Story: Ngāti Kahungunu

Page 5. Ngāti Kahungunu become established

All images & media in this story

The marriage of Kahungunu’s daughter

The principal of Kahungunu and Rongomaiwahine was Maunga-a-Kāhia (Maungakāhia), which was built by Kahungunu on the Nukutaurua tableland. They had five children: Kahukuranui (son), Rongomaipāpā (daughter), Tamatea-kōtā (son), Mahakinui (son) and Tauheikurī (daughter).

There is only one remembered instance when Maungakāhia came under serious attack. Tūtāmure and Tamataipūnoa (sons of Kahungunu’s cousin Haumanga) had set out from Ōpōtiki with 500 warriors and engaged in a series of battles on their way to the Māhia Peninsula. Maungakāhia was a very high and well-fortified pā, but the brothers and their war party laid siege to it. When the situation was beginning to look serious, Kahungunu sent Tauheikurī, his youngest daughter, to find out who was leading the attack. Tūtāmure came forward and pronounced:

Ranga ranga te muri, ka tutū te ngaru o te moana ko au tenei ko Tūtāmure.
When the north wind blows, up rise the waves of the ocean. It is I, Tūtāmure.

Kahungunu knew then that it was his cousin’s son, and sent Tauheikurī, with her consent, to offer herself as his wife. Not knowing which was Tūtāmure, she knelt in front of his handsome younger brother, Tamataipūnoa, and offered him the stone weapon called Titingāpua. On learning this, Tūtāmure went to look in a small pool of water in the reef in front of Maungakāhia, and acknowledged that he was indeed not as good looking as his brother. That pool has ever since been called Te Wai Whakaata a Tūtāmure (the reflecting water of Tūtāmure). Tūtāmure told his brother to accept the peace offerings – the weapon and marriage to Tauheikurī. Some time later, Tauheikurī and Tamataipūnoa went to live in the Tūranga area. They had two children, Tawhiwhi and Māhaki. Māhaki became the ancestor of Te Aitanga a Māhaki.

Kōtore, the chief of Ōmaruhakeke

The pā of Ōmaruhakeke, near Marumaru, was raided by a force led by Apanui of Te Kaha. The village chief, Kōtore, was about to be killed when he cried, ‘E hoa, ko te weriweri ai ka takoto ai au ki roto ki tō puku!’ (Friend, you are so ugly, and I am going to have to sit on your stomach!). Apanui asked where there was a better looking man, and Kōtore saw his own sons Umurau and Tamahikawai being led to Apanui to be killed. Kōtore replied, ‘Arā, kia pērā me ngā tukemata-nui o Kahungunu e ārahina mai rā.’ (There, be like the broad handsome face of Kahungunu being led towards us.) Kōtore’s grandson Tapuwae, his wife Ruataumata and their descendants became known as Ngā Tukemata nui o Kahungunu. Later the name was given to all the descendants of Kahungunu.

The net of Te Huki

Te Huki was a sixth-generation descendant of Kahungunu and Rongomaiwahine, and a principal chief of the coastal area between Waihua and Mōhaka. Through his marriages, and later the strategic positioning of his sons and daughters from Tūranganui-a-Kiwa (Poverty Bay) to the Wairarapa, he made a series of lasting alliances that were known as Te Kupenga a Te Huki (the net of Te Huki).

Te Huki had three wives:

  • Te Rangitohumare, granddaughter of Te Whatiāpiti (or Te Whatuiāpiti) of Heretaunga (Hawke’s Bay)
  • Te Ropuhina, a chieftainess of Nūhaka in the northern Kahungunu district
  • Rewanga, daughter of Te Aringa i Waho, chief of Tītīrangi pā at Tūranganui (Gisborne).

These women remained among their own people, and Te Huki visited each at her own home. Their children married the sons and daughters of influential chiefs, and among their descendants were the principal families of Whāngārā–Tūranganui, Mahia, Nūhaka, Wairoa, Heretaunga and Pōrangahau.

How to cite this page:

Mere Whaanga, 'Ngāti Kahungunu - Ngāti Kahungunu become established', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/ngati-kahungunu/page-5 (accessed 13 December 2019)

Story by Mere Whaanga, published 8 Feb 2005, updated 3 Mar 2017