The Legend of Hatupatu and the Birdwoman
A summarized version of the Maori legend as it is told on the National Library of New Zealand website.
Hatupatu was hunting for birds in the forest one day. He met a woman who was spearing birds for herself. The woman had wings on her arms, and claws instead of fingers. Her lips were long and hard and pointed, like a bird’s beak, and she was using them as a spear.
Just as the woman speared a bird with her lips, Hatupatu threw his spear at the bird. The spear stuck in the woman’s lips instead. Terrified, Hatupatu ran away, but the bird-woman soon caught him. As she had wings she could travel faster than Hatupatu.
Then the woman, whose name was Kurangaituku, took Hatupatu home to her cave, and kept him prisoner there. Kurangiatuku gave Hatupatu only raw birds to eat. He pretended to eat them, but hid them instead. When Kurangaituku left each day at dawn to spear birds, Hatupatu stayed back and roasted the birds. He also admired all the treasures in the woman’s cave – pet birds, lizards, a taiaha, and piles of precious cloaks made of flax, dogs’ fur or red feathers. Hatupatu wished he could escape and take the treasures with him.
One morning Hatupatu suggested to Kurangaituku that she should travel over a thousand hills to do her hunting. Kurungaituku agreed to this and off she went. When Hatupatu thought that she was far enough away, he began to gather up the treasures. He killed the lizards and all the pet birds except one. That little bird escaped, and flew away to fetch back Kurangaituku. And as the little bird flew along he sang, ‘Kurangaituku, our home is ruined, our things are all destroyed’; he kept singing this and flew on and on.
At last Kurangaituku heard him, and said, ‘By whom is all this done?’
And the little bird answered. ‘By Hatupatu—everything is gone.’
Kurangaituku hurried back to her home. The little bird showed her where Hatupatu had gone, and she ran on, calling out, “Hatupatu, you are not far from me now.”
Hatupatu heard her behind him, and he thought, ‘I’m done for now.’ So he repeated a magic charm he knew; ‘O rock, open for me, open.’
Then the rock opened, and he hid inside it.
Kurangaituku came running past the rock, but she could not see him, and she ran on, still calling out, “Hatupatu, you are not far from me now.”
After her voice had died away in the distance, Hatupatu came out of the rock and ran on again. When he came to Rotorua, Kurangaituku saw him once more and pursued him, throwing stones at him as she went. But then Hatupatu came to the boiling springs at Whakarewarewa. He jumped over the springs, but Kurungaituku tried to wade through them, and so she was burnt to death.
Then Hatupatu came to the shores of Lake Rotorua. His home was on Mokoia Island in the middle of the lake. He dived in and swam under the water to the island, and there he was united with his parents, who had thought for a long time that he was dead.