Author(s): Gavin Bishop / Katerina Mataira
Hinepau, a Maori woman with the sunset red hair and the greenstone coloured eyes is a weaver, but all of her weaving is inside out or back to front. Is she a witch? The rest of her tribe thinks so, so she is sent away to live on her own in a hut surrounded by a hundred flax bushes. There she sits all day weaving the patterns of nature into her weaving. Meanwhile, back in her village a great meeting house is built but no care is taken to say the proper prayers and give thanks to the gods of the forest for providing the huge trees that are needed to construct the new building. On the night of the grand opening of the meeting house the volcano, at whose feet the village nestles, erupts and the next morning the whole tribe wakes up to find the countryside, for as far as a bird can fly, has disappeared under a thick blanket of ash. Is it their punishment to die slowly of hunger and thirst? Hinepau, the outcast, saves her people in an unexpected way and in doing so she commits the ultimate sacrifice. The heroine in this story, inspired by Gavin Bishop's Maori ancestry, carries his mother's name, an old family name which goes back hundreds of years. And like some of his family, she is Ngati Pukeko (Ngati Awa) from near Whakatane, on the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand.