In Term Two our Year 8 ākonga (M2) learned about a Māori wahine from the Lake Kaniere / Hokitika area who travelled alone over Ka Tiritiri Ka Te Moana the Southern Alps, discovering a pass that became known as Nōti Raureka and later as Browning Pass.

This alpine pass is located in Arthur’s Pass National Park. 

After crossing the mountains Raureka travelled south to Temuka where she met with Ngai Tahu. This journey is significant in many ways including the tenacity shown by Raureka in making this long and dangerous journey alone, and also because it resulted in pounamu being used by Ngai Tahu across the east coast, and ultimately to the demise of her people.

Read more here:

This was a social science, history, reading and writing study for the M2 students. The writing task was to retell Raureka’s journey as a narrative using historical knowledge.

Read some extracts from student work here:


All of a sudden ground seams to be vibrating it is like the world is saying that I should go back but I’m not going to.


I thank Tāwhirimātea (God of weather) for the bright blue sky and the great weather. I keep walking up the river and see another mountain I have to climb.


I wake up very early in the morning, and look up at the sky. It is so hard to see because it is pouring down with ua (rain)! It is going to be very hard to walk through this terrible weather, this is very bad because the entire ground will be very very slippery.


The mighty Arahura has never scared me, my people we get our pounamu from it. It's unknown what the awa is like up in the mountains, up where Poutini the taniwha guards all the pounamu. We get kai from the Arahura. We get water, we get life. No dares to go to the mountains, but I do, I dare to go.


I start to walk in slippery, rocky land where big vines hang from the trees. I start looking for a stream or awa (river) since I need to gather water and fish for my long haerenga (journey).


Ko Raureka toku ingoa (my name). I am a Māori chief from Te Tai Poutini also known as the West Coast. I have to say my farewells to my iwi (tribe) and kainga (village) as I am leaving for a while. I don't know how long I will be gone for but I know I will make my iwi and kainga proud.


The raging Arahura river booms at full power. It would wash me away if I tried to cross now so I guess that I'll have to wait for a calmer piece of water. Te rā (sun) has helped to guide me but there is a storm on the rise. The air has changed in the last few hours and not in a good way. Storm clouds are brewing and the sky has started to rumble. I have prayed to Ranginui (Sky Father) to stop this nightmare but he won’t listen to me.


I come across what I think is a dead end. It looks risky to go through but I remind myself taking even a step ford on a icy morning is risky so why can't I go through these bushes. I step through the ancient trees and the strong vines hang from the mos tangled trees. I can see the light peeking through the trees. Branches fling back and hit me in the neck. I think of how far I've come and how I've got through wind, hail, mud and plenty more. All I can do is be proud of myself at this point.


My name is Raureka and I am adventuring around Te Wai Pounamu the South Island. I've got a kete with pounamu adze and dry ika with bread. On my adventure I wish to find another iwi to hopefully make new friends and I will give them a pounamu adze for them to trust me. While travelling I'm standing on the bank of the Arahura river with a cold breeze skimming across my back staring at the river. My eyes go wide frightened by the rapids pounding against the bank and the clear green water is cold on my feet walking across.


The beautiful ra (sun) has woke me up today. But it quickly gets hidden away by kupua. They aren't their beautiful colour. They are dark dingy grey which gives me a bad feeling about what might happen next. I say a hopeful karakia (prayer), calling out to Ranginui. My screams become louder and more frightened tears fall down my very deep crimson-coloured cheeks.


I've arived at the Arahura Awa. I walk up to the river and look down on the awa of my heart I can hear the sound of the trees swaying side to side. I dip my toes into the awa (river) to see how cold it is. The water is so cold my feet are numb.


I am Raureka and I am going to travel over te mauka (mountains) because I want to discover new people to show them some pounamu and teach them how to use the pounamu. I will have to bring a kete (basket) to carry the pounamu (greenstone) in.


I make my way up into the bush and getting through is very hard so I know that it's going to take most of the day. So when I'm going through I try my hardest to find some food because I'm starting to get hungry.


I am going to cross the arahura river. I shiver in fear as I think about the dangers that could happen. Will I slip and fall over? Will the strong waves push me over in a big rock? I hurry those thoughts away and think of my people and how adventurous this journey could be.


I start having to walk through lots of taramea (speargrass) which was very spiky and was scratching the skin on my legs and I also had to walk through giant clusters of matagouri which left scars on my arms and legs. I am having to cross over all the dry brown grass with lots of colourful plants and some kopere here and there, along with some small bundles of karamu (coprosma).


I stand here in the moana (ocean) with the waves lapping at my feet I burst into waiata (song) for I am paying my last respects to Tangaroa the god of the sea for I know I may not survive my haerenga (journey) over Ka Tiritiri-O-te-Moana. The kaupapa (plan/purpose) of my haerenga is to bring pounamu to the iwi’s on the east of nga maunga (the mountains). I will be following an uncharted route over the maunga but I hope to establish a trade route between my iwi Kati Wairaki and the eastern iwi Ngai Tahu. I may not survive this haerenga but that is a risk I am willing to take.


I have reached the way to the mountains as soon as I touch the snow with my bare feet. The cold snow pierces through my skin and my whole body is so chilly that I can barely move.

I see a lake guarded by hills around it and I can tell now that it is Lake Whakarewa (the lake on the pass). 


The rain had settled down and everything was wet and slippery as I was, hiding under a thick tree branch. I didn't get too wet but my koti ua (raincoat) was damp and cold, I had to continue either way even if it was wet. Travelling on, I had to be careful of my footing because I could slip and slide down the hill and I don’t want that to happen.


The day came and the weather was perfect so, that meant it was safe for me to go. My people helped me go ready and watched as I leave the village I could feel them think about if I was going to come back but, sadly I had no idea. It was a mystery for all of us.

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