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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 75

The Legend of Hau-mapuhia

The Legend of Hau-mapuhia.

It is the story of Hau-mapuhia, and how this sea of waters was formed from the dry land in the days of yore, also the explanation of the name of this great lake.

Maahu took Kau-ariki to wife; their child was Hau-mapuhia They dwelt at Wai-kotikoti, at Wairau-moana, and Hau', being well cared for, grew to be a fine young man, though some say that Hau' was a girl. And it happened, as the shades of evening fell, that Maahu bade Hau' go to the spring called Te Puna-a-taupara and bring thence a gourd of water. But Hau' was unruly, and refused to go to that spring, at which Maahu was greatly enraged. So he took the gourd and proceeded to the water himself, where he stayed so long that Hau' went after him. On his arrival at Te Puna the thought came to Maahu that he would kill his child for being disobedient; and he took Hau' and thrust him into the water and held him below the surface thereof. Then Hau-mapuhia called on the gods of the ancient people, and they came to his aid. This they did by endowing him with great and wondrous powers such as demons possess. Hau-mapuhia, son of Maahu, was transformed into a taniwha—a water god. Armed with these strange powers, Hau' forced his way through the solid ground and formed the great hollow in which lie the waters of Waikare. Previous to that time page 31 it was all dry land. Such a taniwha is called by us a tuoro or hore. And it was in forcing his way through the ground seeking an outlet that Hau-mapuhia formed the many arms and inlets which you see around this lake. The fierce struggle by which he forced his passage from Te Puna-a-taupara, which is the tino* of Waikare-moana, so agitated the waters which followed him that the lake has ever since been known as the "Sea of the Dashing Waters." (Ka hokari nga ringa me nga waewae, katahi ka pokare te wai, koia i kiia tona ingoa ko Wai-kare moana—ko te pokaretanga o te wai.)

The first attempt made by Hau-mapuhia to escape was towards the west, that was how the Whanganui inlet was formed, even to Herehere-taua, where he was stopped by the great bulk of Huia-rau. He then turned and tried another direction, thus forming the Whanganui-o-parua inlet. But the great ranges again held him, and, after forming the other bays of Waikare, Hau the demon turned to the east whence he heard the roar of the Great Ocean of Kiwa in the far distance, and the thought came that it would be well to reach that great ocean before the light of day appeared. So Hau' again forced his way downwards at Te Wha-ngaromanga and strove to burrow through the ranges to the Moana-nui-a-Kiwa (the ocean). But when he reached the komore, where the waters rush forth, he became fixed there, and so lies even to this day. Maybe the emerging into the light of day caused the power of Hau-mapuhia to fail, or maybe the gods were alarmed lest his great efforts should release the waters of the newly-formed sea of Waikare.

And as Hau-mapuhia lay there in that ravine he moaned aloud in wailing tones, and Maahu, who had gone to the great ocean, overcome with remorse at having slain his son—Maahu heard his offspring wailing afar off, and he called upon the koiro and the tuna, the kokopu, maehe, and korokoro, and other fishes to go by the River Waikare-taheke, which reaches the great ocean, and ascend to where Hau-mapuhia lay, that they might serve as food for his child. But the koiro (conger-eel) would not face the fresh water, and the tuna (fresh-water eel) could not pass the Waiau River, and the maehe and korokoro (lamprey) were the only two fish which reached the Waikare-taheke River to serve as food for Hau-mapuhia, and it is said that the korokoro is not found in any other stream in the district.

And Hau-mapuhia still lies there where he emerged, transformed into stone. His head is down hill and his legs extend up the hillside, and the lake waters, rushing forth from the hill, pass through his body to form below the Waikare-taheke River, as you shall see. Also you may see his hair floating and waving in the foaming waters; this hair is in the form of what we call kohuwai (a water plant),

Then Maahu left these lands, and went far away to Pu-tauaki,

* Tino, the precise spot from which a district, &c., takes its name.

Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa, the Great Sea of Kiwa, a term applied to the Pacific Oecan by the Maoris.

page 32 where he remained; but his heart was dark for his deserted home at Wairau-moana and the lands of his ancestors, which he had deserted. Even so he raised his voice and lamented,—

Kaore hoki i te roimata te pehia kei aku kamo
Me he wai utuutu ki te Wha-ngaro-manga—e
Ko Hau-mapuhia e ngunguru i raro ra—e-a.
Alas, the tears weigh heavy in my eyes,
Like water gushing forth at Te Whengaromanga,
Where Hau-mapuhia rumbles down below.

Such is the legend of Hau-mapuhia and the formation of Waikare-moana. A strange legend and an ancient, viewed from the standpoint of an unlettered people possessing no knowledge of the graphic art, and relying entirely upon oral tradition. It original probably in the widespread and universal desire implanted in the human mind to assign a cause and origin to all material objects and manifestations of Nature.*

There is another class of legend which obtains in several districts, the names being altered to fit local circumstances. Of such is—

* There is little doubt that the lake was formed by a vast land slip, now covered with forest, which fell from the slopes of the mountains on the east of the outlet, and filled up what was formerly a valley. Probably this took place before the advent of the Maori; but he is quite equal to understanding the cause, and, with his love of the marvellous, to inventing a supernatural reason for it.—Editor.