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History of Piha through its Maori names

Posted by SC Comments Off on History of Piha through its Maori names

Te Piha talk

 

Pou on Lion Rock depicts Ngati Tangiaro Taua who liked to sit at this spot

Graeme Murdoch held his audience spellbound when he shared his immense knowledge of the Maori history of Piha at Barnett Hall in November 2008. Emulating the oral tradition of telling stories, Graeme explained the many stories of Piha through its places names.

He stressed that there was not one Maori occupation of Piha, but a continuous relationship over many hundreds of years, leaving layers of names on the landscape. Names get lost over time, but the naming has not stopped and new names are given.

Many of the earliest names are taken from their Pacific homelands. Hikurangi is one of these and it has considerable significance to the Te Kawerau a Maki people.

Graeme said when he first came to Piha with the old people of Te Kawerau a Maki, they always talked about “going to Hikurangi”, this being the name given to the wider area by Rakataura, the senior tohunga on the Tainui canoe. Piha was a name given to Lion Rock, referring to the way the waves part as they hit the rock, the “bow-wave”, or wave pattern in front of the rock.

The Piha Stream as we know it, had the name Waitekahu, referring to Kahukeke, the wife of Rakataura. About 600 years ago, a party from the canoe explored the whole of the Waitakeres and Kahukeke thought Piha exceedingly beautiful. Because of her love of Piha, the party stayed for some and hence her name was given to the stream – “the water of Kahu”.

Graeme told many other stories and along the way we Piha-ites learned of many names we did not know, and some that are wrong. For example, Pakiti Rock (called Patiki Rock on Piha Rescue!) should be Pakirikiri, the rock where you catch rock cod.

Categories: landmarks, Maori, Uncategorized

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