Tapoa, Motu-kauati-iti & Motu-kauati-rahi

Magazine Bay was known to Māori as Tāpoa, meaning wind swirling around. Its shores formed part of a natural access route running between the pā at Rāpaki to Ōhinehou (Lyttelton).

The Māori name for Corsair Bay is Motu-kauati-iti, which means little fire-making tree grove, and the name for Cass Bay is Motu-kauati-rahi, which means great fire-making tree grove. These two bays were home to many kaikōmako trees that were used for fire-making through wood friction. The story of the myth behind the naming of the bays evolved from the legendary Mahuika, who threw fire from his finger tips into the kaikōmako tree.

The Fire-making process

A block of the kaikōmako was rubbed with a stick of hardwood until the resulting shavings burst into flame. The kaikōmako was used as the kauati, the piece which is rubbed; the pointed rubbing stick was called the kaurima.

There are no longer any of these ancient fire making trees growing on the shores of either bay.


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