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  • Rights: University of Waikato. All rights reserved.
    Published 19 March 2014 Referencing Hub media

    The Māori name for Huntly is Rāhui Pōkeka. Norman Hill explains how this name came about. During the times of the ancestors, a pōkeka was driven into the ground to signify that a rāhui had been put on fishing for tuna until they were restocked. This shows that the principles of kaitiakitanga were upheld in the early days.

    Note: The historical image of a pou in this video clip is intended as an example of a pou – it is not from the Waikato region.


    The Māori name for Huntly is Rāhui Pōkeka, and the story is told that the lakes were populated with tuna, and tuna to our people is a royalty food because it is a food that is provided to manuwhiri and dignitaries of high esteem in our local community. During the time of our ancestors, the lakes were recognised as the main source of tuna. And it was overfished by our local people, so a tohunga or a leader said that there will be no more fishing of tuna in our lakes to ensure that there is a sustainable population of tuna for our people. So he put a rāhui or covenant over the lakes so, and that recognised that there will be no more fishing of the tuna at this particular site. And he put his pōkeka or his pou in the ground to say that, until this pou is not in the ground, there was a covenant or rāhui on our fish stocks. So Rāhui Pōkeka is recognised as the name of Huntly in recognition of our tuna stocks and upholding the principles of kaitiakitanga in our local waterways.

    Norman Hill

    NZ Eel Processing Co Ltd, Te Kauwhata

    Smith, Maurice Crompton, 1864–1953. [Smith, Maurice Crompton] 1864–1953: From Rangiriri looking up. Jany, 1881. Ref: A-174-029. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

    Pou rāhui used to mark eel fishing territories. Graham, David Henry, 1885–1965: Photographs of taonga Māori (Māori artefacts). Ref: 1/4-018225-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

    The Waikato Tainui College for Research and Development acknowledges the financial support given by the Waikato River Cleanup Trust Fund which is administered by the Waikato River Authority.

    The Waikato River Cleanup Trust does not necessarily endorse or support the content of the publication in any way.

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