Ka tuwhera a Maungaharuru, ka kati a Tangitū,

When the season of Maungaharuru opens, the season of Tangitū closes,

Ka tuwhera a Tangitū, ka kati a Maungaharuru.

When the season of Tangitū opens, the season of Maungaharuru closes.

According to kōrero tuku iho (Hapū history), this whakatauākī (tribal proverb):

  • describes the takiwā (traditional area) of our Hapū – from Maungaharuru (the Maungaharuru range) in the west, to Tangitū (the sea) in the east; and
  • it proclaims ahi-kā-roa (long occupation) of our Hapū and the inherited right as tāngata whenua to exercise mana whenua and mana moana.

The relationship our Hapū have with Maungaharuru and Tangitū is culturally significant and provides whānau with a strong sense of place and belonging to our takiwā. It is still customary practice for our Hapū members to recite this whakatauākī to identify where we come from and the relationship that connects us to the natural world.

The whakatauākī also describes the mahinga kai (places for gathering food) of our Hapū. The ngahere (forest) on Maungaharuru was the source of food for our Hapū in the winter. Tangitū was, and remains, the source of food in the summer. While our Hapū collected food on a seasonal basis, we were blessed in that we did not need to leave our takiwā in search of food. Hence another Hapū whakatauākī:

“ko tō rātau pā kai ngā rekereke”

“their fortified villages were in their heels”

Lake Tūtira is regarded by our Hapū as being a particularly spiritual area. Our Hapū have a whakatauākī about the lake being:

“ko te waiū o ō tātau tīpuna”

“the milk of our ancestors”

This whakatauākī is not just a reference to the abundance of kai (food) that could be sourced from the lake. It also referred to the lake providing spiritual sustenance. Accordingly, the physical and spiritual well-being of our Hapū is closely linked to the well-being of Lake Tūtira.

As a prized taonga, many raids were made on Lake Tūtira. However, Ngāti Kurumōkihi have another whakatauākī,

“Tūtira upoko pipi”

“Tūtira, the place where heads became soft”

commemorating the success of Ngāti Kurumōkihi in defending Tūtira, their prized taonga. Tribal archives record that, other than the death of Tiwaewae, no other rangatira (chiefs) were ever taken and every raiding party was beaten.

The following Hapū whakatauākī refers to the sound of the sea lapping up against the river mouth during the day and night, bringing a bounty of kaimoana with each incoming and outgoing tide. This whakatauākī is still recited today in whaikōrero (formal speeches) on Tangoio Marae.

“Pātōtō ki te ata, pātōtō ki te pō”

“the sound of the tide in the morning and at night”