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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 5 (September 1, 1929)

The Rock of the Flying Foam: A Tradition of the Maori

The Rock of the Flying Foam: A Tradition of the Maori.

Here, on the green banks overlooking the well-named Haere-huka—“Moving Foam,” or “Flying Foam”—we may pull up awhile and listen to the poetic story of its naming, and learn how yon great black rock there, smoothly-rounded by centuries of water-play, gave fresh courage, an omen and an inspiration, to the heart of a weary and all-but broken man. The rock is in the midst of the wildest part of the rapid, near the left bank of the river. Around its glistening dark head the mad river surges ceaselessly; spray bathes it ever; sometimes the angry little waves dash right over it and hide it from view for a moment. But it always emerges, the embodiment of eternal stability, in that turmoil of waters. This is the rock that gave its name to the rapids.

Just a hundred years ago a war-party from Rotorua camped on this spot one night, and gazed on the wonderful picture of river and rock and mountain in the summer moonlight. The page 26 fighting band was headed by a chief named Taua—grandfather of one of the men who told me the story. They were an angry dejected party of warriors, for they had been defeated with loss by the Taupo tribes. Their object in invading the Taupo country was to avenge an injury done to Taua (who was chief of the Ngati-Tunohopu, hapu of the Arawa) by Harakeke of Taupo. This man had won the affections of Taua's wife when he was on a visit to Rotorua. The fickle lady ran off to Taupo with Harakeke.

“In rippling clearness, or with cresting foam
Splashes and leaps in snowy cascade steps.”

(Photo, C. R. Barrett.) The Rainbow Rapids on the Waikato River near Orakei-Korako.

(Photo, C. R. Barrett.)
The Rainbow Rapids on the Waikato River near Orakei-Korako.

Taua sent round the fiery cross, or its Maori equivalent, among the Arawa clans, and raised a war-party to exact utu for his wrongs. He and his company of musketeers and tomahawk-men came upon a Taupo war-band camped in a valley some distance south of Orakei-Korako. The battle that followed went in Taua's favour for a time, but in the end he was beaten off and forced to retreat, and here in the gorge of resounding waters he made camp. Over-whelmed at the loss of their friends, the Arawa men in the council of war that night proposed to retreat to Rotorua and obtain reinforcements before renewing the war.