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.
Above: Maungaharuru (the mountain range) and Tangitū (the sea), as seen from Napier.

This whakatauākī (tribal proverb):

  • describes the takiwā (traditional area) of our Hapū – from Maungaharuru (the mountain range) in the west, to Tangitū (the sea) in the east; and
  • it proclaims ahi-kā-roa (long occupation) of our Hapū and our 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 the takiwā. It is still customary practice for Hapū members to recite this whakatauākī to identify where we come from and the relationship that connects us to the natural world.

Hapū kaumātua also emphasise the connectedness of Maungaharuru with Tangitū. The waters flowing from the maunga (mountain) feed the rivers, lakes, wetlands and sea – the realm of Tangaroa-i-te-Rupetu (the spiritual guardian of the sea and other water bodies and all that lives within them).

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”.

In the past, Maungaharuru was bountiful. From the domain of Tāne-nui-a-rangi, our Hapū sourced our kai (food). We gathered aruhe (fern root), pikopiko (young fern shoots), the tī kouka (cabbage tree), berries and huhu (edible grubs) and caught manu (birds). Rongoā (medicinal plants), bark, fern fronds and timber for building materials, flowers for pigments, leaves and seeds for oils, paru (special mud) for dyes and other resources were also gathered.

Tangitū was traditionally a vital food source for our Hapū, and in the past, kaimoana (seafoods) were in plentiful supply. From the domain of Tangaroa our Hapū sourced our kai (food). We caught ika (fish), tuna (eels), īnanga and ngaore (forms of whitebait) and kōura (crayfish) and gathered kuku (mussels), kina (sea urchin) and pāua (abalone). Rongoā (medicinal plants) such as kaiō (sea tulip) and sea water were also collected for medicinal purposes. Other resources that were gathered included tāwhaowhao (driftwood), pungapunga (pumice) and rimurimu (bull kelp) for storing tītī (muttonbirds).

Maungaharuru and Tangitū were also integral to the economy of our Hapū – kai and resources gathered were often traded with our neighbours.

This whakatauākī also implies that the manuhiri (visitors) of our Hapū will be served kai from Maungaharuru and Tangitū. The ability to offer the range and quality of kai our Hapū had from our takiwā enhanced our mana.

In addition, the gathering of kai and resources has the reciprocal obligation of our Hapū to act as kaitiaki (guardians). Our Hapū had tohu (signs) and tikanga (customs) which dictated the appropriate time and practices for gathering food and resources from Maungaharuru and Tangitū. Mātauranga (knowledge) associated with the collection of resources was central to the lives of our Hapū and remains a significant part of the cultural identity of our Hapū today. Mātauranga and associated tikanga, karakia (prayers) and kawa (rules) are all essential
for maintaining customary traditions – the ritual and tapu (sacredness) associated with gathering and utilising resources.

Above: The whakatauākī features on the Waharoa at Tangoio Marae.