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The Coming of the Maori

North Auckland Canoes

North Auckland Canoes

Traditions regarding the canoes which brought settlers to the north Auckland area are not so clear as those already described. Percy Smith page 60(77, vi-1) attributes this lack of detail to the fact that missionary influence was established early in the north and the tendency was to suppress all that related to the past as interfering with the new order of things. Of a number of canoes described by Percy Smith (77, p. 1), the Mahuhu and the Mamari are the best known.

The Mahuhu, commanded by Rongomai, made its landfall at Whangaroa. After voyaging south as far as Waiapu, she turned north, rounded the North Cape, and entered the Kaipara inlet. The crew settled near the Kaipara Heads at Taporapora and built their house of learning, but the site was later washed away by the sea. An aged informant gave some interesting information in 1839 concerning the abundance of the sweet potato in the homeland named Wairota and said that clothing was made from aute. He also stated that the ni and uhi-kaho were brought to New Zealand but would not grow. Rongomai was drowned while out fishing and eaten by the araara fish, which became tapu to his descendants. The people of Kaipara and the districts farther north claim descent from the Mahuhu.

The Mamari canoe, under Nukutawhiti, finally landed at Hokianga Heads where Nukutawhiti, Ruanui his brother-in-law, and others settled. The canoe, however, sailed south and was wrecked on the Ripiro beach about 10 miles south of Maunganui Bluff. The unfortunate spot was commemorated by the name of Omamari. The people at the Hokianga Heads built houses for Nukutawhiti and Ruanui. Nukutawhiti's house was named Pouahi and it was built at Whanui near the Heads. Traditions state that the Mamari came from Wawau, and other place names mentioned are Rangiatea, Raropouri, Matatera, Awarua, and Otiaiti. It was also known that Hawaiki possessed the kumara in great abundance. The settlers spread through the Hokianga district to become the powerful Ngapuhi tribe, and Ruanui became one of the great progenitors of the Rarawa and Aupouri tribes to the north.

Some of the other canoes briefly mentioned are as follows:

Canoe Leaders Landfall
Te Ruakaramea Te Uriparaoa, Papawi Mangonui
Waipapa Kaiwhetu, Wairere Rangiaohia, Doubtless Bay
Te Mamaru Pou Rangiaohia
Te Riukakara ? Whangaroa
Moekakara ? near Whangarei
Te Wakatuwhenua ? near Cape Rodney

The last two canoes brought leprosy (tuwhenua), and it is possible that the two names represent the same canoe. The part played by the Kurahaupo canoe has already been mentioned.