Tuesday, 25 March 2008

What's in a Name: Tutaekuri River

One of the rivers near here is the Tutaekuri River. When I first went over it in 2005 the children were very excited to be able to tell me that the name meant "dog shit river" and know that they could not be told off because that's what the name, taken literally, does mean. Tutae is Maori for excrement and kuri is dog.

The river flows down from the Kaweka Ranges out to sea near Napier and is a fairly long and substantial river. So how did the river come apparantly to be called dog poo river?

Well about 400 years ago the people of Ngati Kahungunu from Wairoa heard that there was heaps of food to be had near Porangahau. They set off on the trek to the coast but when they got there they found that there wasn't much food to be had at all so they had to turn round and go back again. They were starving by the time they Hikawera's pa which lies between Waiohiki and Omahu. Hikawera decided to have a feast and make sure that his visitors didn't leave for home hungry. He ordered his people to kill 70 dogs in order to feed the travellers.

There's a spot on the river that's now called Te Umukuri whic denotes the ovens where the dogs were cooked. Once they had been eaten the Ngati Kahungunu set off for home and the offal from the dogs was thrown into the river. Hence the name Tutaekuri - the offal of the dogs.


I acknowledge the fact that the information for this posting was obtained from the book Whykickamoocow by Nicola McCloy

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