The Holy Grail
KEEPERS OF THE STONE
'We are old, as stone is old. We live for stone and walk in its ways'
WE ARE TU MATA KOKIRI AND WE ARE BORN TO THE STONE.Our ancestors endured from the earliest days; hidden behind the swirling mists of time; hidden in the hugeness of stone built so tall other eyes failed to see our monuments.
Few hear the voice locked within the stone and have the hand to strike the blows that make it sing for joy. Few see the life concealed in the hardened core or have the gentleness to bring forth the mauri without destroying its spirit. We carve only in stone. We live in the stone and the stone lives in us.
Mere Pounamu is our star. Its pulsing, changing colours shine through the God Stone to reflect the green waters of the ocean, the blue waters of the ice, the brown waters of the beech forest and the white water of the rapids. When we look above Mere Pounamu, we see Poutini, her ever watchful companion,and know his whakapapa runs to Tangaroa to join the heavens, the Gods and our peoples.
We drew close to the Water Seekers and Star Seekers of Rapuwai, for the colours of our stars touch both the waters and the stone. There was great happiness when the seed tides of Tu Mata Kokiri and Rapuwai joined and children were born to walk in the ways of the mountain streams and the realms of stone.
There were three marae in Te Kohanga, the marae of the Water Seekers of Rapuwai, the marae of the Gardeners of Waitaha and the marae of Tu Mata Kokiri and the old ones who cast their shadows long before Ra Kai Hau Tu walked these lands.
We lived among the rocks building our homes by roofing over a gap, or walling off a cave. Our dwellings were different shapes but each was warm and dry with a flax thatch and walls lined with raupo. And the hearth fires cast many shadows throughout the winter as the flames leapt high to ward off the cold. Sheltered within the curving stone we found protection from the anger of the Gods.
Our cooking fires were set apart from the dwellings. Food was cooked on hot stones, or steamed in the earth oven, for we did not use the clay pots seen by those who sailed the great waka to some of the distant islands. We knew the secrets of firing soft clays,and used that knowledge in the gentlest way to make the Mauri Stone that marked each great journey, but we went no further.
There is no mystery in this. In the dawntime, when the rocks were young, Tane Nui o Rangi took red clay and shaped and moulded it. With great purpose and power his hands formed Hine Ahu One, the First Woman, and breathed life into her. We are of that woman and we give respect to our beginnings, and the ancestors of old, by not bringing food to clay.
Stone taps on stone. A message moves from family to family to call the Stone Shapers to the sacred ridge above the marae. And they go in the dawn light with their heavy hammers and sharp cutters to carve another life in stone to remember the ancestors and the dream.
'Huge are the sacred monuments we carved at Te Kohanga'
Sadness and loss ran deep in the tears that wet the stone. Roughened hands wiped away the tides of grief that flowed with the death of Ra Kai Hau Tu, and grew weary as they placed stone on stone to honour his name. First we built his litter, then we used ever stronger timbers and ropes to raise the last rocks that fixed his gaze on the mountains to grant his wish to look on his children, the forests, the rivers and the stars forever.
Then we left the heights and went to rest with the Great Eagle. Born of other lands, and the companion of Kiwa, it came to these shores sharing the trails of those who sailed from Waitangi-Ki-Roto. Long ago we carved this mighty Pouakai to free the wairua of our ancestors to the winds. Now it perches above us with gathered wings, waiting to leap into the skies and spiral over the high passes.
Our minds fly back to the day we carried the body of Ra Kai Hau Tu to this sacred place, and lit the fires that sent the smoke aloft to call the eagles to gather and feed on greatness. They came with a rush of wings, and, when they flew the high trails of north-west wind to sweep across the mountains, the spirit of Ra Kai Hau Tu soared with them.
'Remember kiore for their courage and the wisdom of their ways'
Once again the hammer stones sent their songs across the valley. This time we worked to honour kiore, our small companion of the Long Tides. When the Tohunga climbs to the heights of the sacred ridge to read the Tides of Life in the stars, he walks beneath the shadow of Kiore, the Guardian of the heights. Kiore stands to remind us the smallest of creatures may teach how to travel the trails to wisdom. Working together, these furry little rats survive where others fail.
Kiore still calls to those who come to comfort the Earth Mother and hides from those who bring pain to the Sacred Nest. For Kiore was carved in strong stone and hidden in the land as Ra Kai Hau Tu was hidden in the land. Only those who follow the trail of the Tohunga see them live again.
'Marotini was carved to stand against the passing clouds'
A towering column of the purest stone was shaped to place Marotini in the land. She gave so much to bring Te Kumara to the Birth Place of the Gods, we asked much of the Stone Shapers when they carved her to stand against the stars.
Tall timbers and thick ropes lifted them high above the land to carve Marotini. Ever higher they climbed to cut away the curving charcoal lines to reveal the beauty of our tupuna. And when the last blow was struck, and the inner stone stood true, we made kumara to place at her feet.
'See Marama and Rona moving strongly in the Tides of Life.'
Our lives were linked by water and stone. The Water Carriers of the gardens were the many who built the mara and tended the vines. Rapuwai were the few who held the knowledge of the stars, waters, tides and trails. Tu Mata Kokiri were the ones of ancient days who walked with stone, and carried our bones to the comfort of its touch when our spirit flew the last long trail.
Waitangirua, the stream that takes its name from the sounds of tiny pebbles singing in its currents, separated the villages of the Water Carriers and Rapuwai. Downstream it was joined by Matangirau, which flows with tapu waters from the rock, but becomes noa where they meet. This is the Cave of the Upper Jaw.
It is said these streams will run as long as Rona and Marama remain lovers because all waters are bound within their embrace. With the skill and wisdom of our ancestors we brought these Gods together in soaring stone and gave their bodies the closeness few can deny in the darkness of the night. Walk beneath the stars and you will see them high above the waters of Waitangirua and Matangirau where we joined them forever in the land.
Many were the wondrous shapes worked in the stone of Te Kohanga, and none was more sacred than the Tai Atea, the stone set in place to hold the central star of Matua Tonga.'
'Song of Waitaha: The Histories of a Nation', being the teachings of Iharaira Te Meihana, Wiremu Ruka Te Korako, Taare Reweti Te Maiharoa, Perenara Hone Hare, Heremia Te Wake and Renata Kauere.
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