2020 Host Iwi

Each year, Te Kaunihera o Tāmaki Makaurau hosts Matariki Festival in partnership with local mana whenua. Waikato-Tainui continue as iwi manaaki (host iwi) in 2020.

While many may think that Waikato-Tainui come from “south of the Bombays”, the iwi has a long history and association with Tāmaki Makaurau; from the arrival of Tainui waka to the traditional homes of their paramount chiefs across the region. The stories of Waikato-Tainui contribute to the rich cultural heritage of Tāmaki Makaurau. 

Ko Matariki te kairuuri o Te Mangooroa

Hui e, tāiki ē!

Iwi Stories

Waikato-Tainui: Iwi

Te Manawa o Te Kiingi

Matariki is a significant symbol for Waikato-Tainui. Te Paki o Matariki is nominated as the official Kiingitanga crest, recognising the star cluster as the overarching guide for mana motuhake (self-determination). Commissioned by Kiingi Taawhiao in the 1880s, the image represents the widespread calm of Pleiades, a tribute to Taawhiao’s words that ‘peace and calm prevail when land is returned’. The design balances the physical and spiritual worlds, while the stars represent Matariki and her daughters. 

“We look at Matariki in a heralding way,” says Rahui Papa, Waikato-Tainui spokesperson. “A time for new beginnings.”

The star cluster is interwoven with Waikato-Tainui history and ceremony. Kiingi Korokii, the fifth King was born on 16 June 1909, under te poo tuutanga nui o Pipiri, the longest night of June. Matariki was clearly visible during his birth, and so the date has become a significant commemoration for the tribe. It’s a time to mourn the dead, while also celebrating new life, and planning for the future. 

Each star in the Matariki cluster has a name and is associated with our natural world. One ties to the ocean and the food within it, another represents foods that grow in trees. The iwi has used the brightness of each star as an indicator for the season ahead. 

“Our people would look to the stars that were brightest on the night of the new moon, to help predict what was to come,” shares Rahui. “If the star Tupu aa rangi was bright, then food would flourish in the bush.If it was Waipuna aa rangi, the waters of the heavens, then it would be a very wet year". 

Matariki plays a very important role in the changing of the seasons. 

“Its job is to lead Tama-nui-te-raa from the house of the winter maiden, Hine Takurua, to the house of the summer maiden, Hine Raumati. If you look at it in a metaphorical way, the star cluster leads us from the cold of winter, into a brighter future.”

For Waikato-Tainui, traditions around Matariki include coming together over kai (food) and waiata (song) to strengthen whanaungatanga (relationships). Those that lived inland would plant food crops, binding them to the taiao (environment). Every practice during this season reflects the proverb ‘Ko taku muri, taku mua — my past and my future are synonymous with each other’. 

Ko Matariki te kairuuri o Te Mangooroa
Matariki is the surveyor of the Milky Way

Waikato-Tainui: Waka

Waikato-Tainui Waka Fleet

The taurapa (stern post) of Taaheretikitiki II waka taua was chosen as the hero image for Matariki Festival in 2019. It is one of five waka in the Waikato-Tainui fleet, which makes regular appearances on the Waikato River for special occasions. 

The waka taua is a taonga (treasure) to Waikato-Tainui, with a special whakapapa connection to Ngaati Whaatua. 

In 1972, the building of a waka taua (war canoe) was commissioned by Maaori Queen Te Arikinui Te Atairangikaahu, to be part of the Kiingitanga fleet. Designed and built by the Tuurangawaewae Marae carvers, under the supervision of Master Carver Piri Poutapu, the waka took 18 months to complete. When it came time to give the waka a name, Te Arikinui named it Taaheretikitiki II, in recognition of the historical relationship between Ngaati Whaatua and Waikato-Tainui. 

In the 1880s the original Taaheretikitiki was carved by Paora Kawharu at Reweti. It was gifted to paramount chief Paora Tuuhaere of Ngaati Whaatua, who then re-gifted the waka to Kiingi Taawhiao — historically waka were gifted between iwi to recognise special connections and the new iwi would rename the waka before use. However, in this case Taaheretikitiki retained its original name. The tauihu (carved prow) from the original waka is now housed at Auckland War Memorial Museum — Tāmaki Paenga Hira.

Taaheretikitiki became part of the fleet of Waikato-Tainui and the Kiingitanga. As well as regular appearances at the annual regatta at Tuurangawaewae Marae, it was often used to ferry visitors back and forth across the Waikato River to visit the King. Other uses of the waka were to support kaupapa at Waitangi and other important national events, for Koroneihana celebrations, and they have occasionally been been used as waka tuupaapaku (hearses) for funerals of ariki and rangatira. 

One of the most prominent waka experts in Aotearoa, Hoturoa Kerr (Ngaati Mahuta, Ngaati Hikairo, Ngaati Raukawa, Waikato-Tainui) developed a strong connection to waka early on. As a child, he played on the waka in the storage shed at the marae. In the 1970s his father brought him to watch Te Winika being paddled on the Waitemataa. After watching a movie about Hawaiian waka hourua Hōkūle’a, he knew that waka in all forms would play a major role in his future and a life-long commitment to the kaupapa was born. 

Hoturoa, named after the captain of Tainui waka, is the retired admiral responsible for the care of the Waikato-Tainui fleet and is a kaiaarahi (revered expert and mentor) in the resurgence of waka hourua (double hulled). Under his guidance and watchful eye, waka group Te Toki Voyaging Trust has become an important part of the culture. The Trust operates three sailing vessels in the waters of Taamaki Makaurau, run regular waka ama training sessions and are involved in all aspects of waka life. 

Hoturoa’s teachings have created a new wave of wayfinders and voyagers, with more and more rangatahi making the commitment to living a waka life. The study of stars, oceans, traditional navigational techniques and environment have become second nature to these young Maaori, helping to realise Hoturoa’s dream of seeing the traditional sailing routes used by his tuupuna reopened and used by the next generation
of captains and navigators. 

“The kaupapa of waka is bigger than one person. It is about understanding what is required to make decisions for the well-being of the collective and the waka”. 

Waikato-Tainui: Rohe

Te Ihu a Mataoho

Historical accounts tell the story of a fleet of waka that traversed Te Moana Nui a Kiwa, originating in Hawaiki and arriving in Aotearoa around 1350, navigated by wayfinders, seafarers and explorers known as Maaori. One of the waka that landed during this migration was Tainui, captained by Hoturoa. 

It is from this landing and subsequent journeys of the waka that the pepeha (tribal motto) defining the geographic boundaries of the Waikato-Tainui iwi originates. “Ko Mookau ki runga, ko Taamaki ki raro, ko Mangatoatoa ki waenganui, ko Pare Waikato, ko Pare Hauraki, ko Te Kaokaoroa o Paatetere”. This saying outlines the vast tribal region of Waikato-Tainui, which stretches from Mookau in the south to Auckland in the north, with Mangatoatoa in between; from the Hauraki plains to the west coast of Kaawhia, including the Hapuakohe, Kaimai and Mamaku ranges. 

Following the landing of Tainui waka at Rangitoto, Te Kurae a Tura (Devonport Peninsula) and other places in the region, many chose to stay in the area that became Taamaki Makaurau because of its rich and fertile lands. Volcanic peaks in the area were home to many paa and villages, coastlines became fishing grounds and paataka kai (food cupboards), while the rivers and waterways linked the east and west coasts. 

Some of these places became sites of significance, with names and stories that relate to Tainui waka heritage. 

Karanga-aa-Hape refers to the tohunga, Rakataura. He was nicknamed Hape because of his feet, which turned inwards, and because of this disability, was unable to journey to the new land. Some say he was hurt by this and turned himself into a rat, becoming a stowaway in the gunwales of the waka — Kiore kau i te tahoranui o te waka. 

Other stories tell of Hape navigating Tainui to Aotearoa, where a disagreement with Hoturoa led to him being cast from the waka. He sought help from Tangaroa, who sent the taniwha Kaiwhare to bring him to the mainland. Hape stood at the top of a ridge and called down to Tainui waka, and so, Karanga-aa-Hape was named, becoming the well-known Karangahape Road. 

Between Grandstand Road South and the Auckland War Memorial Museum — Tāmaki Paenga Hira, in the Auckland Domain, is a stand of trees on a hill where paramount chief of Waikato-Tainui and first Maaori King, Pootatau Te Wherowhero, once resided. In that stand of trees is a tootara, planted in 1940 by Te Puea Herangi (great granddaughter to Te Wherowhero) to commemorate the centenary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. Carvings from Kiingitanga master carver, Piri Poutapu, surround the base of the tree.

The hill where this tree is located is known as Pukekaaroa. It is part of Pukekawa, the name given to Auckland Domain, stretching as far as Stanley Street. Pukekawa was identified early on by Maaori as one of the best sites in the isthmus area, with the north-facing side of the volcanic cone well-suited for growing kuumara and the hill as a paa site. 

While in residence, Te Wherowhero became the protector of Te Rauparahaa and of Taamaki. It was here that the saying, "Kia tuupato ki te takahi i te remu o taku kahu" originated, warning hostile tribes not to tread upon the figurative hem of Te Wherowhero’s cloak. With Taamaki being the northern boundary of Tainui waka, it was encompassed within the mana and protectorate of Te Wherowhero and hostile advances would have repercussions.