How Mangatu got its name

Back in 1350, the time of the great waka migration, the waka Horouta captained by Paoa Tohunga Kiwa sailed into the Ohiwa Harbour area. The waka’s haumi was damaged in such a way that repairs were needed to get it seaworthy before continuing on its voyage.

That night Paoa had a dream that somewhere in the far distance stood a mountain where there grew an enormous totara tree. At its peak he saw the shape of the waka with the haumi attached. It was an omen, and he had to take up the challenge.

Awakening the morning after this dream, he consulted his high priest about the dream. To his amazement the high priest had also experienced the same dream. A party was organized to go in search of the mountain with the totara growing on its peak. The people selected were the ariki of the waka, and with the high priest they found a kaitiaki to escort them.

Paoa’s party ventured into unknown forests, through rough country and across deep rivers, but weeks passed and no mountain was to be found. Cold and hungry, some even talked of returning to their waka.

It was then that the Patu Paiarehe appeared before Paoa and his followers and said “Have faith in your priest”. You were the chosen ones and you will achieve what you have come to do. Tomorrow morning, when the mist clears, you will see from the east the sun rise, and in its light you will see the mountain with the tree on its peak. That is your destination”.

This boosted the courage of the party. The night was spent in karakia, and there were anxious moments waiting for the mist to clear. Then as the first rays of sunlight appeared, behold, there in the east stood the mountain Paoa had seen in his vision with the tree on its peak, as a shape of the waka described to them by the priests. When they reached the peak, a karakia took place.

The task was then to cut the tree down and take back what was required to repair the haumi of the waka. On completion, most of the party set back the way they had come.

Te Ariki designated a vast area within which Te Kumi (which they had named the kaitiaki) could roam in freedom.

Those who did not return to the waka set themselves the task of sowing and planting seeds of the totara to replace the tree that was cut down.

Kote rakau i topea tanua kia maha kia tipu kia makuru ma tena wa.

Those people were the first to colonise this area. Here we have the name of the mountain as it is called today: Ko Maungahumi, te Maunga i tu ai te Rakau a Paoa, Ko Mangatu.

In later years, through inter-marriage with other tribes, more marae were formed. As the people multiplied they moved further down from the mountains and each sought to build their own marae in areas under Te Maru o Maungahaumi and its rivers, hence the proverbial saying,

Ko Maungahaumi te Maunga
Ko Mangatu te Awa
Ko Ngariki te Iwi.

With the strong influence of Mahaki in the area and through intermarriages, the proverbial saying has changed to:

Ko Maungahaumi te Maunga
Ko Waipaoa te Awa
Ko te Aitanga a Mahaki te Iwi

Maungahaumi is our Mountain
Waipaoa is our River
And our tribe is Te Aitanga a Mahaki.


Rutene Irwin.