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Ngāti Porou
Iwi of New Zealand
Rohe (location) East Cape and Gisborne region
Waka (canoe) Nukutere
Population 71,910

Ngāti Porou is a Māori iwi traditionally located in the East Cape and Gisborne regions of the North Island of New Zealand. Ngāti Porou has the second-largest affiliation of any iwi in New Zealand, with 71,910 registered members in 2006.[1] The traditional tribal boundary of Ngāti Porou extends from Pōtikirua in the north to Te Toka-a-Taiau (a rock that used to sit in the mouth of Gisborne harbour) in the south.


Geographical landmarks

Mt Hikurangi features prominently in Ngāti Porou traditions as a symbol of endurance and strength, and holds tapu status. In these traditions, Hikurangi is often personified. Ngāti Porou traditions indicate that Hikurangi was the first point to surface when Māui fished up the North Island from beneath the ocean. His canoe, the Nukutaimemeha, is said to have been wrecked there. The Waiapu River also features in Ngāti Porou traditions.



Early history

Ngāti Porou takes its name from the ancestor Porourangi. He was a direct descendant of Toi-kai-rākau, who is also regarded as a prominent ancestor of Ngāti Porou. Others include Maui, accredited in oral tradition with raising the North Island from the sea, and Paikea, the whale rider. Although Ngāti Porou claim the Nukutaimemeha as their foundation canoe, many Ngāti Porou ancestors arrived on different canoes, including Horouta, Tākitimu and Tereanini. The descendants of Porourangi and Toi formed groups that spread across the East Cape through conquest and strategic marriage alliances.

Associations with other iwi also arise through direct descent from Ngāti Porou ancestors:

  • Kahungunu, descending from Ueroa, second son of Porourangi, is the founding ancestor of Ngāti Kahungunu, who occupy the region south of the Ngāti Porou tribal boundaries.
  • Taua, descended from Kahungunu, is a prominent ancestor in Te Whānau-ā-Apanui genealogy.
  • Ngāti Raukawa and the Tainui iwi have association through Rongomaianiwaniwa, daughter of Porourangi, and the marriage of the ancestress Māhinaarangi to Tūrongo.
  • Ngai Tahu traditions also indicate descent from both Porourangi and Tahupōtiki, younger-brother to the latter.

19th century history

The early 19th century saw Ngāti Porou in conflict with Ngā Puhi during the latter's campaign of warfare throughout the North Island. This period also saw the introduction of Christianity to the region, which led to a period of relative calm and cultural development. Ngāti Porou chiefs were also signatories to the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. Ngāti Porou experienced substantial economic growth during the 1850s.

The Hauhau Conflict

During the 1860s, the Hauhau religious movement spread through the North Island, and eventually came into conflict with the New Zealand Government. From 1865–1870, a civil war emerged within Ngāti Porou, between Hauhau converts seeking the creation of an independent Māori state (supported by Hauhau from other regions) and other Ngāti Porou advocating tribal sovereignty and independence. This conflict is generally viewed as part of the East Cape War. During this conflict, the New Zealand Government provided arms support to Ngāti Porou opposing the Hauhau movement. After the war, the New Zealand Government initially attempted to confiscate land due to the presence of "rebellious factions". However, the Government acquiesced that the conflict was an internal matter, noting that Ngāti Porou were now heavily armed.

Modern history

Ngāti Porou once again enjoyed peace and economic prosperity during the late 19th century. The 1890s saw the emergence of Sir Āpirana Ngata, who contributed greatly to the revitalisation of the Māori people. During the early 20th century, the population of Ngāti Porou increase substantially, and was active in its participation in both World Wars. But from the end of World War II, large numbers of Ngāti Porou began emigrating from traditional tribal lands and moving into larger urban areas, in a trend reflected throughout New Zealand. A large portion of the tribal population now lives in Auckland and Wellington.

Ngāti Porou today


Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Porou, established in 1987, is the tribal authority for the iwi. The Rūnanga aims to maintain the financial, physical and spiritual assets of Ngāti Porou. It is organised into three branches: Whanau Hapu Development, Economic Development and Corporate Services.[2]

Well-known Ngati Porou

Well-known current or former members or affiliates of the tribe include Sir Āpirana Ngata,Herewaka Te-Rangi-Pai Potae, George Nepia,Quentin Bruce (Goldsmith) Koromete, Te Moana Nui a Kiwa Ngarimu VC, Witi Ihimaera, Parekura Horomia, John Tamihere, Moana Jackson, Wiremu Paraone Turei (the Anglican Bishop of Aotearoa) , Georgina Beyer, Michael Hollis and Anthony Mokena Tuhorouta Kohere.


  1. ^ "2006 Census – QuickStats About Māori (revised)". Statistics New Zealand. 2007-04-04. Retrieved 2007-05-25.  
  2. ^ Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Porou mission statement

External links


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