There lived once upon a time a member of the Ngāti Ranginui Iwi whose name was Oturu. He lived with his wife and family in one of the several fortified pa in the Ruahihi region near the upper reaches of the Wairoa River. He was born and grew up in the area and was thoroughly familiar with all the forest and streams which fed into Wairoa near his home. He frequently made excursions into the forest, travelling up the Ngatuhoa and the Opuiaki Streams where he caught many fat eels and snared many fat pigeons.
Always he would stay away for several days, before returning to his family with only a few small ill-fed pigeons and some skinny eels. While his family showed increasing evidence of malnutrition, Oturu managed to stay in very good shape and it became obvious to everyone that he was consuming the best eels and pigeons in the forest himself and bringing only the skinny ones home.
Oturu's wife had two brothers whose attention was drawn to the disparity in the physical condition of Oturu and his wife and children. They decided to follow him on one of his hunting excursions to satisfy themselves that their suspicions were correct. After observing him for two or three days dining sumptuously on fine, fat pigeons and storing the skinny ones to take home, they decided to swoop.
Oturu took off downstream with his wife's brothers in hot pursuit. The flat rock in the stream bed made for fast travelling so the desperate Oturu, knowing that capture probably meant death, kept to the bed of the stream until he reached the top of the 42-metre-high waterfall. With his two brothers-in-law closing in fast, the only escape was over the edge.