Story: Ngāti Tūwharetoa

Page 1. Lands and people

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Ko Tongariro te maunga
Ko Taupō-nui-a-Tia te moana
Ko Ngāti Tūwharetoa te iwi
Ko Te Heuheu te tangata.
Tongariro is the mountain
Taupō is the lake
Tūwharetoa are the people
Te Heuheu is the man.

Ngāti Tūwharetoa’s tribal territory is in the central North Island, around the Lake Taupō water catchment area. The boundaries are:

  • north – near Mihi’s bridge south of Reporoa
  • west – Tītīraupenga, the Hauhungaroa Ranges and south-west to Taumarunui
  • east – the Kaimanawa Ranges
  • south – Tongariro National Park.

There are also many families of Ngāti Tūwharetoa living in the Moawhango, Bulls and Tokorangi areas. There is a saying in Ngāti Tūwharetoa: ‘Ko te tomokanga o te iwi ki te tonga, ki Tokorangi’ (the gateway to Tūwharetoa in the south is at Tokorangi).

There are several sub-tribes of Ngāti Tūwharetoa which have grouped under two names:

  • Te Mātāpuna: these people live in the south of Motutaiko, the island in Lake Taupō, and on the lake’s southern shores. Their name indicates that they are the source of tribal life.
  • Te Hikuwai: these groups are north of Motutaiko. Their name means ‘the reservoir’, as they live where the waters of the lake join the Waikato River.
How to cite this page:

Martin Wikaira, 'Ngāti Tūwharetoa - Lands and people', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 17 June 2024)

Story by Martin Wikaira, published 8 Feb 2005, updated 1 Mar 2017