In 1994, when my partner Inez told me about her faerie folk experience as a child travelling through the Te Urewera Forest in, I was encapsulated and enchanted by the recall of her ordeal. Inez was Tuhoe, the Iwi, or Maori custodians of this area of the country and her grandmother who was travelling with her and her family in the car through the forest was gifted, like her granddaughter with abilities that in the modern world we would call paranormal, or mystical. When Inez had said that she wanted to take a toilet break the car had pulled over. Before she got out of the car her grandmother knowingly said to her, “stay where I can see you.“Inez agreed to do so, but that wasn’t the end of her grandmother’s statement. “If someone talks to you ignore them, and don’t follow any singing child. Understand?” She fiercely warned Inez as she left the automobile and made her way into the forest. “Where I can see you.” Inez’s grandmother said aloud again. As Inez moved behind a tree, just out of sight of her grandmother, the family in the car watching the interaction with curious bewilderment several little dwarf Maori people ducked out from behind the trees and waved at Inez. She immediately looked back at her grandmother whose gaze hadn’t wavered from the spot Inez had been before she had moved behind the tree. “What is it child?”She asked sharply. Inez looked back into the forest, what was a handful of the small Maori people, all about the size of her child self, was now a large gathering all poking out from behind the trees, waving, beckoning her to come and play. “I can’t.” Inez has said, her grandmother’s ears pricking up. “Who are you talking to child?” She yelled. Inez looked back at her grandmother, then into the woods, the small people were gone.
Inez’s recollection of that childhood story inspired me to travel into the Te Urewera Forest National Park in 1996 in search of these faerie folk. I wouldn’t be so fortunate, or not so fortunate to meet any, or hear, or see them. I walked the Lake Waikaremoana track without any mystical experience other than a sense of awe and wonder at how beautiful this landscape was. I was staying with my auntie and uncle in Rotorua before and after walking the track, and as close as I got to any of the faerie folk was hitching a ride with a Maori man who wouldn’t stop in the forest as he headed towards Gisborne (reluctantly letting out of the truck he was driving near the start of the walking track around the lake. He had his own faerie stories from Pirongia maunga, or mountain where he had seen Sasquatch-sized footprints around the peak of the mountain, never to tread on it again). I listened to him intently and felt some sympathy for him as he drove away from me towards the east cape. He was terrified out of his wits. His worst nightmare would be the truck breaking down in the Te Urewera, that much was certain. When getting back to Rotorua, I slept well in a bed, and woke the next morning to read a small article on the front page of the Rotorua Daily Post, ‘Hunter Who Heard Singing Emerges From Forest Three Weeks Later‘ the title read. I have searched for this article on the website of the paper for this article, but cannot find it, but I give you my word, I read about a hunter who had heard singing in the north-eastern Te Urewera, walked towards it and doesn’t remember anything else. The search party that was dispatched to find him pronounced him dead after two weeks, only for him to emerge after three weeks, healthy, a little dazed, but safe. He had ‘come to’ at a stream and followed it out of the forest till he came to a settlement and there alerted the police to his whereabouts. The elusive faerie folk of the Te Urewera had been busy, no wonder I didn’t see any!
In the books, I have written as Pablo Wairua (The Light Guides the Way) and Harmon Sueno (United) I have portrayed an inter-dimensionality to the first peoples who were here on these islands when the Maori people arrived here from the Cook Islands around twelve hundred years ago. They were given many names by Maori colonists, Turehu, Patupairehere, Urekehu to name just three. My feeling is that these mystical beings were from Lemuria originally. They moved to the heights of the Andes in Boliva and Peru when the continent sank into the Pacific depths in antiquity. Some of these beings built the megalithic architecture in the Andes then travelled to escape persecution at some point to Aotearoa/New Zealand. Less dense in physicality, they had the knowledge and wisdom to be able to travel between dimensions and still do to this day. In academia within New Zealand, all the first peoples are considered the stuff of mythos. Which shows a level of misunderstanding and downright Eurocentric cultural bias towards the Maori historical oral record. A lack of evidence of their culture, bones and artefacts are nails in the coffins for the ancient traditions carried over generations to this day. I for one am a avid believer in the existence of the faerie folk, and in United, they are an essential component in the plot, with Miru, the faerie chief and wizard, and lover to the beautiful Hine-rangi one of the heroes of this novel. In Allocate, a short story in the collection of short stories called, The Light Guides the Way, by Pablo Wairua (my emotive, heartfelt, and inspirational author/character) the Patupairehere are a frightening and terrifying bane who are matched by a young Maori man who finds his lost mana, or power, by rescuing trampers from their ferocious attack. I don’t portray the Patupairehere as being this way naturally, it is the energetic resonance that the young Maori man enters their domain with that causes the Patupairehere to be so enraged. My feeling is that the faerie folk of Aotearoa mean no one harm. They are tricksters, wisdom keepers, and benefactors to those who cherish the land as their benefactor and provider.
http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-CowFair-t1-body-d1-d4.html Miru and Hine-rangi. Faerie Chief and his human lover.
https://teara.govt.nz/en/patupaiarehe The flute playing denizens of the forested mountain tops of Aotearoa/New Zealand.