Puakma: Under the hood

I'm Brendon Upson, jack-of-all-trades, master of one or two. I'm talking about life running a small ISV tackling business issues and leaping technology hurdles in a single bound.

webWise Network Consultants is based in Sydney, Australia and develops the groundbreaking Puakma server technology.


The real story of Puakma

Filed under: by Brendon Upson on 17:32

I have been thinking long and hard about telling this story for so many reasons. Damien Katz has repeatedly tried to convince me to tell it, so, finally here it is...

"Maori Chief Tamata Puakma lived in a Pa in the Rotorua area, near the middle of the north island of New Zealand. In a neighbouring lake lived a terrible and ferocious taniwha. The taniwha would leave the lake each evening and raid Puakma's village, eating sheep, chickens and other livestock. The only source of drinking water was the lake and from time to time villagers would be taken by the taniwha as they collected the water.

The villagers felt their needs were simple and decided it was a little unreasonable for the taniwha to simply take whatever it wanted. Their problem was how to get rid of the rampaging taniwha, for it was a large angry animal that the villagers feared greatly.

Chief Tamata Puakma was the son of a long line of distinguished warriors. As chief of the Pa the duty fell to him to rid the village of this menace.

Puakma's plan was simple. He would hide near the chicken coop that night until the taniwha appeared, then attack and kill it. But he had a problem. There was no way he could defeat such a large animal with his wooden spear and greenstone mere. The elders assembled and unlocked a very old wooden chest. Inside the chest was the thigh-bone of a Moa. The Moa was an ancient flightless bird which stood some 10 feet tall. The Moa had been killed by one of Puakma's ancestors many years before and the thighbone kept as a symbol of bravery. Some say it possessed magical powers and gave the holder untold strength.

That night Chief Tamata Puakma hid in the dark waiting for the taniwha to rise from the lake. Puakma heard the crunching of branches and the choked scream of a young lamb. He stayed hidden until the taniwha was feasting on the lamb, then leapt from the darkness and struck the monster down with three mighty blows from the bone." 

Bollocks. All of it. I invented the story on a train ride from the city one night in early 2002. I had a few people ask if "Puakma" was a New Zealand "thing" so invented the legend to hide the real story. As one polite reader pointed out late in 2002, Puakma is not possible in the Maori language. Pukuma or Pukama is, but not a word with "km" in the middle. Here's the real story.

A contractor friend had been operating a shelf company for a number of years and around 2000 decided it was time to give his company a real name. A number of emails were sent between us all with suggestionson company names, from the serious to the zany to the ridiculous. One email he sent suggested "PUAKMA Pty Ltd"; "Pucker Up And Kiss My Ass". 

About a year later I had begun my "experiment" to build a better mousetrap (Tornado Server) and once the coding had started I needed to call things names and put them in packages. I had a momentary flashback to those emails and used "puakma". Over time more code was written and the name was used more and more. By now I was well past the point of no return and the brand was born.

Unfortunately as more people started to use the software, I quickly discovered noone knew how to pronounce "puakma" (Poo-ack-muh) nor spell it. Damn. So, for the last year I have been making a concious effort to move to talking about the product names "Tornado Server", "Vortex", "Web Booster" and "Web Booster ESSO" rather than the more generic "Puakma".

The name lives on and I have a little laugh each time I hear it :-) ...now the secret's out.


  1. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA this is SO brilliant :-)

    Comment posted by Erwin on 2006-07-20 21:59:42.0 | mail

  2. Oh man, that's beautiful! :)

    Comment posted by Colin Pretorius on 2006-07-21 01:20:03.0 |

  3. Superb :o)

    Comment posted by Ben Poole on 2006-07-22 02:23:03.0 | mail

  4. glad you finally, uh, came clean on that one. It was fun being in the know, though, I laughed every time I heard of it, too!

    Comment posted by Ed Brill on 2006-07-24 07:43:48.0 | mail

  5. lol! most excellent... :-D

    Comment posted by jonvon on 2006-07-24 23:06:36.0 | mail

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