Ngāti Te Ata were also known as Te Ruakaiwhare, after the tribal guardian who protects the waters of Manukau Harbour. They occupied the area around Waiuku, Āwhitu Peninsula, Huia and the Waitākere Ranges.
The tribe gets its name from the famous woman chief Te Atairehia, a granddaughter of the founding Te Wai-o-Hua chief Te Hua-o-kaiwaka. She was given land in Waiuku after helping the local hapū (sub-tribe) Ngāti Kahukōkā in its fight against other tribes. Te Atairehia married Tapuae, a Tainui chief who was killed after winning control of a stretch of the Waikato River from Taupiri to Port Waikato. His death was avenged by his son Pāpaka, who secured Waiuku for Ngāti Te Ata.
A Wahine Toa of the Waiohua Iwi who settled Tamaki; Te Atairehia was born near Matukutureia in Manurewa and taught many skills that defined her mana and leadership. Te Atairehia was the granddaughter of the Paramount Chief, Huakaiwaka, who brought stability and united many Tamaki people to emerge as the Waiohua Iwi.
Te Atairehia was given land in Waiuku after helping the local hapū (sub-tribe), Ngāti Kahukōkā, in its fight against other tribes. Her people at Manuka recognised her strong leadership and named themselves after her which saw the early beginnings of Ngati Te Ata-Waiohua. Her union with the Waikato Rangatira, Tapaue, sealed an important union between Waiohua and Tainui waka.
Today, Ngāti Te Ata-Waiohua are the local mana whenua at Manuka, the area between the Manukau heads and the Waikato river entrances and through whakapapa (ancestry) extends to many other pou whenua (landmarks) in Tamaki Makaurau.
Ngāti Te Ata-Waiohua Iwi is also known as Te Rua ā Kaiwhare, after the tribal guardian who protects the waters of Manukau Harbour.