Kōrero Tuku Iho

Te Waka o Aoraki me Kā Tiritiri o Te Moana

The formation of the South Island and the Southern Alps

From the nothingness came Te Mākū who coupled with Mahoranuiatea.  From this union came Ranginui, Sky Father.  Ranginui married a woman called Pokoharuatepō.  From this union came Aoraki, Rakirua, Rakiroa and Rarakiroa. This is their story.

Aoraki and his brothers lived in the heavens.  One day Aoraki decided to visit their stepmother Papatūānuku. Along with his brothers, Aoraki boarded the waka (canoe), Te Waka o Aoraki and travelled down through the heavens.  Soon they came across Papatūānuku, Mother Earth. 

Having met their stepmother and explored the whenua, the brothers then set about finding food.  They found a good fishing spot, lowered their hooks and waited.  They waited and waited.  But no fish were biting.  They decided it was time to go home.

The brothers readied the waka and Aoraki began to recite the karakia (incantations) to take their magical waka back up into the heavens.  The brothers, by now very hungry and grumpy, began to grumble.  Soon grumbling turned to fighting.  Aoraki, so distracted by the fighting, lost his concentration and made a mistake in the karakia.  The consequence was immediate.  The waka crashed back down onto Papatūānuku, breaking into pieces.  The brothers managed to save themselves by scrambling onto an upturned portion of the waka.

Try as he may, Aoraki was unable to fix the mistake he had made in the karakia. The brothers remained on the upturned waka, calling to their father and pleading with their stepmother to help them.  No help came. 

Centuries passed.  The upturned canoe petrified, and the four brothers turned to stone.  The tallest amongst them was Aoraki.

Many generations later, people began to populate Papatūānuku. They renamed Te Waka o Aoraki the South Island.  They renamed the brothers, Rakirua Mount Teichelmann, Rakiroa Mount Dampier, Rarakiroa Mount Tasman and the tallest of them all, Aoraki Mount Cook.  The four brothers became known as part of the mountain range called the Southern Alps, Kā Tiritiri o Te Moana.

Te Waihora me Te Pātaka o Rākaihautū

The creation of Te Waihora and the Banks Peninsula

Following the wreckage of Te Waka o Aoraki, Ranginui sent his three mokopuna, Tūterakiwhanoa, Marokura and Kahukura from the heavens to transform the broken waka.

Tūterakiwhanoa’s job was to gather together the broken pieces and carve the keel of the upturned waka into mountains and valleys. Raking together the waka pieces was hard work.  He raked and lifted and piled the broken pieces.  To stablize himself, Tūterakiwhanoa dug his heel into Papatūānuku, creating a permanent indentation in the land, an indentation which was soon to fill with water.  This shallow expanse of water was to become known as Te Waihora Lake Ellesmere and the raked pile of waka pieces became known as Te Pātaka o Rākaihautū, the Banks Peninsula.

Once Tūterakiwhanoa’s job was done Kahukura set about foresting the bare landscape and filling it with animals. Marokura carved bays, inlets and estuaries and populated them with fish of many varieties.  When their work was done the three mokopuna had created a land fit for human occupation. 

To this day the mauri or spiritual essence of Tūterakiwhanoa still resides in Te Waihora, near Whakamātakiuru, Fishermans Point.  This mauri reminds the people of Taumutu of their responsibility as the tangata tiaki (the guardians) of Te Waihora and the surrounding area.

Rākaihautū me te waka Uruao

Rākaihautū and the Uruao canoe, the first migration

Ko Rākaihautū te takata nāna i tīmata te ahi ki ruka ki tēnei motu.

Rākaihautū was the man who lit the fires of occupation on this island.


The first people to settle on Te Waka o Aoraki, also known as Te Waipounamu and the South Island, came aboard the waka Uruao, captained by explorer, Rākaihautū. This is his story.

Many generations ago, our ancestors lived in a place called Hawaiki.  There lived a chief, Taitewhenua who decided to give his sea voyaging waka to Matiti.  Matiti was a renowned tohunga kōkōrangi, an astronomer.  He gave the waka to Rākaihautū, encouraging him to explore new lands.

Following the advice of Matiti, Rākaihautū and his kin of Te Kāhui Tipua, Te Kāhui Roko and Te Kāhui Waitaha, board the waka Uruao and navigated their way to Te Waipounamu.  Landing first in Nelson, they divided into two groups.  Rākaihautū led his group, by foot, to Foveaux Strait.  His son Te Rakihouia took over the captaincy of the waka and circumnavigated Te Waipounamu.

Rākaihautū travelled south, carrying with him a kō or digging stick called Tūwhakaroria.  Along the way he used the kō to ‘dig’ and ‘fashion’ the many lakes and waterways of the island.  When he was finished exploring the land, he laid his kō to rest on top of a mountain, giving the kō a new name, Tuhiraki.

While the purpose of a kō is as a digging implement, symbolically Rākaihautū used his kō as a pou whenua (marker) to name and claim the many significant waterways and landmarks of Te Waka o Aoraki.

The last two lakes that Rākaihautū ‘dug’ were Te Waihora and Wairewa, Lake Ellesmere and Lake Forsyth respectively.  The mountain upon which he laid his kō was later renamed Mount Bossu.

Te Rakihouia me Kā Poupou o Te Rakihouia

The Eel Weirs of Te Rakihouia

The first people to arrive in the central Canterbury area were those on the Uruao waka under the captaincy of Te Rakihouia, who had taken over the waka from his father Rākaihautū.  Te Rakihouia had been instructed by his father to seek out the rich resources of Ki Tai, the coastal area while he, Rākaihautū, traversed the mountain regions identifying the resources of Ki Uta, the land.

This first migration of people were generally known as Waitaha.  Included in this tribal grouping were descendants of Te Kāhui Tipua, Te Kāhui Roko, Te Rapuwai, Ngāti Hawea, Ngāti Wairangi and Waitaha.

In his travels along the eastern coastline Te Rakihouia came upon a wetland and lake teeming with fish and birds.  He claimed the coastline naming it ‘Kā Poupou O Te Rakihouia’ The Eel Weirs Of Te Rakihouia. And, when he reunited with his father, Te Rakihouia took him to the wetlands and lake.  So, taken by the abundance of mahinga kai (food and resource), Rākaihautū claimed the wetland and lake naming it Te Kete Ika A Rākaihautū, The Fish Basket Of Rākaihautū.

Tūtekawa me Waikākahi

Tūtekawa and the pā Waikākahi

Some generations later a Ngāti Māmoe chief named Tūtekawa, who had been embroiled in skirmishes with his chiefly relations in the North Island, came to live at Ōhōkana near Kaiapoi.  Before leaving Wellington, Tūtekawa had killed Tūāhuriri’s wives Hinekakai and Tūarawhati.  The consequences of this deed were to follow Tūtekawa for the rest of his days.

Upon hearing of the quality and quantity of mahinga kai in Te Waihora Tūtekawa, his wife Tūkorero and family moved to the shores of the lake and built the pā Waikākahi, near the entrance to Wairewa Lake Forsyth.  He renamed the lake Te Kete Ika A Tūtekawa, The Fish Basket Of Tūtekawa.

His son Te Rakitāmau meanwhile built his pā at southwest end of Te Waihora, at Taumutu naming it Hakitai.

Surrounded by his allies, and at a distance from his enemies, Tūtekawa felt quite safe. After many years though his hapū were growing anxious with the rapid southward advance of Ngāi Tahu. They urged the old chief to escape while the opportunity remained, but his only reply was “What will then become of the basket of flat fish spread open here?”

Tūtekawa was killed when the Ngāi Tahu forces arrived at Waikākahi, and the various chiefs of Ngāi Tahu set out to secure land for themselves.

Te Ruahikihiki me Orariki

Te Ruahikihiki and the pā Orariki

Ko tāku kāika ko Orariki
My home is Orariki

Prior to their arrival on Banks Peninsula a young chief Te Ruahikihiki had received reports about the abundance of inanga, pātiki and tuna in Te Waihora and proclaimed “Tāku kāika ko Orariki” Orariki at Taumutu is my home, thus placing a taunaha, claim of discovery, on it.

Once at Banks Peninsula though, Te Ruahikihiki claimed several places with his first landing at Wainui, Akaroa where he commenced to dig fern root and cook it. He then passed around the coast, establishing a pā at Whakamoa.  He eventually left Whakamoa, leaving his stepson Manaia there and other relatives at Waikākahi before taking his permanent residency at the pā of Orariki, Taumutu.

Orariki and a second pā Te Pā o Te Ikamutu were built on the southern end of Te Waihora, on a narrow section of land between the edge of Te Waihora and the sea.  The remains of Te Pā o Te Ikamutu are now indiscernible in the sand dunes of Kā Poupou o Te Rakihouia.  The Hone Wetere Church stands on the remains of Orariki.  Both pā were built on strategic and defensible sites that were once surrounded by swampland.  Earthwork remains are still visible at Orariki, the most obvious of which are the ramparts to the western edge of the urupā, cemetery.

Son of Manawaiwaho and Te Apai, Te Ruahikihiki was to become the eponymous ancestor of the hapū, Ngāi Te Ruahikihiki.

Ngāi Te Ruahikihiki maintains ahi kā, traditional stewardship at Taumutu to this day, and together with the residence of Tūterakiwhanoa at Whakamātakiuru, maintain the primary responsibility of kaitiaki for Te Waihora.  This kaitiaki responsibility is shared with the surrounding hapū Ngāi Tūāhuriri and Te Pātaka O Rākaihautū.

Designed by T S Lambert, the Hone Wetere Church, a Wesleyan church, was built and opened on Easter Tuesday, 7 April 1885.  Although iron has replaced the shingles on the roof and the belfry from the western gable has been removed, the church has remained relatively unchanged.  Early records state that the belfry was ‘lost’ in the early 1880’s.

Moki me Te Pā o Moki

Moki and his pā

Our ancestor, Te Ruahikihiki married two sisters Hikaiti and Te Aotaurewa.  From the union with Hikaiti came Moki II, Te Matauira and Ritoka.  Taoka was his son with Te Aotaurewa.

Moki II established his pā to the south west of Orariki.  Much like Orariki and Te Pā O Te Ikamutu, Moki’s pā was built amongst the swampland and was surrounded by defensive ramparts, some which are still visible today. 

A ‘rūnanga hall’ was opened on 7 May 1891, replacing earlier structures on the site.  The hall was named Moki after our ancestor Moki. Since that time Moki and the marae complex has undergone extensive modernisation and additions over the years and so bears little resemblance to its original 1891 form.

The whare kai (dining room) and kitchen were replaced in the early 1980’s.  The whare kai was named Riki Te Mairaki in memory of our kaumatua Riki Ellison, son of Tini Wiwi Taiaroa and Dr Edward Pohau Ellison.

During the same period an additional whare hui was also erected on site, a decommissioned army barracks, which was named after another ancestor, Tūteahuka.

The addition of a carved waharoa (gateway), circa 2010, Te Pātaka o Tūterakihaunoa, was designed and carved by Te Maehe Arahanga, a descendant of the Taiaroa whakapapa.  The waharoa was blessed by Con Jones and the whānau of Taumutu.