July 2: ALL TOGETHER, ONE PEOPLE: II

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Once all the canoes were beached they started to build their Pa which would have to be quite big to accommodate all 600 of them. The Morioris were fascinated by the construction and babbled away constantly whilst pointing out various features.

However, they were most puzzled as to why their Maori friends should wish to build this Pa surely they did not think that they, the little, happy Morioris would attack them. The idea was laughable and the Morois did laugh a lot. They also sang and had beautiful voices and they danced very rhythmically to the sound of a kind of flute and a drum. Whilst they were dancing they swung little balls of a vegetable like substance which grew on bushes; ­­­­ called them ‘poi balls’ and soon the Maori  girls were joining in with their dances and copying them which seemed to please them no end.

However, Terymai was most intrigued by the idea of visiting the ‘South Island’. Now the leader of the Morioris, Kaka, could speak quite a lot of Maori and so Terymai put this idea of this visit to him and he responded enthusiastically. So they made up a group of about 100 Maoris and some 60 Morioris. Before leaving, Termai warned his entourage of leaders to be on their guard against an attack from the sea by people from Tahiti and to sleep in the Pa at night.­­

It took them six days and nights to reach the South Island which seemed quite different from the North Island with much bigger forests of enormous exotic trees which contained extraordinary birds with very colourful plumage. There were also large grassy fields extending from the coast back to high snow-capped mountains on the Western side of the island. As they went further south they discovered large, fast flowing rivers, so they decided to make rafts and sail down them. Their Moriori friends proved to be very good raft builders and even better sailors using the paddles they had made. They soon reached the coast by some large fjord-like inlets in which some big fish were disporting themselves. These fish were not in the least bit frightened by the rafts and even started to leap over them which amused the Morioris no end.

Terymai meanwhile was carefully watching out for signs of any human presence and quickly spotted a man on the shore waving to them. It was a Maori but he had some Morioris with him. The Maori was called Kikba and he and his small tribe had arrived some twenty years ago as a result of internecine fighting in Tahiti. Since then they had lived here in peace with the small groups of Morioris who had apparently lived here for a long, long time. When Terymai suggested that he and his people might want to come and live here too because there was more food, Kikba raised no objection and the Moriori seemed pleased at the idea that more of his people could be living close by.

Terrymai and his group of adventurers were very tired and so after a delicious fish supper they all fell asleep. In the morning Kikba showed them a river flowing from West to East which would avoid the wearisome task of carrying their rafts up river. In two hours they were back where they had abandoned their canoe and after stowing their rafts away in the undergrowth for use on their return they made off to their original North Island base. They were very excited by what they had seen in the South Island and hoped the rest of their companions would share their enthusiasm for a move away from the danger of an attack from tribes coming from Tahiti. The Morioris were also very upbeat at the prospect of more abundant food supplies. Then as they rounded the cliffs leading to their landing spot they were aghast to see burning canoes on the beach and smoke rising from the Pa which had been totally destroyed. Corpses both Maori and Moriori were everywhere, some with the most gruesome injuries.

At last they found a few still alive who described in vivid terms how they had been surprised by a Tahitian tribe in the early morning and how the Maoris and Morioris had fought together to drive them off but had suffered  frightful casualties in the battle. Indeed the Morioris had been all but annihilated with only ten being left alive.

Terymai and his followers prepared a meal for the survivors and helped to dress their wounds. After these frightening events they were only too pleased to learn of a refuge in the South Island. The Morioris were especially pleased to learn of this sanctuary where they could recover and find succour with some of their own people.

So it was that they found a home in the South Island and prospered and are still there although a lot of people never see them because they don’t value the things that we cherish and keep to themselves. But sometimes at night you can hear the Morioris singing to the beat of the Maori drums and imagine they are having a party and dancing with their ‘poi’ balls twirling.

ALL TOGETHER, ONE PEOPLE.

Aotearoa

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