S. Percy Smith writes: "In the late fifties of last century there was a large gathering of Māoris in the Wairarapa District, East Coast of New Zealand, the object being to discuss some political affairs; and on the conclusion of the business it was suggested by some of the people that the learned men there present should explain to the assembled tribes how and when New Zealand was first peopled by the Māori race. After three of the priests had consented to do so,... one - Te Matorohanga - was appointed to lecture on the subject, the other two to assist by recalling matters that the lecturer might omit, and also to supplement the story from their own knowledge. It was also decided that the lectures should be written down, a work that was undertaken by two young men named H. T. Whatahoro and Aporo Te Kumeroa, who had been educated at the Mission schools. Much matter was written down at that time; but it was amplified subsequently by the old priest named above, and by one of his confreres named Nepia Pohuhu, when H.T. Whatahoro spent some years, off and on, in recording to the dictation of these old men, the ancient beliefs and the history of their branch of the Māori people. The instruction given by the priests was in every respect on the same lines, and dealt with the same matter, as had been taught in the Māori College; that is, the scribe was subjected to all the ancient forms and rituals accompanying the teaching, such as is describes in Chapter 1 hereof. A special building was erected in which the teaching took place, and where the matter was written down.
The old priest Te Matorohanga died in 1884, and Nepia Pohutu in 1882, both being at the time of their deaths about eighty years old. It will thus be seen that they had been taught in the Māori College long before the influences of Christianity reached their tribe - indeed, it was not till about the end of the thirties of last century, that the tribes of Wairarapa had Christian teachers amongst them, though Christianity had beeen introduced in the north in 1814, but little of its doctrines understood till many years afterwards.”
- Smith, Percy S. "Introduction." The Lore of the Whare-wananga
- or Teachings of the Māori College on Religion, Cosmogony, and History. Written down by H. T. Whatahoro from the teachings of Te Matorohanga and Nepia Pohutu and other priests of the Whare-wananga of the East Coast, N.Z. Trans. and annotated by S. Percy Smith. Vol. 1 - Te Kauwae-runga, or ‘Things Celestial.’ New Plymouth, N.Z.: Polynesian Soc., 1913. i-ii.
- The Lore of the Whare-wananga. Written down by H. T. Whatahoro from the teachings of Te Matorohanga and Nepia Pohutu and other priests of the Whare-wananga of the East Coast, N.Z. Trans. and annotated by S. Percy Smith. Vol. 1 - Te Kauwae-runga, or ‘Things Celestial.’ New Plymouth, N.Z.: Polynesian Soc., 1913-1915. Rpt. USA: AMS, 1978.
- S. Percy Smith writes that these two volumes emerged after a hui in the Wairarapa District in the late 1850s decided that three Māori tohunga Te Matorohanga, Nepia Pohuhu and Paratene Te Okawhare should teach the early history of the Māori in New Zealand and that this information should be recorded by H. T. Whatahoro and Aporo Te Kumeroa. Whatahoro then kept his notes for fifty years before S. Percy Smith made a copy of the original documents as did the tribal Committee ‘Tane-nui-a-rangi’. The volumes, written in the original Māori text by Whatahoro with transcription and English translation by S. Percy Smith, contain two bodies of information: Volume One deals with Te Kauwae-runga - ‘Things Celestial’ and Volume Two discusses Te Kauwae-raro - ‘Things Terrestrial’. The six chapters in Volume One comprise a detailed account of the construction of a Whare-wananga and its ritual and teaching. The tohunga also describe Te Po, [or ages of darkness], the Whare-Maire and the Whare-Porukuruku, the Pou-Tiri-Ao [or guardian angels or spirits], and Io-Matua, the supreme god. The following chapters outline the names of the twelve heavens, describe the marriage of Ranginui and Papatuanuku and the creation of their seventy offspring, recount the ages of Nga Po, [darkness or chaos], and the separation of Rangi and Papa, describe and list the apas or messengers of the gods, the separation of the dwellings of the gods, the sanctification of Tane and Tupai and other activities of Tane, the three baskets [or kete] of knowledge and two stones, the wars of the gods, and the creation of the world and humankind with a whakapapa from Tane-matua though to Ngatoroirangi. Stories of the gods follow plus astronomical notes. It concludes with some accounts of Maui and Mataoro.
- The Lore of the Whare-wananga; or Teachings Of The Māori College On Their History And Migrations, etc. Written down by H. T. Whatahoro from the teachings of Te Matorohanga and Nepia Pohutu and other priests of the Whare-wananga of the East Coast, NZ. Trans. and annotated by S. Percy Smith. Vol. 2. Te Kauwae-Raro, Or Things Terrestrial. New Plymouth, N.Z.: [Polynesian Soc.], 1915.