Story: Ngāti Whātua

Page 2. The tribes of Ngāti Whātua

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Te Roroa

Te Roroa are based at Waimamaku valley, Waipoua Forest, Maunganui Bluff and Kaihū valley. They are descended from the ancestor Manumanu I and his brother Rangitauwawaro, who migrated from Muriwhenua to the Waimamaku valley. There, they and their descendants intermarried with, and brought together, the local peoples of Ngāi Tuputupuwhenua, Te Tini-o-Kui, Te Uri-o-Nuku (from the Ngātokimatawhaorua canoe), Ngāti Ruanui (of the Māmari canoe), Ngāti Kahu and Ngāi Tamatea (from the Tinana, Māmaru and Tākitimu canoes), Ngāti Miru (of the Mataatua canoe), and other tribes including Ngāti Rangi and Ngāti Ririki.

Manumanu II (the son of Manumanu I), Rongotaumua (the son of Rangitauwawaro) and their descendant Toa extended Te Roroa’s influence further. They gradually took control of Kaihū and the upper northern Wairoa River, including fortifications on the strategically important mountains of Maungaraho and Tokatoka. Toa’s grandsons (the children of his eldest son Tiro) added to this legacy: Te Waiata and his son, the famous tohunga Tāoho, had authority over Kaihū and Maunganui Bluff; Te Maunga over Waipoua; Te Toko over Taiāmai; Te Māra over Waimamaku; and Paekoraha over Waiwhatawhata and Hunoke. Toa's descendants through his three wives included the important 19th-century chiefs Te Tāua, Tiopira Kīnaki, Parore Te Āwha and Te Tirarau.

Te Roroa take their name from Manumanu II, who was killed in a battle at Kawakawa in the Bay of Islands. He was so brave that his enemies exclaimed, ‘Te Hei! Te roroa o te tangata, rite tonu ki te kahikatea!’ (Behold! That man is as tall as a white pine!)

Te Uri-o-Hau and Te Taoū

Te Uri-o-Hau came to control the northern part of Kaipara Harbour and Te Taoū the south. This happened when Ngāti Whātua expanded south among the resident tribes of Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Ririki and Ngāti Mārua.

Both Te Uri-o-Hau and Te Taoū descend originally from Haumoewhārangi (also spelt as Houmoewārangi or Haumaiwārangi). He had travelled down the Kaihū valley and northern Wairoa River to settle at Poutō, on the northern side of the Kaipara Harbour entrance, but was killed during a dispute over kūmara (sweet potato) gardens. Haumoewhārangi’s widow Waihekeao formed an alliance with Kāwharu, a famous warrior chief from Tainui, who led several ferocious campaigns through the Kaipara area. The most destructive of these was known as Te Raupatu Tīhore (the stripping conquest), where Kāwharu stormed along the west coast of the Waitākere Ranges from Muriwai to the Manukau Harbour entrance.

The descendants of the five children of Haumoewhārangi and Waihekeao – Mawake, Whiti, Rongo, Mauku, Riunga, Weka and Hakiputatōmuri – eventually took control of north and south Kaipara Harbour and the inland region as far east as Whangārei, Wellsford and Mangawhai Heads. Hakiputatōmuri was the founder of Te Uri-o-Hau, and Mawake was the founding ancestress of Te Taoū.

The exact origin of the name Te Taoū is obscure. One account suggests that it comes from Hakiputatōmuri and his people, known as Te Taoū (the spears) because of their deeds during war. Another says that the name is taken from Toutara, Haumoewhārangi’s granddaughter, who was killed by a spear (tao) thrust through her chest (ū). The conquest of south Kaipara Harbour was completed by Haumoewhārangi’s great grandson, Tumupākihi, and his son Waha-akiaki.

Ngāti Whātua-o-Ōrākei

When Te Taoū became the dominant tribe in south Kaipara Harbour, the main tribe in Auckland was Te Wai-o-Hua, led by Kiwi Tāmaki. Although the two tribes were linked through marriage, the southerly expansion of Ngāti Whātua was the source of much tension between them. This came to a head at the funeral of Tumupākihi. Kiwi Tāmaki attended with several of his warriors, and midway through the feast surprised and attacked their hosts, killing several of them. Tumupākihi’s son Waha-akiaki, his cousin Tūperiri and others escaped to Te Mākiri, the pā of Waha-akiaki, where Kiwi laid an unsuccessful siege. Before leaving, Kiwi threatened to hang Waha-akiaki’s breastbone on Maungakiekie (One Tree Hill). Waha-akiaki replied he would hang Kiwi's breastbone on a pūriri tree at Tauwhare.

The subsequent conflict culminated in a battle at Paruroa (now known as Big Muddy Creek) at Manukau Harbour, where Waha-akiaki killed Kiwi Tāmaki about 1741. During the battles that followed, Waha-akiaki and Tūperiri conquered all of central Auckland. The core members of Te Taoū stayed at Kaipara Harbour under Waha-akiaki, while a division under Tūperiri remained in Auckland. This second group eventually became known as Ngāti Whātua or Ngāti Whātua-o-Ōrākei.

During the early to mid-19th century Te Ōtene Kikokiko became the leader of Te Taoū in south Kaipara Harbour, and Āpihai Te Kawau became the leader of Auckland’s Ngāti Whātua. Te Wai-o-Hua continued to live alongside Ngāti Whātua, but mainly in south Auckland. Several hapū (clans or descent groups), such as Te Uringutu and Ngā Oho, included members from both tribes.

How to cite this page:

Rāwiri Taonui, 'Ngāti Whātua - The tribes of Ngāti Whātua', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 19 April 2024)

Story by Rāwiri Taonui, published 8 Feb 2005, updated 22 Mar 2017