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The Rangitikei River is of historical, cultural, spiritual and traditional significance to Rangitāne o Manawatū. The Rangitikei River is significant as marker of the boundary of the Rohe. The north western boundary of Rangitāne o Manawatū Rohe stretches to the south bank of the Rangitikei River and separates Ohakea / Tangimoana (including the Tangimoana Forest) from Bulls. The Rohe boundary continues up the Rangitikei River where numerous historical sites existed. The River like the majority along the coast was named by Haunui a Nanaia. Rangitikei has been literally translated to be the day of the long stride however it refers to the good progress that was made by Haunui during his day of travels before he encountered the River.
The Rangitikei River and the district’s waterways were a vital means of gaining access to settlement, cultivation and mahinga kai sites within the rohe of Rangitāne o Manawatū. During the arrival of Europeans the Maori were noted in the Rangitikei area for travelling up and down the River by waka staying at Pa sites along the way. It is not coincidental, then, that almost all Rangitāne o Manawatū Pa and cultivations were situated immediately adjacent to, or within sight of, prominent and navigable waterways. The soil was fertile in such localities, transport to mahinga kai and other settlements was significantly aided by River access and rapid communication between Pa was possible. Early European surveys record large populations at settlements along the River eg Te Awahou, Mangamahoe, Maramaihoea, Ohinepuhiawe, Matahiwi and Poutu.
Traditionally the Rangitikei River provided an essential means of communication and trade. It is significant as it provided access to the central North Island which was important for trade. During the migration of foreign iwi the River provided an easy method to gather and mobilise warriors from surrounding areas.
Parewanui is one of the main Pa of the area on the Rangitieki River. The Pa site was where the Rangitikei Manawatū Block was acquired by the Crown in 1866. Descendants of Ngāti Tauira or Rangitauira, as they were also known, and who were comprised of Rangitāne o Manawatū and another iwi rest at the Parewanui Urupa next to Wheriko Church. It was here at Parewanui the famous prophetess, Mererikiriki (II) formed the Maramatanga movement and provided the people with her spiritual healing powers and visions. She was described as a Tohunga O Te Wairua Tapu, and Parewanui the Holy Ghost Mission.
Mererikiriki was the grand-daughter of Rangitāne o Manawatū Chief Tame Te Panau and Maata Momo (who was a renowned spiritual healer in the Rangitikei Manawatū during the early 1800s). When Christianity arrived in the area, the Church of England linked three churches to preach the gospel. Wheriko at Parewanui, one at Turakina, and the third, Rangimarie at Rangiotu.
At Parewanui in 1850, Te Hirwanui Kaimokopuna and other Rangitāne o Manawatū Rangatira also meet with Crown representatives to first discuss the purchase of the land in the Manawatū.
The area between Papaioea and the settlement Te Arataumaihi (Bulls) featured extremely heavy bush growing within a wetland environment containing many small dune lakes, larger water bodies and slow moving streams. There are a number of native trails or tracks between the settlements and the Rangitikei and Manawatū Rivers. It was noted upon European arrival that much of the landscape was unaltered with no forest clearance. Along the River were numerous cultivated areas of Kowhai and Karaka that attracted a multitude of numerous native bird species. Along the course of the River the native forest comprised totara, tawa, titoki and a few kahikatea. The River was plentiful in native freshwater species of eel, crustaceans, and shellfish and notably ducks. While at the coast numerous shark and kahawai were caught. The River was previously more sinuous and defined to a single channel.
Evidence presented to the Maori Land Court indicate the area was a place where eels were caught in streams and lagoons, cultivations were established and birds were snared. Even if sufficient food supply could not be gained within the Rangitikei area during certain seasons it was not unusual for hunters to travel long distances to favoured snaring places.
Significant Sites for Rangitāne o Manawatū
|Hikunga ana||Occupied location|
|Hou Hou Te Umuhaunui||Occupied location|
|Kakariki Ohuarere||Occupied location|
|Te Ara Te Waka Orangipango||Occupied location|
|Te Mai||Occupied location|
|Te Reu Reu||Occupied location|
|Te Rewa||Occupied location|
|Te Rimu||Occupied location|
|Te Ripo||Occupied location|
|Te Tauhai||Occupied location|
|Te Waipohatu||Occupied location|
|Tuporoporo Onga Onga||Occupied location|
|Te Ara O Taku Maitu:||Pa|
|Te Pou Te Makariu||Occupied location|
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 Rangitikei River.