Tāneatua was a tohunga on the Mataatua canoe, and the half-brother of Toroa, the captain. He explored the Urewera forest after the Mataatua landed at Whakatāne in the Bay of Plenty. Tāneatua began each of his journeys at the hill called Ōtarahioi or Te Kurī-a-Tāneatua (after one of his pet dogs), still a distinctive mound in the settlement of Tāneatua.
The first journey
On Tāneatua’s first journey, he explored the Ōwhakatoro stream to its source, which he named Te Wai-pōtiki-a-Tāneatua. He then travelled up the longer Whakatāne River, naming it Hinemataroa after his wife. He named many other places along this river, including Ngā Māhanga-a-Tāneatua (the twins), at the junction of the Kānihi and Ōhora streams. He placed the feathered plumes of the Mataatua canoe at Pūrākau, where the settlers built a village on the banks of the Tāneatua Stream. He went inland as far as the summit of Whakataka in the Huiarau Range, before visiting and climbing Maungapōhatu and returning to Ōtarahioi.
The second journey
On Tāneatua’s next trip he went up what is now the Waimana River, which he named Tauranga when he stood at its starting point. He branched eastward along the Te Waiiti River and reached a large plain, which he burned to clear the land for growing aruhe (fern root). He named the area Te Wera-a-Tāneatua (the burning of Tāneatua). Tāneatua placed many guardians and tipua (supernatural creatures) in the rivers, streams and waterfalls he discovered.