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Great Māori migration waka
Commander Toroa
Iwi Ngāi Tūhoe, Ngāti Awa, Te Whakatōhea, Te Whānau-ā-Apanui, Ngāpuhi, Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Pūkenga

In Māori tradition, Mātaatua was one of the great voyaging canoes by which Polynesians migrated to New Zealand. Māori traditions say that the Mātaatua was initially sent from Hawaiki to bring supplies of kūmara to Māori settlements in New Zealand. The Mātaatua was captained by Toroa, accompanied by his brother, Puhi; his sister, Muriwai; his son, Ruaihona; and daughter, Wairaka.

Māori migrations[edit]

Bay of Plenty settlement[edit]

In local Māori tradition, the Mātaatua waka was the first to land at Whakatane, approximately 700 years ago. According to various accounts, at some point a dispute arose between the commander, Toroa, and Puhi, eponymous ancestor of Ngāpuhi, over food resources. As a result, Puhi left on the Mātaatua with most of its crew to travel further north, while Toroa, Tāneatua, Muriwai and their immediate families remained in the Bay of Plenty. Those that stayed behind settled and intermixed with previously established Māori tribes in the region. People from Ngāi Tūhoe, Ngāti Awa, Te Whakatōhea, Te Whānau-ā-Apanui and the Tauranga Moana tribes can trace their origins to this settlement.

Northland settlement[edit]

Many accounts say that, from the Bay of Plenty, Puhi travelled northward in the Mātaatua, eventually reaching the Bay of Islands in Northland. The Ngāpuhi people can trace their origins to this settlement. Tribes in both the Bay of Plenty and Northland agree that the final resting place of the Mātaatua was at Tākou Bay in the Bay of Islands.


Many iwi can trace their origins to ancestors on the Mātaatua canoe. Tribes in both the Bay of Plenty and Northland maintain strong ties, and a reunion was held in 1986. A replica of the Mātaatua rests at the Mataatua Reserve in Whakatane.

See also[edit]