At the northern tip of Aotearoa, the arrival of kūaka or godwits from the north each spring, and their departure in the autumn, has important symbolism for Muriwhenua iwi. When the people under Tūmatahina escaped from the besieged pā of Murimotu, it was said they flew away like godwits. The chant ‘Ruia, ruia, tahia, tahia’ recalls that legendary escape:
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!
Te whakamahi i tēnei tūemi
Department of Conservation
Photograph by Rod Morris
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