Kupe’s Fierce Battle with Te Wheke, The Giant Octopus of Muturangi
Māori Myths & Legends #1
In Māori Legends, one of the first explorer to reach Aotearoa was Kupe. He used ocean currents and the stars to navigate across the Pacific Ocean. He travelled from his Polynesian Hawaiki (homeland) on his waka hourua (voyaging canoe). His venture took him and his warriors around New Zealand.
One Māori Myths is about Kupe’s battle with a giant wheke (octopus) of Muturangi. Some tradition say it took place on top of the South Island other say it took place at Castle Point. Most of his whānau, his children and wife stayed in Te Whanganui-a-Tara (Wellington).
The battle was terrifying and dangerous. His voyage canoe, called Matahorua almost keeled over. But Kupe was smart. He ordered his warriors to throw calabash trees over board to meme flowing bodies in the water. So he tricked the giant wheke to appear from the deep sea. Then Kupe hopped on the his head to hit a blow so strong that it split te wheke into two and ended his life. The deadly blow’s name is Arapaoa, also the first name of Aotearoa’s South Island.
Kupe and his whanau soon left Te Whanganui-a-Tara to explore the West Coast of Arapaoa. Shortly before they left Kupe named the two islands in the harbour after his daughters. Ward Island’s name is Makaro and Some Island’s name is Matiu.