Te Huki was an outstanding ancestor of Te Wai-roa district, second only to Tapuwae in rank and activity. Kahukuranui, their grandfather, was the eldest and most celebrated son of Kahungunu and Rongomai-wahine. Tapuwae descended from Hine-manuhiri, the daughter and elder child of Kahukuranui and Tu-teihonga, while Te Huki descended from the younger male, Rakaipaaka.
In birth Te Huki was famous in that he descended from Kahungunu in an unblemished line of male descent (Ure-pukaka) as follows:
- Kahungunu (male)—Rongomai-wahine.
- Kahukura-nui (male)—Tu-teihonga.
- Rakai-paaka (male)—Tu-Rumakina.
- Kaukbhea (male)—Mawete.
- Tu-te-Kanao (male)—Tama-te-ahirau.
- Tu-reia (male)—Hine-kimihanga.
- Te Huki (male).
In life he fulfilled the promise of his great ancestry. With diplomatic skill he inter-married himself, and later, also his sons and daughters, into the various tribes over the vast tract of country from Poverty Bay to the Wairarapa. This has become figuratively known as "the setting of the net of Te Huki." The late Sir James Carroll gave Wairoa one of its most interesting placenames when he used the story of Te Huki's net as his basis for the naming of the Wairoa Racecourse. On the opening day Sir James made the following speech:
"Ladies and Gentlemen: The Wairoa Racing Club have given me the honour of naming this racecourse. In doing so, it gives me the greatest pleasure in naming it Te Kupenga. In our pakeha language Te Kupenga is 'the net.' To give it its full name, it is Te Kupenga-a-Te-Huki, or 'The Net of Te Huki.' Figuratively it is a human net, meaning a league of the people. About eight generations back from the present generation of the Maori people, page 144and before even the European nations thought or knew of the forming of the League of Nations, which has now been done, Te Huki, one of the principal ancestors of the Maori people of this district, formed a league of the people extending from Porangahau to Whangara, along near the sea coast. This was done by setting up his net, known as Te Kupenga-a-Te-Huki, which I have just explained. He selected and placed one of his grandsons named Ngarangi-whakaupoko at Te Poroporo, near Porangahau, to act as the post of the southern end of his net. From this post sprung the principal chiefs of that locality. Those are the Tipene Matuas, the Henare Te Atuas, the Ropihas and Te Kurus. He placed another of his grandsons named Ngawhakatatare at Whangara as the 'eastern post of the end of his net, from whom sprung the paramount chief of that locality, Te Kani-a-takirau, and others. Finally he placed his son Purua-aute in the centre as the spreading float of his net, from whom sprung the principal chiefs of Te Wai-roa and Heretaunga districts.
"Today we are being hauled in and mingling in the human net of sport, and judging by the happy expressions on the face of the Patron (Mr. G. C. Ormond), the net of finance must have had a very successful haul." A voice from the crowd (one of his cobbers): "You must have your pockets full, too, Jimmy." "No," replied Sir James, "unfortunately my pockets were not made to hold money, though I came into the course with pockets full, it has all been hauled into the net.
"In conclusion, I hope and pray that the net in future will continue in its successful hauling."
Te Huki in his early days resided near the coast between Waihua and Mohaka, which country rises and falls in hills and valleys along the main road from Waihua to Mohaka. This tract was called Nga-ngaru-a-Te-Huki, or the waves of Te Huki.
Te Huki was not a warrior or a military genius. He was more of a diplomat than a fighter. Similar to his sister, Te Rauhina (the peace-talking wife of Tapuwae), his ambition was always in the interest of peace and love.
He first set out to plant unity amongst the people by marrying the daughters of influential chiefs. He married his first wife named Te Rangi-tohumare, who was the granddaughter of Te Whati-apiti, the eponymous ancestor of the tribal name Ngai-Te Whati-apiti of Heretaunga. He again married Te Ropuhina, a chieftainess of Nuhaka, and finally married Rewanga, the daughter of Te Aringa-i-waho, the chief of the Titi-rangi pa on a high hill above the Gisborne Harbour.page 145
In order to maintain his popularity with the people, Te Huki did not remove his wives from their respective homes and people. Nor did he build for himself a special home and territory, but attended his wives by periodical visits throughout the vast country between Heretaunga and Poverty Bay. By such behaviour, not only, was he highly respected by the people of his wives, but he kept intact the love of the people towards, his wives and children.
By his first (Te Rangi-tohumare) he settled his first son, Purua-aute, in the Wairoa district. Subsequently he married Tapuwae's queen daughter Te Mata-kainga-ite-tihi (as has been mentioned in the history of Te Kapua-matotoru). The second son was Mataitai (I), who was placed at Mahia, from whom sprung the chief Ihaka Whaanga, and others. The next was Hine-raru (female), who was personally taken by him (Te Huki) and established by marrying to Hopara (a prominent young chief of Porangahau), who begot Ngarangi-whakaupoko (as has been referred to in the speech of Sir James Carroll in this story).
By his Nuhaka wife (Te Ropuhina) he had three sons:—Te Ra-ka-to, who was settled at Mahia, to become the eponymous ancestor of the sub-tribe Ngai Te-Ra-ka-to; Tureia (2) was settled at Nuhaka, while Te Rehu (younger) was also settled at Nuhaka, to become the prominent ancestor of that place and the origin of the sub-tribe Ngai-Te Rehu.
By his poverty Bay wife (Rewanga) he had a daughter named Te Umu-papa, who married Marukawiti, the celebrated son of Kanohi (the most powerful ancestor of Uawa and the origin of the sub-tribe Ngati-kanohi). From this union sprung Ngawhaka-tatare (the eastern post of the net, as has been mentioned).
These marriages and unities may not be of any interest to our pakeha readers, but are extremely important to the Maori people of the East Coast, from Wairarapa to Uawa, for it was through these diplomatic marriages and activities that the people became united, and succoured each other whenever need arose, as has been related in the history of Te Wera Hauraki.
Te Huki met his death while journeying to visit his wife and family at Titirangi pa. During his journey he was waylaid while crossing Te Arai River below the present bridge and was killed, taken away and eaten by Te Whanau-a-Apanui tribe, of Te Kaha, Bay of Plenty. His death later was avenged at the battle known as Whawha-Po, as has been related in the history of Te-O-Tane, and also at the battle of Toka-a-Kuku (related in the history of Te Wera Hauraki) both in this book.page 146
It is interesting to note that one of the small constructional locomotives used in the construction of the Wairoa-Napier railway was named Huki and had the name attached by a brass plate.