Topic: Traditional Story: Te Aroha
Te Aroha means love and caring. That seems a very strange name to give to a mountain, a high, bush-covered peak in the range which now carries a television translator on its summit. On some of the old survey plans, it has a longer name, Te Aroha a uta, Te Aroha a tai.
This has something to do with the shore, uta, and the sea, tai. Perhaps this has something to do with the inland and seaward side of the mountain. But there must be something more to this peculiar name.
People who belong to Mataatua, that is people who are descended from this waka, canoe, and that includes Ngaiterangi of Tauranga Moana, have one story about this mountain Te Aroha. It is said that there was once an old chief called Rahiri, who belonged to the Whakatane area. He went away up north for some reason and lived there for many years. He was growing old, and decided, as old people sometimes do, that he wanted to go back to his home place and die on his own land in the Whakatane district. He travelled south into the Hauraki Plains area, and up the Waihou River. Here he decided to climb the highest peak rising above the river and plains and look about him. He looked all around, north from where he had come, west across Waikato and Hauraki to the ocean, south towards the inland mountains of Taupo. He looked out over the land of Tauranga Moana, out into the Bay of Plenty. He looked along the line of beach stretching from Maunganui to Maketu, then further on toward Whakatane. The old man was overcome with homesickness, and a great longing to return. He exclaimed "Aroha ki tai! Aroha ki uta! Love to the sea! Love to the shore!" And that is why Mataatua people say that mountain is called Te Aroha.
The people of Te Arawa say that it was Kahumatamomoe who gave this name to the mountain. Kahumatamomoe was a son of Tamatekapua, the commander of the canoe Te Arawa, which had landed at Maketu. Some time after this, Tamatekapua had left Maketu and gone to live at Moehau, the place at the northern tip of the Coromandel Peninsula which he had claimed before the canoe reached Maketu. When Tamatekapua died, he was buried at the top of Moehau, so that is a special mountain for Te Arawa too. Kahumatamomoe had quarrelled with one of his brothers, and this brother had left Maketu and gone to Moehau to live with his father's people. After some time, Kahu decided to patch up this quarrel, so he too travelled to Moehau. There was a big family reunion and feasting and for the time being anyway, all the squabbling in the family of Tamatekapua seemed to be sorted out.
It was time for Kahumatamomoe to go back to Maketu. He travelled south along the western coast of the Coromandel Peninsula to Thames and up the Waihou River. He stopped at a place which was afterwards called Muri Aroha o Kahu. He decided, to climb the highest mountain there and look around. He looked out to sea and toward Moehau, and spoke of his love for this land of his father which reaches out into the sea. Thus he spoke of Te Aroha o Tai o Kahu. Then he turned inland and spoke of his love for the land of Titiraupenga and Taupo where his uncle Tia had settled. And so the name Te Aroha o Uta o Kahu was given. That is how Te Arawa people say the name Te Aroha was given to the mountain.
In the Waikato, the people of Tainui say that it was Rakataura, the priest of the canoe Tainui, who gave this name Te Aroha. After the canoe Tainui was carried across Tamaki Makaurau to Manukau and finally came to rest at Kawhia, Rakataura made many journeys. He came to Te Aroha and climbed the mountain and named it Te Aroha ki Tai, Te Aroha ki Uta. In doing this he was telling of his love and sorrow for the canoe Tainui, for the people left behind across the sea in Hawaiki, as well as the people of this new land, and especially the memory of his wife Kahukeke, the daughter of Hoturoa, commander of the canoe Tainui.
Perhaps the most important thing about this name Te Aroha is not who gave this name, but what this name means. To all these people it tells of a love for the land and a love for the sea, a feeling of having a place to belong, and knowing where this is.
Other stories are found off the article - An Introduction to this collection (please click)
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