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Videos for Te tapa whenua: naming the land

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Introducing Te tapa whenua

The significance of Māori place names

Tā Tipene O'Regan, among many other titles and roles, is a person dedicated to researching and preserving the history and knowledge base of Ngāi Tahu iwi. In this video, Tā Tipene introduces himself and talks about the significance of place names as a way to record and remember tribal history and other valuable information.

Aoraki creation story

Tā Tipene O'Regan retells the Aoraki creation story. In this account, Aoraki and his brothers travelled in their waka down from the heavens to visit Papatūānuku. On their attempt to return the waka fell back into the water, forming "Te Waka-o-Aoraki", an early name for the South Island. The brothers all turned to stone, becoming some of the dominant mountains of Kā Tiritiri-o-te-moana (the Southern Alps), Aoraki being the highest.


Punatahu is located in an area known as Te Manahuna (the Mackenzie Basin). For centuries, Te Manahuna was a key part of the Ngāi Tahu mahinga kai network. It is also the name given to the visitor centre located on the shores of Pūkaki.

Rākaihautū and the creation of Lake Pūkaki

Rākaihautu was the captain of the waka Uruao, which brought the iwi Waitaha to Aotearoa. He and his crew named many of the places in this area.

Kā Roimata o Aoraki - the tears of Aoraki

Kā Roimata o Aoraki, the tears of Aoraki. Sitting beside this special awa, overlooked by the mauka (maunga) Kirikirikatata, the pōua (grandfather) of Aoraki, David Higgins shares his knowledge about how these waters are a vital link in the whakapapa of this rohe.

Ārai-te-uru tradition of Aoraki

After capsizing on the Otago coastline, many of the passengers on board the Ārai-te-uru waka went ashore to explore the land. This included Kirikirikatata who carried his grandson, Aoraki, on his shoulders.

Kā Huru Manu

David Higgins about Kā Huru Manu, The Ngāi Tahu Cultural Mapping Project. This project is dedicated to mapping the traditional Māori place names and associated stories within the Ngāi Tahu rohe.