Pīhanga Maunga is a taonga of Ngāti Tūwharetoa and Ngāti Tūrangitukua in particular. Pīhanga is considered to be a living entity, an ancestor, with her own mana and mauri.
It is Pīhanga who cleared the land around her as a tūrangawaewae and it is Pīhanga who holds Mana Whenua in this rohe. Te Papamarearea is her ātea and forms the bed of Taupō Moana. It is here that she called her siblings together to talk, to set aside their arguments and feuds so that the land might settle into peaceful harmony. This is where the origin of the karanga began.
Pīhanga is the wife of Tongariro and thus part of the Kāhui Maunga. However, her mana is distinct from Tongariro. Pīhanga is Wāhine Ariki Tapairu and it is she who holds Mana Whenua, all authority, over the land and its resources. Pīhanga ai ua, ai hau, ai marangai are the challenging faces of Pīhanga.
Ngāti Tūrangitukua reaffirm that Pīhanga is our Whāea and that it is her Waipapa (breast milk) that feeds us. It is Pīhanga who welcomes all people who enter into this rohe. It is Pīhanga who nurtures us, protects us and who guides the actions of her uri.
Pīhanga also has a global responsibility. She, along with Kilauea (Hawa’ii) and Rapanui (Easter Island), is one of the maunga responsible for keeping the balance within the Pacific ring of fire. Her role for Te Ika a Māui is to ensure that the land is kept warm so that mankind is able to live and thrive on the land. The waters of Tongariro Awa represent the karanga o Pīhanga. So, the mana of Pīhanga is threefold for Ngāti Tūrangitukua/ Ngāti Tūwharetoa:
The peak of Pīhanga (1,325 metres) forms the heart of the Pīhanga Scenic Reserve which includes Lake Rotopounamu and the peaks of Pīhanga, Tihia and Kakaramea. This consists of parts of the Ohuanga, Waipapa, Tokaanu, and Waimanu blocks.
Pīhanga was the home of Te Aitanga a Te Rangihuruao, the Collective Hapū of Te Mātāpuna. A number of pā, kainga and other wāhi tapu can be found here. High on Pīhanga, Lake Rotopounamu in particular, was considered a place of refuge. Furthermore, the outlets of Rotopounamu are the various puna on the slopes of Pīhanga and from these puna the name Waipapa is derived.
Two of the puna Tihorehore and Tikatakata are the physical manifestation of the Ū o Pīhanga. It is by these puna that Pīhanga feeds and nurtures her people. Most notably the town water supply is drawn from Tihorehore whilst Tikatakata is the source of the Tokaanu Stream.
Many notable pā were established at the foot of Pīhanga including Kaiawatea on the Kōhatu Kaioraora ridge and Hīrangi on the Waipapa flat lands extending down to the river.
Rangikamutua Downs also describes Pīhanga as an important area of food gathering with pikopiko and harore (a type of mushroom) being just some of the kai gathered there. Kiwi, tui and kukuta (kereru) were found in the bush around Pīhanga and particularly kukuta (kereru) was snared for food (BOE Downs, 2006). It should be noted that kukuta (kereru) were the primary food of puhi of the Ariki Tapairu lines, the fats and oils essential for wellbeing and fertility.
© Cobi and Klaas Photography 2018