Ihenga, The Great Explorer

Tamatekapua was the captain of the Te Arawa canoe that discovered and named many areas upon their settlement in Maketu.

Tamatekapua had a grandson named Ihenga who, like his grandfather, was also interested in exploring and discovering new areas. After Ihenga’s father’s death, Ihenga was advised by his uncle to go inland and explore and settle the land for his whānau.

So Ihenga, his wife Hinetekakara and their first child set off, making their way first to a river full of eels upon which they feasted. The river was named Kaituna, the chiefly river.

From here Ihenga and his whanau followed the Kaituna until they found a beautiful place with water falls and bush. Ihenga’s dogs, which traveled with them, went ahead, searching for food. When they returned with whitebait in their mouth, Ihenga knew there must be another water source nearby so he trekked to the top of a hill and saw part of a lake he named Rotoiti, or “small lake”.

Ihenga and his whanau settled in the Whakapoungakau Ranges and his wife gave birth to their second child.

Ihenga went on to discover and name Lake Rotorua and the island Mokoia which was the homeland of Hinemoa and Tutanekai. He then explored around this area, naming the majority of places including the mountains, rivers and lakes – names which are still used today.

An ever-curious explorer, Ihenga encountered the unknown and made beautiful discoveries through his own fears, angst and determination. He finally settled in Ngongotaha but journeyed north to Maketu several times in his lifetime.

Ihenga the intrepid and revered explorer is honoured through the naming of Waiariki’s tupuna whare and is represented in a carving outside the marae.

Page last updated: 02 May 2017