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October: Home sweet home

My home, my turangawaewae – standing place (tūranga) and feet (waewae); (often translated as 'a place to stand'); is the little village of Mamaku on State Highway 5 between Rotorua and Matamata.


This is where my family has farmed sheep, beef, & more recently deer for over 100 years (the farm pictured below, as 3D mapped in Aerialod).

Here, one of the things we're known for is the Ignimbrite Tors (rock pillars) visible from the state highway as you're driving past. These were created ~250,000 years ago by the volcanic eruption of the Rotorua Caldera, now in filled with Lake Rotorua.


However, an old Te Arawa legend tells a different story:


Long ago... "the Patupaiarehe [fairy-like beings who were seldom seen] were singing and dancing in the sunshine, they heard their Mamaku lookout call to them. He was sitting on a high point of land called Rangihakahaka and he had seen the tops of some of the trees shaking.

He knew it was not the wind as it was a calm day. It must have been the Tipua! [ugly bad-tempered, mean, giants from the Kaimai mountains - taller than the largest Moa and almost as strong.]


The Patuapaiarehe gathered together and asked their wise old leader; whose name was Tongakohu, what they should do.

Tongakohu was not only a wise and good leader of the Patupaiarehe but he was also a tohunga, a teacher who was an expert in magic spells.


He went to the top of Ngongotaha mountain, to a place called Te tūāhu-a-te-Atua. There he lit a small fire and began to repeat an ancient magic spell he had learned when he was very young. He wasn't sure if it would work but he tried very hard - harder than he had ever done before.


Down below the mountain, in the thick forest near Mamaku, the warriors of the Tipua were creeping towards Rotorua. Some of them had even reached Tarukenga, near the base of the mountain. Their chief wanted them to go faster but they all felt tired and their feet seemed too heavy to lift. They just wanted to stand still and rest. Even their chief now decided he would rest for a while.

But the longer they stood still the wearier they became. Soon they couldn't move their feet or lift their arms above their heads. Their skin was getting stiff and cracking. Suddenly they knew what was happening...


They were gradually being turned to stone by the Patupaiarehe leader's magic spell.

The Tipua turned into stone giants that very day. Thousands of years ago. They are still there today, hidden by the thick Mamaku forest or standing in paddocks close to the main road.


Mostly it is only their heads and shoulders you can see now because they have been there so long that dust, leaves and grass have almost covered them up.

Some people say that when it is very cold or very hot you can sometimes hear the ancient rock warriors groaning, probably because they are so uncomfortable standing in the one place for so long.

Geography, digital geography has a role to play in the various outcomes of Climate Change, watch this space as new technologies and methodologies evolve in our ever-changing world.

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