Ngāti Awa chief, Te Keepa Toihau, had a daughter, Mereaira. She married a young Whakatõhea chief, known as Kape Tautini who came from the Õhakana Island. Even though Kape Tautini’s people were known to be enemies of the Ngāti Awa, the couple lived happily with her father. In time, a child was born.
After a while, Kape Tautini became restless among his wife’s people. He longed to be with his own people. One night, without letting anyone know he was leaving, he made his way back to his Whakatõhea people.
Mereaira missed her husband. Each day she grew sadder and more unhappy. She worried. Questioning why he had gone. Fearful of what might happen.
Not long after he left, a fleet of Whakatõhea war canoes was seen approaching with Kape Tautini leading the way.
Mereaira and her people were unprepared for an attack and grew more afraid as the warriors shouted their grievances of past insults and wounds.
Filled with love and dread, Mereaira was determined to do what she could to prevent a war. Before the warriors had a chance to begin their assault she ran to edge of the cliff and stood there, holding her baby above her head.
She cried out. “This child I hold is born of the marriage between our two peoples. Why create a child if the price is continuing bloodshed? Why not choose peace?” She held the baby out in front of her. “If this violence does not end, I will throw my child against the rocks. His life is in your hands. His death will haunt you forever.”
Kape Tautini and his warriors stopped their attack, their hearts filled with shame and respect for Mereaira. They put away their war spears. Peace was made.
Kape Tautini walked to Mereaira. She moved toward him. They embraced, tenderly holding their child between them.
December 2023 Stories (Click to read)
Age old stories of wit and wisdom from around the world. Tales retold by Nancy King.