The Te Arawa people of Te Rohe o Te Waiariki(Bay of Plenty) are the offspring of Puhoarangi a celestial being, a heavenly being who descended from the Gods known as Te Hekenga a Rangi and met Te Kuraimonoa from Papatuanuku, the earthly being known as Te Hapuoneone, and begat a son, the revered ancestor Ohomairangi. The descendants of Ohomarangi lived in the polynesian homeland of Rangiatea Hawaiki Tawhitiareare at Tumuwhakairia Pa, and the descendants of the Te Arawa and Tainui lived together as Ngati Ohomairangi.
Atuamatua is seven generations from Ohomairangi and the senior male line of descent. He was the Paramount Chief and High Priest of Ngati Ohomairangi. Atuamatua has six sons, Rakauri, Houmaitawhiti, Tia, Hei Oro and Maka. Houmaitawhiti’s son Tamatekapua had a desire to seek the new land discovered by Kuperaurukoata called Aotearoa. Houmaitawhiti agreed because of overpopulation of Rangiatea and a shortage of food for future generations. Tamatekapua then requested Rata, Tia, Hei, Tuteangiangi and Apaaparau to enter Te Punga Nehenehe forest to fell two rakau to built a double hulled canoe, and the logs were hauled down to Maketu near Pikopikoiwhiti Lagoon. Tama asked his father for a name for the canoe and whether his father could asked Rakauri if his son Ngatoroirangi will acompany Tama as High Priest and Navigator on the canoe. However, Houmaitawhiti replied “Wait till Ngatoroirangi has graduated from all the High Schools of Learning. In the meantime, you can name the canoe Nga Rakau Tapu E Rua a Atuamatua in honour of your illustrious grandfather.”
Ngatoroirangi graduated from all the High Schools of Leaarning and after affirmation from his grandfather Atuamatua, he agreed to join Tamatekapua on the canoe as the High Priest and Navigator.
Atuamatua agreed with his son Houmaitawhiti and his grandson Tamatekapua that they travel to the new land discovered by Kuperaurukoata called Aotearoa. He agreed on four accounts:
However Atuamatua said to his grandson Ngatoroirangi,”Until my death and after the sacred burial rites performed by you have been completed, then you should leave for Aotearoa. Atuamatua then spoke to Houmaitawhiti and said ” On the departure of the canoe, you will deliver the final poroporoaki keeping in mind the wisdom of our ancestors. The crew of the canoe will only be the aristocracy of our people. When you reach Aotearoa, serve it well and multiply and expand and let peace prevail. Atuamatua passed away a few months later. Houmaitawhiti because of his old age didn’t travel. However after all embarked, he farewelled everyone on board and their journey began from Maketu and out through the Pikopikoiwhiti Lagoon of Rangiatea and Te Moana Nui a Kiwa.
The canoe sailed for two nights and called in at Rarotonga to replenish food. They then left Waikuta in Rarotonga and set sail again. An incident happened on their journey to Aotearoa. Nga Rakau Tapu e Rua a Atuamatua canoe was near to being lost in Te Korokoro o Te Parata a giant whirlpool. However, the ancient Karakia rituals performed by the High Priest Ngatoroirangi enabled the canoe to survive from the perils of the whirlpool, and so the name of the canoe was changed to TE ARAWA after a species of shark.
The Te Arawa canoe was one of the first of the great migration to land in Aotearoa. Evidence of this was the naming of other place names in Te Tai Tokerau, Tamaki Makaurau, Hauraki and the Bay of Plenty before finally landing at Maketu. The other canoes were Tainui, Mataatua, Aotea, Takitimu, Tokomaru and Kurahaupo.
On arrival at Maketu in Te Rohe o Te Waiariki(Bay of Plenty) the descendants of Te Arawa(Ngati Ohomairangi) began inhabiting the areas of Maketu, Matata, Kawerau, Tarawera, Te Puke, Tauranga, Coromandel, Rotorua, Atiamuri, Whakamaru, Reporoa, Kaingaroa, Taupo and Turangi.
The Te Arawa Iwi and Hapu that settled in those areas included Ngati Pikiao, Ngati Makino, Ngati Whakahemo, Motiti Island, Ngati Rangitihi, Tapuika, Waitaha, Ngati Hei, Ngati Huarere, Ngati Rangiteaorere, Tuhourangi-Ngati Wahiao , Te Ure o Uenukukopako, Ngati Rangiwewehi, Ngati Tarawhai, Ngati Tahu-Ngati Whaoa, Tuwharetoa ki Kawerau, Tuwharetoa ki Taupo Nui a Tia. Hence the proverb: Mai i Maketu ki Tongariro. From Maketu on the coast to the mountains in the Central North Island Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu, althhough the southern boundary is Moawhango in the south.