Kupe

Kupe and Muturangi at Raratonga.

Kupe was a great chief of Tahiti, whose father was from Rarotonga, and his mother from Rangiatea, where her father lived.

You will understand thus that there were three islands over the people of which his mana extended.

On one occasion there arose a quarrel between Kupe and Muturangi, a man of Rarotonga, about the latter’s pet octopus.

Kupe and his people went out to fish at the usual fishing place, where the lines and hooks were let down; but after a long time feeling no bites, the lines were hauled up, and then it was found that all the bait had been taken.

It was the same with all the canoes on the fishing ground.

They put on fresh bait, but with the same result, and thus they continued until all the bait was used up.

The canoes then all returned ashore, and there the fishermen told the tale of their want of success.

After a time, on another day, the canoes again went out to the fishing ground; but the result was the same; no fish came to their lines; so they returned home without a single fish.

The fishermen reported their ill-success, and much discussion took place as to the cause of it.

It was finally decided to lay the matter before the priests so that they might search out the cause.

The priests told the people, if they proposed to go fishing again to first bring the lines and hooks to them to be operated on.

When morning came it was decided to go fishing again, so lines and hooks were taken to the priests who said the proper karikia over them, and then the canoes put out to sea.

It was now seen that numerous octopii were at the lines eating the bait, and there was also to be seen the great octopus of Muturangi floating on the surface of the sea; it thus became known that the latter man was the cause of the trouble, and fear fell on the fishermen, so they all returned ashore.

On arriving they reported what they had seen; so Kupe went to Muturangi who was dwelling at Kahukaka, which was his home.

Said Kupe, “O sir! You are the cause of our ill luck, and never told us about the octopus.” Muturangi replied, “I did not send the wretches there.”

Kupe then said, “Restrain your octopus; do not let it go to sea, because the canoes will be going out tomorrow again to fish.”

Then Kupe returned to Pakaroa, to his home, and told all his people to prepare for fishing on the morrow, as food was getting scarce.

So next morning the fishermen of Pakaroa went forth; but the same thing occurred again, the octopus had not altered his conduct.

The fishermen returned and reported the result, and that the octopus of Muturangi was still there.

Kupe again went to the tohunga of the tuaahu and described their trouble, and asked them what should be done.

To this the tohunga replied that they were not powerful enough to overcome the action of the octopus, but application should be made to Muturangi himself to stop the proceedings.

Kupe said, “I intend to slay Muturangi.”

To this the tohunga replied, “Even if you slay Muturangi, the octopus will still retain his power; it would be better to first kill the octopus.”

Kupe then went to the house of Muturangi, and again complained of the evil conduct of the latter’s pet; “I come to you to ask you to kill your pet.”

Muturangi replied, “I will not consent that my pet should be killed.

The sea is his home; it is the people who are in the wrong in going there to fish.”

To this Kupe said, “If you will not take care of your pet, I intend to kill it.”

“You will not be able to do so,” said Muturangi.

Kupe said, “It is well; if I kill it, I shall kill it.”

Kupe then returned to Pakaroa, and said to his people, “Prepare my canoe for sea, and do it well.”

So ‘Matahourua’ was carefully prepared, the wash boards at the bow fastened on, two end pieces were put in place, one at the stern, one at the bow, two anchors were brought from his grandfather, Uetupuke, who had charge of them, the place for the cable was a hole in the stone.

One of these anchors was a tataraapunga from Maungaroa, which is a mountain in Rarotonga, the other was a puwaikura, which is a reddish stone like kiripaka or mataawaiapa, which came from Raiatea Island.

A similar stone was brought to New Zealand in “Kurahaupo” canoe by Tamaahua and used by him as a support for the centre pillar of his house that he erected at Taranaki; it was a puwaikura, where this stone is stated to have been used as a support for a house-pillar at Oakura, and is said still to be seen.

The anchors having been placed on board, Kupe started forth to slay the octopus.

On arrival at the fishing ground named Whakapuaka, the lines were let down, but were not allowed to reach the bottom, but hauled up, and then it was seen the baits had been eaten, and the octopuses followed the lines to the surface, where Kupe and the sixty men of the canoe ‘Matahourua’ proceeded to slaughter them and continued to do so till night fell, while the great octopus of Muturangi was all the time waiting a little beyond.

According to belief the body of this octopus was three fathoms in length, whilst its feelers were five fathoms long when stretched out.

Its eyes were like the pauaraupara in size.

After the slaughter had continued for a very long time, Pekahourangi, one of the principal tohunga of the tuaahu said, “Cease killing those octopus; if you could succeed in killing the great octopus of Muturangi, the others would all disappear, for it is he that brings them here, and Muturangi is inciting them to take off the bait.

They therefore ceased slaying the smaller octopus, and turned their attention to the octopus of Muturangi.

But although there were many canoes there, none of them could approach the monster, for he made off to the deep sea.

It was now night, so Kupe returned ashore, whilst Ngake in his canoe, “Tawhirirangi,” followed the octopus out to sea.

On arrival ashore Kupe said to his men, “Put plenty of provisions on board our canoe, for we will follow this monster until we kill him,” which was agreed to by all the crew.

On learning of the proposal of Kupe, Hineiteaparangi, his wife, and her daughters, urged Kupe to remain and leave his men to pursue the octopus, lest he be overtaken by storms at sea and be drowned.

Kupe was annoyed at this and said, “Cease your wailing; you have prophesied ill luck to me indeed, and it will end perchance in my death.

Go all of you and your children on board the canoe so there may be one death for us all, and not me alone whilst you remain lamenting in safety ashore.”

So all his five children consented to accompany him.

That was the reason that Hineiteaparangi and their children came hither in ‘Matahourua.’

Kupe and Ngake Start for New Zealand.

‘Matahourua’ was now launched and started.

There were seventy-two people on board.

After a time they reached Tuahiwinui o Hinemoana where Kupe overtook Ngake, of whom he asked, “Have you seen the octopus?”

Ngake replied, “There! You can see him reddening on the ripples of the sea.”

Kupe looked, and it was so.

They followed up to approach the monster, but to no avail; the octopus went on only the faster, directing his course to this island of New Zealand.

Kupe said to Ngake, “The head of the octopus is directed towards some mainland apparently; by following it we shall be led to some strange country.”

It was not long after this the mainland was seen in the far distance, like a cloud on the horizon, towards which the octopus made straight.

As it drew near to Muriwhenua, at the tail of this island, the octopus turned its head to the south along the East Coast.

Kupe now said to Ngahue, “Follow up our fish; I will land here to rest and then follow after you.

If the octopus should stop anywhere, let it remain there until I come.”

So Ngake continued on in pursuit, whilst Kupe went on from the North Cape to Hokianga, where he stayed a while.

In the course of his wanderings there in search of food, he came to a place where there was some plastic clay into which his heels sunk as also the soles of his feet and there left holes, as did the feet of his dog which was following him.

The clay was at once turned into rock, and both Kupe and his dog Tauaru footsteps are to be seen there to this day.

When he and his children landed there the first time and then went on, they left the dogs behind because they had wandered off to the forest to hunt birds, and on their return their masters had left; they went down to the beach and there howled.

Kupe heard them, but he used a karakia to prevent them following from the sea, and they were at once turned into stone.

Two rocks at the mouth of the Whirinaki river, Hokianga, are still pointed out as the dogs of Kupe.
Another account of these dogs is, that Kupe decided to have them there as guardians for the land, and he carved out of stone a male and female dog to represent them.
After a lengthened stay at Hokianga, Kupe came on, following his friend, and overtook him at Rangiwhakaoma, where Ngake was awaiting him, and who informed Kupe that the “octopus of Muturangi” was there within a cave giving birth to its offspring.
Kupe proceeded to the cave and broke it open, which caused the octopus to flee in the night towards the south.

Kupe and Ngake then gave chase and came to Te Kawakawa.

This name was given by Kupe from the circumstance that one of his daughters here made a wreath of kawakawa leaves, and the name has ever since remained in memory of it.

At that place is a kahawai where Kupe kept the fish of that name, a fact which is well-known to everybody.

It was near here that the sail of “Matahourua” canoe was broken, and Kupe, Ngake and their friends proceeded to make another for the bow of the canoe.

Kupe said to Ngake, “Which is the best kind of sail, yours or mine?” Hinewaihua, the wife of Ngake said, Ah! Thy parent’s papa is the best; it can be made quicker; and he has the dexterous hand for that kind of work.”

So they set to work and continued on to daylight, all hands helping Kupe, his elder relatives and younger brethren.

When daylight came, the sail was to be seen hanging up on the cliff, which caused Ngake to say, “I am beaten by my friend.”

Near that spot is also a bathing place of the daughters of Kupe, one of whom, Makaro, had her Mate on her at the time, and in consequence the water remains red to this day.

There also is a heap of stone, from the top of which Kupe recited his karakia to draw fish across for his daughters, amongst others, the hapuku, which ordinarily lives in deep water, but Kupe drew them thither.

He was gazing on the multitude of fish, and then raising his eyes saw beyond the sea the mountains of the South Island, the snows on Tapuaenuku in the sun.

Hineuira, one of his daughters, asked Kupe what he was gazing at.

He replied, “It is nothing; I was looking at the shoals of fish coming in, when I lifted up my eyes and beheld the land lying there.” Hineuira said, “Let the name of these stones be Matakitaki”, which remains to this day.

After this they started in pursuit of their fish, going on to the mouth of Te Whanganui a Tara, on the west side of which their canoes landed.

Here Kupe went for a bathe, and afterwards stretched himself out on a rock to dry himself in the sun, where he scratched himself, hence that place was ever after called “Te Aroaro o Kupe,” i.e., “Te Ure o Kupe”.

From there, after going to Hataitai they went on to Owhariu where the sails of “Matahourua” were hung up to dry, hence the name of that place.

The two islands in Te Whanganui a Tara named Matiu and Makaro, were so called by two daughters of Kupe after themselves to commemorate their visit to this island.

Kupe much approved this idea of his daughters. When they arrived at Te Rimurapa they proceeded to catch paua, shell fish, besides other fish, and there dried them as sea-stores for their voyage.

Then they procured the large sea-weed, and prepared them as recepticles for these sea-stores, so that they should not be spoiled by damp. Hence was that place named Rimurapa.

Whilst there they found it a very disagreeable place on account of the wind, so proceeded north to Porirua Harbour, where “Matahourua” was brought to an anchor.

Here, on the east side of the harbour, near the mouth, Kupe saw a stone which he at once desired as an anchor for the canoe; it was a kowhatuhukaatai.

His daughters also had the same wish on account of its excellence.

Consequently it was taken for that purpose, and the anchor brought from Maungaroa in Rarotonga was left at Porirua.

This new anchor was named Hukatai it is also called Hukamoa.

Ngake now said to Kupe it was time they went after their enemy.

So they left and went to Mana Island, where Kupe left his wife and his daughters.

They stayed there for a while. Mohuia, one of the daughters Kupe said, “Let this name, Mana, be retained for this island, in remembrance of 'to tatau mana tuatahi', on this island.”

Kupe gave his consent to this, saying, “Yes! it is well, Mana shall be its name.

After leaving his family there, they made a straight course for Te Waipounamu, and when they drew nigh unto it, they beheld the octopus of Muturangi approaching.

The two canoes of Kupe and Ngake separated to allow of the octopus to pass between them, which it did, the head rushing forward drawing its tentacles behind, which spread out even beyond the canoes.

It is thought that the length of the arms from head to tail was forty fathoms, whilst the width of the body was four fathoms.

Tohirangi stood up in the centre of the canoe of Kupe with a long spear and lunged at the monster; he speared it twice, and when it felt the pain, it stretched out its tentacles to break the spear of Ngahue, which was the other name of Ngake, who was using his spear from the other canoe.

Their two spears crossed, and the tentacles of the octopus seized hold of the gunwale of the canoe of Ngake, right away from the bows to the stern, which so frightened the men on board ‘awhirikura, which was the name of the canoe of Ngake, that it was nearly upset.

The tentacles then seized hold of the canoe of Kupe, who took his axe named Rakatuwhenua and commenced cutting off the tentacles; but it would not let go.

Kupe then shouted to Poheuea, “Throw the bunch of calabashes at the head of the octopus!”

This was done, and the monster, thinking perhaps that it was a man, let go the canoe, and encircled the calabashes with all his tentacles.

Then Kupe made a fierce downward blow with his axe at the head of the monster which was smashed in as well as its eyes.

And so died this great fish, the Wheke o Muturangi.

Now hence is the name of the South Island, Arapaoa, from the paoa or downward blow on the head of the octopus.

And also from the circumstance of this killing, are the rocks Nga whatu tapu; for that is the place where Wheke o Mururangi laid.

Here it was the karakia was said to conceal the octopus, lest Muturangi should come in search of his pet.

Immediately the karakia was ended, swirling currents commenced so that no canoe could land on those rocks.

The name Ngawhatu, refers to the eyes of the octopus, and it has remained a tapu place ever since.

When canoes cross the Straits to or from Arapaoa, the priests say, “Do not look on Ngawhatu; cover the eyes with a shade, lest, looking, a gale of wind comes on and the canoes will be capsized.”

This is the rule even to this day.

Now the above is the cause that drew Kupe, Ngake and their companions across the wide ocean when they discovered this country of Aotearoa.

It will be understood how great was the mana of Kupe to accomplish this undertaking.

Hence it was that his daughters wished to emphasize this mana by naming the island on which they stayed in honour of their father Kupe.

Porirua harbour where they left their old anchor and replaced it by a new one named Hukamoa is derived from that circumstance.

Kupe Explores The South Island.

Now after these events Kupe proceeded to the other Island in order to ascertain its capabilities, and to see whether or not there were people living there, which he also intended to do as regards the North Island.

He went down the west coast until he reached Arahura.

He gave the river that name because he went to search out whether any people were to be found there.

He was the first man to discover the valuable pounamu or jadeite.

The first specimen he saw was that kind called inanga, so named because it was seen in a river together with many inanga, or white-bait, which he proceeded to enclose.

When Hineteuiraiwaho stretched forth her hand into the water to get a stone as a sinker for the net, to sink it in the water, the one she got hold of was quite different to any she had seen before, and so it was called inanga.

Enough of this explanation as to the pounamu; the reason the subject has been brought up is, lest any one should falsely say that this particular island possesses pounamu.

It is not.

The pounamu is called the whatukaiponu of this land, and it is so called as a much desired property for the kahurangi, usually the first-born daughter of aristocratic parents and for the high-born chiefs no low-born person is entitled to use it hence whatukaiponu.

The canoes of Kupe then proceeded further to the south, and finally reached the tail-end of the South Island.

When there Kupe said to Hinewaihua, the wife of Ngake, “O Hua! Leave your pets here to dwell in this end of the island, for behold there are no men here.”

Hence are the seals and the penguins which guard that end of Arapaoa, which is now called Te Waipounamu that was its correct name formerly.

It is well known that the proper salutation to the people of the South Island is, “Welcome ye people of Arapaoa” and Ngai Tahu of the South Island welcomes us by saying, “Welcome ye people of the sunrise.”

Enough has now been said about the names given by Kupe in the South Island.

But nowhere did he or Ngake see the face of man in either that island or this not a single one.

Kupe Returns to the North Island.

On the return Kupe to the north he went by way of the west coast of the North Island to Hokianga.

When he was off Whanganui he saw what a very fine bay there was there, and therefore decided to land to inspect it.

On entering the bay, they landed on the west side and stayed a while there.

The place where they stayed, at the mouth of Whanganui, he named Kaihau o Kupe, because it was very windy whilst they were there.

Kupe paddled up the Whanganui river to see if any people lived there; he went as far as Kauarapawa, so called by him because his servant tried to swim the river there to obtain some korau, or wild cabbage, and was drowned, for the river was in flood.

So Pawa was drowned, and his name was applied to that place.

Kupe heard some voices there, a weka, a kokako and a tiwaiwaka, but as soon as he found they were only birds he returned to the mouth of the river, and then went on to Patea, where he planted some karaka seed of the species called Oturu.

Whilst at Patea he tested the soil by smelling it, and found it to be paraumu a rich black soil and sweet scented.

When he arrived at Hokianga, Hineteura, the daughter of Kupe, said to him, “O Sir! let us take possession of this land,” to which both Kupe and Ngake consented.

Then a hakari or feast was made by his daughters at a place between Te Kerikeri and Whangaroa.

At the end of the feast, Kupe, Ngahue, and all their people proceeded to uruuru the land, or to place it under tapu, prior to their return to Rarotonga, Rangiatea and Hawaiki.

The stone of the Uruurutapu is at the head waters of Hokianga, and is named Tamahaere, sometimes called Tokahaere, which is still very tapu.

The feast was held at the place usually called Taratarotorua, where certain natural pillars of rock are said to have been the posts that held up the food at the feast.

Now, it must be clearly understood, there were no people in all this island, or in Arapaoa.

The only individuals left here by Kupe were his two dogs named Tauaru, the male, and Hurunui, the female.

None of their party remained here, the whole of them returned to Rarotonga.

The Return to Rarotonga.

After Kupe and Ngake returned to Rarotonga they went on to Raiatea, and from thence to Tahiti.

They reported as follows: “There is a distant land, cloud capped, with plenty of moisture, and a sweet-scented soil.

It is situated at “Tiritiri o te moana.”

When the people of those islands heard the words of Kupe, they became possessed of a desire to come here to these islands.

The reasons they had for this desire, were the great number of quarrels arising amongst themselves in all of those islands.

When Kupe reached Raiatea, Nga Toto asked him, saying, “O Kupe! What is the appearance of that land you have discovered. Is it raupapa, flat land, or a tua rangaranga, undulating? Is the soil onetai, a sandy soil, or onematua, rich, fat soil?”

Kupe replied, “In the centre part are mountain ranges; the spurs that come down to the sea are sheltered, and with plains opening out on both the East and West Coast.

In the southern island, the ranges that come down to the sea on the West Coast, have pakihi opening out here and there.

The East Coast will preserve life and is fine to look on.

The soil of Aotearoa is good, it is oneparaumu; in some places it is onepapatihore, subject to land slips, and the growth of the plants is healthy and vigorous.”

Other people asked, “O Kupe! What do the seas and the streams contain?”

He replied, “There are fish both in the sea and inland; paua, mussels and cockles along the margin of the ocean.”

Others asked, “What is the course the canoe should steer, O Kupe?”

To which he replied, “Let it be to the left of the setting Sun, or the Moon, or Venus.

But it must be during Orongonui, or the summer, in the kaupeka of Tatauuruora when food is plenty that a start should be made.”

Turi then asked, “Which is the very best part of the land?” Kupe replied, “Leave the course in the current of Pareweranui, it is a place of much ‘fruit of the land’.

Others asked, “Did you see any one on the land?”

Kupe said in reply, “I saw no one; what I did see was a kokako, a tiwaiwaka and a weka, whistling away in the gullies; kokako was calling on the ridges, and tiwaiwaka was flitting about before my face.”

Now Kupe and Ngake stayed a long time at Raiatea and then went on to Tahiti.

They went there at the instance of Ruawharo -a half brother of Haunuiaaparangi, the son of Kupe and Te Aparangihihiri- who came to ask them to proceed to the latter place in order that the people living there might hear their account of the new land discovered by them at Tiritiri o te moana.

On leaving Tahiti they went to Rarotonga where Kupe found Turi, who had married Rongorongo the daughter of Toto.

Turi had not sailed for New Zealand at the time Kupe returned from his voyage, he was at Raiatea dwelling there, having fled from Tahiti because he had committed adultery with Korahi, the wife of Taurangitahi.

Korahi was the elder sister of Moanawaiwai, the second wife of Tomowhare.

This was the woman who went wrong with Turi.

She was a wahine kahurangi, whose husband was Aomarama.

Turi was followed up, with the intention of killing him, but he fled.

The reason, however, that he fled to this country was the killing of Kemo the younger brother of Uenuku.

When Kupe and Turi met, the latter asked, “Where is the best part of the island according to what you saw?”

Kupe replied, “The west coast.

There is my karakahuarua growing at the mouth of a river opening to the west, to the uru o Tahumakakanui.

You will see a certain mountain standing near the sea, on which rests the snow.

Direct your canoe to Tahuparaweranui and you will see it.”

Turi now said to his wife, “O Lady! If you had a canoe of your own we would go to this unoccupied land and make a home there.

Rongorongo replied, “Who would live in a solitary place like that?”

But Turi did not cease to dwell on this idea, and it was his constant subject of conversation.

At last Rongorongo spoke to her father Toto about it.

Toto replied to her, “It is well; here is a canoe.”

And so the canoe named ‘Aotea’ was handed over to Rongorongo to give to Turi.

The words of Toto to Turi were, “When you depart, and after you have arrived at Tiritiri o te whenua on the ocean, and if you find the land a food-store come back and fetch us all together with your brothers in- law.”

Those were the words of Toto, and Turi consented to them.

But Turi did not start for a long time, not until his children were born, Turangaimua, Taneroa and Tongapotiki.

Rongorongo was pregnant with her first born at that time.

Turi said to Kupe, “O Kupe! Let us both go to the land you have told us about.”

But the latter repled, “Kupe will not return.”

It must be clearly understood: Kupe and Turi did not meet at sea.

Such stories are false.

When Kupe returned to Raiatea as mentioned above, shortly after his arrival, the first child of Rongorongo was born, and Kupe said, “Let the name of the child be Turangaimua; to signify my being the first to stand on Aotearoa.”

Now for the first time did this name for New Zealand become known as given by Kupe. 

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