Until recently, it was believed that Ngā Rauru were descended from people of the Aotea canoe, which is depicted above these memorial gates at Pātea. However, there were an earlier group of ancestors, known as Te Kāhui Rere, who lived in south Taranaki before the Aotea arrived. A story about these people was recorded by scholar John White in the 19th century and later repeated by S. Percy Smith in his 1910 book History and traditions of the Maoris of the west coast, North Island of New Zealand prior to 1840.
Te ewe i tere – the winged people
‘A placenta was cast into the sea, and in due course became a man whose name was Whanau-moana, or Sea-born. He had wings, as had all his descendants. At first, none of these beings had stationary homes, but flew about from place to place, sometimes alighting on the tops of mountains, or extending their flight to islands in the sea. One of the women, named Tara-pu-whenua, first caused them to dwell in pas. This people belonged to Wai-totara and live at Tieke ….The last of this people who had wings was named Te Kahui-rere, and he lost them through a woman pressing them down in the night when he was asleep.’
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