Taupō – Volcanic Zone and Identity Giver for the Maōri

Taranaki, the lost Son

The Maōri mythology tells the story of Te Maunga o Taranaki, who once lived peacefully on New Zealand’s north island in the family of mountain deities of Tongariro, Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe. Close to those male volcanoes the smaller, forest covered Pihanga mountain, a female can be found. Up in rage Tongariro and Taranaki fought terribly about her. Earth shook, tremendous eruptions occurred and after the smoke disappeared Pihanga stood next to Tongariro.

Being furious, full of anger and jealousy Taranaki left the central group of volcanoes and moved southwest, towards the setting sun leaving a deep trench behind. When he arrived the coast he fell asleep. The curious Pouakai mountains surrounded him kind of detaining the sleeping Taranaki. The next day Tongariro woke up realising that his friend has gone away. His tears of pure water, flow along the trench Taranaki left behind and form the Whanganui River.

One day, so say the Maōri, Taranaki will wake up again trying to get back to the group of central volcano to continue its fight for Pihanga. That is why many Maōri hold back resettling the area between both fire mountains. This truly greatest Maōri volcano myth shows how strong the ties between humans and earth, between natives and their land can be and how picturesque a mythology can explain thrilling volcanic processes.

As long as Taranaki stays where he is he forms a stunning scenery of black beaches where surfers ride the ever washing waves while the back country piles up some 2518 metres high culminating in Taranaki’s summit. To New Zealander’s the volcano is also known as Mount Egmont, as – and that’s how the circle comes full – one of the greatest explorers and navigators of mankind, Captain James Cook, named it after one of his biggest patrons, the Earl of Egmont.

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