The iwi of Hauraki’s tribal estate is a holistic concept encompassing the sky above and the earth below. It covers a land area of 680,000 to 810,000 hectares, in addition to the offshore islands in the Hauraki Gulf.
The twelve iwi of Hauraki are Ngati Maru, Ngati Paoa, Ngati Tamatera, Ngati Whanaunga, Ngati Hako, Ngati Hei, Patukirikiri, Ngai Tai, Ngati Tara Tokanui, Ngati Rahiri Tumutumu, Ngati Porou ki Harataunga ki Mataora and Ngati Pukenga ki Waiau. Each have their own respective traditions which collectively embrace the waka* traditions of Tainui, Te Arawa, Mataatua and Matawhaorua, Tohora traditions and taku whenua.
Iwi of Hauraki descended from the Tainui waka are collectively known as the Marutuahu Confederation and comprise Ngati Maru, Ngati Whanaunga, Ngati Tamatera and Ngati Poao. The rohe of Marutuahu stretches from Matakana, near Tauranga in the South to Matakana, near Leigh in the North.
Known by the iwi of Hauraki as ‘Te Tara o te Whai’ or ‘the barb of the stingray’, the Coromandel Pensinsula extends northwards supported by the calm waters of Tikapa Moana on the west and the tumultuous seascape of Te Tai Tamawahine on the east. It is also referred to as a waka, which extends from Moehau in the north to Te Aroha in the south, whose ribs are the rivers that flow from the mountains and empty into the estuaries and harbours below. The ancient traditions serve to illustrate the importance of the coast to Hauraki and the manner in which its features took on personifications of great reverence.
The late Hauraki kaumatua, Taimoana Turoa (1997) describes the geography and landscape of Hauraki thus:
“Much of the terrain of Hauraki is rugged and mountainous rising high above the deep valley floor of virgin bush and forest streams. The major waterways have their source in the hinterland catchment and spill over the flat swamplands before emptying into the inland sea of Taikapa, the Hauraki Gulf. Sculpted inlets and bays gnaw at the shoreline with precipitous headlands keeping a vigilant watch on the offshore islands and seas.”
The life of the iwi of Hauraki was shaped by this environment. Their location demanded that the people become fishers and mariners, with the fertile forest proving a supplementary food basket and the wetlands providing tuna, inanga and other freshwater fish. The temperate climate assured an abundant food resource and the most ideal locations for human settlement were selected and developed. Turoa (1997) provides a succinct description of the cultural landscape of Hauraki:
“There was no natural feature which defied description and therefore appropriate naming. Ranges, ridges, promontories and streams identified tribal and personal boundaries. Prominent peaks, rivers and seas assumed a personification of great reverence. Every topographical feature, however insignificant, promoted a commemoration to ancestors, deeds, events, phenomena and an acknowledgement to atua, the gods of creation.”
The following is a summary of some matters that are of concern to the iwi of Hauraki. All have been expressed by the iwi of Hauraki as taonga*. This summary is not comprehensive and does not attempt to do more than note the issues. Reference to iwi of Hauraki representatives or authorised documentation is recommended in order to fully appreciate the iwi of Hauraki’s perspective and its context.