Tūrakautahi was the middle son of Tūāhuriri and his wife Hinetewai. The early death of his brother Hāmua left him to lead his Ngāi Tūhaitara people. Born with a club foot, Tūrakatahi was not able to lead his people in warfare and this role would fall to his younger brother Moki. Despite this Tūrakautahi and his descendants would play a significant role in Ngāi Tahu’s story in Canterbury and further south through his son Kaweriri.

Claiming land

The settlement of new lands by chiefs and the process of claiming land was called Take-taunaha. Traditions tell us about how the great chiefs of Ngāi Tūhaitara and Ngāti Kurī claimed the lands of Banks Peninsula for themselves. Tūrakautahi on hearing of the abundance of kākāpō (a parrot prized for its feathers) found at Kuratāwhiti claimed the mountain before the conquest by saying:

Ko kuratāwhiti te maunga kākāpō, ko au te tangata.

(Translation: Kuratāwhiti is the mountain of kākāpō and I am the man).

Tūrakautahi would move with other young chiefs to settle in a pā constructed at Taerutu Lagoon (near present day Woodend). At this time this area was surrounded by an impenetrable swamp and water with the pā built on a large piece of dry land. Timber to build the pā was obtained from nearby forests. The swamps and waterways provided an abundance of birds and fish life with kūmara cultivated in gardens on the flat land. This pā was known as Te Kōhaka-a-kaikai-a-waro and would later be known as Kaiapoi.


Tūrakautahi would have several children from his wives. His son Kaweriri from his wife Hinekakai (daughter of Te Rakiwhakaputa) was a leading warrior of his generation until his final battle with Ngāti Māmoe chief Tūtemākohu at Waitaramea where he lost his life.

From his wife Te Aowharepapa his son Rakiāmoa would carry on the main lines of descent amongst the people of Canterbury and Banks Peninsula.


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