Volume 30 1921 > Volume 30, No. 120 > Te Tuhi-a-Manawatere and other legends of Marae-tai, Auckland, by George Graham, p 252-253
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- 252

ON the foreshore to the east of Howick grows a large pohutukawa known still by Ngati-tai (the local Maori tribe) as “Te Tuhi-a-Manawatere.”

This man Manawatere came from Hawaiki, he did not come in a canoe, he glided over the ripples of the waves. He came by way of Hauraki to Marae-tai (Enclosed Sea). He landed at this pohutu-kawa, and made his mark (tuhi) thereon, using a kind of red ochre paint known as Karamea. The mark he made was thus and was a sign to those following that he had come that way. Hence a proverb in respect of things or persons lost and being searched for among us the Ngati-tai: “Ma te tuhi rapa a Manawa-tere ka kitea.” “By the vivid mark of Manawa-tere it will be found.” 1

Then he went on to Ora-waho, which is the tidal passage between Rangitoto and Motu-tapu Islands. Here he was drowned, for he was not conversant with the karakia necessary to placate the two reptile guardians left there to guard these places by Kahu-matamomoe.

These reptiles (ngarara) are still to be seen, their names are “Moko-nui-o-Kahu” and “Moko-nui-o-Hei, i.e., “Great lizard of Kahu” and “Great lizard of Hei.” Kahu left one at Pehi-manawa (Home Bay, Motutapu), and the other at the Rangitoto foreshore, near Orawaho. It was that man Kahu who named those islands after places so called in Hawaiki. Those lizards are still to be seen on that place at Rangitoto. They are now turned to stone. Another name for them is “Nga-moko-rua-moe-titiro a Kahu.” (The two lizards sleeping with open eyes of Kahu). Kahu-matamomoe left them there; one belonged to him, another to Hei, his Uncle. Kahu was returning from Kaipara to Moehau to see Huarere, whom he told where he had left those lizards. Hence it was that Ngati-huarere, formerly claimed these districts, and for a time lived at Orakei Bay, the name of which is Okahu (i.e., O-Kahumatamomoe).

- 253

It was Te Pere-tu, an Arawa ancestor of Waiohua, who gave the mana to those ngarara to guard that Island of Rangitoto, for it was anciently a Rahui-Kaka (parrot preserve) of that man. The Kaka fed on the bush foods plentiful on Rangitoto in ancient times, for it was then covered with a forest of Rata and Pohutukawa trees. Hence another ancient name for Rangitoto, “Nga huruhuru a Pere-tu.” (The hairs of Pere-tu).

Also the name of the three summits of Rangitoto are derived from this ancestor Pere-tu, being named “Nga pona-toru a Pere-tu.” The three knuckles of Pere-tu,” as likewise were named the hill-tops of Moehau (Cape Colville) “Nga pona a Tama-te-Kapua.” The knuckles of Tamatekapua, which are six. Pere-tu had only three fingers; this was not a deformity, but a sign of his descent from a reptile god ancestor. Thus it is that carved effigies of ancestors are shown with three fingers, as a tuhi (sign) that such were men of godlike descent, though they themselves may have had hands like ordinary mortals.

1   This resembles the Urewera proverb given by Best in “Stone Implements of the Maori,” p. 163, in respect of the finding of greenstone pebbles in river beds:— “A ka kitea i reira, e tuhi ana, e rapa ana,” an allusion to its being found by means of its glistening appearance.