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The Story of Wairaka

Wairaka is a Māori ancestor for the Mt Albert area of Auckland. She is known as one of the beautiful daughters of Toroa, chief of the Ngati Awa tribe and captain of the Mātatua waka (canoe). Wairaka is known throughout New Zealand because of her bravery. She is known as a strong leader of her people.

Wairaka was very strong and powerful because she was a leader. She was a leader that gave wise advice to her phenomenal people. As she took her place as a leader, life in those strenuous days became easier and happier for her people.

One story of Wairaka’s bravery is when she saved the Mātatua waka and the Ngati Awa tribe, after their arrival in Aotearoa, New Zealand. With her mighty words she called to her ancestors praying, “Kia Whakatane au i ahau (let me act like a man)". She grabbed the paddle and advised the women to save themselves from death.

Touching the paddle in those days was very ‘tapu’ or sacred. But Wairaka knew it had to be done.

Wairaka was very brave and very important and that is why she has been remembered. After this event she came up to Auckland, settling in the area we now call Owairaka.

Our school and our mountain are both called Owairaka meaning it belongs to or where she (Wairaka) lived.

Wairaka was an important, powerful woman. In these days hardly any Māori people forget the interesting history of Wairaka. She is a role model for all people and her memory continues to inspire us today.

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