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Birdseye view of Port Nicholson, in New Zealand, shewing the site of the town of Wellington, the river and valley of the Hutt and adjacent country, taken from the charts and drawings made during Col[one]l Wakefield's survey, [1839] and now in the possession of the New Zealand Company. From a drawing by Charles Heaphy. Reference No. C-029-006-b, Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.
Birdseye view of Port Nicholson,...from a drawing by Charles Heaphy [1839].
Reference No. C-029-006-b, Alexander Turnbull Library.
The Land of Tara, and they who settled it,
The Story of the Occupation of Te Whanga-nui-a-Tara
(the Great Harbour of Tara), or Port Nicholson, by the Maoris.

by Elsdon Best (1919)

Pages: 1-12 | 13-27 | 28-38 | 39-44 | 45-52 | 53-63 | 64-75 | 76-91 | 92-104 | 105-121

map frontispiece to The Land of Tara
Map at the front of The Land of Tara, by Elsdon Best

The Land of Tara, and they who settled it, the Story of the Occupation of Te Whanga-nui-a-Tara (the great harbour of Tara), or Port Nicholson, by the Maoris by Elsdon Best, was reprinted in 1919 from the Journal of the Polynesian Society of New Zealand.

Elsdon Best was born at Porirua, 1856 and grew up with a love of open spaces. He worked first at the Registrar General's Office, but left for a country life on a station at Poverty Bay.

Best joined the Armed Constabulary at Wellington and took part in the arrest of Te Whiti and Tohu at Parihaka. His sister had married Gudgeon, and at this time he met also with Percy Smith and Edward Tregear. Best returned to the East Coast, before wandering abroad through Hawai to California undertaking timber work and ranching. Best returned to New Zealand 1886 and began sawmilling with his brother Walter near Waikanae. He became an officer with Lands and Survey, in the Urewera country and became a foundation member of Polynesian Society, in 1891.

Best returned to Tuhoe country as a mediator for government, his duties being - paymaster, storeman, and ethnographer. He was appointed to the Dominion Museum in 1910, and in 1922 became President of the Polynesian Society. With Johannes Andersen, he became joint editor of the Polynesian Society journal, three years later. His Dominion Museum bulletins were published in 1924,1927, and 1929. In 1914 he was awarded the Hector Medal of the New Zealand Institute, and in November 1919 was one of the 20 original fellows of the Institute. He died 1931.

Elsdon Best, with assistance from Te Matorohanga has traced the the voyages of discovery through Cook Strait by Kupe, Toi, Whatonga, Tara and Tautoki., and the establishment of pa and kainga around the shores of Te Whanganui-a-Tara at Whetu-kairangi, Ranga-a-hiwi. He has interlaced these histories with stories of Rangi-kai-kore and Hine-rau, and the taniwha Takai-ruru.

Attacks by Mua-upoko were followed by the journey of Takitimu down the coastline, the settling of Ngāti Mamoe around Rimurapa/Sinclair Head, the death of Wakanui, son of Tara, the migratory waves of Kahungunu, Ngai Tahu, and Ngati Ira to the harbour, and Cook's anchoring at Wellington Heads. Finally, Ngāti Awa arrive and drive out Ngati Ira. The book concludes with an inventory of place names.

Note that there is a corrections page in the printed version which we have not included. We have just made the corrections Best intended to the text.

The Land of Tara was not an illustrated publication apart from the map at the front of the book and the genealogy tables. All the other images used in this on-line version are used with the kind permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library. Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

Man of the mist; a biography of Elsdon Best, by E. W. G. Craig (1964).
Te Waimana : the spring of mana : Tuhoe history and the colonial encounter, by Jeffrey Sissons (1991).

Online resources:
Dictionary of New Zealand Biography
An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand(1966), Te Ara
Transactions and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New Zealand, 1868-1961

Heritage Links (Local History)