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The Mangahao River is significant to Rangitāne O Manawatū both as a natural and spiritual resource. The Mangahao River flows from the central areas, Hanga o hia tangata, in the Tararua Ranges, along the Ranges, past a number of significant peaks such as Mairehau and Ngawhakaraua connecting many of the rivers that then flow to the west and the east. The Mangahao River valley also provided an important access and route through the Tararua Ranges to the central areas for spiritual purposes and to gather natural resources. European exploration of the Ranges during the 1900’s have also uncovered a number of artefacts in the vicinity of this area.
One of the most significant features of the river is the direct connection through the Ranges connecting many streams to carry Mauri from the ranges to the lowland areas below. However, the Mangahao River has been heavily altered and damned during European settlement for industrial and power generation purposes.
The Mangahao and its distributaries (Tokomaru River and Mangaore Stream) were highly regarded sources of wai and kai and access ways into the Tararua Ranges.
The Mangahao River has been over time referred to as Moawhanga/Moawanga and Mongohao/Mangahao. The former names refer to the booming sound the river made through its course and to the area being a source of Moa that were hunted in the area. Rangitāne (North Island) also refer to the Mangahao as being a source of (pure) water where the, now extinct, native freshwater fish (grayling) Upokororo was found in large numbers and gathered.
As Rangitāne O Manawatū develop their capacity they look forward to the future and the time when they are fully engaged in upholding the principle of kaitiaki over the Mangahao/Mangaore/Tokomaru area.