Ngai Tumapuhia-A-Rangi

In: Stories, Traditional stories

Source: As told by Ross Himona


“Kia hokowhitu Tumapuhia,
putiki makawe tahi,
heru tu rae anake”.

After Tumapuhia had established his mana/prestige in the Wairarapa other hapu/tribes attempted to conquer the Tumapuhia-A-Rangi hapu to gain control of the seacoast. Ngaokoiterangi, who had been living among Ngati Ira, stated that he would return to the Kaihoata river valley saying, “It is a valley filled only with rangatira/chiefs, whom are adorned with the chiefly symbols of a single topknot and a comb on the forehead.”

During this period of turmoil Ngaokoiterangi was killed and the descendants of Tumapuhia gathered at Waikekeno and fought to the death against insurmountable odds. When all the other hapu from the Wairarapa observed the dress of the bodies of the dead, remarks were made with regard to the chiefly status of the dead, and the words of Ngaokoiterangi were remembered and enshrined in the tribal whankatauki or tribal saying:

“Kia hokowhitu Tumapuhia, putiki makawe tahi, heru tu rae anake”.
[“The warriors of Tumapuhia, they are all adorned with the single topknot and the comb on the forehead”]

After this battle called “Ahuriri” Hikarara, who had observed the events sought assistance from relatives further up the coast. A war party was raised with assistance from Ngati Porou and Ngati Kahungunu hapu living on the coast and four subsequent battles were fought in the Wairarapa, around to Wairarapa Moana or Lake Wairarapa.

This is how Ngai Tumapuhia finally established and consolidated their mana in the Wairarapa. In spite of fraudulent transactions by the Government and the devastating effects of British colonisation the Kaihoata Valley remains the spiritual mauri or essence of the hapu.

The “Pou” or guardian rangatira/chief of the Kaihoata in the turbulent period of the 1800s was Rongomaiaia Te Waaka or Tamakiuruhau. It is from his children and descendants that the land for a marae or ceremonial meeting place was gifted, and the present day Ngai Tumapuhiaarangi Marae Committee was established.