The origins of Ngāi Tauira go back to another group of early inhabitants, Ngāti Whatumamoa. Ngāti Whatumamoa are the descendants of the explorer Mahu Tapoanui. Although Mahu did not live at Ahuriri, he visited the area as part of his explorations. It was Te Orotu, a direct descendant of Mahu, who seven generations later established his people permanently at Ahuriri. Te Whanganui-ā-Orotu (also known as the Napier Inner Harbour) takes its name from this tipuna. Heipipi, is the principal pā of Ngāti Whatumamoa and spreads along the Petane hills between Bay View and Kaimata. Eventually Orotu abandoned the area, leaving Ahuriri in the possession of his son Whatumamoa, the eponymous ancestor for Ngāti Whatumamoa.

Tunuiarangi (also known as Tunui), was a tohunga, leader of Ngāti Whatumamoa and chief of Heipipi pā. Tauira, the eponymous ancestor of Ngāi Tauira, was the great grandson of Tunui. Ngāi Tauira is an ancient Hapū, preceding Ngāti Tū, and has largely been absorbed by Ngāti Tū through intermarriage. Tauira and his descendants were based on the Te Waka part of Maungaharuru and their pā sites included Pirinoa, Taurua-o-Ngarengare and Tauwhare Papauma.