There are a number of traditions relating to the origin of the mountains in the North Island. A version given by Pei Te Hurinui Jones of the Ngāti Maniapoto tribe tells how Tongariro had two wives, the mountains Pīhanga and Ngāuruhoe. Taranaki wanted these women for himself, as did other mountains. The ensuing battle resulted in their current positions. Whakaari (White island), Paepae-o-aotea (Volkner Rocks) and Moutohorā (Whale Island) went into the sea north of Whakatāne. Pūtauaki (Mt Edgecumbe) stopped before the sea, and is south of Whakatāne.
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