Lake Rotoaira - Roadside Stories

A Manatū Taonga audio guide to Lake Rotoaira and its association with the renowned 'Ka mate' haka.

Check out the Ministry for Culture and Heritage's audio guide to Lake Rotoaira in the Video tab.

The famed ‘Ka mate’ haka – well known for being performed before rugby games – was composed by Ngāti Toa chief Te Rauparaha as he hid from pursuers on an island in Lake Rotoaira. He was concealed in a kūmara (sweet potato) pit, with the local chief’s wife squatting above him. The lake is also a reservoir of water for hydroelectric power generation.

Te Rauparaha
Chant composed by Te Rauparaha
Motuopuhi Island
Tongariro area
Motupoi pā

Archival audio sourced from Radio New Zealand Sound Archives. Sound files may not be reused without permission from Radio New Zealand Sound Archives (Reference number T370).

Roadside Stories are a series of audio guides to places of interest on major road trips in New Zealand. Each guide tells the story of an attraction along the way – its people, its history, its cultural and natural significance. For more information about Roadside Stories visit

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