Hatupatu and the Bird Woman

Hatupatu and the Bird Woman

Hatupatu, a Te Arawa ancestor who lived on Mokoia Island, was wandering through the forest one day when he discovered a peculiar woman, the size of a tree, with claws instead of fingernails and wings on her arms. The woman lurched forward to spear a pigeon with her lips, but Hatupatu had already fired his spear at the same bird. In agony as the spear pierced the woman’s lips, she snatched Hatupatu and took him to her cave to be held as prisoner.

When the woman went out to hunt, Hatupatu would admire her possessions imagining how magnificent he would look draped in her feathered cloaks.

One day, Hatupatu instructed the woman to travel over a thousand hills in order to hunt the best birds, and while she was out, he collected all her taonga (treasures) and destroyed her cave. In seeing this, a small bird flew out singing out to the woman “our home is ruined, all our things are destroyed.”

Furious, the woman hurried in the direction Hatupatu had fled. As she neared, Hatupatu cried out an ancient spell and a rock split open for him to hide in. Thinking he was safe, he emerged from the rock and continued forth. With her great height, the woman discovered Hatupatu leaping over the hot springs in Te Whakarewarewa Valley. In her foolishness the woman did not leap, but merely tried to walk through the hot springs, and it was here that she burnt to her death.

Joyously, Hatupatu continued to the shores of Lake Rotorua and swam to his Whānau (family) on the island.