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The Ancient History of the Maori, His Mythology and Traditions. Te Arawa [Vol. VII, English]

Chapter XV

Chapter XV

Oh! though I lay me on my couch,
I do not feel I am at home.
I sleep as sleeps the bird,
With feet drawn tightly up.
Who, whence the man, the noise
Of whom I hear close to my door?
Oh! can it be, and is it he, the Rawe,
The great delight (rawerawe) of Atanga?
Go back, return from near my door;
We each together go, go back.
I left the Rangi-tuturu behind,
At distance now at O-whare-ra,
And hither came to sit and live
In silent lonely home alone.
But now, O man! untie the
Bond that ties thee to thy long-beloved,
And leave that one within thy home,
All free from sacred power bound.
But then the heart would urge
A second and a third return,
To fondle my beloved, my wife.
And I would deem myself
A bird to fly away,
To distant range of Popoki,
That I may not meet death
Within my house and home
Of Nga-toko. Oh! woe is me!


We will again refer to the canoe Tai-nui, as she had sailed on and arrived at these islands [New Zealand], and had sailed into Hau-raki (the Thames) and then on into Tamaki, and had been dragged over the portage of O-tahuhu, and had gone on the sea at Manuka. Now, Manuka (regret) was the old name of this sea, and it is only in modern days that this sea was called by the name of Manu-kau (all birds). The name Manuka is a name brought from the other side of the ocean, and Manu-kau was given as a name to this sea by ancestors of a few generations back.

Tai-nui sailed in the Manuka sea, and went out on the west coast and along on that coast, and entered into Kawhia, where she was dragged on shore, and her crew stayed there. The names of the leaders were these: Hotu-roa (long sob), Hotu-ope (sob of the troop), Hotu-mata-pu (sob of the origin), and two women of high rank, Whaka-oti-rangi (last of the days) and Marama (moon), by whom the kumara and taro were brought to these islands.

From the crew of this canoe the people of Wai-kato and Hau-raki – that is, these people called Nga-ti-maru, Nga-ti-paoa, and Nga-ti-tama-te-ra, the descendants of the three sons of Maru-tu-ahu. Maru-tu-ahu migrated from Kawhia to Hau-raki; and the tribe of Rau-paraha, the Nga-ti-toa, and Nga-ti-rau-kawa were of Tai-nui.

The song chanted at the dragging-out of the Tai-nui and the Arawa from the forest at Hawa-iki was this:—

Drag Tai-nui
Drag the Arawa
Down to the sea.
Hence the chorus
Repeated over thy face,
O crashing thunder!
Heard on my sacred day.

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Traditions of the Taupo
and East Coast Tribes

The names of the earliest Maori inhabitants of the districts of Taupo and Here-taonga (Hawke's Bay) were: At Taupo, Hotu and Rua-kopiri; at Patea, Whiti-kaupeka; at Kaimanawa, Te-o-rutu and Tuhi-ao; at Runanga and Ure-wera, Te-marangaranga; at Upper Mo-haka, Te-maru-wahine; at Here-taonga, Te-whatu-mamoa, Te-koao-pari, Toi, Tane-nui-a-rangi, and Awa-nui-a-rangi.

Hotu and Rua-kopiri

The people who first occupied Taupo and the surrounding country were the followers of Hotu and Rua-kopiri, and they considered the district for ever theirs. Hotu and Rua-kopiri, it is said, came to Taupo by way of Wai-kato and the north. Kura-poto and his followers are said to have arrived in the Arawa canoe, and travelled across from the Bay of Plenty.

On reaching Taupo Kura-poto found the country fully settled by Hotu and Rua-kopiri. Fighting commenced between the two parties, and Kura-poto drove the Hotu to the upper end of Taupo Lake; then peace was made by Kura-poto, and the two people thenceforward resided together in the lake district. The remnant of these tribes still point out Taupo as theirs. [If Kura-poto, who is said to have arrived in the Arawa canoe, found the Taupo country filled with people, where could those people have come from if no earlier migrations took place? For tradition says the Arawa and Tai-nui, and the other canoes named, arrived about the same time.]


This is an account of one of our ancestors who came in the Arawa from Hawa-iki, and travelled to Taupo. It is through Tia (parent) the present name of Taupo is derived. It is so called from the place where he slept, near a small waterfall which [rushed over] a projecting rock on the east side of the lake – viz., Taupo-nui-a-tia: perhaps he slept or rested there long at night.

After the Arawa landed at Maketu, Tia and Maka traveled by way of Kaha-roa, Roto-rua, Horohoro, Whaka-maru, Titi-raupenga, and round the west side of Taupo – the side next to Wai-kato. They did not return to Maketu, but died near Taupo, at Titi-raupenga. Their skulls have been seen by this generation carried to the kumara-grounds that the crops might be plentiful, a custom which is of very ancient date with the Maoris. This is all about these ancestors.

Tia's descendants reside at Taupo. All the great men of the district trace their genealogies back to him nineteen generations:—

Tia, Apa, Tama-apa, Tama-aia, Tama-ariki, Tama-ta-tonga, Ta-te-kura, Tua-hatana, Takapu-manuka, Kahu-pounamu, Tai-mene-harangi, Hiko, wife of Tama-mutu (grandson of Tu-whare-toa), Ka-pawa, Meremere, Rangi-tua-mato-toru, Rangi-hirauea, Tumu, Mania-poto – in all, nineteen generations.

Te Heuheu, Hare-tauteka, and the other chiefs go back to the same ancestor in their genealogies.


This is an account of one of our renowned ancestors who visited the sea of Taupo and the open country, the forests, and the plains around. He came to this island from Hawa-iki in the Arawa canoe, which landed first at Whanga-paraoa (near East Cape), then sailed on to Whakatane and Maketu. After Ngatoro-i-rangi had resided on the coast for a time he travelled inland by way of Kana-kawa, Rua-wahia, Te-puna-takahi. After crossing the Kainga-roa Plains he reached Tauhara Mountain, which he ascended, and from thence looked down on the Sea of Taupo and at the snow-capped Tonga-riro in the distance. From the top of Tauhara he threw a large tree into the lake, a distance of four miles, which is still to be seen by this generation – it is sticking up at the bottom of the lake near Whare-waka. The name of Ngatoro's spear is the Kuwha (thigh). Ngatoro-i-rangi then descended to the shores of the lake, near the Wai-pahihi, and performed incantations, and erected a tuahu (altar) and named it Taha-repa. When he discovered there were no fish in Taupo Lake he scattered the threads of his mat on the waters and performed religious rites, and the lake at once contained fish – viz., the inanga (a fresh-water fish) and the kokopu (Maori trout). He then travelled along the shores of the lake and ascended Tonga-riro, and was there benumbed with cold on that snowy mountain. (His companion Nga-uru-hoe died here from the cold.) So Ngatoro commenced calling out to his sisters to bring him fire from Hawa-iki; for they had been left behind at Hawa-iki. The sound that proceeded from his mouth was like thunder. His sisters heard him, and came at once bringing fire. Their canoe was a taniwha (goblin). The names of the sisters were Kui-wai, Haunga-roa, and Pupu-a-te-hoata. The sisters landed at Whakaari (White Island, Bay of Plenty), and there lit a fire (geyser). They then came on to the mainland at Umapokapoka (a geyser), and then travelled on by the Kainga-roa Plains. This name (Kainga-roa – long at food) was given through Haunga-roa being so long over her food at a place named Whakaaweawe, so called through Haunga-roa following some of her companions to chastise them for remarking on her being so long over her meal. They turned into cabbage-trees, which are still to be seen by travellers, but they always recede as you appear to approach them. The sisters lit a fire (geyser) at Tara-wera Lake, then ascended a hill and looked down on Roto-rua Lake; one of them slipped down here, so they called the place Te-hemo, and lit a fire (geyser) there, and then proceeded on to Pae-roa and O-rakei-koraka, where they lit another geyser, and shortly after arrived at Taupo. But Ngatoro-i-rangi had returned to Maketu, so the sisters determined to join him there. On passing along the Kai-tuna Stream they observed a totara-tree standing near that stream. When they arrived in sight of the pa, and the people saw them coming, they shouted the call of welcome and beckoned them to come to the pa, but they declined, at the same time calling out that the priests should be sent to them to perform the necessary incantations to free them of the curse of Manaia. The priests were accordingly sent, and performed their religious rites to free them of the curse. [Another version of this tradition says that when the sisters arrived at Maketu after their inland excursion they at once entered the pa by climbing over the fences, and then seating themselves on Ngatoro-i-rangi's sacred seat, and that they were afterwards cleansed by the priests from the curse of Manaia.] The sisters then proceeded to the pa, carrying with them the gods – viz., Rongo-mai, Kahu-kura, and others which they had brought with them from the sacred places where Nga-toro-i-rangi had left them. Inquiries were then made for news from Hawa-iki. The sisters informed Nga-toro-i-rangi that they had all been cursed by Manaia. Ngatoro inquired the nature of the curse and the cause thereof. They replied, Manaia had cursed Ngatoro-i-rangi saying, "Are the logs in the forest as sacred as the bones of your brother that you are afraid to use them in cooking, or are the stones of the desert the kidneys of Ngatoro-i-rangi that you do not heat them? By-and-by I will frizzle the flesh of your brother on red-hot stones taken from Wai-korora." The cause of this curse was that Kui-wai, Ngatoro-i-rangi's sister, and wife of Manaia, had not thoroughly cooked the food at a great sacred feast given at Hawa-iki.

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Nga-toro-i-rangi, at hearing this, was much cast down. The cause of his vexation was, he had no canoe with which to pass to Hawa-iki to enable him to destroy the hosts of Manaia, as the Arawa had been burnt to ashes by Raumati. The sisters then related that they had seen a totara in the Kai-tuna Stream. Early on the following morning all the people began to dig up the totara. They did not fell the tree, as they had no axes, so they dug it down and launched it with branches and roots on, which departed seventy twice told (hokowhitu – one hundred and forty). It was by incantations and the help of taniwhas (goblins) that the canoe was propelled. Its name was Totara-karia (the totara dug up). The party landed safely on the other side (Hawa-iki). The tohungas (priests) then instructed the people what to do. They said, "You must strike your noses until the blood runs" – me titoi nga ure – so that they might look like dead men brought there. The people then gave severe blows on their noses, which caused the blood to flow freely. They then laid down on the beach, scattered, as it were, near the sacred places, hiding their weapons under them. The tohungas (priests) retired to the tuahus (altars, sacred places of augury) to perform their incantations. At the dawn of the morning the people of the pa came down to the beach, and, seeing the apparently dead men scattered about, they shouted out, "Here is a work, men scattered all over the beach, sent by the gods. See, they are in our midst." The incantations had done their work. When the people of the pa had all collected on the beach, up jumped the war-party and attacked them. The fight was severe, both sides being numerous. The people of the place retreated to their pa, but many were killed. The tohungas (priests) then performed incantations over the dead to take off the tapu (sacredness). After that the bodies were cooked and eaten. Feasting was hardly over when the people of the pa made an attack, and fighting commenced again; but they were repulsed a second time with great loss, and their pa, named Whaitiri-ka-papa, taken. The name of the battle which was fought in the morning was called Tumotomotohia. The pa was taken on that day, and many of the rangatira (chiefs) killed. Ngatoro and party then, after making proper offerings to the gods, returned and landed at Maketu and Motiti. Ngatoro-i-rangi lived at Motiti.

A short time after this the people of Hawa-iki, led by Manaia, came to seek revenge for their losses. Their party was very numerous both in men and canoes. They arrived off the island of Motiti, in the Bay of Plenty. The old man, Ngatoro-i-rangi, was residing at Motiti with his wife only, his people being all at Maketu. The whole ocean appeared to be covered with the hosts from Hawa-iki. The voice of Ngatoro-i-rangi was then heard calling out and saying to Manaia and his host, "Stay out there for the night; in the morning we will fight, when the sun will reflect the glittering of our weapons." The host agreed to this, and cast out their anchors into the water. Ngatoro-i-rangi then hastened to his tuahu (altar), and performed his incantations and auguries, and called on the winds of heaven, named Tawhiri-matea, Punga-were, and Utu-pawa. Then came the rushing sound of the howling winds. The foam of the raging ocean was like sand-clouds of the desert in a gale. All were destroyed – the great host of Mana-hua were engulfed in the ocean – none escaped. That people were utterly destroyed, and the destruction was called Maikuku-tea. Thus were the people of Hawa-iki destroyed by those of this island, and the curse of Manaia avenged. That Ngatoro-i-rangi and his one hundred and forty picked men afterwards went to Hawa-iki, as stated, and landed at Tara-i-whenua, and that he then consulted with his sister Kui-wai, and from her learned the movements of the people, by which means he was enabled to lay his plans; and that, after the capture of the pa Whaitiri-ka-papa, and the proper incantations and offerings had been made to the gods, another battle took place, called Tarai-whenua-kura, in which Manaia was defeated, and that then Ngatoro-i-rangi and people returned to Maketu and Motiti, and the battle of Taiparipari and Maikuku-tea occurred.

This ends the story of Ngatoro-i-rangi. That tohunga (priest)was the chief priest of the Arawa when they sailed from Hawa-iki. From him are descended the people of Taupo – viz., Tu-whare-toa and Ao-pouri, twenty-five generations:—

Ngatoro-i-rangi, Tanga-roa, Tu-pai, Ira-whitiki, Kiwi, Kake-roa, Rongo-mai-nui, Rongo-mai-roa, Rongo-mai-a-pehu, A-pehu-matua, Mawake-roa, Mawake-taupo, Tu-whare-toa, Rakei-hopukia, Taringa, Tu-te-tawha, Rangi-ita, Piunga-tai, Mahuika, Poinga, Tu-maro, Whatu-pounamu, Taui-teka, Hare-tauteka, Matini-tauteka. So also do the Poihipi, Heuheu, Hohepa, and other chiefs go back to Ngatoro-i-rangi and Tu-whare-toa in their genealogies.