Hawera, Taranaki, NZ June 2012:  Turuturumokai is a former Maori pā (fortifified village) situated just outside the South Taranaki town of Hawera.

Originally there were three pā linked together with a population of around 400 people.

In the 16th century there was an attack on Turuturu Mokai by a neighbouring pa. They failed with grave consequences, the lucky were taken as slaves.

The name Turuturu mokai loosely translates as “heads on stakes”- referring to the stakes on which the heads of the slain enemy were mounted to warn further attackers of their likely fate.

The pa was deserted sometime after and left in tapu (not to be entered/cursed) until a tapu lifting ceremony in 1938.

There was also a nearby British Colonial redoubt constructed in the 1860’s. This was also attacked with drastic consequences- I’ll cover this in another post…

Today the historic site is in a serious state of neglect. Hawera Historian and creater of the fantastic nearby Tawhiti Museum, Nigel Ogle is one of many locals extremely saddened by it’s state.

He compares 400-year-old Turuturu Mokai to Auckland’s One Tree Hill in national significance, saying “it would be difficult to find any Maori fortification as large or well preserved as Turuturumokai”.

The reserve was handed over from the South Taranaki District Council to Ngati Ruanui iwi in 2001 as part of its $41 million treaty settlement.

As a child I used to cycle out here often to explore and fish for eel and fresh water crayfish in the Tawhiti stream. The place however was always foreboding and we never liked to be caught there after dark…

My cousin Alex and I used to fish for fresh water crayfish off this bridge. We’d dangle a line with meat attached in front of the “Koura”, they would grab on with their claws and we would pull the line up and net them. I never really liked how they tasted though…


3 thoughts on “Turuturumōkai

  1. take another look at the pa site now, you would be impressed with what has happened over the last 18 months by the love of a few, no payment etc. U would however be devasted at the recent discovery of a quarter acre of dumped bottles etc from around 40 years ago only just discovered but now left to us to remove somehow at our own expense – STDC will not come to the party even tho there are funds set aside.

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