Our Legends

Awarua the Taniwha of Porirua

Māori stories have been told over generations. Porirua harbour was the home of a taniwha called Awarua. We listened to the legend of Awarua, the taniwha of Porirua and then tried writing our own stories.

Here are some of our stories.

One sunny day on Mana Island, there was a taniwha named Awarua. All her life she wanted to fly like her bird friends. One day the flock of birds decided to leave the island. Awarua begged them not to leave. “Please, oh please just give me some time to learn how to fly!” The albatross stepped forward. “Food is getting scarce on this island, nearly every fish, worm and grape is gone. We will give you two months, but when winter comes all the worms go deep into the ground, the grapes don’t grow and the fish flee. We will migrate in two months, you hear me, two months!”
Albatross stepped back into the flock of birds, and they flew off in a v shape pattern. The top of Mana Island was bumpy, and all completely bush, but there was a good runway and a clearing somewhere in the forest. So Awarua made a set of gliders out of flax and raupō and attached them under her arms. She ran as fast as she could, when she reached the clearing she jumped and glided into an apple tree, and a waterfall of hard apples fell on her. She collected up the apples and gave them to the flock, and got back to training. She had decided that she needed to work on her speed, yeah; it was just her take-off that was wrong.
So every day she ran around the island one hundred and twenty times, until she could easily do two hundred. A month passed. She was doing push-ups on the beach now, and could run an easy three hundred laps round the island! Ten days left; Awarua was fit and well, she was faster and stronger than everything! It was getting chilly. Winter was coming, and it was coming fast. But Awarua fought the cold. She ran four hundred laps every day, until she was just a blur. Albatross sure was stunned, but doubted Awarua would make it. Five days left. Albatross confronted her. “We’re leaving early.”
“What? Just a day or two more, please - I don’t know if I’m ready!”
“Awarua, you can just try.” So they trekked to the top of the island, all the way to the runway and clearing. The fantails had made the runway much longer, and all the other birds were sitting in the tree watching her. She started to jog, and that jog broke into a run, and that run got faster, and faster, until sparks appeared from under her great, strong feet. The birds gasped. Albatross started to speak, but then a trail of flames appeared from behind her feet! “Oh Awarua, stop, you will burn this place… down!” The whole runway was aflame now, and Awarua was still running. She was at least fifty metres away from the clearing then finally reached it, and… swoosh! She jumped up and glided out of the clearing. She was too busy not believing what she had just done to hear the screams of the birds. She finally looked back and saw that the whole forest was nearly ablaze, but was happy to see Albatross and all the birds behind her fly out of the forest. They caught up to Awarua. “Well, that’s that,” said Albatross. “Don’t worry Abe, we’ll find another island.” “Abe? What?” said Albatross. He shrugged and nodded, then smiled. “Abe…”
Finally they found another island. They could see Mana Island from there. The forest had completely been burned down now and it was completely flat, like a table. The birds and Awarua were happy. They had plenty of food, and had lots of farms up and going.

One cold, cold day Awarua had settled down in the cave, with the next generation of birds sitting around her. Albatross was long gone, his children were bright, and picked the berries and apples and maintained the farms, yet the fantails gathered around her were newborn and loved to adventure. The little fantails shouted out “Albatrosses, come in here, ay! Auntie Awarua’s gonna’ tell a story!” The Albatross twins came in all dirty and muddy and sat down cross legged. Awarua started to talk. “Long ago, on Mana Island, on a cold, cold day…”


Long ago there was a taniwha called Awarua. Awarua had one wish and that wish was that he wanted to fly. Awarua had a really awesome friend named Bob. Bob was an albatross. One day Awarua said to Bob “I wish I could fly, can you please help me?"

“I’m not sure dude because you are a gigantic taniwha.”
“Please!” Awarua pleaded
“I’m still not sure because I need food to fly.”
“I will provide you with all the food you need,” Awarua said.
“Alright then, but you have to train like you’ve never ever trained before,” Bob ordered.
“Sure thing,” Awarua replied. So Awarua backed up all the way to Plimmerton and flapped his wings and ZOOM! Awarua sped across the water. “I’m doing it.”
“Look OUT!” Bob shouted. It was too late, CRASH! Awarua had crashed into Mana Island. “Woah that’s beautiful,” Bob said.
“Owwww my head hurts.”
“OMG you made Mana Island flat.”
And so that is how Mana Island got flat.


Awarua was a Taniwha that lived in Porirua hundreds of years ago. Back then the city centre was a beach and there were giant trees all around it. Mana Island had a giant hill on it. Awarua visited friends and looked for her favourite food which was nice slimy eels, but always returned to her rightful home Porirua. She had many friends but her best friend was Rereroa, she was a beautiful albatross. Awarua had one wish. That wish was that she wanted to fly. Awarua had always asked Rereroa if she could teach her how to fly, but Rereroa had always made excuses, until one day Awarua asked again if she could fly. Rereroa said; “I need food for strength to fly.”

“Don’t worry I will give you all the food you need.”
“Ok I will teach you, first you need to do laps around the inlet”. So Awarua did speedy laps around the inlet as fast as she could. Awarua was puffed out so she asked, “Where’s my food?”
“Sorry you have to go on a special diet.” The next morning Awarua got ready, she went all the way back to Plimmerton Beach and sped off. She was lifting off but she was heading into Mana Island and suddenly, boom she knocked the top off Mana Island. And that was the legend of Awarua.

The Legend of Samuel

Once upon a time in the harbour of Porirua lived Samuel the albatross (who couldn’t fly) and James the flying taniwha. One day Samuel wanted to be just like his friend so he asked James if he could teach him. James said okay and the next day they started training.
Samuel could only go around the harbour two times before resting for 20 minutes but at the end of the stamina training, he could go around the harbour 100 times in 50 minutes. Samuel was happy with his improvement.
The next day he started trying to fly. On Samuel’s first day of flight training he smashed into Mana Island and was knocked unconscious by the trees.
The next day he had mastered flying but was always crash landing. Next, he had to practise landing. It took Samuel three days to get landing right and another two months to master it.
Because Samuel hit the top off, Mana Island to this very day is flat like a table.

The Beginning

Long, long ago there lived a boy named Te Kapowai. He was a fearless, strong young boy. He knew how to hunt at a very young age. He was like this because he was a descendant of the gods.
Te Kapowai lived on a small island called Mahuweka, which was not very big. He and his family had lived on this island for many years. Then one day he said “I don’t like it here anymore it's time for me to explore the world.”
“Maybe when your older,” replied his mother.
“NO!” shouted Te Kapowai and then he ran away.
Two days later he came across a small island. He thought to him himself, I’ve never seen this island before, I wonder what it's like?
He beached the boat and hopped out and then under a flax bush was a stone. He had never seen a stone like this before. Then he remembered. He pulled out a scroll from his pouch and he knew that he had found the hei hei stone.
The mystical stone could only be found on the true and worthy island.
He held it up to the sky and then the island started to shake. The island started to rise. Then within a few minutes, the island stopped shaking. “This island is beautiful,” he said. "I will call this place New Zealand."
This is an original legend.
(Te Kapowai is my middle name!)

By Noah, Tom, Ben, James L and Aaron S.

Art work by Aria.