Te Apiti, which can be translated as the cleft, pass or gorge, is the Maori name for the Manawatü Gorge. Here is the story of how it was created.
Okatia was a supernatural being who lived on the Puketoi ranges in a gigantic totara tree. Over time Okatia became restless and so decided to explore new places so that he could find another home.
Using his magical powers Okatia uprooted his totara to place it on its side to begin the journey. He started out in a north west direction making good time but whenever he moved a channel that was both deep and wide was left behind. Then one day a massive barrier suddenly appeared before him, it was a mountain range that rose upwards towards the sky.
As the mountain slowed his progress he decided to force his way straight through. So he split the wall of earth and rock in two by ramming into it. Feeling content with his efforts he again continued on westward until reaching the ocean.
This is how the Tararua and Ruahine Mountain ranges became separated and also how the Manawatu River was created. In memory of the event Te Aurere a Tonga (the flowing current of the South) was given to describe that part of the river in the gorge.
In the middle of the Manawatu gorge lies a large red rock. It is called Te Ahu a Turanga and is considered very tapu. Anyone travelling along the river by canoe always said karakia when they passed this, the guardian of the Manawatü Gorge. It is said that even in the worst floods Te Ahu a Turanga remains uncovered by water.