Contact Us    Phone / 06 751 4285   |   Email / admin@taranaki.iwi.nz

The naming of Taranaki

The name of the mountain is memorialised by the deeds of Taranaki iwi ancestors Maruwhakatare, Ruataranaki and Tahurangi. No sooner had the mountain become a permanent part of the geography, Ruataranaki travelled high up to the source of the Hangatahua River where he ceremonially anchored the mountain to have his name placed its slopes. He climbed to its base and dug a cave (rua) where he settled for a period of time. When the time came for the naming ceremony, Maruwhakatare, his father in-law consecrated the ceremony by karakia. After a while Tahurangi then climbed the peak and lit a ceremonial fire to fix the name of Ruataranaki and place his authority over the whole mountain. The rua (cave) that Ruataranaki had excavated became a famous burial cave named ‘Te Ana a Tahatiti’ that was used up until the end of the 19th century for the interment of bones. This is near the source of the Hangatahua River where it flows from the Ahukawakawa swamp and over Te Rere a Tahurangi (Bells Falls) into the Hangatahua river course.

The lighting of the fire by Tahurangi is commemorated in the following statements;

‘ko te ahi a Tahurangi moo te pukeaao
ka tuu tonu te pukeaao kia tiketike
ka whakahinga te pukeaao i ngaa awatea i ngaa ahiahi’

‘the fire of Tahurangi is like an alpine cloud
that ascends [the peak] and remains suspended,
it then falls during the day and in the evening’

Taranaki people remark on the smoke from the fire of Tahurangi when cloud forms near the peak in the mornings and evenings.

The proverb of Tahurangi for the peak of Taranaki

‘ka puta ki waho ko Puketoretore
i whakakaitoa ana mai ki taku taiaha
takahia atu au ko raro ki te whenua
haapai atu ai au i taku taiaha
me he kakau toki’

‘Puketoretore (the water soaked peak) has emerged
my taiaha expresses satisfaction
I tread the land there below
bearing my taiaha like
the kakau toki (ceremonial adze)’

These expressions are still used today in varying forms. Taranaki people remark on the smoke from the fire of Tahurangi when cloud forms near the peak in the mornings and evenings. Upon Tahurangi’s decent from the peak he then stood on Panitahi (Fanthoms Peak) and declared;

‘koia teenei te mihi nui kei runga o koopuutauaki,
me he tangata pea koe e whai muri i aau
ka noho a Tahurangi i runga o Taranaki
kai atu he pikopiko mouku, he pikopiko mamaku
he pikopiko panako’

‘this is the greeting placed upon kōpūtauaki
(the exposed belly of the earth)
if you are a person who perhaps would want to find me
Tahurangi remains upon Taranaki
eating shoots of mouku fern, shoots of mamaku fern
and shoots of the panako fern’

Panitahi is the lower peak on the southern side of Taranaki. Accounts about Panitahi describe the peak as being orphaned. The western edge of Panitahi is named Rangitoto where the rock has a red, blood like hue.

The arrival of the Kurahaupo kin from Hawaiki foreshadowed a new period of occupation and interaction between the Kahui Maunga and Hawaiki people. This era was known as ‘ngā uruwaka’. When the Kurahaupō people arrived bearing the sacred kura, marriages soon produced a mix of Kāhui and Kurahaupō cousins. The influx of the new migrants also created tension and the Kāhui people were forced to relocate into various places along the western seaboard.