Aroha atu aroha mai
When Nan died, Koro Tau was lonely so Whetu went to stay with him for a while. Whetu loved being at the little house by the beach but it was different to her home in town. They got their veggies from the garden instead of the shops. They made their own bread. Best of all, Koro told special stories just for her.
But now it was winter and the new year was coming. Koro tried to show Whetu a new family of stars in the sky, called Matariki, the little eyes of God. But Whetu could only see lots and lots of stars. “Maybe those stars are Nan’s little eyes too” she said, but Koro said nothing. He was still too sad to talk about Nan.
The next day Koro Tau said he would make a beautiful kite for Whetu to play with. “I don’t have many toys here, but this will keep you warm and fit. It is a Manu taratahi. You will have to run to fly it”. It took a long time to make. First they had to collect some toe toe and flax from the beach.
Next they got some dry raupo leaves from Koro’s shed.
Then Koro Tau put everything on the kitchen table and began to make the manu taratahi. He told Whetu that in the old days, people would fly beautiful big kites that swooped and swirled in the sky. They believed the kites could carry messages from heaven to earth. “You mean Nan can send us a message?” asked Whetu. But Koro Tau just sighed.
Now Koro Tau tied a ball of string to the kite and together they went out to the paddock to fly it. It flew like a bird, up, up, up! “I shall call my manu taratahi Aroha” said Whetu, “because I love it!” All too soon, Koro said “It is time for me to have my nap”.
At home, Koro Tau tied the manu taratahi to the fence. “Whetu, don’t touch Aroha nei? The wind is too strong and she might blow away. You can play with your shells instead” And he sat in his chair on the verandah and went to sleep.
But Whetu didn’t want to play with her shells. She wanted to play with her new toy. So she quietly untied the string from the fence and held on as Aroha dipped and dived in the sky. Woohoo, this was fun!
Auē! The wind was strong. It tugged and tugged and Whetu couldn’t hold Aroha anymore! The kite flew out of her hand and up into the sky! Quickly Whetu called over the fence to Nanny Paia and Nanny May next door to ask them to catch her new kite.
They stopped playing cards and chased the kite down the road ...but they couldn’t catch it.
Next the kite went past the dairy and the children on their bikes chased the kite...but they couldn’t catch it.
Now it went past the hall where people were getting ready for a show. The band chased the kite but...they couldn’t catch it.
Aroha the kite danced on and on. Past the church. The Minister and all the choir chased the kite...but they couldn’t catch it.
Now the kite flew over the Kōhanga. The teachers and the little kids all reached out to catch the string, but it was no use, they couldn’t catch it.
The wind blew wild and the kite swooped down, right over the men putting down a hangi. They waved their spades but...they couldn’t catch it.
On and on it flew. Up the hill to the marae. The women were learning self-defence. They shouted and jumped but they couldn’t catch it either.
Now the wind was dropping, and so was Aroha. Down, down to the beach where the waka ama team was on the water. They all waved their paddles at the beautiful manu taratahi, but it was no good. They couldn’t catch it.
Oh no! Whetu’s lovely manu taratahi was going to fall into the sea! But at the last moment it flew up and over the sports field where the softball team was training. When they saw that kite they yelled and waved their arms.
They chased it all the way over the paddock just in time to see it drop down...right on top of Koro Tau, asleep in his chair!
Koro woke up. “What is going on?” he shouted. Everyone started to explain about the kite that flew away and how they had chased it all the way to the house. “E turituri, hush hush...I can hear someone crying under my chair”.
It was Whetu! She was so ashamed and whakamā. “I’m sorry I played with the manu taratahi ay? I didn’t mean for it to fly away. Sorry Koro”. Koro hugged Whetu. “That’s alright little one. I’m glad you didn’t go out the gate and on the road. And I’m very glad you can say sorry. And I’m glad to see all these lovely people at our home”.
Everyone wanted to play with the manu taratahi, so they all came back later with food and music. The party went on into the night, and this time Whetu could see the Matariki stars.
That night, Koro tucked her into bed. “You know what I think Whetu? I think that kite really has bought a message from Nan. She knows how lonely I am without her, so Aroha fetched us some new friends for the New Year. Aroha atu,aroha mai. Good night little one, happy new year”.
And Whetu dipped and dived into her dreams with a big smile on her face. It had been a good day!