‘Te taura whiri o Hinengākau’, the plaited rope of Hinengākau, describes the relationship amongst the three hapū (sub-tribes) of Te Āti Haunui-a-Pāpārangi, and their connection to the Whanganui River. To their east are Ngāti Apa, Ngāti Hauiti and the hapū of inland Pātea, on the western side of the Ruahine Range. To the west are Ngā Rauru Kītahi and the peoples of Taranaki, including Ngāti Ruanui.
The Whanganui people and Ngā Rauru trace their whakapapa to the Aotea waka (canoe), which made final landfall at Pātea. Ngāti Apa are affiliated with the Kurahaupō canoe, while the people of inland Pātea trace their lineage to Tamatea-pōkaiwhenua of the Tākitimu, who explored the Rangitīkei area and up the Whanganui River.
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