A region of many peoples
The Hauraki region stretches from the Mahurangi Peninsula in the north to Ngā Kurī-a-Whārei, a sunken reef near Katikati, Tauranga. It includes the Tāmaki isthmus, Te Hapū-a-Kohe, the Piako, Ōhinemuri and Wairoa districts, the Coromandel Peninsula and Whangamatā.
The Māori settlement of this region is dominated by the Marutūahu confederation, a group of tribes with Tainui origins. However, many other tribes have maintained a presence, including Te Patukirikiri, Ngāti Huarere, Ngāti Hako, Te Whakatōhea, Ngāti Hei, Ngāti Rāhiri, Ngāti Tara, Ngā Marama, Ngāi Tai and Ngāti Porou.
The origins of the Te Patukirikiri people lie with the Te Wai-o-Hua tribe of the Tāmaki isthmus. Kapetaua, the ancestor of Te Patukirikiri, was abandoned by his brother-in-law, Tarakumukumu, on a rock off Bastion Point. This spot (also known as Bean Rock) is called Te Toka-o-Kapetaua. Kapetaua survived the ordeal and eventually defeated Tarakumukumu on Waiheke Island. Later Kapetaua regrouped his people on the Coromandel Peninsula. They took the name Te Patukirikiri to commemorate their victory in a battle on a beach, where in fighting off their assailants their only weapons (patu) were rocks and stones (kirikiri).
The people of Ngāti Hako are acknowledged as the earliest settlers in the Hauraki region. Although Ngāti Hako endured long periods of conflict with the Marutūahu peoples, they were never completely overcome. They have maintained a presence in Hauraki to the present day. Their origins are not known, but it is suggested that they belonged to the ancient Te Tini o Toi people, who were descendants of the Polynesian navigator Toitehuatahi.
The survival of Ngāti Hako through the period of Marutūahu expansion was assisted by a strategic marriage. The high-born Ngāti Hako woman Ruawehea was married to Tamaterā, the son of Marutūahu. The special relationship between Ngāti Hako and the lands of Hauraki is recalled in their traditional call of welcome:
Haere mai, nau mai.
Haere mai, kuhu noa mai ki ngā hūhā o Ruawehea.
Come forth, welcome.
Come forth and enter the thighs of Ruawehea.