Firstly – thank you again for passing my fund-raising appeal with Givealittle on to as many people as you can – see earlier blog posts:-)
One of my favourite areas in the whole of New Zealand is the Hokianga Harbour – with its massive sand dunes on the north side that shine bright yellow in the sun and look gloomy and forbidding when it’s overcast. The natural harbour itself with its countless shades of blue and turquoise, that meanders into far-reaching areas through tidal stream. The small villages that are dotted around the sides of this great body of water who have history in their very substance.
You wont find any Pākeha (white person) names for those villages – instead most of these are Māori names such as: Omapere, Opononi, Rawene, Kohukoho, Panguru and many more.
Every time I go there (and its been many times over the years) I feel different – as if one can breathe the same air like people long gone – it is indeed a very mythical place and this is where the legends or Māori lore comes in.
My husband’s family is from the area – many of his old relatives still live there and even more have sadly passed on since I first went up there about 9 years ago. I listen to their stories and I find it fascinating how much history there is – though not history in the European sense where one can touch it…. its history in song and storytelling – like most native cultures around the world – this is how they tell the younger generations about life before.
For starters the name Hokianga is short for: Te Hokianga-nui-a-Kupe – “the place of Kupe’s great return” – Kupe was a legendary Māori explorer – and many landmarks around the country are named after him or have some connection with him. His connection in the Hokianga is such that when he left from here for his home land Hawaiki (do not confuse with Hawaii!) he went to a spring nearby to say good-bye to his son Tuputupu-whenua with the words: ‘Farewell, The Spring in the World of Light. I now return, I will never return.’ He then dispatched his son into the spring at which time the boy/man turned into a Taniwha (a supernatural being). So Hokianga was born – hoki means ‘to return.
Speaking of Taniwha – there is this other legend I want to tell you about. Āraiteuru was a female Taniwha who came to the Hokianga pregnant and soon gave birth to 11 sons. Each of those sons started exploring and digging trenches where they went – this is how the many arms of the Harbour were formed. Some of those sons still live with their mother in a cave on the South Head of the harbour mouth. She is the guardian of the region but when she is angry can also raise storms and big waves and wreck vessels on the treacherous bar.
The companion of this taniwha lives on North Head and is known by many names – Niwa, Niniwa, Niua or Tauneri.
I did of course not remember all of this – I had help with a book written by Margaret Orbell – The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Maori Myth and Legend – makes for very interesting reading by the way.
The bottom line of the matter is that there is much more to this region than meets the eye. It is a deeply spiritual place and many people who go there never leave – or come back time after time. It is on most Northland tourists travel plans because of its sheer beauty and of course Waipoua Forest is on the way – where one can find Tane Mahuta our largest Kauri tree and the second largest Te Matua Ngahere. These trees have been around when Jesus walked the earth – or in other words – they where here before Māori yet alone white people.
However – within this remaining section of Kauri forest – most of it was milled in the two previous centuries – are some intriguing ruins. Man made stone ruins that some people believe to be pre- Māori and are not easy to get access to and most certainly nobody wants to investigate for some reason. I don’t want to wade into the debate but if you are interested in what other people had to say about this and to perhaps make up your own mind here are some links relating to this:
So the Hokianga has it all, breathtaking landscape and nature, friendly people and history to match the lot. If you haven’t been – go there, if you have – go back:-)