Story: Muriwhenua tribes

‘Ruia, ruia, tahia, tahia’

‘Ruia, ruia, tahia, tahia’

The kūaka or godwit arrives from the north each spring and leaves in the autumn. Its important symbolism for the Muriwhenua tribes originates in an incident when the people, under Tūmatahina, escaped from the besieged of Murimotu. It is said they flew away like godwits. The chant ‘Ruia, ruia, tahia, tahia’ recalls that legendary escape. Here are the words:

Ruia, ruia, tahia, tahia,
Kia hemo te kākoakoa,
Kia herea mai i te kawau korokī.
Kia tātaki mai i roto i te pūkorokoro, whaikoro,
Te kūaka, he kūaka mārangaranga,
Tahi manu i tau ki te tāhuna, tau atu, tau atu, tau atu!

Scatter, scatter, sweep on, sweep on,
Let us not be plundered by our foe,
The rope has been stretched out and fastened, let us rejoice.
Moving along the rope,
The godwits have risen and flown,
One has landed, to the beach, the others follow!

Using this item

Department of Conservation
Reference: 10035336
Photograph by Rod Morris

This item has been provided for private study purposes (such as school projects, family and local history research) and any published reproduction (print or electronic) may infringe copyright law. It is the responsibility of the user of any material to obtain clearance from the copyright holder.

All images & media in this story

How to cite this page:

Rāwiri Taonui, 'Muriwhenua tribes - Ancestors', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 22 May 2022)

Story by Rāwiri Taonui, published 8 Feb 2005, updated 22 Mar 2017