who was TOITEHUATAHI
taken from the site: First peoples in Maori tradition
Who was Toi?
Toitehuatahi (Toi the lone born) is an important early ancestor of Maori people. In some traditions he comes from Hawaiki, while in others he is indigenous to New Zealand. All, however, speak of his authority and prestige. A tribe known as Te Tini o Toi (Tois multitudes) are said to have inhabited the land prior to the arrival of canoes such as Te Arawa, Tainui and Mataatua. Early peoples such as this are often referred to as the tangata whenua the people of the land. Their tenure and prestige is recognised in the traditions of the later Polynesian peoples.
Stories of Toi
As with many important early ancestors, there are various stories about Toi. Particularly well known is the tale in which Toi, of Hawaiki, eats the dog of Uenuku. Another version has Toi as the consumer of trees or forest food, which is the meaning of his name Toikairakau. Some tribes place Toi on the North Islands East Coast, while Hauraki peoples say he lived at Whitianga on the Coromandel Peninsula.
Whakatane place names
Perhaps the greatest number of traditions about Toi can be found with the Mataatua peoples, particularly Ngati Awa of the Whakatane district. Here there are numerous place names and places associated with Toi, the most famous being the pa called Kaputerangi, the home of Toitehuatahi. Located above the present-day Whakatane township, the pa affords a magnificent view of Te Moana-a-Toitehuatahi (the sea of Toitehuatahi) in the Bay of Plenty. Another place name is Te Puku-o-te-wheke (the centre of the octopus), just west of Whakatane. The tentacles of the octopus symbolise the sphere of Tois influence, and its centre indicates his home.
Toi and Ngai Tuhoe
The stories of Toi are used in later traditions about the celebrated Tuhoe, ancestor of the Ngai Tuhoe people. Tuhoe enjoys mana through being a descendant of Toi and Potiki (another early ancestor) and later ancestors of the Mataatua peoples. This is commemorated in the Ngai Tuhoe saying:
Na Toi raua ko Potiki te whenua,
na Tuhoe te mana me te rangatiratanga.
The land belongs to Toi and Potiki,
the prestige and chieftainship belongs to Tuhoe