Now that Hekeheke had returned from Black Sands, Mahuika asked if she would like to tell the children a story next time. Hekeheke nodded and added “I have a surprise for them.” I found something on my journey back here. I can tell a story about it.”
So the next day when the children sought out Mahuika she said “Hekeheke has something to tell you. So Hekeheke got them all to sit down and said “I have an old story about Rotorua where I was born.”
When their group reached the place where Hotupuku lived, the taniwha smelled human flesh and emerged from his den. Not expecting a huge dragon to be behind the missing people, the group fled because they were entirely unprepared to fight him. Hotupuku killed and ate a few of them but most managed to escape back to their homes.
News of the dragon reached Rotorua, and a man named Pitaka then organized a dragon-hunting party. This party of men from the village called Ngati Tama set out to fight Hotupuku. They plaited a rope and made an enormous noose. They traveled back to the plains to Hotupuku's den, where Pitaka who was the bravest and fastest of the party went forward to entice the dragon out of its den.
As soon as Hotupuku smelled human flesh, he came out from his den. Seeing many people about, he thundered towards the Pitaki acting as a decoy who ran through the noose, leading the taniwha right into it. Once Hotupuku was inside the noose, the others in the party pulled it tight around him. Hotupuku thrashed about erratically but he could do nothing to escape from the noose. Soon he lay dead and from all the wounds they gave him with their spears. The party saw that he looked just like a tuatara, a lizard, but he was the size of a whale.
They made sure that this was the same dragon that had been preying on the travelers by cutting him open. Inside they found the remains of some of his victims so they buried them with respect. After this, they roasted and ate some flesh from Hotu-puku for themselves and then they returned home to their village of Ohinemutu.
Hekeheke then opened the basket she had brought with her and carefully took out a little tuatara.
“I found this little one when I was walking in the woods from Black Sands last evening” she said smiling. “He is not like other lizards but hunts at night like Hotupuku in the story, so try imagine one big enough to eat people. Look at the spines on his back and his sharp claws. This is why I thought I would tell you this story from my country at Rotorua. Tomorrow I will take him back where I found him; he probably wants to go home to his friends.”
One little girl said “Will he grow big enough to eat me?”
Hekeheke shook her head smiling “No, there are only little ones like this one left…I think.”
Mahuika laughed at this and then said “Children, do not put your fingers in his mouth, otherwise we may have to cut him open and pull you out of his stomach if he swallows you.”
All the children laughed but made sure their fingers did not touch him...even the boys.
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