All about Ngāti and Ngāi – Part 3

When neither Ngāti or Ngāi are used

In the list of iwi I used in my previous two posts, you might have noticed I was quite particular about which examples I used and how I wrote them. What if my list had been like this:

  • Kāi Tahu
  • Kāti Mamoe
  • Tūhoe
  • Te Arawa

Where’s all our Ngāi and Ngāti now, eh?!

So, first up are Kāi Tahu and Kāti Mamoe. These are two South Island iwi, Kāti Mamoe being an historic iwi present before Kāi Tahu, and many Kāi Tahu Māori whakapapa (link genealogically) back to Kāti Mamoe. Kāi Tahu uses a different dialect of te reo Māori, one of the most noticable differences being the lack of the “ng” sound, and the usage instead of “k”. This transforms Ngāi Tahu and Ngāti Mamoe into Kāi Tahu and Kāti Mamoe.

Next is Tūhoe. I’m not sure why, but some iwi are commonly known by their name without the Ngāi/Ngāti signifier on the front. However for these iwi, like with Tūhoe, you can still use their “full name”, e.g. Ngāi Tūhoe.

Lastly, we have Te Arawa. Although generally used in the same way as an iwi name, Wikipedia informs me that Te Arawa is actually a “confederation of iwi and hapu” who trace their ancestry back to the Arawa waka. Thus it would not make sense to use Ngāti or Ngāi in the name as Te Arawa is a waka and not the eponymous ancester from which they are descended. Similarly, the Waikato-Tainui iwi, a.k.a. Waikato, take their name from the Waikato river, and the Tainui waka.

So as you can see, although using Ngāti/Ngāi is the most common way to identify an iwi or hapū, it is not the only way.


Other posts in this series:


5 thoughts on “All about Ngāti and Ngāi – Part 3

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