Matangi was a Rangitaane chief who lived in the Wairarapa. Sometimes relations came to visit him from the other side of the Tararua Mountains. These people had mouthwatering stories of great flocks of birds that were so plentiful they were very easy to catch.
Impressed by what he heard Matangi set out to find this great feathered treasure. Not long after he left the Wairarapa a shadow cast itself over him together with the din made by thousands of wings, he had found his prize. He continued on following the birds naming many places along the way. The land that he walked through had so impressed him that he built a village when he reached the sea.
When word got back to the Wairarapa that Matangi was going to stay on the west coast, people from his old home decided to call on him. After receiving messages to expect company Matangi was disappointed to find that no one came.
In time Matangi discovered the reason for his sadness was a taniwha. This creature lived in a lake near the present village of Rangiotu by the Manawatu River. Any unsuspecting person that happened to get to close to the lakeside was devoured by the ravenous creature within.
Determined to rid himself of the taniwha Matangi came up with a simple plan. He ordered a strong snare made of flax to be placed on the shore of the lake. With the trap set Matangi and a group of his men drew the monster out from the depths. They made such a noise that the taniwha rushed at them straight into the waiting flax loop. And so the life of the murderous taniwha was quickly ended.
Since the day that the taniwha was slain, the beach where Matangi built his village became known as Himatangi, which means “the place where Matangi went fishing”.