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The Autobiography of a Maori

Diving for Octopuses

Diving for Octopuses

The above stories are credible and generally accepted but the following story seems rather incredible, but what I am about to relate is not a rare thing and is perfectly true. My late friend, Dr. Tutere Wirepa, narrated the story to me and a great-grandson of Katene Ngatoko, Wiremu Hoerara Henderson, recently confirmed it.

page 143

Whenever Katene Ngatoko, progenitor of the Henderson family of Te Araroa, wanted a change of diet, he would go to Iron Head to catch an octopus or two. The haunt of the cuttle-fish was near the Aumiti rock where, as I have stated in a previous chapter, a taniwha had its lair. Taniwha or no taniwha, old Katene could not be deterred whenever he wanted octopus steak. He would dive into the sea and, having located an octopus, would turn his back to it and naturally the octopus would entwine its tentacles about the body of the intruder. Feeling that the octopus had clung securely to his body, he would come to the surface with his prey still clinging to his body and would then carry it ashore. All he had to do to shake it off was to squeeze its body and the octopus would then fall limply to the ground. I am sure the octopus must have been only of a small size, and not as big as those we sometimes read of in novels.