Te timatatanga o Rongowhakaata – The Beginnings of Rongowhakaata
Kia hoki nei au ki runga i te mauri o to tatou tipuna a Ru-au-moko, Kia papatu-i-te-onekura, kia papatu-i-te-ahurewa,
Ki nga tuahu o te Rangi-tu-Roua, o Ruamatua-mai-Hawaiki….
Tu a te Kahukura, ka tutu mai te Heihei, Tu a te Kahukura, ka tutu mai te Roki, He Kahukura a uta, he Kahukura a tai, Ka pu, ka rea kai waho e….
Kai to ariki tapu, kai to mana whakatiketike, Kai a hukahukanui kai a hukuhukaroa,
Tupore kau nuku, tupore kaukau e takoto ake nei e…. I… e…Maranga mai!
Tenei ka hapai ake i te kawa nui, I te kawa roa, i te kawa tapu,
I te kawa whakatiketike a Rongowhakaata ki te aio o te rangi, Koia kai Tikitiki-o-nga-Rangi ngahuru ma rua,
Kia tu haha!
Homai ra ko te ihi, ko te wana, ko te mana a nga Atua
I whakaraurikatia ai ki teneki whenua taurikura,
Hai pou-tuhiri mou e Rongo, hai pou-whakaata mou e Rongo, Hai poutu-atamai e Rongo e …
Kia tiramarama a nuku, kia tiramarama a rangi, Uhi – wero – tau mai te Mauri!
In the beginning there was nothing, Te Kore, and from that nothing came Io. Io is the primal god, the original god who existed at the very beginning of time. Everything descends from Io, all gods, all demi-gods and all of the issue of Io’s descendants Ranginui and Papatuanuku. Rongowhakaata traditions, like those of other iwi and hapu, recognise Io as the core of all gods. As Io-nui he is greater than all other gods. As Io-roa his life is everlasting, he knows no death and as Io-matua kore he is the parentless parent of all gods and of all the heavens.
In Maori tradition, there is not one heaven, but twelve. The greatest and most important is Te-Toi-o-nga-Rangi, the dwelling place of Io. Then in descending order are the heavens Tiri-Tiri-o-Matangi, Ranginaoariki, Ranginui-ka-tika, Rangi-mataura, Rangi-tauru-nui, Rangi-matawai, Rangi-marei-kuri, Rangi-parauri, Rangi-tamaku,
Ranginui a-tamaku and Rangi-te-wawana. These are the twelve heavens which are sometimes alluded to as Nga-rangi-I-roherohea-a-Tane (the heavens separated by Tane), Nga-rangi-tokerau-a-Tane (the inaccessible heavens of Tane) and Rangi- tokerau-a-Tane (the distant heavens of Tane). Within each of the twelve heavens in an eternal time and space, resides Io in his innumerable forms, the supreme god, the primal god, the god that was before there were gods. Io, in Maori mythology and tradition including that of Rongowhakaata, represents the beginning of all things.
Then in the night regions of soft light Io then established Hawaiki, the great Hawaiki (Hawaiki-nui), the extensive Hawaiki (Hawaiki-roa), the far distant Hawaiki (Hawaiki-pamamao) and the sacred Hawaiki (Hawaiki-tapu) where Io himself in his eternal now elected to dwell with his divine assistants created by him. Hawaiki then became the abode of the gods with the exception of Hawaiki-tapu. No one, not even the other gods, could enter the sacred realm of Hawaiki-tapu – this was reserved for Io alone. After he created the nights and Hawaiki, Io then deigned to create the first parents, Ranginui and Papatuanuku:
Ranginui Papatuanuku me o raua tamariki – Ranginui, Papatuanuku and their children
The traditions relating to Ranginui and Paptuanuku are well known and will not be traversed here in detail. Rongowhakaata, like all tribes, descend from the union of Ranginui the skyfather and Papatuanuku the earth mother. Equally important from this union are the many offspring, the gods of Maori tradition and mythology that permeate every element and aspect of existence in the Maori world. Uru-te-te-nga- nga-na was the origin of heavenly bodies and with Roiho and Roake gave light to the forefront and back of Rangi. Then came Haepuru and Haematua, the guardians of the stars and heavenly lights respectively. Whiro te tipua the personification of disease, darkness, evil and death followed by Tawhirimatea the god of all earthly winds and storms. Across the oceans came Tangaroa, god of fisheries who with Kiwa the lord of the oceans and Rona controller of the tides exercised authority over the vast and plentiful oceans surrounding Aotearoa. Tumatauenga, the well known god of war followed by Te Ikaroa, guardian of the milky way.
Rakamaomao personified the guardian of sacred birds while Rongomaraeroa personified kumara and was the deity of cultivated foods and of peace. Tawhirirangi personified heavenly winds. Other gods descending from Ranginui and Papatuanuku included Tangaiwaho the guardian to life in the world. Rauru-matua and Rongowhakaata were the guardians of wananga. Uruao was the guardian of the female element assisted by Ruataumata and Rongomaituwaho. Takatua was the guardian of occult knowledge while Ruaumoko was the guardian of earthquakes, volcanoes and tidal waves. There are many other issue of Ranginui and Papatuanuku responsible for other celestial and earthly realms.
However, as foreshadowed previously, Rongowhakaata, like other tribal ancestors, is himself a descendant of the union of Ranginui and Papatuanuku as set out in the following whakapapa:
Nga tipuna i mua i te hekenga mai i Hawaiki – The Pre-Migration Peoples
As demonstrated above, the ancestors of Rongowhakaata descend from Io-matua kore, the primal god and Rangi and Papa, the sky father and earth mother. The ancestors of Rongowhakaata also connect by whakapapa to the pre-migration peoples, Te Hapuoneone, Maruiwi, Nga Marama, Nga Maihi, Nga Potiki, Te Marangaranga and Te Tini o Toi, the multitude of Toi Te Huatahi or Toi Kairakau, as he is commonly known. Most tribes of the North island descend from the ancestor Toi and his sons Rauru and Awanuiarangi I. As Best acknowledges, Toi Te Huatahi is the founder of many tribes:3
“From this Toi are descended many tribes, though probably there were other early migrants to New Zealand unrelated to Toi, who founded tribes, …However this may be, it is certain that these various early tribes of the Bay of Plenty district inter- married, so that every descendant thereof could claim descent from Toi.”
Rongowhakaata is no exception to this. The following whakapapa confirms the genealogical link of Rongowhakaata back to the ancestor Toi Te Huatahi, one of the cornerstone founding ancestors of most tribal groups of the North Island:
Te hekenga mai o Horouta i Hawaiki – The Migration of Horouta
As with the traditions surrounding Ranginui and Papatuanuku, the migration of the Horouta and Takitumu waka are well known events in the history to this region. Therefore, it is not proposed to traverse those traditions in significant detail other than to provide a brief outline of the migration to link Toi, the ancestors on the two waka and the flourishing of their descendants in subsequent centuries leading to the emergence of Rongowhakaata in Turanganui-a-Kiwa. According to historical traditions, the Horouta canoe called in at various places along the Tairawhiti coast until it was beached at Turanganui-a-Kiwa. Some traditions acknowledge Kiwa as the first person to set foot on the land and thereafter the area became known as Turanganui-a-Kiwa, the standing place of Kiwa. According to Halbert, the migration of the Horouta canoe took place in the early part of the fourteenth century under the leadership of Paoa. Horouta traveled around the Tairawhiti coastal region stopping at several locations and exploring the areas where the canoe landed. Halbert recounts how Horouta originally landed in the Gisborne region at Muriwai, south of the present day township. He recounts how Paoa’s sister Hinehakirirangi was the first person to step ashore, and as detailed later, planted the first kumara in the region.
Rongowhakaata traditions acknowledge Horouta as the principal waka on which the ancestors of the tribe journeyed to Aotearoa. While there are certainly strong genealogical connections to the ancestors and descendants of those on board Takitimu, it is the Horouta waka that is definitive for Rongowhakaata. The travels of Paoa and the waka Horouta have been immortalised in the famous waiata Haramai a Paoa set out below. It recounts the arrival of the waka into the area and the journey of Paoa into the wider region. Reference is also made to the Motu and Waipaoa Rivers.
Haramai a Paoa
Haramai a Paoa i runga i tona waka ia a
Ka pakaru ki Tuaranui a Kanawa
Ka haramai ki uta Ki te rapa Haumi Ki te rapa Punaki Ka kitea te Haumi Ka kitea te Punaki E kaikamakama
Ka mua tona mimi Rere ana Motu Rere ana Waipaoa
Ko Kopututea te putanga ki waho Kia unu mai tona kuri e pakia mai ra E nga ngaru o te moana e takato nei huri te haere a Paoa ki te Tairawhiti
Paoa came on his canoe called Horouta The canoe split in half at Tuanui o Kanawa
He came ashore
To search for the right materials to repair their canoe
He saw what he was looking for
He was elated
So he urinated
Hence the Motu river
Hence the Waipaoa river
At Kopututea the mouth of the river His dog went for a drink and got lost By the waves of the sea
Hence Paoa’s journey to the Tairawhiti
Ko tona tawhiti mo Rongokako
Ko tona whakaori kei Whanga-o-kena
Tona whai kei Matakaoa
Ka huri tona haere raro ki Hauraki
Ko Ngati Paoa
Hi au e
Paoa challenges Rongokako
He sets a trap at Tokomaru Bay Then went on to Whanga-o-Kena at Matakaoa
He left an imprint of a stingray in a rock
Then continued on to Hauraki
Hence the sub-tribe called Ngati Paoa
The saga of Turanganui-a-Kiwa and its settlement is intriguingly full of rich historical and genealogical overlays. Through five principal eponymous ancestors of this region an intricate inter-iwi and inter-hapu web of whakapapa created a distinctive political environment around the overlapping areas of interest that make up the Rongowhakaata tribal rohe.
Ruapani was the son of Tuwairua and Ruatepupuke and lived, in approximate terms, in about 1480. This highly esteemed ancestor held considerable mana over the whole Turanganui-a-Kiwa area. He had three wives, Wairau, Uenukukoihu (Koihe) and Rongomaipapa. These three provided Ruapani with many children who in turn, married and inter-married with members of other iwi and hapu from Turanganui-a-Kiwa and the surrounding regions. Later in life, in the face of the rising prestige of the younger Rongowhakaata, Ruapani relinquished his authority over Turanganui-a-Kiwa and retired to Te Reinga and re-established himself in the Waikaremoana region.
He also journeyed into the Kahungunu area. The iwi and hapu of Turanganui-a-Kiwa can all trace their genealogical links to or through the ancestor Ruapani and today the Ohako Marae stands in tribute to this esteemed founding ancestor of the Turanganuia-Kiwa iwi.
To the north and northwest, Maunga Haumi and Arowhana beckon Mahaki. The second son of Tauheikuri, potiki of Kahungunu and Rongomaiwahine, and Tamataipunoa of Toroa and Mataatua waka descent. Mahaki spent the earlier years of his life in the Maraetaha area in the company of his tuakana, Tawhiwhi and their whanaunga.
Te tipuna Rongowhakaata – Rongowhakaata the Ancestor
Many lines of important descent from the Tairawhiti region converge in the person of Rongowhakaata. The iwi and hapu of Rongowhakaata can today, connect through the tipuna back to Toi Te Huatahi, Paikea, Porourangi and many others including Ranginui and Papatuanuku. According to Halbert, Rongowhakaata was descended from the three sons of the ancestor, Paikea: Rongomaituahu, Marupapanui and Pouheni. The parents of Rongowhakaata were Tumaurirere and Haupunake themselves descending from ancestors on board Horouta waka. Rongowhakaata traditions acknowledge that the tipuna was born at Uawa (Tolaga Bay) and Puatai. Uawa thus remains a place of great historical signifigance to the iwi as it is the birth place of their founding ancestor. Ngata in his series of lectures given in 1944, also acknowledged that Rongowhakaata came from Uawa and migrated to Turanga where he married the daughters of Moeahu, a descendant of Kiwa, from Te Huia Pa, located near Ngatapa. Gudgeon refers to the several genealogies of Rongowhakaata who he said was descended from an ancient people. Gudgeon also refers to the strong whakapapa connections to Ngati Ruapani from Te Reinga and notes the extensive intermarriage between the descendants of Rongowhakaata and Ruapani.
Rongowhakaata first married Turahiri, the second daughter of Moeahu, who at the time resided at Te Huia Pa. There they lived for some time where their only child, a son, was born, nurtured and named Rongomairatahi. After the death of Turahiri, Rongowhakaata married her sister Uetupuke and then Moetai. The iwi of Rongowhakaata thus primarily descend from Turahiri, along with her two sisters – the three illustrious daughters of Moeahu.
Nga wahine rangatira o Rongowhakaata me o ratou uri – The wives of Rongowhakaata and their children
As time passed the developing kin group resided at Turanganui-a-Kiwa under Rongowhakaata, who strengthened his ties with the region through issue from his three wives, Turahiri, Uetupuke, and Moetai.
Soon after his marriage to Turahiri, Rongowhakaata then shifted to Patutahi and later came to live at a pa called Pewhairangi on what became the Paokahu Block. Rongowhakaata and Turahiri had one child, a son Rongomairatahi. As the first born, it was apparent that much mana was bestowed upon him as he would be the leading ancestor of Rongowhakaata of the Arai Te Uru area of which Manutuke is the tribal centre. Upon him, the whakatauaki was pronounced “Te kotahi a Turahiri, ripo ana te moana” – from the one of Turahiri, his descendants would be so numerous and likened unto shoals of fish, causing the sea to ripple. He lived for some time in Maihitukua house at Te Puia Pa, which was on a low circular mound at the north side of the intersection of the Ngatapa and Kirkpatrick Roads.19 A similar proverb exists for the Rongowhakaata hapu Ngati Maru. Nona Haronga wrote that the Turahiri proverb came into vogue about the end of the seventeenth century after the formation of three Rongowhakaata hapu: Ngai Tawhiri, Ngati Maru and Ngati Kaipoho. Turahiri died on the Paokahu block further securing the land as an important waahi tapu site for Rongowhakaata.
Rongowhakaata then married Uetupuke. However, her sister Moetai, then a widow also wanted Rongowhakaata for her husband. Uetupuke took umbrage at this. She was with child to Rongowhakaata and made it clear that she was not willing to share her husband with her sister and decided on separation. Rongowhakaata attempted to convince her to remain until the child was born but failed to dissuade her. She then left with a group on their way to Opotiki. Rongowhakaata and Uetupuke arrived at Ohiwa simultaneously. She would not change her mind, but promised if a son was born, she would name him Rongopopoia after nga popoia o aku taringa – the lullaby of my ears.
Tanemoeahi, brother of Tuhoe-potiki and Ueimua, took Uetupuke by the hand, inviting her to be his wife. His pa Onekawa was on the eastern side of the entrance of Ohiwa River. Here her son was born, nurtured and named Rongopopoia as she promised. Well fostered by his new father, Rongopopoia grew up amid hostility and trial. He married the two daughters of Pane Kaha, a chief of Ohiwa, Rangiparoro and Maruwhakaene. To Rangiparoro was born a son named Kahuki who later was to figure largely in the preservation of the local iwi and also avenged the treacherous slaying of his father, Rongopopoia.
Maruwhakaene bore four children, Te Ahikaroa, Hawea Poia, Hako Purakau and Rua Arai. Through these five mokopuna, the children of Rongopopoia, Rongowhakaata today has many descendants connecting to the iwi of the Bay of Plenty region including Tuhoe, Whakatohea and Te Whanau a Apanui.
Moetai the eldest of the three sister spouses of Rongowhakaata soon settled down and concentrated on consolidating the developing iwi. She had four daughters, Rongokauwai (Rongokauae) who married Tamateakota, a son of Kahungunu and Rongomaiwahine, then Rongomoeawa and Tawakerahui both whom were married to Tautangiao of Whangara. Once again, the connection of Rongowhakaata and his descendants to the Uawa region cannot be emphasised enough.
Kahukuraiti, the fourth daughter, married Hauiti younger brother to Taua and Mahaki Ewe Karoro, becoming eponymous ancestor to Te Aitanga a Hauiti of Tolaga Bay. There is a difference of opinion among earlier historians as to the only son of Rongowhakaata and Moetai. Some record his name as Tuwhakaoma and others Tu Taunga. Many taura here have been the feature of the Moetai contribution to Rongowhakaata. The marriage of Kahukuraiti to Hauiti further strengthened the whakapapa connections between the two tribes.
Thus from Turahiri and Rongomairatahi, to Uetupuke and Rongopopoia at Onekawa Pa and Te Hapuoneone of Opotiki, to Hauiti at Uawa (Tolaga Bay) and Whangara Mai Tawhiti (Tautangiao) to Kahungunu and Rongomaiwahine through Tamateakota, the descendants of Rongowhakaata stretch across an expansive genealogical and geographic area. The son Tuwhakaoma is claimed to be grandfather to Hinetapuarau who was married to Mahaki eponymous ancestor of Te Aitanga a Mahaki. The direct connections of Rongowhakaata through his grandchildren and descending lines have entitled his issue to join with those iwi adding further dimensions of kinship ties and connection to the rohe of Turanganui-a-Kiwa.
After establishing himself in Turanganui-a-Kiwa, Rongowhakaata and his descendants consolidated themselves in the region encompassing the lands that would become Manutuke, Te Arai, Patutahi, Ngatapa, Matawhero, Paokahu, Whataupoko, Kaiti, Awapuni, Pakowhai and Turanganui-a-Kiwa proper itself. He and his descendants maintained the mana of the tribe and its hapu despite the incursions of other iwi including Ngai Tamanuhiri, Te Aitanga-a-Mahaki, Te Aitanga a Hauiti, Ngati Rakaipaaka, Tuhoe, Whakatohea and Ngati Porou.
Rongowhakaata lived at Maihitukua House in Te Huia pa and toward the end of his life, lived at Pewhairangi pa at the coast where he died and was subsequently buried.
Tribal traditions record that a flood early in the nineteenth century overran the burial ground of Rongowhakaata. This was in spite of the efforts of Raharuhi Rukupo and other Rongowhakaata chiefs to divert the waters. In this way, both Awapuni and Paokahu have become important sacred sites for the tribe of Rongowhakaata.