Akeevor Nootai

The Legend of Kupatoa

My grandfather told me an old story from long ago about the Legend of Kupatoa.

It started off with there was a calcite rock on the island of Mauke that marks the location of the marae that once belonged to Kupatoa. Kupatoa was the father of Paikea. Paikea is a well-known legend. When Paikea was born on Pourangikura Marae, he was first named Kapua-i-te-rangi. This site is also famous for being the place where Kupatoa and a well-known tumu korero from Rarotonga, called Kainuku challenged each other to a dual. In those days the tumu korero were able to predict the arrival of someone to their island by looking for signs or omens in the sky. The omens were called Tapu Akairo.

One day Kainuki came to Mauke to challenge Kupatoa to a dual. While at a distance approaching Kupatoa’s marae, Kainuku called out “Pourangikura, Maine-i-te-ata,” these are the names of the maraes of Kupatoa. Kuputoa replied, “Come little one that’s me.’’ He also added, “The kuriri bird that sings in the sky will rouse a whirlwind‘’. Unknown to Kainuku, Kupatoa had thoroughly planned in advance a challenge to defeat Kainuku. Kupatoa had dug a pit in the ground and covered the top with twigs and leaves to hide the hole which he dug in his marae. He invited Kainuku to sit down on the seat he placed over the hole.

When Kainuku sat down, he fell in the hole with both legs waving in the air as he went down. Kupatoa chanted, “The Kuriri bird from the west cries out that you become a woman. Give me the male parts and I shall give you the female parts‘’. Kupatoa finished chanting, and Kainuku was embarrassed. He had been likened to a woman. Kainuku was defeated. To show he conceded defeat Kainuku gave his wife to Kupatoa. Her name was Teatakura.