Story: Ngāi Tahu

Aoraki (Mt Cook) in the Southern Alps

Aoraki (Mt Cook) in the Southern Alps

Aoraki (Mt Cook) is the highest peak in the Southern Alps, the central mountain range of the South Island. In the past many believed that the Māori name for Mt Cook, Aorangi (which in the Ngāi Tahu dialect is Aoraki), meant 'the cloud-piercer'. But Aorangi was a person. According to tradition, when the canoe in which he and his brothers were voyaging in the south-west Pacific was wrecked, he scrambled to the highest point of the canoe's upturned hull. One early name for the South Island is Te Waka o Aoraki (Aoraki's canoe).

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Reference: 36152
Photograph by Lloyd Homer

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How to cite this page:

Te Maire Tau, 'Ngāi Tahu - The move south', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 28 February 2024)

Story by Te Maire Tau, published 8 Feb 2005, updated 1 Mar 2017