Hinehākirirangi – Kumara-grower extraordinaire

KumaraKo Hinehākirirangi ka ū kei uta
It was Hinehākirirangi who reached the shore
Te kōwhai ka ngaora ka ringitia te kete
And with the kōwhai in bloom emptied the kit
Ko Manawarū, ko  raiteuru
At Manawarū and  raiteuru

Hinehākirirangi undoubtedly can lay claim as the first horticulturalist in the Gisborne area. She obviously recognised the potential of the local soils and upon disembarking from the Horouta waka at Muriwai in the early 1300s, she and a number of helpers explored the inland plains for suitable spots to plant the treasured kumara tubers she had brought with her from Hawaiki.

While her brother Paoa, the captain of the Horouta waka, and some of his crew were busily searching the interior for suitable timber to repair their waka — having trekked overland from Ohiwa harbour when the boat capsized (and Kiwa, the priest on the Horouta, had meanwhile sailed the waka around to Tūranga anyway) — Hinehākirirangi went to work and planted her kumara tubers. As the words in the mōteatea (chant) above called Pō! Pō! by Enoka Te Pakaru says, Hinehākirirangi did find suitable places to grow her kumara, at Manawarū and  raiteuru which are near the present township of Manutūke.

Although her gardens were located at Manutūke, Hākirirangi herself lived in her home called Pāpā-te-whai, near the base of Te Kurī-a-Paoa (Young Nicks Head) and the present day Muriwai.

 

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