About Turi, Captain of the Aotea Waka
Turi was the great navigator who voyaged from Rangiatea to New Zealand, probably about fifty years before the arrival of Tainui, approx 800 years ago.
He made his first settlement in the bay he called Hawaiiki, where his canoe Aotea could be safely moored in the Te Kowiwi stream; probably at that time at the very foot of the kidney-shaped hill upon which he built a fortified village.
That village was called Turi Matai Rehua because Turi here awaited the return of the star Rehua, which indicated the coming of summer, so that he could resume his voyaging.
It was probably further developed by later generations into the formidable fortress its remains show it to have been.
Turi was a notable navigator and was called 'Turi He Patea Taipo Moana', or 'Turi who gulps the ocean'.
Turi's first concern on arrival in New Zealand, after establishing a secure haven for his canoe, was to find a place where kumara could be cultivated and stored.
Tradition has it that the site selected for the kumara cultivation was on the ridge overlooking the sea to the south-west of Turi Matai Rehua; here he established a garden, and possibly a village called Raukumara, now unfortunately engulfed by drifting sand.
That site was undoubtedly selected because it would be frost free and reasonably accessable from the resting place of the canoe.
Tradition also has it that Turi made a number of voyages to and from New Zealand and that the canoe was finally taken out to sea and sunk off the northern entrance to Aotea Harbour, the hull being filled with rocks.
The people then migrated overland to Taranaki, where they dispossessed some of the original inhabitants and settled at Patea.
For the Tainui people the claim to fame of Hawaikiiti Bay lies in the fact that here Whakaotirangi, the principal wife of Hoturoa, selected the site for her garden at a place called Pa Kari Kari just south of Turi Matai Rehua.
She was probably influenced by the sheltered northerly aspect, the friable alluvial soil and the proximity of the Te Kowiwi stream, but she had most likely also been told by the local people of the gardening venture conducted by Turi and his people before they departed for Taranaki.
Some of the taro she is believed to have planted in the moist ground beside the stream, still flourishes there today untended.
There are many ancient Maori forts in the Aotea district, demonstrating the extent of former settlement, but most of them were abandoned during the wars.