Story: Ngāti Porou

Page 3. Toi descendants

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Conflicts with related neighbouring tribes led to the spread of influence of Porourangi’s descendants in the region. These many major kin groups were descended from the ancestor Toi, and were referred to by Apirana Ngata as Ngā Uri o Toi. Among them were:

  • Ruawaipū (later Ngāi Tuere), in the territory north of the Maraehara valley to Te Araroa and Wharekāhika (Hicks Bay)
  • Te Wahineiti, in the southern part of the Waiapu valley
  • Uepōhatu, between Tūpāroa and Reporua on the sea coast and inland to the base of Mt Hikurangi
  • Ngāti Ruanuku and sections of Te Wahineiti, from Whareponga, Akuaku and Waipiro on the coast into the mountainous hinterland
  • Ngāti Ira, commanding the inland ranges from the back of Mangatū (west of Gisborne) to the southern part of Mt Hikurangi and the coast at Tūpāroa.

Ngāi Tuere

In the conflict known as Te Heke a Ngāi Tuere, the descendants of Tuere (Porourangi’s grandson) reclaimed the northern territory of the Ruawaipū people, who were invaded by the Bay of Plenty tribe Ngā Oho. When Ngā Oho killed the Ruawaipū chief Tamatea-arahia, his daughter Tamatea-ūpoko and others fled to Whāngārā. Tamatea-ūpoko was married to Porourangi’s descendant, Ue-kaiahu. Their sons Raramatai, Tahania, Uetaha and Tamakoro were determined to avenge the chief’s death and regain their mother’s territory.

To defeat Ngā Oho, they set off on an arduous trek, described by Ngata as ‘the last deliberately planned warlike expedition to traverse on foot the whole length of the Ngāti Porou territory’. 1 This episode took several years. The final strategy of Uetaha’s warriors was to draw out the enemy forces until they were thin and straggling, and then mount a counter-attack. Pākanui was to use a similar tactic in his campaigns at Whareponga to avenge the death of Poroumata.

The descendants of Ruawaipū who married into Porourangi stock took the name Ngāi Tuere because of this conquest.

Taua, Māhaki and Hauiti

A major conflict occurred in Ūawa (Tolaga Bay) after the brothers Taua and Māhaki helped themselves to fish caught by their younger brother Hauiti. They began to fight, and Hauiti ousted his brothers from the region, spreading the influence of Porourangi further afield.

Taua settled in the region to the north-west of Ūawa, and gave rise to the founding ancestor Apanui Waipapa, after whose grandson Apanui Ringamutu the tribe Te Whānau-ā-Apanui was named.

The second brother, Māhaki, settled in the Waiapu Valley, marrying Hinemākaho, sister of the Ngāti Ruanuku chief Poroumata. Their warrior descendants included Hiakaitāria, Tukiumu and their sister Rākaitemania. They provided some of the key ancestors who established title to land blocks in the lower Waiapu Valley during the land court investigations of the late 19th century.

The third brother, Hauiti, remained in the Ūawa region. His name was given to the sub-tribe Te Aitanga a Hauiti because of his incursions into Uepōhatu territory, his ousting of the powerful Ngāti Ira tribe from the territory, and his descendants’ strategic marriages.


Another significant incident was the murder of Poroumata at coastal Whareponga. Poroumata, a descendant of Porourangi, lived peacefully there as chief of Ngāti Ruanuku; it was his sons who caused the tragedy. They plundered the fishing nets of the common folk without his knowledge, and ultimately Poroumata and his sons were killed at sea. However, his three daughters Materoa, Tāwhipare and Te Ataakura survived. Ngata ranked these women ‘amongst the most outstanding members of the Porourangi line who bred its greatest chiefs and most celebrated warriors.’ 2

To avenge the murder, Tūwhakairiora (son of Te Ataakura) set out to annihilate Ngāti Ruanuku from the north, while from the south his nephew Pākanui’s army swept through Te Wahineiti and the remaining Ngāti Ruanuku people. These two ancestors have had enormous influence in the modern settlement of the tribe, and provide an important genealogical foundation for all of Porourangi’s descendants.

Ngāti Ira

The powerful Ngāti Ira once held sway from Mangatū and along the mountainous hinterland to Tūpāroa on the coast. The conquest of the tribe was the result of many conflicts with Porourangi’s descendants. According to Ngata, the assault came from three sides – from the south by Tūtepuaki, from the east by Kahukuranui, son of Hauiti, and from the north by the grandsons of Tamaihu (Te Atau, Kūkū, Korohau and Rongotangatakē).

  1. Apirana T. Ngata, Porourangi School of Maori Culture, rauru-nui-a-toi course, 1972. › Back
  2. Porourangi School of Maori Culture, rauru-nui-a-toi course. › Back
How to cite this page:

Tamati Muturangi Reedy, 'Ngāti Porou - Toi descendants', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 17 June 2024)

Story by Tamati Muturangi Reedy, published 8 Feb 2005, updated 1 Mar 2017