We trace our ancestry back to Rāhiri, a formidable Rangatira and warrior. Rāhiri was born in Whīria at Pākanae; he married Ahuaiti from Pakaraka who lived at Pouerua Pa. Uenuku was their son.

While Rāhiri was living with Ahuaiti at Pouerua he heard that her two brothers Korakatea and Korakanui were coming to visit. Rāhiri knew that he would not be home when her brothers arrived, so he told his wife that she was not to give them the best mongeroi (fernroot), instead she was to feed them the inferior ones.

Rāhiri arrived home to find that Ahuaiti had ignored his wishes and fed them the good fernroot. Angry, Rāhiri left Ahuaiti and Uenuku and returned to Pākanae.

In time Uenuku became a man and he asked his mother ‘who is my father?’ His name had been lengthened to Uenukukuaare because he did not have the esoteric knowledge that a young man of high birth such as him should have had. Kuaare means to be ignorant or to lack understanding. Ahuaiti told him who his father was.

Meanwhile Rāhiri had married Whakaruru from Pākanae, and they had had a son – Kaharau.

Uenuku went to see his father; he wanted to know the incantations and rituals that would complete his knowledge. Ahuaiti told Uenuku to follow the Mangakāhia River and taste of its waters every now and then. When the river had become salty he would find his father there.

Rāhiri welcomed him but there was tension between the brothers. As tuakana, Uenuku believed himself to be above Kaharau. Rāhiri wanted to settle the matter so he gathered his two sons together and threw a manurere into the sky. The wind caught it and the three chased it.

Finally the manurere came to rest at Tāhuna, near Kaikohe. All the lands west of Tāhuna now belonged to Kaharau, east of Tāhuna now belonged to Uenuku. This is also the reason that Kaikohe is known as Te Pu o te Wheke, the heart of the octopus, the gateway between east and west.

Rāhiri said to his sons:

Ka mimiti te puna i Taumārere
Ka toto te puna i Hokianga
Ka toto te puna i Taumārere
Ka mimiti te puna i Hokianga

Which means:

When the fountain of Taumārere is empty
The fountain of Hokianga is full
When the fountain of Taumārere is full
The fountain of Hokianga is empty

Rāhiri had drawn upon the imagery of two rivers; Hokianga in the west and Taumārere in the east, to show the brothers that what happened to one affected the other. Their fortunes were intertwined, and so the whakatauki represents an alliance of destinies of Ngāpuhi on the Tai Tama Wahine (eastern) and Tai Tama Tāne (western) coasts.

The eastern coast was called Tai Tama Wahine because of its beautiful, tranquil harbours and bays. And although still beautiful, Tai Tama Tāne was less forgiving than the east coast, more rugged and a thousand times more dangerous.

This alliance linked the two sides of the peninsular together and from this the strength and influence of Ngāpuhi grew, and it is also the reason why Ngāpuhi remained paramount in the north.

NB:

Another account tells that Korakatea and Korakanui were actually Rāhiri’s brothers. It also states that the manurere first came to rest by a river against a puriri tree. Rāhiri named that place Whirinaki that means to lean, or, a buttress or support pillar.

He hoisted it, and again it was caught by the wind. It flew on and on through the valleys, turned east across the plain that is present day Kaikohe and finally descended beside the Taumārere River.

It is important to remember that there are hapū variations of this story; alternate versions are not wrong.

 

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