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

Tainui Tribes

Tainui Tribes.

From the Mokau river—which may be taken as the Northern boundary of the Taranaki tribes, as it is of the present Province—northwards to Manukau Harbour, a coast line of over one hundred and twenty miles, we find a number of tribes and hapus, who may be styled generally the Tainui tribes, because they are largely descended from the crew of the "Tainui" canoe that formed one of the fleet of 1350, and which canoe finally found a resting place in Kawhia Harbour, where, to this day may be seen two pillars of stone, named Puna and Hani, placed there by the Maoris to show the exact length of the vessel where she finally rotted away.* A very significant name is that page 107of Ahurei, close to the spot where "Tainui" perished. It was the tuāhu or altar set up by Hoturoa the captain of the "Tainui" on her arrival, and is named in memory of the district in Tahiti from whence they came—now called Te Fana-i-Ahurei. Close to is Hawaiki, where Hoturoa's wife planted the first kumaras, brought over in the "Tainui." Many details as to these tribes are to be found in Mr. John White's "Ancient History of the Maoris," Vols. I., II., and III., but his matter sadly wants editing and arranging on an historical basis. So far as this narrative is concerned, we may, for the present, consider these Tainui tribes as having two great divisions, viz.: Waikato and Ngati-Mania-poto, with which are connected a large number of subtribes and hapus. In very general terms it may be said that the Waikato tribes occupied all the coast from Manukau to the Marokopa river eight miles south of Kawhia, and Ngati-Mania-poto south of Marokopa to about Mohaka-tino river, two miles south of Mokau. Included within the Waikato territories, as here defined, were the homes of the Ngati-Toa tribe, who lived at Kawhia and Marokopa until the year 1821, when they migrated to Otaki and Kapiti Islands in Cook's Straits, as will be related later on, their places being taken by Ngati-Apakura, Ngati-pou, and other sub-tribes of Waikato shortly afterwards.

On the banks of the Mokau river and that neighbourhood, lived the hapus of Ngati-Mania-poto, named:—

Ngati-Rora, Ngati-Uru-numia, Ngati-Rakei, Ngati-wai-korora, Ngati-wai, Ngati-pu, Ngati-Ihia.

Some of these we shall often come across again.

* See Plate No. 5, from a photograph by Mr, R. W. S. Ballentyne, in which the two stone pillars are shown. They are between 60 and 70 feet apart, and thus serve to denote the probable length of one of these famous canoes.