Once upon a time there was a Taniwha named Akitia living in the mountains. He became tired of his life there and wanted to see whether it was better on the coast of Taranaki. He changed himself into a big Totara tree and flew westwards. On his way he carved a path through the mountains with his roots. This is how the gorge of the Manawatu river came to be which separated the Tararua and Ruahine mountains and created a connection between the East and West coast. The Taniwha later returned to the mountains where he was much happier.
When the Maori populated the country, the Hau tribe came into this area. Their chief placed himself in the river bed at the western end of the gorge and spoke: 'Manawa-tu' (my heart - will stand here for ever). This is how the river received its name.
Later Turanga-i-mua, the son of the famous chief Turi of the Aotea canoe, travelled through this country. In Te Apiti, in the Manawatu gorge he died inexplicably. His wife, who was about to give birth, buried him on a nearby hill in the Ruahine mountains.
Four or five generations later people of the Aotea tribe exhumed the bones of Turanga-i-mua after having gained permission of the Rangitane tribe living in the Manawatu area and reburied them ceremoniously on the summit of a mountain. The two tribes pledged peace. The Rangitane gave the mountain the name of the chiefly son, Turanga.
In 1850 Te Rauparaha, the 'Maori Napoleon', and Te Awe Awe of the Rangitane met in Raukawa Pa at the end of the gorge and renewed the treaty. As a sign of their friendship, the Aotea tribe placed a great stone on the summit of Turanga.