Ngati Maru is one of the four present day tribes of Marutuahu. It is said that the fifth tribe, that is Ngati Rongo-U, was absorbed through alliances by the other Marutuahu tribes although some still choose to reassert Ngati Rongo-U identity today.
The ancestor of Ngati Maru is Te Ngako also known as Te Ngakohua. Te Ngako was the eldest son of Marutuahu and Hineurunga. Te Ngako married Paretera, the daughter of Tamatera. Te Ngako had two sons, Naunau and Kahurautao. It is from these ancestors, their descendants and subsequent alliances, that the many hapu of Ngati Maru spring.
In his formative years, Te Ngako resided with his parents and brothers at the settlement of Whakatiwai on the western shores of Tikapa Moana.
It was after the death of Marutuahu that a number of events took place that would come to shape the history of Ngati Maru.
One key event was the abduction of Waenganui, the wife of Taurukapakapa. Her body was dismembered and distributed amongst the people of Huarere and Hako in an act of mockery. This event coupled with the subsequent killing of Taurukapakapa drew the Marutuahu people out of Whakatiwai to wage a long war on Ngati Huarere and Ngati Hako. This war lasted four generations and in consequence the territory of Ngati Maru and other Marutuahu tribes expanded.
After this there was a period of relative peace. This was irreversibly broken with the murder of Kairangatira by the Ngati Hurarere at Kupata Creek between Thames and Kopu. This incident led to a period of bloody warfare that saw the famed Ngati Maru warriors, Rautao and Whanga and their grand uncle, Te Hihi, exact a revenge that led to the conquest of the people of Huarere and Hako.
The warring between the Marutuahu and the first peoples spread throughout the Peninsula and across the Plains of Hauraki. In the Thames area, the warring between the Marutuahu and Ngati Hako took place at Hikutaia, Whangamata, Ohinemuri, Te Puke, Pukeko and Te Tutu. The warring with Ngati Huarere took place at Te Puta, Tikirahi, Tararu, Pukehue, Matai Whetu, Kopu, Waikauri, Whiti marumaru, Harongakau, Te Totara, Hauraki, Kauaeranga, Maramarahi, Pukeatua, Tarawhai and Te Kopua. Waiotahi and Tarau were also attacked.
The fighting stopped with the killing of Takaorangi, a Ngati Hako rangatira, at Matai near the junction of the Hikutaia and Waihou rivers.
The remnants of Ngati Hako fled from that place with Ngati Maru in pursuit. It was then that Taharua and Taiuru, the two elderly sons of Tamatera, appealed to Rautao and Te Hihi to stop the impending bloodshed. He argued that Waenganui, Taurukapakapa and Kairangatira had been well avenged. The wars ended then.
It was after this incident that the conquered lands were divided and settled by the Marutuahu and peace was made through the intentional interlinking of whakapapa lines in the customary Maori way.
Another important event in the history of Ngati Maru was the killing of Kahurautao and Kiwi while they were visiting their Waiohua relations in Tamaki. It was Rautao who led the Marutuahu tribes to attack and capture the pa of Waiohua at Tamaki to avenge the death of his father and brother. It was this incident that led to the occupation of Tamaki by Marutuahu tribes.
Ngati Maru and Marutuahu were renowned as fighting warriors. They appear in many important battles throughout Aotearoa with other Iwi outside Hauraki and in their own right.
By the late 1700s they took part in a series of campaigns against Ngapuhi. These skirmishes were to lead to what is now commonly known as the Ngapuhi musket raids of the 1820s.
It was also at this time that a special relationship between Te Tawera and Ngati Maru was formed that led to the settlement of Te Tawera in Hauraki.
At Tamaki through to Hauraki, the Ngapuhi led by Hongi Hika attacked every bastion of Marutuahu culminating with the fall of Te Totara. As a consequence, the Marutuahu tribes sought refuge with their Ngati Raukawa relations at Maungatautari and Horotiu. The Marutuahu tribes remained there for ten years until their return to Hauraki in 1831.
It was on their return that the history of Ngati Maru and the other Marutuahu tribes was to be forever changed with the coming of the Pakeha to Hauraki and the discovery of gold.
The rohe of Ngati Maru is covered by the phrase “Mai Matakana ki Matakana” because our rohe is generally indivisible from the Marutuahu rohe. It covers Mahurangi and Tamaki to the north through to Katikati in the south. The heartland of Hauraki is shared by Ngati Maru and the other Marutuahu tribes including Wharekawa, Whakatiwai, Kaiaua, Waitakaruru, Piako, Moehau, Manaia, Waikawau,
Whangapoua, Tairua, Whangamata, Ohinemuri, Hikutaia, Omahu, Pakirarahi, Kirikiri, Kopu, Te Totara, Maramarahi, Te Kauaeranga, Tarakonaiti, Waiotahi, Moanataiari, Tararu, Ruamahanga including the islands scattered throughout Tikapa Moana and Te Tai Tamawahine.
The settlements of Ngati Maru were spread throughout Hauraki, but the stronghold of Ngati Maru was around the Thames area. The stronghold of Ngati Maru has always been concentrated around the Thames region from Hikutaia in the south as far as Te Puru in the north traversing both sides of the Waihou river and Firth of Thames in places with other Marutuahu Iwi.
The marae of Ngati Maru today is Matai Whetu. It is located at Kopu on the southern outskirts of Thames. The Kirikiri Native School was built upon this place in 1878, and when it closed in 1973 the trustees consented to the Matai Whetu block becoming a Maori reserve for a marae for the benefit of Ngati Maru, Ngati Whanaunga and their related sub tribes of Ngati Hauauru and Ngati Te Aute.
As told by Te Hiri Ngamane at the Hauraki Treaty of Waitangi Claims 2002.
As stated above, Maratuahu Tribes sought refuge with their Ngati Raukawa relations at Maungatautari and Horotiu following the attach by Hone Heke, however some whanau remained in Hauraki during this time and lived at Matakitaki (up the Kopu Hikuai).