Tāngata whenua history (extracts from Merivale - Proud Of It)
Ka titiro atu au ki Tauranga ko Ngāti Ranginui ko Te Rangihouhiri
ki Rangataua ko Tamapahore ko Ngā Papaka o Rangataua
Tū-rangatira tonu ahau i runga Waimapu nā Kahuwhaia ko Tahuriwakanui
Ka piki au ki te Ahi Koura noho ana ahau i te Taumata i te Ri Tuarutapu
Ka titiro atu au ki te Mangorewa ko Te Upoko rā o Ngai Tamarawaho.
- extract from Te Patere a Te Kaporangi
For centuries, the area now known as Merivale has been more significant for its proximity to the Waimapu than for its land resources. In its natural state, the land rises steeply from the marshes beside the Waimapu, running into gentle embankments before falling away into the gully behind Mansels Road.
The Ngāti Ruahine hapu of Ngāti Ranginui is the tāngata whenua of this area. The name, Ruahine, was adopted from the mokopuna of Tamatea Pokai Whenua who married Kahuwhaia, another one of Tamatea Pokai Whenua's mokopuna. Tamatea Pokai Whenua was a grandson of Tamatea, captain of the Takitimu waka. Ngāti Ruahine have close links with Ngai Tamarawaho, who live at Huria (Judea). Over the years, some elderly members of Ngāti Ruahine have "retired" to Huria.
The rohe of Ngāti Ruahine extends west across Te Reti to the Wairoa River; north to Te Papa; east to Maungatapu; and south to Ake Ake and Taumata. Within this area, falls Poike. Poike lies on the eastern bank of the Waimapu River and takes its name from Po ike, meaning to arrive late at night, because it was a central meeting place for the hapū of Ngāti Ranginui. A number of alliances were made at Poike with Te Arawa, Ngaiterangi and Ngāti Haua.
There have been a number of Ngāti Ruahine settlements in Poike. The original Ranginui pā stood close to the mouth of the Waimapu. Earlier this century, the pā burned down and the remnants were taken to Hairini. Close to the site of the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic was Te Kaponga Marae. Te Kaponga was Kahuwhaia's father and his name was also used for the wharenui at Huria Marae, which was pulled down in the early 1950s. Poike village was just north of the current Waimapu Marae site. Waimapu Marae has been settled for many years.
While Ngāti Ruahine cultivated crops on the eastern side of the Waimapu River and in other flat regions like Marawaiwai and near Tukarere Road at Te Reti, most of the hapū's rohe was used for hunting food. Sources of food included periwinkles, pipi, herrings, mullet, tuna (eels), whitebait, kahawai, dogfish and patiki (flounder) from the Waimapu; and kiore (rats) tui, kiwi, kereru (pigeons), harore (bush mushrooms), berries and pikopiko (young fern shoots) from the wooded areas.
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