1. Tekoteko – The Six Koromātua of Ngāti Whakaue

The Carvings: 
At the entrance stands guardianship six 2m tall and 800 wide beautifully carved tekoteko (human like figures). Hand crafted to represent our ancestors who instill protection and guardianship over the land in which Wai Ariki stands on.

These tekoteko (ancestors) represent the spiritual connection between the Iwi (tribe) and ancestors.

These striking figures are hand crafted by wood carvers, Hohepa Peni, Haami Te Aho, Tawharau Mohi, Dallas Hawe, Aturangi Mohi and expert carvers, Clive Fugill and Albert Te Pou. All ex-graduate students of NZ Māori Arts and Crafts Institute.

Each carved tekoteko (ancestor) tells a unique story, the designs and patterns reflect their individual characteristics of that time. A grand entrance for all to see.

Tekoteko refers to a group of significant ancestors from our tribe of Ngāti Whakaue. See below for description on each Koromātua (ancestor) of Ngāti Whakaue 

#1 Te Roro-o-te-rangi
Te Roro-o-te-rangi was the eldest son of Ariariterangi. His father fell in battle at Maketū with Ngāi Te Rangi. Te Roro-o-te-rangi was a fierce warrior and leader of his people, and upon his father’s death he sought revenge.

The forces of Te Roro-o-te-rangi attacked Ngāi Te Rangi at Maketū and just as the battle Pā was about to fall, a woman of the Pā named Kurau-ihu-rangi climbed one of the parapets and called out to Te Roro-o-te-rangi asking him if he would spare the Pā.

Proving himself to be a man of great compassion, Te Roro-o-te-rangi agreed and withdrew his forces. Presents were offered to Te Roro-o-te-rangi to seal the peace, including a greenstone mere named Kaitangata (eater of man).

For some time, Te Roro-o-te-rangi lead his people at Rotorua.

There came a time when Tamamutu, a renowned rangatira from Ngāti Tūwharetoa at Taupō, was thought to have been insulted by Te Roro-o-te-rangi due to a gift. Tamamutu mustered his forces and attacked Rotorua.

Te Roro-o-te-rangi and his forces intercepted Ngāti Tūwharetoa at the Lake’s edge, however they found themselves to be vastly outnumbered. Te Rorooterangi turned to his forces and uttered the following whakatauākī:

‘Ruia taitea, ruia taitea, kia tū ko taikākā ko ahau anake’

‘Peel away the bark and outer softwood to reveal the hardwood at the heart of the tree, myself’ a figurative proverb which meant ‘Let those who are afraid leave now. If needs be, I alone will face the enemy.’

All stood their ground with Te Roro-o-te-rangi. This battle was named Tāwharakurupeti, after the area within the grounds of the Government Gardens where the battle took place.

Te Roro-o-te-rangis brothers, Kātoremāmona and Te Kata (father of Te Rangiiwaho) were the chiefs who met their end at Tāwharakurupeti, while Te Roro-o-te-rangi was captured and taken to Taupō and killed. Another brother, Tūnohopū, was one of the few rangatira who survived.

The wharenui at Te Kuirau is known as Te Roro-o-te-rangi. The ngāwhā known as Ōruawhata, was also known to some as Te Puia o Te Roro-o-te-rangi.

#2 Tūnōhopū
Tūnohopū was the son of Ariariterangi and the younger brother of fellow koromatua, Te Roro-o-te-rangi. When his father fell in battle at Maketū, his brother Te Roro-o-te-rangi took the lead of the people.

When the forces of Tamamutu of Ngāti Tūwharetoa attacked Te Roro-o-te-rangi at Rotorua due to a perceived insult over a gift, Tūnohopū was one of those who fought at his side.

Tūnohopū’s brothers Kōtoremōmona, Te Kata and others lost their lives in the resulting battle of Tāwhakakurupeti, one of Ngāti Whakaue’s heaviest defeats, in what today is known as the Government Gardens.

Tūnohopū battled his way through Tamamutu’s forces to the edge of the Lake where he engaged in hand-to-hand battle with Tūwharetoa champion Kaipāhau. After a long period of time of ferocious combat, neither warrior could gain the clear advantage.

Not wanting to leave such a warrior to be overwhelmed by share numbers, Tūnohopū was allowed to leave the battlefield, undefeated. From this time, Tūnohopū earned the moniker of “Te kuku o te tangata” or “the terror of men.”

Following the decimation of leadership at the battle of Tāwharakurupeti, Tūnohopū became one of the main leaders for Ngāti Whakaue.

Conflict with Ngāti Tūwharetoa continued however, eventually resulting in a surprise attack on Tūnohopū at his village at Kawaha. Most of Ngāti Whakaue were at Mokoia at the time, so Tamamutu’s forces were unopposed. Tūnohopū managed to wade into the water and smuggle some of his family into a secret rocky cave, Te Ana-a-Tūnohopū or the Cave of Tūnohopū, along the shoreline at Kawaha.

His youngest son however, a little boy named Taioperua, had been lost during the chaos and he was captured by Tamamutu’s men and carried back to Taupō.

When Tūnohopū found out he decided against taking a large war party down, which may have resulted in his son’s death, but rather he wanted to go alone. His people, perhaps thinking back to the recent losses of Te Roro-o-te-rangi, Kōtoremōmona, Te Kata and others, implored him to re-consider.

It was at this time that Tūnohopū expressed the proverbial axiom:

‘He aha noa ake e mate ai au, ka tupu i aku pā kārito’  

‘Of what significance is it if I die, my legacy will live on.’  Here Tūnohopū was speaking of his people and his children who would carry on should his endeavour to rescue Taioperua fail.  

Under a disguise, Tūnohopū secreted himself into Tamamutu’s pā, and into his very house. He then revealed himself to his old foe, who was so surprised by his boldness that he listened to Tūnohopū’s petition for his son’s return.

Tamamutu applauded Tūnohopū’s courage to his people, and returned Taioperua to his side, and the father’s heart was overjoyed at his son’s return.

The enmity between Tūwheretoa and Ngāti Whakaue ended, and Tūnohopū and his son returned home to Rotorua.
When he got home, Tūnohopū stated:

“Ka puta nei au ki Taeotū mōkai kaka ko au anake.”  

‘I have escaped all dangers and returned to peace on the land.’ It is possible that Taeotū, a mokopuna of Tūnohopū, takes his name after this whakatauākī.

Both Tūnohopū Street and Tūnohopū wharenui at Ōhinemutu are named after this great warrior and brave father.

#3 Taeotū
Taeotū was the son of Pānuiomarama (a son of Tūnohopū) and Hinetau I (daughter of Waiwaha of Ngāti Rangiwewehi and Pārua of Ngāti Pikiao).

Taeotū lived in and around Ōhinemutu. Due to connections with his mother and his wives, Taeotū also spent time at Te Waerenga, between Hamurana and the Ōhau channel. His descendants also had settlements at Whakarewarewa.

Taeotū lived in a time of relative peace with another iwi. There is one story that Taeotū and his brother Paeahi were in Te Puke when they came across a woman named Rūwhaki who was close to giving birth. As her husband was dead, Taeotū took pity on her and asked for his brother to marry her, which he did. Rūwhaki gave birth to a daughter, who was brought up by Paeahi together with other children that he had with Rūwhaki.

It is said that Taeotū was buried at Tahererauti, near the Lake front at Ōhinemutu, and later removed to Waiharuru, an ancient burial ground near the Te Arawa Racecourse.

The descendants of Taeotū lived in many places around Pukeroa Ōruawhata, including Pukeroa Hill. Several hot pools at Arikikapakapa take their name from Taeotū; Te Turi o Taeotū, Te Roto o Pānuiomarama (Taeotū’s father), Waiparu o Pānuiomarama and Te Wai-a-Taiapua (Taeotū’s son).

Pētera Te Pukuatua was one of the highest ranked chiefs of Ngāti Whakaue at the time of the founding of the township, and the head of Ngāti Taeotū in his later years.

Pukuatua Street was named after his father.

#4 Te Rangiiwaho
The son of Te Kata and Waoku, Te Rangiiwaho was born at Kawaha. His father was killed at the battle of Tāwharakurupeti, along with his uncle’s Te Roro-o-te-rangi and Kōtoremōmona.

He became infamous amongst his kin for bringing war down upon Ngāti Whakaue with his relatives from Ngāti Raukawa.
Te Rangiiwaho is said to be the only Ngāti Whakaue chief who spoke to his people on his death bed, saying:

“Whiria te kaha, tua makatia, e motu honoa, purutia Rotorua”  

“Plait the rope, double it if needs be, splice it if it breaks, but hold Rotorua,” a plea for his people to hold Rotorua.

Te Rangiiwaho and his children are all said to have been buried at Ohinemutu.

Eruera Te Uremutu and his brother, Akuhata Kiharoa, were rangatira of Ngāti Te Rangiiwaho.

It is said that Eruera Street in town and Kiharoa Street at Ohinemutu, were named after them.

#5 Pūkākī
Pūkākī was the son of Taiwere, brother of Ariariterangi, and Tamiuru, a daughter of Te Tākinga of Ngāti Pikiao. He was born at Kaiweka on Mokoia Island.

Pūkākī was brought up by his grandmother, Parehina, at Parawai and became a renowned warrior and leader.

He settled at Parawai with his wife, Ngāpuia of Tūhourangi, and there raised his children.  Pūkākī was said to have been buried at Parawai.  Pūkākī’s life, the lives of some of his descendants, the creation of the carving named Pūkākī, and its journey has been chronicled in some depth by the now Professor Paul Tapsell in his book Pukaki: A Comet Returns.

After many years away, the carving Pūkākī now rests at Rotorua Museum.

For some years now various iterations of the 20-cent coin have, with the permission of Ngāti Whakaue, carried Pūkākī.

Pūkākī Street takes its name from this koromatua.

#6 Hurungaterangi
Hurungaterangi was the son of Te Whatumairangi and his wife Maruteao, as such he was a half-brother of Ariariterangi and Taiwere.

Hurungaterangi’s father, Te Whatumairangi, engaged in an affair with a wife of Wāhiao, which lead to his death.

Hurungaterangi avenged his father’s death and killed Wāhiao in return, hence the whakatauākī:

“Ko wai rā te hope nā Te Whatumairangi kia kī tērā, nōna te toa? Nōna te toa?”  

“Who of the sons of Te Whatumairangi can claim, the victory was his? The victory was his?”

Hurungaterangi married Whaingārangi of Ngāti Tūteata, and the two would raise their children in the area of Ngāpuna-Ōwhaituira, and at times at Ōhinemutu.

Their descendants would also live at Whakarewarewa through the right of Whaingārangi.

Hurunga Avenue at Ngāpuna, Hurunga Street at Ōhinemutu and Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Hurungaterangi on Sunset Road, are named after this koromatua.