Pohangina River

The Pohangina River is of historical, cultural, spiritual and traditional significance to Rangitāne O Manawatū.   The Pohangina River has its source in the western foothills of the Ruahine Range, Te Ana O Whiro, and flows close to the Range until it merges with the Manawatū River at the western end of Te Apiti. 

Through Rangitāne O Manawatū traditions such as waiatata, korero and whakairo the area and River means ‘ulcerated night’, ‘Po’ meaning night and ‘hanga’ meaning ulcerated.  This suggests that the valley had been a place where bloodshed had occurred between Rangitāne O Manawatū and their enemies.  Thus this was a place of darkness and there was a degree of fear attached to the area because of bloodshed. The second level of meaning was the very ulcerated or dissected nature of the landscape itself, lots of little streams with valleys cutting down in to the area.  It’s also a very dark area that tends to get a lot of cloud.  It has its own micro-climate, being close to the foothills of the Ruahine Range thus the very climate itself gives a separate identity to the area.  The area was respected and was considered a tapu area to visit.  Some oral traditions indicate the areas in the valley were only visited in certain times of the year with tohunga to collect treasured natural resources and Rongoa.

A battle occurred between Rangitāne O Manawatū and a neighbouring iwi who crossed the Ruahine Range via Te Ahu a Turanga and entered the Pohangina Valley just north of the present Otangaki.  The battle was known as “Te Wai Whakatane o Ngati Kahungunu,” which translates to the battle title “the water where the blood of Ngati Kahungunu was made to flow

Cultural Landscape

The flanks of the Ruahine Range were covered with forest in the pre-pakeha period: on the western expanses of the southern area of the Range, rimu and northern rata predominated above 1000 feet, and graduated into kamahi forest above 2300 feet; on the higher slopes of the Range and ridge spurs, kaikawaka and pink pine grew; leatherwood scrub flourished at the timber line, above which tussock stretched to the summits of the Range.

Down in the Pohangina Valley, totara intermingled with matai along the well-drained riverbanks, and small areas of black beech were present across the Valley floor.   All of these resources were utilised by ROM and amongst journeys to snare birds, catch fish and gather berries, Rangitāne O Manawatū from the lower reaches of the Manawatū River came up the Pohangina River in order to selectively fell these particular species of trees as a resources. 

This district during the pre-Pakeha period was an abundant source of food, bore a bountiful variety of vegetation, bird and freshwater species, and in addition was a geographically diverse landscape closely aligned both in terms of origin and location.



Apiti Te Anaowiro Occupied location
Kahie Occupied location
Kau Kauaroro Occupied location
Kie Kie Tangio Occupied location
Nga Tamahine Occupied location
Parimanakau Occupied location
Rapuruhe Occupied location
Rarokaikatea Occupied location
Rua Rimu Occupied location
Rua Roa Occupied location
Te Hara Occupied location
Te Hirau Occupied location



Te Mai Occupied location
Te Ngarara Occupied location
Te Pihu Occupied location
Te Ponga Occupied location
Te Wharau Occupied location
Tikorangi Occupied location
Toutauirangi Occupied location
Wairarapa Occupied location
Waniepiwai Occupied location
Kopuanui Pa
Ahuriri Track
Pohangina Area

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 Pohangina River.