Ruakapanga

Ruakapanga was the son of Paikea and Huturangi.

He owned two great birds, known by the names Haarongaarangi and Tiungaarangi, and was also a tohunga in the cultivation of kumara.

When Kupe eventually returned to Tahiti and spoke of his journey to Aotearoa, Pourangahua decided to look into the possibility of cultivating kumara in this far off land.

With that in mind, he later embarked on a journey to Aotearoa with Tairangahue, to investigate.

Tairangahue and a crew of helpers, who included Pourangahua and his wife Kanioro, set sail for Aotearoa and made landfall in Turanga.

Spring was in the air and Tairangahue also assessed that the soil was well suited to the growing of kumara.

He and Pourangahua immediately desired to return to Tahiti to gather more kumura tubers, leaving behind Kanioro and others of his crew in Turanga.

Pourangahua went to visit Raukapanga and told him of his desire to quickly return to Tahiti and gather more kumura tubers for planting in Aotearoa.

Ruakapanga entrusted his prized birds, Haarongaarangi and Tiungaarangi, to the care of Pourangahua to hasten his journey to Tahiti and his subsequent return to Aotearoa.

He also gave some equipment to take with him.

Two kete named Houtaakerenuku and Houtaakererangi, which would contain the kumara tubers, and two Koo named Mamaenuku and Mamaerangi.

Pourangahua was to fly on Haarongaarangi while the kete, with the kumara tubers, and the koo would be carried by Tiungaarangi.

Ruakapanga gave Pourangahua strict instructions as to the treatment of the birds.

“Do not fly near Hikurangi lest Tamaiwaho snares you for his dinner.”

“And whatever you do, do not pull out any of the feathers.”

He was also given incantations to perform on the birds when they arrived in Turanga and for their safe return home to him.

Simple enough, Pourangahua thought, and off he flew on the prized birds of Ruakapanga.

On his return flight from Tahiti, as Pourangahua neared the northern coastal reaches of Te Tairaawhiti, so excited was he at the prospect of seeing his wife, Kanioro, that he totally forgot about the instructions of Ruakapanga.

To shorten his journey, he flew over Hikurangi and was attacked by Tamaiwaho.

He was lucky to survive this attack but the birds were the worse for it.

As he neared Turanga the birds circled around looking for a suitable place to land.

But Pourangahua became impatient and pulled out one of the feathers of Haarongaarangi to hasten his descent.

When they finally did land Pourangahua greeted his wife and his comrades, forgetting about the birds until he heard their cries.

He was overcome with shame and hastily chanted the karakia that Ruakapanga had given him for their safe return home.

The journey home wasn’t without drama, for the birds were set upon by the spirit guardians, Tuunuioteika and Huataketake.

By the time they arrived back to their master they were completely exhausted and in a state of collapse.

Ruakapanga was furious.

To avenge the maltreatment of his prized birds, he dispatched three pests that would forever blight the kumara of Pourangahua.

The anuhe to eat the buds, the mokoroa to eat the shoots and the mokowhiti to eat the leaves.

To this day, these grubs continue to ravage kumara crops throughout Aotearoa, reminding us of the neglect of the great birds of Ruakapanga by Pourangahua.

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