Originally the place now known as Mangonui was called Paraki, but after a most successful shark-fishing expedition soon after he arrived, Moehuri, chief of the Ruakaramea canoe, renamed it.
On this occasion Moehuri, his son Tukiata, and a number of his men set off down the harbour in their canoes. When they reached the harbour mouth, they experienced a quiver of excitement, for there in front of them they could see not one, but several sharks cruising along. From a vantage point in his canoe, Moehuri began unobtrusively to round them up and guide them towards the shore.
Suddenly he saw an exceptionally large fin cutting through the water. "He mango nui He mango nui!" (A big shark, a big shark!) he shouted to Tukiata. "I'll round him up and you catch him." With great care they worked the huge fish towards the inner harbour, where with some alluring bait, Tukiata persuaded the shark to swim into a couple of specially prepared nooses.
Then began the real battle between the men and the fish, and the foaming waters bore witness to the brave fight for freedom made by the captive. This incident was the origin of the saying: "Na Moehuri i rahui nga mango, Na Tukiata i hi." By Moehuri the shark was rounded up, and by Tukiata it was caught.
After a tremendous struggle, Tukiata and his men hauled the great fish ashore at the site of the present Post Office. Here it was cut up into poroporo or small pieces so that everyone could have a share of the prize. Because of this incident Moehuri named the spot Te Poroporo, while the harbour and it environs he called Mangonui after the big shark they had captured there.
From Tai Tokerau
By Florence Keene
Whangarei Central Library