Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Mahuika's Tales No. 9. Hekeheke tells of Kuiarau

                          Boiling pool at Rotorua

Mahuika was going to Black Sands with Hoku her step daughter, Hoku's husband Aotea and their children on a visit to Aotea’s family there. She had told Hekeheke that if the children sought her out for a story perhaps she should tell them one.

“Mahuika, I am not a story teller. What do I know and what stories can I tell them?”

Mahuika smiled at Hekeheke “We are all story tellers. We hear our first stories from our mothers and our fathers. We do not forget them. It is our duty to keep telling them otherwise what will become of our history?”

Hekeheke nodded doubtfully.

Then Mahuika went on “Tell the children the stories about Rotorua where you were born. You must know them all. When you tell a story it may be different from the last time you heard it because of the way it affected you. Do you remember when the little girl wanted the little bird Tieke, to be included in the story about Maui taming the sun? If she tells that story now it will be unique to her. That is why there are so many different versions of his exploits.” Here Mahuika paused then said, “The best stories will last but who will tell the stories when I have gone?”

Hekeheke knew then exactly what Mahuika was talking about. So she nodded and said “I am sure the children will help me.”

With that Mahuika again shook her head, “No, Hekeheke. They must be surprised when they hear a story. When a woman relates a story she will talk about love and sadness better than a man. When a man tells a story he will emphasize the bravery and cunning of the heroes and their adversaries. It has taken me a long to time to be able to tell stories about Maui and his tricky ways so that boys enjoy it. You must remember your listeners and tell the story to please them.”

As Mahuika expected the children looked for her after she had gone to Black Springs. They couldn’t find her so went to Hekeheke instead. She told them that although Mahuika would be away for a little while she would tell them a story instead. So she took them to her mother’s whare and sat them on the sand in front of the entrance and began her first story.


Tamahika, son of Tutea was the first man to set up a permanent home at Rotorua, which is where I used to live. I was born there as were my parents and their parents before them. The village is called Rotorua now and there are many hot springs there. Some that you can bathe in and some are so hot you can cook in them. There are pools that bubble and hiss and some that every now and then grumble a lot then shoot a great gush of hot water and steam into the air. This clearly makes the pool feel better as then it quietens down again for a while before it starts to grumble again.


Here Hekeheke interrupted her story and said. “I have not yet been to the Hot Springs at Black Sands but I understand those at my birthplace at Rotorua are bigger and angrier than any where else in our land.” Then she continued:


Well Tamahika took a beautiful young woman named Kuiarau to be his wife and they loved each other very much. They were the first people to settle in Rotorua and lived happily together with Tamahika’s father Tutea, who also lived with them. One day when Kuiarau went bathing in one of the warm springs, Taokahu, a taniwha (a water monster) saw her and wanted her for himself. So the evil monster swam up behind her and grabbed hold of her legs and dragged her down to his lair below the lake.

The gods, observing the struggle between poor Kuiarau and the evil taniwha, became very angry and decided to punish him causing the lake to boil so the Taniwha would be destroyed forever. However Kuiarau also died when this happened. So Tamahika never ever saw his wife ever again.

From that time on that hot lake and the land surrounding it has been known by the name of Tamahika's lost wife, Kuiarau in memory of her.


She knew that not only had she not told the story well she had told it too quickly but as she had already got to the end looked up at them to see their reaction

“Did you bathe in that pool Hekheke?” Asked one of the boys.

Hekeheke laughed and shook her head “No, that pool is too hot to bathe in. All the pools there are different temperatures.”

“Did Tamahika ever get married again?” asked two of the girls together.

“I expect so, or else I would not be here would I?  My family has always lived at Rotorua. My mother and I only came here after my father died. My mother is now being looked after by a man in our village of Gannet Island.”

“So you have not been to Black Sands and the hot springs there, Hekeheke?" Asked another boy.

”No, not yet, but one day I will go.”

The boy then said "My father told me that Hatiti the second wife of Black Sands headman Ahuahu  was married first to Kaihutu. Kaihutu died when he fell in a hot pool there. Do you think that a taniwha captured him?"

"No I don't think so." Answered Hekeheke.

She then understood what Mahuika had told her that the stories she told the children would interest them in different ways.

With that the children settled down again eagerly waiting for her next story.


  1. that is so true, oral stories passed on bring you closer to your other relatives that have passed on and those that are alive too.

  2. Old Egg the story teller..good to have you back in Black Sands..

  3. Stories form the core of who we are. That is why we must keep telling them.

  4. Fascinating to see how each of the children react, and I got a kick out of the reference to previous characters.