Legend of Hatupatu by Hana Weka

Many years ago, it was the custom of some tribes to go hunting for birds during the long summer months. The people who lived around lake Rotorua used to send their best hunters into the forests to trap the plump wood pigeon, the kereru.

When the calabashes were filled with preserved kereru, they would return home to a joyous welcome.

Hatupatu and his three brothers hunted too.

One time, however, when the brothers returned home their father noticed that Hatupatu was not with them.

"Where is your little brother?" asked their father. "We don't know," the brothers replied. "He is dead isn't he," said their father. When the brothers did not answer, their father knew that he was right.

Early in the morning the father got up and went down to the lake shore to pray to Tane Mahuta, god of the forest and birds. He asked Tane Mahuta to look for Hatupatu and to restore him to life again.

As he was praying, a cloud of sand flies rose from the waters edge and flew into the forest. It spread out and danced above the trees until the father could not see them any more. The sand flies came to the whare where the brothers had spent the summer. They flew through the cracks in the wall and settled on a pile of kereru feathers that lay in a dim corner of the whare. Underneath the feathers they found the body of Hatupatu. The air crackled and hummed and very slowly Hatupatu was restored to life. As the feathers flew in the air the cloud of sand flies rose and Hatupatu sat up. Then with a loud buzz the cloud circled his head and disappeared into the night.

When daylight came, Hatupatu set off for home. He had not gone far when he saw a woman floating over the ground and peering into the trees. As he watched a bird would fall from its perch, and then another, and another. He rubbed his eyes in amazement. The woman had set no bird snares. She had no spear in her hand but she was killing the birds while they sat on the trees. She heard his cry and turned towards Hatupatu. Hatupatu was terrified. "Kurangaituku!" he shrieked and began to run.

He looked over his shoulder and saw Kurangaituku moving swiftly through the trees. Hatupatu ran as fast as he could. The bird woman followed and every time she moved her arms got closer to Hatupatu.

When he dashed into a clearing, he found his way barred by a huge rock. He looked behind him and saw Kurangaituku reach out her long talons towards him. Hatupatu beat on the face of the rock and screamed. "Open up! Open up!" The rock split into two and Hatupatu fell inside. As it shut, Kurangaituku shot her lip towards Hatupatu. She gave a loud screech as the rock shut on it. Hatupatu could hear Kurangaituku thumping and clawing at the rock face.

He lay still and waited.

Time passed.

There was silence all around the rock. Hatupatu listened. He could not hear Kurangaituku. "Good, " he said. "She's gone." He hit the rock wall and said, "Open rock!" The wall split open and Hatupatu stepped out.

Hatupatu looked around for Kurangaituku. She was now nowhere to be seen. He looked at the rock face and saw huge claw marks streaking down the rock. Hatupatu shuddered and began walking. As the sun began to set Hatupatu reached the edge of the forest and looked down upon Lake Rotorua. "Almost home," he said to himself. He began to jog down the well-worn path to the lake when suddenly he heard the sound of beating wings. He looked behind him and there high above the trees was Kurangaituku ready to strike at him.

He ran for the lake.

Kurangaituku struck with her lip. Hatupatu dodged and raced for the hot pools of Whakarewarewa. Steam rose in the air and boiling water bubbled up high. Hatupatu ran between the scorching hot pools of mud and water. Kurangaituku struck at him again and again through the drifting steam.

Hatupatu leaped over a geyser just as it began to rise. Kurangaituku leaped too. The geyser threw itself at Kurangaituku and as she died it took her down into the boiling waters under the earth. Hatupatu watched the geyser bubbling and heaving but Kurangaituku never appeared again. Then he turned and went home...

If you are ever going to Rotorua and you come to a place called Atiamuri, you may find a signpost that says, "Hatupatu's Rock". The people who live around Atiamuri do not like to go near the rock. It rises up out of the ground and casts a black shadow across the road. On its face can be seen the long claw marks that Kurangaituku made as she tried to open the rock to get Hatupatu.

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