History of Te Heke o Te Rangihouhiri
The ancestors of Ngāi Te Rangi originally lived in the Opotiki area. Their pa was Tawhitirahi set above the stream, Kukumoa. One day the people of Tawhitirahi received a visit from a neighbouring tribe, Ngati Ha. After a disagreement over a pet Tui that Romainohorangi owned and the Ngati Ha chief wanted for himself, a battle ensured resulting in the pa being sacked and many of the inhabitants killed. The survivors fled inland leaving their home and thus began the travels of the ancestors of Ngāi Te Rangi.
The refugees from Tawhitirahi trekked inland through the Waioeka Gorge. Waikohu Valley, Waimata, Turanganui in the Poverty Bay area and finally arriving at whanagara on the East Coast. There they lived for many years unde4r sufferance and under the protection of Te Waho o Te Rangi, a chief of Ngati Rangihokaia a hapu of Te Aitanga a Hauiti of Takitimu origin. As Te Waho o Te Rangi grew old he feared that his slaves might be taken over by another tribe after his death so he decided to kill them all. However they had become stronger and resisted Te Waho o Te Rangi’s intention. By mutual agreement Te Rangihouhiri and his tribe were allowed to leave in peace thus began the trek of Te Rangihouhiri.
Travelling from Whangara around the East Coast and into the Bay of Plenty they landed at Torere. They settled there and built themselves a pa called Hakuranui. They did not feel totally confortable living at Torere as there was always the threat of attack from the local tribes. After a small skirmish with locals, Te Rangihouhiri decided to mve on westward. They passed their old pa at Tawhitirahi, but decided against stopping there due to continued antagonism from Ngati Ha and finally arrived at Whakatane.
They were merely tolerated by Ngati Awa at Whakatane making their situation insecure so it was decided to move west again and to Matata (Te Awa o Te Atua). While at Whakapaukorero, they fought Te Arawa in the battle of Herekaki which resulted in the death of Tutengaehe, the eldest son of Te Rangihouhiri. On hearing of his son’s death he predicted his own death stating “haere e tama mou tai ahiahi, moku tai awatea – Go my son , on the evening tide, I will follow on the morning tide. “ After Te Rangihouhiri’s death the tribe became known as Ngati Te Rangihouhiri (later to become Ngāi Te Rangi). Te Rangihouhiri’s son Tuwhiwhia and grandson Tauaiti, were killed by a raiding party from Ngati Ranginui and Waitaha, which resulted in the youngest son, Kotorerua, seeking revenge and planning the assault on Mauao which was occupied by Kinonui, chief of Ngati Ranginui. The result was the battle of Kokowai, In which Kinonui was killed and his pa destroyed. From the time Ngāi Te Rangi established themselves in and around Tauranga.