Ko te Ngawha te kanohi o te taonga, engari ko tona whatumanawa, ko tona mana hauora, no raro
Ngawha is the eye of the taonga, but its heart, its life giving power, lies beneath (the surface)
The Ngawha Springs are iconic to the Ngapuhi iwi. They are culturally significant to the whole iwi and have a rich social, environmental and political history. The Parahirahi C1 Trust as kaitiaki has a responsibility to ensure that the springs are maintained and developed so that future generations can enjoy their healing waters.
This whakatauki talks about two key associations. “First for the association of warmth with the most vital part of the female body and thus with the source of human life itself, that is the Ngawha waters are life giving and healing; and second, for the association of the waters with a source deep within the Earth Mother, Papatuanuku”.
Waiariki means chiefly waters
Maori history tells how these hot springs are connected to the volcanoes in Hawaii thus supporting the genealogical Polynesian connections throughout the Pacific.
Historical accounts tell of Kareariki, an ancestress of the local Maori, who discovered the hot springs in the late 1600s. Kareariki lived with her husband, Uenuku-kuare, and their children in the area which at that time was covered in bush and rich in bird life.
One day Kareariki came upon the springs, tested them and discovered their curative powers, particularly those giving relief to mothers with post-parturition pains.
Kareariki later killed some of her female slaves who thereupon became taniwha in a nearby lake, collectively taking the form of a kauri log known to this day by the name Takauere. After Kareariki lost her pet dog Kaipahau (killed for food), she kept hearing his spirit barking night and day.
There is an account describing how a major conflict between two warring tribes took place on the West Coast. After the fight the two opposing forces came here to these hot springs to recover. Together these foes rested and bathed peacefully together. The springs unique properties soothed more than just the battle weary bodies.
The Ngapuhi warrior leader, Hone Heke recognised the remedial value of the pools, bringing his wounded here for treatment after the British assault on his fortified Pa at Ohaewai.
The first European came to these pools in 1842. They also considered the pools to have healing properties. In 1876 they erected a bathhouse in the area. This before there was any properly formed access to the springs.
Ngawha Geothermal Resource Report
Kareariki and Takauere
It is asserted that only ancestors of exceptional mana can create or summon and control taniwha. Kupe, Nukutawhiti and Ruanui all had such powers. Taniwha-creating mana came down to Kareariki and possibly to her daughter Maikuku. Kareariki's actions in despatching her slaves, whence Takauere, are significant. Her dog, Kaipahau, is also significant He becomes another minder of the pools. Both Kaipahau and Takauere and other mokaikai (minders) have changed the whole characteristics of the pools in the eyes of Ngapuhi to more than pools of medicinal and personal value, indeed to objects of esoteric protection over the mana, tapu and wairua of the Ngapuhi people.
2015 Waitangi Tribunal HearinGs