On 18 January 2017, our Hapū of Maungaharuru – Tangitū will gift Whakaari Landing Place Reserve to the people of Aotearoa, New Zealand.

Whakaari is integral to the distinct identity and mana of Ngāti Marangatūhetaua (Ngāti Tū), including Ngāti Whakaari and Ngāi Te Ruruku (ki Tangoio). It is an iconic and significant pā (fortified village) of our Hapū. Whakaari is important because of its relationship with, and proximity to, Tangitū (the sea). Tangitū is vital to our Hapū and mauri (life force) is the basis of the spiritual relationship.

Whakaari is believed to have been named after our tipuna (ancestor) of the same name. Whakaari is a descendant of the Ngāti Tū chief Kohipipi. One day, while out in a waka (canoe), he was concerned about the increasingly stormy weather and decided to return to shore. Others in the waka did not want to return, so he swam ashore. He arrived at the headland, and so it was named after him. Whakaari’s descendants are known as ‘Ngāti Whakaari’ and are a section of Ngāti Tū. Ngāti Whakaari is associated with Petane.

Whakaari was a strategically important pā, especially in the time of the eponymous ancestors, Marangatūhetaua (for Ngāti Tū), Tataramoa (for Ngāti Kurumōkihi formerly known as Ngāi Tatara) and Te Ruruku (for Ngāi Te Ruruku (ki Tangoio)). Whakaari was used as a look out. It overlooked and protected the landing sites for waka on the bays below and stood as a bastion on the northern and eastern flanks. The southern and western flanks

were protected from invasion overland by Ngāmoerangi pā. Ngāmoerangi also prevented the waka taua (enemy war canoes) that came across the bay from landing. Situated in the middle and just behind these pā was the formidable pā, Te Rae-o-Tangoio in the Tangoio valley.

Whakaari was also used from time to time as a place of refuge. In the era of the musket, invasion by surrounding iwi caused many Ngāti Kahungunu hapū to flee to Te Māhia. Whakaari provided protection to Ngāti Tū and Ngāti Kurumōkihi who remained in the takiwā during this time.

Whakaari was traditionally an important mahinga kai (place for gathering food) for our Hapū, with numerous significant rocks and reefs nearby. In the past, kaimoana (seafood) was in plentiful supply. Whakaari is still a mahinga kai today, although the kai is no longer abundant.

Whakaari is a sheltered haven on a rough coast. It was used as a landing place for waka and in later times, for boats. Whakaari was the starting point for a trail inland, an important place for our Hapū travelling by sea, and it was where we left for our fishing grounds up and down the coast.

Whakaari is still significant to our Hapū, not only because it carries the name of a founding tipuna, but also because of its rich history and its spiritual and cultural importance. It is commemorated in a waiata tangi by Kowhio.