ISLAND TRAGEDY

Traveling home over the Tongariro Crossing we pulled off to the site of Lake Rotoaira and Motuopuhi Island.  I was struck by the number of fantails flitting through the bush, and the tragic tale of this Island – once the site of a Pa of the chief Wharerangi, who reluctantly protected Ngāti Toa leader Te Rauparaha. Te Rangikoaea, the wife of Wharerangi, stood over the kūmara (sweet potato) pit where Te Rauparaha was hiding, thus ritually shielding him from those using spiritual means to find him. The incident became the basis for Te Rauparaha’s famed ‘Ka mate’ haka. Motuopuhi was formerly a peninsula, which became an island when the lake level was raised by the Tongariro power scheme.  There was an horrific slaughter here in the 1820’s, and if you would like to read more of the history visit http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-Pom01Lege-t1-body2-d29.html

shed blood
only piwakawaka remain
guardians

The mountain in the background is Tongariro.

 

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