Thursday, 14 August 2008


This is Hekeia, or Bald Hill, with a dusting of snow on it. Hekeia was named long ago after a chief from Hawaiki. The hill has a flat top and, at 800 meters, is the highest part of the Longwood Range. It stands midway between Otautau and Tuatapere. This picture was taken on 14 August, just near the refuse station on Lieman Street, Otautau. Proof that the weather is still providing cold days.

I looked on the net for information about Hekeia and found something interesting. A long time ago, historian Herries Beattie spoke to the Maori at Colac Bay, gleaning their stories and traditions. They said that a karara (big lizard; also ngarara in the North Island) lived on the west side of the hill. This excerpt about the karara was taken from the Journal of Polynesian Society website:

It killed men who were out hunting wekas, and finally chased a man named
Taiari. He ran zigzag to escape it, and it became
jammed between two trees and was killed. Another account says its habitat was the west side of Hekeia (Bald Hill). It may be added that on the west side of the Waiau River at Clifden are caves called Te-ana-o-te-karara.

So Hekeia is not just a bald hill with snow. Others knew it as a remembrance of an ancient chief and for the fierce creature that lurked on the other side.

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