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Ngāti Hei origins

Ngāti Hei

4.2 Ngāti Hei origins

The waka Te Arawa had come to New Zealand because of trouble in Hawaii, where the head chief, Uenuku, was at war with the father of Tamatekapua, Houmaitawhiti. The dispute had arisen over the killing and eating of Houmaitawhiti’s pet dog, Potakatawhiti. This kūri had been seen unearthing matter from a boil on the person of Uenuku. This matter was buried under tapu, and the dog was captured, killed and eaten by Toitehuatahi and Uenuku (Stafford, 1967, p. 2). Tamatekapua, Houmaitawhiti’s son, had made matters worse by stealing breadfruit from Uenuku’s gardens in revenge for the eating of the whānau dog (kūri). Initially, Tamatekapua was successful with stealing the kai (breadfruit) by using stilts to walk into the Uenuku’s gardens but, when it was discovered that the culprits were human, a trap was laid, and he and his brother Whakaturia were caught in the act. Tamatekapua was able to escape but his

brother was captured alive and taken before the chief Uenuku to be tortured.

Tamatekapua returned to see what help he could offer his brother, and using cunning to lull his enemies he was able to help his brother escape. Their victory did not last long as Uenuku and Toitehuatahi followed the brothers and attacked the village of their father, Houmaitawhiti (Stafford, 1967, pp. 2-5).

Even though it is recorded that Houmaitawhiti and his sons won the battle between these rangatira, it was decided that it was better to migrate to Aotearoa, and therefore the waka Te Arawa was commissioned to be built. The builders of this waka were recorded as being Rata, Wahieroa, Ngahue, and Parata. To help shape the waka they used the toki Hauhauterangi and Tutauru to carve the waka.

These toki were made from a block of greenstone brought back earlier from Aotearoa by Ngahue (Stafford, 1967, p.5).

Other accounts of the Te Arawa waka state that the waka belonged to Puhaorangi, one of the tipuna of Houmaitawhiti. It was actually built in the Tawhitinui forest and dragged down the Hauhau stream to the sea. The builders in these accounts were the same as those stated previously, but as these people lived at different times it seems that the first owners were Wahieroa and his son, Rata, who lived in Hawaii in 800 AD, the other builders being later owners (Rongowhakaata, Halbert, 1999, p. 24).

Evidently the waka Te Arawa had been in the family of Houmaitawhiti for a few generations, as the following whakapapa shows:

Figure 1: Whakapapa of Houmaitawhiti (Stafford, 1967, p. 2) Puhaorangi

Ohomairangi Tumamao

Mawake Ruatapu Tuamatua Houmaitawhiti


Although that table refers to Houmaitawhiti and his son Tamatekapua, the whakapapa we would like to focus on is that of his uncle Hei, who appears in the following table:

Figure 2: Whakapapa of Hei (Stokes, 1992, pp. 17-18) Ohomairangi

Ruamuturangi Taunga Atuamatua

Hei Waitaha Tutauaroa Taiwhanake


However, another fuller variation is the following:

Figure 3: Whakapapa of Hei (Stokes, 1992, p. 78) Houmairangi

Muturangi Tumamao Mawake

Uruika Rangitapu

Taunga Tuamatua

Rakauri Tia Hei Oro Taunga Houmaitawhiti

Ngatoroirangi Tamatekapua

The Te Arawa waka first landed at Whangaparaoa where a sperm whale was found beached. A dispute over the whale with those from the Tainui waka who had arrived earlier erupted, but once again Tamatekapua, using his cunning, claimed ownership. From this point, the waka sailed north and stopped off near Moehau (Cape Colville) on an island called Te Poito o te Kupenga a Taramainuku. Sighting the land from the waka, Tamateakapua claimed Moehau.

The waka travelled on to Reponga (Cuvier Island) and then on to the Bay of Plenty. It was here in the same fashion Tamatekapua claimed Maketu that Tia claimed further back towards Tauranga, and Hei claimed lands from Tauranga back towards Kati Kati. The waka then made landfall at Maketu, where a monument now stands. (Stafford, 1967, pp. 17-18)

Although it is not known exactly how many people were on the Te Arawa, tradition has given us the following names as occupants on the voyage over:

Hei Hatupatu Ihenga

Ika Kahumatamomoe Kawatutu

Kearoa Kurapoto Maaka

Mapara Marupunganui Mawate

Ngatoroirangi Oro Rongomai

Rongopuruao Taikehu Tainininihi

Tamatekapua Tangihia Tapuika

Taunga Tia Tuarotorua

Tuhoromatakaka Tutauaroa Uenukuwhaka-

Rorongarangi Uruika Waitaha

Whakaotirangi (Stafford, 1967, p. 19)

Hei and his son Waitaha occupied the land lying between Te Puke in the east and Kati Kati in the west, although Hei later went to Moehau to be by his nephew, Tamatekapua, where he died. For a short period, Waitaha occupied land in the Otamarakau area, calling a nearby river Waitahanui (Stafford, 1967, p.23). The following whakapapa shows the descent lines from Hei’s son, Waitaha, who settled in the Tauranga/Matata area later during the whānau claim, this became and important factor in establishing the ahi kaa rights of the whānau.

Figure 4: Whakapapa of Waitaha (Stafford, 1967, p. 56)

Hei Waitaha

Tutauaroa Naia Matamoho Oueroa Kuri


Tuahuriri Pikiahu Pou



Timata Matamoho II


Naia travelled inland to Rotoehu, where he settled; Matamoho remained in Maketu. Oueroa went to Taupo to be with the descendants of Tia; while Kuri went south and ended up in the South Island where he stayed. Tuahuriri, the nephew of Kuri, went to the South Island also but it is not known whether he went with his uncle or later. Pikiahu settled at Paengaroa on the banks of the Kaikokopu stream, while Pou and his son Titipa remained on the coast at Maketu. Matamoho II, the son of Tuahuriri, lived at various places between Otamarakau and Matata.

Kinonui, a great-grandson of Waitaha, went and stayed in Tauranga (Stafford, 1967, p. 56).

The following are said to be the words spoken by Hei from the waka claiming ownership over the lands he surveyed from on board Te Arawa:

Te Papa e takoto mai nei

Ko te takapu o taku tamaiti o Waitaha (This land stretching out before me Be the belly of my son Waitaha)

By proclaiming this, Hei laid claim to the Tauranga area as lands for his children.

The first to fulfil the wishes of Hei was his son, Waitaha, then Waitaha’s son Tutauaroa who lived on the slopes of Mauao (Mount Maunganui). Tutauaroa’s son Taiwhanake also lived on Mauao and the following pepeha regarding his mana is still said in some areas of Tauranga Moana.

Ko Mauao te Maunga Ko Tauranga te Moana Ko Taiwhanake te Tangata

Taiwhanake was said to command the mana to request kai through the use of two cloaks, one called Parorouri, the other Parorotea. When he wished for kai from inland, he would display Parorouri, and when he wished for kai from the sea, he would show Parorotea. Thus it was through Tutauaroa, Taiwhanake and his son Kinonui that Waitaha Hei became established in the Tauranga area (Stokes, 1992, pp.17-18).

The Waitaha Hei iwi was further linked to Tauranga through the intermarriage of the people from the Takitimu waka to those from the Te Arawa waka. Hei’s son Waitaha had a child called Ruarangi, who was married to Te Moana Kuia. They had two female children, Ihuparapara and Iwipupu. From Tamateapokaiwhenua’s marriage to Ihuparapara emerged Ranginui, the originator of Ngāti Ranginui of Tauranga moana (Tata, 1990, pp. 2-3). Kinonui descends from Ngāti Hei on his father’s side and from Ngāti Ranginui on his mother’s side. The following is an example of his Ranginui side (Tata, 1990, p. 30):

Figure 5: Whakapapa of Kinonui – Ngāti Ranginui side (Stokes, 1992, p. 78) Tamateapokaiwhenua = Ihuparapara

Ranginui Tamateuru

Tamaiti Nukupango

Kokoti Kinonui Kinomoerua Ngaparetaua

Puhirake Ruru Tapukino

The ahi kaa has been kept alive for Waitaha Hei in Tauranga moana until the present day. However, there was a setback under Taiwhanake’s son, Kinonui, as he and many Waitaha Hei and Ngāti Ranginui were killed by Ngāi Te Rangi under the leadership of Rangihouhiri himself: during the Heke O Rangihouhiri, and later under the leadership of his grandson Kotorerua, who began hostilities again. Kinonui was killed and Ngāti Ranginui and Waitaha Hei were scattered after a stealthy and well co-ordinated attack on Mauao (Mount Maunganui).

Kotorerua attacked to obtain revenge for the killing of his father and brother, Tuwhiwhia and Tauaiti: a combined party of toa from Ngāti Ranginui and Waitaha Hei had killed them at Otaiparia at Te Tumu. These killings were in return for the killing of Taurawheke (Stokes, Vol 2, pp.63-64)

After the first onslaught at Mauao, many remnants still remained around Tauranga; some moving to Rotoiti and others back to Otamarakau (Stokes, 1992, pp.59-68). To this day Waitaha Hei is still living in and around Tauranga, either intermarried into Ngāti Ranginui or Ngāi Te Rangi or, as at Manoeka and Pukehina, still as Waitaha Hei. Perhaps the most comprehensive description of the trip from Hawaii and the settlement of the Ngāti Hei and Waitaha Hei iwi in the Tauranga rohe come from the thesis of Alistair Reece entitled “Whakarongo mai Koutou? Ko te reo o Waitaha he iwi whakarearea (Are you listening The voice of Waitaha A forgotten people)”. He writes: “our ancestors Ngāti Ohomairangi built Te Arawa for the migration to Tiriti Moana, the land discovered by their tupuna Kupe. The waka was launched at Rangiatea in Hawaii, and was steered on course in line with the star Whakaahu. The waka was almost lost in the whirlpool ‘Te korokoro o te parata’, but through karakia, Ngatoroirangi was able to save the waka. Our tupuna Hei was on the waka as was his son Waitaha. Hei and his twin brother Tia were the sons of Atua Matua by his wife Karika. Houmaitawhiti was one of their brothers”. Alistair Reece further explains: “Te Arawa landed at Whangaparaoa in Tai Tokerau. After leaving Whangaparaoa the canoe travelled east and landed on the island later named Te Poito o te Kupenga o Taramainuku. While there, Tamatekapua pointed out the summit and named it Moehau, Hei made a Taumau claiming Te Whanganui a Hei, in the area now known as Te Ha o Hei (Hahei)”.

According to the research of Reese, the older brother of Waitaha was Tahuwhakatiki; he left the waka in what is now known as the Whangarei area, and his descendents are the Ngāti Hei and Ngāti Wai of that area. The mountain at the

entrance to Whangarei harbour is named Hikurangi after his son. Hei laid the mauri for Ngāti Hei on Papamoa. When he claimed the land for his son Waitaha, he pointed out Te Kurei o Papamoa, which is also referred to as Te Rae o Papamoa. Alistair Reese states that Hei is buried at Moehau along with Tamatekapua. Hei took Tamatekapua back to Moehau; he was sick and had his last Kai at Papamoa (Reese, Thesis, pp. 37-38). According to Reese’s research, Waitaha was the son of Hei and Ngataiwhakaki. He was said to have had 22 children. Waitaha married Te Ngaruhora, Ruapotango, and Irakau. From these three wives came Te Manutohikura, Naaia, Mura, Ruarangi, Kumaramaoa, Tutauanui, Rongomaitane, Tutauaroa, Tahuwera, Matamoho, Tamatunui, Taunga, Tuterangiharuru, Kuri, and Papawhero.

Te Manutohikura settled on Maungamana on Papamoa where he shared occupation with Tamateaarikinui of the Takitimu waka. Straight out from Maungamana is Otira.

Naia occupied the Papamoa Pa located above the rock face known as Te Rae o Papamoa. Mura went to Hauraki. Ruarangi occupied a pa on Te Rae o Papamoa called Te Ihu o Ruarangi and Karangaumu. The daughters of Ruarangi, Ihuparapara and Iwipupu, married Tamateapokaiwhenua. From this union was born Ngāti Ranginui and Ngāti Kahungungu. Ngāti Ranginui and Waitaha were linked together as one people until the time of Ranginui II. Tutuanui occupied Waimapu in Tauranga. Tutauaroa occupied Mauao, as did his sons, Taiwhanake and Kinonui. He then left and settled at Otamarakau with his other sons, Pou and Tuahuriri, and they settled the area from Pukehine to Otamarakau. Tahuwera and

his younger brother Taunga occupied the inland places at Matawhaura, Rotoiti, and Rotoma. Tahuwera married Pikirarunga, daughter of Uruika, from whence Ngāti Pikiao descends. Matamoho and Tumatuanui settled from Waihi to Pukehina. Kuri went to Te Waipounamu with his nephew Tuahuriri. Papawhero was the daughter of Waitaha. Her great grand daughter Papawharanui married Rangatihi and begot Tuhourangi. Waitaha occupied from Ngā Kuri a Wharei (Kati Kati) to Otamarakau on the Tauranga Moana side. Otawa is the Maunga of Waitaha Hei. The boundary of Waitaha Hei and Ngāti Ranginui was along the Waimapu River and the Waiari rivers. The principal Hapū of Waitaha Hei are Ngāti Haraki, Ngāti Te Moemiti, Ngāti Reremanu, Ngāti Kahu, and Ngāti Te Puku O Hakoma (Reese, Thesis, pp 39-43).

Figure 6: Boundaries of Waitaha c1700 (Stokes, 1992, fig 1.2, p. 27)

Figure 7: Significant Waitaha sites (Jackson, 2001) Waitaha Wai 664 GIS Map Book prepared by Moira Jackson, Crown Forest Rentals Trust, and Terralink, NZ, February 2001.

As previously mentioned the chief Hei went to Coromandel and established himself there with Te O a Hei and Te Whanganui o Hei (Mercury Bay) respectively named after him. At one stage, Ngāti Hei territory in Coromandel extended from Opoutere, south of Tairua, to Kennedy Bay in the north, but this tribal estate was compressed in the early nineteenth century by attacks from Ngāti Tamatera of Ngāti Maru, and by Ngapuhi of Northland (Bennet, 1986, pp. 14-15).

Ngāti Hei endured a long period of conflict with the Ngāti Maru peoples and apart from isolated incidents, they managed to keep away from major conflicts, unlike their relations Ngāti Huarere who were hounded into submission by Ngāti Maru.

(Turoa & Royal, 2000, p.49). It is believed that the rangatira Hei died in Coromandel but the exact location of his resting place is unknown. However, some authors such as Mizen are adamant that he was buried at Te O a Hei, which is now known just as Hahei. (Mizen, 1997, p.178).