Heretaunga (the original Māori name for Hawke’s Bay) is home to several Māori
iwi (tribes) including Ngati Hineuru, Ngati Kahungunu,
Rangitane, Ngati Kere, Whatuiapiti and Taiwhenua o Tamatea.
The tribes settled
river valleys and coastline where food was plentiful, and the names of many landmarks and places recall stories from the past.
According to legend, Te Mata Peak and the hills south to Kahurānaki
(near Havelock North) are formed by the body of Māori chief.
Te Mata o
Rongokako was a giant of a man who fell in love with another chief’s
beautiful daughter. In an attempt to dissuade his daughter's suitor from the romance, the father set a series of
difficult tasks that Te Mata o
Rongokako accomplished one-by-one. On the final task - eating his way through a hill - he choked on a rock and fell dead on the spot.