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According to Māori tradition, Paikea is an ancestor of Ngāi Tahu and Ngāti Porou, Māori tribes in the South Island and east coast of New Zealand's North Island. Paikea is the name assumed by Kahutia-te-rangi because he was assisted by a whale such as a southern right whale (Māori: tohorā) or humpback whales (Māori: paikea) to survive an attempt on his life by his half-brother Ruatapu.
Ruatapu is shamed
Ruatapu became offended when his father Uenuku elevated his older half-brother Kahutia-te-rangi (later known as Paikea) ahead of him. When Ruatapu was about to use a comb belonging to Kahutia-te-rangi, Uenuku rebuked him, pointing out that Kahutia-te-rangi was of high rank while Ruatapu was of low birth (because his mother was a slave wife).[a]
Angry and ashamed at his father's disparaging comments, Ruatapu built a canoe, or waka. When it was finished, he lured Kahutia-te-rangi and a large number of the other sons of Uenuku, all of them young men of high birth, aboard his canoe, and took them out to sea to drown them. He preformed a hole on the canoe flooring which he unplugged while out at sea drowning all members aboard - apart from Kahutia-te-rangi whom recited an incantation invoking the Southern Right Whale or the Southern Humpback whales (paikea in Māori) to carry him ashore.[b] Kahutia-te-rangi was the sole survivor of his brother's evildoing and assumed the name Paikea as a memorial of the assistance he received from the whales.[c]
The waves of Ruatapu
The episode where Ruatapu threatens to return as the great waves of the eighth month may explain other accounts which portray Ruatapu as having invoked a great flood. Such accounts or conclusions may result from Christian influence. According to Ruatapu's account in the Ngāti Porou accounts translated by Reedy (1993, 1997), Ruatapu shouted out to Kahutia-te-rangi that he would return to fight him: "The great waves of the eighth month, they are me! I am then approaching!" In an endnote, Reedy writes:
In the eighth month of the Māori calendar, in the early summer, large waves known as ngā tai o Rangawhenua, Rangawhenua's waves, sometimes break upon the shore on the East Coast. In this episode Ruatapu announces that in the eighth month he will take this form, and follow Paikea.
Paikea connection to Whāngārā
Descendants of Paikea, Ngāti Konohi is the hapū that is closely associated with Whāngārā, a small settlement located between Gisborne and Tolaga Bay. Oral history traditions of the hapū state that Paikea came to New Zealand from Hawaiki on the back of a whale following an event known as Te Huripureiata, a slaughter of the first born sons of Hawaiki at sea. According to tradition, the whale turned into stone, and is now the island of Whāngārā (also known as Te Toka a Rangi or Te Ana o Paikea), immediately offshore.
- Whale Rider, a book (by Witi Ihimaera) and film inspired in part by the story of Paikea and Ruatapu.
- Whāngārā, the location of Whāngārā Marae and the location of the film Whale Rider.
- In other accounts, the rebuke came when Ruatapu dared to walk on the roof of Uenuku's house.
- In some versions, Kahutia-te-rangi transformed into a whale; in others, he rode on a whale's back.
- The murderous Ruatapu was himself drowned in some accounts.
- "The ancestor Paikea - Ngāi Tahu". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 2016-11-05.
- "1. – Te whānau puha – whales". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. 2006-06-12. Retrieved 2016-11-05.
- Reedy 1993:143, Reedy 1997:85 is similar.
- 1993:231, note 101.
- Soutar, Monty (30 March 2015). "Story: East Coast places". Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 5 April 2019.
- "Ahuwhenua Trophy Field Day Handbook" (PDF). Ahuwhenua Trophy. 2019. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
- "History Turanganui a Kiwa". Te Runanga o Turanganui a Kiwa. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
- Craig, R. D. Dictionary of Polynesian Mythology (Greenwood Press: New York, 1989), 198–9, 237.
- Reedy, Anaru, Ngā Kōrero a Mohi Ruatapu, tohunga rongonui o Ngāti Porou: The Writings of Mohi Ruatapu (Canterbury University Press: Christchurch, 1993), 142–146.
- Reedy, Anaru, Ngā Kōrero a Pita Kāpiti: The Teachings of Pita Kāpiti (Canterbury University Press: Christchurch, 1997), 83–85.
- Paikea, a Māori folk song, with English translation and discussion.