In Maori tradition, Tainui was one of the great ocean-going canoes in which polynesians migrated to New Zealand approximately 800 years ago.
The Tainui waka was was named for an infant who did not survive childbirth.
At the burial site of this child, at a place in Hawaiki known then as Maungaroa, a great tree grew; this was the tree that was used to build the ocean canoe.
Commandered by the Chief Hoturoa, the Tainui waka stopped at many Pacific islands on its voyage.
Its first landfall in New Zealand was at the on the east coast of the North Island at Whangaparoa.
Tainui continued on to Tauranga, the Coromandel Peninsula and the Waitamata Harbour. The great canoe was then dragged overland from the Tamaki river to the Manukau Harbour.
This portage route was used for several centuries for the same purpose; the furrow gouged in the ground at Otahuhu became the route of the current Portage Road.
From the Manukau harbour, the Tainui waka sailed north to the Kaipara harbour, then southwards to the Waingaroa (Raglan), Aotea and Kawhia harbours.
It continued further to south of the estuaries of the Mokau and Mohakatini rivers before returning north to its final resting place at Maketu in Kawhia harbour.
At each landfall site along the way crew members disembarked.
Descendent groups formed several iwi, many associating under the Tainui confederation of iwi.
Thus the various branches of the tainui tribe trace their descent from Rakataura, or Hape.