Legend of Tai Poutini

Legend of Te Tai o Poutini – The West Coast of the South Island.

To Māori, the West Coast is known as Te Tai o Poutini, ‘the tides of Poutini’, named after the kaitiaki – the guardian of pounamu and the main source of Aotearoa’s greenstone or jade.

Legend: Poutini - A Guardian Taniwha

Poutini is the name of the taniwha (water spirit) swimming up and down the West Coast of the South Island protecting both the people and the spiritual essence, or mauri, of the pounamu (greenstone). Poutini guards the mauri (life spirit) within the treasured stone. The mana or spiritual force of pounamu comes from Kahue (or Ngahue) an atua. Poutini as protector of the stone is the servant of Kahue.

Poutini once abducted a woman named Waitaiki, from the North island and fled south pursued by her husband, Tamaahua. He hid with his captive in the bed of the Arahura River but Waitaiki’s husband pursued them. Poutini transformed Waitaiki into his own spiritual essence - pounamu - and fled down the river to the sea. Waitaiki became the ‘motherlode’ of all pounamu. The husband went home grieving. The Poutini Ngāi Tahu is the calling given to Kati Waewae the section of Ngāi Tahu connected to the West Coast.