Whakatōhea is a Māori iwi located in the eastern Bay of Plenty region of New Zealand.[1] The iwi comprises six hapu: Ngāi Tamahaua, Ngāti Ira, Ngāti Ngahere, Ngāti Patumoana, Ngāti Ruatākena and Ūpokorehe.[2] In the 2006 Census, 12,072 people claimed an affiliation with Whakatōhea.[3]

Iwi (tribe) in Māoridom
Opotiki township
Rohe (region)Bay of Plenty
Waka (canoe)Arautauta, Mataatua nukutere

The iwi is traditionally centred in the area around the town of Opotiki. The traditional territorial lands extend eastwards from Ohiwa Harbour to Opape along the coastline, and inland to Matawai. These lands have long held an abundance of food resources, particularly seafood. Most of the marae of the iwi are located near the coast, historically to defend its marine resources.[4]


Early history

Whakatōhea can trace their history to the arrival of Māori settlers on the Nukutere and Mataatua canoes. Whakatōhea are the descendants of Muriwai, the eldest daughter of Wekanui and Irākewa. Wekanui and Irākewa had three children; Muriwai being the eldest followed by Toroa and Puhi. They also had a half brother, Tāneatua. It is, according to Whakatōhea legend that Muriwai spoke the famous words "kia tū whakatāne au i ahau", which is translated to "make me stand like a man". When Mātaatua was being swept back out to sea with no man to pull the waka back in. It was these famous words that gave her the right to pull the waka back to safety. It was from these words that Whakatane also gets its name.

Tūtāmure was a descendant of the Nukutere settlers, and was the leader of the Panenehu tribe. Hine-i-kauia was a descendant of the Mataatua settlers, who arrived in New Zealand nine generations after the Nukutere settlers. Tūtāmure and Hine-i-kauia were married, and their descendants would eventually form the Ngāti Ruatākena hapu. The ancestral house at Omarumutu marae is named Tutamure and the dining room is named Hine-i-kauia.

For centuries, Whakatōhea fought many battles with their neighbours, including Ngāi Tai in the east, Ngāti Awa and Ngāi Tūhoe in the west.[4]

Modern history

The iwi initially had good relations with European settlers and Christian missionaries. However, in 1865, following the murder of German missionary Carl Völkner, and with increasing demands from European settlers for more land, Crown soldiers invaded Te Whakatōhea land. Almost 600 km² of Whakatōhea land was confiscated by the Crown under the New Zealand Settlements Act of 1863.

During the twentieth century there was increasing recognition that Whakatōhea had suffered grievances at the hands of the Crown. In 1996, the New Zealand government signed a Deed of Settlement, acknowledging and apologising for the invasion and confiscation of Whakatōhea lands, and the subsequent economic, cultural and developmental devastation suffered by the iwi. Whakatōhea are presently preparing to negotiate a full settlement with the New Zealand government.[4]

Hapū and marae

Te Ūpokorehe

Te Ūpokorehe is an iwi in its own right. Their ancestral boundaries commence from Maraetotara (Ohope) in the west to the middle of Waioeka River (Opotiki) in the east. Upokorehe Iwi boundaries fall within the Ōpōtiki District and Whakatāne District Catchments. Roimata Marae holds the mauri of Upokorehe Iwi. Upokorehe does not have the same whakapapa (ancestry) as Whakatohea. In 1952 the Whakatohea Maori Trust Board was established and Upokorehe was included as a hapu with the intention and expectation of our Upokorehe rangatira/kaumatua at the time to return lands to Upokorehe which were taken as part of the raupatu. Today, Upokorehe Iwi have been recognised as an Iwi in their own right and as such were included by Statistics NZ in the 2018 census. Upokorehe Iwi have established their own mandated treaty claims trust (Te Upokorehe Treaty Claims Trust) to represent their raupatu claims. Te Upokorehe Iwi are also calling for a full Waitangi Tribunal Hearing, to ensure their story can be told and their whakapapa and hitori will not be lost or usurped by Whakatohea Iwi.

There are five marae situated in the Upokorehe Iwi boundaries. (Marae is an Ancestral Meeting house and Wharekai (Dining Room) situated on ancestral land. A place of gathering for people of Upokorehe Iwi )

  • Roimata Marae location overlooking Ohiwa Harbour, Hiwarau Road, Kutarere.
  • Kutarere marae location Kutarere main road.
  • Maromahue marae location Waiotahe Valley, off main road, inland.
  • Rongopopoia marae location further up Waiotahe Valley at Kahikatea, off main road, inland.
  • Turangapikitoi marae location Wainui on the main road between Kutarere and Ohope.


Whakatōhea Māori Trust Board

The Whakatōhea Māori Trust Board was established in 1952 to administer the assets of the iwi, and provides members with education, health services and training in various commercial fields.[1] It is a charitable trust governed by two representatives from each of the six hapū, and based in Opotiki. It is also accountable to the Minister of Maori Affairs and is governed by the Maori Trust Boards Act. [2]

The trust represents the tribe's fisheries interest under the Māori Fisheries Act 2004, and its aquaculture interests under the Māori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act 2004. It represents the tribe during consultation on resource consent applications under the Resource Management Act 1991. The trust board does not have a resource management plan, but Upokorehe Iwi have an active resource management team and Upokorehe iwi resource management plan which they have used in their role as iwi to manage and protect the resources within their ancestral boundaries, including Ohiwa Harbour which is situated in the rohe (boundaries) of Upokorehe Iwi. Upokorehe Iwi continue to actively practice their ancestral customs and traditions to gather kai (food) within their rohe. [2]

Upokorehe Iwi does not believe the Whakatohea Maori Trust Board is the appropriate entity to represent their interests into the future. They are seeking an entity that will ensure their whakapapa, their identity, their resources, their mana, their tinorangatiratanga will be retained and all resources utilised to benefit nga uri o Te Upokorehe Iwi.

Whakatōhea Pre-Settlement Claims Trust

The Whakatōhea Pre-Settlement Claims Trust represents the tribe during Treaty of Waitangi settlement negotiations. The New Zealand Government recognised the trust's mandate to represent the iwi with an Agreement in Principle signed with the Crown on 18 August 2017. The trust is governed by one trustee elected from each of six hapū, one trustee appointed from each of eight marae, and an additional trustee appointed by Whakatōhea Māori Trust Board. Roimata Marae (Upokorehe) is not represented on this trust, which effectively means, the trust does not have the mandate of Upokorehe Iwi to represent Upokorehe. The Upokorehe Iwi mandated legal entity to represent their treaty claims is Te Upokorehe Iwi Treaty Claims Trust, made up of representatives from the 5 marae within Upokorehe Iwi.

The trust is administered by the same staff as the trust board, in the same offices in Opotiki.[2]

Local government

The tribal area of Whakatōhea is located within the territory of Ōpōtiki District Council. Although, Upokorehe Iwi have identified that their traditional boundaries make up almost half of the area that Whakatohea is purporting to claim, with Upokorehe included as one of their hapu.

It is within the boundaries of Bay of Plenty Regional Council.[2]


Sun FM

Pan-tribal iwi station Sea 92FM broadcasts to members of Whakatōhea, Ngāitai and Te Whānau-ā-Apanui in the Opotiki area.[5] It is operated by pan-tribal service provider Whakaatu Whanaunga Trust, and is available on 92.0 FM. It operates the low-power Opotiki 88.1 FM, geared towards a young demographic.[6]

Notable people

See also

  • List of Māori iwi


  1. "Te Whakatōhea Māori Trust Board website". Retrieved 2 April 2007.
  2. "TKM Whakatōhea". tkm.govt.nz. Te Puni Kōkiri, New Zealand Government. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  3. "2006 Census – QuickStats About Māori (revised)". Statistics New Zealand. 4 April 2007. Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 25 May 2007.
  4. Walker, Ranginui (26 September 2006). "Te Whakatōhea". Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 2 April 2007.
  5. Carlsson, Sven. "Contractors install the Whakaatu Whanaunga Trust's far-reaching antenna last Friday". Opitiki News. Opitiki News. Retrieved 26 April 2015.
  6. "Iwi Radio Coverage" (PDF). maorimedia.co.nz. Māori Media Network. 2007. Retrieved 14 June 2015.
  7. Amoamo, Tairongo. "Mokomoko". Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 14 October 2019.
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