Temauri-A-Keha: An Ancient Battle

Munanui had a son named Tetaukupu, who had a daughter named Atanua who had a son named Temauri-a-Keha, who was a chief in Hao. This is a story that happened there in about 1700 and it talks about how Haoroagai was attacked by enemies from Takoto who were led by a warrior named Fakauhu. Kuranui a Meitai who was a descendant of Temauri-a-Keha tells part of this story:- “I will tell this story about Temauri. He was a warrior in the beginning, that is, in the savage times. His name was Temauri of Keha. His spear was Tenaikura. This spear was his protection. This is his eulogy, that is, his words to tell about his warriorhood and his strength. These words say: “The ocean falls at Titifara.” This is how he speaks of his spear, by saying “The ocean falls at Titifara.” That is, there is this gigantic wave, and this wave goes up so high and that is what is spear was like. That is the way of his words. “It was the same with Tupuihoa, the brother of Temauri, and his sons. This man Tupuihoa tells about his warriorhood and about the name of his spear: “The horie fish (minnow) rises up high, the ocean at Perehiti was scattered, My young shark wanders off course along the wall, it rests in its childhood, the puagari fish swims eagerly, it strikes in my homeland.” Those are the words that he spoke. That is my lesson. I have always refuted that lesson. Temauri did not give that spear, Tenaikura, to all of his sons. There were six sons. Because, they made their spears themselves. That spear it was given to his son Mereuru only. That is a deception like I said before, this is the lesson given by Temauri to his son. “That spear of Temauri, it was called Tenaikura. Because, this man, he was at Fakatefa, in the same district as Gake. There was his plantation, there was his place of living, that is what they are talking about. That is the place where grandfather died. He really knew all this lore. He knew a lot. That anthem (faatara) that you gave on the paper to that old person, I got it from him (grandfather) so that I could teach it, get it back and teach to these children.”

(This is me telling the story – Daniel Longstaff)

This group of warriors came to Hao from Takoto. Their leader was named Fakauhu. They came to this small village in Hao when the people in the village were out fishing at night. The enemies walked into the village in single file, each one stepping in the footsteps of the other, so there was only one set of footprints. Then they waited for people to return from fishing. As each small group returned from fishing the enemies killed them as they came. Last of all there was this man named Maruake and his son Tagihia who came. When they approached the village they could smell the blood of the dead people. So they started to go away, but the enemies pursued and captured the father. The son Maruake, escaped to the lagoon of Hao and started to swim away. The enemies were going to chase after the son, but the father said to the enemies, “You can catch him later.” So they didn’t chase the boy. By saying this, the father was able to save his son. The boy escaped and was able to get to the rest of the people of Hao prepared themselves for war. In the morning the enemies boarded their canoes and set sail in the lagoon of Hao. The only way that they had to exit the lagoon was to sail through a pass or an opening in the lagoon. This is where the people of Hao were waiting. When the enemies approached the pass, the chief of Hao, Temauri-a- Keha, (who was a warrior too) threw stones in front of the canoes of the enemies. He threw so many stones that he built a fishtrap in the sea that can be seen today. The enemies could not cross the fishtrap in their canoes so they beached their canoes on the lagoon side of Hao and tried to cross over to the ocean side. Perhaps they were hoping to find canoes on the ocean side of the island that they could steal. As the enemies were crossing the land the people of Hao met them and this led to a battle. Apparently the warriors of Hao were either very strong or the enemies were hopelessly outnumbered. The daughter of Temauri-a-Keha was there. I don’t doubt that she was a beautiful woman. That day, she carried a spear that had a rope tied to it. As each enemy fell she took her spear and she pushed it all the way through the body of the enemy and she pulled the rope through the body. She was sort of make a necklace of bodies. This is similar to the practice of stringing dead fish through their gills to make a fish-string necklace. After a little fighting, all the enemies were dead except for their leader, Fakauhu. When he saw his situation he turned towards the ocean side of Hao and he ran towards the beach. Temauri-a-Keha the chief of Hao followed Fakauhu. The people of Hao ran along the lagoon side of Hao with the intent to head off Fakauhu when he got to the end of Hao. As Fakauhu ran with Temauri-a-Keha those two spoke to one another. Fakauhu called back to Temauri-a-Keha that Temauri-a-Keha could not catch him. Temauri-a-Keha called out to Fakauhu, “Kaore te tui miremire a Toroatua i ki. Ko koe anake e toe mai, e ki ake!” (The fish string necklace of Toroatua is not yet full. You alone remain, it will be full!” When those two got to the end of this island of Hao, the other people of Hao were coming around the other way. This enemy chief Fakauhu tried to wade through the sea across a shallow channel to reach a little island called Opotiki. But the water slowed him down and he was caught by the people of Hao. Because he was wearing sharkskin armor around his body they could not spear him through his body. But he was speared through his armpit and the spear came out of his neck. The fish-string necklace of Toroatua was full that day. This story is done.

The last of the enemies who was killed, Fakauhu, did not die easily. At first his side were winning. They almost escaped through the pass to get to the open sea. But that failed. Then they tried to run across the land with the hope of finding a canoe. But they were ambushed by the people of Hao. Then in the battle they were killed one-by-one and strung onto the fish-string necklace of Toroatua. The last one who was killed, Fakauhu, thought that he might escape. He told that to Temauri-a-Keha. But Temauri-a-Keha answered, “The fish string necklace of Toroatua is not yet full, you alone remain. It will be full.” I think that those words put a terrible fear into the heart of Fakauhu. When Fakauhu saw that he was going to be surrounded he tried to wade through the ocean to a small island. But he was caught. Even then he wasn’t killed. The people of Hao had to work on him because he had the shark-skin armor. At first Fakauhu thought that me might escape, but bit-by-bit fate was closing in on him, like a cat playing with a mouse. I wish that the people of Hao had let him go with the warning to never return. That would have been mercy. But they had to kill him as a warning to potential enemies to leave them alone. It was justice for them. The laws today are like that. They have to administer justice. If they don’t then the people who are wronged may become vigilantes; they will take justice into their own hands, and it will be more cruel than what the laws and the judges do. God also administers justice. His word is that he will punish the sinner. The only way that he can save the sinner is if the sinner repents. But then God can only forgive the repentant sinner because he sent down his son to die by torture to pay for the punishment that would otherwise by administered to the sinner. In doing this, God paid a very great price so that he can forgive the sinner. But me, in a way I have a freedom that the law and even God does not have. I can forgive my enemies and I can do it for free. I do not need to send my son to suffer for my enemy’s sins. Or if I let my enemy go free, some part of me will not resort to vigilante justice to punish my enemy. If I don’t forgive my enemy, if I demand justice, then in God’s eyes, I must be mad. This is because I reject the power to forgive which comes to me for free.

This story came from the oral genealogy of Tapora Tinomano which is available on microfilm in genealogy libraries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Kuranui a Meitai is the one who told this story. Revised: June 13, 1996 Copyright © 1996 Daniel (Taniera) Longstaff