Volume 58 1949 > Volume 58, No. 1 > Legendary footprints on the Poutu Stream, Rotoaira, by R. A. L. Batley, p 47-50
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LEGENDARY FOOTPRINTS ON THE POUTU STREAM, ROTOAIRA

AMONGST R. T. Batley's papers there are many native legends centred around the Tongariro region. This story concerns Ngatoroirangi of the Arawa canoe who planted the first Maori foot on Tongariro.

Ngatoroirangi lived on an island in the Bay of Plenty. Seeing the snows of Tongariro glistening in the south he was determined to stamp upon them and destroy them. He travelled southward and climbed to the top of the mountain where he trod upon the snow to no avail. Overcome by the cold he cried out in anguish to his sisters Pupu and Hoata who heard him from their home, more than a hundred miles distant. Carrying torches of sacred flame they travelled to his assistance, touching off the volcanoes and puia along their route. Ngatoroirangi was rescued by his sisters and they reached their island home safely except for Ngatoroirangi's toes that had been claimed by the frost of Tongariro.

The Poutu stream, a considerable body of water, flows from Rotoaira into the upper Waikato River, and Ngatoroirangi and his sisters were obliged to cross this stream. In 1882, R. T. Batley guided by an old native, Wi Maihi, visited part of the Poutu stream called Karika where Ngatoroirangi and his sisters were supposed to have crossed. Here he was shown their legendary footprints in the sandstone on the bank of the stream. At this point, where the Poutu runs deep between precipitous rocks, an active man could almost jump across, though in other places the stream is considerably more than a chain in width.

Several years ago I received a letter from Mr. R. J. Loughnan of Christchurch regarding these legendary footprints. Mr. Loughnan states that R. T. Batley was the only white man to have seen these footprints and that when he - 48 was dying he had given the writer a rough plan of the locality and had asked him to take down a detailed description that would enable the footprints to be found.

The following is the description supplied to Mr. Loughnan by R. T. Batley:—

“The spot is where the river takes a fall into a weird-like gulch, through blocks of sandstone rocks and precipitous banks, some trees growing in crevices above the stream itself. Footprints possibly about two miles from lake (Rotoaira) located by following parallel with little swampy gully, taking the side nearest Tokaanu. There is no mistaking the fall and the sandstone gulch and the peculiar formation like an old bedwarming pan jutting out from the perpendicular bank. The ledge to explore is only a small place between the bank of the stream and a little bluff at the back. There is, if I remember rightly, an open fern-covered space between the footprints and the little swamp where it joins the river. Wi Maihi was in full view of me as I stood on the opposite bank above him. The way we went was from the old Poutu kainga along the old track to Tokaanu at the base of Pihanga till we headed round the little swampy gully and made a diagonal line to the river through the fern. I must have crossed the river either through or above the fall but I cannot now remember, but of this I am certain, I was on the opposite side to where the footprints are and in full view of the spot. It is almost certain the footprints are again covered with fern and mosses but they can be found.”

In January, 1946, Mr. Loughnan visited the spot with Mr. and Mrs. J. Whittle of Moawhango. They found the gulch without difficulty, but owing to the steepness of the banks were unable to approach to within less than twenty feet of the river's surface. During March of the present year I also visited the spot with an interested party and succeeded in making a descent on both sides of the river, to the rocks on the water's edge.

Owing to the undergrowth the footprints were not in view, but there is no doubt that this is the only place where a crossing of the Poutu could be made. An interesting discovery was that of a Maori canoe, approximately twenty-six feet in length, that was wedged between rocks across the stream.

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A further letter from Mr. R. J. Loughnan, dated 19th January, 1949, states that there are two footprints on the ledge. Of these, Ngatoroirangi's footprint is further from the stream, and is much larger than normal as he was of gigantic stature. The footprint has no toes because Ngatoro' suffered frostbite on Tongariro! Pupu's footprint, a few feet away, is much smaller and imperfect. The curious formation of sandstone suggesting a warming pan stuck out by its handle was called the ipu (dish) of Pupu.

NOTE: I was speaking to Mr. V. Ford, storekeeper, of Tokaanu, who informed me that the canoe was the last one on Rotoaira and that it disappeared from the lake some years ago.

Illustration
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PRICE LIST OF BACK NUMBERS OF THE JOURNAL.

Prices are subject to alteration as stock is reduced. A concession is extended where any number is purchased. The letter M means an instalment of a memoir issued with the Journal. The Index should be used as an approach to back issues.

Vol. Year Part 1 Price Part 2 Price Part 3 Price Part 4 Price
1 1892 1-64 5s 65-130 131-94 195-278
2 1893 1-64 65-128 129-94 195-282 4s
3 1894 xi, 1-54 55-112 113-78 4s 179-244 5s
4 1895 xi, 1-72 6s 73-156 157-208 6s 209-300 6s
5 1896 xii, 1-72 73-130 131-94 195-246
6 1897 xii, 1-40 41-96 97-160 161-221, 1-108 sup. 6s
7 1898 ix, 1-54 6s 55-118 5s 119-184 6s 185-251 6s
8 1899 ix, 1-60 6s 61-140 6s 141-200 201-74 2s 6d
9 1900 viii, 1-64 5s 65-124 6s 125-72 5s 137-239 5s
10 1901 xii, 1-56 57-106 2s 6d 107-70 171-211 2s 6d
11 1902 xiv, 1-46 3s 47-126 127-94 1s 6d 195-207 1s 6d
12 1903 xv, 1-64 1s 6d 65-132 1s 6d 133-92 1s 6d 193-249 1s 6d
13 1904 xv, 1-72 2s 73-132 2s 133-96 1s 6d 197-271 2s 6d
14 1905 xv, 1-48 2s 6d 49-106 1s 6d 107-66 1s 6d 167-223 1s 6d
15 1906 xv, 1-60 2s 61-128 1s 6d 129-82 1s 6d 183-229 1s 6d
16 1907 xi, 1-62 2s 63-108 3s 6d 109-74 175-233
17 1908 xi, 1-50 51-111 3s 6d 112-68 2s 6d 169-236 2s
18 1909 xi, 1-46 3s 6d 47-100 101-56 157-224 2s
19 1910 x, 1-46 47-100 5s 101-70 5s 171-230 4s
20 1911 xii, 1-42 5s 43-102 103-64 165-230
21 1912 xx, vii, 1-28 29-82 83-140 141-189 5s
22 1913 xii, 1-44 45-106 107-68 5s 169-235 4s
23 1914 xi, 1-60 61-126 127-80 2s 6d 181-231 2s 6d
24 1915 xiii, 1-28 2s 29-76 2s 77-120 2s 121-72 2s
25 1916 xi, 1-32 2s 33-76 2s 77-130 2s 131-80 2s
26 1917 xii, 1-44 1s 6d 45-90 1s 6d 91-142 1s 6d 143-94 1s 6d
27 1918 x, 1-48 49-98 2s 99-164 165-231 2s
28 1919 xii, 1-54 3s 55-122 123-82 2s 6d 183-246 3s 6d
29 1920 xi, 1-44 45-106 107-64 165-228 5s
30 1921 xii, 1-52 53-128 129-200 201-66
31 1922 x, 1-66 67-90 91-158 159-211 1s 6d
32 1923 xi, 1-52 2s 53-102 103-88 2s 6d 189-263 2s 6d
33 1924 xiii, 1-86 87-148 149-228 1s 6d 229-350 1s 6d
34 1925 xiii, 1-98 5s 99-192 1s 6d 193-276 1s 6d 277-398 1s 6d
35 1926 xix, 1-72 1s 6d 73-180 1s 6d 181-266 1s 6d 267-373 1s 6d
36 1927 1-98 1s 6d 99-206 1s 6d 207-302 1s 6d 303-420 1s 6d
37 1928 1-112 1s 6d 113-256 1s 6d 257-358 1s 6d 359-481 1s 6d
38 1929 1-104 1s 6d 105-82, M9.1-38 1s 6d 183-240, M9.39-70 1s 6d 241-308, M9.71-99 1s 6d
39 1930 1-88, M9.101-24 1s 6d 89-200, M9.125-52 1s 6d 201-98, M9.153-82 1s 6d 299-412, M.183-216 1s 6d
40 1931 1-72, M9.217-46 1s 6d 73-94, M9.247-64 1s 6d 95-182, M9.265-84 1s 6d 183-267, M9.285-319 1s 6d
41 1932 1-80, M9.321-6, M10.1-30 2s 6d 81-180, M10.31-78 2s 6d 181-252, M10.79-108 2s 6d 253-337, M10.109-40 2s 6d
42 1933 1-32, M10.141-88, M11.21-44, M12.1-50 2s 6d 33-132, M10.189-204 2s 6d 133-240, M10.205-236 2s 6d 241-346, M10.237-52, M11.45-60, M12.51-84 2s 6d
43 1934 1-40, M10.253-68, M11.61-76, M12.85-108 2s 6d 41-142, M10.269-84, M11.77-92 2s 6d 143-228, M11.93-108 2s 6d 229-309, M10.285-304, M11.109-29 2s 6d
44 1935 1-68 2s 6d 69-136 2s 6d 137-92 2s 6d 193-257 2s 6d
45 1936 1-48 2s 6d 49-82, M13.1-16, 2s 6d 83-118, M13.17-32, 2s 6d 119-68, M13.33-48, M14.11-15 2s 6d
46 1937 1-40, M13.41-8, M14.17-27 2s 6d 41-98, M13.49-56, M14.29-36 2s 6d 99-174 2s 6d 175-248 2s 6d
47 1938 1-44, M14.37-45, M15.1-6 2s 6d 45-96, M13.57-64, M15.7-9 2s 6d 97-144, M15.10-16 2s 6d 145-216, M13.65-72, M15.17-23 2s 6d
48 1939 1-70, M15.24-31 2s 6d 71-128, M15.32-40 2s 6d 129-66, M15.41-6, M16.1-16 2s 6d 167-224, M15.47-50 2s 6d
49 1940 1-174, M15.51-4, M16.17-32 5s 175-308, M15.55-61, M16.33-48 5s 309-482, M15.62-5, M16.49-64 5s 483-633, M15.66-77, M16.65-80 5s
50 1941 1-52, M15.78-81 5s 53-106, M16.97-112 5s 107-72, M16.113-28 5s 173-244, M16.129-43 5s
51 1942 1-85 5s 87-152 5s 153-227 5s 228-92 5s
52 1943 1-24, M16.1-xii, 145-46, M15.i-ii, 83-90, M15 part 2 1-2 5s 25-90, M16.157-9 5s 91-156 5s 157-222 5s
53 1944 1-42, M15 part 2, 3-4, Nga Mot., 1-16 5s 43-74, M15 part 2, 5-6, Nga Mot., 17-32 5s 75-120, Nga Mot., 33-48 5s 121-219, Nga Mot., 49-64 5s
54 1945 1-90, Nga Mot., 65-72 6s 6d 91-146 6s 6d 147-166, M22.1-52 6s 6d 167-250, M22.53-72 6s 6d
55 1946 1-84 6s 6d 85-174 6s 6d 175-242 6s 6d 243-94 6s 6d

Address all correspondence to the Hon. Secretary, Polynesian Society, c/o Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington. C.1.