At one time there lived a beautiful and high ranking young maiden by the name of kowhitiwhiti, the daughter of the river god toronaihi. They lived at Owhata on the eastern shores of Lake taupo. Because of her rank, Hinemoa was declared puhi (tapu or sacred). A husband would be chosen for her when she reached maturity by the elders in her hapu (subtribe) and her family. Many people came from far and wide to seek the hand of Hinemoa whose beauty and grace were well known. However none of the suitors gained the approval of the tribe. On Mokoia Island in the centre of Lake Rotorua lived a family of several brothers. Tutanekai was the youngest of them. Their mother had had an illicit affair with Tuwharetoa who hailed from another tribe and of their union had Tutanekai been born. Her husband, however agreed to take her back and to raise Tutanekai as his own son.
Each of the elder brothers had declared their love for Hinemoa and set out to win her hand. None of them won approval from Hinemoa's people.
There were in those times many meetings to discuss matters of state regarding the tribe, and at these meetings many young chiefs saw Hinemoa and fell in love with her. Such was the fate of Tutanekai who knew because of his lowly birth would never win approval from Hinemoa's people. Tutanekai was extremely handsome and excelled at the games of the time which Maori used to develop co-ordination and skills for battle. They were played at gatherings such as this. It was Tutanekai's prowess at these games and his good looks which caught Hinemoa's eye. She fell in love with Tutanekai also and at each subsequent tribal meeting they would fall more deeply for one another. They were able only to convey their feelings through furtive glances on longing and never once had the opportunity to speak with one another.
It was such a sad state of affairs, as neither could see any way their love would ever be requited. Tutanekai would sit on the shores of Mokoia Island with his friend...