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Tēnei te ruru, te koukou mai nei This is the owl that cries out
Kīhai māhitihiti His head does not toss from side to side
Kīhai mārangaranga It does not bob up and down
Te upoko nui o te ruru The ever vigilant owl cries
Terekou Terekou!
He pō 'Tis night
He pō 'Tis night
He ao 'Tis day
He ao 'Tis day
He awatea, e-e Ah, 'tis day

This is a whakaaraara pā and has both a ritualistic and practical application. In ancient times when there was a constant threat of approaching enemies, the defensibility of the pā and the vigilance of the people were critical to survival. As tūtei (sentry) became aware of impending danger, ritualistic chants were issued to warn the people or to assure them that the vigil was unfaltering. A common whakaaraara begins ‘Kia hiwa rā, kia hiwa rā’ basically appealing to the people: ‘Arise and be alert’.

This whakaaraara pā is now well known throughout Ngāi Tahu and was collected at Ōtākou in the 1850s by Sir George Grey. We are honoured to profile this whakaaraara pā here along with our Te Poutama Māori website banner image showing Pukekura.

Photo credit: Marcelle Wharerau