The star Antares, one of the most famous stars with the Māori. He is said to have taken to wife Peke-hawani and their child is Rūhi-te-rangi. Other wives are the stars Kauanga and Whakaonge-kai; the former belongs to the land, the latter to the sea. Rehua has two elder children, Poanana and Tahumate, by Puanga. These were born in the month mahuru. Their task is to show that spring is approaching.
Rehua is always spoken of as a bird; it has two wings, one of which is broken. Beneath the broken wing is Te Waka-o-Tama-rereti. In a manuscript written by one Pio of Ngāti-awa is the following singular remark concerning Rehua or Rehua-i-te-rangi: —
"The children of Rehua are in the water. They take to the water in the autumn. They go to the ocean in order to give birth to their young, which are there left to be laved by the waters. In the fourth month (of the Māori year) the young return. They are called kaeaea (sparrow hawk). This is the haka for those young: —
- Te kaeaea i tuku mai rara
- I hara mai koe i te tai honuhonu o Meremere
- Ki' maturuturu koia.
- "The Kaeaea that descends there,
- Thou comest from the deep seas of Meremere
- Drip (off thee the water) then."
Rehua is always spoken of as a chief among stars. All the principal stars are the whetu rangatira (lordly stars) to the Māori, the smaller stars being the common people. The name Rehua was often applied to Māori chiefs, and when a chief died it was said: "Ko Rehua ka mate" — Rehua is dead. The wings (paihau) of Rehua are the puhihi of that star. Puhihi means a tail or streamer, as the puhihi of a kite or of a comet. An old saying was:
Na te aha i whawhati te paihau o Rehua? (What broke the wing of Rehua?) And the old men replied:
Na te taurekareka. Na nga Papaka o Wharau-rangi. (By the slaves — by the crabs of Wharaurangi).
Rehua is also known and spoken of as "Rehua kai tangata" (Rehua, destroyer of mankind). This star is seen when the crops are gathered and the war-party is abroad in the land. It is one of the stars that principally guided the chiefs and priests in their discussions. From the position of Rehua in regard to the moon omens are drawn by war-parties. "Kua tahu a Rehua" (Rehua has set fire to —) is an expression used when the warmth of summer is first felt.
When Raumati (Summer) commands Rehua, then the quivering heat is seen, the waters are dried up, and the body of man is warmed.
The following fragment is from a very ancient oriori or lullaby: —
- Ko Peke-hawani ka moe i a Rehua.
- Ko Rūhi-te-rangi ka tau kai raro.
- Te Ngahuru-tikotiko-iere.
- Ko Pou-tu-te-rangi, te matahi o te tau—
- Te putunga o te hinu, E tama E!
- "Twas Peke-hawani that married Rehua.
- Rūhi-te-rangi has alighted below.
- The Autumn of plenty is here.
- Pou-tu-te-rangi — the first sign of the year —
- (Gives) wealth of rich fat, O Son!"
- Best, Eldson. (1899). "Notes on Maori Mythology." Journal of the Polynesian Society 8:93-121, pp. 105-108, 111.
This article incorporates text from Notes on Maori Mythology (1899) by Elsdon Best, which is in the public domain.