Muriwhenua represent the five iwi (tribes) of the far north: Ngati Kuri, Te Aupouri, Ngati Kahu, Ngai Takoto and Te Rarawa. Te Hiku O Te Ika (The Tail of the Fish) encompasses the five northern most iwi of Aotearoa (New Zealand).

Te Aupouri

In the time of the great migration the Ngati Ruanui came to Aotearoa on the famous Te Mamari canoe and made their first land fall at Hokianga Harbour. Their chief and navigator for this perilous journey was Ruanui-a-tane, a man of great courage. For a number of years this tribe lived on the hills of the Hokianga Harbour. As time went on the descendents of the great chief Ruanui multiplied and the boundaries of their land pressed outwards. This caused constant skirmishes with the other tribes. Eventually they decided to move a little further north. The Ngati Ruanui lived at Pawarenga for several generations until intertribal warfare once again became fierce. In those days the strongest weapon of the Māori was strategy and every tribe had a Tohunga skilled in the art of warfare. The Tohunga pondered deeply for some considerable time. After an hour he told the chief of a drastic plan of action that would surely save his people. The chief ordered his warriors to gather huge mountains of brushwood with which to set fire to their whare. Quickly the Ngati Ruanui slid into the canoes under the cover of the dense smoke, and went across the harbour and travelled over land up the west coast until they reached Ahipara. From here the travelled on to Cape Reinga to muriwhenua (Spirits Bay) and on to Te Kao where they made their headquarters and claimed the surrounding land. Then they changed the name to Te Aupouri which means smoke screen in recognition of the fact that smoke saved them.

Te Rarawa

The Rarawa and Aupouri tribes are both descended from the great chief Tohe. They shared the ownership of Wharo Oneroa a Tohe. Aupouri was considered the strongest and had the best fishing grounds, shellfish and many other things that Te Rarawa wanted. No one caught fish or got any seafood without Aupouri’s permission. A sub-tribe of Te Rarawa called Ngati Moetonga decided one day that they had had enough and went and got seafood and shellfish without Te Aupouri’s permission, but they didn’t get upset.

But one day a Rarawa man killed a dog belonging to a chief of Aupouri and they got very angry. They sent a war party to get revenge. It was a long battle and lots of warriors died but Te Rarawa won. All the coveted rights of the great Oneroa a Tohe became theirs.

After the battle Poroa the main chief of Rarawa had a special ceremony to show that all fighting was to stop from then on. This particular spot is often called Te Oneroa-i-Haia e Poroa (the long beach of Poroa’s sign).

There was peace between the two tribes and Aupouri kept the north end of the beach and Rarawa the south end of the beach.

The Five Main Tribes of Tai Tokerau.

It was during the 1920s that Ngatikahu was included in what are now the five main tribes of Tai Tokerau, which is a modern grouping of the tribes of Northland. When the Bishop of Auckland (1910-1940) was visiting the north in the 1920s, the other four tribes, Te Aupouri, Te Rarawa, Nga Puhi and Ngati Whatua wished to present him with a staff composed of sections carved by each tribe. It was then that the Ngatikahu argued vigorously that they too should be included in this gift. Eventually, this was agreed to but where was their piece of carving to be added to an already completed staff? Henry King, one of the local leaders at that time and a man of humour as well as of knowledge said with a twinkle in his eye and a flash of white teeth, “at the bottom of the staff. The Ngatikahu are quite prepared to carry the rest of Tai Tokerau”.

Ngati Kuri

Ngati Kuri is a tribe of people who descend from Po'hurihanga who sailed the waka Kurahaupo into the Far North of what is known as New Zealand today.He married Maieke who was from the tribe Te Ngaki which lived at Takapaukura. Today the five main tribes of the Te Hiku o te Ika descended from their daughter Muriwhenua.The six main tribes of Te Hiku o te Ika are descended from Po’hurihanga and Maieke. Po’hurihanga sailed the waka Kurahaupo to the Far North. He married Maieke who came from the tribe Te Ngaki.

Before there was Ngati Kuri there was a tribe called Ngati Awa. Ngati Awa and Te Aupori had a big fight and Te Aupori beat them. But Ngati Awa sorted themselves out and thought of a clever ruse. They sacrificed their dogs (they were the only dogs of that kind and as a result they became extinct) and used their skins to make the shape of a whale and stuffed it with ferns. They put it in the water and the enemy tribe thought it was a whale and went out to kill it. While they were trying to get the fake whale Ngati Awa snuck in and killed them all! Ngati Awa renamed themselves Ngati Kuri (kuri means dog) to remember the fact that they were saved by killing their precious dogs.