A hapū (“subtribe”, or “clan”) is “the basic political unit within Maori society”. A named division of a Māori iwi, membership is determined by genealogical descent; a hapū is made up of a number of whānau (extended family) groups. Te Maire Tau noted in her study of Ngai Tapu migrations that hapu size and names were volatile with hapu splitting into sister groups when they grew in size or when migrating. New hapu were often named after events associated with the migration.

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