THE people of the Muriwai area, known as Ngāi Tāmanuhiri, claim descent from their ancestor Tāmanuhiri. The tribe was previously known as Ngāi Tahupō, a reference to its origins from Tahu Pōtiki, the eponymous ancestor of the Ngāitahu (Kaitahu) tribe of the South Island and also the younger brother of Porourangi.
Tāmanhuri was born about 1575. The following story about Tāmanuhiri was adapted from the story told by Heni Sunderland in the book Muriwai and Beyond (Angela Hair, 1985).
Tāmanuhiri lived at Mātītī just south of Muriwai with his wife, Rongomaiāwhia, and their family. Tāmanuhiri was renowned for his generosity and service to his people. His wife, however, was not so kindly described. Every time Tāmanuhiri required work to be done Rongomaiāwhia refused, asserting that such work was unbecoming of her status. Tāmanuhiri soon grew tired of this and developed an interest in another woman named Hinenui, who lived with her husband, Tawake, across the adjacent valley on the hill called Taranaki. From all accounts Hinenui and Tawake did not have any children. They lived in the hills but did all their planting and agricultural work in the valley where the Muriwai cemetery is now.
On one occasion, when Hinenui was working in her kumara gardens, the gallant and bold Tāmanuhiri approached her and basically cornered her in the kumara pit. She tried to get out but Tāmanuhiri blocked her way, the result being that Hinenui left her husband and Tāmanuhiri left his wife and children and set up a home with Hinenui. According to stories handed down, the couple lived at Te Puru Pā at Pukehou.
Hinenui was childless until her liaison with Tāmanuhiri, and when she became pregnant to him she made the following quote, which is commemorated on a plaque in the dining hall, Maungarongo, at the Muriwai Marae. It says “Tāku hē ki te huatea nō muri te huauri”. Literally, “My mistake in choosing an infertile person, the one after, however, is very fertile”. Hinenui acknowledged her error in choosing a husband who could not produce any children — huatea — compared to the husband who followed (Tāmanuhiri) who was a prolific progenitor — huauri.
The descendants of this union form the iwi (tribe) we now know as Ngāi Tāmanuhiri who occupy the lands in and around the Muriwai area.