Tamatea Painting

Artist - Warren Pohatu


Tamatea Arikinui’s son was Rongokako, a tohunga who could take giant strides. In the contest with Pāoa to win the hand of Muriwhenua, he strode across land and sea, leaving footprints at Kahurānaki in the Heretaunga area, Kiriaehae at Māhia, and Te Tapuwae o Rongokako near Whāngārā. Rongokako and Muriwhenua had a son, Tamatea Ure Haea. He was also known as Tamatea-pōkai-whenua-pōkai-moana because he circumnavigated New Zealand. Tamatea-pōkai-whenua was the father of Kahungunu who is the ancestor of all who belong to the Ngāti Kahungunu iwi.

Te Waka Tākitimu

Tākitimu is one of the most sacred waka to travel Aotearoa. Commissioned by the chief Tamatea-Arikinui. Leading tohunga Ruawharo, Tūpai and Rongoputahi built the vessel. The process began with potent karakia to invoke the support of the Gods. Construction workers underwent rigorous ritual ceremonies before starting any work. Several sacred adzes were used the shape the hull including Te Awhiorangi, Te Whironui, Rakuraku-o-Tawhaki, Matangirei and Huiterangiora. The waka was shaped at a hill called Titirangi then dragged to Tamatea’s village at Whangāra. It was cordoned off and the tohunga set about completing the vessel. They added the front piece, sides, sleeping quarters, masts and the figurehead. A special box was built near Ruawharo’s bow seat. It would hold very tapu cargo. Ruawharo collected the mauri of many gods including Rangi, Papa, Tāne, Tū, Rongo and Haumia in order to transport them to the new lands. He is also credited with bringing the mauri of the whales to Aotearoa. These were all placed in the special compartment. Six sacred steering paddles were carved including Rapangaiteatinuku, Rapangaiterangi, Maninitua, Maniniaro, Tangi-wiwini and Tangi-wawana. After sea trials at Pikopikoiwhiti the waka was deemed ready. Under the full moon Ruawharo began his karakia to protect their expedition. At first light Tākitimu began its epic voyage and glided toward the horizon. The journey was largely uneventful thus Tākitimu arrived in tact and fully laden. They landed first at Awanui near Ahipara where some of the crew settled. Tākitimu then sailed up around to Tauranga-moana where Tamatea-Arikinui stayed. They continued to follow the eastern coastline and eventually landed at Nukutaurua. Ruawharo disembarked there, taking with him the many special mauri. These he placed in special places committing them back to the land with powerful karakia. In this way he was able to complete his purpose on the journey and bring the mission to a close, an important part of tikanga Māori. Many tribes have links to Tākitimu from the far north all the way down the eastern seaboard and its influence extends as far as Rakiura (Stewart Island).