Story: Marutūahu tribes

Page 1. Origins

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The tribes

The tribes of the Marutūahu confederation are Ngāti Rongoū, Ngāti Tamaterā, Ngāti Whanaunga, Ngāti Maru and Ngāti Pāoa. They are all located in the Hauraki region, and trace their descent from a common ancestor, Marutūahu. Marutūahu’s forebears came to New Zealand on the Tainui canoe.

Hotunui and Marutūahu

The ancestor Hotunui lived at Kāwhia, where he was accused by his father-in-law Māhanga of stealing kūmara (sweet potato) seedlings. While the claim was never proven, Hotunui left voluntarily and exiled himself in Hauraki. Just before leaving he said to his pregnant wife, ‘Should you bear a daughter, name her Paretūahu. If a son, call him Marutūahu.’

Hotunui settled at Whakatīwai, on the western side of the Firth of Thames, where he came to live in reduced circumstances. Some months later his wife gave birth to a son, who was duly named Marutūahu. When this boy reached adulthood, he set off towards the east in search of his father. Arriving in western Hauraki, he found his father and discovered that he had been mistreated over a long period of time. Enraged, Marutūahu sought to restore his father’s reputation and position. He embarked on a series of campaigns in which he overcame the local people and was able to secure land in the Wharekawa area. This area is bounded by Te Tāpapakanga-o-Puku in the north and Kaiaua in the south.

Hauraki is the land

This tribal saying asserts the collective identity of the tribes that make up the Marutūahu confederation:

Ngā puke ki Hauraki ka tārehua.

E mihi ana ki te whenua
E tangi ana ki te tangata.

Ko Moehau ki waho
Ko Te Aroha ki uta.

Ko Tīkapa te moana
Ko Hauraki te whenua
Ko Marutūahu te tangata.

The peaks of Hauraki are shrouded in mist.

We acknowledge the land
And lament the people.

Moehau stands distant
And Te Aroha stands inland.

Tīkapa is the waterway
Hauraki is the land
Marutūahu is the man.

The children of Marutūahu

Marutūahu established his near Whakatīwai. Later he married two sisters and had five children – Tamatepō, Tamaterā, Whanaunga, Te Ngako, and Tāurukapakapa. These children became the ancestors of the Marutūahu confederation of tribes, which subsequently conquered the Hauraki region from Mahurangi in the north to Ngā Kurī-a-Whārei, a boundary point located near Katikati. Hence, the traditional region of the Marutūahu confederation includes the Tāmaki isthmus, Te Hapū-a-Kohe, the Piako, Ōhinemuri and Wairoa districts, the Coromandel Peninsula and Whangamatā. Today, all the Marutūahu peoples retain links with these various districts, collectively known as Hauraki, and their marae are scattered throughout the region.

How to cite this page:

Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal, 'Marutūahu tribes - Origins', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 21 April 2024)

Story by Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal, published 8 Feb 2005, updated 22 Mar 2017