PoriPori is another lizard taniwha with links to Porirua. He was chased out of the Wairoa River, Tauranga area by Te Pura, who had dragon form. Te Pura became tired of PoriPori killing villagers under Te Pura’s protection. The chase went north around the Coromandel, across Tamaki Makarau, and down the Taranaki coast until PoriPori spotted an opening in the coast by Mana Island.
The conflict continued in Porirua harbour with PoriPori’s tail thrashing out channels and landforms in the Pauatahanui arm. Te Pura was victorious and went back to Tauranga. PoriPori felt whakaama (shame) and couldn’t follow, he remains sulking in the inlet.
The story says that PoriPori gave his name to the harbour (rua=2) – Pari rua, the meeting of 2 tides, is much more likely. While the legend has strong roots in Tauranga – a tract of land south of Tauranga is known as the PoriPori Block – the story is apparently not well known locally, “their story” it seems.
I’ve depicted PoriPori as having 2 heads, based on an ancient Maori etching at Opihi, a rock art shelter near Timaru, and in traditional Maori colours of black and red. Te Pura is based on a well known manaia (taniwha) image.
Awarua-o-Porirua taniwha is in the background – his lizard? body is also from Opihi and his bat? wings from Manunui/Frenchmans Gully rock art shelter in South Canterbury.
The landscape is cartoon and bold, which seemed to suit the subject. The view is from above Mana/Camborne suburb looking south to Porirua City on the right.
Oils on canvas 24″x36″. Exhibited at Porirua Museum, Pataka June 2013.