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Te Mata te Tipuna

Te Mata

Te Mata Peak reflects a modern abbreviated name for what is known by different groups as Te Matā, Te Mata o Rongokako, Te Karanemanema o Te Mata o Rongokako and or Te Mata te Tipuna; the latter which this post refers to.

‘Te Mata te Tīpuna’ is an icon for the Hastings District and for over a thousand years the maunga has gifted Heretaunga with events and stories, both illustrious and infamous. It provides a whakapapa that holds much mana and is greatly cherished by ngā hapū o Heretaunga, Tamatea and Te Whanganui-a-Orotū / Ahuriri.

Te Mata is a tāonga i tuku ihō (heavenly gift) etched from the earth by the gods and accorded names such as Te Matā (transl. flint, quartz, obsidian), Te Mata (transl. face) o Rongakako, Te Karanemanema (transl. sparkling/ glitter) o Te Mata te Tipuna. These names are part of the various stories still told today and all of which are respected and acknowledged equally.

Whakapapa provides a genealogical table or family tree that shows the relationship between all members of te whānau o Rangi rāua ko Papatūānuku (transl. the family of Ranginui and Papatūānuku). There is a very real sense in which whakapapa provided tīpuna with a remarkably complex, oral synthesis of reality that could be depicted at different levels of abstraction. This knowledge was used to maintain the wellbeing and survival of all members of the family of Papatūānuku and Ranginui (transl. te Whānau o Rangi rāua ko Papatūānuku).

Between layers of time and periods of occupation, many events have shaped and populated the legends of ‘Te Mata te Tīpuna’

  • Romantic stories in kōrero pakiwaitara;
  • Old stories - kōrero tawhiti; and,
  • Even older stories – kōrero neherā.

About the late 1300’s, stories emerge of Rongokako, student of the Whare Maire (transl. an ancient school of the black arts) along with Paoa, a graduate of the occult knowledge under the tohunga (transl. expert tutor) Tupai. Some accounts of Rongokako place him on board the Takitimu as a young youthful giant of proportion. Other accounts claim he was born after their arrival. Another story tells of a race between Rongokako and Paoa to win the hand (in marriage) of Muriwhenua. The eventual union of Rongokako and Muriwhenua establishes the whakapapa line through which the uri of Ngāti Kahungunu trace their ancestry.

Around the late 1400’s Taraia (a 5th generation descendant of Rongokako) arrived. He brought the Kahungunu people into Heretaunga who were led by the generals of Taraia (i.e. Te Aomatarahi and Te Kahutapere). The arrival of Ngāti Kahungunu displaced the Rangitāne people. Taraia was married to two significant wāhine rangatira (transl. women of chiefly status), Hinemoa and Hinepare. All Heretaunga marae hapū descend through Hinemoa and/or Hinepare lineage. Te Aomatarahi descendants, predominantly the Waimarama whānau have a distinctive whakapapa and lineage. Testing times follow as the social enclaves of Te Hika-a-Papauma and Te Hika-a-Ruarauhanga war against each other over a period of decades until the marriage of Te Whatuiāpiti (Te Hika-a-Papauma) to Te Huhuti (Te Hika-a-Ruarauhanga).

The views from the east face of ‘Te Mata te Tīpuna’ provide connection to other maunga and tipuna that extend around Hawke’s Bay. Looking down to the southeast, you see the Tukituki Awa, sourced from the Ruahine ranges and environs of the Makaretu, Mākaroro, Waipawa and Ruataniwha, and winding its way north between Kauhehei and Kahuranaki maunga.

To the east coast are views of Te Āpiti, Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Waimārama, Te Motu-o-Kura (Bare Island), and Waipuka.

To the north toward the Heretaunga plains, there are commanding views of Te Matau-a-Māui, Mataruahou (Scinde Island), the mouths of the Ngaruroro, Te Karamū and Tūtaekurī awa along with their pathways back to the hinterland.

On the western side of the Heretaunga plains can be seen the first hill tops of Oueroa (adjacent to Ōtātara), Oingō to Te Popo (transl. Roys Hill), Maraekākaho, the Raukawa valley, Raukawa range top and Te Ārai a Turanga. From there, one is able to complete the full 360% turn back southwards towards Kaokaoroa and Kohinerākau / Kohinurākau (Mt Erin).

17 September 2020

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