Ngāti Tūwharetoa, of Te Puku o Te Ika a Maui (the belly of the great fish of Maui), recognise two travellers as the first to set foot here, Ngātoroirangi and Tia. They both travelled to these lands from the western parts of the Bay of Plenty having travelled aboard the Arawa waka. As High Priest of the waka, Ngātoroirangi was responsible for the creation of Taupō Moana. Its size so great, that in places you cannot see the other side.
Ngātoroirangi travelled to the central North Island searching for a suitable place to settle his followers, he climbed to the peaks of Tauhara, where before him lay a great dust bowl.
Ngātoroirangi, wanting to promote growth in this barren area, uprooted a totara tree from the mountainside and hurled it into the dust bowl. The west wind caused him to miss his mark and the tree landed upside down. Its branches pierced the earth and fresh water welled up to form Taupō Moana — ‘the sea of Taupō’. This tree is said to be still visible under the water about 70-metres off the shore at Wharewaka Point.
Giving thanks for the life-giving waters at the shores of the newly created lake, he then plucked strands from his cloak and cast them into the water where they became the native fish of the lake. One of these turned into an eel but after wriggling away a short distance it died. There are still no eels in the lake to the present day.
The descendants of Ngātoroirangi include Ngāti Tūwharetoa, who continue to live around Taupō, the great inland sea, and for generations they have looked to the peaks of the mountains and the life-giving waters captured in the Pepehā, the connector to this place.
Ko Tongariro te maunga - Tongariro is the mountain
Ko Taupō te moana - Taupō is the great inland sea
Ko Tūwharetoa te iwi - Tūwharetoa are the people
Ko Te Heuheu te tangata - Te Heuheu is the man
Tihei Mauri Ora! - I have life!