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Tairāwhiti means ‘the coast upon which the sun shines across the water' and is the first place to see the sunrise each day.

The land of the first light is renowned for its world-first sunrises. Spanning from the top of the East Cape to the treasures of Turanganui-a-Kiwa Gisborne.

One of the most spectacular places to see the sunrise from is Mt Hikurangi, the highest non-volcanic mountain in the North Island. 80 km north of Gisborne, and 50 km southwest of the East Cape Lighthouse located in the Raukumara Range in the Waiapu Valley, You have to go on a tour with a local Ngāti Porou guide.

Mt Hikurangi

A place of great spiritual and cultural significance to the local people of Ngati Porou, Maunga Hikurangi is a gateway to great Maori history and the legendary feats of Maui and his whanau.

Stand before nine magnificent whakairo (carvings) – each larger than life, each holding a story you can see, hear and touch on top of a sacred maunga – the highest non-volcanic peak in the North Island.

Watch the world awaken surrounded by nine larger than life carved pou (pillars) that stand as sacred cultural treasures of the local Ngati Porou people. Your Ngati Porou guide provides an in-depth and intimate story of each of the carvings, who or what they represent and the significance they hold to the Maori culture.

With roots that can be traced back to the Maori creation story, to when Maui Tikitiki-a-Taranga slowed the sun and gifted fire and fished Aotearoa from the sea. The  Ngati Porou people can tell unique and inspiring stories making this a fascinating place to visit in New Zealand.

Aotearoa is the Maori name for New Zealand, though it seems at first to have been used for the North Island only. Many meanings have been given for the name but with Maori names the true meaning can often be found only in a mythological story or in historical fiction illustrating either how the name was given or something of the ideas which prompted it. Aotearoa is made up of either two or three words, Aotea and roa or Ao tea and roaAotea could be the name of one of the canoes of the great migration, the great magellan cloud near the bright star Canopus in summer, a bird or even food; ao is a cloud, dawn, daytime, or world; tea white or clear, perhaps bright, while roa means long or tall.

The most popular and authoritative meaning usually given is “long white cloud”, and there are two stories current to illustrate this. It seems the voyagers to New Zealand were guided during the day by a long white cloud and at night by a long bright cloud. The more usual one tells how, when Kupe was nearing land after his long voyage, the first sign of land was the peculiar cloud hanging over it. Kupe drew attention to it and said “Surely is a point of land”. His wife, Hine-te-aparangi, called out “He ao! He ao!” (a cloud! a cloud!) Later Kupe decided to call the land after his wife's greeting to it, and the cloud which welcomed them. The name Aotea was given both to the Great Barrier and to the North Island, but the latter became Aotearoa, presumably because of its length.

According to certain authorities, the other meanings are: big glaring light (Hochstetter); continuously clear light, or land of abiding day (Stowell); long white world (Wilson); long bright world, long daylight, long lingering day, or long bright land (Cowan); and long bright day (Tregear). A good case could probably be made out for the land of abiding day, or similar names. Maui, who is closely connected with New Zealand in mythology, once snared the sun and beat him to make him travel more slowly across the sky. Perhaps Maui achieved the same end when he sailed south to fish up New Zealand where there is longer day with long twilight, particularly in the south.

'AOTEAROA', from An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock, originally published in 1966.
Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand
URL: (accessed 06 Jan 2021)

With domestic travel currently the only wise activity within Covid restrictions, our local tourism industry could really do with the support so Linku2 are featuring on a number of articles to help you pick what would suit you and your family to get out and enjoy our beautiful country!

100% Pure New Zealand have some great articles to give you great ideas such as their North Island Must Do Experiences including our amazing Pouakai Crossing, stunning Cathedral Cove, Rotorua's geothermal spectacles and lots more. Check these out and enjoy every single one of them! top North Island Activities ...

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