Māori Rock Carving
Another thing I wanted to see near Taupo was the Māori Rock Carvings at Mine Bay, and since they
can only be seen from the water, we browsed the internet for available options. We settled on
an afternoon cruise offered by Sail Fearless.
The slip was empty when we arrived at the dock, but it appeared at the appointed time. The sails
were bright red, and it flew a pirate flag. The affable Captain Dave sailed the yacht smoothly into the
dock, loaded us quickly on board, and wolfed down a sandwich for his lunch. Within moments we were
heading out to the lake.
Conditions were perfect for a sailing wimp like me. The wind was just strong enough to
move the boat, and the water was calm. At the dock, the younger passengers had rushed on board before
us, but we had ended up with the best seats up front in the bow. We relaxed on giant bean bags and enjoyed the
After about a half hour of sailing we arrived at the carving.
It was created in the late 1970's by master carver Matahi Whakataka-Brightwell just after he completed
his 10 year training period with the Māori elders. He wanted to mark the occasion by creating
something momentous. He chose a cliff at Mine Bay for the location and the visionary Māori navigator
Ngatoroirangi who had guided the Tuwharetoa and Te Arawa tribes to the Taupo area over a thousand years
ago as his subject. Then he enlisted the help of some friends
and his cousin Jono Randal, and they completed the work over four summers.
The main carving is about 30 feet tall, but there are also smaller carvings on the rocks
on the side including a mermaid and the south wind.
Matahi Wakataka-Brightwell did not receive any payment for the work except for small change
collected from local bar patrons to cover the cost of the scaffolding, but recently
he has been claiming that tourism operators are giving their customers false information
about the carving, and he is demanding that they pay him a royalty or he will
take them to court.
On the way back to the dock, we stopped for awhile, and Captain Dave passed around tea or
coffee and biscuits to everyone on board. It was a most enjoyable afternoon.