Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Mahuika's Tales No. 6 Hukatere and Wawe

                          Aoraki (Mount Cook)

It was a very cold day and Mahuika knew the children in the village would be looking for her to tell them a story. So she put on her feather cloak and sat on the porch of her whare waiting for them. They soon appeared and she ushered them inside into the warm and noticed that a brother and sister that always turned up for the stories were not there. Nobody knew where they were so she sat them all down and just as she was about to start Haki and Awa came in. Mahuike could see that the little girl was crying so asked Awa what had happened.

“It is so cold today that Haki wouldn’t hold my hand and I fell over as I was running.” She sobbed. So Mahuika picked up the little girl and said “Well sit on me and warm up while I tell you the story.” And so she began.

Many years ago a beautiful hine (girl) named Hukatere saw a young man Wawe walking in the foothills of Aoraki (Mount Cook) looking for cutting stones. She watched him for some time. Eventually she came down to where he was searching on the ground with his digging stick and hearing her he looked up and saw her for the first time. He was immediately struck by her beauty and told her so. They were both shy and it was a long time before he dared to touch her. When he did so for the first time she screamed with pain because to her his fingers felt so hot that she thought it would melt her skin. Despite this they still talked and looked at each other with desire and fell in love.
However every time Wawe attempted to hold her they knew she would be burnt and his hands would freeze. So they just walked and talked together until one day Hukatare suggested to Wawe that he should go with her high into the hills so she could ask the mountain Aoraki for warm breath and blood and pink cheeks just like his.
Wawe was overjoyed and readily agreed and so they set out across the foothills and walked high up into the mountain Aoraki.
As they climbed Wawe suddenly became afraid. His knew that his ancestors had forbidden anyone from climbing Aoraki. It was the home of the tribal guardians who jealously guarded their resting place. Higher and higher they went and the air grew cold and thin.
Hukatere called out to Wawe, "Isn´t it so beautiful here? Could we not live up here together?"
Wawe was too cold to reply. His fingers and toes were numb.his teeth were chattering and his face was blue and his eyelids were heavy with snow but he could just see that Hukatere was skipping with pleasure over the icy ground.
"It is so lovely here," she said.
Then again she called out "Come on Wawe, it is not far to go."
Wawe stumbled on towards her voice, his eyelids were closing and he could hardly put one foot in front of the other because of the cold. Then the wind got up and Wawe could hear the voice of Tawhiri Matea the weather god screaming at him. “Get off this mountain mortal, you do not belong here.”
Hukatere turned around and saw that Wawe was being pushed by Tawhiri with a very strong wind to the the edge of the path so he might fall off of the mountain. Quickly Hukatere tried to grab Wawe’s hand in order to save him but neither could hold on to the other and as he fell she released millions of snowflakes from her fingers so that when he fell he would land on a blanket of snow. Tawhiri saw her do this and whipped up an even stronger wind to blow them away so Wawe fell to his death. Hukatere never saw what happened to Wawe as the mountain was then enveloped by a blizzard.
Hine Hukatere never leaves the mountains now, nor does she seek the company of others either. Instead she wanders along the white river of ice peering between the thick blocks and crevices always hoping to find Wawe again who she loved so  much. Everywhere she goes she cries for Wawe and her tears form drops of ice that fall into the glacier and is forever pushing it very so slowly towards Tangaroa (the sea).

Mahuika then looked down at Awa and said “Are you warmer now little one?”  Awa nodded very contented now that she had a special place with Mahuika and that she had a story told just for her.


  1. The story makes me feel colder, and I'm already shivering. It's probably only 60F in my room right now.