Legend - The Story of Hinemoa

It was the late afternoon of what had been a very hot day. Two old women were sitting on the shore of Rotorua, enjoying the cool breezes that wee now beginning to ruffle the still waters of the lake.

 They were weaving baskets of flax, and talking idly.

"Why, when I was a girl," said one, "we never had time to be love-sick. The men were larger than life in those days, and a girl had only herself to blame if she felt lonely. Now, look at Hinemoa --"Hinemoa," said the other severely, "is the highborn daughter of a great chief.

She can't go scampering off into the bushes with a man, like any common slut."
"Common slut, indeed," said the second. "Now, hush - here she comes."

Unaware that she was being discussed, Hinemoa walked along the beach, tears streaming from her eyes. She had just told her father, Amukaria, of her love for Tutanekai, and had been frightened by the change that had come over his face.
"This young man," he asked, suddenly menacing, "Have you been seeing him?"
"No, Father," she said, avoiding his eyes. "He does not even know I love him."
"Ha!" he said, contemptuously. "How can you love a man you do not even know?"
"But I do know him, Father," said Hinemoa.
"Be careful what you say," he warned.
"It was at the tribal gathering that I saw him," she said softly. "He had come with a party from Mokoia. He is a chief, Father, and I have heard that on his island there is none to match him as a warrior."

"I do not know him," said her father, stiffly. "He does not exist." "His eyes never once left my face," she went on dreamily, as if she had not heard him, "but how could I let him know that all the time I was aware of him? I liked his handsome looks well enough - what girl would not? But when he took his flute and played it - Oh, Father! It was then I knew I loved him."

"Enough, child," he said, impatiently. "You talk like a fool. Now hear me carefully. Forget this man, for I have plans for you more fitting to your rank. If you try to see him, I shall confine you to the house. As for Tutanekai, if he sets foot anywhere near the village he will die. Now go, and mark my words."

Now, a little later, Hinemoa was walking past the two old women, her father's words still sounding in her ears.
"Oh, Tutanekai," she cried, "what will become of us? Our love had scarcely begun - and now it seems to be over, killed by my father's cruelty. Tutanekai - if only you could talk to me! You would tell me what to do."

Then it seemed that the wind died down, and faintly above the lapping of the water she heard the sound of a flute. Soft and clear, it came across the darkening lake from the island of Mokoia.

Hinemoa stood enraptured. It was Tutanekai telling her to be brave, for he loved her and would always lover her. She sat listening to him, while the moon rose above the lake and laid a white path to the island for her dreams to tread.
When she at last went home to face an angry father, still the flute kept saying, "Be brave, Hinemoa, for I shall always be near you."

Night after night she went down to the shore, and, when she heard the flute, all her loneliness and frustration would fall away, and she would become as a young girl at the foot of her lover, listening to his voice encouraging her, filling her with hope.

Her father disapproved of the way she spent her evenings. He had even tried to force her into staying indoors, but she had sat motionless for hours and wept, so that he had to give in to her.
Now, whenever he heard the flute, he would clench his fists and scowl. "If only the wind would blow from another direction. It would end all this nonsense."
He ordered his priests to use all their magical powers to turn the wind around, and when they had failed he dismissed them angrily.

Despite Amukaria's watchfulness, Tutanekai managed to get a message to her through Tiki, his closest friend. He told her what she already knew in her heart, an her joy was complete.
Her father noticed the change and became more watchful than ever. He took the added precaution of having every canoe removed from the beach and placed under guard. Hinemoa watched unmoved, for she had already thought of a plan to outwit her father and join her lover on Mokoia. She would tie six empty gourds together as floats, and she would swim to the island.

The distance was great, and even by day it would have daunted most men. But she intended to swim by night when there would be less risk that she would be discovered.

She waited for the next moonless night, and when it grew dark she crept down to the beach. Taking off her cloak of kiwi feathers, she slipped into the water, pushed herself forward on the floats, and began swimming.
So far so good! All was quiet in the village. No one had noticed her leave.

But how cold and dark the water was! Something slimy brushed against her leg, and she almost panicked. But the voice of Tutanekai, talking through the flute, encouraged her, and she forgot her fears. On through the night she swam, until she grew so weak that several times she almost drifted off the floats, and sank. But always the flute talked to her and kept her going.

At last she felt the sharp stones of Mokoia under her feet. She dragged herself on to the beach where she lay awhile, exhausted and half-frozen. When she had recovered, she walked round the island until she found a cave warmed by a hot spring, and there she slept.
Footsteps woke her early in the morning. She looked out and saw a slave filling a calabash with water. Had she not seen him at the tribal meeting, attending on Tutanekai?
Her eyes alive with mischief, she said, "Slave, for whom are you fetching water?"
He was startled, and almost dropped the calabash. "For Tutanekai," he said. "Are you a spirit?"
"I am thirsty," she said, "Give me a drink." //He gave her the calabash, and she drank from it, and then dashed it against a rock and broke it.

"Why did you do that?" he cried. "Now my master will beat me." But Hinemoa said nothing, and the slave returned to the village, full of foreboding. Tutanekai saw him arrive empty-handed, and he shouted, "Where is the water that I asked you to fetch?"

The slave opened his mouth to speak, but Tutanekai pushed a calabash into his hand and said sharply, "Fill it - and be quick about it."

Hinemoa heard him return, and waited until he had filled the calabash for the second time. Then again she asked for water, and after she had drunk from the calabash she smashed it as she did the first. Great was Tutanekai's anger, when he heard the slave's report. Seizing his whale-bone club, he went to the cave and shouted. "Come out of there - and be prepared to die."

Then Hinemoa appeared and, with downcast eyes, she approached him, "O Tatanekai - would you kill your wife?"

The club dropped from his hand, and joyful was his cry: "Hinemoa!" "Hinemoa!" echoed the rocks. "Hinemoa!"

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