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AND the man said to him (Sir George Grey), ‘Now, O governor, just look round you, and listen to me, for there is something worth seeing here; that very spot that you are sitting upon, is the place on which sat our great ancestress Hine-Moa, when she swam over here from the main. But I’ll tell you the whole story.


‘Look you now, Rangi-Uru was the name of the mother of a chief called Tutanekai; she was, properly, the wife of Whakaue-Kaipapa (the great ancestor of the Ngatiwhakaue tribe); but she at one time ran away with a chief named Tuwharetoa (the great ancestor of the Te Heuheu and the Ngatituwharetoa tribe); before this she had three sons by Whakaue, their names were Tawakeheimoa, Ngararanui, and Tuteaiti. It was after the birth of this third son, that Rangi-Uru eloped with Tuwharetoa, who had come to Rotorua as a stranger on a visit. From this affair sprang Tutanekai, who was an illegitimate child; but finally, Whakaue and Rangi-Uru were united again, and she had another son whose name was Kopako; and then she had a daughter whom they named Tupa; she was the last child of Whakaue.


‘They all resided here on the island of Mokoia. Whakaue was very kind indeed to Tutanekai, treating him as if he was his own son; so they grew up here, Tutanekai and his elder brothers, until they attained to manhood.


‘Now there reached them here a great report of Hine-Moa, that she was a maiden of rare beauty, as well as of high rank, for Umukaria (the great ancestor of the Ngati Umu-karia-hapu, or sub-tribe) was her father; her mother’s name was Hine-Maru. When such fame attended her beauty and rank, Tutanekai and each of his elder brothers desired to have her as a wife.


‘About this time Tutanekai built an elevated balcony, on the slope of that hill just above you there, which is called Kaiweka. He had contracted a great friendship for a young man named Tiki; they were both fond of music: Tutanekai played on the horn, and Tiki on the pipe; and they used to go up into the balcony and play on their instruments in the night; and in calm evenings the sound of their music was wafted by the gentle land–breezes across the lake to the village at Owhata, where dwelt the beautiful young Hine-Moa, the young sister of Wahiao.


‘Hine-Moa could then hear the sweet sounding music of the instruments of Tutanekai and of his dear friend Tiki, which gladdened her heart Within her–every night the two friends played on their instruments in this manner–and Hine-Moa then ever said to herself: “Ah! that is the music of Tutanekai which I hear.”


‘For although Hine-Moa was so prized by her family, that they would not betroth her to any chief; nevertheless, she and Tutanekai had met each other on those occasions when all the people of Rotorua come together.


‘In those great assemblies of the people Hine-Moa had seen Tutanekai, and as they often glanced each at the other, to the heart of each of them the other appeared pleasing, and worthy of love, so that in the breast of each there grew up a secret passion for the other. Nevertheless, Tutanekai could not tell whether he might venture to approach Hine-Moa to take her hand, to see would she press his in return, because, said he: “Perhaps I may be by no means agreeable to her”; on the other hand, Hine-Moa’s heart said to her: “If you send one of your female friends to tell him of your love, perchance he will not be pleased with you.”

They often glanced at each other – The Story of Hine Moa


‘However, after they had thus met for many, many days, and had long fondly glanced each at the other, Tutanekai sent a messenger to Hine-Moa, to tell of his love; and when Hine-Moa had seen the messenger, she said: “Eh-hu! have we then each loved alike?”


‘Some time after this, and when they had often met, Tutanekai and his family returned to their own village; and being together one evening, in the large warm house of general assembly, the elder brothers of Tutanekai said: ‘Which of us has by signs, or by pressure of the hand, received proofs of the love of Hine-Moa?” And one said: “It is I who have”; and another said: “No, but it is I.” Then they also questioned Tutanekai, and he said: “I have pressed the hand of Hine-Moa, and she pressed mine in return”; but his elder brother said: “No such thing; do you think she would take any notice of such a low-born fellow as you are?” He then told his reputed father, Whakaue, to remember what he would then say to him, because he really had received proofs of Hine-Moa’s love; they had even actually arranged a good while before the time at which Hine-Moa should run away to him; and, when the maiden asked: “What shall be the sign by which I shall know that I should then run to you?” he said to her: “A trumpet will be heard sounding every night, it will be I who sound it, beloved–paddle then your canoe to that place.” So Whakaue kept in his mind this confession which Tutanekai had made to him.


‘Now always about the middle of the night Tutanekai, and his friend Tiki, went up into their balcony and played, the one upon his trumpet, the other upon his flute, and Hine-Moa heard them, and desired vastly to paddle in her canoe to Tutanekai; but her friends suspecting something, had been careful with the canoes, to leave none afloat, but had hauled then all up upon the shore of the lake; and thus her friends had always done for many days and for many nights.


‘At last she reflected in her heart, saying: “How can I then contrive to cross the lake to the island of Mokoia; it can plainly be seen that my friends suspect what I am going to do.” So she sat down upon the ground to rest; and then soft measures reached her from the horn of Tutanekai, and the young and beautiful chieftainess felt as if an earthquake shook her to make her go to the beloved of her heart; but then arose the recollection, that there was no canoe. At last she thought, perhaps I might be able to swim across. So she took six large dry empty gourds, as floats, lest she should sink in the water, three of them for each side, and she went out upon a rock, which is named Iri-iri-kapua, and from thence to the edge of the water, to the spot called Wairerewai, and there she threw off her clothes and cast herself into the water, and she reached the stump of a sunken tree which used to stand in the lake, and was called Hinewhata, and she clung to it with her hands, and rested to take breath, and when she had a little eased the weariness of her shoulders, she swam on again, and whenever she was exhausted she floated with the current of the lake, supported by the gourds, and after recovering strength she swam on again; but she could not distinguish in which direction she should proceed, from the darkness of the night; her only guide was, however, the soft measure from the instrument of Tutanekai; that was the mark by which she swam straight to Waikimihia, for just above that hot-spring was the village of Tutanekai, and swimming, at last she reached the island of Mokoia.


She clung to the gourds - The Story of Hine Moa

She clung to the gourds – The Story of Hine Moa


‘At the place where she landed on the island, there is a hot-spring separated from the lake only by a narrow ledge of rocks; this is it–it is called, as I just said, Waikimihia. Hine-Moa got into this to warm herself, for she was trembling all over, partly from the cold, after swimming in the night across the wide lake of Rotorua, and partly also, perhaps, from modesty, at the thoughts of meeting Tutanekai.


‘Whilst the maiden was thus warming herself in the hot-spring, Tutanekai happened to feel thirsty, and said to his servant: “Bring me a little water”; so his servant went to fetch water for him, and drew it from the lake in a calabash, close to the spot where Hine-Moa was sitting; the maiden, who was frightened, called out to him in a gruff voice like that of a man: “Whom is that water for?” He replied: “It’s for Tutanekai.” “Give it there, then”, said Hine-Moa. And he gave her the water, and she drank, and having finished drinking, purposely threw down the calabash, and broke it. Then the servant asked her: “What business had you to break the calabash of Tutanekai?” But Hine-Moa did not say a word in answer. The servant then went back, and Tutanekai said to him: “Where is the water I told you to bring me?” So he answered: “Your calabash was broken.” And his master asked him: “Who broke it?”–and he answered: “The man who is in the bath.” And Tutanekai said to him: “Go back again then, and fetch me some water.”


‘He, therefore, took a second calabash, and went back, and drew water in the calabash from the lake; and Hine-Moa again said to him: “Whom is that water for?”–so the slave answered as before: “For Tutanekai.” And the maiden again said: “Give it to me, for I am thirsty”; and the slave gave it to her, and she drank, and purposely threw down the calabash and broke it; and these occurrences took place repeatedly between those two persons.


‘At last the slave went again to Tutanekai, who said to him: “Where is the water for me?”-and his servant answered: “It is all gone–your calabashes have been broken.” “By whom?” said his master. “Didn’t I tell you that there is a man in the bath?” answered the servant. “Who is the fellow?” said Tutanekai. “How can I tell?” replied the slave; “why, he’s a stranger.” “Didn’t he know the water was for me?” said Tutanekai; “how did the rascal dare to break my calabashes? Why, I shall die from rage.”


‘Then Tutanekai threw on some clothes, and caught hold of his dub, and away he went, and came to the bath, and called out: “Where’s that fellow who broke my calabashes?” And Hine-Moa knew the voice, that the sound of it was that of the beloved of her heart; and she hid herself under the overhanging rocks of the hot-spring; but her hiding was hardly a real hiding, but rather a bashful concealing of herself from Tutanekai, that he might not find her at once, but only after trouble and careful searching for her; so he went feeling about along the banks of the hot-spring, searching everywhere, whilst she lay coyly hid under the ledges of the rock, peeping out, wondering when she would be found. At last he caught hold of a hand, and cried out: “Hollo, who’s this?” And Hine-Moa answered: “It’s I, Tutanekai.” And he said: “But who are you?–who’s I?” Then she spoke louder, and said: “It’s I, ’tis Hine-Moa.” And he said: “Ho! ho! ho! can such in very truth be the case? Let us two go then to my house.” And she answered: “Yes”; and she rose up in the water as beautiful as the white heron, and stepped upon the edge of the bath as graceful as the shy white crane; and he threw garments over her and took her, and they proceeded to his house, and reposed there; and thenceforth, according to the ancient laws of the Maori, they were man and wife.

he-wrapped-her-in-a-cloak The Story of Hine Moa









He threw garments over her

‘When the morning dawned, all the people of the village went forth from their houses to cook their breakfasts, and they all ate; but Tutanekai tarried in his house. So Whakaue said: “This is the first morning that Tutanekai has slept in this way, perhaps the lad is ill–bring him here–rouse him up.” Then the man who was to fetch him went, and drew back the sliding wooden window of the house, and peeping in, saw four feet. Oh! he was greatly amazed, and said to himself: “Who can this companion of his be?” However, he had seen quite enough, and turning about, hurried back as fast as he could to Whakaue, and said to him: “Why, there are four feet, I saw them myself in the house.” Whakaue answered: “Who is his companion then? hasten back and see.” So back he went to the house, and peeped in at them again, and then for the first time he saw it was Hine-Moa. Then he shouted out in his amazement: “Oh! here’s Hine-Moa, here’s Hine-Moa, in the house of Tutanekai”; and all the village heard him, and there arose cries on every side, “Oh! here’s Hine-Moa, here’s Hine-Moa with Tutanekai.” And his elder brothers heard the shouting, and they said: “It is not true!”–for they were very jealous indeed. Tutanekai then appeared coming from his house, and Hine-Moa following him, and his elder brothers saw that it was indeed Hine-Moa; and they said: “It is true! It is a fact!”


‘After these things, Tiki thought within himself: “Tutanekai has married Hine-Moa, she whom he loved; but as for me, alas! I have no wife”; and he became sorrowful, and returned to his own village. And Tutanekai was grieved for Tiki; and he said to Whakaue: “I am quite ill from grief for my friend Tiki”; and Whakaue said: “What do you mean?” And Tutanekai replied: “I refer to my young sister Tupa; let her be given as a wife to my beloved friend, to Tiki”; and his reputed father Whakaue consented to this; so his young sister Tupa was given to Tiki, and she became his wife.


‘The descendants of Hine-Moa and of Tutanekai are at this very day dwelling on the lake of Rotorua, and never yet have the lips of the offspring of Hine-Moa forgotten to repeat tales of the great beauty of their renowned ancestress Hine-Moa, and of her swimming over here; and this too is the burden of a song still current.’


As Odin was the leader of all disembodied spirits, he was identified in the middle ages with the Pied Piper of Hamelin. According to mediæval legends, Hamelin was so infested by rats that life became unbearable, and a large reward was offered to any who would rid the town of these rodents. A piper, in parti-coloured garments, offered to undertake the commission, and the terms being accepted, he commenced to play through the streets in such wise that, one and all, the rats were beguiled out of their holes until they formed a vast procession. There was that in the strains which compelled them to follow, until at last the river Weser was reached, and all were drowned in its tide.

The Pied Piper of Hamelin from Myths of the Norsemen“And ere three shrill notes the pipe uttered,

You heard as if an army muttered;

And the muttering grew to a grumbling;

And the grumbling grew to a mighty rumbling;

And out of the houses the rats came tumbling.

Great rats, small rats, lean rats, brawny rats,

Brown rats, black rats, grey rats, tawny rats,

Grave old plodders, gay young friskers,

Fathers, mothers, uncles, cousins,

Cocking tails and pricking whiskers,

Families by tens and dozens,

Brothers, sisters, husbands, wives—

Followed the Piper for their lives.

From street to street he piped advancing,

And step for step they followed dancing,

Until they came to the river Weser,

Wherein all plunged and perished!”

Robert Browning.

As the rats were all dead, and there was no chance of their returning to plague them, the people of Hamelin refused to pay the reward, and they bade the piper do his worst. He took them at their word, and a few moments later the weird strains of the magic flute again arose, and this time it was the children who swarmed out of the houses and merrily followed the piper.

“There was a rustling that seemed like a bustling

Of merry crowds justling at pitching and hustling;

Small feet were pattering, wooden shoes clattering,

Little hands clapping and little tongues chattering,

And, like fowls in a farmyard when barley is scattering,

Out came all the children running.

All the little boys and girls,

With rosy cheeks and flaxen curls,

And sparkling eyes and teeth like pearls,

Tripping and skipping, ran merrily after

The wonderful music with shouting and laughter.”

Robert Browning.

The burghers were powerless to prevent the tragedy, and as they stood spellbound the piper led the children out of the town to the Koppelberg, a hill on the confines of the town, which miraculously opened to receive the procession, and only closed again when the last child had passed out of sight. This legend probably originated the adage “to pay the piper.” The children were never seen in Hamelin again, and in commemoration of this public calamity all official decrees have since been dated so many years after the Pied Piper’s visit.

“They made a decree that lawyers never

Should think their records dated duly

If, after the day of the month and year,

These words did not as well appear,

’And so long after what happened here

On the Twenty-second of July,

Thirteen hundred and seventy-six:’

And the better in memory to fix

The place of the children’s last retreat,

They called it the Pied Piper Street—

Where any one playing on pipe or tabor

Was sure for the future to lose his labour.”

Robert Browning.

In this myth Odin is the piper, the shrill tones of the flute are emblematic of the whistling wind, the rats represent the souls of the dead, which cheerfully follow him, and the hollow mountain into which he leads the children is typical of the grave.


From MYTHS OF THE NORSEMEN translated by H. A. Geurber

Illustrated by various artists

ISBN: 978-1-907256-65-3


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Myths of the Norsemen by H A Geurber