Story: Ngāpuhi

Page 3. Ancestors

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Rāhiri is the founding ancestor of Ngāpuhi. Born at Whiria , he was the son of Tauramoko and Te Hauangiangi. Tauramoko was a descendant of two captains – Kupe of the Matawhaorua canoe, and Nukutawhiti of the Ngātokimatawhaorua canoe. Te Hauangiangi was the daughter of Puhi, captain of the Mataatua canoe.

Rāhiri married two women. Hokianga tradition says his first wife, Āhuaiti, was from Pouērua near Kaikohe in the Taumārere district. Āhuaiti left Rāhiri at Whiria and returned to her people after a dispute between Rāhiri and her brothers over fern root cultivations. The Taumārere tribes say that Rāhiri and Āhuaiti were married at Pouērua and that it was Rāhiri who left and returned to Whiria. However, both agree that Āhuaiti gave birth to a son named Uenuku.

After Rāhiri and Āhuaiti separated, Rāhiri married Whakaruru. They lived at Whiria and had a son named Kaharau.

Uenuku and Kaharau

When Rāhiri’s first son Uenuku reached adulthood he went to Whiria to reclaim his birthright. He and his half-brother Kaharau fought, but Rāhiri made peace between them. He instructed his sons to weave a flax rope long enough to go around Whiria mountain.

The rope was attached to a kite which, after being launched, came to rest against a pūriri tree. Rāhiri named that place Whirinaki (which means ‘to lean against a support’). The kite was hoisted again and flew further eastward before landing on the banks of the Taumārere River. Blown by the easterly winds, it then landed at Tahuna, near present-day Kaikohe. Its path became the boundary that Rāhiri set between the Hokianga and Taumārere. He also decreed that the Hokianga lands would go to Kaharau’s descendants, and the eastern lands of Taumārere to Uenuku’s descendants.

Kaharau’s son, Taurapoho, and Uenuku’s daughter, Ruakiwhiria, later married, thus ensuring the alliance would endure. The tribal saying ‘Ka tū tahi te tuakana me te teina’ (the older and younger brother will stand as one) expresses this ongoing unity.

Korokoro, Kairewa and Waimirirangi

The brothers Korokoro and Kairewa are the ancestors of the early Ngāpuhi hapū Ngāti Korokoro and Ngāti Kairewa, who live in the Pākanae and Whirinaki valleys of the southern Hokianga.

Kairewa married Waimirirangi and they had 10 children. All tribes north of Auckland can trace their descent from one of these children. Waimirirangi is held in particular regard and is often referred to as ‘Te Kuini-o-Te-Tai-Tokerau’ (the queen of the northern tide).

How to cite this page:

Rāwiri Taonui, 'Ngāpuhi - Ancestors', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 22 June 2024)

Story by Rāwiri Taonui, published 8 Feb 2005, updated 1 Mar 2017