The Meaning of Karangahape: The story of Hape

The Story of Hape

Many years after the return of the explorer Kupe, the great canoe, Tainui, was ready to set sail on the long sea voyage to the land Kupe discovered.

It had been decided that the old, the weak, and the very young would not go.

One of those who was to remain behind was Hape, an old man who was hunched and club-footed. He was desperate to go but the chief said that he had to stay.

The night before the Tainui sailed the young men plugged up all the gaps in Hape's house so that no light could get in and wake him in the morning.

Sure enough, Hape slept through the sailing of the Tainui and by the time he got down to the shore, the canoe was long gone.

After much wailing, weeping, tearing his skin with seashells and chanting, Hape called on his great ancestor, Tangaroa, god of the sea, to help him.

Tangaroa sent a massive stingray who carried Hape across the ocean to the land of Kupe.

Hape found and lived in a cave, close to a fresh water spring, eating only raw plant foods to preserve his tapu and magical powers.

As he waited for the arrival of Tainui Hape marked out the boundaries of his land by planting four branches in the ground, calling to Tane Mahuta (karangahape - the calling of Hape) as he did so.

He also stamped with his clubfeet in the sand and turned the prints into stone. Next he sat on a hill (Puketapapa) chanting mysteriously.

Tainui finally entered the Manukau Harbour, the people on board exhausted and weak.

As some flung their tired bodies ashore, they spied two club-footed prints in stone and knew that Hape was already there before them

Tainui had to turn back out to sea but some of those who had come ashore were too tired and too sick to continue the voyage.

Hape cared for these people, one of whom was his grand-daughter Te Ira.

They soon regained their strength and began a new life in this new land.

(Adapted from Hape (Rakataura) Settles Puketapapa by S. te Huia Wilson)