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Maori Culture

 

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Taumata - hilltop with a story to tell

A small Hawke's Bay hilltop can lay claim to one of the longest place names in the world.

Lying amongst the rugged coastal hills of Porangahau, Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapiki - maungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu tells 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 the length of the North Island east coast 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).


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Related Links
Other Sites
•  Waimarama Maori Tours website
•  Hawke's Bay website

 

   

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