Rotomairewhenua (Blue Lake)
Rotomairewhenua, or “the lake of peaceful lands,” holds great significance for Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō. Discovered and named by Ngāti Apa tīpuna, the lake was one of a number of lakes and tarns used as markers on a series of interwoven trails used by the iwi over many centuries while travelling from one part of the rohe to another.
Known as the clearest body of fresh water in the world, Rotomairewhenua was traditionally where hauhanga (bone cleansing) ceremonies were carried out by Ngāti Apa for the bones of deceased males. Once washed, the cleansed bones were deposited in Te Kai ki o Maruia (the Sabine Valley).
Rotomairewhenua is fed by an underground river from Rotopōhueroa, illustrating for Ngāti Apa the interconnectedness of the natural world. According to our tīpuna, once the bones had been washed, the spirits were released and would journey from Rotomairewhenua along the West Coast and Te Taitapu (the sacred pathway) to Te One Tahua (Farewell Spit), Te Rēinga and, ultimately, Hawaiki.