Taumata - hilltop with a story to tell
Hawke's Bay locals usually refer to iconic Te Mata Peak in its abbrieviated form but the real Maori name for this imposing hilltop is among the longest place names in the world.
Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapiki - maungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu celebrates the story of Tamatea Pokai Whenua - an ancestor of the local Maori people Ngati Kere.
Tamatea was a famous chief and warrior of his time. His son Kahungunu was the founder of the Ngati Kahungunu tribe which extends from Gisborne to Cape Palliser.
Tamatea acquired his long name through different events in his life. Turipukaka-pikimaunga-tahu recognised his many raids and wanderings, and was a name that suited his huge muscular physical appearance.
It seems that while travelling through the back of Porangahau, Tamatea encountered the Ngati-Hine tribe and had to fight them to move on. During the battle known as the Matanui, his brother was killed.
Tamatea was so aggrieved over the his brother's loss that he stayed for an extended time. Each morning he would sit on the knoll and play his lament on a koauau or Maori flute.
Hence the name Taumata-whaka-tangihanga-koauau-o-Tamatea-turi-pukaka-pikimaunga-horonuku-pokai-whenua-kitana-tahu, which means the hilltop where Tamatea with big knees, conqueror of mountains, eater of land, traveller over land and sea, played his koauau to his beloved.
This lament is still sung at many tangi (Maori funerals).
From the top of the hill, visitors can see the peak of Te Awa Putahi - an ancestral and spiritual mountain revered by Ngati Kere. Looking inland to the west, there is the long flat peak of Raekatia and the pinnacle named Tetaumatawhakatangihangakoauauorangitane to celebrate Rangitane, the eponymous ancestor of the Tamaki Nui a Rua district.
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