Uekaha, the son of Te Kawairirangi and Hinekahukura, was a half-brother to Rungaterangi and Tukemata. He lived at Waitomo and had two wives. His first wife was Whiawhia and from this union came Arikitauri, Huru and Rauponga. Whiawhia was the granddaughter of Porinui who was a brother to Rueke and Tupahau. Whiawhia’s parents were Pukauae and Hinewairangi (the daughter of Te Ao).
Uekaha’s second wife was Hinerangi, the daughter of Maniatakamaiwaho (son of Matakore) and Torekauae. The korero handed down over many generations is that Torekauae while visiting her father, Tuteaomarama asked him to look into her hair as she suspected that she had kutu. When carrying out his daughter’s request, he discovered wounds on her head and realised that her husband had been assaulting her. There was no need for words to be spoken.
Tuteaomarama decided that he would seek utu. His son-in-law, Maniatakamaiwaho was a hunter and owned a kuri that was known to be very good at catching kiwi. Kuri did not have the ability to bark and for this reason a necklace of bones was tied around their neck so that when it caught a kiwi, the rattling of the bones would alert its owner. An opportunity arose and Tuteaomarama took a necklace of bones with him and lay in wait for his son-n-law. When the kuri appeared Tuteaomarama killed it. Maniatakamaiwaho heard the rattling of the necklace and thinking it was his kuri he moved towards the noise and fell into the trap of his father-in-law who killed him (Jones and Biggs 1995 p 214, 216).
Tuteaomarama buried Maniatakamaiwaho and his kuri in a swamp. He then collected his daughter, Torekauae from the Marae o Hine (along what is known today as River Road in Otorohanga), and the pair fled to Puketarata. Knowing full well that they would be pursued by Maniatakamaiwaho’s relatives Tuteaomarama sent Torekauae on to Mt Te Aroha. Tuteaomarama deliberately stayed in the area to distract Maniatakamaiwaho’s relatives. He was found hiding in a mahoe tree at Ti Pa and killed. Torekauae made it to Mt Te Aroha where she lived with relatives.
It is said that Torekauae was pregnant during this incident and a daughter named Hinerangi was born. When Hinerangi grew into her teens, her mother decided it was time for her to be sent to Waitomo to meet the terms of utu for the death of her husband Maniatakamaiwaho at the hands of her father Tuteaomarama.
En route from Mt Te Aroha to Waitomo, Hinerangi came inland arriving at Ngakuraho, a pa belonging to Huiao and his son Tuirirangi (husband of Kinohaku). That night Tuirirangi made unwelcome advances toward Hinerangi but she had only one thought in mind which was to complete her mission to become Uekaha’s wife. She left Ngakuraho, crossing the Mangapu River and waded through the Piha and Repo swamps, to arrive at her destination where she found Uekaha (Jones and Biggs 1995 p 216).
Uekaha was a very old man, domiciled in a cave at the head of the Repo swamp in Waitomo. He was surrounded by koiwi which was a responsibility of his to clean and paint with ochre before depositing them in a final burial place. It is said that his first words to her were “Nau i kau mai i Repo?” (“Did you come through the swamplands”)? Hinerangi’s reply was she had been sent by her mother to become his wife. He replied “Ko huri aku turi i muri i aku taringa,” (“Now you see my knees behind my ears do you still want to fulfil your mission”)? (Meaning that he was much too old for her). Hinerangi replied that her mission was to become his wife. As a result of their union, peace was made between the two factions.
Referring back to the incident between Tuirirangi and Hinerangi, Kinohaku left Tuirirangi and went to live with her husband’s brother Paiariki at Te Kumi. Tuirirangi eventually moved to Kawhia (Jones and Biggs 1995 p 218).
From the union of Uekaha and Hinerangi came Kuiaharapepe and Kapetiu. Their daughter, Kuiaharapepe married Tumanoao and begat Waiata who became the wife of Ruapuha.
Uekaha lived in several locations throughout Waitomo including a pā at Rangiahua and in a cave at the bottom of the hill where Tanetinorau lived (Ohinetemaire). Both of these places are located a short distance from the northern boundary of the Waitomo Domain.
To this day, the hapū that bears Uekaha’s name identifies with land within the boundary of Hauturu East which is located on the western side of Tere Waitomo River. Ruapuha’s land is located on the eastern side of the river from Te Tumutumu to Rereamanu and includes part of the Mangapu River.
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Photo: Rangiahua, the pā site of Uekaha – North of the Waitomo Caves Domain