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Tapu te Ranga - Haewai Precinct

Maori Sites of Te Whanganui a Tara

wellington tara symbol
Tapu te Ranga
Akatarawera Matairangi
Uruhau Pa
Tapu te Ranga Island

Tapu te Ranga - Haewai Precinct

A number of pa and settlement sites, pits, terraces, middens and ovens were to be found at Taputeranga Island and the Island Bay headlands and coastline with several midden/oven sites almost two kilometres back from the shoreline. "It appears to have been a favoured place," wrote Best, who cited stone implements, middens and human bones being noted during early European contact.

One of these, Motu kau, was described by Best as a kainga, "at or near Island Bay at the time of the Muaupoko raid of Whanganui a Tara when Te Akanui was paramount chief of Ngai Tara."

A more recent historical source on this place is Angela Ballara. Her interpretation is that while Ngäti Ira, led between 1800 and 1830 by Te Huka o te tai Ruatapu (aka Whanake), were forced to retreat from the successive invaders from the north, they were not wiped out. After a succession of defeats, the last being at Turakirae, Whanake's wife, Tamairangi, and some children retreated to Tapu Te Ranga which initially did not fall, while Kekerengu, Whanake's son, held Porirua.

About 1827 Tapu Te Ranga was besieged by Ngäti Mutunga. When it was obvious that the pa would be taken, the remaining Ngäti Ira put Tamairangi and her family into a waka which was paddled to Owhariu where Ngäti Mutunga/Tama were stationed. Te Rangihaeata placed them under his protection and they were settled on Mana Island. Kekerengu may have joined his mother there from Porirua - certainly he was a frequent visitor until, with 108 followers, he was forced to flee to the South Island where they were slaughtered by Ngai Tahu.

On the island itself burnt oven stones, a shell midden and a rua or store pit were reported in earlier times. Compared with the Miramar Peninsula, little seems to be known of the earlier history of this place.

On the mainland, the site of Uruhau Pa is said to have been a stockaded Ngai Tara village overlooking the beach. The name means "windy head." It was one of the three pa constructed on Umuroimata's instructions as a lookout and defensive position to protect Whetu Kairangi at Seatoun. Adkin names a principal chief as Pakau and the principal house Te Maioha.

Ngä Rauru and Ngäti Ruanui set out to attack Ngai Tara, beaching four canoes at Porirua to await the arrival of what are described as Muoupoko before moving on to Kumutoto. The movements of this considerable force were watched by scouts as women and children were evacuated from the outlying pa to Whetu Kairangai. First blood was at Uruhau, whose men, supported by warriors from Te Waihirere and Te Akatarewa pa, fought the invaders in what seems to have been a large scale and bloody encounter.

At least two invading chiefs, Te Toko and Whakatau, were killed, their bodies burnt that night at Haewai, Houghton Bay, while the defenders slipped away across the water to Whetu Kairangi. Ngäti Hinewai stopped en route - presumably at Maupuia Pa (Miramar cutting), to lift their sprouting kumara. From this act they became known as Ngäti Hutihutipo (the 'night pullers'). The rest of the story, as to how the invaders were defeated, has already been told.

Owhiro has also been a much favoured place of residence where middens, implements such as knives and worked flakes, as well as a mere have been uncovered. There was a kainga here with nearby middens and signs of cultivations.

1 . Adkin, Leslie G., The great harbour of Tara.(Whitcombe & Tombs, 1959)
2. A Ballara "Te Whanganui-a-Tara: Phases of Mäori Occupation of Wellington Harbour c. 1800-1840" in The making of Wellington. D Hamer, R Nicholls 1990
3. Elsdon Best, "The Land of Tara", Journal of the Polynesian Society, vol 26, vol 27, vol 28

Akatarawera Matairangi

Maori Sites of Te Whanganui a Tara

wellington tara symbol

As numbers grew, what was to become Ngai Tara spread out in the area now known as Mount Victoria. On the instructions of Umuroimata, a chieftainess, three pa were to be constructed in such a way as to observe approaching hostile parties: "These forts should be erected as a shelter for Whetu Kairangi, lest we be rent by man while the sun be shining."

Uruhau, another pa, was raised on the southern end of Ranga a Hiwa ridge, at Island Bay. Akatarewa, was built on the south side of Matairangi (Mount Victoria), its principal house Moeahuru, and a third, Te Waihirere, was constructed at Point Jerningham. lt was said to be so named because of a downpour so heavy that the inhabitants were forced to dig a ditch whereupon the water flowed into the harbour, hence the name Te Waihirere, 'gushing water'.

These forts, occupied by Ngati Hinewai, were invaded by the combined forces of Ngäati Ruanui and what Elsdon Best calls Muoupoko - but who did not exist at the said time of the battle. This combination then turned on Motu Kairangi, crossing the channel (Te Awa a Taia) on rafts to the island. However their efforts to lay seige to Motu Kairangi were thwarted by declining food stocks and a severe southerly, enabling the defenders, soon to be known as Ngai Tara, to go on the offensive, slaughtering their demoralised enemy. Tautoki's people seffied in the Wairarapa to eventually become Rangitane.

Within 400m of the presumed site of Whetu Kairangi stands Kakariki Hutia, described as a Ngati Ira pa on which the Worser Bay pilot station was later to stand.

Leslie Adkin wrote that the name was given following one of the attacks by Rangitane and Ngäati Apa upon Ngäati Ira which interrupted the latter's meal. Snatching an uncooked parakeet as he went into battle the defending chief met the attacking chief Paengahuru and slayed him. The vanquished foe's dying words were, "Who can withstand the man of the plucked parakeets?" - the implication being that such food had fortified the defender.

Between the two old pa Kakariki Hutia and Whetu Kairangi are the freshwater springs of Te Puna a Tara and Te Puna a Tinirau which watered these pa.

Maupuia, as Jock McEwen and Coutts Crawford spell it, was first occupied by Ngati Hinepare, who took their name from one of Tara's noted grandchildren. Hinepare, who created a stockade enclosing nearly two hectares near the cutting at Evans Bay wharf. Pallisade stumps were evident in the 1840s and a number of artefacts have been found here, but the site has been affected by the Miramar cutting excavations.

Te Pou a Amuketi at Worser Bay, named after Captain Kent (Te Amuketi), an early trader, is on a midden site, indicative of a village. The peninsula also is the site of a number of other middens, karaka groves, hut, ovens and terraces.

One of the best examples of this is at Karaka Bay, just south of Taipukupuku Point which yielded up a number of skeletons and a body buried upright in the ground, as well as a number of artefacts, including a partially finished mere.

Just back from the South Head above Tarakena Bay's Moa Road are several pa sites, including Poito and Rangitatau, originally Ngai Tara. About 1820 these were stockaded Ngäti Ira pa whose ramparts and nearby village were sacked by Nga Puhi. Poito, at the head of Tarakena Bay, near Wellington Heads, stands on a low spur above Te Poti Stream. Best writes that Rangitatau surmounts the bay's western flank while Adkin put the pa at Tarakena and not Palmer Head (see his detailed map p83).

Uruhau Pa

Maori Sites of Te Whanganui a Tara

wellington tara symbol

Location: Melbourne Road, Island Bay Hill
Type of site: Fortified pa
Known iwi/Hapu connections: Ngai Tara
Condition : Good in 1960.

"A stockaded village of Ngai Tara on the hill at Island Bay, eastern side of the valley, overlooking the beach".(1) The name means 'windy head'. The chief was Pakau, and the principal house of the pa was named Te Maioha. (2)

Beckett, an Island Bay resident who spent many years exploring Mäori occupation the South Coast, noted that this pa;

together with the pa Wai Hirere at Point Jerningham and Akatarewa on the crest of the ridge south of Mt Victoria formed a screen of outposts covering the approach to Whetu-kairangi, the Ngäti Tara stronghold on Miramar. A Muaupoko raiding party, as a prelude to an attack on Whetu-kairangi, is said to have surrounded Uruhau, but were beaten off. Some fighting took place on the beach below and a very old skull much battered was picked up here in a small quarry in 1895. Two Muaupoko chiefs were killed in this encounter and their bodies were cremated at Haewai. (3)

An archaeological report in 1960 noted that Best had talked about 12 terraces associated with this pa. The report found the remains of terraces but no traces of fortifications, but noted the easy defensibility of the area. Beckett (above) records that at that time:

No trace of the stockade could be found. A short deep trench on a point which afforded a wider view of the coast was the only remaining part of the defences. This trench covered the head of a faintly discernable zig-zag track up the cliff face."

Excavation of the trench revealed "only ashes and charcoal". (4) Best describes vividly how the site was sacked by invading Rangitane and Muaupoko forces. (5)

1. Elsdon Best, "The Land of Tara", Journal of the Polynesian Society, vol 26, vol 27, vol 28, Pt 5, p. l74
2. Adkin p 91, Best, p 174. NZAA N164/l (R27/53)
3. Peter Beckett, Some Notes on the Western Wellington Cook Strait Coast 1888-1913, NZ Archaeological Association Newsletter, 6(3) September 1963 p 135
4. Ibid p135
5. Best, Pt I pp 167-68

Tapu te Ranga Island

Location: Offshore, Island Bay
Type of site: Island refuge and defence
Known iwi/Hapu connections: Ngäti Ira
Condition : Little remains.

Like that of the name Heretaunga, the name seems to have been borrowed from the Hawkes Bay district (possibly by Ngäti Mamoe). Best writes that it is an ancient Hawaiki tapu house name. As shown by Best's map, this island was the site of a small pa following Te Atiawa's invasion of Te Whanganui a Tara.(1) This was where Tamairangi, wife of Ngäti Ira chief Whanake, and her children sheltered in a stone-walled pa following a penultimate enslaught at Turakirae. When Ngäti Mutunga attacked the island the family was evacuated by waka to Mana where they were placed under Rangihaeata's protection. (2) Burnt oven stones, a stone wall shell midden and a rua or store pit reported post-Ngäti Ira.

An Island Bay resident and amateur archaeologist, Beckett, reported in 1960 that:

The island is small and rocky with a small hill about sixty feet high near its centre. The hill was levelled near the top as if to form a lookout. The remains of four posts were seen. A small well of brackish water existed on the rocky flat south of the hill. In a shingle flat on the eastern side, several sunken hut sites could be seen, and the remains of a rubble wall could be traced at the foot of the high ground facing the bay. Here an adze of dark stone and part of a stone patu were found.(3)

The island has considerable heritage value as a traditional refuge.

1 . Adkin p 82; Best Pt 5, p 174
2. Ballara A. in Tamairangi, Dictionary of New Zealand Biography Vol. 1 p 422; Shand A. 'Immigration of Ngäti Awa to Port Nicholson,' JPS Vol I p 91; Smith, S. Percy, 'Wars of the Northern against the Southern Tribes' JPS IX p 89
3. Peter Beckett. Some Notes on the Western Wellington Cook Strait Coast 1888-1913, NZ Archaeoiogical Association Newsletter 6(3) September 1963 p 136

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