Maori history of the Wairarapa

Golden Gate

Kahungunu (also known as Kahu-hunuhunu) was born at the Tinotino pā in Ōrongotea (later named Kaitāia). His father subsequently moved to the Tauranga area, where Kahungunu grew to adulthood.

In one account of his life, Kahungunu was persuaded to organise the digging of a canal from Awanui to Kaitāia, to enable Ngāti Awa to take their fleet of canoes up to the fertile flats there. But the ambitious task proved too time consuming and wasteful of tools, which were broken on the many obstacles in the swampy ground.

At nearby Ōtira he seized some fish from a net being drawn up onto the beach. When his half-brother Whaene threw a tāmure (snapper) at him, Kahungunu was pricked on the hand by its fin. Some time later, when his cousin Haumanga had a son, Kahungunu commemorated the incident on the beach by naming the boy Tūtāmure (pierced by a snapper).

Kahungunu next went to Whakatāne, where he married Waiarai. Pō Tirohia was the child of this marriage. Further on at Ōpōtiki Kahungunu stayed with his cousin Haumanga. He took part in the battle known as Te Awhenga, against the people of Rotorua.