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Origins and migrations of Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō
The eponymous ancestor of Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō was Apa-Hapai-Taketake. He was the grandson of Ruatea, captain of the Kurahaupō waka, which arrived in Aotearoa sometime between the 13th and 14th centuries.
Ngāti Apa first settled in the Heretaunga (Hastings) district, later migrating across and down to the west coast of Te Ika-a-Maui (the North Island). Ultimately, they came to control much of the area between Rangitikei and Raukawa Moana (Cook Strait).
From the mid-1500's Ngāti Apa made increasingly regular forays south into Te Tau Ihu (the northern South Island) and began to establish permanent communities in and around Queen Charlotte Sound.
Those Ngāti Apa who went south came to be known as Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō - Ngāti Apa of the Setting Sun. Other Kurahaupō iwi – Rangitāne and Ngāti Kuia – also made the journey south. Te Tau Ihu was at the time occupied by other iwi (Ngāti Tumatakōkiri, Ngāti Mamoe and others), but some time around 1800 the Kurahaupō iwi combined in a pincer movement with Ngāi Tahu from the south to comprehensively defeat these iwi.
Archeaological evidence and oral histories show that in the years after this major battle the three Kurahaupō iwi came to control separate but overlapping territories stretching across Te Tau Ihu from east to west.