Topic: The Legend of Mauao

Topic type:

The most well known legend of the western Bay of Plenty is the story of how Mauao (Maunganui) was named.

Looking wrong? Archived here.

There was once a hill with no name who lived on the edge of the Hautere forest.  This nameless was a pononga (slave) to the great chiefly mountain, Otanewainuku.  To the southwest was the shapely form of Puwhenua, a beautiful hill, clothed in all the fine greens of the ferns and shrubs and trees of the forest of Tane.  

The nameless one was desperately in love with Puwhenua.  However, her heart already belonged to Otanewainuku.  There seemed like no hope for the lowly slave.  In despair the nameless one decided to end it all by drowning himself in the Pacific Ocean, Te Moananui a Kiwa.  Calling on the patupaiarehe, the people with magical powers who dwelled in the forests of Hautere, pononga asked them to plait the ropes with their magic and then haul him down towards the ocean.  Chanting their song they began to haul the nameless one slowly towards the water, gouging out the valley where the river Waimapu now flows.  They followed the channel past Hairini, past Maungatapu and Matapihi and finally past Te Papa to the water's edge.  

By this time it was very close to day break. The sun rose fixing the nameless one to that place. Being people of the night, the patupaiarehe fled back to the shady depths of the Hautere forests, before the light of the sun descended upon them.  

The patupaiarehe gave the name Mauao to this mountain which marks the entrance of Tauranga Moana. This means caught by the morning sun. In time, he has assumed greater mana than his rival Otanewainuku. Today he is known by many as Mount Maunganui, however to the Maori people he is still known as Mauao.  

Korero mauao

We plan to make Evelyn Stokes’ book Stories of Tauranga Moana available online in the near future.

Maui Pomare’s Legends of the Maori is available online through the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre:

Volume 1
Volume 2

Further traditional stories have been made available through Tauranga Memories Tauranga Moana, Tauranga Whenua site. More information is available through the Tauranga City Libraries’ New Zealand Room.



This page archived at Perma CC in February of 2017:

Discuss This Topic

There are 0 comments in this discussion.

join this discussion