Stories of Takitimu and whalers retold by Rongomaiwahine kaumatua

By Jessica Tyson

Crew members from the waka hourua in the Tuia 250 voyage took a rest from the water today to learn more about the location they've arrived at, at the last stop of their two and a half month voyage.

Tuia 250 celebrates New Zealand’s Pacific voyaging heritage, acknowledging the first onshore encounters between Māori and Pākehā in 1769–70. Today the crew members were welcomed onto Māhanga marae in Māhia, a location renowned for being a landing site for ancestral waka Takitimu and a whaling spot for tūpuna.

Navigator of Tahitian waka Fa'afaite, Moeata Galenon says, "We're happy to be invited and discover this part of the area and the stories that are linked to this place."

Kaumatua Kenross Campbell teaches kaihoe about the history of Te Māhanga. Source: File.

After a pōwhiri, the group was guided by Rongomaiwahine kaumatua Kenross Campbell to learn about the area's whakapapa. 

“This part of the land, Te Māhanga, was a landing spot for Takitimu. But the people of Takitimu didn’t stay here. They went all around the country.”

“In the shore remains a log which was used when repairs were made to the waka Takitimu. An awa, Tamatea, once flowed into the ocean but due to erosion of the land, it dried up.”

These stories were passed down to Campbell from his tūpuna, including Ruawharo who was the high priest of Takitimu.

“Ruawharo practiced prayer and studied ancestry here. That’s the work of my ancestors, who have taught the tribe about our ancestry and prayers, like when I was a child I came here.”

Kaihoe in Te Māhanga. Source: File

Ruawharo named seven of the small islands in the areas after seven whales. It was interesting for the Tahitian voyagers to learn about the kōrero, since they have a similar story about whales back home.

“In the Austral Islands there's also a story of seven whales so it was particularly significant for us and that's the beauty of all those encounters that we can do and we can see links or similarities of us and our Māori cousins.”

Even though Māhia is the last final of the voyage, it is hoped for these stories to be retold in the future.

The closing ceremony for Tuia 250 will take place tomorrow in Māhia.