Topic: Traditional Story: Nga Patupaiarehe o Tūhua

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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.

(Click the map to open a larger version)

The patupaiarehe are still there on Tūhua. There is a place called Otiora on the western side of the island which the Pakeha call Honeymoon Bay. Sometimes you can hear the gentle humming sound of the pōtaka tākiri, the humming tops made by Otiora, wafting through the branches of the
pohutukawa that grow on the cliffs above the bay.

Other stories are below (click a tltle)

An Introduction to this collection

  1. Mauao
  2. The Struggle Between Pounamu and Tuhua
  3. Mangatawa
  4. Nga Motu 
  5. Te Maero o Hautere 
  6. Te Pura the Guardian Taniwha of Wairoa 
  7. Poripori
  8. Te Rere i Oturu
  9. Taurikura
  10. Nga Patupaiarehe o Tuhua
  11. Nga Tetekura o Hautere 
  12. Takurua
  13. Takitimu Te Waka, Tamatea Te Ariki
  14. Tainui Te Waka, Hoturoa Te Ariki
  15. The Mangroves
  16. The Burning of Te Arawa
  17. Te Kuia
  18. Te Toka a Tirikawa
  19. Te Aroha 
  20. The Pet Tui of Kahukino
  21. Te Heke o Rangihouhiri
  22. The Battle of the Kokowai
  23. Te Ika Hui Rua a Hikapa
  24. Te Manuwhakahoro
  25. Nga Peke e Maha

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand License
Traditional Story: Nga Patupaiarehe o Tūhua by Harley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand License