Ngaherehere is an ancestor whose origin has not been clearly stated by his principal descendants, or recorded. But it is clear that he descended from Tahu-potiki and Tama-te-rangi, as shown in his genealogy recorded in this book. Some of his descendants say that he lived at Mahia, whilst others say that he came from inland of Whakaki. Wherever he came from it is clear that he and his family first pitched his camp at Matiti, opposite the Ruataniwha pa, on the Huramua Estate. When he arrived at Matiti, Tapuwae, the principal chief of Te Wai-roa, drove him off the place. Proceeding further along the Wairoa River he made another attempt to settle at Awamate. Tapuwae again seeing this, and not wanting to start a quarrel, lit a fire near Ngaherehere's camp as an indication that he, Tapuwae, also owned this land. The former seeing this again moved on, and this time proceeded right off Tapuwae's territory to a place just above the present Marumaru Hotel.
He built his pa above the Wairoa River and named it Te Rapu, meaning "seeking a place." He also had a cultivation called Tahapaua. Ngaherehere had previously married a woman named Rurea, and at this time had six grown sons, namely: Wai-o-tuawatea, Torere, Parua, Pakura, and two others.
After he had established himself, his family, and a number of followers, he was visited by a man named Tamaroki. It happened that this Tamaroki, with his father Tutaki, and adherents, lived in a double pa called Whare-kopae, situated near and above the junction of the Ruakituri River above Te Reinga Falls. One end of this pa was occupied by Puraho and his following, who had the upper hand of their neighbours. On a page 153certain day a quarrel took place between the two leaders over an eel-pond, which resulted in Tutaki being killed. Tamaroki, the son, realising the supreme power of his opponents, decided to allow the matter to cool off without showing any intention of avenging the killing of his father. After some time elapsed and affairs had gone on as usual, Tamaroki slipped away quietly to seek assistance. Passing the pa of Ngaherehere and having no faith in the power of the latter, he continued his journey and reached the pa of a renowned warrior named Te Whakahu. On the request for help being placed before the chief, it was turned down, Whakahu saying that he did not want to intrude in any family quarrel. A similar request was put to other chiefs but met the same reply.
Tamaroki having met with no success turned his face homeward, and staggered along the road down-hearted and hopeless. On again reaching the pa of Ngaherehere he decided to make a final effort by trying to secure the service of Ngaherehere and his small band of warriors. On putting his request before Nga-herehere, the latter replied, "Ha! haere ake nei, hoki mai nei, a, peka mai nei" ("What! going past; returning, then calling here.") is used even to the present day whenever a set of circumstances warrants the taunt. Tamaroki meekly apologised for treating Ngaherehere as a last resort and said that he had hoped to have received help from those to whom he had willingly supplied food in the past. Ngaherehere accepted the apology and agreed to help his neighbour in battle. There and then they planned the conquest.
Tamaroki outlined the position of the pa and requested that in the event of victory his own people in the western end of the pa should be spared. To this Ngaherehere agreed. A night was agreed upon for the attack and a rendezvous appointed at a spot below the Te Reinga falls. Ngaherehere suggested a subtle plan to catch the enemy off their guard and Tamaroki hastened home to put the plan into operation.
When the night of the attack drew near Tamaroki suggested to all the people, as the chosen night was a particularly suitable one for the catching of eels, that an eeling expedition be arranged. This was agreed upon. Nothing was left to chance by the wily Tama. As the night promised to be a cold one he arranged plentiful supplies of firewood and cooked food to be prepared so that when the men returned tired and cold from their fishing they would be warmed and fed. Anticipating the results of the expedition a goodly supply of tuna, all were in page 154good spirits and amenable to the murderous plan. The women prepared the flax baskets to hold the cooked food and the eels while the men prepared their eeling devices. It was arranged by Tama that his enemy divide into two groups, one to go up the Hangaroa River and the other to fish the Ruakituri River, both of which junctioned above the falls near the pa. His own party was to go downstream from the falls. He also arranged that no party should terminate its fishing activities until midnight.
At the time appointed the three parties left for their respective stretches of water, although Tamaroki's thoughts were far from the catching of the slippery tuna. On arriving at the pre-arranged spot he found that Ngaherehere and his men had already arrived. He laid before them a plentiful supply of cooked food, which thoughtful act was greatly appreciated by the visitors. Perhaps these men had previously been living on short commons, as the story tells us that before leaving home Ngaherehere had arranged that his nearest neighbour, Whetete, should act as guardian of his kumara and taro plantations which, in his absence, were likely to be ruined by woodhens or pukeko.
Punctually at midnight the two fishing parties from upstream arrived back at the pa laden with tuna and tired and hungry. They dropped down before the large fires to get warm. They were fed by the women folk, and there before the fires they dropped off to sleep. For most of them it was a fatal sleep. Tamaroki led the combined forces of attackers to the home pa, and while they waited for the dawn and the attack, Ngaherehere made the remark that has lived through the years, to be still used in the present day in one form or another as the circumstances dictate, "Ka moe te mata hii tuna, ka ara te mata hii taua" ("The eyes, of the eel fishers are closed, but the eyes of the watchman are wakeful").
As the half-light of dawn gave the waiting warriors sufficient light, they fell upon the sleeping men. There was little fighting, and the crafty plan met its reward, an almost complete massacre of the inhabitants of the eastern end of the pa. As often happened in such fights, however, one named Puraho, who was the culprit in the original cause of the trouble, escaped and fled. Few others escaped, except some of the women, who fled towards Te Arai. They were chased, and on the hill leading up to Tiniroto Ngaherehere caught a very handsome woman. Her beauty impressed him, so he spared her life by making her his second wife and naming her Hopu-ara, or "caught on the track."
Ngaherehere subsequently absorbed Tamaroki, people and pa, page 155under his own chieftainship. In the course of time he married a third wife named Tiringa. He was a keen and skilful fighter and made some successful raids on the people of the Te Arai Valley. A lady named Hine-te-urunga became his fourth wife, and her descendants are still well known in Poverty Bay as the Ngai Te Aweawe.