Story: Ngāpuhi

Page 4. Tribal links and movement

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Rāhiri of Ngāpuhi is also connected to other North Island tribes. Rāhiri married Āhuaiti and Whakaruru of Ngāpuhi. He then married Moetonga, whose descendants live in the Waipoua Forest and south of the Hokianga. He also married Paru, whose descendants live along the coast between Whangaruru and Whangārei.

Rāhiri travelled from Whiria in the Hokianga to Auckland, Te Aroha, Whakatāne, the East Coast, Wellington and Taranaki. This journey occurs in several traditions. In Remuera, Auckland, the peak Maunga Rāhiri was named after him (it has since been quarried). The Bay of Plenty Mataatua tribes say Rāhiri lived at Kaputerangi, an ancient above present-day Whakatāne. Rāhiri is also linked to Ngāti Rāhiri-tumutumu-whenua (Te Aroha) and Ngāti Rāhiri-pakarara (Taranaki).

The Hokianga tribes first consolidated under the tribal name Ngāi Tūpoto, which they took from Rāhiri’s great-grandson Tūpoto (the son of Taurapoho and Ruakiwhiria). Tūpoto’s sons Korokoro, Kairewa, Miruiti, Tuiti and Tūteauru led sub-tribes which came to dominate the Hokianga Harbour region.


The descendants of Māhia, Tūpoto’s brother, expanded eastward from Kaikohe and Pouērua. The ancestors Auha and Whakaaria, for example, led successful campaigns into the Taiāmai, Te Waimate, Taumārere, Kerikeri and Paihia districts, overrunning and often intermarrying with Ngāi Tāhuhu, Ngāti Manaia, Te Wahineiti and Ngāti Miru. These eastern tribes were the first to begin using the tribal name Ngāpuhi. As the two groups merged, the name came to apply to all tribes in the Hokianga and Bay of Islands.


One of the titles by which Ngāpuhi is known is Ngāpuhi-nui-tonu (everlasting Ngāpuhi). This describes the multiplicity of tribes, sub-tribes and marae within the tribe. Sometimes it is also used as an inclusive reference describing how the Muriwhenua tribes of Ngāti Kurī, Ngāti Kahu, Te Rarawa and Te Aupōuri, and the southern tribes of Ngātiwai, Te Parawhau, Te Roroa and Ngāti Whātua are closely related to Ngāpuhi. Care needs to be exercised when using this title because each of these groups is a tribe in its own right.

During the late 18th and early 19th centuries the Ngāpuhi tribes pushed east toward Kawakawa, Te Rāwhiti and the Whangaruru coast, where they absorbed other tribes, including Ngāti Manu, Te Kapotai, Te Uri o Rata, Ngare Raumati and Ngātiwai.

Ngāpuhi also expanded southward toward Whangārei and the Kaipara, where they merged with related tribes such as Parawhau.

How to cite this page:

Rāwiri Taonui, 'Ngāpuhi - Tribal links and movement', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 15 April 2024)

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