Map: Tuhua (Mayor Island)
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The ancient people of Tūhua were patupaiarehe, people with magical powers. When the Hawaiki people settled on Tūhua, the tangata whenua, the patupaiarehe, did not fight. They retreated into the tangled bush of the interior and the rugged cliffs and beaches to the north of the island. The patupaiarehe were rarely seen. They just seemed to melt away into the bush and lived there peacefully.
At the place by the sea called Te Ananui, the patupaiarehe grew fine kumara. The newcomers to the island were envious of these fine kumara gardens. They could not understand how such beautiful kumara could be grown there. So they decided to keep watch from a lookout place on the top of Tarewakoura. The kumara were nearly full grown and a watch was kept night and day. Some time went by and nothing unusual happened. It was time to dig the kumara. A mist came in from the sea and covered the land of Te Ananui. The watchers on Tarewakoura could see nothing. When the mist cleared next morning, it could be seen that the kumara had grown to a great size during the night. This was proof to the newcomers that these people really were patupaiarehe.
The patupaiarehe kept the secret of their magical powers and they were left in peace by the newcomers. In time the newcomers, who came to be known as Whānau a Tauwhao, established permanent settlements on Tūhua. Their main settlement was at Te Pānui above Southeast Bay and there were other settlements and cultivations around there too. There were plenty of fish in the seas around the island so there was plenty to eat. These people were often called Te Papaunahi, because there were so many fish scales around their pa on Tūhua. Whānau a Tauwhao and the patupaiarehe continued to live peacefully on the island.
There was a young woman among the patupaiarehe who was called Otiora. She fell in love with a handsome young rangatira of Whānau a Tauwhao, and they used to meet secretly at night. As a token of their love for each other, Otiora gave her lover a special kind of spinning top. She was an expert in making these tops which were called pōtaka tākiri. She warned him never to reveal where he got his magical pōtaka. This rangatira became well-known for his pōtaka tākiri and everyone thought he had made them himself. One day, after a very fine display, he let himself get carried away. He boasted that the pōtaka came from the patupaiarehe, that they had magical powers.
That night Otiora came to meet him as usual. She knew her lover had betrayed her trust and had boasted about patupaiarehe magic. Distressed and sorrowful she vanished into the forest. That rangatira of Whānau a Tauwhao never saw her again. He searched high and low through all the tangled bush and rugged forests of Tūhua calling for her in vain.
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