Te Aupōuri are one of the five iwi of Muriwhenua, also known as Te Hiku o te Ika a Māui, the Far North of Aotearoa. The people of Te Aupōuri share a number of well known ancestors with wider Muriwhenua and from these ancestors descend two families from which Te Aupōuri as an independent iwi trace their descent. ⠀
Te Aupōuri were originally known as Ngāti Ruānui. They were closely related to Te Rarawa, particularly through the marriage of Waimirirangi to Kairewa. Their daughter, Haere-ki-te-rā, was the ancestor of the Ngāti Ruānui chiefs, Whēru and Te Ikanui. Another daughter, Pare, along with her husband Te Rēinga and brother Tamatea, were important early leaders for the predecessors of Te Rarawa. Ngāti Ruānui dominated the Whāngāpē and Herekino harbours. Over time they came into conflict with their relations Ngāti Te Rēinga, Ngāti Kairewa, Ngāti Manawa and Ngāti Te Aewa. These four tribes were emerging as a strong unified group out of settlements at Motutī, Whakarapa and Motukauri on the northern shores of Hokianga Harbour.⠀
The two groups fought several battles in the Whāngāpē and Herekino harbours, and at Ahipara and Hukatere along Te Oneroa-a-Tōhē. During one of these battles, Te Ikanui and Whēru were besieged in their pā at Pawarenga on the Whāngāpē Harbour. One night they burned their possessions in order to create a screen of smoke, and then escaped unseen across the harbour. From then on Ngāti Ruānui were known as Te Aupōuri, from ‘au’ (current) and ‘pōuri’ (smoke or ash).⠀
The iwi of Te Aupōuri have their primary turangawaewae at Te Kao at the southern end of the Pārengarenga Harbour, with Te Oneroa-a-Tōhē (Ninety Mile Beach) to the west and Tokerau (Great Exhibition Bay) to the east.