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Māori Tapu In The Far North


I first met Milan as a shy thirteen year old. Milan was a lecturer in history at the University of Auckland. He was one of my father's drinking mates at the Senior Common Room Club, the drinking hole at the Old Government House that was set aside for academic staff.

My father had introduced Milan to me as someone with a shared interest in chess. My acquaintance grew from chess companion to friendship as I discovered that Milan had a genuine interest in my dreams and aspirations, and the typical adolescent struggles I was living through.

When I was seventeen, Milan had secluded himself up north at a village not far from Kaitaia, so he could write a book. He wrote me letters exhorting me to come and see him, and then mentioned a Māori cave.

Apparently the site of the cave had a violent history, and there was a tapu over it. Local Māori boys Milan had befriended shrunk away from all mention of it, and refused any requests to show him the cave, even when he offered to pay them.

As a historian Milan had an interest in artefacts, and even confessed a wish to own one himself. In those days before the Treaty settlement process had established strict protocol for ownership, these would have belonged to the Crown. Or maybe to the local iwi. Certainly not to him. When I told him this would be stealing, he laughed.

"They're safe. I would be too scared of the tapu to take anything."

I thought this was likely to be superstitious nonsense, but as Milan had said to me on one occasion, paraphrasing Hamlet "There are forces in this world about which we know nothing." Maybe. Better safe than sorry, I suppose.

But even Milan's fear of the tapu was not strong enough to damp his enthusiasm to at least visit the cave. And mine certainly wasn't. So it was that Milan and I, and a devout Christian friend of Milan, set off from the village hotel on foot to the place that the locals had pointed out as the likely location for the cave.

It was winter, the ground was boggy, and we tramped for a few hours among the manuka scrub until we had had enough, and no cave had been found.

We drove back to Auckland and I returned to my parents' house.

That night I had a bad dream. The details are fuzzy after all this time, but I do remember there was something chasing me, and I had to get out. So I leapt out of bed, and rushed out of my bedroom, but not to the front or back doors. Instead I was rattling the handle of a door leading to the roof of an outbuilding. The roof had no guard rails, just a steep drop to the concrete below.

The door was locked. After a few desperate attempts to open it, I woke up, lying shivering at the base of the door. I picked myself up and went back to bed. Too ashamed to tell anyone; after all, only nutcases or those with a guilty conscience walk in their sleep. It was only later on that it even occurred to me how lucky I was that the door had been locked. My parents didn't usually lock that door. It would be hard to climb the roof to that door, so a lock had no use in keeping people out. Keeping people in, on the other hand...

So what is the explanation for my narrow escape? A sceptic would say that my sleepwalking episode was a result of a heightened emotional response at the thought of the tapu. But I hadn't felt frightened; or anything else. While I did not dismiss tapu and other curses out of hand, they were not something that had seriously crossed my mind. Especially as we hadn't even found the cave.

Something else I should mention. I had never walked in my sleep before; and nor have I done so since. There had been times, especially as a child in boarding school, and later as an adolescent in love, where my emotions had been shredded. Times when I went to bed in tears or trembling in fear. Times where I lay awake with feelings of dread or rejection. But on all those occasions, when I finally went to sleep, I slept soundly.

So make of this what you will. I don't expect you to agree with me. It's probably right that you don't. After all, you don't know me. But from my point of view, which is the only one I have, I am convinced that what I experienced was a supernatural event.

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Comments about this paranormal experience

The following comments are submitted by users of this site and are not official positions by Please read our guidelines and the previous posts before posting. The author, MichaelMorris771, has the following expectation about your feedback: I will read the comments and participate in the discussion.

Rajine (14 stories) (795 posts)
11 months ago (2023-06-12)
Hi Michael

I suppose sometimes we just have to leave certain things as it is, who knows what we can be inviting in our lives, thankfully nothing bad happened, have you had any other experiences after the sleep walking incident?
Tweed (35 stories) (2501 posts)
11 months ago (2023-06-12)
Hi MichaelMorris,

While reading your experience I found myself thinking 'skeptics be damned'. There's a lot of really horrible scary experiences on this site. But the vast majority involve a slow build up of activity with no risk to life or limb. Thankfully experiences like this are on the rare side.

Thanks for sharing.
The_Lost_Voyage_11 (7 stories) (245 posts)
11 months ago (2023-06-11)
Hello MichaelMorris771, interesting and creepy encounter, thanks for sharing.

There is little doubt in my mind that everything occurred just as you stated. You actually relayed the encounter very thoroughly!

My take on it, is sometimes the interest in something alone, the intention can create a sort of energetic connection if you will. So even though the two of you didn't find the physical location of the cave, your desire to do so was enough for the Māori tapu to establish a connection through time and space to you. Especially as powerful an effect as the cave and the story alone seemed to have on people with what you shared.

Perhaps even in the sleep state you may have astral traveled to the cave or at least the space the Māori tapu inhabits and a connection was established. As you were coming out of that state, the Māori tapu, may have been able to still influence you until you fully came to your senses.

I share this, because I had something related happen, where my brother and a friend wanted to visit a haunted family property and I inadvertently established an energetic connection with the place, even though I had never been there before physically! I knew it was bad and we were to stay away for everyone's safety! A teen girl that was with us at the time had the same connection, although she saw more than I did. You can find the story in my profile if interested.

Either way, good story, and maybe this helps some with what happened. At least you'll be safer in the future, good luck!
MichaelMorris771 (1 stories) (1 posts)
11 months ago (2023-06-11)
Interesting comment, and yes, it does appear as if Māori tapu are real. The NZ Māori supposedly migrated from Hawai'i and are related to native Hawai'ans and Taiwanese. We never actually reached the cave, so I can't comment on what it looks like or even whether it really exists.

If you do decide to come to NZ, let me know on this site, and I will give you my contact details.
Pelatiah (4 stories) (74 posts)
11 months ago (2023-06-11)
I believe you. I think that's the stuff of a good horror movie and the perfect supernatural type experience from the standpoint of... Thousand years rituals and beliefs that still hold today are usually there for a reason!

My husband is of Maori ancestry (we live in Atlanta, Georgia but his ancestry is Hawaiian royalty and over half of his DNA matches on Ancestry are NZ Maoris). He grew up a typical California surfer guy, joined the Marines and never knew this about himself or his heritage, but it was all discovered when he was in his 50s. He talks about various incidents from when he lived in Hawaii that he shrugged off at the time (early 1980s)... Things like scuba diving with buddies where sharks started to attack but then simply turned away at the last minute, or feelings of unexplained adreneline, fear, release and more when standing at the areas of historic relevence (I've never been to Hawaii, but I know Nu'uanu was one of the sites, I got a book on it to research after he told me some of his stories). He's not one to be superstitious or even that into ancestors (like me) and he truly had no idea of his lineage until I uncovered it. One day we are going to go there and hopefully to NZ also. I will be interested to see his reactions. Glad your door was locked that night... You never mentioned much about the cave itself, can you elaborate?

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