Hatupatu and Kurangaituku
Hatupatu was spending the day alone in the forest hunting for birds when he came across a very unusual scene. A short distance away, Hatupatu saw a strange woman with wings on her arms and claws where her fingers should be. Instead of soft lips, the woman had a mouth like a bird’s beak and was busily using it as a spear to catch birds.
Hatupatu realised too late, that both he and the woman were hunting the same bird. He had thrown his spear toward that bird and the bird-like woman struck at it with her beak at the very same moment. The spear missed the bird but struck the woman’s mouth instead. Realising what he had done, Hatupatu jumped in fright and ran away terrified. He ran as fast as he could but he was no match for the bird-woman who caught him and dragged him back to her cave.
Hatupatu soon learned that the woman’s name was Kurangaituku and that she intended to keep him as one of the many treasures she had collected. She had captured birds and lizards and collected a number of treasures like a taiaha and dog-skin and feather cloaks.
She did care for him as you would a pet by giving him food but he was not allowed to leave. She ate only raw birds herself and though she fed these to Hatupatu, he carefully hid them away so that he didn’t have to eat them uncooked. He survived by waiting until she was out hunting and then roasting the birds so that he would be able to eat them.
Many days passed and early every day, Kurangaituku went out hunting, leaving him alone with the warning that he must not try to escape because she would not be far away. After he had been with her for a while, Kurangaituku began to find it harder and harder to capture enough birds for them both to eat so she began to go further away to do her hunting. Hatupatu encouraged her to travel a long way telling her that it was the only way that they would both be able to eat well.
One day, knowing that she would be gone a longer time than usual, Hatupatu used the time alone to go through Kurangaituku’s possessions and plan an escape. He gathered up the cloaks and used the taiaha to destroy all the lizards and birds she kept as pets. He thought about how good he would look wearing one of the cloaks. He imagined the wind ruffling its stunning red feathers and how majestic it would make him seem and this thought encouraged him to take his chance and run away with all of her treasures.
During this destruction of Kurangaituku’s home, one of her pet birds was able to escape and flew away to tell her what had happened. She rushed home as quickly as she could but by the time she reached her cave it was completely empty.
Kurangaituku knew he couldn’t have gotten too far, so she began to chase him. Although he had had a head start, Hatupatu knew that she was much faster and might soon catch him. The distance between them grew closer and closer until Hatupatu could hear Kurangaituku right behind him.
He could think of no escape so he called out to a large rock in front of him to open up to let him hide inside. Something magical occurred and, for just a moment, an opening appeared in that rock and Hatupatu was able to slip inside it.
Kurangaituku ran straight past the rock, still desperately calling out for him but Hatupatu stayed there until he could no longer hear her voice. He was then able to come out of the rock that had sheltered him and continue his escape.
He ran towards his home but Kurangaituku spotted him once again and threw rocks at him to try to slow him down. When Hatupatu reached Whakarewarewa, he ran around and jumped over the boiling pools of mud and steam with Kurangaituku hot on his heels the whole time. He knew how to avoid the dangers of the hot pools but Kurangaituku didn't. She tried to wade through them to get to him faster and this led to her being severely burned which caused her death.
Hatupatu kept running to the shores of Lake Rotorua, dove into the lake and swam across to Mokoia Island eventually making it back home safely to his parents.
Qualities: identity, relationships
Here’s a tip:
Roadside Stories, made by Manatū Taonga, the New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage is a series of audio guides that follow major road trips in New Zealand. Downloading their app from the App Store or Google Play, means you can experience 12 tours of New Zealand with 140 stops and listen to commentaries about lots of interesting parts of our country while you are on the road! The tours come with maps and photos and can be downloaded onto a mobile device so you don’t need to use any data. You can listen to the entry on Hatupatu’s Rock here:
More to watch:
See how these students from Kuranui School tell the story of Hatupatu and the Bird Woman:
More to read:
Hatupatu and the Birdwoman by Joy Cowley, June Melser and Robyn Kahukiwa (Story Chest)Hatupatu Raaua Ko Kurangaituku
by Peter Gossage and Merimeri Penfold (Heinemann), 1989
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