Histories of a Nation brings the oral histories of the Waitaha people which casts light on the culture, scientific and natural wisdom of the early peoples of New Zealand

‘Below Us We Saw The Smoke Of Cooking Fires And Came To Waikari’

After many seasons with the eels of the lakelands, we once again broke camp and carried the timbers of our dwellings. Our trail songs echoed back to Te Ata Po and the waters of Waimaringaringa, and the sound of children at play joined with the bird song. And we throught of Ruawai, who was lost to the trail, and those who would come to carry the Mana in the nights still waiting to be written in the flames. And we knew they would walk bravely as he walked bravely.

Te Hurunui, the river of many braids of hair, led us from the lakes to the open country of Waikari. And we looked down from the heights to see the smoke of cooking fires. And we came to a village. We were warmly welcomed to their hearths, for we sat with companions of the Long Tides, our brothers and sisters of Waitaha.

We gazed in admiration at the gardens. The children of this village were born of those who took the tapu sail of Arai Te Uru to the headland and made gardens at Te Waikawa o Omaka. While we journeyed through the mountains, the Water Carriers of Waitaha followed their own trails to new gardens and bountiful harvests. And in time they came here to grow kumara in the limestone valleys where Hine Hoanga gave her many favours to the land.

The songs of Tama Ki Te Ra led them to these gentle hills. And the Tohunga sent smoke trails over the land and found sheltered places open to the Sun. And they took their ko and dug drains and built stone walls to shelter the kumara. And the crops grew well until the harsh frosts came. And then they perished.

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