Wednesday Oct 25, 2023

Robert and the Tōtara Tree

Episode 47 - Robert and the Totara tree (Based on a True Story)

There are many true aspects to this story. Back in the day, when our koroua was young, logging companies would help themselves to trees on Māori land. Our koroua kept shotguns at the ready to scare off would-be thieves. Most importantly, there is something otherworldly in the woods. I'm talking about Fairies and Patupaiarehe. They're everywhere if you know where to look. Many years ago, when we were making pūreke, our rōpū went to harvest harakeke. We came across tiny spiders unlike anything we had ever seen. They were silver, like glitter, and shimmered when the light touched them. They had laid web lines across the harakeke as if they were protecting it. We immediately stopped, and the spiders seemed to smile as we left. When we returned home, we learnt that we had encountered patupaiarehe, the kaitiaki of the harakeke. We were fortunate; other flax gatherers had met far more aggressive Kaitiaki, the kind that leave bite marks and welts. This incident taught us the importance of asking before taking, even if it's on your whenua. But what happens when you're a logging company, it's not your whenua, and you're after the entire forest?

T. A. Whero

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