The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 5, Issue 7 (December 1, 1930)
Rib-tickling with Spears
Rib-tickling with Spears.
An old man of the Ngati-Tamatera—the Ohinemuri tribe over whom the grim warrior Taraia was chief last century—gave me some previously unrecorded names of the Aroha region. That high hill to which so many holiday visitors to Te Aroha town climb, the spur just above the Government baths and Domain, was called Whakapipi. On its summit once stood a fortified place occupied by the page 27 Ngati-Tumutumu tribe, one of the very ancient clans of bush-dwellers who were here long before the Hawaiki immigrants reached New Zealand in the Arawa and Tainui, and other historic canoes. Whakapipi means “heaped up,” a pile of stones or timbers or other material.
The little stream which flows down between two sharp ridges and through Te Aroha town into the Waihou River, was called by the Maoris the Tutumange-ongeo. It is not an enticing name for the tyro in Maori pronunciation, nevertheless it is a curiously interesting title that should be preserved, for it holds a story. My old Tamatera informant said that the stream derived its name from a combat between two long-ago champions who met each other in front of their war-parties on the creek side. Both were armed with long spears. They fought so desperately that each was fatally pierced by the other's spear, and both died on the bank of the bush stream. And in memory of that duel of long ago the name-givers combined the root-words “tu,” meaning wounded, and “mangeo,” meaning pain, or acute smarting”. Also, there is a form of the word meaning to tickle. Let us reduce the formidable Aroha brookname, there-fore, to its most agreeable form and give it a down-to-date translation as “Tickled to Death.”