to hand. They were admired for the depth of colour and lovely form. Suddenly the singing and chattering ceased, and the patupaiarehe had disappeared, taking as the prize the patterns of the neck and ear ornaments of Te Kanawa.

The tiki, the ear pendant and the shark tooth still hung from the stick, swinging to and fro, with the wind that had come ffom the passing of the Patupaiarehe. They had come in friendship, they had accepted the spirit gift of Te Kanawa and they had gone.

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