I Heke Mai

Ngāti Rārua Origins

Ngāti Rārua’s journey begins with Rāruaioio in the King Country, and weaves its way down Aotearoa to Te Tau Ihu o te Waka a Māui. Its journey is one of battle and occupation to forge a new home, and adaptation to survive and thrive in the top of the South Island. For the past 22 years, the iwi’s path has travelled through settlement with the Crown, and now Ngāti Rārua is setting off on a new journey, as a call from home is issued to its people.

Whakamana te puna Mauri Ōra o Ngāti Rārua,

Kia kaha pupuri ai, mo nga hekenga ā muri ake tonu

Realise the wellspring of vital identity that is Ngāti Rārua,
as an inspiration for all the migrations yet to come

Ngāti Rārua descend from the Tainui waka and originate from the western coast of the King Country.  Their origins can be traced back to the eponymous ancestor Rāruaioio, who married Tupahau, and bore the children from whom Ngāti Rārua is derived. Tuapahau and Rāruaio’s son Karewa married Rāruatere, further entrenching the name, and the children of this marriage came to call themselves Ngāti Rārua.

The iwi came to Te Tau Ihu o te Waka a Māui in the 1820s and 1830s, as part of the great southwards migration of the Kawhia and Taranaki iwi.

Ngāti Rārua were participants in the series of tauā that came to Te Tau Ihu, and were involved in the resulting battles against the resident Kurahaupō people. These events were soon followed by Ngāti Rārua heke of occupation, whereby Ngāti Rārua established themselves as tangata whenua.

By 1840, Ngāti Rārua were resident in the Cloudy Bay and Wairau districts in eastern Te Tau Ihu. In western Te Tau Ihu, Ngāti Rārua maintained seasonal and permanent kāinga at Whakatū, Motueka, Moutere, Aorere, and West Whanganui/Taitapu. In addition, they exercised rights of occupation and resource collection down the West Coast of Te Waipounamu.

More insights into the history and migration of Ngāti Rārua will be posted for members only on a monthly basis.