Principal Tūhoe settlement in the heart of Urewera, 116 km south of Rotorua. The settlement is famous for its association with the spiritual leaders Te Kooti and Rua Kēnana. The meeting house Te Whai-a-te-Motu (the pursuit through the island) was built there in 1888 by the Tūhoe people to honour the leadership of Te Kooti. A dray road from Rotorua reached Ruatāhuna in 1901. This brought the first vehicle from the outside world. The Presbyterian Church established a mission in 1917, and Sister Annie Henry and her assistants taught Tūhoe children and adults at a school for several decades.

Meaning of place name
The meaning is said to be burnt storehouse.