Story: Ngā waewae tapu – Māori exploration

Page 5. Te Arawa explorers

All images & media in this story

Ngātoroirangi and Tia

Ngātoroirangi and Tia arrived in New Zealand on the Te Arawa canoe, which landed at Maketū in the Bay of Plenty. They went inland, towards the centre of the North Island. Tia took a westerly route along the Kaituna River and Mamaku Plains, reaching Ātiamuri (Tia who arrived after earlier peoples) and Te Aratiatia (the stairway of Tia) on the Waikato River. Further south, he saw some cliffs that resembled his cloak, and named them Te Taupō-nui-a-Tia (the rain cloak of Tia). The name later came to refer to the lake.

Tia explored both sides of the lake before settling at Tītīraupenga in the Pureora Forest.

Ngātoroirangi continues

Ngātoroirangi headed east from Maketū. He then followed the Tarawera River, which he named Te Awa-a-te-atua (the river of the gods), inland to Ruawāhia, the northern peak of Mt Tarawera. From there he crossed the Kāingaroa Plains and Waikato River before climbing the summit of Tauhara mountain and surveying Lake Taupō southward to Mt Tongariro.

Geothermal creations

Ngātoroirangi climbed Tongariro. Freezing, he called to his sisters in Hawaiki for help, ‘Kua riro ahau i te hau tonga’ (I am seized by the cold from the south) – hence the name Tongariro. Assisted by the fire gods, the sisters sent fire that burst out at Whakaari (White Island), Moutohorā (Whale Island), the Rotorua lakes, Mt Tarawera, the Paeroa Range, Ōrākei Kōrako, Tokaanu, and finally at Tongariro, saving their brother.

Kahumatamomoe and Īhenga

Kahumatamomoe was the son of Tamatekapua, captain of the Te Arawa canoe. He arrived on the canoe at Maketū, with his nephew Īhenga. Heading inland to Rotorua, they named Te Rotoiti-kite-a-Īhenga (Lake Rotoiti) and Te Rotoruanui-a-Kahumatamomoe (Lake Rotorua) before heading off to explore and visit Īhenga’s older brothers, Taramainuku, Warenga and Huarere, who lived in the far north.

Waikato and northward

The pair first went south to the Waikato River, crossing it at a place they named Te Whakamaru-o-Kahumatamomoe (the shelter of Kahumatamomoe). They then turned west to Whāingaroa (Raglan) and went northwards up the coast. They named Manukau Harbour Te Mānuka, after Kahumatamomoe planted a stake to claim ownership. Arriving at Poutū on the lower northern Wairoa River, the home of Īhenga’s brother Taramainuku, Kahumatamomoe named the adjacent harbour Te Kaiparapara-a-Kahumatamomoe after the king fern (kaipara) that Taramainuku fed them.

Kahumatamomoe alone

Kahumatamomoe left Īhenga there, and went south by canoe along the Kaipara and Kumeu rivers, crossing Auckland Harbour to the Coromandel Peninsula, where he stayed with Īhenga’s other brother, Huarere. Before returning to Rotorua, he climbed the highest point on the Kaimai Range, naming it Te Muri-aroha-o-Kahu, te aroha-tai, te aroha-uta (the love of Kahu for those on the coasts and those on the land) for his relatives living inland at Rotorua and Taupō, and those near the sea in the far north and the Coromandel.

Īhenga continues

Īhenga left the Kaipara Harbour. He travelled northward up the Wairoa River, then crossed the Mangakāhia River valley and the Waimate Plains to Kawakawa in the Bay of Islands, where his third brother, Warenga, lived. Īhenga named several places, including Ruapekapeka (the place of bats) and Motatau (to speak to oneself), before turning south to Whāngārei, where he climbed a mountain in a thunderstorm and named it Whaitiri (thunder). From Whāngārei, he travelled by canoe to Moehau, and then back to Maketū.

How to cite this page:

Rāwiri Taonui, 'Ngā waewae tapu – Māori exploration - Te Arawa explorers', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/nga-waewae-tapu-maori-exploration/page-5 (accessed 19 August 2017)

Story by Rāwiri Taonui, published 24 Sep 2007