Waipaoa Station School sign

The story of Rawiri Tamanui and Areoma

Who is Rawiri Tamanui?

Rawiri Tamanui was a great Maori warrior, he was a fighter, leader and a chief of Nga Ariki Kaiputahi.

Areoma Rock was a site for a big battle between Nga Ariki Kaiputahi and Whakatohea. The Whakatohea tribe were attacking Nga Ariki Kaiputahi. They were surrounding them at the bottom of Areoma and they could not get down. His tribe was running out of food and water. Rawiri Tamanui had to think fast. Whakatohia were blocking the only entrance. But then Rawiri Tamanui had an idea. He tied some vines around his chest and went down the side of the rock and collected some water and he brought it back up to the warriors. They drank it and regained their strength, then they attacked Whakatohea.

After the battle only one Whakatohea person was left. He was alive because he had to tell other people never to come back to this area again.

Rawiri Tamanui has his effigy in the middle of the wharenui-Te Ngawiri, in Mangatu marae in the township of Whatatutu.

Rawiri fought many great battles but the battle on Areoma will always be remembered. If Whakatohea had won the battle all of the Tairawhiti area would be under Whakatohea today.

Rawiri Tamanui died of old age. He is buried on the tapu Te Rangi hill which overlooks the Mangatu district.