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Teachers Guide to Stratovolcanoes of the World
A Fictional Story

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Ngauruhoe, New Zealand:
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A Fictional Story - Raina's Journey

As Raina packed the last of her clothing into the new suitcase, she wiped a tear from her cheek. She was leaving home for the first time to study at the University and she was leaving behind all her family and friends. Most of all, she was leaving Grandmother, who had raised her and taught her all that was most important in her life. Grandmother gave her a long hug and said,

"You grew up in the shadow of our beautiful North Island mountains Ruapehu, Tongariro, and Ngauruhoe. You know that our mana, our identity, is strong. It does not matter where you go, you take our mana with you."
"Yes, I know," replied Raina. "But I will miss you Grandmother!"
"Sit down," Grandmother said, "and I will tell you the story of how the mountains came to be."

Raina sat at her grandmothers feet, like she had as a child, and listened once again to the familiar story.

"Many, many years ago, Maui Tikitiki-a-taranga and his elder brothers were fishing in this area. Maui cast his fishing line into the sea where we now live. He caught a great fish, which he drew forth from the sea. The sea frothed and boiled as the great fish broke the surface where North Island is now. Maui returned to his homeland to seek help, leaving his brothers to guard the great fish. However, his brothers were afraid and pleaded for help from Ranginui, the supreme universe. Ranginui responded by placing the great mountain Ruapehu, in the center of the fish, creating North Island. This brought peace to the land."

Raupehu volcano

"Ruapehu became very lonely as the only mountain in the land. The supreme universe saw Ruapehu's loneliness and placed two teardrops at the feet of the mountain. Still Ruapehu was lonely and pleaded for company. He was given four mountains for companions. First came Tongariro, the warrior guardian, placed just north of Ruapehu. Taranaki appeared next as the custodian of the clan's tapu. Ngauruhoe was third and the servant to the mountain. The last to arrive was Pihanga, a beautiful maiden, given as a bride to Tongariro to ensure the survival and future of the mountain clan."

"Ruapehu was pleased, but the tall, elegant Taranaki tempted Pihanga. As guardian of the clan's mana, Taranaki could not become involved with Tongariro's wife. He asked his eldest brother Ruapehu for advice. Ruapehu told Taranaki to leave the mountain clan, so he followed the winding course of the Whanganui River, to settle in the west coast. There he forever guards the place of setting sun. Ruapehu, Tangariro, his wife Pihanga, and the servant Ngauruhoe remain here, guardians still of our mana."

Grandmother paused and took Raina's hand in hers.

"Wherever you go, Granddaughter, you carry with you all that we are. Do not be saddened by the move you make. Embrace the opportunity and know that your strength of spirit comes from great mountains that have existed for many ages and will nourish you wherever you are."

Raina and her grandmother are fictitious characters.

Note: This myth was abstracted from "The Restless Land - Stories of Tongariro National Park World Heritage Area". Mountains have particular significance for the Maori people, the first inhabitants of New Zealand. Most tribes will name one mountain as having particular significance and that mountain is sacred (or tapu) to the tribe. It is part of the source of the tribe's sense of identity, and their mana, or strength of spirit. The two volcanoes of Tongariro National Park - Ruapehu and Tongariro (including Mt. Ngauruhoe) - hold special significance for the Whanganui people that live in the area.