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Legends of the Maori

Haumia and the Taniwha

Haumia and the Taniwha.

There is a story concerning that chief Haumia and a taniwha, a monster of the sea, which lived in a cave at the base of a cliff on the ocean front at Honipaka, on the Kawhia coast. Haumia’s home was in Taungatara pa and he made a plantation of kumara at Honipaka, close to the seashore. He was quite unaware that the taniwha lived there in the cave underneath his garden.

Now, this monster of the coast, whose name was Raparoa, was a mischievous monster, and when he knew that the kumara crop had come to maturity he exerted his power of evil and raised a great storm and spouted salt water over the plantation and spoilt it. The whole of the crop was ruined; the kumara rotted in the salt-sodden ground.

When Haumia came to his plantation and saw what had happened, he descended the cliff to the sea to discover what had caused the sea-water to be sprayed over his land. There he beheld the monstrous taniwha. Thus this place became known as the hiding place of Raparoa, and that taniwha was frequently seen in the ocean.

Haumia boldly asked the monster: “O Raparoa, why do you not go to see the fishes at Puponga?”

Now, Puponga is the place where the fish all assemble, and it was the time when the mackerel were plentiful in those parts. So when the monster heard what Haumia said it immediately set off for Puponga, eager to feast on fish. As soon as he had left his hole at the bottom of the cliff Haumia filled it in with sand and rocks. When the monster came back he found the entrance to his home filled in, so he went looking for another abiding place. Finding none, he died. The people took his great sharp teeth and made ear ornaments of them. And that episode gave rise to a local saying, which has come down to this day: “Haumia, the remover of monsters.”