Taratara photo taken from State Highway 10

Last week the Wednesday Walkers visited Taratara. This is a sacred mountain to local iwi and by chance our walk coincided with a nearly-full solar eclipse. We were all buzzing!

A friend I interviewed on Voices from the North a few years ago, Colin Brown, has mapped the route spirits travel on their way to Spirits Bay. Taratara is a significant marker on that path. To put all this in perspective here is a little on Spirits Bay from Wikipedia:

The bay is considered a sacred place in Maori culture as according to local legend, it is the location where spirits of the dead gather to depart from this world to travel to their ancestral home (or afterlife) from a large old pohutakawa tree above the bay.

A Māori name for Spirits Bay, Kapowairua (meaning to “catch the spirit“), comes from a Maori language saying that translates into English as: “I can shelter from the wind. But I cannot shelter from the longing for my daughter. I shall venture as far as Hokianga, and beyond. Your task (should I die) shall be to grasp my spirit.” The words were spoken by Tōhē, a chief of the Ngāti Kahu people, who is considered one of Muriwhenua’s most important ancestors. Tōhē made his way south, naming more than one hundred places along the western coast, until dying at Whāngaiariki near Maunganui Bluff. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spirits_Bay )

Located just off State Highway 10, between Kaeo and Mangonui, the magnificent rock formation called Taratara was formed some 20 million years ago. The rock rises some 300 metres above sea level and is covered in native flora. Here is the Maori mythology associated with Taratara:

Maori Mythology of Taratara Peak (and the two prominent hills beside it)

According to the local people Taratara was a very handsome mountain whose two wives attended on him dutifully. Maungataniwha, (Taniwha Mountain – a taniwha is a monster or demon) who lived over to the west wished for a wife of his own and decided to ask Taratara for one of his wives.

Taratara disagreed and Maungataniwha returned disconsolate to his home. Time passed and Maungataniwha again went to see if he could persuade Taratara to give him one of his wives. This time the arrogant Taratara laughed at him in such a derisive manner that the angry Maungataniwha whipped his tail and cut off Taratara’s head.Now Taratara’s head lies on the top of Ohakiri near the [Whangaroa] harbour entrance and his wives remain loyally beside his body grieving for their husband. (http://www.eske-style.co.nz/areas/farnorth/wow_taratarapeak.asp )

Enjoy the photos from the day of the eclipse:

Otangaroa side of Taratara

View towards Whangaroa Harbour

The easy part of the climb.

Reaching Taratara requires permission from the farmer whose land one must cross.




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Radio host, librarian, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and the recently released Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See http://www.JohnHainesBooks.com

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