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Hauraki tribes

by  Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal

Stretching from Mahurangi, north of Auckland, to Katikati near Tauranga, the Hauraki district has seen the intermingling of many tribes. Through conflict and war, but also through migration, intermarriage and gifts of land, they have each won a place in this region of harbours, islands and peninsulas.

The first tribes

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.

Te Patukirikiri

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).

Ngāti Hako

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.

Te Arawa peoples

The tribes of Te Arawa have a long association with the Hauraki region. The canoe Te Arawa landed at various points around the Coromandel Peninsula, and those on board named several places, including Moehau Mountain. The full name, Te Moengahau-o-Tamatekapua (the windy sleeping place of Tamatekapua), commemorates the burial there of the commander of Te Arawa, Tamatekapua.

Ngāti Huarere

The people of Ngāti Huarere are of Te Arawa descent. Their ancestor is Huarere, a grandson of Tamatekapua. For some time the Ngāti Huarere identity was set aside but never entirely disappeared, and members of the tribe still live in the Whangapoua and Coromandel district.

Tribal links with the land

The history of Harataunga (Kennedy Bay) illustrates how different tribes have links with the Hauraki region. The Ngāti Tamaterā people were given Harataunga by Ngāti Huarere, in recognition of Ngāti Tamaterā’s help when conflict arose with Ngāti Hei. Then in the 19th century the Ngāti Tamaterā chief Pāora Te Putu presented the land to the Ngāti Porou people of the East Coast. This gift assisted Ngāti Porou in their coastal trading with Auckland markets.

Ngāti Hei

Ngāti Hei are descendants of Hei, uncle of Tamatekapua, who was commander of Te Arawa. Like many of the early peoples of the Hauraki region, Ngāti Hei came into conflict with the expanding Marutūahu tribes. They were present when Lieutenant James Cook arrived at Whitianga. Later, they suffered when musket-carrying Ngāpuhi war parties swept in from the north. Unlike Ngāti Huarere, Ngāti Hei managed to survive through these times of change and trouble. They still live in the region, particularly in the district of Te Whitianga-o-Kupe (Whitianga Harbour).

Ngāi Tai, Ngāti Pūkenga and Ngāti Rāhiri

Ngāi Tai

When the Tainui canoe arrived at Whangaparāoa in the eastern Bay of Plenty, Tōrere, daughter of the captain Hoturoa, came ashore. She eventually married a local man named Manaaki-ao. This marriage gave rise to the Ngāi Tai people, who are located at Tōrere in the Bay of Plenty.

Some generations later, a local man named Tamatea-tokinui urged his three granddaughters – Te Raukohekohe, Motu-i-tawhiti and Te Kaweinga – to live with their Tainui relations in the Hauraki region. The women left with a large entourage, and their journey is commemorated in history as Te Heke o ngā Tokotoru (the migration of the three). They eventually married men from the Hauraki region. These marriages led to the formation of another tribe, again called Ngāi Tai, who are based in the Maraetai and Clevedon districts of South Auckland.

The iwi of Hauraki have been collectively negotiating settlement of their treaty claims since at least 2010.

Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki, the section of this tribe living in the Auckland region, settled their historic treaty claims on 7 November 2015. The settlement included financial and commercial redress of $12.7 million, the vesting in the tribe of 16 sites of cultural significance and $50,000 for cultural revitalisation.

Ngāti Pūkenga

Ngāti Pūkenga trace their descent from the Mataatua canoe. Originally from the Tauranga region, they moved to the Coromandel Peninsula following a number of conflicts in the 19th century. They were gifted lands at Manaia by Ngāti Maru as thanks for their assistance in battle. Their chief, Te Kou-o-Rehua, signed the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840.

Ngāti Pūkenga signed a Deed of Settlement for its historical treaty claims on 7 April 2013. This included $500,000 for cultural revitalisation, $180,000 for marae revitalisation at Manaia, south of Coromandel, and financial and commercial redress of $5 million.

Ngāti Rāhiri

Ngāti Rāhiri take their name from the ancestor Rāhiri. The Ngāpuhi people of Northland also have a founding ancestor called Rāhiri, and there is debate about whether they were the same man. Hauraki sources suggest that there were two men, the elder being the ancestor of Ngāti Rāhiri, and the younger that of Ngāpuhi.

Rāhiri the elder was associated with the Mataatua peoples, who made their major landfall at Whakatāne. At first he accompanied the canoe from Whakatāne to the north, but later in life decided to return to the Whakatāne district via Hauraki. Members of his entourage stayed in Hauraki and adopted the name Ngāti Rāhiri.

Facts and figures

Iwi (tribal) identification

In the New Zealand censuses since 1991, residents of Māori descent were asked to indicate the tribe to which they were affiliated. The figures below show the number who indicated the Hauraki tribes (including those who indicated more than one tribe), and the regions where they were found in the greatest numbers in 2013.

Ngāi Tai

  • 1991 census: 96
  • 2001 census: 177
  • 2006 census: 342
  • 2013 census: 498

Major regional locations

  • Auckland: 312
  • Waikato: 78

Ngāti Hako

  • 1991 census: 453
  • 2001 census: 924
  • 2006 census: 1,377
  • 2013 census: 1,392

Major regional locations

  • Waikato: 597
  • Auckland: 363

Ngāti Hei

  • 1991 census: 177
  • 2001 census: 363
  • 2006 census: 558
  • 2013 census: 513

Major regional locations

  • Waikato: 174
  • Auckland: 171

Ngāti Pūkenga

  • 1991 census: 6
  • 2001 census: 273
  • 2006 census: 477
  • 2013 census: 591

Major regional locations

  • Waikato: 225
  • Auckland: 174

Ngāti Rāhiri

  • 1991 census: 57
  • 2001 census: 93
  • 2006 census: 195
  • 2013 census: 252

Major regional locations

  • Auckland: 99
  • Waikato: 66

Ngāti Tara Tokanui

  • 1991 census: 204
  • 2001 census: 330
  • 2006 census: 492
  • 2013 census: 540

Major regional locations

  • Waikato: 339
  • Auckland: 96

Te Patukirikiri

  • 1991 census: 15
  • 2001 census: 60
  • 2006 census: 63
  • 2013 census: 45

Major regional locations

  • Waikato: 33
  • Auckland: 6

External links and sources

More suggestions and sources

How to cite this page: Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal, 'Hauraki tribes', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 30 September 2023)

Story by Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal, published 8 Feb 2005, updated 3 Mar 2017