Topic: Stories of Tauranga Moana

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Compiled by Evelyn Stokes, Occasional Paper No. 9, Centre for Maori Studies and Research, University of Waikato. October 1980. This document has been placed online with the permission of the University of Waikato and of the family of Evelyn Stokes. The Tauranga Moana Kaumatua Forum and the Tangata Whenua Collective were also consulted and agreed to it being made available online.

Archived version here.

 An Introduction to this collection
  1. Mauao
  2. The Struggle Between Pounamu and Tuhua
  3. Mangatawa
  4. Nga Motu 
  5. Te Maero o Hautere 
  6. Te Pura the Guardian Taniwha of Wairoa 
  7. Poripori
  8. Te Rere i Oturu
  9. Taurikura
  10. Nga Patupaiarehe o Tuhua
  11. Nga Tetekura o Hautere 
  12. Takurua
  13. Takitimu Te Waka, Tamatea Te Ariki
  14. Tainui Te Waka, Hoturoa Te Ariki
  15. The Mangroves
  16. The Burning of Te Arawa
  17. Te Kuia
  18. Te Toka a Tirikawa
  19. Te Aroha 
  20. The Pet Tui of Kahukino
  21. Te Heke o Rangihouhiri
  22. The Battle of the Kokowai
  23. Te Ika Hui Rua a Hikapa
  24. Te Manuwhakahoro
  25. Nga Peke e Maha

Ko Tauranga te moana, ko Mauao te maunga
The land of Tauranga Moana slopes towards the shores of Tauranga Harbour and its several islands. To the south and west are the rugged bush-covered ranges now called Kaimai. The many streams which flow into the harbour from the ranges have cut deep gorges into the land, widened into valleys nearer the sea and spread out as estuaries and mudflats around the harbour. The bush was the home of many mythical monsters, taniwha, ngārara, maero, and their tracks can still be seen in the deep ravines. The bush provided a hunting ground for birds, a place for gathering berries and other food plants. The bush was the source of timber for building. The great trees called totara were felled to make canoes and carved houses.
Around the harbour there were many pleasant places to live. There were places that could be fortified with ditches, banks, terraces and palisades on high hill, cliff top or riverbank. There were gardens where crops, such as kumara, grew well. There was plenty of kaimoana, shellfish of all kinds, kina, fish, crayfish and so on, in the harbour, around the shores and in the open sea. Up the rivers there were tuna (eels) and koura. In the swamps there was flax, harakeke and raupō for thatching houses, weaving baskets, making clothing and many other uses. Between the bush-covered ranges and the harbour, there was a belt of fern land which provided another source of food, aruhe or fern root. 

Tauranga Moana was a, very rich district, rich in food resources, with a great variety of environments, which could support many village communities. For over seven centuries people have lived around Tauranga Moana. They have left their mark on the landscape in the many pa sites around the shore and on the hill tops. Because this was a district with rich food resources, it was often fought over.

There is a whakataukī, a saying, 
He whenua, he wahine i mate ai te tangata.   Women and land are the downfall of men.
But there is another meaning of this saying, Women and land are worth fighting for. Many, many generations of people have fought and loved, lived and died, on this land of Tauranga Moana.
These stories of the doings of a few of the tūpuna, ancestors of Tauranga Moana, have been put together for the present generation, for the young, and the not so young, who have not had the opportunity to hear them as they grew up in the district. The stories have been compiled from various sources. Material has been supplied by local people, in particular, Kaikohe Rolleston, Turi Te Kani, Bill Ohia, Charles Kuka, Syd Ngātai, the late Dave Borell, the late Haare Piahana and many others at various times. The late Fred Pinfold collected some stories and these manuscripts, now in the Tauranga District Museum, have also been used. There are also some published stories, in particular, J.A. Wilson, The Story of Te Waharoa and Sketches of Ancient Maori Life and History (Christchurch, Whitcombe and Tombs, 1906) ; W.E. Gudgeon, Te Heke o Rangihouhiri (Whakatane and District Historical Society Memoir No.6, 1970) D.M. Stafford, Te Arawa (Wellington, Reed, 1967). For more specific references and further reading, see the bibliographic notes in E. Stokes, A History of Tauranga County (Palmerston North, Dunmore, 1980).
These stories belong to all of Tauranga Moana. They are grouped roughly in chronological order in that stories of the ancient tribes occur earlier than those of the latest migration into the area, that of Ngaiterangi. The ancient Ngāmarama have been largely displaced by Ngaiterangi. Many of these stories are concerned with this struggle for a place to live, and the struggle to retain hard fought for lands and resources. These stories are a small contribution to preserving the rich cultural heritage of the people of Tauranga Moana.
E ngā iwi kia kaha, kia toa, kia manawanui. 
Kia ora koutou katoa.

  • It should be noted that alternative versions of these stories are preferred by some hapu.
  • It should be noted that some information has changed since this document was first published in 1980, for example “counties” are now “districts”.


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Stories of Tauranga Moana by Harley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand License