Kōrero: Suicide

Te Aohuruhuru singing her death chant

Te Aohuruhuru singing her death chant

According to a well-known story, Te Aohuruhuru was a beautiful woman, happily married, and a member of the Ngāi Tara tribe in Wairarapa. An old man lived at the mouth of the Mataikona River, just north of modern Castlepoint. Seeing Te Aohuruhuru's beauty, he lusted after her, abducted her and she became his wife.

One night, as they were sleeping by a fire, he woke and noticed that she had thrown off most of her clothes. So he fed the fire and eventually she threw off all her coverings. The old man decided to show off her beauty to his friends. Te Aohuruhuru woke up to find herself stared at by a group of old men. She was shamed. So, during the day, while her husband and friends were out fishing, she combed her hair, dressed herself in her finest cloaks, and climbed to the top of a rock on the coast. She sang a waiata and then leapt to her death.

The rock is now known as Te Rerenga o Te Aohuruhuru (the leap of Te Aohuruhuru) and her waiata is still sung and remembered.

Te whakamahi i tēnei tūemi

Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand
Reference: Maui Pomare, Legends of the Maori. Wellington: Harry H. Tombs, 1933, p. 111

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Te tuhi tohutoro mō tēnei whārangi:

Jock Phillips, 'Suicide - Suicide rates', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/mi/artwork/26423/te-aohuruhuru-singing-her-death-chant (accessed 3 June 2020)

He kōrero nā Jock Phillips, i tāngia i te 5 May 2011, reviewed & revised 16 Jul 2019 with assistance from Sunny Collings and Rosemary Du Plessis