Story: Taniwha

The journey of Te Tahi-o-te-rangi

The journey of Te Tahi-o-te-rangi

The tohunga known as Te Tahi-o-te-rangi rides from Whakaari (White Island) to the mainland on the whale-shaped taniwha, Tūtarakauika. This picture was on display at the Wairaka marae in Whakatāne in the 1920s. The text reads:

1) I au i haere mai nei i Whakaari ki Whakatane, i haere mai au i runga i te kare o te wai. I te huarahi i haere atu ai a te Karaiti ki te tango ake ia Haimona Pita i roto i te wai.
2) Na, i taku whakatakoto tanga atu i taku mauri ki te wai, tuhera tonu mai he ara moku i runga i te kare o te wai, hai ara atu moku ki Whakatane. Pera hoki me Mohi i whaka takoto atu ra i tana tokotoko ki te Moana Whero, a tuhera ana te moana kiaia, whiti atu ana ia ite moana whero ki tetahi taha.
3) Na ko toku kamera e tu nei au i runga, ko te kamera ano tenei i haria atu ai a Hona ki te kauhau i ninewa. Na ko wai o koutou e hikataurewa ma, e rite te nui o te mana ki toku mana, e kaha ranei ki te haere mai i toku huarahi. Ki te aaru mai hoki koutou i muri i a au, ka pera ano koutou me Haimona Pita, i totohu ra ki te wai, ia te Karaiti i ki atu ra ki a ia, he aha tau e te hunga whaka pono iti ngakau rua.

1) While I travelled from Whakaari (White Island) to Whakatāne, I did so on the rippling waters. The path I travelled was like that of Christ when he lifted Simon Peter up from the water.
2) So, I laid my mauri upon the water, and a pathway opened up for me on its surface, a way for me to return to Whakatāne. It was like Moses who laid his rod upon the water in the Red Sea, and the sea parted for him, and he crossed the sea to the other side.
3) So, my ‘camel’ on which I stand is the same as the ‘camel’ which carried Jonah to preach at Nineveh. Well, who amongst you fugitives has mana the equal of mine, who has the strength to travel on my path. If you dare to follow me, you will be like Simon Peter who sank into the water while Christ said to him, ‘You of little faith, doubting heart.’

Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library, Albert Percy Godber Collection (PA-Group-00048)
Reference: APG-1038-1/2-G
Photograph by Albert Percy Godber

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Basil Keane, 'Taniwha - Whales, dolphins and enchanted logs', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/photograph/10891/the-journey-of-te-tahi-o-te-rangi (accessed 24 May 2019)

Story by Basil Keane, published 24 Sep 2007