Our Story / Pūrākau
The Te Arawa people of the Bay of Plenty are the offspring of Puhaorangi, a celestial being who descended with the beautiful maiden Te Kuraimonoa, begat the revered ancestor Ohomairangi.
Ohomairangi lived in the Polynesian homeland known as Hawaiki. His people became known as Ngati Ohomairangi and lived in the village of Maketu.
His son, Atuamatua had six sons Tia, Hei, Rakauri, Houmaitawhiti, Oro and Maaka who became the leading family group of Ngati Ohomairangi.
On entering the Kaituna estuary beside Okurei, the bow of the Te Arawa canoe was tethered to a large rock, Tokaparore and to an anchor rock called Tuterangiharuru, which held her fast in the current of the Kaituna River.
The tohunga Ngatoroirangi was the first to step off, conducting rituals beneath a pohutukawa tree in full bloom. Today this site is remembered as Ongatoro, and commemorated by a monument built in 1940. A pa established on the Okurei headland close to the moored canoe was named Maketu, after their home village on Rangiatea, in Hawaiki.
The migration to Te-Ika-A- Maui (New Zealand’s North Island) over 20 generations ago was instigated by war over scarcity of resources and land. Houmaitawhiti and one of Atuamatua’s six sons, had a son, Tamatekapua. Tamatekapua took up the challenge laid down by his father: to seek a peaceful new home in the southern islands of New Zealand.
Over 30 Ngati Ohomairangi tribe members accompanied Tamatekapua and the tohunga, Ngatoroirangi, in the double-hulled canoe originally named Nga rakau rua a Atuamatua (the two trunks of Atuamatua) in memory of their father.
During the voyage they had a perilous encounter with the great ocean creature, Te Parata, who almost swallowed them. However, one story goes that they were delivered from the jaws of certain death by a mythical great shark, and the people renamed the canoe and themselves Te Arawa in its honour.
Te Arawa multiplied and spread across the geothermal zone of the central North Island, occupying lands in a continuous line from coast to volcanic mountain interior. This Area became identified with Te Arawa and is affirmed on marae with the proverb:
Mai Maketu ki Tongariro.. Ko Te Arawa te waka Ko Te Arawa mangai-nui upoko tu-takitahi
(From Maketu to Tongariro..Te Arawa the canoe Te Arawa the determined people.)
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