By in Travel

Hatupatu's Rock near Taupo, New Zealand

Most New Zealand children grow up knowing stories of many legendary Māori characters, one of these in the North Island being a young man called Hatupatu. One story I've often read to children in my classes is that of Hatupatu and the bird woman. It is said that one day Hatupatu was travelling from his home in the thermal area of Rotorua down to the lake at Taupo, when he came across Kurangaituku, part woman, part bird. He upset the bird woman by spearing the bird she had her eye on, so she captured Hatupatu and took him home prisoner. He was kept in captivity amongst all her birds, until one day he saw an opportunity to escape. Before his departure Hatupatu destroyed her home and all her birds, though two managed to avoid being killed. On her return the bird woman was furious and asked the two remaining birds what had happened. She immediately took chase after Hatupatu and caught him up. When he heard Kurangaituku coming, Hatupatu said some magic words and the rock opened, enabling him to hide inside. The bird woman clawed at the rock, but could not get Hatupatu. These days, travellers can see a sign just north of Taupo on State Highway 1 and pull off to see the rock. After reading the legend to so many children, I was delighted to be able to take this photo a year ago, to take back and show some of them next time I read the legend. #NewZealand

Image Credit » Personal photo of Val Mills

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maxeen wrote on February 7, 2015, 2:47 PM

I have never heard of that tale ,I think all the young ones would find it interesting.

valmnz wrote on February 7, 2015, 2:54 PM

Yes, the story is of course longer and far better told than it is here of course

AliCanary wrote on February 7, 2015, 3:14 PM

You are a good storyteller! I feel sorry for the birds, though. It was very cruel of him to kill them.

Porcospino wrote on February 7, 2015, 3:26 PM

That is an interesting story. There are so many interesting stories and legends around the world. I would like to see the rock, but New Zealand is very far from my home.

valmnz wrote on February 7, 2015, 3:39 PM

Even though I am not Māori, seeing the rock had a strange effect on me, seeing the rock of the legend. You know it's only a legend, but ....

valmnz wrote on February 7, 2015, 3:40 PM

I think the full version of the story tells of how he killed them because they could talk with the bird woman and would tell her which way he'd gone.

bestwriter wrote on February 7, 2015, 6:56 PM

What is amazing is that which is merely a myth gets weightage. A legend is a legend and nothing more.

valmnz wrote on February 7, 2015, 11:21 PM

I love the way old legends are used to explain geographical features

BrenndaMarie wrote on February 8, 2015, 6:46 AM

I like the story. i have never heard it before but found it very interesting

FernandoSHA wrote on February 8, 2015, 8:15 PM

You're no native from NZ (if I remember it right from my readings of your articles), Ms. Val but you seem to know much about NZ hehehe! You must be immersing yourself with your host country's history and culture :)

valmnz wrote on February 8, 2015, 8:19 PM

I am definitely a New Zealander, boirn and bred here, lived here all my life. I am not a New Zealand Maori though, but this doesn't make New Zealand my host country emoticon :smile:

FernandoSHA wrote on February 8, 2015, 8:39 PM

So I was wrong and my memory of your articles I read has failed me hahaha! I guess I mistook you for another connection here LOL! That does not make you less of a friend though hahaha!

nbaquero wrote on February 10, 2015, 1:45 PM

valmnz So many rich stories and legends are found all over the world. They represent the ancient people's beliefs and fears. Glad you were able to visit Hatupatu's rock, I am sure you feel closer to the story after seeing the rock.

valmnz wrote on February 10, 2015, 2:18 PM

I love reading the stories that supposedly explain why something is the way it is.

nbaquero wrote on February 10, 2015, 3:16 PM

I agree, especially all those from ancient times when verbal tradition was the only form to communicate.