They decided to battle, and the victor would get to marry Pihanga.
One by one, the mountains came up against Tongariro and one by one they were defeated. Finally, only Taranaki was left to face the powerful Tongariro. Their battle was spectacularly violent as each mountain was evenly matched.
The battle raged on for months until a burning Pihanga cried out “Stop!” as she lay close to death in her scorched and blackened cloak of fern. Rather than lose her, Taranaki conceded defeat — and so Pihanga became Tongariro’s wife.
As countless millenia passed, the landscape healed and the vanquished mountains moved away: Tarawera, Tauhara and Patuauki to the north and Ruapehu and Ngaruahoe to the south.
Many children were born to Tongariro and Pihanga including one, Panitahi, who looked very different to the others. Gossip flowed across the landscape until Tongariro, suspicious of his friend Taranaki, decided to lay a trap.