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Mount Pohuturoa

 Mt Pohuturoa

 

Atiamuri, a small village on the banks of the Waikato River, is set in vast pine plantations. The village name may have been derived from the words "turned back". According to legend, Tia, the older brother of the captain of the Arawa canoe, "turned back" here when he encountered the since-flooded Atiamuri Falls on the river. There are, however, some people who believe that the village's name may simply be expanded from the tribal name of Ngati-a-Muri.

Mt Pohaturoa

Towering 240 metres over the river is Mt Pohaturoa (520m), which features prominently in both Arawa and Ngati Raukawa tradition. The rock, which served as a lookout post during inter-tribal conflicts, was the scene of many a prolonged siege. One such siege took place several centuries ago when invading Ngati Raukawa forced Ngati Kahupungapunga (possibly a surviving Moa hunter tribe) to retreat to this, their final stronghold. Lack of food finally forced the defenders to abandon their refuge and only five escaped with their lives. The cause of the conflict is said to have been the murder of a Ngati Raukawa woman who had been given in marriage to a chief of Ngati Kahupungapunga.

Early paintings show the rock and its surrounds as almost completely devoid of cover. The pine trees date from 1927 and have been a source of controversy as an unwarranted intrusion upon the tapu (sanctity) of the rock. The rock overlooks a lake formed by the Atiamuri hydro-electric power station.