O Kete Upoko

The grisly named Ō Kete Upoko meaning place of the basket of heads recalls the exploits of the Ngāi Tahu chief Te Rakiwhakaputa who decorated this rocky outcrop with the heads of defeated Ngāti Māmoe warriors.

Te Rakiwhakaputa faced many battles against the Ngāti Māmoe who were the tribe in residence around Whakaraupō at the time of his arrival.

In one battle on the beach of Ōhinehou, where the docks of Lyttelton now stand, Te Rakiwhakaputa defeated and beheaded many Ngāti Māmoe, some of high rank. He bore their heads in a kete to the rocky summit as an offering to the Gods.

The name refers to the rocky heights above the town of Lyttelton. The summit is still tapu to Māori, having been a burial spot and dwelling place of tribal gods.


Print this page