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Home > Our region and environment > Coast > Tauranga Moana > About Tauranga Harbour > Tangata Whenua of Tauranga Moana

Tangata Whenua of Tauranga Moana

He aha ra tera e whakakarekare mai ra i a Te Awanui, he matangi, he matangi, he matangi mariri ke
Whatever is that creating ripples on Te Awanui, a breeze, a breeze, an especially gentle breeze

The imagery here is that each of the three resident iwi are symbolised as a gentle breeze (matangi mariri) which in poetic Maori minds acknowledges that their presence creates ripples (of life) on the harbour.


Tangata whenua historians tell us about the arrival in about the 12th century of the Takitimu and Mataatua waka, from which the iwi of Ngati Ranginui (Takitimu), Ngaiterangi, Ngati Pukenga (both Mataatua) and their associated hapu are descended. Hauraki iwi, from the Tainui waka, also claim an interest in  the northern harbour catchment. Other iwi also had historical links that have now been assimilated by the iwi cited above.
'Matangi' was also a ferry that in former times plied the harbour and is commemorated in a well known popular song, the lines of which says:

E rere ra te 'Matangi'    
Ki waho o Tauranga.  
Kei reira ra koe e hine  
E arohatia nei e

Fly on the 'Matangi'
From out of Tauranga
For there is where dear maiden
You are so dearly loved

This song is a well known love song. The imagery here is that this modern day object ( a modern ferry) is a symbol of modern mankind's contribution to the sustainable development of Tauranga, as a working and very useful harbour.

A meaningful place

Tauranga Harbour or Te Awanui which is the Maori name for it, is a physical and spiritual symbol of identity for all whanau, hapu and iwi living in the harbour catchment area. It was once the means of access and communication among the various whanau, hapu and iwi, around its shores and still is the source of kaimoana. Today there are 24 marae in and around Tauranga Moana (Te Awanui).

It should also be noted that not all Maori currently living in and around Tauranga are tangata whenua. This group with tribal links elsewhere in New Zealand are known as taura here (rope linkages) or rawaho (outsiders).

Iwi management plans

Many Te Awanui hapu or iwi have developed Hapu/Iwi Resource Management Plans (HIMP) that describe resource management issues of importance to them as tangata whenua. The plans may also contain information relating to specific cultural values, historical accounts, descriptions of areas of interest (hapu/iwi boundaries/rohe) and consultation/engagement protocols for resource consents and/or plan changes.

See copies of the HIMPs that have been lodged with Regional Council and recognised by the relevant iwi authority, including the Tauranga Moana Iwi Management Plan 2016-2026 - A joint Environmental Plan for Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāi Te Rangi and Ngāti Pūkenga.

Watch the video from a Tauranga Moana Iwi Management Plan workshop at the Te Oniao Maori Capability Conference, July 2016: