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. Te Tau Ihu Māori and the Taranaki Wars
    The lasting legacy of the Taranaki Wars was a deterioration in relationships between Maori and Europeans in Te Tau Ihu. read more
  2. Rangitahi Hanigan
    Rangitahi Hanigan, 1948-2009 hailed from Ngati Wairere and Ngati Haua of the Waikato Region was a wahina toa, an inspirational teacher and leader. read more
  3. Janice Manson
    Janice Manson, Ngati Tama and Te Atiawa descent, was a staunch advocate of strong, well-informed and successful development initiatives for Māori in t... read more
  4. Ngāi Tara at Appleby Pā
    In the late 1500s when Ngāti Tumatakokiri were consolidating their hold over the western districts of Te Tau Ihu, a section of the closely-related Nga... read more
  5. Place names of Te Tau ihu
    On 1 August 2014 a number of new or altered geographic names took effect as part of Treaty Claims settlements. read more
  6. Te Rae o Karaka or Karaka Point
    Te Rae o Karaka Historic Reserve occupies a narrow headland that juts out into Queen Charlotte Sound between Waikawa and Whatamango Bays. It has cultu... read more
  7. Taonga Pūoro or Singing Treasures
    Richard Nunns and Brian Flintoff played a significant part in reviving the art of taonga taonga pūoro read more
  8. The Mahitahi or Maitai River
    The river flowing through Whakatū, or Nelson is commonly known as the Maitai, however this is probably a corruption of its original name of Mahitahi o... read more
  9. Stories of Whakatū
    read more