The tribal nation of Te Arawa is represented by the descendants of the tūpuna (ancestors) who arrived here in Aotearoa (NZ) from Hawaiki. Te Arawa is also the name of the waka (voyaging canoe) that the tūpuna (ancestors) traveled on to come to Aotearoa. It is told that there were two main reasons that these tūpuna decided to leave Hawaiki (the ancestral homelands) these were: Hawaiki was no longer able to sustain the growing population, the available resources were becoming too scarce; and people were tired of the continued warfare on Hawaiki and wanted a more peaceful existence.
Upon arrival to Aotearoa the tūpuna established themselves at Maketū and then began moving inland establishing themselves as they went. The following pepehā (proverb) is often heard and defines the geographical area under the mana whenua (tribal nationhood) of Te Arawa:
Mai Maketū ki Tongariro From Maketū to Tongariro
Te Arawa te Waka, Te Arawa te Iwi Te Arawa is the Waka, Te Arawa is the Iwi
In saying that though the tribe of Tūwharetoa have mana motuhake (reigning sovereignty) over their end of the region. This reinforces the fact that Te Arawa is actually a political alliance of a number of hapū (sub-tribes) and iwi (tribes) that whakapapa (have genealogical ties) to those original tūpuna that first arrived here and are further connected by hononga whakapapa (genealogical connections) and history.
Maketū is referred to as being the ihu o te waka the bow, Tongariro te kei o te waka the stern, and Te Papaīōuru Mārae sits in the tākere o te waka the keel.
Further information on Te Arawa can be found here