"Fondled for years." The son of chief Poro-ua-no-ano (short space of rain, of no import) and Huru-ma-angiangi (thin feather). His parents dwelt together for a while and the time came when they expected to have a child. Huru-ma-angiangi felt a longing for a bird, and asked her husband to bring her some birds to eat. Poro took his bird-spear and went into the forest, but did not obtain any of the kinds of birds usually eaten. Instead, he brought back two living birds, one of which was a huia and the other a kotuku. These she would not eat, but kept as pets. Shortly after he went to reside at his other home, while his wife remained at her place. At the right moon she had a son who was named Tau-tini-awhitia. She fed, nourished, and brought up her son.

When he had grown he played with the other children of the place, but the other boys, who had fathers at home, would say often of the acts of Tau-tini, "The doings and acts of the fatherless boy are the most successful." When he heard these words he was very much ashamed, as he had not seen or known his father; so he went to his mother, and said, "O mother! where is my father?" She replied, "Your father is not here — he is a long way off, at a very great distance. Look towards the sunrise: there far away in that direction is your father."

Tau-tini went into the forest to find the seed-pod of the rewa-rewa. He took it to a stream to test if it would float, and, after saying his goodbyes to his mother, he went on his voyage in his canoe of the rewa-rewa pod. He arrived at the place where his father dwelt, but the people of the village each claimed him as their slave. At last he became the property of a little boy, who was also a son of Poro-ua-no-ano, by another mother. The father was much pleased at the new acquisition of his child, and said, "Take him away to dwell in the scrub."

One day, as the children were at play, Tau-tini went into the forest and brought back two birds, a huia and a kotuku. He taught the huia to say, "The fire does not burn brightly — dark, dark, darkness prevails," and the kotuku was taught to say, "The fire does not blaze, it is very dark around." Then at night he went into great house where the chief and the principal men slept and placed the birds amongst the ashes of the fireplace. First the huia cried out, followed by the kotuku.

The sleepers all awoke at the shrill cry and human words uttered by the birds. Poro-ua-no-ano rose up and stood looking for some time in silence. He at last exclaimed, "Verily this lad is my son, for those birds are of the very kind which his mother longed for." He with his own nose pressed that of his son, and wept over him and rejoiced. At the dawn of day he took his son to a stream of water and chanted the incantation and performed the usual and proper ceremonies fitting for a chief's son.



  • Tregear, Edward. (1891). Maori-Polynesian Comparative Dictionary. Wellington: Government Printer, p. 498.
  • White, John. (1887). Ancient History of the Maori. 6 vols. Wellington: G. Didsbury, Government Printer, p. 2:173.

This article incorporates text from Ancient History of the Maori (1887) by John White, which is in the public domain.