The Legend of Mataaho by Hana Weka

Long ago the land that lay between the Waitakere ranges and the hunua ranges was quite flat. There were no volcanoes present as there are today.

The great canoes had not yet arrived in Aotearoa so nobody lived in this beautiful land. Well, nobody human, lived here only the patu paiarehe, the fairy folk.

The patu paiarehe were not very good at getting along with each other so they tried to avoid trouble by living in carefully chosen areas. A tribe of patu paiarehe lived in the Waitakere ranges and a tribe of patu paiarehe lived in the Hunua ranges.

It was a favourite pastime of the young patu paiarehe of both Tribes to play a game called "dark run". On very dark nights when the moon did not shine, the young men would sneak out of their houses and race silently to the other tribal area. To prove that they had been there, they had to return with a token.

One night Waitakere's son Hui returned empty handed. The people laughed at him and made fun of him. The next time the dark run took place, the young man took part but did not return with the others. Everyone was worried and his friends blamed each other for not taking better care of Hui.

Days later, the chief called a council of war and assembled the young men along the tribal boundary. They were about to begin their war chant when there was a shout and two figures appeared running across the plain. It was the missing son and he was holding the hand of a beautiful young lady.

"My token," he panted out of breath. "My beloved."

His father was delighted by his son’s daring and welcomed the girl into his tribe.

"Who is she?" said the people.

I am Hunua’s daughter," she replied. "I am Wairere."

The people Hunua were furious when they learned that Wairere was with the Waitakere patu paiarehe. They gathered a war party together and set off across the Tamaki plain.

The high priest of Waitakere watched them coming and when they came close enough he took the magic hidden deep in the earth of the ranges and wove it into the deadliest spells he could make. Then he cast the spells at the Hunua patu paiarehe. Several patu paiarehe fell, bur many still kept marching on.

Again the high priest reached down into the earth of the ranges for hidden magic and again he wove it into his deadly spells and hurled them at the Hunua patu paiarehe. This time there was a stunned silence as one by one the Hunua patu paiarehe fell and died.

Suddenly the Tamaki plain heaved and shook..

The ground cracked open.

The high priest tumbled into the gaping earth and huge rocks were flung into the air. Mataaho, god of the secrets hidden in the earth, was very angry. He woke up his brother, Ruamoko, god of earthquakes and volcanoes and pointed to the high priest who had helped himself to the magic. Ruamoko shook with rage and Mataaho melted the high priest until he became a part of the magic in the earth.

Then the two brothers hurled the magic into the air and hid the sun with thick clouds of smoke. They threw more rocks into the air and melted them before they touched the ground.

The Waitakere patu paiarehe fled for their lives.

Many years later, just before the great canoes arrived in Aotearoa, two very old patu paiarehe stared out across the Tamaki plain in disbelief and sadness. Wherever they looked they saw a volcano.

"It was not a dream," said Wairere.

"No," answered Hui, and there is nobody left but us."

"Oh," wept Wairere, "the mountains of Mataaho, are all that's left of my tribe and yours."

Wairere and Hui passed into the Underworld many years ago but Nga Maunga a Mataaho, the mountains of Mataaho, can still be seen poking cheekily above the skyline of Auckland City'.

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