Apera – The Wise One

The warriors kept themselves silently veiled behind either bush or tree, their weapons concealed. The evergreen forest was dense and very little light penetrated through the trees. A moa was busy pulling out and swallowing worms from a hole in the grass, unaware of the danger that lurked. Just then one of the warriors threw his spear and hit the moa in its side. The warriors waited for their target to fall and succumb to its wounds. They emerged from their hiding places when they felt it was safe and carried their kill back to their village with them. They were of the Ngati Haua tribe and the chief welcomed them back with the traditional welcome Haka to celebrate their successful hunt.


That night the hunt was celebrated at a feast; a new hunter was to be picked to lead the tribe’s hunting team, a man who scored a direct hit. The evening was filled with music and dance with poi balls and vibrant attire adorned by both men and women. It was outside the maraein which chief Aperahama of the village along with the village elders and all members of the hunting party held a meeting to select the new lead hunter; Atawahiwas the new lead hunter. Everyone in the village cheered as they welcomed the news of his selection. All the men of the hunting group brandishing their weapons, bowed before their chief, the village elders and their new leader before returning to join the festivities.                                                                                                                                   


During the feast, one of the hunters who was part of the meeting, envied the new hunter. While he was proud of Atawahi and was happy for his new position, he wondered why he was never chosen even though he was successful at every hunt. “Do they not like me? Why am I not rewarded?” Even though he was the youngest member of his group, there was no doubt that he was the most successful. While his thoughts flowed, he was joined by his wife, Ahere and his two children Haki and Hauora.  Ahere knew what bothered her husband and felt his pain; today was yet another disappointing day for him. His children hugged him and said “You’re still the best hunter daddy”. When the feast was over, Ahere noticed that her husband was still very preoccupied. “Take a walk by the sea tomorrow, it is always calming”.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   


The following day, Apera walked down for what seemed like hours along the seaside. He was familiar with every inch of the beach. Around noon, he sat under his favourite Pohutakawa tree immersed in his usual thought. He dreamed of becoming the lead hunter. He wondered why he was never chosen. The waves, gently struck the shore before returning to the sea. The trees and bushes shone bright green while the korus were still to unwrap. It just did not seem fair. All of a sudden, a voice called out from the sea “What is it that bothers you, young one?”  Apera looked at the shallow waters where gazing at him, was a Taniwha. Despite his surprise, Apera felt a deep calmness within himself which prompted him to share his feelings with the water being. “I am the most determined and successful hunter of my tribe. However success eludes me and I am not recognised. Why am I not chosen as the lead hunter?”  “Search within yourself” said the Taniwha. “Appreciate what you are blessed with. You are a skilled hunter, you have a loving family and what you do not realise is you are a wise one. Of course you wish to be a lead of your hunting group, that is but natural! Yet, your time to lead will come when the time is right. You have much to learn as yet and to teach. Until then, treasure and share what you have for this group for your skills and wisdom are of great use to them”. His speech complete, the Taniwhavanished back into the waters.


After his encounter with the Taniwha, Apera returned to the village, feeling different. His obsessive ambition of becoming the lead hunter of his village did not arouse as much interest as it did before. The next time that the party went out for a hunt, Aperaaccompanied them with enthusiasm and an energy that he had never felt before. He seemed to enjoy watching the party and contributing to the hunt almost effortlessly. He was happy to help wherever he was needed and realised that it gave him more satisfaction than trying to be the best hunter. He also watched the senior hunters on his team to learn from their experience and that gave him a deep sense of gratitude.


Meanwhile, the neighbouring tribe Ngati Awa was in continuous conflict with Apera’s tribe over territory. Although there was enough land for both the tribes to co-exist in peace, the Awa tribe threatened the Hauas every now and then causing damage to life and belongings. Even though Apera participated in the tribal conflict, he believed that there was a better way out of these conflicts. He spoke to his village elders about the pointlessness of these conflicts which he believed could be resolved quite easily. The elders were worried because the Awas were not easy to communicate with. Any attempts to negotiate with them could make the conflicting situation worse. However Apera was able to convince the elders that he could easily reason with the Awas. He was willing to risk his life for the sake of continuing peace and prosperity for his tribe. He decided to visit the Awas with his plan of sharing the land on which both tribes lived and argued over. When he reached the Awa village, he was attacked as expected but bravely fought off his persecutors and managed to convey to them that he was there for a purpose. Soon the Awas realised what Aperahad come for, and took him to their elders. Aperawas successfully able to convince them that both tribes could live in peace and invited the Awa elders to his village to talk to his elders in order to work out a solution. In due course the two villages, began to co-exist without any conflict whatsoever. The village elders lauded Apera’s efforts and recognised him for the wisdom and courage that he had shown to achieve this result. Both tribes recognised his ability of not only being a skilled hunter but also an able negotiator.


Aperainvolved himself with the work at the marae, helping to organise meetings and sort out matters or differences. The younger men and children of the tribe often sought Apera’sadvice on various things such as weaponry, hunting and life skills. Apera spent time with the young people by teaching them the secrets of nature as were taught to him by the elders. He also spent time with children telling them about ancient legends and heroic tales. He helped other members of his tribe to build homes, to heal illnesses and keep a good spirit. He seemed to be joyful and energetic at all times and a source of inspiration to all his tribes folk.  Sometimes Aperawould choose not to go on a hunt and be there to welcome back his party by participating in the welcome back haka. He loved doing the haka as it gave him pleasure to celebrate others’ success. As time went by, Apera also ventured out of the village by himself to learn the different messages of nature to help himself and his folk. Years passed with Aperacontinuing his observances and one day, many years after Apera had met the Taniwha, he and his hunting party were tracking another moa.


 It was a fully grown male who was quite aggressive, kicking or head-swashing at any hunter who got too close. It even paid close attention to thick spots where it could smell out hunters. Then all of a sudden, from above, fell a spear which hit the moa, causing it to collapse to the ground, lifeless. Apera jumped down from the branches that stretched above them. His companions swarmed around him in delight. “That was a very clever tactic! It would have been impossible to get this moa otherwise” yelled one of them.


 That night, a grand party was held in the village, to herald the arrival of the new hunting leader. Apera found himself in the same place and was received the same way as the last lead hunter, his rank being bestowed upon by Aperahama the village chief and the village elders after they listened to how Apera had brought down the Moa that day. Also in attendance alongside Apera and the others were his wife and children to whom he told of his encounter with the Taniwha. That encounter had changed his life to make it one where he enjoyed helping others. His service to others made him forget his need to be recognised and in turn he did get recognised in the end. The young hunter had finally proven himself as a true member of his tribe’s hunting group. He had achieved all that he had to become a leader.

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