Many centuries ago the people living in pā on the Heretaunga Plains were under threat from the warring coastal tribes of Waimarama.

At a marae at Pakipaki where the Heretuanga people met to discuss the problem a wise old woman (kuia) asked permission to speak:

"He ai na te wahine, ka horahia te po," she said. “The ways of a woman can sometimes overcome the effects of darkness.”

It was agreed that Hinerakau, the beautiful daughter of a Pakipaki chief, would charm the leader of the Waimarama tribes, a giant named Te Mata, into falling in love with her and turn his thoughts from war to peace. The plan succeeded but, in her attempts to charm Te Mata, Hinerakau tragically fell in love with the giant from Waimarama.

But the people of Heretaunga had not forgotten the past and with revenge in their hearts demanded that Hinerakau make Te Mata prove his devotion by accomplishing an impossible task - to bite his way through the hills between the coast and the plains so that they could reach the sea with greater ease.

Te Mata - the giant and leader of the Wiamarama tribes - died proving his love to Hinerakau and today his half-accomplished work can be seen in the hills behind Havelock North in what is now known as ‘The Gap’ or ‘Pari Karangaranga’ (Echoing Cliffs).


The legend goes that his body still lies where he died, forming the ridgeline of Te Mata Peak. At sunset one can even see, in the mists which stretch from the crown of Kahuranaki, the beautiful blue cloak with which the grieving Hinerakau covered the body of her love before leaping to her own death from the Waimarama side of the peak. It is said that the gully at the foot of the cliff was formed when her body struck the earth.