Sunset over the channel of the swimming heroine

Taken on the penultimate evening of 2010, this is a landscape that has probably changed little over the last few hundred years. This is taken from Waikanae beach [click here to view location], looking south-east over the Rauoterangi Channel, towards Kapiti Island. The small island to the left of Kapiti Island is Tokomapuna Island (or Aeroplane Island). The top of the South Island can be seen faintly in the background.This stretch of sea is called Rauoterangi Channel to commemorate the swimming feat of Kahe Te Rauoterangi, daughter of a Ngati Toa chief. After having a premonition by way of a dream, she swam from her tribe’s home in Kapiti Island, with her daughter strapped to her back, to warn allies on the mainland of a threatened attack. Te Rauoterangi was carried by the current to Te Uruhi, south of the Waikanae River and about 11 kilometres from the starting point. The child survived the crossing but died not long afterwards.

These waters between Kapiti Island and the mainland were once plied by the waka (canoes) of the Rangitane people, the Muaupoko and later those of Te Rauparaha of Ngati Toa, who had gained dominance over Kapiti Island by 1823.

Photos: C.Knight. To read more about Kapiti Island’s history, see: Kapiti Island – a microcosm of environmental history – Part 1 and Part 2.

Source/further reading: Marine NZ

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