HATUPATU AND KURANGAITUKU
Another Version of the Story
Which is the correct version of a fairy tale? Perhaps it depends on which fairy told you the story. Or which fairy told the person who told the person who told the person who told you.
I do not know the fairy who whispered the story of Hatupatu and Kurangaituku to my people in the long ago. But I know who the person was who told the person who told me, and when I read the story in ‘Te Ao Hou’30 and found it was not quite the same as the one I knew, I felt moved to back my fairy against the rest. Hence this article.
Perhaps the only justification for recording another version of a folk story is that the circumstances in which it was handed down are themselves interesting. I feel that this is so in this instance.
The version I record here was told to me by my father, the late Harry Delamere Dansey, about 1930, when, as a boy, I went with him to Atiamuri and saw Hatupatu's rock. He had had the story from his grandfather, Ihakara Kahuao, many years before so my version was gained in the time-honoured way, by word of mouth from father to son.
Ihakara's main home was Maroa-nui-a-Tia, north of Taupo. His daughter, Wikitoria Ngamihi Kahuao, was married to Rotorua's postmaster, Roger Delamere Dansey, and they and their children lived at Rotorua. My father was their second son.
Now about every three months Ihakara would come to Rotorua from Maroa to see his daughter and her family and to get supplies to take back to Maroa. After his visit he would load his cart with flour, sugar and tea and go back to the bush some 50 miles or so. During the holidays my father would go with him.
That journey—now an hour's run by car—used to take three days. Old Timi, the cart horse, moved but slowly and where the road was steep the cart would have to be partly unloaded and several trips made.
For example, the hill known as Te Tuahu which is just south of Atiamuri, needed three trips before all of the load was at the top.
At night the old man and the boy would sleep under the cart. By the camp fire at night and as they journeyed along during the day, Ihakara would tell his grandson the stories of the places they passed, Parekarangi. Te Tangihanga, Tahunatara, Te Ana-a-Tuhape. Pohaturoa, Atiamuri. In particular my father liked the story of Hatupatu.
All his life — he died in 1942 — he would never pass Hatupatu's rock without pausing to place a sprig of fern in the hole on the northern side of the rock in which Hatupatu was said to have hidden.
In 1929 the story was told in a newspaper and, as it was a different version from that which he had learned as a boy, my father wrote the one he knew. This is the story which follows, taken from his notes which are in my possession and dated 24th September, 1929. It is prefixed by a note saying the story was as told to him by Ihakara Kahuao in 1884. My father would then have been 10 years of age.
This then is Ihakara's version of the story of Hatupatu and Kurangaituku.
Now my tamaiti as you are a stranger in these parts, it is necessary that I should warn you of the rock of Hatupatu which we will pass on our left. When passing you must either close your eyes or look in the opposite direction; disobedience of this will surely bring aitua or even the same tragic end of Kurangaituku. However on your return this way you may look upon the rock and inspect it for you will no longer be a stranger. You will then pay your respects to them by placing a sprig of manuka or fern at the foot of the rock.
Kurangaituku was an ogress who lived in the depths of that almost impenetrable forest country towards Taranaki. Although cruel in many respects she was exceedingly fond of birds as mokais—pets. These she caught with her long fingernails and duly transferred to her cave, a portion of which was partitioned off as an aviary. Her pets were tended with the greatest care by her slave Hatupatu.
*Te Ao Hou's version, published in the last issue, was based on the well-known story in Sir George Grey's ‘Polynesian Mythology’.—Ed.
Now Hatupatu was a dwarf and one day while Kurangaituku was absent from home, he on mischief bent killed these birds with the exception of one, a riroriro, which escaped. This little bird flew over the mountains and after considerable search found Kurangaituku and told her what had happened.
She at once returned to her cave to find the bodies of her pets strewn all over the place and the home a shambles. She wept bitterly and swore vengeance on Hatupatu who was nowhere to be seen. In a trice she was on a mountain top for she could stride from peak to peak, and there she scanned the spaces.
Towards the horizon and in the direction of Atiamuri she spied a tiny figure of a man. Another look and she was satisfied it was Hatupatu. With great swinging strides she followed in pursuit and soon Hatupatu became aware that the ogress was not only following him but was dangerously close on his heels.
As Kurangaituku was about to entwine her frightful claws around Hatupatu, the latter appealed to this very rock to save him. He cried: ‘Matiti, matata!’
The rock opened and closed, completely sheltering Hatupatu.
Ihakara Kuhuao, of Maroa-nui-a-Tia, north of Taupo, and his grandson, Harry Delamere Dansey, at Rotorua in 1886. It was about this time that Ihakara told his grandson the story of Hatupatu and Kurankaituku which is told in the accompanying article.
In due time Hatupatu emerged only to find Kurangaituku waiting for him.
Now round this mountain of Maungaiti you will see openings in the ground at almost equal spaces; some of them are overgrown and others time has obliterated. These mark the places where Hatupatu in his desperation to escape dived into the earth and emerged further on only to find Kurangaituku still pursuing.
Some 20 miles from here there is a place named Pakaraka where Kurangaituku followed Hatupatu. This is marked by a rock bearing distinct marks of the ogress's claws.
Hatupatu eventually found his way to Whakarewarewa and there Kurangaituku had him almost at her mercy but the slave, being small in stature, was able to dodge between the boiling cauldrons of the region. Kurangaituku, handicapped by her unwieldy proportions, was less fortunate and was scalded to death.
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