Tohora¯ and Kauri
There is a pakiwaitara (legend) that tells of a time when Tohora¯ (the whale) lived on land and was very close to his brother, Kauri (Agathis Australis). However, unlike the young Kauri, the giant Tohora¯ yearned to be free from iwi (nations) who constantly hunted him for wealth and mana.
Knowing that his teina (younger brother) would face the same fate when he grew tall and strong, Tohora¯ suggested they take refuge within the depths of the whare belonging to their uncle Tangaroa (Atua of the sea) where they would be far from the reach of those who hunted them.
But Kauri loved the embrace of Papatu¯a¯nuku (Earth Mother) and was rooted so deep into the whare of his father Ta¯ne (Atua of the forest), that Tohora¯ could not take him to the sea. So, before he left, Tohora¯ bestowed upon Kauri a cloak made of his skin to give him protection from those who would hunt him for his golden blood.
As time went by, Tohora¯ regularly rose from the depths and sent bursts of wai (water) towards Ranginui (the Sky Father) in the hopes his love would be carried on the winds of Ta¯whirima¯tea (Atua of the winds) to touch his teina.
At the same time, Kauri soaked up mana from Papatu¯a¯nuku to grow taller and stronger in the hopes that he would one day be able to look out to sea and gaze upon his beloved tuakana (older brother) once more.
Although iwi remain kaihakamahi (users) of the resources provided by Tohora¯ and Kauri, we have always been their whanaunga (relations) and are also their kaitiaki (protectors).
So, whenever they return to the land, we support their passage from one plain of existence to the next and thank them for providing us with the mana of their ko¯hiwi (bones). They also remind us that we are kaitiaki of kauri.
At the same time, kauri continue to purify our air and their kiri (bark) reminds us of our responsibility to look after the children of Tohora¯ who come ashore in our rohe.
That is why Te Wha¯nau Moana me Rorohuri, supported by neighbouring hapu¯, DoC, Nga¯ti Kahu Ru¯nanga and Te Tohunga Tohora¯, are preparing the para¯oa (sperm whale) that died on Tokerau Beach last week.
It’s also why other iwi are working to save the tohora¯ that grounded on Te Oneroa-a¯-Tohe (Ninety Mile Beach) over the weekend. Finally, it’s why, at 2pm today, there is a hui at 21A Parkdale Cres in Kaita¯ia with the Ministry of Primary Industries to address the dieback disease killing kauri.
The pakiwaitara above tells us it is no coincidence that tohora¯ and kauri are both in distress at this time. However, it also tells us that their healing may be found in their relationship. So too do these two hakatauki (proverbs): Ana¯ ta¯ te para¯oa (here is the strength of the sperm whale). Kia toitu¯ he kauri (keep kauri standing). Koina¯ te ko¯rero.
"Although iwi remain kaihakamahi (users) of the resources provided by Tohora¯ and Kauri, we have always been their whanaunga (relations) and are also their kaitiaki (protectors)."