The love story of Lydia and Kahu

In: Stories, Traditional stories

Source: Supplied by Tony White Feb 2006 from a Wairarapa Times Age newspaper article ‘The love story of Lydia and Kahu’ narrated by Mita Carter to Tina-Marie Morrison 2 June 1993

In the little village of Kaikokirikiri, near Masterton, lived Lydia, the grand-daughter of the chief Karaitiana Te Korou, a prominent man of the area.

At Te Ore Ore was Kahu, a handsome young Ngapuhi, said to be a salve of Manihera. It was Kahu’s duty to take messages and gifts of food to Te Korou from Manihera. On one of these visits to Kaikokirikiri Kahu met Lydia, but dared not speak to her because of his status as a slave.

It soon became apparent that Lydia and Kahu were showing affection for each other. Lydia sent Kahu a message to meet her at Kuripuni and their Lydia pleaded with Kahu to take her away. She gave Kahu the plan of their sleeping whare and the position where she would be sleeping. In the whare a fire was lit in the center and the occupants slept with their feet towards the fire.

While the family slept, Kahu cut the bark lining where Lydia slept and silently dragged her out. Kahu took her to a cave at Matahiwi, the land leased by Mr Holmes senior.

On learning of his grand-daughters disappearance, Te Korou flew into a violent rage and vowed that if any of the other tribes were sheltering Lydia he would terminate them, but kahu had friends at kaikokirikiri and each night he would receive a basket of food delivered to the cave.
The present of food led to the discovery of the lovers’ hideout. Armed with muskets, Te Korou and his nephews set out for the cave. Mr Holmes snr, who was aware of Lydia’s elopement, hurried to the cave to await Te Korou’s arrival.

When Te Korou arrived at the cave he found, to his amazement, Mr Holmes waiting with his musket at the ready.

Te Korou said that he had some to kill the slave. He believed that with Lydia being of high rank, the whole incident was a put up job by the Te Ore Ore Maoris, to discredit his mana.

After prolonged pleadings by Mr Holmes to save Kahu’s life, Te Korou finally conceded, saying that he would spare Kahu’s life if Mr Holmes gave them bags of flour, sugar, tobacco and ammunition for their muskets. This Mr Holmes agreed to do, providing Te Korou and his men returned to the pa immediately.

The next day Lydia and Kahu accompanied by Mr Holmes with the promised goods, arrived at Kaikokirikiri where a huge feast was held for Lydia and Kahu.

After he returned to the pa, Te Korou had called a hui and told his hapu of the arrangements with Mr Holmes, and that this must be honoured.

Lydia and Kahu were now man and wife and both lived at Kaikokirikiri for many years and left many descendents.

Later, Kahu the former slave was to don the cloak of chieftainship. Mr Holme’s action in preventing the death of Kahu became a legend among the Wairarapa Maoris and in those days, Lydia and Kahu’s descendants became known as the “flour and sugar hapu”.

When Mr Holme’s son Edward Carlton, arrived at Te Hopai to take up land, he was besieged by the local chiefs with offers – that they had daughters and nieces of a marrying age, but there was no mention of merchandise.

One chief, Paratene, did intimate that if Mr Holmes took his niece as his wife he would lease him 800 acres which he would finally end up owning, but this was not to be.