Very little is known of the ancestor Pou-rangahua by his descendants today. It is, however, known that he lived at Te Papuni, situated inland at the far end of the Ruakituri Valley, on the Tahora Block. Although he was living between the territories of the truculent Ngati-Kahungunu tribes and the Tuhoe (Urewera), "children of the mist," who were continually making war upon one another, he was known to both as being taha rua (friendly to both sides). He thus received the respect of both peoples and was not involved in their disputes. It is interesting to note that one of the most important of the old Maori forest routes linking the coast with the Urewera, and in particular with Maungapohatu, where many Urewera tracks joined, ran through Papuni. This track is still used today, although over-grown in places. Papuni would thus be a "half-way house" for travellers from either territory.
He married a woman named Hine-whe, who begat Hika-wai, who married Te-Mihi of Tuhoe and begat Mahia alias Te Koari, who begat Wi Tipuna, who begat Ihaka, who begat Hawea Tipuna (died September, 1941). There are other lines of his descendants, but this is the principal one.
He lived with his tribes Ngati-Hingaanga and Ngati-Te Wahanga, or Ngati-Wawahanga, at his pas called Puke-Tapu and Te Arero. When the title of Te Papuni (which is a part of Te Tahora Block) was investigated by the Land Court, it was awarded to the descendants of Pou-Rangahua and his tribes, as mentioned above.
The Papuni Block is farmed under the East Coast Commission, and when it was proposed to erect a carved house as a suitable memorial to the late Sir James Carroll, the Papuni owners responded magnificently to the call, giving approximately £500, and in respect and appreciation of this contribution the name of Pou-rangahua was included as one of the carved figures in the Takitimu House (Carroll Memorial Hall).
Some very great powers were attributed to Pou-rangahua. One such is the story of the origin of the Papuni Lake. European page 156readers will probably explain this story in geological terms, and indeed it will not be the first incident of geological accident in land-forms that the Maoris have in more picturesque manner ascribed to the great power of a favourite ancestor.
"There are two large hills at Te Papuni, Orakai-Whaia and Tau-Ranga-a-Tara. The former stands on the western side of the Ruakituri River, the latter on the eastern side. In times long past away, Orakai-Whaia called to Tauranga-a-Tara to come to him that they two might dwell together as man and wife. So Tauranga-a-Tara moved over near unto Orakai-Whaia, even that they two became as one. This blocked the river, hence the waters had no outlet, and a great lake was formed. Pou-rangahua was living there at the time, and he betook himself to his canoe and hied him across the waters to the base of Orakai-Whaia. Here he proceeded by means of his magic powers to separate the two hills, that the waters might again flow down to the ocean. Hence those hills were forced asunder by him and the waters descended, leaving only the Papuni Lake."
Some time about the year 1856 some people of the land were living at Te Papuni near the lake. Above the large lake was a series of small ones, or ponds, the uppermost one being known as Tauwhare-Toroa. These people thought that it would be a fine thing to dig a channel whereby to allow the waters of the uppermost lakelet to run off that they might secure a fine haul of eels.
They cut their canal all right, and the water ran off in a fine style and flowed into the next pond beneath. The increasing pressure was too great for the carrier to withstand, and this pond broke out and emptied itself into the third, which also promptly gave way. The sum of all these waters was precipitated into the Papuni Lake, which also gave way and broke out, leaving nothing but a small muddy pool. And at present nothing is seen but a small land (flat).
There is no disputing the fact that these hills were "wedded," but the nuptials were not by free will but by an act of God. In times long past away, in very ancient times, a tremendous earthquake happened, which resulted in the two hills "marrying" in the river, which blocked up the waters of the river and formed a huge lake. And with broken ground some small lakes or ponds were formed above it. Even the great Waikaremoana shows evidence of having also been formed by a great slip, while the summit of Maungapohatu, the sacred mountain of the Urewera, is shattered and broken as by a mighty earthquake.page 157
The two lovers were later separated, but not by means of magic powers used by our hero, but by the force of nature which resulted in not being forced asunder but forced out together into the ocean by the continuous erosion of water.
Another fantastic version of this geological change is that it was the demon Rua-mano who was responsible for the forming and the breaking out of the Te Papuni Lake. This Rua-mano was a sea-demon, and the offspring of Tutara-Kauika (an emblematical term for the whale). He joined forces with Arai-Teuru, another sea-demon, who was said to have conveyed the Takitimu vessel to New Zealand. When Rua-mano was doing his duty on the high seas, his principal job seems to have been the saving of shipwrecked people and guarding vessels across his vast domain. When a person was shipwrecked, or in any trouble on the high seas, he proceeded to call upon the water demons, or monsters of the deep, for assistance.
The water demon desiring to reach Waikaremoana Lake, he entered and proceeded up the Wairoa River. After missing the Waiau River, which leads to the Waikare-taheke River, the only water route to Waikaremoana, he continued his journey to Te Reinga. Having entered the Ruakituri River he travelled up that river, and on reaching Te Papuni met with shallow water insufficient for him to continue further travelling. He desired to make a temporary home there. Proceeding to do so, he blocked up the river, which formed a deep and large lake, which constituted a very snug home.
After a long period of lonely life he decided to return to his ocean deeps. He burst the embankment, thus allowing the waters to flow out with him to the sea, where he again reached his domain. The word Papuni is more particularly applied to waters that have been blocked up.
The whare-runanga, or meeting house, at Erepiti pa in the Ruakituri Valley has been named Porangahua in memory of this great ancestor.