Whakapapa (Māori pronunciation: [ˈfakapapa]), is a fundamental principle that permeates the whole of Māori culture. It is a paradigm of cultural discourse and provides the basis for establishing, enhancing, and even challenging relationships between individuals, whanau (families), hapū (local tribal entities) and iwi (regional tribal bodies)

My iwi – Ngāti Kahungunu

Ngati Kahungunu means ‘descendants of Kahungunu ‘ (a famous chief who lived mostly in what is now called the Hawke’s Bay region).
Ngāti Kahungunu trace descent from the Tākitimu canoe. Ruawharo, a senior tohunga (priest; expert in traditional lore; person skilled in specific activity; healer) on the canoe, settled at Te Māhia.
The legend is told that Tākitimu left Hawaiki because of a quarrel over gardens named ‘Tawarunga’ and ‘Tawararo’, and that the canoe was built at a place named Whāngārā. The commander was Tamatea-arikinui and the canoe landed at Tauranga, where Tamatea disembarked. Others then took it to the East Coast landing and left settlers at several places, including the Waiapu River, Ūawa (Tolaga Bay), Tūranganui (Gisborne), Nukutaurua (Māhia), Te Wairoa, the Mōhaka River and Pōrangahau. Tamatea later went overland to Māhia and Tūranganui, naming various places as he proceeded.

My Maori people come from the Mahia peninsula. The Ruawharo marae is located in Ōpoutama, Māhia. Its principal hapū are Ngāti Tama and Rongomaiwahine of Ngāti Kahungunu iwi.

Ruawharo(picture complements of google earth)

Ruawharo gave the name Te Māhia to the peninsula because it resembled a part of his tribe’s original homeland, Te Māhia-mai-tawhiti (the sound heard from a distance).
Ngāti Kahungunu are New Zealand’s third largest tribal group. Stretching down the North Island from the Māhia Peninsula to Cape Palliser, their territory is divided into three districts: Wairoa, Heretaunga and Wairarapa. (ref)

I’ve had a yearning for some years to visit the marae. I have no particular reason. All I know is I need to go there.
I have no plans to meet my natural father or siblings. I have been told my father lives in Napier. I have never met him and I understand his wife and my 1/2 siblings have not been told about me. I find it hard to believe that in such a small and close-knit community, someone hasn’t let the baby out of the bag.

The story of Kahungunu and Rongomaiwahine
Kahungunu had heard reports of Rongomaiwahine’s beauty and high birth, but when he arrived at Nukutaurua, on the Māhia Peninsula, he found that she was already married to Tamatakutai. In an attempt to impress her people, he gathered enormous quantities of fern root, tied them into bundles with vines, and rolled them down a hill. Such were the quantities that it became like a landslide, blocking the doors of the house.
Kahungunu then went up onto a hill and watched the karoro (shags) diving. He practised holding his breath, counting ‘pepe tahi, pepe rua, pepe toru …’ (count one, count two, count three . . .) until the birds reappeared. Then Kahungunu went diving, holding his breath for as long as the shags had done. He filled several baskets with enough pāua (a type of shellfish) for all the occupants of the village. When he surfaced from his final dive, he had covered his chest with pāua, and everyone was very impressed. The hill has since been named Puke Karoro.
Having gained the approval of Rongomaiwahine’s people, Kahungunu set out to create discord between Rongomaiwahine and her husband Tamatakutai. One night he surreptitiously broke wind near the sleeping couple, causing an argument between them. In the morning Kahungunu joined Tamatakutai in the sport of surfing in a canoe. After several trips Kahungunu took over the steering, and capsized it on a particularly large wave. Tamatakutai fell out and, unable to swim, was drowned.
Kahungunu and Rongomaiwahine marry
One day Kahungunu asked Rongomaiwahine to dress his hair for him. As she was fastening his topknot, the tie broke. Kahungunu took from his plaited belt some flax that had been grown at Kawhainui, near Tauranga. After softening the flax in water, Rongomaiwahine used it to tie his topknot. Kahungunu then stood up, and facing north said:
“E te pūtiki wharanui o Tamatea i mahue atu rā i runga o Tauranga.”
Here is the binding broad-leaved flax of Tamatea that was left at Tauranga.

It was from this remark that Rongomaiwahine and her people finally knew the true identity of Kahungunu, and he became her permanent husband. They settled at Maungakāhia, their pā at Māhia, where Kahungunu eventually died.
Many of Rongomaiwahine’s descendants on the Māhia Peninsula identify themselves as Ngāti Rongomaiwahine rather than as Ngāti Kahungunu: they believe her to be of superior lineage. (source – http://www.teara.govt.nz)

Mahia(picture complements of google earth)

I’m off to New Zealand in a few weeks to connect with my Whakapapa. I sent off a letter requesting permission to visit the marae this week and apart from booking our flight, have made no other plans and will wing it when we get there.
Poor MM (my man) is coming along for the ride but seems a little anxious. I didn’t realise how anxious until he said “So what am I suppose to do while you’re away in a wigwam for god knows how many days smoking the silly pipe with your ancestors? Are they like, head hunters there?” Gee honey, we need to get you out of Brisbane. Firstly, we are going to New Zealand not a Cherokee reservation in America. Secondly, It’s not the 1800’s. I think they might prefer MacDonald hamburgers to MacDonald the local white farmer.  Just don’t look at anyone and you’ll be right. (That’s my little wicked sense of humour having a lend of him. Maybe I’ll let him stare at his boots for the first day before telling him I was joking)

Rangitane song welcoming expatriates back home

About fluidicthought

Random posts and photographs of life, travel and stuff.
This entry was posted in New Zealand, Philosophy, Photography and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Whakapapa

  1. Pingback: Whakapapa Continue: | Fluidicthought

  2. Pingback: FEATURED: A Lot Can Happen in 2 Weeks | ' Ace Friends News '

  3. Pingback: A LOT CAN HAPPEN IN 2 WEEKS | Fluidicthought

  4. Lis Battes says:

    Kia Ora I live in Mahia and was a Trustee at Ruawharo Marae a couple of years ago. Just wondering if you have managed to contact any of the Trustees so they can show you around the Marae??
    Cheers Lis

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kia Ora and thank you for responding to my post Lis. I sent a letter off last week requesting permission to visit the Marae. I wasn’t sure who to address it to so I posted to- The caretakers 6 Opoutama Rd (Loop Rd), Ōpoutama, Māhia, 4198. Do you think it will get to the right people?
      Kind regards, Kristin


      • Lis Battes says:

        Kia Ora again I’m not sure if it will get there (maybe if you put Ruawharo Marae on it
        ) the chairperson is Peter Whaanga and he lives in the Loop road (our rural delivery is pretty good and hopefully she will put it in Peter’s letter box) It is not a problem for you to go to your Marae but would be great for one of the Trustees to open it for you so you can see inside. If you have a problem with contacting anyone ….. please do not hesitate in contacting me and I will organize this for you
        My Contact details are


      • Lis Battes says:

        Hi Again I thought I have push reply but………… maybe not. Hopefully you letter arrives did you address it to Ruawharo Marae?? Peter Whaanga is the Chariperson at the Marae and also lives in the loop road. The Marae has no letter box so if you did address it to Ruawharo Marae I’m sure our rural delivery will put it into Peters mail box. Hopefully they receive your letter so the doors can be opened for you to see inside. If you do not receive a reply please do not hesitate in contacting me and I will go and see Peter
        contact details

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: FEATURED: Whakapapa | ' Ace Friends News '

I appreciate your comments

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s