A few years ago, I was told the story of the tiki that was built, but the details were sketchy. I figured that where I live and my motel site is arguably pretty close to the place of the story, although I had some doubts because of the location of a cave referred to.
I recently visited a kaumatua (elder), who confirmed for me that my motel, at the foot of Pukeroa, is in fact the place where the event took place.
The following story was recounted to me by Walter Anderson:
As Maniapoto (The ancestor after whom the Ngati Maniapoto tribe is named) got into his twilight years he made a shift from Hikurangi to Te Ana Ureure at Pukeraro between Hangatiki and Te Korapatu Marae.
He lived for sometime here, before moving to Kauae, now known as Hangatiki. The maunga (mountain/hill) here is Pukeroa and on its slopes, was where Maniapoto handed the mauri (essence/mantle) of leadership over to his son Te Kawairirangi. When he sensed his time was near, Maniapoto asked his brother in-law Tuirirangi, to call the tribe together. He was worried that if he called the hui himself, the people would think it was a call to war.
After speaking to the assembly, Maniapoto called on different groups to perform the haka. The last group to perform, included his son Te Kawairirangi who performed the haka Tuwaewae. It was so terrifying, it gladdened Maniapoto’s heart.
It was from this hui that the Maniapoto whakatauaki (saying) came about;
‘Kia mau tena, kia mau ki te kawau maro.’ (In unity there is strength)
Maniapoto died shortly after, surrounded by his people and a "hei tiki" was carved by Pohoroa to commemorate his death and the area was renamed Hangatiki (the tiki that was made).
This is not the carving referred to in the story above. However is is a depiction of Maniapoto in his cave. This carving is found in Te Kohaarua, the ancestral meeting house at Maniaroa.
A further note about the whakatauki referred to above;
The more literal translation is: Hold fast to this, Hold fast to the swoop of the cormorant.
The kawau maro or cormorant bird (shag) was a military term and metaphor a for trianguilar formation, the shape the shag makes when it dives into the sea.
Maniapoto was expressing his wish that his people would continue to be a tribe of warriors.
These were his last words in public. Before the people dispersed Maniapoto passed away.