Story: Canoe traditions

Page 3. Other northern canoes

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Tākitimu, Riukākara, Waipapa, Ruakaramea

Muriwhenua people have a tradition that the Tākitimu canoe, captained by Tamatea, landed at Te Awanui near Kaitāia. Stories from the Kaipara region say that the Tākitimu also landed there, and a number of streams are named after crew members including Tamatea, Kahukuranui and Ruawharo. The Riukākara, which was captained by Pāoa, landed at Mangonui, as did the Ruakaramea, captained by Moehuri and his son Tukiato. The Waipapa was captained by Kaiwhetu and Wairere, and landed on the Karikari Peninsula.

Tūnui-ā-rangi, Moekākara, Te Wakatūwhenua

The Tūnui-ā-rangi is credited with bringing the Ngāi Tāhuhu people to New Zealand, and is said to have first landed at Motu Kōkako (Hole in the Rock) in the Bay of Islands. From there it went south along the coast to Ngunguru and then to Whāngārei. Ngāi Tāhuhu are said to have spread out and inhabited all the land from Tāmaki (Auckland) to Cape Brett.

There are two stories of the Moekākara. One is that it landed at Kawau Island near Mahurangi, bringing the ancestors of Te Kawerau to this district. Another is that the captain was Manaia and that it landed beneath Rākaumangamanga near Motu Kōkako; in this way Ngāti Manaia came to occupy the lands between Cape Brett and Whāngārei. A third account says that Manaia was the captain of the Ruakaramea.

Te Wakatūwhenua is a canoe said to have landed at Cape Rodney (Te Wakatūwhenua), its crew suffering a mysterious illness; this is sometimes thought to have been leprosy.

Te Tō Waka – the canoe portage

A little over 200 metres of land separates the waters of the Tāmaki River and Manukau Harbour at Te Tō Waka in Auckland. This was the most important canoe portage in pre-European times, as the Manukau Harbour gave canoes access to the west coast. Canoes could also sail to Waiuku where, after crossing another portage, they could enter the Waikato River and thereby access the interior of New Zealand. Canoes crossing in the opposite direction could paddle down the Tāmaki River to the Waitematā, and then coast north toward Whāngārei or east towards the Coromandel Peninsula. Another option was to paddle to Riverhead on the Waitematā, then use another portage to access the Kaipara Harbour. From here they could travel along the northern Wairoa River to the Hokianga, the Bay of Islands or Whāngārei. The Matawhaourua, or Matahourua, of Kupe, the Aotea, Tainui, Mataatua and Tokomaru are all said to have been hauled across Te Tō Waka.

How to cite this page:

Rāwiri Taonui, 'Canoe traditions - Other northern canoes', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 28 November 2021)

Story by Rāwiri Taonui, published 8 Feb 2005