In one tradition Ruarangi’s wife Tāwhaitū was gathering kūmara in the foothills of the Hākarimata Range not far from Pirongia, when a strong white arm encircled her neck. A man called Whanawhana, of the patupaiarehe (mountain people), carried her to a ghostly pā on the summit of Pirongia and ravished her. She awoke back with her husband but knew that come the night she would be drawn to Whanawhana. A tohunga instructed the couple to smear themselves with kōkōwai (red ochre mixed with shark oil) and to cook food. That night Whanawhana appeared but was repelled by the ochre and the food. Tāwhaitū was no longer troubled, but to this day her descendants, who live by the Waipā River, have a red tinge to their hair, said to be from the union of Tāwhaitū and the patupaiarehe of Pirongia.
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Photograph by Lloyd Homer
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