How Kaikohe Got Its Name

Kaikohe’s name came from an incident involving fighting between inland and Hokianga groups. The paramount chief of the Kaikohe area was Hua and the land on which Kaikohe stands was Opango, as related by the elders. Kaikohe Hill was known to the Maori as Tokareireia, and was then covered with kohekohe trees.

Pakinga pa to the west of the town was one of the strongholds of Ngapuhi. While the warriors of this tribe were away waging war, Morunga and Te Karamu of Hokianga, by way of revenge, sent a messenger to Rewha Rewha, rangatira of Ngati Whatua. With his warriors Rewha Rewha attacked the defenceless pa and slaughtered women and children including Hongi Hika’s sisters.  Among those who managed to escape were Tekona and her son Hone Heke.

They took refuge on Takareireia hill, from where they later saw Rewha Rewha and his warriors attacking the inhabitants of Opango.  Being without food they were forced to eat the bitter berries of the kohekohe trees. This was when the name Kaikohekohe was first used – thus Kaikohe.

The episode was not over, for Te Hotete and his son Hongi Hika left their pa, Tapurae Haruru, near Lake Omapere, and on their way to Pakinga observed smoke at Marino. They climbed a puriri tree and saw preparations for a feast. They picked out Rewha Rewha resting away from the party, and Te Hotete circled around and caught the chief who pleaded to be spared. He was allowed to return to the Ngati Whatua with his warriors.