Porourangi, the eponymous ancestor of the Ngāti Porou tribe, was born about 1450AD in Whāngārā. His full name was Porou Ariki Te Mātātara-a-Whare Te Tuhi Mareikuraa-Rauru. Apirana Ngata, in his Raurunuia-Toi Lectures, explained the significance of Porourangi’s name. “Ariki Te Mātātaraa-Whare” was a name from Rarotonga of a high priest under Makea, signifying “the first born son of a tapu line”. “Te Tuhi Mareikura-a-Rauru — the dawn breaking blood red”, indicated that his birth took place in the early morning and further symbolised his status as “a full blooded man”. Porourangi was a very tapu (sacred) person and like his great-grandfather Pouheni before him, virtually everything he touched became tapu.
Porourangi was married to Hamo-terangi who hailed from Tūranga (Gisborne) and was part of the Ikaroa-a-Rauru migration that settled in the Kaiti area. Together they settled at Whare Māpou on the coast near Pouawa. He also lived for a time at Te Rāroa near Tītīrangi Maunga in Ūawa (Tolaga Bay). Because he was so tapu, he had many attendants who did everything for him. It wasn’t too long though before a frustrated Hamo-terangi began to taunt her husband about this. From the writings of Pita Kāpiti, such as the degree of Hamo’s criticism that out of sheer frustration and embarrassment, Porourangi decided to go fishing.
He made himself a fishing hook from the shell of a karariwhā (or pāua) and boarded the waka of his younger brother, Tahupōtiki. Needless to say, his brother and all the people of the tribe, were very angry with him and urged him to exercise some restraint — they feared that something bad would happen to him. However, he could still hear his wife’s scornful words and dismissed their protests. So Porourangi and his attendants paddled out to sea.
He didn’t have to wait too long before he hooked a fish which he hauled into the waka. The fish was a nohu, a reddish spiny fish that was also poisonous. Porourangi was spiked by the fish and when his attendants came to his aid he was already dead. Such an undignified end to a man of such mana. Porourangi had three children, Hau, Ueroa and Rongomaiāniwaniwa. From these children were to descend some of the most important whakapapa lines of the Ngāti Porou, Te itanga-a-Hauiti, Te Whānau-a-Apanui, Ngāti Kahungunu, Rongowhakaata and Te itanga-a-Māhaki tribes. And when Tahu-pōtiki, Porourangi’s younger brother, took his grieving widow Hamo-te-rangi as a wife and begat the Ngāi Tahu tribe of the South Island, the dynasty that had its origins in Whāngārā was all but complete.