Te Whiti o Tu

BWAIPUKAart limited edition artwork - Te Whit o Tu

This story comes from a legend about two beautiful twin sisters, Rehutai (mist of the breaking surf) and Tangimoana (the voice of the breaking surf). These sisters lived near the Ruamahanga River in the Wairarapa region. A local warrior named Rautoroa (plume of the albatross) heard of their beauty and travelled to their homeland bearing gifts in the hope of seeking marriage with either of the wähine (women). Both sisters fell in-love with the handsome warrior and soon jealousy and tensions grew. Neither woman wanted the other to be alone with Rautoroa should he choose the other as his wife.

One morning Rautoroa asked both women to fetch him some water. They immediately headed out toward the natural spring. Tangimoana arrived before Rehutai. Having filled her ipu (container) first she then muddied the waters, returning quickly to the warrior. Upon seeing the undrinkable murky waters of the spring, Rehutai realised then what her sister had done out of spite. When she returned with her empty ipu, she discovered Tangimoana wearing the cloak of Rautoroa which signified they were now married. Heartbroken, Rehutai wept with so much sadness. In her grief, she decided to climb a hill the very next morning - This hill is known as Ohine-mokemoke (The place of the lonely girl). She was never seen again.

Here in the early hours before dawn during May/June the sister stars of Matariki (Pleiades) can be seen close to the horizon which signals the arrival of the new moon and the beginning of the Maori New Year. They are symbolic of rebirth, growth and togetherness.

Acknowledgement - Mita Carter