Statue of Wairaka



The Lady on the rock

The Lady on the Rock, Whakatane. A symbolic icon in Whakatane

Unveiled at the Whakatāne Heads in 1965 as a memorial to the wife of Sir William Sullivan. This bronze statue atop Turuturu Rock lies at the mouth of the Whakatāne River and commemorates the bravery of Wairaka and the daughter of Toroa, captain-navigator of the Mataatua waka.

When the Mataatua waka first arrived at Whakatāne after making a perilous voyage from Ngāti Awa’s ancestral homeland of Hawaiki 600 years ago, the men left the women alone in the canoe while they went ashore. When the canoe started to drift back to sea, Wairaka (defying the tapu that forbade women to handle a canoe) seized the paddle and brought the waka back to shore crying, ‘Kia Whakatane au i ahau’ – I will act the part of a man.' This cry is the origin of the town's name.

Easy viewing from Muriwai Drive, Whakatāne.
Skip to content