This is the story of a taniwha called Ngarara Huarau who was also called Mokonui. The story happened near the Ruamahanga River in the Gladstone area, southeast of Masterton.
Ngarara Huarau was a huge lizard that originally lived in a cave at a place called Marokotia which is in the Pacific Ocean. He became fed up with his life and decided to visit his sister who lived in the Wairarapa valley. As he was leaving some of his scales rubbed on the rough edges of his cave and it is said that these became Tuatara.
So he ventured across Te Moana nui a kiwa in search of his sister Parakawhiti. When he knew he was close he turned up the Pahaoa River and followed it until he reached the Wainuioru River. He then turned into the Marumaru stream until he reached a place called Mauri-oho where upon he jumped to the top of the Maungaraki Mountain.
Feeling weary Ngarara Huarau found a place to hide from which he could satisfy his mighty appetite. Unfortunately for the local Ngai Tara people the taniwha craved for human flesh. Many vicious and fatal attacks occurred thereafter with the place being called Hautua-pukurau o Ngarara Huarau. Once his appetite was satisfied the taniwha moved down to Te Ana o Parakawhiti, The cave of his sister Parakawhiti.
By now the people living within the vicinity of the deaths were aware of the cause of their losses and determined to rid themselves of the vile creature. While they tried to offer the taniwha gifts their efforts were to no avail. Instead more and more people went missing.
The people employed a famous warrior named Tupurupuru to destroy the taniwha. Tupurupuru and a handpicked group of aids soon worked out that Ngarara Huarau had made himself a lair above the Kourarau stream. Upon inspection the track to the lair was found to be narrow and lined with kahikatea trees. It was time to employ a plan that would rid the people of the monster.
At the cost of a number of unfortunate warriors the trees bordering the track to the taniwha lair were cut almost through. This took some time but when the trap was set the plan was put into action. Tupurupuru sat observing the movements of Ngarara Huarau until one day the taniwha returned to his home tired from a days plundering of villages down on the flats by the Ruamahanga River. Once he was sure that the creature was fast asleep inside his lair Tupurupuru moved stealthily up to the entrance and there tethered his dog.
The brave man had immediately turned and ran as fast as he could back down the track. Upon seeing its master leave the dog raised a din that awoke the monster from a deep sleep. This disturbance incensed the taniwha so that he rose to destroy the source of the noise. As the dog was only loosely tied it broke free and ran off in the same direction as its master, with the taniwha closely behind. The monsters massive tail twitched like an angry cat swaying to and fro as he thundered down the valley. In the process the huge kahikatea began to topple all around the monster so that the great weight of many trees crushed Ngarara Huarau. While he was not immediately killed his injuries were grievous. This provided Tupurupuru and his men with the chance to chase the mortally wounded creature to the Uwhiroa swamp where he became stuck in the soft ground. Eventually he sank below the surface, breathing his last breath in the process. The remains of Ngarara Huarau the villainous taniwha lie beneath Uwhiroa to this day.
Where are some of the places mentioned in this story
Marokotia Is also referred to as a place in the Hawkes Bay
Maungaraki maunga the hills that rise to the east of Gladstone
Kourarau The Kourarau dam at the top of the first rise on the Gladstone Te Wharau Road is a well known landmark. Another version of the Ngarara Haurau story says that the cliffs near Kourarau are the bones of the taniwha
Te Ana o Parakawhiti The cliffs that can be seen south east of the Gladstone Inn or Hurunuiorangi Marae.
Uwhiroa swamp the land on the southwest corner of Longbush and Millers Road, Longbush.
Tupurupuru The land where the surge tower is on the first rise of the Gladstone Te Wharau Road as you turn left from the Masterton Gladstone Road.