Host Iwi

Matariki Festival 2016 was the first festival to be hosted in partnership with one of Auckland’s local iwi - giving Tāmaki Makaurau a chance to discover mana whenua stories and understand what Matariki means through mana whenua worldviews.

Ngāti Paoa, of Tāmaki and Hauraki, was the first host iwi and the Tikapa pou, carved and led by Ngāti Paoa artists Puhi Thompson and Chris Bailey, provided the striking cover image for this year’s programme. The Tikapa pou is part of a public artwork that can be found at the Waiheke Library, an ideal place to watch for the Matariki star cluster rising above the horizon in the east.

Ngāti Paoa ki tua ki te pae o Matariki is an extract from a whakatauākī which was written by Morehu Wilson and Hauāuru Rawiri of Ngāti Paoa.

A different mana whenua iwi will take up the host role each year to tell their stories about this special time.

To learn more visit About Matariki.

Te Kotūiti Tuarua

To mark 150 years of the Treaty of Waitangi, every tribe in Aotearoa was given the opportunity to carve and create a waka tauā to participate in the historic celebration in 1990.

Representing Tāmaki Makaurau at Waitangi were two waka tauā; Māhuhu-ki-te-rangi of Ngāti Whātua and Te Kotūiti Tuarua of Ngāti Paoa, built in 1989.

On that historic day, the 6th of February 1990, the shore was swept by the surf and tide of Te Pēwhairangi. Kuia of Ngāti Paoa entered the water and began to call. 

Te Kotūiti Tuarua was the first to enter the sea and leapt to life, eventually joined by the largest fleet of waka tauā in modern history.

Today, Te Kotūiti Tuarua of Ngāti Paoa remains our living symbol of pride, harkening back to an older time, while calling to new generations. 

His name, Te Kotūiti, comes from the forest nursery near Ōpuatia, which created his forbear centuries ago.

Since 1990, Te Kotūiti Tuarua has piloted the seas of Bay of Islands in the north, Te Mānukanuka o Hoturoa to the west and the sea of Tūranga-nui-a-Kiwa in the east. 

He saluted King Tūheitia at the Tūrangawaewae Regatta, accompanied the final procession of Te Ata-i-Rangi-Kaahu to Taupiri, opened Whakanewha National Park on Waiheke Island, and circumnavigated the world as the main character of the short film ‘Taua - War Party’, starring in film festivals from Canada to Berlin, and Asia to as far away as Russia.

His twin is Te Kawau Mārō of Ngāti Maniapoto. Whenever Te Kotūiti Tuarua crosses the Tāmaki River, he raises his paddles to salute Māhuhu-ki-te-rangi who rests upon Ōrākei Marae.

He is 57 feet in length, carries up to 60 paddlers and is recognised by his iconic prow head.

Today, Te Kotūiti Tuarua can be seen on the Waitematā Harbour and Tīkapa Moana at major festivals, tribal events or whenever the sun is shining as a new generation of Ngāti Paoa paddlers explore their ancestral highway.

Te Kotūiti Tuarua has covered more nautical miles than any other waka tauā in Aotearoa. He has been captained by only one person during his lifetime; Matua Hauāuru Rāwiri. 

If you should see him on the water, stop and salute. Even better; ask if there’s a spare seat and pick up a paddle!

Tīkapa is the sea,

Ngāti Paoa the people,

Te Kotūiti the war canoe.

Ngāti Paoa Stories

Ngāti Paoa’s Canoes

Throughout Aotearoa there are river tribes and land tribes. But in Auckland, there are coastal tribes. 

The crown jewels of each coastal tribe are their war canoes, which bear names and carry stories that have shaped the identity of each tribe for hundreds of years. 

One of the largest fleets of waka tauā in Aotearoa belonged to Ngāti Paoa and occupied the waters of Waitematā and Tīkapa Moana. 

This heralded fleet included Te Kotūiti, Kahu-mau-roa, Te Whenua-roa, Hura-whenua, Ahi-motu-kura, Te Rau-kawakawa, Ramaroa, Ngā Pūhoro, Te Tuatara, Pipi-maoa and Hineauroa, to name but a few. 

The waka tauā of Ngāti Paoa travelled the seas from Mahurangi in the north, to the East Coast of the Coromandel. They went about the Hauraki Gulf and down the Tāmaki River. They crossed the land at Te Tō Waka and Karetū Portage, then through to the Manukau Harbour.

They were housed at Mauinaina Pā, Tāpapakanga-a-Puku, Wharekawa, Waiheke Island, Takapuna and Whangaparāoa. 

These waka tauā carried warriors into numerous campaigns over many years. They were symbols of prestige, embodying the marine prowess held by Ngāti Paoa.

They were captained and commanded by ancestors, whose names echo throughout our tribal histories. They were the likes of Te Haupā, Kāeaea, Pōkai and Te Waero. There was Hetaraka Takapuna, Hoera Te Whareponga and Te Ngohi Paki.

A source of local pride and one who had succeeded on many missions, Kahu-mau-roa was also the object of envy for other tribes. He was once stolen and piloted to the Far North.

A huge amount of resources and campaigns were exhausted to ensure his return to Tāmaki-makau-rau; but to no avail. That was until one day Te Haupā – son of Māhia took Te Kotūiti north of Ōpua. He discovered Kahu-mau-roa hidden in a grove of mānawa trees. 

Te Haupā and his men descended on a pā surrounded by a swamp and threw stones into the nearby mangroves during the night.

Kahu-mau-roa’s hull echoed out with each thrown stone. It was hauled and dragged out across the land, then paddled home to Hauraki.

Today Kahu-mau-roa and Te Kotūiti rest in an ocean graveyard beyond Maraetai, while their head prows and stern posts rest in secret and silence.    

This is my composition - Hi                               

This is my composition - Ha                               

This is my composition for this war canoe     

This is Kotūiti Tuarua who has landed           

Who cuts his way through the sea             

Sacred canoe of Tāne                                    

Standing in dread                                         

Standing in awe                                                        

A shimmering symbol

The Story Behind a Poem

In the middle of a cold, rainy night in 1942, with World War II in mid-flight and on foreign soil, a small group of Ngāti Paoa elders were instructed to dig up their dead. 

As the elders hauled up a coffin under order and by torchlight, the lid was damaged and the body inside exposed. 

The man inside was Rāwiri Puhata, a Ngāti Paoa chief who lived his life between his ancestral homelands of Waiheke Island and Takapuna. A man whose mother, Riria and her father had aided Bishop Pompallier’s personal request for a land parcel for the ‘purposes of education’. But after the gift of land was made, Riria would tell her son that the boundary markers of the gifted land, “seemed to forever grow and grow”.

In the middle of a hot humid day, in 1916, with World War I in mid-flight and on foreign soil, Rāwiri Puhata and his cousin Wi Repa Hētaraka launched the first act of passive resistance in Auckland. They staged a peaceful protest on the Roman Catholic reserve in Northcote. 

The two cousins laid down their mats, filled their pipes and quietly ignored the insults hurled at them by the public. They were arrested and taken to court where Rāwiri launched an unsuccessful appeal to see his mother’s rights to the reserve recognised. Rāwiri and Wi were then both fined by the court.

Rāwiri Puhata passed away with his mother’s land rights unresolved and on that cold rainy night during World War II, Rāwiri’s body was arrested once more. 

Amongst the group of Ngāti Paoa elders that night in 1942 was Rāwiri’s daughter, Mihikerei Rehutai Te Uri Karaka Puhata. There, helping her dig out her father was her twenty-year old foster son, Hone Tūwhare.

Twenty years after that night, Hone wrote this poem.


Burial, by Hone Tūwhare

In a splendid sheath

of polished wood and glass

with shiny appurtenances

lay he fitly blue-knuckled

and serene:

Hurry rain and trail him to the bottom of the grave.

Flowers beyond budding

will not soften the gavel’s

beat of solemn words

and hard sod thudding:

Hurry rain and seek him to the bottom of the grave.

Through a broken window

inanely looks he up;

his face glass-gouged and bloodless

his mouth engorging clay

for all the world uncaring…

Cover him quickly, earth! Let the inexorable seep of rain finger his greening bones, deftly.


Today, Rāwiri Puhata lies in the Ngāti Paoa urupā of Te Huruhi on Waiheke Island, just beyond the gates of Piritahi Marae. 

There is no headstone marking his grave. There is simply a rock, ensuring he and his relatives will never be disturbed again.  

Matariki is a time when we gather our collective memories from the past and our hopes for the future and we send them skyward before the coming of the sun.

Proverbs of Ngāti Paoa

He turuturu pourewa, he uri nō Paoa

Like a pied stilt, so are the descendents of Paoa.

Paoa was blessed with a prime location for his home, which sat on the northern tip of Hākari-mata, directly opposite the sacred mountain of Taupiri. 

It was known as Kaitōtehe and despite being home to a farm and a few sheep today, Kaitōtehe stood as one of two sentinel peaks, which marked a major bend in the Waikato River – Kaitōtehe on the west and Te Mata-o-Tū-Tonga (Taupiri) on the east. 

But every blessing has an underside, and the Waikato River, being the super highway of its day, saw heavy traffic constantly moving in both directions. The more visitors one received, the more supplies a host required. 

But every blessing has an underside, and the Waikato River, being the super highway of its day, saw heavy traffic constantly moving in both directions. The more visitors one received, the more supplies a host required. 

As Mahuta paddled down the river in search of supplies, Paoa became ill with shame. By afternoon, Paoa looked back at his home from the summit of Tikitiki-maurea beyond the Mangawara stream and mourned for the home he had left. Kaitōtehe stood behind, but Hauraki stood beyond.

Paoa joined a settlement at Mirimiri-rau in the Hauraki district. Free from the duty of serving daily visitors, he was able to turn new lands into high yield harvests. As the crops grew, so too did his reputation.

Tukutuku, grand-daughter of Tama-te-rā and great grand-daughter of Marutūahu was not only descended from the senior lines from both parents, but she was also ready to marry.  

When word reached her that a new suitor was living in the neighbourhood with serious gardening skills, Tukutuku became curious.

However, there was mystery surrounding the new man. No one knew how long he was going to stay, where he was from, or exactly what he looked like. All they knew was his growing reputation. An invitation was sent.

Eager to meet Tukutuku but desperate to play it cool, Paoa chose the scenic route over the direct one, and thus visited a series of pā prior to the village where she resided.  He slowly made his way to Paeroa via Te Kerepēhi with his entourage and as he approached, Tukutuku’s  friends and relatives gasped and exclaimed together:

He kōhure a Paoa, me he turuturu pourewa.

Paoa stands out above all others, like a pied stilt bird. 

A pied stilt is a long, lean and graceful coastal bird which represents a set of physical traits shared by many of his descendants today. Ha!

He turuturu pourewa, he uri nō Paoa.

Like a pied stilt, so are the descendents of Paoa.


Paoa, puku-nui

Paoa, big stomach.

The news reached Tukutuku's village that Paoa was due at midday on the morrow. Descriptions of every kind had painted a vivid picture in her mind of the man, and as per Tukutuku's instructions, her people had loyally gathered every variety of delicacy from the waters of Tīkapa. There was smoked shark with cracked pepper leaves, pātiki infused with miro berry juice and creamed pāua. Excitement abounded throughout the pā as Tukutuku was adorned in her mother's taonga.


He rehu i te pae!

A whale splash on the horizon.

The entourage had arrived and karanga filled the air.

Everyone took up positions to gain the best view. The entourage entered and all eyes searched for the most regally dressed among the visitors. But no one caught sight of a ‘turuturu pourewa' dressed in fine cloaks, draped in pounamu, with a high topknot thatched in feathers.  

Where was he?

The visitors took their positions on weaved mats and received the hosts welcome. Village eyes searched every rank and row. There were fine looking men seated in front, but none possessed the height or build which matched the reputation.

The first course of food was served and instantly devoured. But, still no sign of a man amongst them who stood out above all others. Then Tukutuku's people actioned a plan to flush out the man they had heard so much about. A second course of food was offered; an improvised dish full of left over fish parts.

As the dish worked its way down each row, each visitor looked inside the bowl, smelt the contents and turned his back. Every man, except one. A man, hidden by a worn cloak, seated at the rear, with hair around his shoulders sat quietly and ate everything that was offered.

The people sniggered. Another bowl of food, unfit for a chief, was sent out. Once again, the food was quietly consumed by the stranger, but instead of collective sniggering, a silence fell upon the pā. 

Then the stranger stood up, took his position and thanked his hosts for the kindness they had shown, the hospitality they had shared and the offerings of food they made.

The entire pā was overcome with admiration for the man who had taken the 'slight' and transformed it into an act of humility.


Paoa puku nui

Paoa who humbled himself, to the admiration of all.

Today ‘Ngāti Paoa puku nui’ has expanded beyond its origin where the sentiment now reflects the wealth of resources within the domain of Ngāti Paoa.


Paoa puku nui

Paoa of endless bounty and enormous appetite.


Ngā Pepeha a Ngāti Paoa

Ngāti Paoa taringa rahirahi.

Once Tukutuku and Paoa united, they formed one of the great dynasties of Hauraki.  But, before Paoa left Tukutuku's home, he was showered with more invitations to visit other pā in the district. 

Many in his entourage refused, feeling they’d visited enough settlements in the area, but Paoa turned to them and said, 

Me rahirahi tonu. Kaua e mātotoru,

Be open, not closed.

In this first state, ‘rahirahi’ carried the meaning of ‘being open-minded and understanding, not rude or close-minded.' 

The original meaning of the word 'rahirahi' as it left Paoa's lips has evolved through time.

One of the key events which reshaped this word and then formed our most famous pepeha took place during a fishing trip beyond Mahurangi. 

To the East of Kawau Island is a renowned shark bed, which drew tribes from all over the region each calendar year. Tribes came from as far West as Waiuku and as far East as Whangamatā. Half empty fishing canoes would turn up to Kawau Island in the morning, and by midday, those same fishing boats would return home, burdened by the weight of shark carcasses.

The Ngāti Paoa fishing base at Waiheke Island meant a huge fleet of fishing canoes turned up whenever the season was right. 

One day, the son of a chief from a neighbouring tribe pulled up a huge shark with his hook and said, 

Ko te waha a Te Haupā e katikati ana i taku matau,

Nibbling at the end of my hook is the chief of Ngāti Paoa, Te Haupā.

The words travelled across the bay, across the water and to the attentive ears of Ngāti Paoa fishermen.

Te Haupā was the commander of the waka taua Kotūiti and the eldest son of Te Mahia, paramount chief of Ngāti Paoa. 

At nightfall, the Ngāti Paoa fishermen of Waiheke piloted their canoes to the home of the person responsible for the barbed words, Tara-Hawaiki, and responded in force.


Ngāti Paoa taringa rahirahi

Ngāti Paoa – who hear and respond to all insults with speed and force.

Every tribe has their own aphorism, which captures a moment in history where the actions or language of an ancestor become enshrined in simple language, and always carry a deeper meaning. 

In many ways, the shorter the phrase, the greater the meaning, but one needs more historical context and knowledge to decipher the central idea. 

These small worded tribal badges not only shed light on the inherited identity of that tribe but also inspire new generations of that tribe with a characteristic to pursue, fulfil and imbue.

We of Ngāti Paoa have a whakataukī and two pepeha, which originate from the episode from which our ancestors Paoa and Tukutuku were first united and Ngāti Paoa was born. 

Ko Ngāti Paoa puku nui

Ko Ngāti Paoa taringa rahirahi

He turuturu pourewa, he uri nō Paoa