History of our Maunga - Tawhirirangi

Te Awaawa Reserve

“ Rarangi maunga tu te  ao tu te po, rarangi tangata ka ngaro ka ngaro”
“ The mountains of the earth will endure,  while the lives of men will not”

The first thing to understand is that like the whakatauki above Tawhirirangi as always been
here, and so has the Mohaka river.   It is the people they have come and gone.  The earliest
people of this area comprise the stuff of legends, ie the turehu and/or the patupaiarehe, also
the children of Maui and the descendants of Kupe and Toikairakau.

What can be seen from the mountain?

Mahia Peninsula, Waikawa Island, te Toka Tu Moana – Tangitu, Ahuriri, Tiwhanui,Waikare River, Maungaharuru, Tirotirowhetu (pointy looking triangular hill directly west of Tawhirirangi), Taumata Taua (directly above Pa Pirau  and below look out),  Nga Ngaru a Te Huki  (the hills between Tawhirirangi and Waihua), Recently cleared forestry area and Te
Awaawa stream.

The purpose of the reserve

To conserve as much as possible the flora and fauna of the local area by pushing the forestry back and replanting natives in the area and creating a walking track for whanau to enjoy and learn about the landscape and its history. Part of this will include setting up shelters and Pou whakairo along the track, and establishing a compass of sorts to identify the landmarks surrounding the top site.   The hangi stone is to help carry the mauri of the reserve and serves as a reminder of the whakatauki – “Mohaka harara Taupunga Opunga”.  “The treasures of the Mohaka are its people”

Nga Pou whakairo

The Tipuna to be represented include:

  • Ruawharo – Tohunga o Te Moana
  • Tupai – Tohunga o Nga Rangi
  • Kurahikakawa – prominent ancestor of Pahauwera.   Ngati Kura were a very prominent hapu of Ngati Pahauwera
  • Mamangu – prominent ancestor of Pahauwera.   His pa site was just along the beach from the Te Awaawa stream
  • Tahutoria – Ngai Tahu tipuna
  • Tureia – First tipuna to hold the mana of Mohaka
  • Te Huki – Famed for establishing “Te kupenga a Te Huki” or the whakapapa links between Whangara, Nuhaka, Mohaka, Heretaunga and down to Porangahau

Carved Gateway

We would like to have a carved gateway which will be placed in front of the carpark at the start of the track representing Te Huki’s net.

Puruaute – Center float of Te Huki’s net

Ngarangiwhakaupoko – the southern post of Te Huki’s net

Te Whakatatare o Te Rangi – the northern post of Te Huki’s net.

Our Bay

We call our half of the Bay Te Whaanga a Ruawharo, we should also mention that we call the other end Te Whaanga a Whatuiapiti, on account that after taking over the Mohaka himself and Kahutapere (Tureia’s  father in law) were disappointed because Tureia’s men killed all the leading chiefs of the Ngai Tahu so they asked Tureia to stay on the north bank of the Wairoa river and these two chiefs would take their warriors through the district again in case there were any spoils left for them. So, Kahutapere went inland and Te Whatuiapiti went via the coast. Whatuiapiti waited by Aropaoanui for Kahutapere but he never came back instead he went inland back up to the Te Haroto area, hence the name Te Whaanga a Whatuiapiti or the waiting place of Whatuiapiti.

Na Charlie Lambert


With regard to our own history it starts with the coming of the Takitimu.  When the waka came to Mahia the Tohunga Ruawharo made that place his own.   He was a tohunga who specialised in the realm of Tangaroa and he set about planting the Mauri of fish life in Te Matau a Maui.   

We also named this half of the Bay after him ie – Te Whaanga a Ruawharo (or the waiting place of Ruawharo).  To do this Ruawharo placed his children in certain areas.   Matiu he placed at Waikokopu, Makaro at Aropaoanui, and Mokotuararo near the mouth of the Ngaruroro.  These children became toka or reefs, and soon teemed with fish life.   He also brought sand from Hawaiki which he planted in two areas.   One at Te Mahia and one beside the Wairoa river, below Te Uhi hill which we know as Te Tahuna Mai Hawaiki. Ruawharo married Nga Nuhaka and their descent soon populated the Wairoa district and became known as the Ngai Tauira.  When the Takitimu left Mahia it went on to Wairoa the chief tohunga was now Tupai who was Ruawharo’s brother.   Tupai’s specialty was all things to do with the sky including the weather and the mauri of birdlife, he also held the knowledge for establishing a whare wananga.   Tahu Potiki was now the captain and some of these descendants also stayed here and became known as the Ngai Tahu ki Te Wairoa.   They lived around Tukemokihi, Iwitea and Whakaki, with further settlements in Mohaka, Waimarama and Wairarapa.

When the Takitimu left Wairoa and crossed Te Whaanga a Ruawharo, the Tohunga Tupai saw a huge mountain range inland and pulled into the Waikare area to investigate.   It is said that he took a papauma (a special rakau), and uttered a karakia that transformed the papauma into a manu tipua (a flying creature) that flew inland and Tupai could see and hear everything that the manu tipua could see and hear.    Basically there were tremendous flocks of sea birds living on the mountain range.   There were so many that their beating wings made such a tremendous noise that Tupai named the maunga Maungaharuru and this is our maunga tapu today.   The right-hand edge of Maungaharuru is in behind Kotemaori and this is known as Te Heru o Tureia.   There are a lot of limestone outcrops and caves that are said to be the burial grounds of our ancestors. So it is a very sacred/tapu place for us as Ngati Pahauwera.    

When Kahungunu came along some generations later his descendants married into the Ngai Tauira and the Ngai Tahu and all of us here carry that same gene pool or whakapapa today.

Tamatea Ariki Nui –  (Captain of the Takitimu Waka, he lived in Tauranga)

Rongokako –     Married Murirangawhenua from Coromandel Tamatea Te Ure i Haea, Tamatea Pokai Whenua, Tamatea Pokai Moana.   Spends his life exploring across the north and south islands of Aotearoa

Kahungunu-(Born and raised in Kaitaia, eventually lived in Maunga Kahia at Mahia with Rongomaiwahine

Kahukuranui –    (Lived in Turanganui a Kiwa (Gisborne))

Rakaipaaka –      (Lived in Nuhaka area)

Kaukohea –         (Lived in Nuhaka area)

Tutekanao-         (Lived in Pa Nui in Mahanga)

Tureia –      (Waihua and Mohaka.   His rohe extended from Wairoa down to the Waikare area by pushing out the Ngai Tahu people who either went south of the Waikare river or went back Tukemokihi to live. Central to his success were his Aunty Kurahikakawa his uncle Mamangu, his father in law Kahutapere and his relation Te Whatuiapiti

Te Huki-     (Mohaka, Heretaunga, Nuhaka and Whangara).  Te Kowhai was his pa on top of Tawhirirangi.   His Kupenga or net extends from Whangara in the north to Porangahau in the south.

Puruaute-   (Mohaka, Wairoa)

Te Kahuoterangi –    (Wairoa, Mohaka).  He increased the mana of Pahauwera from Te Wairoa down to Te Wai o Hinanga and from the sea (Tangitu) inland to Maunga Taniwha

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