Te Aitanga-a-Mate – The Descendants of Materoa



Kua ea te wāhanga ki taku taina
My sister’s grief has been appeased
Engari ko te wāhi ki au, kei te toe
But mine has not
Mā wai e ngaki te wahanga ki au?
Who will end the pain that gnaws within me?

PRIOR to the death of Poroumātā his daughter Materoa had married Tameterongo and was living in Wharekōrero Marae on Tītīrangi (Kaiti Hill) in Tūranga.

After the battle of Te Hiku Tawatawa, in which Tūwhakairiora routed the Ngāti Ruanuku of Tongānu, the news was conveyed to Materoa by her grandson Tū-te-huru-tea. Tū-te-huru-tea was the son of Tamaihu, the son of Rangitārewa, who was Materoa’s first husband.

Upon hearing the news, Materoa responded, “Kua ea te wāhanga ki taku taina, Engari ko te wāhi ki au, kei te toe.
Mā wai e ngaki te wahanga ki au? Mā taku mokopuna, mā Pākānui — My sister’s (Te Ataakura) grief has been appeased, but mine has not. Who will end the pain that gnaws within me? There is none other than my grandson, Pākānui.”

Pākānui was Materoa’s grandson through her second husband, Tamaterongo, and their son, Rongo-te-hēngia. At the time Pākānui was on another mission in the Māhia district but returned immediately when told of his grandmother’s request. He told his cousin Tū-te-huru-tea to return to Whareponga and to prepare the way for his visit, but in a way not to cause any alarm.

Pākānui and his party, which included his brothers, their wives and children, arrived by sea and were welcomed ashore by Ngāti Ruanuku at Akuaku — about halfway between Waipiro Bay and Whareponga and near Tokatea, one of the main Ngāti Ruanuku pā. Ngāti Ruanuku of Kōkai and Tokatea were not attacked by Tūwhakairiora in the battle of Te Hiku Tawatawa, and survivors of that slaughter took refuge in Kōkai and Tokatea. Pākānui and his group were invited to stay by Ngāti Ruanuku, who had no cause to fear them because of the women and children in their group. Pākānui was then able to observe Ngāti Ruanuku at close hand, all the while figuring out a way to destroy them. They were grossly outnumbered of course, but Pākānui noticed that Ngāti Ruanuku regularly came into the rocky foreshore channels dotted along the coastline to fish for kehe (sea trout). Pākānui thus hatched his plan.

With the help of his brothers, Pākānui marked out the various fishing channels and also set about soliciting the help of his many relatives who were living amongst Ngāti Ruanuku. Having made their preparations, and with everything in place, Pākānui was now ready to fulfil the wish of his grandmother, Materoa.

On dawn of the appointed day, Pākānui, his brothers and all their men gathered in the fishing channels with their freshly-woven flax nets and began fishing. As Ngāti Ruanuku awoke they saw what was happening and resented the liberty being taken by their guests. Led by their chief Rangi-rākai-kura, Ngāti Ruanuku went down into the channels and demanded that Pākānui and company make way for them to cast their nets. Pākānui did not hesitate, withdrew his net and ordered his men to do the same. Too engrossed in his own fishing by this stage, Rangirākai-kura did not notice Pākānui lift his net in the air, prompting the rest of his men, 90 in all, to do the same, then lunging them down on to their hapless enemy. With Ngāti Ruanuku entangled in the nets, Pākānui and his men withdrew their patu, which had been strapped to their lower leg and concealed by the water, and ruthlessly disposed of the Ngāti Ruanuku fishermen.

By day’s end victory was Pākānui’s. He had overthrown the principal pā of Kōkai and Tokatea and the minor pā of Rangitoto and Maungatere. The battle became known as Te Ika-Kōpara-rua — Two fish in one net, one fish being the kehe and the other being Ngāti Ruanuku. Subsequent battles followed, disposing of the remnant groupings of Ngāti Ruanuku, including Te Taitimuroa (Te Poho-wera — The Burnt Breasts) and Te Roro-hukutai. Among the Ngāti Ruanuku chiefs killed in these battles were Kumikumi, Tūria, Pākeka, Kōhea, Wharepū, Whata, Te Winiwini and Hautao. Some streams and knolls in the area still bear their names. Ngāti Ruanuku had now been completely exterminated, the death of Poroumātā avenged and the way left open for his descendants to return to occupy their lands. Through Tūwhakairiora and Pākānui, Poroumātā’s legacy descended to his oldest daughter Materoa. Her mana is enshrined to this day in the name of the hapū of the whole Whareponga area, Te Aitanga-a-Mate — The descendants of Materoa. Tūwhakairiora himself would leave a legacy through his descendants and alliances.

There is hardly a hapū between Wharekahika (Hicks Bay) in the north to Tokomaru Bay in the south that does not have some connection to him.


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