Waahi Tapu & Geothermal

Our Sacred Places | Waahi Tapu

Ngati Tahu-Ngati Whaoa had many kainga, cultivations and burial caves along the banks of the Waikato River. The River provided many benefits to our people and as often used to transport produce that was traded with other Iwi and early settlers.

Paramount to Ngati Tahu-Ngati Whaoa is our participation in a co-management regime that protects, preserves and where possible restores our wahi tapu and taonga. From our perspective a co-management regime focus on the health and wellbeing of the Waikato River is the process by which to achieve our objective.

The close connection Ngati Tahu-Ngati Whaoa has with the Waikato River is illustrated by the significant number of places held sacred along the River from Te Waiheke o Huka to Pohaturoa. Some of these sites are listed below.

Geothermal Taonga

Ngati Tahu-Ngati Whaoa has a historical, cultural and contemporary association with geothermal resources within our traditional rohe. Such resources were used for cooking, drinking, bathing and healing. Large kainga and cultivations were often established around these taonga such as at Orakei Korako, Ohaaki and Waiotapu.

With the passing of the Geothermal Energy Act 1953, Ngati Tahu-Ngati Whaoa lost control of and access to some of our geothermal taonga.

The geothermal fields within our traditional rohe include:

Rotokawa (Tauhara North), Broadlands (Kaingaroa No.2), Ohaaki (Tahorakuri), Nga Tamariki (Tahorakuri), Reporoa (Paeroa East), Waiotapu (Paeroa East), Waikite (Rotomahana Parekarangi), Te Kopia (Rotomahana Parekarangi), Orakei Korako (Tutukau) and Atiamuri (Tatua West).

Rua Hoata
Rua Hoata was a large cave that was used primarily as a kainga by Ngati Tahu-Ngati Whaoa, but also as a place of refuge. Situated on the bans of the Waikato River, Rua Hoata was damaged when the hydroelectric dam was built at Aratiatia.
Whatutauturi
Whatutauturi is a hill rising above the north side of the Waikato River (western bank). A famous battle took place at the base of Whatutauturi during the time of our ancestor Patoromu Te Apu.
Nihoroa
Nihoroa was a Ngati Tahu-Ngati Whaoa settlement on the southern (eastern) bank of the Waikato River. Kokowai and kokopu were gathered from this part of the River, and the settlement was also a favoured place for gathering ducks. Nihoroa also had one of the largest kainga of the Ngati Tahu-Ngati Whaoa people. A rahui post was placed on the track leading from Nihoroa. Another rahui post stood above Otamarauhuru, between the Waikato River and Lake Rotokawa. Rahui were often set in place in areas where food needed to be conserved. In this instance, the areas was favourable place for gathering birds and the rahui ensure that the birds continued to flourish.
Takapou
Takapou was a large Ngati Tahu-Ngati Whaoa kainga in and around the seventeenth century. One of our tohunga Whawhati had a tuahu here. Takapou was also used as a wheat and oat plantation. A large whare stood there, essentially a wharau which was also used as a church.
Te Rerenga
The name Te Rerenga-a-Uretipa was given to the cliff above the kainga where Uretipa of another tribe fell fleeing from an Ngati Tahu-Ngati Whaoa taua.
Te Wai o Kereua
Te Wai o Kereua stream is on the south side of the Waikato River and is named after Kereua, the leader of a raiding was party who was taken at a place Turihakoko (Turikokako) by our ancestor Te Rangipatoto.
Kopaki
Kopaki Stream was a traditional fishing ground of Ngati Tahu-Ngati Whaoa. A hill adjacent to the stream also bears the name Kopaki. Edible fern root was gathered on the banks of the Waikato River Kopaki.
Patiki Stream
The mouth of the Patiki Stream was a significant site for catching kokopu, and was favoured fishing ground of our ancestor Toa. Kokopu were a prized source of food and caught using a device called a pouraka. There was also a kokopu fishing ground on the other side of the Waikato River called Te Onewhero.
Parehaawa (Parehaoa)
Parehaawa was a ngawha where kumara and putere were cooked, and kumara were also cultivated here. This was a permanent kainga from the time of Toa to Paroa Matenga. There was also a traditional duck hunting ground in this area.
Matauraura
Matauraura was a kumara cultivation inland of the Parehaawa (Parehaoa) hot spring, not far from Ohaaki. Toa had a mara kumara here. The remnants of a cave kumara pit are still visible today. A pa was built at Matauraura for protection during the time of Te Kooti, and remnants of this pa are located on the bend of the Waikato River upstream from the Ohaki Bridge.
Ohaaki ki Waikato
Ohaaki was the name of the nineteenth century settlement first established in the time of Whakarawataua, which included distinctive rua, extensive cultivations and a number of whare. The mara at Ohaaki kainga were Te Mumutu, Te Ruaroa, Te Whakahou, Whariunga, Mapuna and Parehaua. There were many ngawha at Ohaaki, some used for bathing, some for cooking. Kamariera had a whare here as well as Orakei Korako. He farmed livestock and had cultivations at both Ohaaki ki Waikato and Orakei Korako. A church was built here before the time of Reverend Grace (1850). Taupiri was the tohunga karakia under whose mana this church was built.
Te Ohaaki
Te Ohaaki is a well-known ngawha (hot spring). Whawhati had a tuahu to the side of the ngawha. There were cultivations and two waiariki close by, one of which was used as a waiariki tapu.
Awapiripiri
Awapiripiri was the name given to the inland part of this stream. There were cultivations on the side of the ngawha adjacent to the Awapirpiri stream. There are also ancient urupa in the vicinity.
Tahunatara
Located south of Reporoa on the Waikato River, the man-made island of Tahunatara was formed after a trench was dug across the headland of the river. Tahunatara was formerly a raupo reserve situated on the Waikato River, where it flows through Broadlands. Both kokopu and ducks were caught at Tahunatara, kumara and other crops were also grown and the first willow trees in the area were planted there.
Waimahana
Waimahana is an ancient kainga of Ngati Tahu-Ngati Wahoa, which stood on a bend of the Waikato River, with cultivations of maize, kumara and cabbage. Hamahona Heretaunga had a kainga and cultivations here. A manuka fence was built here by Ngakuru, Paora and Matini. Among those buried at Waimahana are Hinewai, the mother of Tamatehura, and her brother Te Hoe.
Motutahae Island Pa
An island pa, which is now submerged due to the Ohakuri dam. This island pa is where our ancestor Heretaunga was born; he had cultivations at Ohaaki, Waimahanga, Paeroa South and Orakei Korako.
Motutara Island
Motutara was an island in the Waikato River opposite the Ohineparahaki Stream and is now submerged as part of Lake Ohakuri. It is an ancient pa site dating back to the time of Te Rama and features of the pa site were still traceable at the turn of the century, including whare and urupa. Ngati Tahu-Ngati Whaoa lived at Motutara during the time of Rangipaeroa and Patoromu. Principle cultivations of the Motutara pa were at Oruarupuraho and Te Torou-iro on the Paeroa South Block.
Parikawau (Parekawau)
Parakawau was a Ngati Tahu-Ngati Whaoa pa that was attacked by a war party during the time of Pourahi. It is also the name of a nearby fishing ground on the banks of the Waikato River.
Piripekapeka Pa
Piripekapeka pa was located above Orakei-Korako and is the burial place of the chief, Matarae.
Ngawapurua Pa and Cultivations
Occupied by Ngati Tahu-Ngati Whaoa. Ngawapurua pa was flooded when the Ohakuri Dam was built. The cultivations extended along the Waikato River, at the south side of Ohakuri Dam.
Pohaturoa
The summit of Pohaturoa was an occupied pa site. Ngati Tahu-Ngati Whaoa is one of a number of tribes to have occupied Pohaturoa. This was prior to 1849 when they abandoned the settlement to live on the banks of the Waikato River. A number of whare stood at Pohaturoa, the remnants of a once fully occupied pa can still be seen on the summit today.