The history of this Maori hero has been very much wrapped up in mythical and supernatural powers. It is, however, well known that he was a man of high priestly prowess and was held to be a superman. He came to New Zealand as the high priest of Te Arawa canoe, the history of which and the settling of the immigrants on this Island is fully recorded in the history of Tama-te-kapua. He peopled the Hot Lakes district from Roto-rua to Mount Tongariro. It has been related that during his journey to this mountain he was overtaken by storm and snow. Unable to light a fire and almost perishing with cold, he called on one of his relatives in far-off Hawaiki. The relative came with a torch, and reaching Whakaari (White Island) travelled underground, setting fires along the route until the helpless Ngatoro was reached and rescued.
Another account of this mythical story is related by the late Mr. Elsdon Best as follows:—
"Ngatoro-i-rangi, of the Arawa immigrants, was a lineal descendant of Te Pupu and Hoata, hence his power over volcanic fire, which he introduced to this land. Ngatoro went inland exploring, and a spring of water known as Te Puna takahi a Ngatoro-i-rangi was caused to appear by his stamping his foot on the ground. The enchanted ti trees (Cordyline australis) on Kainga-roa, known as Ti whakaawe, which ever recede as a traveller advances, owe their strange powers to Ngatoro. He ascended Tongariro, where he almost perished, so intense was the cold on that mountain. Hence he called upon his ancestors to send fire to him, lest he perish. One of his invocations was:—
E Para E; Titoko o te ao marama
Tukua au kia puta ki tawhangawhanga nui no Rangi, no Papa
He aio; tu atu te makariri haramai te werawera
Hika ra taku ahi ki a Kautetetu
Hira ra taku ahi ki a Te Pupu
Hika ra taku ahi ki a Te Hoata
Ki a Te Moremore-o-te-rangi.
The Tipua (demon) fire was sent hither from Hawaiki in answer to his request. The fire came first to Whakaari, or White Island in the Bay of Plenty, where it still burns, as all may see. Then it came to the mainland, where it originated the boiling spring, also named Whakaari, near Te Tiringa, on the Whakatane-Te Teko Road, and in fact all the volcanoes and hot springs were caused by that fire of the tipua known as Te Pupu and Hoata."page break
Maoris Fishing in the Wai-roa River.
In the background is the historic Ti-kouka tree under which the the Rt. Hon. Sir James Carroll was born.
Site of Maungakahta Pa.
Kahungunu's stronghold on eastern side of Mahia Peninsula.
—G. O. K. Sainsbury Photo.