Ngāti Awa trace their origins from a number of early ancestors, including those who lived in Aotearoa prior to Māori occupation and later from those who travelled from Hawaiki on the Mataatua waka. Over centuries, Ngāti Awa held influence over many parts of the country. Today, the ancestral homeland of Ngāti Awa is located within the eastern Bay of Plenty of the North Island.
Pūtauaki is the ancestral mountain of Ngāti Awa. The four rivers of Tarawera, Rangitāiki Oriini and Ōhinemataroa are also central to iwi identity. Over time, Ngāti Awa held mana whenua in the rohe bounded by Pongakawa in the west, Ōhiwa in the east, inland to Matahina, Maungawhakamana, Pōkuhu, and back to Pongakawa. The islands of Mōtītī, Rūrima, Moutohorā and Whakaari are also recognised as being important ancestral lands associated with Ngāti Awa.
For many centuries the boundaries of Ngāti Awa were continually tested and confirmed through rivalry, conflict and dispute with neighbouring iwi.
Ngāti Awa was an autonomous, independent and self-governing confederation of hapū prior to 1865. Of the twenty two hapū that comprise Ngāti Awa, twenty are traditional and two are urban based. The traditional hapū of Ngāti Awa are; Ngāti Hokopū - Te Whare o Toroa, Ngāti Hokopū - Te Hokowhitu a Tu Ki Te Rahui, Ngāti Wharepaia, Ngāti Pūkeko, Ngāti Rangataua, Ngai Tamapare, Te Patuwai, Ngāti Maumoana, Ngai Taiwhakaea II, Ngāti Hikakino, Ngai Te Rangihouhiri II, Te Tawera, Nga Maihi, Te Pahipoto, Ngai Tamaoki, Ngai Tamawera, Tuariki, Warahoe, Ngāti Hamua and Te Kahupake. The two urban based hapu are; Ngāti Awa ki Tamaki at Auckland and Ngāti Awa ki Poneke at Wellington. These various hapū affiliate to nineteen marae located in Whakatāne, Te Teko, Matatā, Auckland and Mōtītī Island. Today, around 19,000 people are affiliated to Ngāti Awa, making it the tenth largest iwi in Aotearoa.
© TE RŪNANGA O NGĀTI AWA 2009