The Rangitāne story begins with the arrival of the Kurahaupō waka (canoe or migration). One of the principal chiefs aboard this waka was Whātonga. His descendants eventually migrated south from Māhia Peninsula to settle much of the lower North Island and the top of the South Island.
The tribes associated with this waka include Rongomaiwāhine (Mahia), Te Ati Haunui a Paparangi (Wanganui), Rangitāne (Manawatu, Tamaki Nui a Rua, Wairarapa, and Wairau), Ngāti Apa (Rangitikei and Marlborough), Muaupoko (Horowhenua), Ngai Tara (Wellington and Kapiti), Ngāti Kuia (Pelorus), and Ngāti Tumatakokiri (Golden Bay).
At first Rangitāne lived in the Heretaunga (Hastings) area. Later, they travelled south and occupied Tāmakinui-a-Rua (present-day Dannevirke), Wairarapa, Te Whanganui-a-Tara (Wellington) and Wairau in the South Island.
This lead to the Rangitāne whakatauki:
There are four modern day concentrations of Rangitāne – Tamakinui-a-Rua, Manawatu, Wairarapa and Wairau.
Rangitāne o Wairau
Rangitāne have resided in the northern South Island since the migration from the Wairarapa in the sixteenth century under the Chiefs Te Huataki, Te Whakamana and Tukanae. We have occupied and used resources within a territory stretching from the Waiau-toa (Clarence) River in the south to the Wairau (Marlborough), including the Nelson Lakes, and north to Kaituna and the Marlborough Sounds and west into the Whakatu (Nelson) area.
Rangitāne customary rights often overlapped and intersected with other Iwi, especially in the Waiau-toa, Nelson Lakes, Marlborough Sounds and Whakatu districts. Non-exclusive and shared occupation and use rights in these areas were governed by whakapapa connections and customary protocols between the Iwi.