Taniwha’s Den is an annual music, dance and light festival which has evolved into a very special experience for the hosts, volunteers and attendees since the first Den in 2010. It is also the name of the remarkable place where the festival is held: a natural wonder, nestled within a private property in Hinakura, Martinborough, New Zealand, which is named after its legendary creator, the Pahaoa Taniwha.
Legend describes how a giant Taniwha from the East, a dragon of immense power, came ashore and thrashed her way inland to her spiritual source in the quartz rocks of eastern Aotearoa. Her giant tail created twisting bends in the bed of the Pahaoa Awa; the second longest river in the Wairarapa. At a certain spot she created something very rare indeed, her Den, with a tongue-shaped isthmus at the entrance.
Many indigenous nations recognise these places as a gateway to the spirit world. A place that Shaman and wizards past and present revere as a sanctuary, a place of safety.
This is where you are when you stand here at our place: on that isthmus, at the entrance to the Taniwha’s Den.
Hinakura, a chief amongst Māori, gave her name to this area. It is thought that she was buried here, perhaps even on this isthmus. Her name loosely translated means to bring together all thoughts, philosophical ideas, religions, and people of many different tribes, to bring together streams of water.
Since 2002 Riverdog has been the Kaitiaki for the Pahaoa Awa, and its Taniwha. The surrounding river banks have been planted out with 50,000 trees, Mānuka, Harakeke, Totora, Rimu and Matai.
There are also 6 Kauri trees in remembrance of the 6 kuri (dogs) that saved this land and the Pahaoa Awa from cattle farming. Their spirits immortalised in the film ‘Riverdog’. If it were not for these kuri and their owner, Grant, this Awa would not flow, this place would not have been protected, and Taniwha’s Den would have been lost to the contemporary and invasive practice of cattle farming.
It is with this whakapapa that we proudly stand on this whenua and celebrate its beginnings and its energy. We gather to dance on this earth, celebrate life and each other.
We bring to the Taniwha’s Den our diverse ideas, beliefs and respect for one another.
This is a safe space to empty yourself and then be refilled again. A place of renewal.
We ask that you respect the whenua, the awa, our taniwha and each other.
Look after your mates, have fun and smile, because you are here to dance at the Taniwha’s Den.