New Zealand was first settled by the Māori people. They came from Eastern Polynesia in the 13th century, travelling in canoes over hundreds of miles to settle mainly in the North Island of New Zealand.
Over the centuries, prior to the arrival of the first white settlers in the 18th century, a distinctive culture developed with a language, mythology, ceremony and crafts, which became known as Māori. They were based largely in tribal units, sometimes at war with each and then with the white, or “pakeha”, newcomers. The Waitangi Treaty, signed between Britain and the Māori leaders in 1840 was an attempt to settle all disagreements and to establish the new British colony. However, many physical conflicts continued through the 19th Century. Today, about 15% of the population of New Zealand identify themselves as Māori.
Whakatane was an important landing point for new arrivals. The Rangitaiki River rises in the Urewera National Park, an area steeped in Māori history, and runs for 155 kilometres, meeting the Pacific Ocean at Thornton Beach. In the 14th century the legendary mataatua waka (canoe) made its landfall at Whakatane. The predominant tribe across the Eastern Bay of Plenty, including the Rangitaiki Plains, is the Ngāti Awa.
Rangi… Chief - tai… Tide - ki…. broad or wide
Hence: "a great river like a full tide"
The novel "Rangitaiki" can be described with the same words as it wends its way across 620 pages to a memorable conclusion.