The Origin of the Manawatu River

When the Rangitāne people stepped from prehistory into history in the nineteenth century, their tribal domain comprised almost the entire drainage basin of the Manawatu River, including its tributaries on both sides of the Tararua-Ruahine mountain chain. The most conspicuous natural feature in this area was the Manawatu Gorge, known to the Rangitāne as Te Apiti (the cleft, or gorge). The stretch of river plunging through the gorge was known as Te Au-rere-a-te-tonga (the flowing current of the south) and Te Au-nui-a-tonga (the great south current) was the name of the waterfall. In the middle of the gorge is a great red rock known to Rangitāne as Te Ahu a Turanga, which is also the name of the saddle a little north of the gorge. The rock was a tapu thing and was said to be visible even in the highest floods.