MATAKU AND THE MOON

MATAKU

 

My friends, listen to me.

The number of moons that had gone by is equal to the number of sands in two cupped hands

There was an island that can no longer be found in the Sea of Mataku.

This island was the home of the People of Mataku.  Their Lord was King Ao and his Queen Poui.

Their Lord King Ao and Queen Poui had many royal children who would one day rule the many islands in the Sea of Mataku.

One day during his walk across his island, Their Lord King Ao seduced a young woman, the pearl diver Halatui.

Neither the pearl diver Halatui nor any other tabu People of Mataku were permitted to touch the shadows of their Lords, King Ao or his Queen Poui.

The penalty was death.

Only the priest Bone Tappers could touch the Lords.  The priest Bone Tappers were the ones who kept the sacred spirits of the ancestors.

The spirits of the ancestors were tapped from the ancestors bones into sacred pearls gathered by the pearl divers.

The priest Bone Tappers silently feared that King Ao had corrupted his substance of power.

The priest Bone Tappers were now obliged to kill the pearl diver Halatui.

However, because the pearl diver Halatui now bore her Lord King Ao’s substance of power she knew she had to flee.  The pearl diver Halatui sailed her outrigger canoe to a deserted island in the Sea of Mataku and there she dwelt.

There in that deserted island was a lagoon with a virgin bed of black-lipped pearl oysters.  That lagoon was the sovereign realm of the great shark Mataku.

Because the pearl diver Halataui now bore substance of her Lord King Ao’s power she was able to gather those pearls, knowing with her magic whenever the great shark Mataku was gone away traveling in the Sea He Ruled.

Those pearls were magnificent and luminous and the size of sandpiper eggs.

The pearl diver Halataui hoped to buy with those sacred pearls her life and the life of her unborn child.

The unborn child grew like a pearl within the pearl diver Halatui.

One day the great shark Mataku knew that his pearls were being stolen.  With his magic the great shark Mataku walked across the island, searching for his pearls.

The great shark Mataku found the pearl diver Halatui.  The pearl diver Halatui was anointing the gathered sacred pearls with Tamanu oil and placing them in a basket.

Because the pearl diver Halatui was showing respect the great shark Mataku did not kill her immediately but he asked of her, “Why do you take my pearls?”

The pearl diver Halatui shook with fear and she bowed and confessed, “I was going to buy my life and the life of my unborn child from the Bone Tappers.”

The great shark Mataku took pity upon the pearl diver Halatui and said, “I will spare you and give to you my pearls with which to buy your life…”

The pearl diver Halatui fell prostrate with relief and gratitude but the great shark Mataku continued, “And in exchange you will give to me the pearl that grows within you.”

The pearl diver Halatui trembled with tears but she had no choice.

The pearl diver Halatui sailed her outrigger canoe back to her home.

On the beach the pearl diver Halatui was met by three priest Bone Tappers.  They held carved sacrificial daggers inlaid with shark teeth.

The pearl diver Halatui held her basket up to the priest Bone Tappers and said, bowing her head, “I bring you magnificent pearls as an offering for my life and the life of my unborn child.”

The priest Bone Tappers smiled and slowly came close beside the pearl diver Halatui.

The priest Bone Tappers peered inside the pearl diver Halatui’s basket and then their eyes shone like pearls.

One of the priest Bone Tappers gently took from the pearl diver Halatui her offering.  Then he nodded.

Suddenly two of the priest Bone Tappers slashed and stabbed the pearl diver Halatui with their sacrificial daggers.  The inlaid shark teeth of the daggers devoured the life of the pearl diver Halatui!

Then the priest Bone Tappers knelt over the pearl diver Halatui.  While the sand drank her blood the priest Bone Tappers prepared to cut out the unborn child within her.

The pearl diver Halatui’s round belly writhed from the unborn child within.

Suddenly the great shark Mataku appeared on the beach walking with his magic.

The three terrified priest Bone Tappers became stiff like clubbed fish.  The great shark Mataku cracked the three priest Bone Tappers in half with three bites.

The great shark Mataku then continued walking across the island and devoured the People of Mataku.  The great shark Mataku then swam and caught and devoured the People of Mataku who had fled in their outrigger canoes.

When the great shark Mataku’s anger was slaked he returned to the the body of the pearl diver Halatui.  The great shark Mataku swallowed the basket of sacred pearls.

With his magic he raised the pearl diver Halatui’s dismembered belly, her own pearl, and he cast the unborn child above into the sea of stars.

The pearl diver Halatui’s own pearl now lived in the sky and became the moon and outshone all the brightest stars.

The face of the unborn child still grows dark when carved by sorrow for its mother.  But then the face of the unborn child smiles down upon us fully and brightly once again when we honor our ancestors.

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