Many iwi (tribes) tell the story of Kupe setting out from his homeland of Hawaiki in pursuit of Te Wheke-a-Muturangi, a giant octopus. The wheke was the pet of Muturangi, a tohunga (ritual expert) from Hawaiki. Kupe’s pursuit of the wheke carried him along the rocky coastline of Wairarapa.
At Rangiwhakaoma (Castlepoint), the wheke fled into a cave, perhaps to lay her eggs or hide. Kupe followed and fought the wheke, but she escaped.
Rangi-whakaoma (Castlepoint), Wairarapa, 2002. Photograph by Michael Hall. Commissioned by Te Papa with Government Capital Grant, 2002. Te Papa (F.007216/05)