What is Arohatia te Reo Tupuna doing

Te Aohuruhuru

PAMARAMARAMA WAS THE NAME of the pa in which lived the husband of Te Aohuruhuru. Hey what an old man. His wife, a girl of lowly birth, had been taken by him from one she loved dearly, because of her excellence, her beauty, and her accomplishments. She was skilled in all kinds of cooking and in weaving the finest mats for her old husband. But she lived the life of a slave with the old man, her heart still yearning for the loved one from whom she had been torn.

She had been so living with her old husband for a considerable time when he turned to annoying and insulting her, and this is how he set about it.

When they were in bed one night the old man woke and looked at his girl wife, who lay there almost asleep. Owing to the excessive heat, her garments had slipped down from the restless tossing of her arms and legs. He made a fire, and by its blaze he saw the clothes and his wife lying bare. Then he began to gloat over his good fortune. Gleaming were her curly tresses in the firelight, her body glowing, her skin smooth and pearly, her eyes fine and clear like a beautiful summer’s day. Her breasts rose and fell like a peaceful sea in summer lit up by the rays of the setting sun. Such what the appearance of the girl as she lay there. After the old man had spent some time in feasting his eyes on his beautiful girl wife he awakened his old cronies in the house to share in gazing upon her lovely form. While they stood looking at her she awoke to find herself being stared upon by a crowd of old men in the house. Springing up from the bed she hung her head in shame. The beautiful summer’s day had been covered by a dark cloud. Her breast quivered and throbbed as does the earth when shaken by an earthquake. She was overcome by shame and, seizing her garments to hide her body from their wicked gaze, she rushed to the furthest corner of the house and sobbed her heart out until day break.

When morning had come, the old man and his friends had embarked on their canoe and paddled out to sea to catch fish. Thereupon the girl, brooding over the insult to which her husband had subjected her, determined to end her life. There is a lofty crag standing near the shore, which is now known as Te Rerenga o te Aohuruhuru (the leaping place of Te Aohuruhuru). Then the girl decked herself out, combed her tresses, put on her best mat and adorned her head with a plume of feathers, huia, kotuku, toroa. Then she arose, reached the base of the rock, climbed up and having reached the summit, sat down there turning her thoughts to composing her death song. By the time she had finished, her husband and his friends were paddling homewards. Their canoe approached the rock upon which the girl was sitting and the old man’s heart glowed at the thought of his wife’s youthful beauty. Then they heard her singing her song. They could make out the words, now wafted over the rippling waters, now echoed back from some cliff and bringing joy to his spirit. Lists! these are the very words of the girl’s song falling clearly on the ear:

‘As I was lying there exposed
The fire was lit
The house was ablaze with light
And I was laughed at. ’

(She was dwelling on her betrayal — how when she was sunk in innocent sleep he had lit the fire and she had been humilated and shamed by her husband before the eyes of his friends.)

Having ended her song she hurled herself to destruction from the top of the rock. Her husband saw her as she hurled downwards, her white robes gleaming in her flight.

They brought the canoe to the foot of the cliff from which she had leapt and as they neared the spot they saw her lying there — her beautiful body dashed to pieces like a richly carved canoe that had been smashed into fragments on the reef.

Just so had this old man’s treasure, the girl wife of surpassing beauty, been destroyed.

To this day that rock is known to us as the Leaping Place of Te Aohuruhuru and her dying song is still retained in the memory of our people. And when visitors come to our district we lead them to this spot so they can see it themselves.