Ngāti Raukawa have two traditional homelands.
The first, in the southern Waikato and northern Taupō districts, centres on Maungatautari, the ancestral mountain of Ngāti Raukawa. Many important ancestral sites – birthplaces, cemeteries, pā sites, houses of learning, and more – are found here. In Ngāti Raukawa tradition, this northern region has three districts. They are referred to as:
- Ngāti Raukawa ki Wharepūhunga – south and east of Te Awamutu between Maungatautari and Waipapa, north of Lake Taupō.
- Ngāti Raukawa ki Te Kaokaoroa-o-Pātetere – the mountain ranges stretching north of Lake Taupō towards the Kaimai Range, west of Tauranga.
- Ngāti Raukawa ki Panehakua – the exact location of Panehakua is no longer known.
The second region is Ngāti Raukawa-ki-te-tonga – Ngāti Raukawa of the south. It stretches from the Rangitīkei River, west of Manawatū, to Kukutauaki Stream just north of Waikanae. A large group of Ngāti Raukawa migrated there from the first region in the early decades of the 19th century.
The house of Raukawa
In this tribal saying, the ancestral homeland of Ngāti Raukawa in the southern Waikato district is likened to a meeting house.
Ko Ranginui te tuanui
Ko Papatuanuku te papa
Ko te poutūārongo kei Pikitū
Ko te poutokomanawa kei Ngātira
Ko te poutāhu kei Tārukenga, kei Te Ngākau
Ōna maihi, taka mai ki Te Wairere
The sky is the roof
The earth is the floor
The rear post stands at Pikitū
The central post stands at Ngātira
The front post stands at Tārukenga, at Te Ngākau
The front barge boards fall toward Te Wairere and Horohoro.
Maungatautari is the traditional mountain of the Ngāti Raukawa people. Located just south of the present township of Cambridge, it has a rich and varied history. It is widely referred to in song, proverbs and literature. This reference comes from a letter written by Ngāti Raukawa chiefs at Ōtaki in 1864:
E hoa e te Kawana tena koe, ko te taha whaitua o Maungatautari, ko te taha ki te Rawhiti, E hoa e te Kawana, kia rongo mai koe, He whakatauki tenei, na nga rangatira o te motu mo Maungatautari, ko te Ure tetehi whaitua, ko te Hika kei tetehi whaitua.
Friend, Governor, greetings. Concerning Maungatautari, particularly in the eastern side, Friend Governor, so that you know, there is a proverb held by the chiefs of the nation concerning Maungatautari. One side [of the mountain] is the male side and the other side is female.
A song by the 19th-century Ngāti Raukawa chief Te Whatanui describes Maungatautari as Te Kura-a-Tauninihi (the sacred treasure of Tauninihi). This refers to a sacred treasure that was brought on the Tainui canoe from Hawaiki in central Polynesia.
When the vessel arrived at Whangaparāoa the crew, mistaking the pōhutukawa and rātā blossom there for the treasure they were carrying, cast it onto the sea. When they pulled ashore, they saw that the blossoms were not what they had thought and turned to see if they could recover the sacred treasure they had hastily thrown overboard.
Te Whatanui’s song likens Maungatautari to this treasure, as the mountain had been ‘discarded’ by his Ngāti Raukawa people when they left to migrate to the south in the early decades of the 19th century.