Taiaha. A beautiful word. I think of farewells on
a sandy beach, the sun setting into a blue on blue horizon. "Taiaha,"
they would say. "Taiaha," I would return, the last words spoken
before night and sleep came upon us.
But that is not what it means at all. In its native language, taiaha
means spear. A stick with a pointy end. It has had many different
uses, I am sure. Hunting, perhaps some fishing, if one is really
good. It is one of a number of tools that made our civilization
But really, at its essence, it is a tool of war. Used to kill people.
A thousand people on one end of a field, a thousand different people
at the other end. They shout at each other in excitement as they
rush towards the middle of the field to greet each other. But the
pleasantries they exchange are their taiahas, sticking them into
each other as fast and hard as they can. The point of the taiaha
is transformation: to transform live beings into dead bodies.
Such a poor juxtaposition of word and meaning proves one important
point: that stupidity in a species is not limited to just us humans.
My new friends amongst the Tumeroks regale me with stories about
their ways and culture. They seem to take particular pride in pointing
out the foibles of their men, how easily led astray they are by
their honor and pride. It is an old story: men acting foolishly,
and women taking care to highlight it. Yet another way in which
our two species are very similar.
So here is a story of men and war, honor and pride, and a very unique
Taiaha. I heard it last night, from my Tumerok friends, and here
I will share it with you as it was told to me.
And when our people found themselves in this strange land with only
two moons, we had no Tonk Anixutah. So we soon fell to squabbles
and discord, and in the end, there were two xuta who contested to
lead the Tonk. The Aun were blinded by the far of this new land,
and by the new beings who appeared to show us our way. Atua Ngamaru,
they called them, the floating demons. But we, the Hea, saw in these
beings the reason why we were brought to this land, and we called
them Atual Arutoa, the givers of freedom.
And they were our gate to freedom, for our old forms and ways were
unsuited to this place, and to not change was to die. So we made
our bargain with the Atual Arutoa, and we became truly the Hea,
separate and onto ourselves, and we took over this new planet.
The Aun, unable to match our strength or numbers, remained here
on the original island. Resentful of our abilities, they engaged
in continual sabotage of our plans and sought to destroy all that
the Hea had wrought. Time and time again, they sent emissaries and
warriors, spies and thieves, to try and stop us. When outright force
failed, they turned to destruction in the night. When terror failed,
they turned to cunning words. When those failed, they tried naked
pleading. And when that failed, the cycle would turn once again
to violence and war.
There was one Aun who was most persistent. Aun Tanua, he called
himself. He was tall and strong and proud, the oak ran strong in
him. Unlike many of the Aun, he did not attempt to fight or insult
us. Rather, he called out for our champion to face him in a one
on one duel. If Tanua won, then that would be a sign from Audetaunga
that the Hea had disgraced the Tonk, and they should seek out the
Atual Arutoa and break the bargain that we made.
And so the story begins...but it does not end there, not now, not
ever. But the rest will be known in due time.