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Ngati Whatua’ Exodus from Muriwhenua

Manawhenua Report

Ref: Manawhenua Report - Te Uri o Hau o Te Wahapu o Kaipara Iwi, by William R Wright

I have already described earlier on this report the ‘origins of Te Uri O Hau O Te Wahapu O Kaipara’ and Ngati Whatua and their ancestral waka – Mahuhu, its migration to Aotearoa and the travel path from the east coast of Aotearoa and finally, after alighting many crew members along the way including the regions of the North, our tupuna, Rongomai and his crew that was left on board arrived safely at Taporapora in the Kaipara harbour.  

After Rongomai was drowned, and his body found off the shores of Pouto, Po (son of Rongomai) and others left Taporapora and travelled back to the north and settled with the people of Kui where he married Takarita. As seen, it was to be their grandchild, Whatua Kai Marie who reportedly became the ancestress of Ngati Whatua.  Ngati Awa and Ngai Tamatea were at this stage scattered through out the regions in the North and were constantly at war with Ngati Whatua and according to Smith, played an “important part in the final departure of Ngati awa in the recordings of A.T.Ngata he had this to say about the Ngati Awa tribe. He said: “this Ngati Awa tribe was fully established round about Kaitaia, Awanui, Rangaunu bay and towards Taipa, and according to the Ngapuhi story that is where the Tamatea finally established themselves”.  

In due course came rising of the Ngati Whatua who were also located at Awanui and in the far North, and the Ngapuhi in the area of the Hokianga, together they “revolted” against the Ngati Awa dominance in the North and as Ani Pihema noted in her manuscript:  “the populating grew in the North, all these tribes warred more and more with each other, and gradually Ngati – Awa began to move southward again. Pressure from the other tribes was not the sole reason for their departure – some divisions quarreled among themselves..some left in peace, motivated only by the restlessness that characterizes the tribe”.  

As the Ngati Awa began to move southward (some remained as they had mixed and intermarried with other tribes such as Ngati Kahu) into the lower North and the Kaipara regions Ngati Whatua moved in and ihabited the very fertile land that Ngati Awa had abandoned around the Victoria valley region, as Smith recorded:  “the headquarters of Ngati Awa during their occupation of the North appears to have been about Kaitaia and the fertile land of Victoria valley : they were here gathered in greatest numbers, and cultivated all the land that was capable of being worked”.  Victor Wright said that he could remember as a young boy being told by the old chief Kawiti from Waiomio that the Ngati Whatua people:  “lived in the Victoria valley, this side of Kaitaia about 350 years ago, drifting down to Kaikohe before coming to the Kaipara region”.  

For how long Ngati Whatua stayed in the regions of the North and Victoria valley is unknown, but from the oral evidence above, the period of three hundred and fifty years would be about the time Haumoewaarangi was mentioned to have arrived in the Kaipara, then as a young warrior. I will write on this little later.  

According to Paora Tuhaere, as Smith noted, the migration of Ngati Whatua to the Kaipara was because of a:  “murder by Ngati-Kahu-mate-ika. That 'people' murdered my ancestor Taureka. That is the people who live at Hokianga”.  Taureka’s death is referred to “as a kohuru” and although details about the specifics of his death is not recorded the Maori response to this type of murder demanded a heavy retribution at the hands of the whole tribe at the “first opportunity”. The “offender” apparently belonged to the branch of Ngati Kahu which lived at the Hokianga and “on that people fell the wrath of Ngati Whatua” as Smith concluded:  “in seeking utu for the kohuru of Taureka, Ngati Whatua, as Paora Tu-Haere says, conquered Hokianga. This means, I take it, the north shore of Hokianga and the heads, and from there as far as Maunga-nui bluff, twenty-five miles south of there: for the Mahurehure people of inland Hokianga have never, it is said, been conquered”.

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