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History and traditions of the Maoris of the West Coast, North Island of New Zealand, prior to 1840

Whanga-Nui Tribes

Whanga-Nui Tribes.

Coming now to the tribes that occupied the country to the south of Nga-Rauru, the first is Ngati-Hau, one of the numerous tribes known under the name of Whanga-nui, derived from the river of that name. Ngati-Hau take their name from Hau-nui-a-Paparangi, who is believed to have come to Now Zealand in the "Aotea" canoe, though this is doubtful. On this subject see note 182, Journal Polynesian page 151Society, Vol. XIV., p. 219, where Col. Gudgeon says: —"I was talking with a Tahitian member of the Makea family, of" Rarotonga, concerning the old tribe of Ngati-Hlau, and gave them their name in full (as above). When he heard this he said, 'My old tribe! Hau-a-Papara' i; ' the only people who never bowed down before the Pomares in Tahiti, who were braves wherever they went." This is a confirmation of what has so often been stated in this paper, to the effect that the migration of 1350 came from Tahiti here. The Whanganui people have a saying to this effect:—" Te uri a Hau-nui-a-Papa-rangi, nana i taotao te nuku roa o Hawaiki" The descendants of Hau-nui', who suppressed the land (or people) of Hawaiki, and which seems to bear out the statement of Col. Gudgeon's friend to the effect they had never been beaten—at least in Tahiti, Hawaiki-runga being the Rarotonga name for that group.

I quote the following piece of a descent from Hau-nui', as it may prove useful to others following in the same lines as myself:—



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Table No. XXXIX.

Table No. XXXIX.

page 152

I am unable to give the precise "boundaries of Ngati-Hau, or indeed of any of the Whanganui tribes, but they occupied a large extent of country, being bounded on the west generally by the Nga-Rauru, Ngati-Maru and Ngati-Tama tribes (alroady described), on the north by Ngati-Mania-poto and Ngati-Tu-whare-toa, and on the east, near the base of Ruapehu, by Ngati-Whiti, Ngati-Tamakopiri, etc., and towards the sea on the east by Ngati-Apa, the boundary between the two, in the case of the latter, being somewhere west of the Whangaehu river. The above is a very large territory, and was, at the time of the first settlement of this country by Europeans, almost entirely forest-clad, with the exception of a strip along the coast some three to four miles wide, and parts of the open plains of Okahukura lying on the western shopes of Ruapehu mountain. It is, moreover, a very broken country with deep gorges, in the bottom of which flow the streams all more or less discoloured by the papa rocks of which nearly all this country is formed. The beautiful Whanganui river flows through the centre of this district, and formed a highway available for canoes for some 170 miles from the mouth.

Besides the crow of the "Aotea," it is certain that the crow of the "Kura-haupo" canoe also contributed to the population; and the strong probability is, that the tangata-whenua, or original inhabitants—te iwi o Toi—formed the basis of the present tribes. One of the principal is called Nga-Paerangi, and it is believed that Paerangi, from whom the people take their name, was one of the tangaia-whenua. He flourished about 21-23 generations ago, or about the time of the heke, (or migration) to New Zealand, and many families of rank trace their descent from him. At the same time, some natives say, that Paerangi came to New Zealand with the heke, and more than one line show him to be a descendant of Whiro, whose ancestors are shown quite correctly on the Maori lines according to Tahitian and Rarotongan genealogies,

Mr. Best has a note to this effect: "Though all the Whanganui people say that Kupe on his arrival here, found only the tiwaiwaka, hake and kokako birds, with no people, yet when questioned closely the old men admit the existence of tangata-whenua in the valley of Whanganui. These were the descendants of Paerangi-o-te-moungaroa whose ancestor came from Hawaiki five generations before the arrival of Captain Turi in the ' Aotea ' canoe. He was brought here by his atua; he had no canoe. There have been three men of the name of Paerangi, one of whom came in the 'Aotea.'" Now this statement as to Paerangi having been brought here by his god, means nothing more than that the old tangata-whenua traditions having become overlaid and obliterated by those of the more forceful heke, and page 153some origin for Paerangi being necessary, the marvellous has been invoked, and his arrival accredited to the gods. If we may believe the earliest legends extant relating to these parts, there was a numerous people dwelling here in the time of Turi's children and grandchildren. Tu-whawhakia, in his version of "Tutae-poroporo," mentions a very numerous people named Ngu-taha, who lived at Aropawa Island and the Sounds, north end of the Middle Island. Aokehu the slayer of Tutae-poroporo was a grandson of Turi; and Nga-Paerangi are mentioned also as a numerous people living in the Whanganui valley as far up as Oporiki (near Corinth) and extending to Whangaehu, at that same period. Mr. Best, after having made inquiries in the Ure-wera country, comes to the conclusion that Paorangi came here with Paoa, about five generations before the heke. Col. Gudgeon says, the Whanganui ancestor is identical Ngati Paoa's companion, and that there were two of that name —Paorangi—one coming in the "Aotea" canoe, the other the ancestor of Ngati-Hāua of Upper Whanganui, about whose tangata-whenua origin there can be little doubt.

In order to preserve it, I quote some descents from this Paerangi, in which it is shown that he was a son of Whiro-te-tipua, who flourished according to Rarotonga history—twenty-five generations ago, whereas he is here twenty-three—not too great a discrepancy to prevent it being the same individual. See Table No. 15 also. Whether the Paerangi here shown is he who came with Paoa in the "Horo-uta" canoe or not, I am unable to say.

The Whiro-te-tipua, shown on the tables, occupies a very prominent position in Polynesian history; and much about him is to be found in Maori, Rarotongan and Tahitian history. (Sec Table 39.)

The Whanganui people have a tradition that part of the Middle Island, on the west side of Tasman's Bay, was peopled from their tribe, the first heke being under the leadership of Te Ahuru, a second one was under Tu-mata-kokiri, who gave his name to Ngati-Tu-mata kokiri, the tribe that occupied Golden Bay and these parts, and which was exterminated by Ngati-Toa and Te Ati-Awa in the second decade of the nineteenth century, as will be shown in Chapter XVI.

Readers are referred to Journal Polynesian Society, Vol. XIV., p. 131, for further information about the Whanganui tribes.