Tūhoe was born and raised in the Rūātoki district about 1100AD. He finally settled with his own family and children at the settlement Ōwhakatoro (west of Rūātoki). Tūhoe was the great-grandson of Toroa who captained the Mātaatua waka in the great migration across the Pacific Ocean from Hawaiiki in Eastern Polynesia to Aotearoa approximately 10,000 kilometres.
His Kūia Wairaka is well known in the district for having uttered the words "Kia Whakatāne au i ahau" which gave rise to the name of the town Whakatāne and the river.
Tūhoe's mother Paewhiti was the daughter of the priest Tāneatua who was the spiritual guide on the waka Mātaatua and is a well-known explorer who gave many place names throughout Te Urewera - the homeland of Tūhoe. Tāneatua is celebrated as the founder of the original houses of learning that secured traditional knowledge, history and customs.
Why was the tribe named after Tūhoe Pōtiki?
Tūhoe made the decision not to live his life under the authority of his older brother Ueimua but to achieve self-determination and liberty he convinced his older brother Tāne-moeahi to be an ally in his battle to take power which was achieved at Paemahoe now known as Te Ahi Manawa near Ōwhakatoro.
Te Ahi Manawa refers to the ritual of taking the heart of your opponent and therefore their authority and integrity. Great wars followed this action by Tūhoe, families were divided, new allegiances were created and political territories shifted. Generations were caught up in the aftermath of this event. Descendants and supporters of Tūhoe came to identify themselves by his name and by his cause.
We know of four marriages and the children from each marriage. Murakareke the eldest son, inherited his father’s mana (mantle) and continued the struggle to secure Tūhoe nationhood and Te Urewera as a political state, however this was not achieved until the next generation.
Where is his final resting place?
Exhausted by the fighting and insecurity, Tūhoe left the Rūātoki district to find peace and anonymity at Kawhia Harbour (West Coast) where his Uncle Mahanga lived. We know that Tūhoe married a local woman and died there.