Ruawharo, the high priest of the Takitimu canoe, was born and lived in far off Hawaiki. Although he descended from a line of chiefs, he was not an ariki (high born). Desiring to gain knowledge of things terrestrial and celestial, he went with his younger bi other Tupai to Timuwhaka-iria, a renowned priest, in Hawaiki, to be taught in the whare-wananga, or house of learning. After a course of study they succeeded. Ruawharo became the guardian of the gods of the earth and of the ocean, while to Tupai was granted the guardianship of the gods of the heavens and of the whare-wananga. Now follows what has been related in the history of the Takitimu canoe. After landing at Nukutaurua, Ruawharo proceeded to plant the mauri (life principle) of the whales and the fish of the sea. He then built his pa at Oraka, near Mr. G. C. Ormond's old homestead. This he named Waha-toa. After a time, when whales became numerous, he built another pa on the north side of the Mahia peninsular, opposite the site of the hotel, which flourished at Te Mahia in the eventful whaling days. This he named Tirotiro-kauika, which means: "watching the progress of the school of whales."
Ruawharo married Hine-wairakaia, who begot three sons: Matiu, Makaro and Moko-tu-a-raro. In order to extend and establish the feeding grounds of whales and of other different kinds of fish, he planted his children along the sea-coast as mauri. He set out in his canoe, and placed Matiu near Wai-kokopu Harbour. Proceeding further south, he left Makaro at Aropaoa-nui, and on reaching the mouth of the Ngaru-roro River, near the town of Clive in Hawke's Bay he placed his last son Moko-tu-a-raro. All of them were turned into rocks, which can still be seen today.
Another version of this story is that, when Ruawharo left the shore of Tahiti, women and children were not permitted aboard the Takitimu canoe, but were left wailing on the beach.
We feel inclined to adopt the latter version but were cried down by the Maori elders by singing a song of lament for a lost child by a woman named Mihi-Te-Kapua:—page 61
Tawhai rawa mai e hika,
Ko Ruawharo te rite ra i te tipua.
E maka noa ra i ana potiki tu noa i te one,
Ko Matiu, ko Makaro,
Ko Moko-tu-a-raro ki tawhiti,
I Ngaru-roro ra, i Rangatira ra-a-a.
As in like manner, my darling,
Unto Ruawharo, the supernatural being.
Who cast away his pets, that now stand upon the shore,
As Matiu and Makaro.
Also Moko-tu-a-raro at distance,
At Ngaru-roro and at Rangatira.
The word tipua in Maori is demon, and in some cases was applied to a person doing some marvellous act, or in others to some hard-hearted and cruel action. Ngaru-roro is the name of the river in the Napier district, and Rangatira is one further down the coast.
It has been held that, the planting of these mauri brought the whales to this bay, which became a hunting ground for whalers in those old days, when whaling stations were established from Mahia to Kidnappers.
As a monument to this renowned ancestor of the Maori people the Meeting House at Opoutama is named after him, Ruawharo.
It is said that when Ruawharo left Hawaiki he brought with him sand, some of which he placed at Mahia, and some at Wairoa, at Whakamahia beach, called Tahuna-mai-Hawaiki. These places later became the principal burial-grounds of the people of those days.