Beginnings - A drawing of a face - Document


This is an ancient hokopapa detailing the process and stages of creation of the universe.

Gasses disperse, condense and solidify forming stars and planets. Heat leads to volcanic activity which in turn produces steam and minerals such as pounamu. These create the conditions for life to exist. And exist it does.

The beginning of Moriori existence on Rēkohu and Rangihaute can be compared to the legend of creation.


Moriori have their own origins, history and mana, which are expressed in similar, but human terms.

Moriori are a tapu, peaceful and humble people.

They are the descendants of Rongomaiwhenua, living at Rēkohu and Rangihaute, mai ra ano! (from time immemorial).

It was their fires that were the first to be lit there. It was their tuahu (altars) that were the first to be set up there. It was then they received the mandate of the sky, land and sea.  They received this from the atua (gods) and that is where their manawa aoterangi, manawa whenua, manawa moana, manawa tangata at that place begins – e kore a tua ake.

No other human being stood in front of them there.

Moriori are the t’chakat henu tuturu ake, (tangata whenua tuturu ake) the foundation people.

Only the gods stood before them and it was from those gods that they received their manawa ka,  or founding mandate for these taonga.

Nunuku Whenua - A close up of text on a whiteboard - MorioriFrom this time onward their songs would join with those of the birds, their sighs with those of the wind, their paddles with the slap of the waves and drip with the glinting of the sun’s rays, their manawa purenga (names) would be joined to the hills, to the rivers in the valleys, to the rocks and the places where the seals would rest, the hopo land and the fish swim.

Their nets would trap those fish on the coasts and the eels in the lakes. Their tuara (will) would bend to the will of motihangai (the sky), te whenua (the land) and te hiku watea (the ocean).  They would hold the covenants, the manawa ka and the ngakau (emotions and feelings) of these things.  Their faith and their voices would be raised in karakii, rituals and taumaha (thanksgiving) to the gods.

Successive migrations of Moriori ancestors would arrive in Rēkohu, such as the people of Rangimata and Orupuke, but all followed the tikanga, customs and kawa of the ancient ones, the tchakat henu tuturu ake.

Later, other groups arrived, but their hands sought to claim a different kind of mandate. Those groups came on strange vessels and unlike the t’chakat henu, their mandate was seized from the hand of man and held by force, man over man. This was not be done at the altar of the gods as in the case of Moriori.  Indeed they desecrated those sacred places. Their mandate was taken by the breathe of force on the end of the oka (spear) , the taiaha and held over the barrel of a musket. Their mandate was secured by the ture (law), tikanga, kawa and customs of still another people called Pākehā.

Thus can be compared the essence of Moriori mana whenua, mana moana, mana tangata and mana aoterangi to that of later comers to Rēkohu and Rangihaute.  In the case of Moriori, their mana comes to them from the gods, through the sky, land and seas and down to them as human beings.  In the case of later arrivals, their claims to mana whenua, mana moana and mana tangata arises from a fundamentally different source.  The difference is that one source is Te Ao Tuturu (natural and permanent, inviolate) and the other, Te Ao Hurihuri (variable, changeable, experimental).


Ko ro waka a Kahu (the waka of Kahu) we are told was the first canoe in the tradition of Moriori. He arrived at Kaingaroa Harbour and planted his fern-root (aruhe) at a place called Tongariro. This fern root was called Te aka a Kahu. (It was wiped out by pigs after the arrival of Māori in 1835.)

Kahu bought his god Kikokiko (also known as Kahu)  which he hid away at Rangikapua, which is on the Western side of Kaingaroa Harbour.

He also bought Kumara with him, which although he planted, would not grow.

Moriori fix the date of Kahu’s arrival on the islands as around the time of their ancestors;

  • The ancestors Kahuti and Te Akaroroa lived at Kaingaroa.
  • The ancestor Maripane lived at Matarakau
  • The ancestor Tamakuatara lived at Te Awapatiki
  • The ancestors Karangatai and Karangatua lived at Whangaroa, and
  • The ancestors Tapeneke and Taponi lived at Waiteki.

Some say that the name of Kahu’s waka was ‘Tane’. His crew numbered hokorua (40).

When he got to the islands, some of them were floating and they were in an ‘unsettled state’ so he joined some of them up and separated others and anchored them all where they remain today.

According to another version, Kahu landed first at Tuku. The full name of which is Tuku-a-Tamatea, named after a  man of some distinction among Kahu’s crew.