Koro & Moko Fishing,
The stories of Ngati Whakaue
Waking from a deep sleep moko can feel someone shaking her. It is her koro ready to take her out on the lake to go fishing and to visit Mokoia Island. He wants her to experience the beauty of the early morning sunrise over the lake.
Quickly getting dressed she forgoes her breakfast and races outside in time to see Koro pushing the boat out into the water. She knows her kuia will have prepared a basket of kai for them to eat, instructing Koro not to let her go hungry.
Striding into the water and getting into the boat she settles herself opposite her koro who is concentrating on rowing them out onto the lake. Here the water is very shallow and a couple of times she’s had to get out and push the boat into the deeper water.
This activity reminds her of the times they used to tau koura especially when manuhiri were expected. It was when the moon was full and if you had a torch you could see the koura on the lake floor.
She and her cousins would collect bracken fern which they rolled up as wide as they could possibly get it. They would roll it out into the water until they reached the area where tthere is a lot of weed and just before the lake gets too deep and cold.
Long stakes would be hammered into the lake bed at each end to keep the tau in place until it was rolled back in just before daylight the next morning. The crayfish would have taken refuge in the midst of the bracken fern and would be shaken out into a large woven kete or onto a mat before being collected to be cooked and eaten.
Once there in the deep she feels the roughness of the water making the boat sway up and down reminding her of the sea. Koro begins a karakia to settle the water, which does so after a time and the two prepare their lines for fishing.
As they are sitting there, the boat rising gently on the waves, the sun rises over the distant Whakapoungakau ranges. There is a beautiful array of colour shadowed by a few clouds here and there.
Mokopuna asks Koro if it is going to rain and he answers quite adamantly “No”. She asks what makes him so sure. Koro, looking first towards Ngongotahā and then towards Moerangi, tells her the story of the two mountains and how they will let you know if it is going to rain or not.
Ngongotahā & Moerangi are our wet weather signs, our tohu ua. Ngongotahā is a mountain of great mana, of influence and power. He is also a sacred mountain where the fairy people (Patupaiarehe) lived and, it is said, some still do.
Ngongotahā alone decides whether it will rain or not.
Moerangi, the mountain you see rising above Lake Tarawera, is the wife of our mountain Ngongotahā. When she has a head covering of clouds and fog she is asking her husband Ngongotahā if he will give permission for it to rain. If no wet mist descends on Ngongotahā, and he remains clear, he is telling Moerangi there will beno rain.
Fascinated, Moko asks Koro if there are any other stories he could tell her.
Koro, deciding the fish are not biting begins to row further south out from the shores of Waikuta.
He points out the Kawaha Point ridge which has a rocky point called Te Rangi Kawhata reaching out into Lake Rotorua. Now dotted with homes, the once flat topped ridge and its slopes were cultivated by her people who lived at Ōhinemutu. Taking advantage of the warm volcanic soil and exposure to the sun large crops of potatoes were grown there.
A story as told by Norma Sturley
Values: identity, wellbeing