Ngati Tuwharetoa descend from the Te Arawa waka. The rohe of Ngati Tuwharetoa spans the Taupo District encompassing Lake Taupo, the Waikato River, geothermal taonga and the central North Island mountains Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe, Tauhara and Tongariro.
The Chief Tuwharetoa, eponymous ancestor of Ngati Tuwharetoa, was a descendant of Ngatoroirangi of Te Arawa and had connections with people of Mataatua waka in the Eastern Bay of Plenty. His sons moved south from Kawerau and gained ascendancy of the lands around Lake Taupo, establishing the mana of Ngati Tuwharetoa.1
The following pepeha of the Ngati Tuwharetoa people describes their relationship with their sacred mountain, Tongariro, the lake, Taupo-nui a-Tia, and their Chief Te Heuheu:
|Ko Tongariro te Maunga||Tongariro is the sacred mountain|
|Ko Taupo te moana||Taupo is the lake|
|Ko Te Heuheu te tangata||Te Heuheu is the man|
|Ko Tuwharetoa te iwi||Tuwharetoa is the tribe|
In 1886, Paramount Chief Tukino Te Heuheu of Ngati Tuwharetoa, gifted the present Tongariro National Park to the nation of New Zealand. Sir John Te Herekiekie Grace, of Ngati Tuwharetoa, gives an account by James Cowan of the significance of the National Park and Lake Taupo:
“The geographic situation and the physical contour of this Tongariro region give it a peculiar fitness considered as a national park. It occupies with New Zealand’s largest lake, the very heart of the North Island, a pinnacled dome crowning the prairie and forest country that swells up from it from every side…Mother Earth reveals her inmost secrets here; she pulses with never ceasing, sometimes fiery, energy. Her breast is blueveined with many streams coursing from the swelling heights, sources of the island’s greatest rivers”.2
Lake Taupo is a taonga of Ngati Tuwharetoa, where Lake Taupo embodies the mana and rangatiratanga of Ngati Tuwharetoa. The Tuwharetoa Maori Trust Board holds title for its beneficiaries (in case of the lake bed) and in the case of the rivers and streams, for the members of the hapu who adjoin them with respect to the Taupo waters.
The following is a summary of some matters that are a concern to Ngati Tuwharetoa, all of which derived directly from the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi. It is not comprehensive and does not attempt to do any more than note the issues. Reference to Ngati Tuwharetoa representatives and authorised documentation is recommended in order to fully appreciate the Ngati Tuwharetoa perspective and its context.
Waikato Regional Council recognises and acknowledges that Ngati Tuwharetoa are tangata whenua of their rohe. Waikato Regional Council also recognises and acknowledges the important physical, spiritual, cultural, social and economic values held by Ngati Tuwharetoa in regard to the natural and physical resources in their rohe.