When our ancestors lived in Hawaiki many generations ago, the chief Taitewhenua gave the Uruao waka, his sea voyaging canoe, to Matiti. Matiti, a renowned tohunga kōkōrangi (astronomer) encouraged Rākaihautū to explore new lands and passed the canoe on to him.

Following the advice and learnings of Matiti, Rākaihautū began his exploration. With his crew, the Uruao landed in Whakatū Nelson, where the group split into two. Rākaihautū led his group by foot to Te Ara-a-Kiwa, Foveaux Strait. His actions made him known as the man who lit the fires of occupation on this island.

With his kō (Tūwhakaroria), Rākaihautū dug out the lakes and rivers of Te Waipounamu, marking the identity of land.

Through his travels, he carved out landmarks like the southern lakes Te Anau, Takapo, Pūkaki, Ohau, Hāwea, Whakatipu Waitai and Whakatipu Waimāori.

As he moved across the Ngā Pākihi Whakatekateka o Waitaha, he continued to carve out more lakes, some of which are Te Aitarakihi, Te Waihora, and Wairewa.

Once he completed creating the lakes he placed his kō, Tūwhakaroria, on top of a mountain and renamed it Tuhiraki. Today Tuhiraki overlooks Te Pātaka o Rākaihautū, the storehouse of Rākaihautū on the Banks Peninsula.


Te Rakiwhakaputa was a warrior chief who claimed this territory through intermarriage and tribal warfare with Ngāti Mamoe and Waitaha. When he arrived at the shore, he placed his rāpaki on the ground to claim the whenua his descendants would become known by.

The full name Te Rāpaki o te Rakiwhakaputa translates to ‘the waist mat of Te Rakiwhakaputa’ to mark this occasion.

Te Rakiwhakaputa later moved to where his Pā would be in the Kaiapoi area. His eldest son, Manuwhiri, would become chief of a neighbouring pā, Ōhinetahi, located in Govenors Bay and his second son Wheke became Chief of Te Rāpaki o Te Rakiwhakaputa.

You can see acknowlegements to these tipuna in the Whare that stands today.

The area within the harbour was chosen for its abundance in kai moana and many other resources, the central being the flourishing of raupō for which it was named – Whakaraupō.


Our maunga Te Poho o Tamatea is one of the many landmarks and place names around Whakaraupō that recall historical events, adventures and battles that were carried out and endured by our tipuna.

Te Poho o Tamatea is named for the memory of Tamatea Pokai Whenua, descendant of Tamatea Ariki Nui who commanded the Takitimu canoe from Hawaiki to Aotearoa.

As Takitimu voyaged back from Murihiku, a southerly storm struck, they found shelter in a harbour, filled with Raupō which they named Whakaraupō.

Tamatea and a party from the waka climbed the nearest peak to recite the necessary karakia for aide. He called to tohunga, Ngātoroirangi to send him fire and save his people. It is said that Ngātoroirangi sent flames Te Pupū and Te Hoata to the South Island. Though some fell to the ground at Te Whakatakanga-o-te-ngaheru-o-te-ahi-a-Tamatea (Hanmer Springs), they eventually arrived, and the evidence can still be seen today at Te Ahi a Tamatea.


Built by Rāpaki whānau and opened on 30th December 1901 by the then Minister of Labour, the Hon. W. C. Walker. Visitors were officially welcomed by the head of the Rūnaka at the time, Teone Tāre Tikao.

Unlike a traditional whare tipuna, Te Wheke was a place that held various events inside, from hui, to tangi to birthday parties and community get-togethers. Te Wheke saw many changes and upgrades in its years.

On December 31st, 2001 centennial celebrations for its opening were held.

In November 2008, plans to replace Te Wheke with a traditional whare whakairo were decided. Gatherings of acknowledgement were held to farewell Te Wheke before its careful dismantling and cremation, clearing ground for what is now seen today. The rock piles that held its weight have been retained and are now nested by the new marae building

With over a hundred years of service to the community, this final step in the life of the old hall was an opportunity for people to say farewell and remember the many occasions when Te Wheke was a home and shelter for generations of Ngāti Wheke whānui.

This marae was a tribute to the dreams and memories of the generations that built the foundation that we have now.


In November 2010, the wharenui was unveiled and opened, bringing over 1,000 people together in celebration.

The Wharenui was renamed ‘Wheke’ and is a place that portrays the stories of the tipuna and people that have lived in Whakaraupō.
The whare was designed by Perry Royal (Royal Associates) and completed by carvers Riki Manuel and Fayne Robinson. Under the guidance of Reihana (Doe) Parata QSM, whānau contributed their time by creating tukutuku designs. Kowhaiwhai drawings and weaving that adorn the walls of the whare reflect the dedication and time put into the whare by members of the hapū. The designs bring to life the surrounding environments by mirroring the surrounding harbour.

After the 2011 earthquakes, Rāpaki Marae gave sanctuary and refuge to those who experienced significant damage and loss.

Te Whare o Wheke is treasured for its beauty, visible narratives and contemporary creative arts. Rāpaki is a place for Ngāti Wheke and its communities to call home, to see and feel connections to the people, places, and environment of Whakaraupō.


Hītori : History