Te Whare o Ngapuhi Nui Tonu

Ko Papatuanuku te Paparahi
Ko nga Maunga nga Poupou
Ko te Rangi e titiro iho nei te Tuanui

The Earth is the floor = Papatuanuku
The Mountains are the supports = Nga Pou Irirangi
The Sky above is the Roof = Te Rangi

The epic story of Ngapuhi unfolds down the generations, beginning in a distant time and place, with an incident that is at once both ordinary & extraordinary.

This time was approximately 20 generations before Kupe, the great navigator who discovered Aotearoa - New Zealand, with another two or three generations before the great migration to these shores. The place was Hawaiki, which is sometimes described as a mythical place, although it most certainly existed even if we no longer know its exact location.

The name Ngapuhi derived from the chieftainess Kareroariki who gave birth to a child known by 3 names, Puhikaiariki, Puhimoanariki & Puhitaniwharau - these 3 names collectively give rise to the plural, nga, or many - Ngapuhi.

All waka with Ngapuhi whakapapa landed in Hokianga and spread out from there. So it is that we Ngapuhi claim a tribal area whose boundaries are described in the following whakatauki or proverb.

'Te Whare o Ngapuhi, Tamaki Makaurau ki Te Rerenga Wairua.
Ko nga paatu ko Ngati Whatua, Te Rarawa, Te Aupouri, Ngati Kahu, Ngapuhi ki roto.
Ko nga Rarangi Maunga nga Poutokomanawa i hikia te Tahuhu o Te Whare o Ngapuhi'


  • The house of Ngapuhi stretches from Tamaki Makaurau (Auckland) in the south to Cape Reinga in the north.
  • Its walls are the sub-tribes: Ngati Whatua in the south, Te Rarawa in the west, Te Aupouri in the north & Ngati Kahu in the east
  • Ngapuhi holds the centre of the house &
  • The mountains of significance with Ngapuhi are the pillars of poupou, which hold the ridgepole aloft.
Ko Kupe te Tupuna

Kupe left Hawaiki in his waka Matawhaorua and travelled in search of the fish of his ancestor, Te-Ika-a-Maui. He chased Te wheke Muturangi (a great octopus) during this search. While approaching what Kupe believed to be Te-Ika-a-Maui, the wife of Kupe, Kuramaarotini, saw the Southern Alps from a distance. She thought they were a cloud (an indication of land) and exclaimed " He ao!, He ao!" ("A cloud!, a cloud!"). As they drew closer she exclaimed " He aotea, he aotearoa!" ( "A cloud, a long white cloud!"). From this, the name is given to this new land.

Kupe continued to chase the giant wheke around many places of Aotearoa, fianlly defeating it at the entrance to Totaranui (Queen Charlotte Sound) at Kura Te Au (Troy Channel). He struck Te wheke with his toki name Te Raka Tuu whenua. He then changed weapons to a great patu made of whale bone and finally defeated Te wheke.

Kupe travelled around Aotearoa naming many places along the way. In particular he named two islands in Te-Whanga-nui-a-Tara (Wellington) after two of his daughters Matiu & Makaro.
Kupe finally returned to the harbour that became known as Hokianga. At this place he turned his son Tuputupu Whenua into a taniwha and threw him into a spring which he called Te Puna o Te Ao Marama, to act as a kaitiaki (guardian) of this newly discovered land. He then uttered the fomous whakatuaki from which the harbour gained its name;

"Hei konei ra, e Te Puna o Te Ao Marama. Ka hoki nei tenei, e kore e hoki anga nui mai".
"Farewell, Spring of the The world of Light. This one is going home and will not return again"

On his arrival back in Hawaiki, there was a great war raging and Nukutaawhiti asked his grandfather Kupe for the great waka Matawhaorua to take his people away to the new land of Aotearoa. kupe agreed and Nukutaawhiti asked that the waka be re-fitted to take more people.
Two toki pounamu were used to re-fit the waka for its return journey. These toki were named Nga Pakitua (a small bladed toki) also known as 'Rere-ki-te-po' & Tauira Ata (a wide bladed toki also named 'Mahurangi'
At the completion of the re-fit, karakia were done to release the mana of the old commader (Kupe) from the Matawhaorua and to replace it with the mana of the new commander (Nukutaawhiti). The waka then became known as the Nga Toki Matawhaorua (Ngatokimatawhaorua) to recognise the original name and the contribution of Nga toki in its re-fit.
The waka was made tapu by Kupe and was not able to carry kai, so a sister waka was found to accompany it on the journey. This was the Mamari commanded by Ruanui (married to Niwa, the sister of Nukutawhiti).

Kupe gave 4 taniwha to Nukutaawhiti and Ruanui to accompany them on their journey

  1. Puhi Moana Ariki
  2. Rangi Uru Hinga
  3. Ara-i-te-uru
  4. Niua (Niwa)
Four other 'wairua' taniwha were sent with the waka;
  1. Te hiko-o-te-rangi (Lightning of the sky)
  2. Mahere-tu-ki-te-rangi (Binding to the sea)
  3. Kanapu-i-te-rangi (Lightning of the day
  4. Te-tuhi-o-te-po (The glow of the night
Kupe gave instructions for the waka to lay the bows in the direction south west. At night fall steer towards the star Atua-tahi. hold to the left of Mango-roa (the Milky Way) and at day break continue towards the cloud pillar.
hokianga nui a Kupe (The great returning place of Kupe) and his son Tuputupu Whenua in Te Puna o Te Ao Marama.

Hokianga Whakapou Karakia
On arrival in Hokianga, Nukutaawhiti went ashore to do a karakia. He returned with eight Rimu fronds, giving 2 to each taniwha. He then sent 2 taniwha back to Hawaiki to let Kupe know that they had arrived safely. He then sent Ara-i-te-uru and Niua to the entrance of the Harbour to protect them. Ara-i-te-uru guards the south & Niua guards the north at the mouth of the harbour. It is from these taniwha that Nga Puhi gain much of their strength and mana; hence the whakatauki;

"Kotahi ki reira, ki Ara-i-te-uru.
Kotahi ki reira, ki Niua.
A homai he toa, he kaha, e aua taniwha, ki Nga Puhi"

"One there is for Ara-i-te-uru.
One there is for Niua.
may those taniwha bring courage and strength to Nga Puhi"

Nukutaawhiti and Ruanui settled with their people in and around the Hokianga Harbour area. Both set about building whare; Nukutaawhiti built his on the northern side of the harbour and called it Te Whatu Pungapunga, while Ruanui built his on the southern side and called it Te Pouahi.
Te Poahi was completed first but Nukutaawhiti asked Ruanui to delay the opening until his whare were complete so they could be opened together. Ruanui agreed, however, by the time Te Whatu Pungapunga was complete all the food Ruanui had stored up for the opening had been used up.
Ruanui then decided to do a powerful karakia to lure a Tohora (whale) into the harbour for their hakari (feast). Nukutaawhiti took exception to this and recited another powerful karakia to send the whale back out to sea. Ruanui countered this with another karakia and this was again countered by Nukutaawhiti.
This contest went on for many hours until both ariki (chiefs) had exhausted all their karakia. From this incident Hokianga has often been referred to an old whakatauki;
"Hokianga Whakapou Karakia"
"Hokianga which exhausts incantations"
Ko Rahiri te Tupuna

Ka mimiti te puna i Taumarere

Ka Toto te puna i Hokianga
Ka toto te puna i Taumarere
Ka mimiti te puna i Hokianga

When the fountain of Taumarere is empty
The fountain of Hokianga is full
When the fountain of Taumarere is full
The fountain of Hokianga is empty

I trace my ancestry back to Rahiri, a formidable Rangatira and warrior. He is credited with the whakautauki
'mehemea, he Ngapuhi koe, kihai koe i puta i a Rahiri, he hoiho ke koe' that is; If you claim to be Ngapuhi and did not descend from Rahiri, you are a horse'
Rahiri is descendant from the noble line of Rangatira who were among the first to land here in Aotearoa. He has direct linage to Kupe, the first Maori who discovered Aotearoa and his mokopuna, Nukutawhiti who re-adzed the hull of his Tupuna's waka and sailed Ngatokimatawhaorua to these shores. He is also direct descendant of Awa and his son Awanui of the Mamari waka.

Rahiri's father was Tauramoko and his mother was Hauangiangi, a daughter of Puhimoanariki, of Ngati Awa descent, who relieved his tuakana, Toroa, of the waka mataatua and sailed north to establish his own tribe in the north.
Rahiri had 3 wives; Auatiti, of Ngai Tahuhu descent, bore him a son called uenukukuare. Whakaruru, who bore him 4 children. The most famous of these children was a son called Kaharau (who I am directly descended), he lived with his father at Whiria Pa in Pakanae where he learned all the karakia and fighting traits of his famous father finally Moetonga, the 3rd wide, from the Kaeo area, however, there is not enough information as to this 3rd union or whether they produced any offspring.