Wairaka of the Reef

As a boy, I fell in love with Wairaka of the Reef.
She stood proud and slender, a heroine beyond belief.
Her singular shape atop the rock, watching the water ebb and flow, nature’s clock.

How I longed to leave my cave, exposing secrets in my heart.
I stood on the water’s edge, dipping my toes, afraid to start.
But fearing both the current and jeers of man,
I chose to retreat to the safety of the land.

Could my love nurse her brass heart to beat?
What wisdom would I gain sitting at her stone-anchored feet?
She is forever still unable to laugh or cry, as the perpetual water passes by.

Her story does not need me,
it is one that defied the laws of man in action and deed.
In her honor, she still stands, her thin torso rescuing those in need.
Immortal now on tiptoes, the forces of nature brought to bear,
motionless and yet a beacon, she displays no fear.

She was brave beyond words
“Kua whakatupato ia i te kaha o nga kupu”
She saved lives
“I ora i ngā wāhi o te hunga”
She still has my heart
“Kei a ia tonu taku ngākau”

the back story

Wairaka is a legendary figure in Maori history and is known for her bravery and heroic deeds. She lived in the Whakatāne area in the eastern Bay of Plenty, New Zealand, during the 14th century.
According to legend, Wairaka was the daughter of a chief and was known for her exceptional beauty and courage. One day, while the men folk were on shore, her Waka (canoe) was caught in a rough current and began to head out to sea. Wairaka knew that they would all drown unless she took action.
As a Wahine (woman) it was Tapu, (sacred) for her to touch the Hoe, (paddle)
Yet, without hesitation, she stood up and recited a powerful karakia (prayer) that she had learned from her mother. This prayer gave her the strength to take control of the canoe and guide it safely to shore. Her actions saved the lives of everyone on board, and she became a hero in the eyes of her people.

read more here https://honourthemaunga.org.nz/wairaka-history

I spent my childhood at Whakatāne, as my paternal grandparents retired there. across from the stunning statue is a cave. And I feel a connection there.
My stepfather must have had Wairaka look over him as a fishing trip he was on, his boat overturned in the tumultuous entrance

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