Wellington City Libraries

Te Matapihi Ki Te Ao Nui

Search options

Ohariu - Te Ika a Maru Precinct

Maori Sites of Te Whanganui a Tara

wellington graphic

Precinct Overview
Ohaua Kainga
Te Ika a Maru

Ohariu - Te Ika a Maru Precinct

On this coast, Owhariu (on modern maps spelt as "Ohariu") has the longest tradition. It is known as a place where Kupe and wife and children - the first reputed people in the area - stayed during their exploration of the Wellington region, before moving up the coast to Porirua and Mana Island.

Aside from this early visit, this part of the coast appears to have been relatively untouched by other early Maori explorations. Stories of settlement by Ngai Tara, Ngāti Mamoe and others and later Ngāti Ira concentrate on the inner harbour and Porirua. Consequently there are not the stories for this precinct which exist for other parts of the Wellington district.

Sefflements on the coast were either just above high water mark or on hills overlooking the sea. This ensured ready access to the major food source but a large population was not supported. Food from the forest, such as birds, would have supplemented seafood, but only temporary camps for gathering this were required. In the Wellington region as a whole, relatively few defended settlements appear to have been built. Of these few, two are in this precinct, at Owhariu and Te Ika a Maru, the latter being the best preserved pa site in Wellington.

What is clear is that Ngāti Ira people were settled on this coast for several generations before the arrival of the first Europeans. Te Ika a Maru pa was probably originally a Ngāti Ira site. Owhariu was a major Ngāti Ira settlement, one of a string along this coast including Porirua, Titahi Bay and Pukerua Bay. The highest ranking rangatira of the tribe at the turn of the nineteenth century was Te Huka o te tai o Ruatapu or Whanake. His wife, Tamairangi and son Te Kekerengu. were much involved in the upheavals early in the century.

In 1819 Ngāti Ira were attacked by the first of the southward migrating groups, a large taua under the leadership of Ngapuhi. In 1821 a further taua, the Amiowhenua expedition, reached as far south as Tapu Te Ranga pa in Island Bay. This did not result in the immediate settlement of these new groups, or the exodus of Ngati Ira, but it did begin a pattern of gradual displacement.

Te Rauparaha and his allies moved permanently to the Kapiti region in 1822, making further attacks on Ngāti Ira on that coast. Te Kekerengu and others attempted to expel them in a battle at Waikanae in 1824, but were unsuccessful.

Despite this reverse, Ngati Ira under Whanake continue to live as far north as Porirua and must have retained some of their possessions further down the west coast. But they now relied on a fragile alliance with Ngāti Toa.

This can be seen in events from 1824 when a large group of Ngāti Tama and Ngāti Mutunga arrived from Taranaki to escape fighting there. Ngāti Tama settled at Owhariu, then pushed over the hills from Owhariu into Thorndon and the inner harbour, perhaps using an old track. Ngāti Ira must have left Owhariu in the years immediately before this.

In subsequent years, Ngāti Ira were progressively driven out of the inner harbour by the new arrivals. It is not clear how quickly they abandoned their settlements along the coast south of Owhariu. In 1827 Ngāti Ira survivors of a major baffle took refuge on Tapu Te Ranga and then escaped via the coast to Owhariu. The survivors were however captured by Ngāti Mutunga at Owhariu, but permitted to live and settle at Mana Island by Te Rangihaeata. By 1832 Ngāti Ira had also departed from there.

The Ngāti Tama settlement at Owhariu appears to have been relatively unaffected by subsequent migrations coming into the Waikanae area until the 1835 exodus of Ngāti Mutunga and Ngāti Tama to the Chathams. Ngāti Mutunga then left their inner harbour possessions to Te Atiawa kin. Ngāti Tama claimed links to Owhariu after the exodus. Te Arei Kainga, close to Makara beach, was a Ngāti Tama settlement.

The occupation continued by Ngāti Mutunga and Ngāti Tama after 1835 and particularly after the arrival of the NZ Company in 1839 was however small scale and quite quickly displaced by the incoming European settlers. In 1844 people from Te Ika a Maru and Oterongo signed documents purporting to give up any right they had in the harbour generally to the NZ Company.

In 1848 cultivation reserves of 350 acres were made for the inhabitants of Ohaua and Te Ika a Maru. Few people seem to have lived there at this stage, and shortly thereafter many returned to Taranaki. In 1853, reserves at Ohaua, Oterongo and Te Ika a Maru were sold to the Crown. Ohaua Bay was associated also with whaling settlements and Māori wives of whalers. At least one Māori inhabitant remained there until about 1920.

As late as the 1860s and 1870s Māori of Taranaki origin were living at the area known as the Fern Ground inland from Makara beach. Kumuhore cultivations were in this vicinily. An incident is recorded late in the century where two Maori visited Makara beach to collect the bones of relatives buried there.

1. Elsdon Best, "The Land of Tara", Journal of the Polynesian Society, vol 26, vol 27, vol 28
2. A Ballara, "Te Whanganui-a-Tara: Phases of Maori Occupation of Wellington Harbour c. 1800—1840" in The Making of Wellington, ed D Hamer, R Nicholls 1990
3. J Brodie, Terawhiti and the Goldfields, 1986.
4. P Ehrhardt, Te Whanganui-a-Tara. Customary Tenure 1750—1850 Waitangi Tribunal research publication, 1992.

Ohaua Kainga

Location: Ohariu Bay.
Type of Site: Pa or kainga.
Known Iwi/Hapu Connections: Not known.
Condition: A 1959 archaeological report found this site to be in reasonable condition.

Heritage Information
Best and Adkin describe this as a kainga, but Best marks it as a pa on his map. Adkin disputes this is the correct site. His note (1) suggests earlier maps were confused about the headland between Ohariu and Wharehou bays. On his map(2) he shows Ohaua and notes a separate pa on the headland. The headland pa existed as remaining earthworks show. The WCC Maori Historical Information Site Handbook, 1990 says it was abandoned pre European times, but no source is given.

Carbon dating on this site has shown that it is at least 250 years old.(3)

Tacy Kemp reported in 1850: Ohaua Census report.

1. Adkin, Leslie, The great harbour of Tara, (1959), p. 50.
2. Adkin, p. 124
3. NZ Archaeological Association 160/1. Brodie J W 1962 "A Reconnaissance of Warehou Pa, Makara" NNZ Archaeological Association 5(3) 156-59. O'Rourke M 1962 "Excavations at Warehou Pa 1962" NNZ Archaeological Association 5(3) 150-156.
4. BPP vol 7 1851 [1420] vol XXXV p231

Te Ika a Maru

Location: Te Ika a Maru Bay.
Type of Site: Pa.
Known Iwi/Hapu Connections: Ngati Tama, Te Atiawa, and others
Condition: Probably the best preserved pa site in Wellington However part of the site badly deteriorated since 1960.

Best described this as "A very old earthwork pa or fortified place in the bay east of Te-Rama-a-paku and near J. McMenamin's homestead. Of this name the corrupt forms Te Kaminaru and Ti-kamera are in common use." (1) He continues, "This place shows the only old fortified position in the district which is entirely surrounded by earthwork defences, which consist of rampart and fosse. On the central spur facing the bay this position measures some 80 yards. This fosse still shows a depth of 4 1/2 feet, and the rampart a height of 4 feet, though erosion has played sad havoc. Pits, some post holes, and waterworn boulders are the only tokens of former occupation. On the hill to the west of the station homestead other signs of native occupation are seen." (2)

Adkin records that the name means "the fish of Maru" (Maru being a lesser Polynesian atua or god, though possibly in this case, a man), but the true significance of this phrase may be idiomatic. The name is attached to a former pa and, in general usage, to a bay on the outer western coast of the Wellington Peninsula... Best's 1916 map gives no name for the bay but shows Te lka-a-Maru pa near its south-east margin... McLeod has described this pa as unique in the Wellington area as, 'the only fortified position in the district which is entirely surrounded by earthwork defences which consist of rampart and fosse' (McLeod, in Best, 8, Pt. 6, p9), but this seems incorrect, other similar examples being known." (3)

While Brodie says there is no account of Ngāti Awa people living at Te lka a Maru, based on Robert Park and Sydney M. Scroggs' 1844 report of no cultivations it is clear that he missed Maori Land Court and Native Reserves Commissioners' records which detail some of that occupation. It should be noted that the Te Ika a Maru block sits on Ramapaku Native Reserve which is the Maori name for the headland that separates Ikamaru Bay from Ohau Bay. In the settlement with the New Zealand Company in 1844 three people took 10 pounds as settlement for their claims in the Wellington purchase. In 1848 McCleverty reserved 350 acres of cultivation land for the people of Ohaua and Te lka a Maru which, in July 1853. Donald McLean representing the Land Purchase Department, bought along with the others reserves at Oterongo, Karori and Waiariki for 75 pounds. This effectively eliminated the cultivation reserve and any provision for Maori at this site was to be at the largesse of the Government.

With the elimination of the cultivation reserve in 1853 the land that formed Ohaua reserve was divided into three separate parcels. In March 1842, George Ashdown lent T. W. Watson 40 pounds on the security of a New Zealand Company second series Land Order (No 54 Special Parts 1 and 2) held by Watson. Eventually Ashdown received a grant for a hundred acres at Ohaua in the Terawiti District based on this deal. The granted section, named Section 26 Terawiti, contained 102 2r 16p and included part of McCleverty's original native reserve at Ohaua. By 1874 Ashdown's youngest son sold this land to the McMenamen Estate.

In 1874 claims were preferred to Ohaua land from Māori who never participated in any of the sales to the Company or the Government. On 24 October 1872 Rihi, daughter of Rangipupu of Te Atiawa, claimed on the basis of continuing occupation and non-sale. The sale to McCleverty in 1848 for this area was conducted by Pohe and Ngapapa of Ngāti Tama. Being Te Atiawa, young and a woman, Rihi did not participate. In proffering her claim she emphasised that all her ancestors were buried in the land and she described her house and the position of her personal cultivations. On 25 November Ihaia Porutu of Pipitea and Waiwhetu returned to Heaphy the Commissioner of Natives this time with Riria Tare Te Mihana emphasising that she and Rihi did not sell.

Porutu explained that Taituha and these women had nothing to do with the sales to McLean. Nothing was resolved. Rihi appeared again before Heaphy on 4 January 1873 and Riria on 5 January 1873 restating their claims Porutu and Henare te Puni came to Heaphy two days later and affirmed the women's rights through their own occupation and use and that of their fathers. Te Puni further stated that Riria was cultivating there in 1839-40. On the 23 April 1873 the Hon. Wi Tako Ngatata informed Heaphy also that three women, Paritawhara (widow of Paora Matua Waka Ngāti Rahiri - Waikanae) Rihi Rangipupu and Riria had equitable claims to Te Ika a Maru. He further re-affirmed all previous statements made to Heaphy about the occupation, cultivation and non-sale to the Company or Government and recommended 40 acres be given to each of them. On 9 May 1873, McLean confirmed that Rihi should receive 40 acres, Riria 60 acres, and Paretawhara 40 acres. (4)

On 15 March 1895 the Native Land Court ordered a title to issue for both Te lka a Maru 1 and 2 blocks. Survey No 1 enclosed an area of 60a 3r 8p. The seven original owners were the children of William Jenkins and Riria Ngahuku. It is clear that the Jenkins family who were at Ohaua before Ashdown derived their rights to their turangawaewae from their tipuna and not directly at the pleasure of the Crown. Survey No 2 enclosed an area of 40a 1r 11p. The Maori title went to Rihi Tapui, aka Rihi Rangipupu who was still living in 1895. The grantee Paretawhara never received her entitlement of 40 acres and the balance of land in the Ohaua reserve went to the Manawatu and Wellington Railway Company in February 1895 who sold it on to the McMenamen Estate in May 1895. Rihi's land was sold in 1906 to Te Kamaru Station after she died (26/6/1903) and the Jenkins family sold Ikamaru No 1 to James McMenamen.

The area is rich in sites of archaeological interest. An extensive archaeological analysis of the pa and surrounding sites in 1962-3 produced the following summary:

The field evidence, particularly the two pa, is unusual on the generally sparsely occupied Wellington coast. One reason for the concentration is probably the value of the relatively sheltered bay on this part of the coast in using or controlllng the crossing of Cook Strait. The midden analysis, however, suggests that the resources of the area itself were an attraction to those who visited the bay, and that they came there to fish and exploit other local food sources... The extent to which early historic or prehistoric agriculture was practiced at Te Ika-a-maru is debatable. (5)

The principal occupation of the people there was the exploitation of food resources. "This resulted in middens with an unmistakeably Cook Strait flavour in which the rich Cook Strait sea coast resources were supplemented by more casual exploitation of the adjacent forest." (6)

1. Elsdon Best, "The Land of Tara", Journal of the Polynesian Society, vol 26, vol 27, vol 28, Pt 5 p. l77
2. Best, Pt6 pp9-l0
3. Adkin, Leslie, The great harbour of Tara, (1959), p 24
4. Heaphy, Commissioner of Native Reserves, 1867, National Archives MA-MT 6/14, pp 152-56, 160-62
5. "Survey and Excavations at Te Ika-A-Maru Bay, Wellington, 1962-63" Janet Davidson, NZ Archaeological Association Newsletter 19(1) March 1976 p 23
6. Ibid p 24

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