Story: Ngā waewae tapu – Māori exploration

Page 4. Tainui and the Waikato

All images & media in this story

Rakataura and Kahurere

Rakataura, the tohunga (priest) of the Tainui canoe, appears in several traditions. In one, the Tainui left him behind at Māhia Peninsula. Rakataura dived under the ground and came up again at Kāwhia, on the opposite coast, before the canoe arrived.

In another account, he left the canoe in Auckland after his request to marry Kahurere, daughter of the Tainui’s captain, Hoturoa, was refused. Rakataura went down the west coast of the North Island, lighting fires at the entrances of the Waikato River, Whāingaroa (Raglan), Aotea and Kāwhia harbours to stop the canoe from entering.

Eventually, Hoturoa and Rakataura made peace. The Tainui landed at Kāwhia Harbour, and Kahurere and Rakataura married. They travelled throughout the Waikato, climbing the mountains Pirongia, Kakepuku, Hākarimata, Pureora, Puke-o-Kahu (where Kahurere died), and Te Aroha in the Kaimai Range – where Rakataura also married Hinemarino.

Kahupekapeka

After the Tainui ancestor Uenga died, his wife Kahupekapeka and their son Rakamaomao explored much of the Waikato. Leaving her home at Kāwhia, Kahupekapeka headed north-east and climbed Mt Pirongia, naming it Te Pirongia-o-Te Aroaro-o-Kahu (the scented pathway of Kahu). Further on, she climbed another mountain and named it Te Kakepuku-o-Kahu (the hill over which Kahu climbed). She continued on into the Hauraki district, where she scaled the highest peak and named it Te Aroha-o-Kahu (the yearning of Kahu) in memory of her husband and home. Kahupekapeka then turned south, naming three ranges, Te Whakamaru-o-Kahu, near the Waikato River, Te Hurakia-o-Kahu, west of Lake Taupō, and Te Rangitoto-o-Kahu, near Te Kūiti. She died at Te Puke-o-Kahu, a hill between the Rangitoto and Pureora forests.

How to cite this page:

Rāwiri Taonui, 'Ngā waewae tapu – Māori exploration - Tainui and the Waikato', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/nga-waewae-tapu-maori-exploration/page-4 (accessed 21 August 2017)

Story by Rāwiri Taonui, published 24 Sep 2007