September 1, 2020

Another local Māori legend is that of Hakitekura, a girl who grew up at Tahuna, the site of present day Queenstown. Legend has it that Hakitekura, daughter of Tuwiriroa, a Katimamoe chief, was the first woman to swim across Lake Wakatipu.

The Queenstown Gardens Peninsula was once the site of a Māori Pā of the people of the Katimamoe tribe. The women of her village would hold swimming contests and Hakitekura would often watch from the hill near Bob’s Peak (called Te Taumata o Hakitekura; the viewing place Hakitekura).

Hakitekura asked her father for a fire stick and a dry bunch of raupo. She bound them tightly in flax to keep them dry. Early the next morning she set out across the lake, a distance of around 3 kilometres, determined to be the first woman across the lake.

Hakitekura crossed the lake keeping an eye on Cecil and Walter Peaks as a guide, whose mountain tops ‘twinkled and winked’ with dawn’s first light; hence their name Kakamu-a-Hakitekura (the twinklings seen by Hakitekura).

She landed on Refuge Point (Te Ahi-a-Hakitekura) and used the fire stick and raupo to light a fire, which is why the rocks there are black to this day.

In the morning the people of Tahuna saw the smoke and thought they were under attack until Hakitekura’s father remembered what she had asked for the previous day.

In honour of her bravery and accomplishment, the mountains she used to guide her way, the place where she lit her fire and the hill where she watched her friends swim, are all given her name.