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Te Aro pa and Matairangi

Maori Sites of Te Whanganui a Tara

wellington tara symbol

Te Aro Pa

Te Ranga a Hiwi (Mount Victoria)


Omaroro Cultivation

Wellington Tenths Development Precinct

Te Aro kainga

Location: Northeast from Te Aro Park almost beyond Taranaki Street, to Wakefield Street (the old shoreline), and east to Te Aro pa, Surveyed 1845
Known iwi/Hapu connections: Ngäti Mutunga, Taranaki, Ngäti Ruanui
Type of site: Kainga
Condition : An archaeological dig at the historical site of Te Aro kainga in 1987 found no evidence of the kainga over a 2om x 2.4 m site extending to the harbour floor. (1)

Te Aro kainga was originally situated east of the Waimapihi Stream, which ran from Aro Valley to the sea past what is now the wide end of Te Aro Park. The name of the stream is of Ngäi Tara/Ngäti Mamoe origin, meaning "the stream (or bathing place) of Mapihi, a chieftainess of those iwi". (2)

Te Aro was a two-part pa, covering about five acres at the time of pakeha colonisation. (3) About 35 Ngati Ruanui lived in the eastern end, and about 93 Taranaki people lived in the western side. (4) In 1842, Wi Tako and Ropiha Moturoa variously named eight, sixteen and twenty-three rangatira living there, some of the principal ones being Mohi Ngaponga, Hemi Parae, Toko, Puhi, and Pukahu. (5)

In 1839, the Wesleyan Missionaries, Bumby, Hobbs and Minarapa Rangihatuaka, were welcomed at Te Aro, where they were given land to build a chapel. The Missionaries tapued the pä and its associated lands against sale. Until February 1844 Te Aro Mäori refused to sell any of their lands to the New Zealand Company. Even then, they retained their pä, ngakinga, and waahi tapu, and only six resident rangatira (plus Pomare, visiting from the Chathams) signed the 1844 deed which brought Te Aro into the New Zealand Company purchase of 1839. (6)

In the early 1840's, Te Aro "had cultivated 60 to 80 acres of land on the hills immediately to the rear of their pa, and had gardens on the space now occupied by the Town." These were all included in the Company's selection for colonists, and the Tenths' Reserves around College Street and in Newtown substituted. (7)Their "favourite garden grounds" were in the Aro Valley, where they retained 38 acres of Reserves. They received "also 400 acres of country land ... in the Ohiro District which include many of their cultivations." (8)

In 1847, the Te Aro people were assigned lands (held in Native Title) at Wiremu-taone (central Johnsonville), Omarongo (Vogeltown), all of Aro Valley, much of Ohiro Valley, and later, a few hundred acres in the Hutt. Te Aro people received the 1874 compensation for the Native Reserves at the corner of Buckle and Taranaki Street, taken for defence purposes. In the same year, Te Aro refused to share in the compensation for lands taken to endow Wellington College - five acres of which (around College Street) were Te Aro lands.

Most of the pä was purchased by the Provincial Government in the early 1870's in order to extend Taranaki Street through it; central Government approved the purchases as a means of improving the inhabitants' moral condition; at the same time, Parliament was considering a private bill to clear "Slums at Te Aro." For two years in the late 1870's, many of the remaining Te Aro people seized possession of the Native Reserves in Newtown in an effort to stop a long-term lease of the whole planned by the Native Reserves Commissioner.

Te Aro descendants remain beneficiaries in the Wellington Tenths Trust, and in a separate trust which holds their remaining land in Ohiro Valley (Maori Gully).

I. NZAAR27/154
2. Adkin, Leslie, The great harbour of Tara, (1959), p 13 & Maps Ill 3 IV-l and Elsdon Best, "The Land of Tara", Journal of the Polynesian Society, vol 26, p 170
3. Acreage estimate in G B Earp testimony to 1844 Select Committee 13/6/44 Qns # 2162-2164 in G.B.P.P 1844(H.C. 556)p 119
4. Waitangi Tribunal Wai 145 Doc CO 208 extracts pp 61-63
5. Wi Tako 19/5/42 in IAl/1843/1929 p 103 Moturoa 31/5/42 and 1/6/42 in OLC case 229 pp 62 and 72
6. Deed of release 26/2/1844 in Land Commissioner Spain's Final Report G B P P 1846 (H.C. 203) p 23
7. Crown Prosecutor, R.D. Hanson to Secretary of the Aboriginal Protection Society, 24 May 1842, in The NZ Gazette and Wellington Spectator, 4 October 1843. p27
8 Rebuttal to Hanson 4 October 1843 in The NZ Gazette and Wellington Spectator of same date [p271].

Te Ranga a Hiwi (Mount Victoria)

This precinct is dominated by the summit of Mount Victoria, Tangi te keo, a name relating to the spirit of the taniwha which once inhabited Hataitai. The Ngai Tara fort called Te Akatarewa is also here, and the stockaded village Te Waihirere Pa.

Matairangi / Tangi Te Keo

Location: Mount Victoria Peak and ridgeline
Known iwi/Hapu connections: Not known
Type of site: Natural feature

Associated with the taniwha Whataitai. Relates to the naming of Hataitai district. When the taniwha died its spirit took the form of a bird (keo), that flew to the top of the mountain and cried farewell before departing - hence tangi te keo, keo being the word for both a bird and a peak. (1)

1. Adkin, Leslie, The great harbour of Tara, (1959), p 82; Elsdon Best, "The Land of Tara", Journal of the Polynesian Society, vol 26, p 171

district plan map excerpt

Omaroro Cultivation Area

Location: Vogeltown
Known iwi/Hapu connections: Ngäti Te Whiti and Ngäti Haumia
Type of site: Cultivation area

This site is mainly included in land known as Sec 15 Ohiro District. This section in the Ohiro District takes its name from the cultivations that were at its northern end and which spilled out onto Section 12 farther north. In 1847 when Col McCleverty was sorting out the land problems of the New Zealand Company Wellington purchase an effort was made to grant reserves to hapu at locations that were as close as possible to actual pa, cultivations and waahi tapu sites. Omaroro is a case in point.

These cultivations belonged to the people at Te Aro although there is a little evidence that other hapu of Te Atiawa in the proto-historic period had interests in the area. (1) Certainly the indication is that hapu, as they settled into locations around the harbour, were not confined to the locations offered at settlement.

Omaroro represented the constraints of Pakeha settlement and also limited opportunity for Mäori. For 10 years after 1848 there is no record of alienation. On 25 March 1859 Te Aro people led by Mohi Ngaponga leased the section to John H E Wright for 14 years at £30 per annum. It is likely that because it impinged upon the adjoining section (Section 12) the cultivation area ceased early to be used as a cultivation reserve and was leased out for cash return. Wright who farmed a smaller section down the road probably had an informed lease before 1859. At the end of this lease in 1873 Wright purchased the freehold for £700.

On 20 May 1873 Wi Tako Ngatata and others lodged an application in the Native Land Court for the investigation of title to Omaroro. On 1 July 1874 the Native Land Court issued a Crown grant to antevest from 20 November 1873 to Wi Tako Ngatata and Hemi Parae with restrictions as to alienation by lease and sale. (2) In early 1874 from about March Wi Tako Ngatata pursued with the Native Land Court, Auckland, the issue of the Crown grant which was finally issued in the first week of July. (3) While this was in progress Wright paid the £700 into a joint account of C. Heaphy and A. Brandon at the BNZ Wellington to hold for Heaphy to distribute when the Native Land Court had regularised the Maori title. The distribution of the £700 was made to Wi Tako Ngatata and Hemi Parai for the Te Aro people on 17 July 1874 at the same time the deed of conveyance to Wright was executed. This land has since developed into the suburb of Vogeltown. (4)

1. See Archives OLC 1/906 ev. of Honiana Te Puni, and Applic File, Omaroro Wgtn 63, application for investigation of title from Pirihira te Tia, MLC Wanganui Registry
2. Application File Omaroro Wtgn 63 MLC Wanganui Registry
3. Correspondence File, Omaroro, Wtgn 63 Cancelled, 1874, MLC Wanganui Registry
4. National Archives MA-MT 6/14, 17/7/1874, pp 165-68

Wellington Tenths Development Precinct

Location: Five areas in Newtown, especially between Adelaide Road and Russell Terrace
Known iwi/Hapu connections: Te Atiawa, Taranaki, Ngati Ruanui, Ngati Tama
Type of site: Native Reserves
Condition: Good, in Maori ownership

These lands are the remnant of "the true purchase consideration" paid in 1839 by the New Zealand Company for all the lands from Turakirae Head up along the ridge of the Rimutakas to the Tararuas, and down the Hutt River to Korokoro, then west to the Ohariu coast. (1) The company selected the lands out of its larger claim area, to be held by the Company for the benefit of the rangatira who had sold region to the Company.

The company's directors believed that probably little could be done to prevent the degradation of the majority of the 'Natives' caused by colonisation, but hoped that if the 'chiefs' could be maintained in their natural dignity and relative superiority over the others, and given a trust-estate (described by Wakefield as analogous to a widower's estate in England), then they might be able to protect and help assimilate their own kin. (2)

Maori at Wellington in the 1840s expressed little enthusiasm for such a trust estate, being concerned more with retaining traditional clearings, cultivations, pa and sacred areas. As a result, much of the Crown's energy went into reserving these lands in customary title, and only about 2000 acres of land ended up held by the Crown for the Maori vendors' benefit. Of these, by 1929 about 1,280 acres were vested in Maori beneficiaries, about 500 acres were sold (and the proceeds devoted to Maori purposes), and 227 acres remained held by the Maori Trustee - 191 acres of farm land out near Kaitoke, and 36 acres in Newtown.

A notable period in the Newtown reserves' history was the 1870s, when Wellington first developed into this suburb. Commissioner of Native Reserves, Charles Heaphy, worked throughout the decade to establish a lease of the entire
36 acres to the Colonial Surgeon, Alexander Johnston. The owners of Te Aro lands reserved in customary title, including Wi Tako Ngatata, Mohi Ngaponga, Hemi Parae, opposed this lease, advocating instead using the Newtown lands for housing for themselves and their families. Eventually, in 1878 a group from Te Aro seized possession of the Newtown ridge, challenging Commissioner Heaphy to prove his full legal authority over the lands. After two years in Court, he succeeded, and the Maori were forcibly removed from the land. (3)

The convoluted 1896 Native Reserves Act, Amendment Act empowered the Public Trustee to enter perpetually renewable leases, at 4% of the unimproved land value, with 21-year review periods. Under these provisions, the Public Trustee (and then Maori Trustee) leased most of the Newtown lands to large institutions - Education Department (Wellington South Intermediate School), the Health Department (Wakefield Hospital), Athletic Park Company (Ltd), and Wellington City Council (Granville Flats). The Athletic Park development was also encouraged by the Wellington City Council Empowering Act 1908, which secured investment in athletic facilities on the site by empowering City Council to, if necessary, take the land "for the purposes of a sports-ground."

The statutory restrictions on Reserves leases are a long-standing cause of grievance for Maori. Since about the Second World War, the provisions have prevented a normal economic rate of return on the asset. A 1975 Royal Commission of Inquiry recommended the removal of the restrictions. Several working parties and task forces since the late 1980s have likewise struggled to end the provisions - so far without success.

In the late 1980s, the lands were vested in the Wellington Tenths Trust, the body of all the descendants of the rangatira who were originally involved in New Zealand Company purchases in the region (identified in Judge Alexander Mackay's Native Land Court in 1888).

1. Quote from ev. of E.G. Wakefield, 13/7/1840 to the 1840 Select Commfttee on New Zealand, in GBPP 1840 (H.C. 238) p 11 . Boundary from DOSLI, SO 10456, Plan attached to Special Grant #1, 26/1/1848
2.Instructions of Directors to Col Wakefield, 5/1 839, in Appendix to the 12th Report of the NZ Co., p3F, and Instructions from Directors to the Commissioner for the Management of Native Reserves, 10/10/1840, in Ibid. p 75G
3. Archives MA 17/6 and Le 1 /1882/6, both passim

Korero o te Wa I Raraunga I Rauemi I Te Whanganui a Tara I Whakapapa