Friday, December 2, 2011


Tamatea Arikinui captain of Takitimu waka

Takitimu is one of the most sacred waka to travel to Aotearoa. It was commissioned by the chief Tamatea-Arikinui. He gathered some leading tohunga together including Ruawharo, Tupai and Rongoputahi to build the vessel. The tapu of Takitimu was assured well before a single tree was felled. The process began with potent karakia to invoke the support of the gods. Those workers involved in the construction underwent rigorous ritual ceremonies prior to the employ of any tools. Several sacred adzes were used to shape the hull including Te Awhiorangi, Te Whironui, Rakuraku-o-Tawhaki, Matangirei and Huiterangiora. 
After shaping the hull at a hill called Titirangi, the waka was dragged to Tamatea’s village at Whangara. There it was cordoned off and the tohunga set about completing the vessel. They added the front piece, sides, sleeping quarters, masts and figurehead. A special box was built near Ruawharo’s bow seat. It would hold a very tapu cargo. Ruawharo collected the mauri of many gods including Rangi, Papa, Tane, Tu, Rongo and Haumia in order to transport them to the new lands. He’s also credited with bringing the mauri of the whales to Aotearoa. These were all placed in the special compartment. 
Six sacred steering paddles were carved including Rapangaiteatinuku, Rapangaiterangi, Maninitua, Maniniaro, Tangi-wiwini and Tangi-wawana. After the sea trials at Pikopikoiwhiti the waka was deemed ready. Under the full moon Ruawharo began his karakia to protect their expedition. At first light Takitimu began its epic voyage and glided toward the horizon. Compared to the building the canoe, the journey was pretty uneventful thus Takitimu arrived in tact and fully laden. 
They landed first at Awanui near Ahipara where some of the crew settled. Takitimu then sail up around to Tauranga-moana where Tamatea-Arikinui stayed. They continued to follow the eastern coastline and eventually landed at Nukutaurua. Ruawharo disembarked there, taking with him the many special mauri. These he placed in special places committing them back to the land with powerful karakia. In this way he was able to complete his purpose on the journey and bring the mission to a close, an important part of tikanga Maori. Many tribes have links to Takitimu from the far north all the way down the eastern seaboard and its influence extends as far as Rakiura (Stewart Island). 

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