Story: Ngāti Awa

Statue of Wairaka and Moutohorā (Whale Island)

Statue of Wairaka and Moutohorā (Whale Island)

In the foreground of this photograph is the rock Turuturu-Roimata, which is just off the coast from the landing place of the Mataatua canoe. The statue on top of the rock depicts Wairaka, the daughter of Toroa, captain of the canoe. When the canoe started drifting back out to sea she is said to have saved it by grabbing a paddle and crying out ‘Kia whakatāne au i ahau!’ (I will act like a man). This incident is said to be the origin of Whakatāne’s name. The island in the distance is Moutohorā (Whale Island), a volcanic island nine kilometres offshore, where Ngāti Awa traditionally collected tītī (muttonbirds). Moutohorā is now a wildlife refuge.

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Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand
Photograph by Peter Hodsell

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How to cite this page:

Layne Harvey, 'Ngāti Awa - Early history', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 14 June 2024)

Story by Layne Harvey, published 8 Feb 2005, updated 1 Mar 2017