Mahuika story telling was attracting more and more children to hear her tales. Even older children would come along as well in case they had not heard the stories before. A widow who was now living in the village had married one of the fisherman there and had a teenage daughter Hekeheke who while passing by heard Mahuika talking to the children so paused just as the storyteller was about to start a story for them.
Hekeheke nodded a greeting to Mahuika and approached from the side and asked if she could sit and listen to the story. Mahuika nodded saying. “Are you not the girl from the hot springs country way inland?” and here Mahuika pointed to the mountains to the south west.
Hekeheke agreed “Yes Auntie, I am from Rotorua where the great geysers are.”
“Then I have a story to tell the children that you probably know. Sit down Hekeheke you are very welcome.” Mahuika then began her story.Many years ago, it was the custom of some tribes to go hunting for birds during the long summer months. The people who lived around Lake Rotorua where Hekeheke used to live sent their best hunters into the forests to trap the plump wood pigeon, the kereru. When the calabashes were filled with preserved kereru, they would return home to a joyous welcome. Hatupatu and his three older brothers hunted them too.
One time, however, when the brothers returned home their father noticed that Hatupatu was not with them.
"Where is your little brother?" said their father.
"We don’t know as he did not come back with us," the brothers replied as they shook their heads.
"Oh no! He is not dead is he?" asked their father. When the brothers said they could not find him, their father knew that this must be case.
Early in the morning the father got up and went down to the lake shore to pray to Tane Mahuta, the god of forests and woods. He asked Tane Mahuta to look for Hatupatu and to restore him to life again.
As he was praying, a cloud of sand flies rose from the waters edge and flew into the forest. It spread out and danced above the trees until the father could not see them any more. The sand flies went to the whare (hut) where the brothers had spent the summer catching the kereru. They flew through the cracks in the wall and settled on a pile of feathers that lay in a dim corner of the whare.
Underneath the feathers they found the body of Hatupatu. The air crackled and hummed and very slowly Hatupatu was restored to life. As the feathers flew in the air the cloud of sand flies rose and Hatupatu sat up. Then with a loud buzz the cloud of insects circled his head and disappeared into the night.
When daylight came, Hatupatu now recovered set off for home. He had not gone far when he saw a woman floating over the ground and staring into the trees. As he watched a bird would fall from its perch, and then another, and another. He rubbed his eyes in amazement. The woman had set no bird snares; she had no spear in her hand but somehow she was killing the birds while they sat on the trees just by staring at them. She heard his gasp of amazement and turned towards him.
Hatupatu was terrified. He shrieked with fear and began to run away for it was the bird woman. Kurangaituku!
He looked over his shoulder and saw Kurangaituku moving swiftly through the trees. Hatupatu ran as fast as he could but the evil woman followed and every time she flapped her arms she got closer to Hatupatu.
Then when he dashed into a clearing, Hatupatu found his way barred by a huge rock. He looked behind him and saw Kurangaituku reach out her long talons towards him. Hatupatu beat on the face of the rock and screamed. "Open up! Open up!"
The rock split into two and Hatupatu fell inside. As the rock shut, Kurangaituku shot her lip towards Hatupatu. She gave a loud screech but the rock had closed and prevented her from reaching him. Inside Hatupatu could hear Kurangaituku thumping and clawing at the rock face.So he lay still and waited.A long time passed and there was silence all around the rock. Hatupatu listened but he could not hear Kurangaituku anymore.
"Good " he said. "She must have gone. So he hit the rock wall and said, "Open rock!" The wall split open and Hatupatu stepped out.
Hatupatu looked around for Kurangaituku. She was now nowhere to be seen. He looked at the rock face and saw huge claw marks scratched into the rock. Hatupatu shuddered and began walking. As the sun began to set Hatupatu reached the edge of the forest and looked down upon Lake Rotorua."Good, I am almost home,"
He began to jog down the well-worn path to the lake when suddenly he heard the sound of beating wings. He looked behind him and there high above the trees was Kurangaituku ready to strike at him again. So he ran for the lake.
Kurangaituku struck out with her beak like lips. Hatupatu dodged and raced for the hot pools of Whakarewarewa. Steam rose in the air and boiling water bubbled up high. Hatupatu ran between the scorching hot pools of mud and water. Kurangaituku struck at him again and again through the drifting steam.
Hatupatu leaped over a geyser just as it began to rise. Kurangaituku leaped too but the geyser threw itself at Kurangaituku, caught her in the boiling hot jet of steam and water and as she died it took her down into the boiling waters under the earth. Hatupatu watched as the geyser continued bubbling and heaving but Kurangaituku never appeared again. So he turned and went back home safely to his family.
The little children were all a little shocked by the story and looked to Hekeheke to see what she would say.
“Thank you for the story Auntie, you told the story very well.”
“You do not have to call me Auntie, Hekeheke. You are old enough to call me by my name Mahuika.”
Hekeheke smiled and nodded back at her and said “That rock where Hatupatu hid is still there Mahuika, but I did not like to go near it. All of us children were scared in case she found one of us. It is said you can still see Kurangaituku’s long claw marks on it where she tried to get at Hatupatu.”
With that some of the girls said they were Kurangaituku and pretended their hands were claws and reached out for the boys laughing.