The Night Fishermen
- Jeff Williams -
This is a beautifully woven epic of changing, violent times seen through the eyes of the hirama – the night fishermen – and their warrior tribe, the Toa people of Kawhia Harbour and Kapiti Island. Set in the early years of 19th century Aotearoa (New Zealand), this story cleverly pulls together a great variety of historical strands to create a deep and hauntingly spiritual tale.
Read it carefully, for what you will probably think is fiction, may be fact. What you swear is fact, is probably fiction. It is extremely hard to fathom which is which. It is, however, much more… you are quickly, and magically, drawn into this different world of courage, spirituality and wizardry, and that other ‘real’ dimension is complex, amazing and healing.
A gift of the ancestors, this spell-binding novel is an opening of the three sacred baskets of knowledge of the creator god Io, the return of one’s soul to the true history and spirit of the islands of the Double Sea. Somewhere in here is your story…
Please enjoy - inanga
inangaon Aug 18
“I am a direct descendant of maui Potiki son of taranga I have learned my genealogy fifty generations back to maui and have been in occupation of my tribal lands from the time of maui till now. Maui built a house of learning on Hikurangi called te aho o matariki ,the knowledge of which was passed down through various houses of learning till the early 1900's and from then taught in secret to people such as my great grand father. I am absolutely sure he would turn in his grave to know pakeha are rewriting the history of our ancestor maui and his deeds. My knowledge comes from maui him self ,now I ask you ? State you whakapapa and where your knowledge comes from, from which house of learning from which tohunga ? To just say " the ancsestors" in not good enough”
To Hikurangi Riders,
I hope this is ‘good enough…’
I have no doubt that you are a direct descendant of Maui Potiki who is mentioned as the receiver of the sacred three-piece eel pendant in my book. Please realise ‘The Night Fishermen’ is a novel about a twenty-year period of the Toa tribe, and never intended as a definite interpretation of any other tribes whakapapa with the exception of those mentioned – that in itself is an exercise of great dimensions best carried out within your own tribe. I took a long enough journey in the mind and imagination to fashion a 435,000 story about Toa families of eel fishermen to really ever want to delve that deeply into tribal mystery schools again. Your note on this site was rather short and to give you a fairer answer I probably needed to know more about your iwi, Ngati Porou (or predecessors those loosely called Maruiwi) perhaps, and only because of the mystery school association.
In ‘The Night Fishermen’ that iwi is one of the least mentioned of the numerous iwi included in a true story veiled as a novel, and it is only in the Glossary – and on top of all this realise that the Glossary is not really part of the novel. Gets complex with a work of this size, and I’ll send you a .pdf of the book if you require.
Ngati Porou – tribe from the east side of the East Cape of the
North Island; also worth a book of many twists and turns; the
father of the tribe was Porou-rangi; another famous ancestor is
Paikea, rider of the paikea taniwha ‘Ruamano’ at the time of the
opening of the third sacred basket of Evil knowledge and the
ensuing storm of the ‘Angry Tide of Ruatapu’.
Their ancestral waka links are replete with the following:
Toi-Kai-Rakau the plant eater (perhaps Tamatea Mai Tawhiti
who witnessed the inferno of Big Lake Taupo in 186 AD), Maui
and his four brothers, Ngahue the Stone Shaper and Poutini, and
the Waitaha Nation; in fact, they are linked to just about every
other waka that escaped from Ra’i’atea when Whiro’s fourth
sacred basket of knowledge spilt its contents of war and
The school of learning you speak of – Te Aho Matariki at Whangara – was built by Maui Potiki and no scholar or historian who has wandered into this mysterious field disputes that. I have no doubt that his influence was given to the more well-known Te Ra-wheoro at Tolaga Bay that housed Io’s Holiest of the Holies’, read ‘kurawaka’, at its western end. I see the ancestors, those of pu korero, talking on the verandah at the eastern end – but that was long ago. And then those of Puhikai-iti come to me and we share knowledge, likewise up on East Cape in the whare whananga of Taperenui-a-Whatonga, Te Tauhu and Whare-Korero we wonder why we know these mysteries and look into the future only to see most of the stories have fallen to dust and misinterpretation, and the stealing of time has dealt the death knell to all our shared heritages. You have tohunga blood, as do I, and through it the old ones reveal their secrets – the flower of life and the treasures of Io’s twelve heavens, negotiation through the depths of all the hells and the torments of Ameto. Te Kani-a-Takirau, the most influential tohunga in your district, revered amongst several iwi, refuses to sign the tiriti of Waitangi-ki-Tua, for he sees it as the beginning of the emasculation of the wealth of several Pacific and other cultures who then called Aotearoa home. His wisdom and foresight are indisputable, and his vision sadly true.
In ‘The Night Fishermen’ I delve into several mystery schools. Taputapu-atea on Ra’i’atea (Tahiti), the school that sprouted all following mystery schools in Aotearoa gets top billing; Ahurei at Kawhia Harbour because it underlies all that happened to the Toa in their subsequent migration, Miringa Te Kakara that flourished until the building was razed to the ground, Maungatautari on the Waikato, Motu Ngarara off Kapiti Island, Island of Tuatara Guardians in ‘The Night Fishermen’), the makutu of the Muaupoko of Horowhenua, the pounamu culture of Te Wai Pounamu (Te Puna-Kaiki, Te Kohanga (Castle Hill), the ‘Ngai Tahu’ adopted pounamu culture of Waitaha practiced at Kaiapoi and Kaikoura preceding Te Rauparaha’s devastation of both; the place where tohunga met at their junction – the sacred grove, still marked on the map until this very day, the Songs of Te Rangi-Topeora, those she had me hear and those she asked me to pen in English because she had pride in them - and this list is near endless. How much fish can a man consume, how many eels do you require to win a bride?
The ancestors fade from me now, and leave me pondering your challenge to my right to be privy to these mysteries. The timekeeper in me harks to Maui Potiki and cold reason of proper temporal lineage lead to this. I disagree with your lineage of fifty generations for that is too short, considering you were located there before the great eruption of Tauponui-atea. In the 160-page Glossary to ‘The Night Fishermen’ a discerning reader will see the validity of the Timeline that puts you there well before Tamatea Mai Tawhiti witnessed the biggest explosion in recorded history and found in the records of the Chinese dynasties. But that is your own business, and I dare not interfere, I just tell it as it is.
Your Maui Potiki and the Maui, a background character only in a far vaster treasure trove of stories in ‘The Night Fishermen’ are the one and the same. Your people were extant on East Cape and beneath Hikurangi for they remained there after Maui Potiki proceeded south to find the Nest of the Gods (Te Kohanga) and thus reveal the true position of Aotea (Te Wai Pounamu). The legends are myriad, but the true one involves Maui Potiki who was of Maruiwi (Mouriuri) descent and of the three waka of Horanui-a-Tau – don’t ask me where that place is, for I was never given the information, and never pursued it further because the story unfolded as it was intended. But the route they took was from Easter Island to Taputapu-atea where Maui Potiki was given the navigational skills (simplify that as ‘jawbone’) in the greatest whare whananga so that he could indeed locate the old tides to find Aotearoa. I have no issue with your hereditary links to Maui Potiki for it is common knowledge that he had some of his people stop and settle between Poverty Bay and East Cape. This knowledge comes from Io and in no place in ‘The Night Fishermen’, tightly woven as it is, will you find dispute with your assertion. Maui Potiki guides my hand as I write this, and there is no other way with such sacred knowledge. Writing ‘The Night Fishermen’ was always this way, and if I deviated from the story as it unfolded the mothers screamed abuse in my ears, the kuia wanted their story related too and their matriarchal roles emphasised. And if your great grandfather turns in his grave as you suggest then I tend to him my sincerest apology. I don’t think he will, for in my experience the ancestors appreciate we, in breathing earthly form, to do no more than their best and relate the stories with veracity.
My tohunga, teachers of sacred knowledge come from all races and all walks of life. From the deep soul of Waitaha which indeed your people of the Rising Sun have always been considered part of, the descendants of Maui Potiki being the first of the ‘peaceful people’ to settle here. Enter the story of my fishermen and their families, much later, when Ra’i’atea was emptied of the Tainui people. You and I know that was much later – how about a thousand years - and that with them they brought the curse of Manaia upon Ngatoro-i-te-rangi and these violent people so cursed smashed the peaceful way of life that Waitaha, Tuhoe, Porou, Te Rarawa, and numerous other iwi, in thousands of villages had known for a thousand years.
Tohunga, I have known and listened to worldwide number in the thousands also, and they taught me the sacred geometry of life, the pivotal underlying basis of all mystery schools worldwide. I have shared with shaman of the Hopi Indians on a quest in the Arizona desert where I placed our pounamu on their earthly remains at their request and they literally came out of the sands to tell me their stories and the links to Aotearoa, I have listened time and again to the stories of men who chose to write valid, earth-changing information down – Waitaha, Te Rarawa, Tuwharetoa, Rapuwai, Toa, and on and on. My pounamu associations are by far my deepest teachers – Paparoa was buried in the hills I played in as a child, Poutini swam as the greenbone fish in waters where I bathed and Ngahue the Stone Shaper, who fashioned the Tainui’s sacred Korotangi at Taputapu-atea led me to sparkling pieces of pounamu on the West Coast’s pristine beaches. I learnt stone as good as a human could, and it found me as it does, and led me into the story of ‘The Night Fishermen’. All ancestors who had an interest in greenstone wanted their five bob’s worth and I gave it to them without assumption and to the best of my abilities. What a story they had to tell me, but at the heart of it all – this is a story about the Toa of Ra’i’atea and it only covers twenty years from their migration until the tiriti of Waitangi-ki-Tua – another place I have no doubt that Maui Potiki’s descendants settled for a time. Ra Kai Hau Tu has been my pathfinder through the maze of my story – founder of the nation of Waitaha at Declaration Pa – and I had the honour of living in the presence of this force when I lived on the banks of a silver stream where Ra Kai Hau Tu spent time playing his flute, also for a period of two years. Then there were tohunga of military, sacred places, etc, etc, and an exhaustive combing of Aotearoa from top to bottom for Lonely Planet when I bumped into so many tohunga, of differing races and iwi from the Chathams to The Meeting of the Waters and the triangle completed on Rakiura. Names too numerous to mention, although some get mentioned in veiled ways in ‘The Night Fishermen’.
Te Ata-o-Tu, keeper of sacred places and supreme tohunga of the ‘Ngai Tahu’ federation, a master of greenstone knowledge put these words in my hands and perhaps they best describe me.
Te Rauparaha was well pleased, as was Te Hiko who now
saw his revenge as complete. Rimu tended to the wounded, and
Tawhiri and the two hirama Tuna and Raukura mourned their
dead friends, the warrior Rapanui and the hirama Taumata.
Te Rauparaha called to a group of warriors.
“Bring the tohunga Ata-o-Tu and his wife to me.”
Everyone expected to see a display of Te Rauparaha’s
famous and terrifying wrath when the ‘Ngai Tahu’ tohunga was
dragged forward. The seer’s wife struggled against the tight
grips of two Toa warriors behind. Both prisoners started singing
their death laments, absolutely sure they were about to die. The
prisoners were thrust before the victorious Toa chief but Te
Rauparaha, in a manner of total calm and if a battle had not just
this moment ended, surprised all present with his offer.
“Do not prepare for your death Ata-o-Tu. It is not time for
such a brave warrior to take his final journey on this earth. You
have fought with valour and killed one of my best fighting
chiefs Tahau in single combat. Though others die around you at
this time, I will spare you and your wife Ao-Paki. On our return
to Motu Kapiti I wish for you to be the guardian of our sacred
places, and to wander free at the altars of Tuteremoana,
Tuhinapo and the Island of Tuatara Guardians.
A man who fights to defend his pa with such bravery is
deserving of respect, and I see that you would defend our
‘Tainui’ treasures with equal commitment. Return with my
people to the Fish of Maui, as you are now one of us, and your
wife shall sit in council with our women. It is said that you are
the holder of the twelfth heavenly basket of knowledge, the
basket of Io-Pounamu godstone.”
The southern tohunga snapped his reply.
“Let me live not for that reason alone and I will accept life.”
Te Rauparaha answered.
“You live because you are not afraid of death and I feel you
have seen many worlds before this.”
Ata-o-Tu, surprised by this turn of events, replied.
“And I shall see more later, thus I have no fear.”
The warrior chief smiled knowing that at his side he was
gathering the support of a songsinger and stone shaper priest of
renown throughout Aotearoa.
Ata-o-Tu was a man of upper jaw knowledge, having been
schooled in the traditions of the ‘old Stone people’ of the Waka
of the Gods. He was familiar with those people who understood
how to enter the mind song and participate in its magic, and had
learnt from them the true value of all types of godstone.
This ‘Ngai Tahu’ chief had close links far back to the Sky
Walkers, Stone Shapers, Water Carriers and Gardeners of the
Godstone Trails who had followed in the footsteps of Maui. He
knew the prayers and chants necessary to coax the magic from
godstone, to open trails, move weather and calm storms.”
Where ‘Maui’ occurs there, read ‘Maui Potiki’. As for me -
I am ‘Whitebait’ (înanga), Jeff Williams, my sacred lake is Te Aka Aka o Poutini, my river is the Mawhera at the Gates of Knowledge, my tide is Poutini, my maunga is Ngarara Poutini (Twelve Apostles), my hapu is Williams, my iwi is Waitaha, and that ancestor is Ra Kai Hau Tu.
You must be right bored with all this now, but if I knew who you were, and what it is you exactly wanted to know, on any mystery school subject – the likes of Te Aho Matariki at Whangara – I will spell it out in agonizing detail. But please realise, I am only human, and you are only shooting the messenger of a story that I am surprised was written a long time ago. I hope this has been of help.
PS The mystery schools had to go underground because of the Tohunga Suppression Act of 1908, correct me if I am wrong, and almost all of the teachings have lain dormant since then; that's over a hundred years ago. We are all the seed of Io...