Rakeiao me ona kapowai
Rakeiao and his dragonflies
There was once a young chief named Rakeiao, the eldest son of Rangitihi and Manawakotokoto who was famed for never losing a battle.
It was during his younger days when he lived in Ōkataina at Te Koutou Pā - The Headland, that Rakeiao first made contact with his beloved Kapowai, dragonflies. It was here. Rakeiao developed a kinship with the Kapowai that would deepen their bond; the Kapowai dedicating themselves as Rakeiao’s loyal warriors for all eternity.
The Kapowai are said to be a specific species of dragonfly that are unique only to Lake Rotoiti and the surrounding areas.
When he was older, Rakeiao had a great war party and in the midst of fearsome battle, he would conjure the Kapowai to help him secure the defeat.
The Kapowai appeared in the thousands, getting into the eyes, ears, noses and faces of the enemy who had dared to overthrow Rakeiao and his dynasty. Rakeiao never lost a battle. It was impossible to do so, when he had his fearsome warriors who would come in droves to save their chief and leader.
The Kapowai are still seen, even today. When there are special functions on at the
Marae, the Kapowai will appear again. Whenever they appear (only at Rakeiao), the
elders speak to them still, as descendants of Rakeiao, telling them everything is okay.
However, when the people of Rakeiao see the Kapowai lingering, it is a warning to
them, to question the reason they are appearing. Is the visiting party honest? Are there hidden agenda that the Rakeiao people should be aware of? Are the Rakeiao whānau in immediate danger?
It was said, that during a hui at Rakeiao in recent years, there were great arguments
being had in the wharenui at Rakeiao. Kapowai appeared on the verandah so the
elders took the hui outside and stood before the Kapowai and warned the manuhiri:
‘’This will end! I runga i te tika i te pono”
Within 30 minutes, the hui subsided, the Kapowai disappeared and the result was favourable to all.
This is the power of the alliance between the descendants of Rakeiao and his ever-loyal Kapowai.
As told by Sir Toby Curtis, adapted by Cian Elyse White
Qualities: humility, relationships, values
Did you know?
Kapokapowai are the largest dragonflies in New Zealand and can have a wingspan of up to 130mm!
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In te Reo:
Text from interviews with Sir Toby Curtis & William Emery, June 27, 2018. Adapted by Cian Elyse White