Te Arawa history

Share this page


Te Arawa history

Kōrero Onamata/ Te Arawa History

Te Arawa/The Voyage of the Arawa canoe

Ngātoro-i-rangi was the high priest who navigated the Arawa waka on their eventful journey from Hawaiki to Aotearoa. He started his journey on board the Tainui waka and was persuaded by his cousin Tamatekapua into sailing to Aotearoa aboard the Arawa waka.

During their voyage Tamatekapua decided to seduce his cousin’s [Ngātoroirangi] wife Kearoa. On discovering what Tamatekapua had done, Ngātoro-i-rangi in his rage performed a karakia creating a great whirlpool named Te-Korokoro-o-te-Parata.

As the waka descended into the whirlpool, the people aboard, realising their fate cried out to Ngātoro-i-rangi pleading for their lives. Eventually Ngātoro-i-rangi felt sorry for the people, reciting a powerful karakia to stop this catastrophe from occurring.

The waka eventually arrived at Whangaparāoa and from there it followed the eastern coastline northwards to Whakaari and stopped at Moehau. Continuing the journey, they sailed along the Coromandel Penninsula, finally landing in an area of the Waitematā harbour.

As the waka returned to Waitematā towards the Bay of Plenty the waka travelled on to

Te-Awa-ā-te-Atua and then journeyed back to Maketu. The people of the Te Arawa waka attribute the naming of Te-Awa-ā-te-Atua to Ngātoro-i-rangi.

Mai i Maketu ki Tongariro

Te Arawa comprises a confederation of tribes which landed at Maketu many hundreds of years ago. From Maketu the voyagers and their succeeding generations moved inland occupying the central part of the North Island thus the saying 'Mai i Maketu ki Tongariro' (from Maketu to Tongariro).

Maketu holds a special significance for Arawa peoples; in the first instance it was the landing place of their waka. Secondly the the land was fertile, the moana provided abundant food supplies to sustain their survival while planning the future; Maketu is the northern boundary, Tongariro is the southern referred to in the pepeha 'Mai i Maketu ki Tongariro'.

Great Te Arawa Stories

The Great Te Arawa Stories (GTAS) website contains a collection of stories about people, places and events that are applicable to Rotorua and to the people of Te Arawa. It was developed by Ngā Pūmanawa e Waru to introduce learners to Te Arawa stories, in order to encourage user education skills, support enquiry learning and inspire the exploration of existing resources. When the Trust scaled back its work, Rotorua Library, as part of Rotorua Lakes Council, was identified as the best custodian of this rich taonga.
Click on the image to engage with Te Arawa specific stories. There is also a sidebar link to the Great Te Arawa Stories website on each page.