There are eight iwi or tribes  in Te Tau Ihu/ Te Tauihu (Nelson/Tasman–Marlborough):

There is therefore no single account of the traditional history of the region:

Fragmented traditional narratives of the Kurahaupo iwi and their predecessors with whom they merged (Ngati Tumatakokiri, Ngati Wairangi, Ngai Tara), difficulties in ascribing tribal affiliations to individuals in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the dif­fering perspectives of the northern migrants on their settlement histories, and the competing interests of neighbouring iwi Ngai Tahu ; all preclude any single account of the traditional history of the region from gaining universal acceptance. (Waitangi Tribunal Report 2008: Te Tau Ihu o te Waka a Maui: Report on Northern South Island Claims, p.27)

This section attempts to tell some of the stories about the people and their land - ngā kōrero o Te Tau Ihu o te waka a Māui. For authoritative information about each iwi, see the linked website of each iwi. For more versions of the stories on the Prow, and many other stories, see the Te Tau Ihu Statutory Acknowledgements document and associated maps, which record many of the traditional stories which the different iwi associate with their regional sites of significance. Note - a statutory acknowledgment recognises the particular cultural, spiritual, historical and traditional association of an iwi with an identified site/area. For a more complete overview of the origins and rohe of the iwi of Te Tau Ihu, see the Prow story on The Tangata Whenua Tribes of Te Tau Ihu.

The iwi websites (linked below) have a growing collection of information, history and traditional stories about each iwi and their Rohe:

  • Ngāti Kuia - see history of the iwi (under About); and maps (under Resources) for information about Te Hoiere Region/Pelorus - occupations, historic, geographic, cultural redress and points of interest. Resources created to support the NZ Curriculum have been created: https://ngatikuia.iwi.nz/resources/education (videos, learning sheets etc).
  • Te Rūnanga a Rangitāne o Wairau - see history, rohe and whakapapa (under Rangitāne) and publications, about Wairau archaeology and more (under Resources)
  • Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō - see origins, rohe and more (under Ngā kōrero) and a wealth of information about places in the rohe (cultural mapping project), plus archival information (under Learn) 

  • Ngāti Koata - see Our History (under Tiaki Taonga) and a wealth of information about Lake Moawhitu on Rangitoto ki te Tonga/ D'Urville Island (under Tiaki Taiao)
  • Ngāti Rārua - see Our story (under Who We Are); see also NRAIT, the Ngāti Rārua Ᾱtiawa Iwi Trust - whose ancestors are the original landowners of their Motueka homelands. Read our history and oral histories (under Our Stories), map of holdings (under Our Trust), historic timeline (under Our Owners) and more.
  • Ngāti Toa Rangatira  - see our history (under Taonga), the rohe and Marae (under Rohe)

  • Te Ātiawa o Te Waka-a-Māui  - see History (under Marae and Te Ātiawa Iwi), also see Our History (on the Te Atiawa Taranaki site).
  • Ngāti Tama ki Te Tau Ihu - see history (under Ngāti Tama ki Te Tau Ihu and also under Te reo me ōna tikanga) 

For background information see the Māori history section on Te Ara.

A note on spelling:
Many Māori names have been restored as a result of the Treaty of Waitangi settlement process, while the New Zealand Geographic Board Ngā Pou Taunaha o Aotearoa, the national authority on place names, has reinstated others in recognition of the significance of Māori place names to both the tangata whenua and New Zealand as a whole. Stories on the Prow reflect the name which was generally accepted at the time of publication. Names have been altered when possible to reflect subsequent changes, but it has not been possible to change all spellings and names as they occur. Contact us if you think a place name needs to be updated.
The Prow will retain the original names of institutions, as they were referred to at the time they existed, e.g. the Takaka Town Board will retain this name, whereas we will endeavour to amend other references to Tākaka.

See the Prow story on The Tangata Whenua Tribes of Te Tau Ihu and related stories on this site:

All stories in the Māori section are listed below.

Subscribe to RSS feedWhat is RSS?


  1. The Tangata Whenua Tribes of Te Tau Ihu
    There are eight tribes in the Top of the South Island, Te Tau Ihu, which tells of a rich and complex past, present and future… read more
  2. Pūrākau - Legends of Te Tau Ihu
    Ancient legends or pūrākau portray exciting events throughout Te Tau Ihu… read more
  3. Te Tau Ihu o Te Waka a Aoraki
    The name, Te Tau Ihu o Te Waka, stems from creation myths of earliest Polynesian inhabitants of Aotearoa… read more
  4. Kupe and the Boulder Bank
    The distinctive Boulder Bank protecting Nelson Haven was named to commemorate exploits during Kupe’s visit to Aotearoa in about 1350. read more
  5. Whakapapa
    Whakapapa is the bedrock of Maori society. read more
  6. Pā and Kāinga
    Ancient pa (fortified settlements) - and kainga (villages) scatter Te Tau Ihu o Waka. European settlers certainly did not arrive in a 'barren social ... read more
  7. Ngāti Tūmatakōkiri
    Ngati Tumatakokiri, a numerous and fierce tribe, dominated the north-western quadrant of the South Island for at least 200 years read more
  8. Matangi Āwhio - Auckland Point
    Matangi Awhio had long been a pa or seasonal camping site when it became a gathering place and lively trading post after European settlement. The sea ... read more
  9. The Native Tenths Reserves
    Edward Gibbon Wakefield’s vision of recognising Maori land ownership and of ensuring that any land sold retained a fair and equitable distribution of ... read more
  10. Te Tiriti o Waitangi ki Te Tauihu
    The Treaty of Waitangi was signed on nine separate sheets by more than 500 Māori. Two of these sheets were brought to the South Island, however no she... read more