History Ngati PorouPorourangi and Ngati Porou


At inaugural Ngata Lectures held at Ruatoria in August 1983, I attempted to deal with the issue as to why Porourangi is the ancestor from whom we take the tribal name Ngati Porou. This issue was again addressed in the Hikurangi Maunga hearing before the Tairawhiti Maori Land Court in March 1991. This paper addresses the issue further.

In 1895, W.E. Gudgeon, a Judge of the Maori Land Court made some reference to the query, as to why Porourangi, when he said: "The name of Ngati Porou does not by any means convey a correct idea of the assemblage of tribes now known under that designation. Porourangi was indeed one of the progenitors of the tribe, but was not the only one, nor, indeed the chief one. He goes on to say that other ancestors such as "Whironui, Tahu, Paoa, Kahungunu, Ira, Uepohatu" and others had equal claims as eponymous ancestors."

Gudgeons's claims as to the equal right of ancestors is however disputed, especially with regard to:

  • Kahungunu, whose descent is from Porourangi
  • Tahu, who is Porourangi's younger brother
  • Ira, who is of the period of Porourangi's mokopuna, Taua Mahaki and Hauiti, and
  • Others, who were from a line of whakapapa different from Porourangi, which later by intermarriage, merged with his stock.

    Whatever way one views Gudgeon's statements, Porourangi inherits mana from his ancestors, which in turn passed on to his descendants, such as Kahungunu and others. This alone would justify his choice as the eponymous ancestor of/for Ngati Porou.

    2 Porou Ariki Te Matatara A Whare Te Tuhi Mareikura A Rauru This is Porourangi's full name Ngata refers to the name as designating his titles when he said of Porourangi's birth as taking "place in the early morning, the dawn breaking blood red" and which is "commemorated in one of his titles, Te Tuhi Mareikura O Rauru, a full blooded man"

    Ngata goes on to say that "his other title was Te Ariki Matatara a Whare a name which is found in Rarotonga as that of a high priest under Makea.., so (that) our ancestor comes down to us with full titles ...the first born of a tapu line"

    The significance of Ngata's statements are enhanced by references to the various titles of Porourangi's full name.

    2.1 Ariki Williams defines Ariki as "the first born male or female in a family of rohe". Ariki in Polynesia, designates a person of the highest status in society. This status was ascribed by geneology through the first born child of every generation.

    Without doubt Porourangi can claim Ariki status whereas, Kahungunu (referred to by Gudgeon) cannot on the grounds that he was taina or younger to his sister Iranui who married Hingangaroa, to have Taua, Mahaki and Hauiti.

    2.2 Matatara Williams defines Matatara as "flax divided into narrow strips for weaving".

    Through Porourangi, the senior lines of Polynesia and Aotearoa are thus interwoven. This assists to explain Ngata's reference to Porourangi as a direct descendant of a high priest under Makea, whose history is found in Rarotonga.

    2.3 Tuhi Tuhi is defined by Williams as "with planting., glow., gleam., shine". The description adds to Ngata's references of Porourangi's birth when he said that on his birth, the sky was "blood red". This presumes that the sky was afire, glowing and gleaming, as though coloured with red ochre or paint.

    Further, the dawning of a new day, is seen as the beginning of a new life and the display of chiefly symbols in the sky.

    2.4 Mareikura While the term refers to one of noble birth, its application is to a female. One may ponder the use of this in respect of Porourangi. A consideration of whakapapa on his matrilineal side will show his seniority being equal to his patrilineal descent.

    On the other hand, Mareikura means the use of red ochre to ornament the forehead and face, thereby expressing status. Further, tuhi mareikura refers to a loved and dear one, hence term of endearment.

    2.5 Rauru Ngata states that "Toikairakau is the foundation ancestor of our people, and that his son Rauru, figures prominently in our generalogical tables".

    Rauru is not only a prominent ancestor in Ngati Porou but also with other tribes, notable among which are Mataatua and the Kai Iwi people of the Wanganui area.

    Porourangi was indeed a man of "sacred person, just as his great grandfather Poutini was before him". His name alone gives the justification as to why he was selected, amongst all others, as the eponymous ancestor for the tribe, Ngati Porou.

    3 Nga Whakapapa Ngata refers to Porourangi and Tahupotiki as follows: "Porourangi, the eponymous ancestor of Ngati Porou, and his brother Tahupotiki inherited Toikairakau, Uenuku, Kahutiaterangi, Paikea and Ruatapu blood, some of the best blood of Polynesia."

    While Ngata makes no mention of Maui, oral tradition says otherwise.

    3.1 Maui Evidence to support a Maui origin is contained in waiata, and, the stories associated with Hikurangi Maunga. Oral traditional maintains that Maui's canoe, Nukutaimemeha, rests on Hikurangi Maunga, in petrified form.

    Buck records that "Judge J.A. Wilson was the first writer to draw attention to traditional evidence regarding the peopling of New Zealand before Émigrants from Hawaiiki". Wilson thus referred to Hikurangi as the resting place of Maui's canoe in petrified form. To distinguish these people from those who came from Hawaiiki, he referred to them as the Maui nation.

    Buck accepts that there were people here before the Hawaiikians, though not in the manner discussed by Wilson. Instead he offered a "more feasible tradition concerning the advent of the first settlers of the land (tangata whenua)".

    Whatever the academics views may be, Ngati Porou do claim to be the descendants of Maui. To this end, and several genealogies from Maui are often recited.

    Porourangi accordingly claim direct descent from Maui, as also his wife Hamoterangi.

    3.2 Toikairakau Ngata referred to Toikairakau as the founding ancestor of our tribe. Porourangi is thus the direct descendant of Toi.

    3.3 Hawaiiki Connection Here too, Porourangi's whakapapa traces back to Hawaiiki through the ancestor Paikea.

    3.4 Huturangi – Paikea From this union Porourangi also has direct descent.

    3.5 Whironui Porourangi is also descended from Whironui and Te Araiara who had Huturangi, who married Paikea. Both lived in Hawaiiki though Whironui was to migrate to Aotearoa on his canoe Nukutere.

    4 Ngati Porou tribal make up Ngati Porou is thus made up of various blood stock:
    Maui links
    Toikairakau links
    Hawaiiki links.

    All the above coverage genealogically on Porourangi. Through intermarriages, ties with other tribes are clearly established.

    4.1 Whanau–A–Apanui There are also inumberable connections, through Hinemahuru, Tumoanakotore and others.

    4.2 Te Aitanga–A–Mahaki and Ngati Kahungunu Through Ueroa, Porourangi's second son, there are ties with Te Aitanga–A–Mahaki and Ngati Kahungunu.

    4.3 Raukawa and Tainui Through Rongomaianiwaniwa, Porourangi's daughter, there are ties with Raukawa, and, Tainui.

    5 Conclusion Because Porourangi is the embodiment of senior whakapapa in Hawaiiki and Aotearoa, and through his issue genealogical ties are established with other Iwi, it is only fitting that such an ancestor should be the only one after whom the tribe Ngati Porou takes its name.

    © A.T. Mahuika

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