Ngāti Kahungunu

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Ngāti Kahungunu
Iwi of New Zealand
Rohe (location) Hawke’s Bay, Tararua and Wairārapa regions
Waka (canoe) Tākitimu

Ngāti Kahungunu is a Māori iwi located along the eastern coast of the North Island of New Zealand. The iwi is traditionally centred in the Hawke’s Bay and Tararua and Wairārapa regions.

Ngāti Kahungunu can be divided into six geographical divisions: Wairoa, Te Whanganui-ā-Orotū, Heretaunga, Tamatea, Tāmaki-nui-a Rua and Wairarapa. Ngāti Kahungunu are the third largest iwi in New Zealand, with 59,946 people identifying as Ngati Kahungunu in the 2006 Census (this excludes descendants overseas).[1]


The ancestor Kahungunu depicted with the canoe paddle of a navigator


The Ngāti Kahungunu trace their origins to the Tākitimu canoe. According to Ngāti Kahungunu traditions, the Tākitimu arrived in Aotearoa from Rarotonga around 1100-1200 AD as one of the waka (canoes) in the great migration. (Other waka included Tainui, Te Arawa, Tokomaru, Arai Te Uru, Mataatua, Kurahaupo, Aotea, Horouta and Ngatokimatawhaorua.[2] ) This account makes the Ngāti Kahungunu more than 800 years old. It is said that the Takitimu and its crew were completely tapu (sacred). Its crew comprised men only - high chiefs, chiefs, tohunga ('priests') and perhaps elite warriors. No cooked food was eaten before or during the voyage.

The captain of the Tākitimu, Tamatea Arikinui (the high chief Tamatea), settled in the Tauranga area in the Bay of Plenty. The Tākitimu itself continued on and sank in one of the bays near present-day Invercargill.

Tamatea's great-grandson Kahungunu was born in present-day Kaitaia. During his life Kahungunu journeyed south through the North Island, eventually ending on the East Coast. He married several times during his southward journey, giving rise to many descendants. Many of these marriages were strategic, uniting iwi against their enemies, forming bonds and securing peace. It is said that Kahungunu was so handsome and stout of figure that Rongomaiwahine, also of royal lineage, voiced an insult, saying that she could not be gotten by him. Her beauty had reached Kahungunu's ears, and unable to resist such a challenge he set out to win her, and did so. Together they settled in the Māhia Peninsula, near Rongomaiwahine's people, where Kahungunu's main pa was situated. The Ngāti Kahungunu descend from this marriage. Kahungunu was known for his expertise in military strategy, pa construction, agriculture and fishery. His advice was sought after by many in his time. He died an old man well over 80 years of age and a father of many children.

19th-century history[edit]

Since their inception, Ngāti Kahungunu have fought many battles with other North Island iwi since their foundation, including the Musket Wars of the early 19th century. Ngāti Kahungunu also experienced a brief civil war in December 1865 and January 1866, which historians treat as part of the East Cape War.

In 1840, several Ngāti Kahungunu chiefs were signatories of the Treaty of Waitangi. Production of agricultural crops became well established during this time, attracting trade with European settlers. However, during the latter half of the century, much of the land owned by the iwi had been bought by the British Crown, with less than 2,000 acres (8 km2) remaining in Ngāti Kahungunu hands. This led to the Repudiation Movement, which sought to reject all land agreements. The 1890s saw the rise of the Kotahitanga movement, which was strong in the Wairārapa district.

Ngāti Kahungunu as of 2013[edit]

Presently, the affairs of the iwi are administered by Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated,[3] a registered charity.[4] The organisation looks after social, economic and community development, and represents the iwi in political affairs.

Ngāti Kahungunu also have a strong tradition in media and the arts. The people of Ngāti Kahungunu operate a radio station[5] and a contemporary Māori arts school, in addition to publishing several newspapers.

Notable Ngāti Kahungunu[edit]


  • Whaanga, Mere (2006-12-21). "Ngati Kahungunu". Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 2007-04-05. 
  1. ^ "2006 Census – QuickStats About Māori (revised)". Statistics New Zealand. 2007-04-04. Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-05-25. 
  2. ^ Mitira (Mitchell), Tiaki Hikawera (John Hikawera) (1972) [1944]. Takitimu (2 ed.). Wellington: Reed Publishing (NZ) Ltd. p. 24. Retrieved 2013-07-24. "Some people claim that Horouta came with the Main Migration and was the eighth canoe of the fleet. This claim is strongly denied by the people of this island, who only recognise the seven canoes, viz., Takitimu, Tainui, Te Arawa, Mata-tua, Toko-maru, Aotea and Kurahaupo." 
  3. ^ "Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated". 2012. Retrieved 26 March 2012. 
  4. ^ "Charities Register". 2012. Retrieved 26 March 2012. "Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated" 
  5. ^ "Radio Kahungunu - 765AM - 94.3FM". 2012. Retrieved 26 March 2012. 

External links[edit]

See also[edit]