The Maori name for the thermal park as well as the surrounding area is Tikitere. This name was given to the area approximately 650 years ago when a young Maori Princess called Hurutini threw herself into one of the hot boiling pools to remove the shame of her people as her husband the Chief was abusive and showed her no respect.
Hurutini died in the pool that bears her name today. Her body was found floating in the pool by her mother who on finding her, cried out a lament or sad chant 'Aue teri nei tiki' - here lies my precious one - Tikitere.
George Bernard Shaw
The reason why the thermal park is known widely as Hells Gate is because in the early 1900’s George Bernard Shaw, a famous Irish playwright living in England, visited the area for a week and on looking the thermal park decided that this must be the gateway to Hell, which his theologian colleagues talk about.
He was well known as an Atheist, however after being here a week it is understood that he changed his ways. Our people were so taken by the playwright that from that time on, they allowed the area to be known in English as Hells Gate.
Te Unauhu - Tohunga (high priest)
A noted tohunga, or high priest, Te Unauhu who lived some 250 years ago was a daily bather in the waters of Tikitere including Hurutini and the Devils bath, along with his followers – some 60 people.
He believed that his powers which included seeing into the future, were greatly enhanced by bathing in the waters of Tikitere.