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Ruapani / Pūkaru

Ruapani lived in his pā, Popoia, near Waituhi, some 20 km north west of Tūranga-nui-a-Kiwa (Now known as Gisborne). He had three wives; in order, Wairau, Uenukukōihu and Rongomaipāpā. When Ruapani died, Tūhourangi took Rongomaipāpā as his wife and founded the Tuhourangi iwi in Rotorua, which is also part of the Te Arawa confederation of tribes.

Popoia is located north of Waituhi and is adjacent to Lavenham Road. The site is still visible today but is located on private farmland.

Mitiri writes extensively about Kahungunu, “one of the most amazing characters in Māori history”, who once visited a pā on Titirangi (now known as Kaiti Hill), where “Kahungunu saw the smoke of the fires of a large settlement inland on the opposite side of the Waipaoa River.


On asking who was living there, he was told that the pa was Popoia, owned by Ruapani, the principal chief of the whole district. So to Popoia our hero journeyed, and was so well thought of that Ruapani gave him his daughter Rua-rere-tai as wife. Kahungunu settled in the pa, and doubtless became a useful fellow.


Time passed on until Rua-rere-tai was about to give birth to a child and she was desirous of something tasty with which to vary her diet. She asked her husband to procure some birds for her to eat in order to cause the milk to flow for his (as yet unborn) child. On reaching the forest he found a nest of a tieke in a hollow tree, from which he obtained some young birds. He took them to the village and cooked them, thus fulfilling his wife's desire.


Not long after, the child, a girl, was born, and was named Rua-herehere-tieke, thus commemorating the finding of the young birds.”

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