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Otakou - A Story of Far-Off Days

Contributed, by Rev. T.A.Pybus.

Nowhere in the southern parts of this Dominion is there to be found a spot so rich in history; tradition and natural scenery as Otakou. The ever-changing coastline, the hills and valleys which were once covered with luxuriant growth, together with the blue waters of the various bays and inlets, provides scenery which is a delight to all who behold it. Every topographical feature of the district recalls the legends and traditions of 'bygone days.

Originally the name Otakou applied to the whole of the district known as Otago - a corrupted form of the name Otakou. Today the name applies to the Otago Peninsula only.

The Maori people of the district claim that the first inhabitants were the Rapuwai, a big, strong, dark-skinned people. Following them came the Waitaha, later the Ngati-mamoe (Kati Mamoe) of the Hawaiki migration of A.D.1350 and which came in the Takitimu canoe, and finally the Ngaitahu (Kai Tahu) who arrived at Te Wai Pounamu (South Island) about three hundred years ago. It is believed that the Polynesian tribes have been on the Peninsula for approximately nine hundred years, and the present residents consider themselves as Ngaitahu, with a blending of the above mentioned tribes by inter-marriage.