A MAORI LEGEND.
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A MAORI LEGEND.
RUATAPU was one of the sons of Ouenuku the Great, 1 by his wife Paimahutanga. This young chieftain was very forward, and in order to check this rising propensity, his father said to him one day, "It is not becoming of you to go up to your elder brother's house; you are a son of low condition;" an allusion, most probably, to his mother, who was a person of inferior rank. This saying sank into the heart of Ruatapu, and he determined to punish his father in the destruction of some of the fairest of his people. He therefore ordered a canoe to be made, which he named "Huripureiata," and when ready for sea, he invited the sons of the neighbouring chiefs, to the number of one hundred and forty to accompany him on a visit to some distant isle. Before the party put to sea, Ruatapu dexterously contrived to put a hole in the bottom of the canoe, which he covered, with one of his feet. When they had paddled a long time, and were far from land, Ruatapu removed his foot, and allowed the water to rush into the canoe, which immediately swamped, and all on board perished, except a chief named Paikea, who was endowed with supernatural power, and changed himself into a fish. In this, his new form, he swam for many days, crossed the Great Ocean, and landed at a place near the Great Barrier. Having gained the shore in good spirits, he resumed his human form, and fixed his residence on the eastern shore of New Zealand. Some of the surrounding tribes claim this extraordinary being as their ancestor, and proudly quote the proverb:--
"How wondrous was the work of Paikea, the man who transformed himself into a fish."