This story tells of the first people to settle in Te Waipounamu, the South Island, in Te Tau Ihu, the Marlborough area around 1300AD. They travelled long distances, navigating by the stars in their canoe Uruao, captained by explorer Rākaihautū.
Many generations ago when our ancestors lived in a place called Hawaiki, a chief called Taitewhenua decided to give Uruao, his sea voyaging canoe, to Matiti. Matiti was a renowned tohunga kōkōrangi, an astronomer, who passed the canoe on to Rākaihautū and encouraged him to explore new lands.
Following Matiti’s advice, Rākaihautū and his kin of Te Kāhui Tipua, Te Kāhui Roko and Te Kāhui Waitaha boarded the Uruao and navigated their way by the stars to Te Waipounamu.
When they first landed in Whakatū, Nelson, they split into two groups and Rākaihautū led his group by foot to Te Ara-a-Kiwa, Foveaux Strait. He became known as the man who lit the fires of occupation on this island.
With his kō or digging stick Tūwhakaroria, Rākaihautū travelled south, digging out the lakes and rivers of Te Waipounamu.
He created the southern lakes Te Anau, Tekapo, Pukaki, Ohau, Hāwea, Te Wai o Wanaka, Whakatipu Waimāori and Whakatipu Waitī. In Canterbury, he created Te Aitarakihi near Washdyke, Te Waihora, Lake Ellesmere and Wairewa, Lake Forsyth, and also many other lakes throughout Te Waipounamu.
When he was finished creating the lakes, he rested his kō on top of a mountain and gave the kō a new name – Tuhiraki. Today that mountain, Mt Bossu, is known as Tuhiraki and it overlooks Te Pātaka o Rākaihautū, the storehouse of Rākaihautū, or Banks Peninsula.