Story: Ngāti Rongomaiwahine

Page 3. Significant places

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The main marae of Ngāti Rongomaiwahine are Tuahuru, Te Rakato, Ruawharo, Māhanga and Kaiuku.

Ikawhenua, or Te Pakake-a-Ruawharo

This area of spiritual significance attracted whales, which would swim right up the channel until they were alongside the whale-shaped rock. On top of the rock was a spring known as Te Puna-a-Tinirau. Ruawharo scattered sand from Hawaiki here.

Te Ara-a-Paikea

This sacred place, the pathway of Paikea, is a whale-shaped hill on the isthmus.


This is a prominent, sacred mountain on the western side of Māhia Peninsula. The wind whistling through a hole on the summit is said to sound like a whale’s call.

Coronation Reserve at Whangawehi

A hollow rock at this reserve was used as a baptismal font in 1842, and the Anglican archdeacon William Williams baptised 245 Māori there. Because of the influence of Christianity in the area many of the meeting houses did not have carvings, which were frowned on by the missionaries as pagan images.


The footprint of Rongokako is embedded here. Rongokako was the son of Tamatea-mai-tawhiti (Tamatea-arikinui), the chief of the Tākitimu canoe. In a contest to win the hand of Muriwhenua, Rongokako took giant strides from Kahuranaki in Hawke’s Bay to Kirihaehae at Māhia, and on to Te Tapuwae o Rongokako near Whāngārā. His footprints were seen at each place.

Te Wai Whakaata-a-Tūtāmure

This pool, on the reef below Maungakāhia, has historical significance. Tūtāmure and his brother Tama Taipūnoa were from the eastern Bay of Plenty tribe, Te Whakatōhea. Seeking to avenge the murder of their sister Tāneroa, and believing the murderer had fled to Maungakāhia, they laid siege to Kahungunu’s there. Tauheikurī, the youngest daughter of Rongomaiwahine and Kahungunu, helped to make peace and saved the lives of her father and people by consenting to marry Tūtāmure. She was escorted to their camp and presented to both brothers. Not knowing which was which, she chose the younger and more handsome brother, Tama Taipūnoa. He tried to push her towards his brother but the girl again offered herself to Tama Taipūnoa. Tūtāmure arose and went to a pool of clear water, looked at his reflection, and conceded that indeed, his brother Tama Taipūnoa was more handsome and therefore should marry Tauheikurī.

Kaiuku pā

The original name of this pā was Okurarenga. In 1832 it was besieged by a combined force of Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Waikato, Te Arawa and Tūhoe, armed with muskets. After three months the defenders had exhausted all their food and resorted to sucking on uku, a white soapy clay. Hence the place was given the name Kaiuku, ‘to eat clay’.

How to cite this page:

Mere Whaanga, 'Ngāti Rongomaiwahine - Significant places', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 1 October 2022)

Story by Mere Whaanga, published 8 Feb 2005, updated 10 Feb 2015