Tainui Te Waka, Hoturoa Te Ariki
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The great canoe Tainui first landed at Whangaparaoa and then sailed west across the Bay of Plenty, searching for a place where the people could settle down. They saw the headland of Mauao and decided to investigate this shore. They saw the waves crashing on the rocks at the base of Mauao and steered well clear. They did not know about the sandbank called Ruahine. The great canoe grounded on the sandbank. It was stuck fast. All efforts to pull her off into deeper water failed. The commander was Hoturoa and he thought there must be a reason for this mishap, some evil omen at work. He looked around and found the cause in the old lady called Wahinerua. Hotu ordered this kuia to be thrown overboard and her body thrust under the hull of the canoe. The men heaved again and paddled furiously. The canoe slowly moved over the body of Wahinerua and slipped off the sandbank into deeper water.
The body of Wahinerua drifted off the bank too and was washed up by the waves on to the rocks at the base of Mauao. There is a pinnacle of rock in the entrance called Te Kuia, or Kuia Rock. This. was the body of Wahinerua. For many generations now, the people of Tauranga Moana have made a small offering to her by throwing overboard a piece of food. This is in memory of the old lady. It is also a way of showing respect for the power of the sea and the hope of a safe return. Nowadays there are many newcomers around Tauranga Moana and they come and go in their small boats and big ships and ignore the Kuia. But the tangata whenua, the people who belong in Tauranga Moana, still acknowledge her and the forces of the ocean waves which still crash on the rocky cliffs of Mauao.
The great canoe Tainui sailed on into Tauranga Moana and anchored in the deep waters south-east of Rangiwaea. This place was called Tauranga, an anchorage or resting place, and this is how this name was given to the district of Tauranga Moana. For a time the people of Tainui stayed but the region was already well-populated. If Tainui were to settle here, they would have to fight for land to live on. They decided to move on and not to overstay their welcome. The canoe was paddled toward the western reaches of the harbour. A stop was made at Te Puna. At Poututeranga a thanksgiving was offered to the gods for a safe passage from Hawaiki.
As the canoe Tainui moved on up the harbour, Hoturoa realised they were approaching shallow waters. Off Opuhi on Matakana they stopped again to unload some of their ballast so that the canoe could glide safely through the shallows and over the mudflats of the western harbour. There is a. big pile of boulders just off Opuhi, of a kind of rock not found anywhere else on Matakana. This is Ratahi, the ballast of the canoe Tainui. And some of the old people will say that those boulders are still growing bigger every year.
Near Katikati, the headland now called Bowentown at the western entrance of Tauranga Moana, the canoe Tainui moved into deeper waters. Here another stop was made. The Ngamarama people here made the Tainui visitors very welcome. A few of the Tainui people were so happy there, they decided to stay and married local people. The rest of the people of Tainui moved on. The canoe was sailed out of Tauranga Moana, north around Moehau and into the Waitemata. It was dragged across the narrow stretch of land of Tamaki Makaurau, where Auckland City now stands, and into the harbour of Manukau. It was sailed on south along the western coast of Te Ika a Maui, south to Mokau. There is still a large rock on the shore there which was the anchor stone of Tainui. The final resting place of Tainui is at Kawhia. Behind the meeting house on Maketu Marae are two large stone pillars which mark the prow and the stern of the great canoe Tainui which carried the ancestors of the people of Hauraki, Waikato and Maniapoto.