Te Rakiwhakaputa was of Ngāti Kurī descent and was a strong fighting chief. He had links to Ngāi Tūhaitara through his daughter Hinekakai who was wife of Tūrakautahi. His other daughter Te Rōpuake was wife to another Ngāti Kurī chief called Makō, who established himself at Wairewa.
For a time Te Rakiwhakaputa resided at a pā on the banks of the Cam River (Whakakume) also known as Te Pā-o-Te Rakiwhakaputa. There are varying stories as to why he went to Whakaraupō and conquered the settlements there. Among them are the traditions that relate how the lands and resources were allocated to the various chiefs of Ngāti Kurī and Ngāi Tūhaitara by conquest – a practice known as ringa kaha.
Some say the lands were allocated by Tūrakautahi, the leader of Ngāi Tuhaitara; others say they were allocated before they left Kaikōura.
Te Rakiwhakaputa was a veteran of many campaigns and as such carried his own mana and prestige as an acclaimed fighter and it is likely that he and the other chiefs acted independently in claiming the riches of the new lands for themselves. Their strong hapū connections were present in those times and remain so today even though each established their connections to these new locations.
Te Rakiwhakaputa an accomplished fighting chief quickly seized the Ngāti Māmoe settlements around Whakaraupō (Lyttelton harbour) and claimed the lands and resources for himself and his descendants.
He took for himself the place now known as Rāpaki by laying his rāpaki (waist mat) upon the beach and claiming it as the Rāpaki o Te Rakiwhakaputa.
Across the hills in Taitapu he destroyed the Ngāti Māmoe pā of Mānuka. At Ōhinetahi (Governors Bay) his son Manuhiri established his base after ousting Ngāti Māmoe, and Te Wheke, another son, established his base on the estuary of the Ōtakaro (Avon River).
Thus the great chief Te Rakiwhakaputa conquered and established himself and his descendants in this large harbour. His act of claiming land by placing his garment on the land is forever remembered at Rāpaki where his descendants still live to this day.
- Te Maire Tau and Atholl Anderson editors, Ngāi Tahu A Migration History. Bridget William Books, 2008
- Rawiri Te Maire Tau, Nga Pikitūroa o Ngāi Tahu: The Oral Traditions of Ngāi Tahu. University of Otago Press, 2003
- Told by Teone Taare Tikao to Herries Beattie, Tikao Talks. Cadsonbury Publications Christchurch, 2004