Historical Overview - Pat Parsons

15 July 2013

An overview history of Waimarama.

The tangatawhenua of Waimarama can trace permanent occupation back to the archaic or early period of Polynesian settlement. Isolated pockets of the Kupe people settled along the Wairarapa coast and came into contact with the descendant of Whatonga who had migrated south from Mahia. Whatonga’s son Tara was born at Te Awanga and is the ancestor for Ngai Tara.

From a second marriage Whatonga produced another son Tautoki. He was the father of Rangitane, ancestor of the Rangitane tribe. Over successive generations there was intermarriage between the descendants of Kupe, Tara and Rangitane. A chain of sparse settlements extended down the coast from Te Matau a Maui (Cape Kidnappers) to the Wairarapa and the people were closely related through the above three ancestors.

The Takitimu canoe belongs to the next period of Polynesian migration. Captained by Tamatea Arikinui and under the protection of the high priest Ruawharo it made its way down the East Coast where places were named for their resemblance to landmarks in the homeland. Whangara and Mahia are examples of this. Ruawharo chose to settle at Mahia and using rituals he had learned from the celebrated priest Timuwhakairia he planted mauri along the Hawke’s Bay coast to attract fish life.

One such mauri was Te Ikawhenua which he placed at Mahia beach. It was in the shape of a whale and he sprinkled it with sand from the homeland as he performed the ritual to attract whales to the area. He took his three sons Matiu, Makaro and Mokotuararo and placed them at strategic points around the Bay to act as mauri for fish life. He was probably also responsible for establishing a series of tuahu or altar-stones at Whakamahia, Ahuriri and Rangaika. Offerings of the first catch of the season were made on these tuahu under strict tapu.

The Takitimu canoe, said to be a replica of the original, made its way on down the coast. On board was the high priest Tupai, younger brother of Ruawharo. This canoe anchored at Waimarama where four priests disembarked and made their way up into the neighbouring hills. They established a whare wananga there at Maungawharau.

Significant to the people of Waimarama is a rock formation on the coast called Te Taupunga o Takitimu or the anchor-stone of the Takitimu. A further indication of the significance of the Takitimu’s visit is the name Taupunga which was placed on the wharepuni or meetinghouse. At least one of the priests who got off the canoe at Waimarama left descendants. His name was Tunui and the tangatawhenua trace descent from him through the ancestress Hinengatiira.

Succeeding generations saw intermarriage between the descendants of Kupe, Tara and Rangitane. The principal pa sites of these people were Matanginui, Hakikino, Karamea and Te Ikatiere. The last-named pa was located further to the south above Aramoana beach. The influence of these people extended north as far as the Ngaruroro river. The land to the north of this river belonged to Ngati Whatumamoa and Ngati Awa.

By the sixteenth century the various hapu of Waimarama were referred to as Rangitane. They had expanded into Heretaunga where they had pa sites on the south bank of the Ngaruroro at Tanenuiarangi and Waitahora. It was at this period in their history that their occupation was threatened by a migration of displaced Ngati Kahungunu from Poverty Bay under the command of Taraia 1 and his father Rakaihikuroa.

Neither Rangitane nor Ngati Whatumamoa were of a particularly warlike disposition. They occupied a vast territory and were not a numerous people. Prior to the advent of Ngati Kahungunu there had been little cause for conflict. By contrast Ngati Kahungunu had been compelled to leave their home territory. They had become more aggressive and at least in part, their frustrations made the difference when they descended on Ahuriri and Heretaunga.

While their assaults on Heipipi and Otatara weren’t conclusive they did manage to occupy the district and impose their authority on the resident peoples. A proverb of the times stated, ‘The land is Turawha’s but the mana is Taraia’s.’ Some of the tangatawhenua were displaced. Many were absorbed by intermarriage. A new order prevailed and those of the tangatawhenua who remained on the land did so under those conditions.

Ngati Kahungunu camped at the Ngaruroro river mouth where kahawai were plentiful. They crossed to Wairua above Matahiwi marae where they cut stakes to dry the fish. This brought them into conflict with Rangitane who attacked them and captured Rangikohea, a son of Taraia. They retreated to the forests of Waitahora near the present-day Riverbend Christian Centre.

Taraia followed them up assisted by Te Aomatarahi, one of his generals. In a dawn raid he retrieved his son and put Rangitane to flight. With their people scattered over a wide area they were unable to regroup and mount a combined resistance. As a result the trail of their retreat led first to Poukawa, then to Roto a Tara before bringing their attackers to the coastal pa sites at Waimarama. Matanginui, Hakikino and Karamea fell in quick succession. Among those captured were the chieftainess Kohuipu and her daughter Hinengatiira.

Taraia placed Te Aomatarahi on the land between the Tukituki river and the coast. Those of the Rangitane who remained were placed under his mana. A peace-making marriage was arranged between Hinengatiira and Rongomaipureora, the son of Te Aomatarahi. The descent of this marriage became the new aristocrasy. While strictly speaking Te Aomatarahi was of Ngai Tahu descent he was related to Ngati Kahungunu through Iwipupu, the mother of Kahungunu who was of Ngai Tahu.

Te Aomatarahi

Rongomaipureora, Te Aonohora

Te Ikaraeroa, Rakaimihirau (f), Whiringarakau

Tumapuhia = Hineteao, Tamaariki, Te Huiariki, Poua

Rongomaiaia, Hikatoa, Te Rehunga, Mokai, Kupakupa

Of the ancestors featured in the above whakapapa Tumapuhia was the senior. Apart from Waimarama he also had interests on the Wairarapa coast inherited from his Ngai Tara ancestress Hinematua. His principal pa there was Unuunu at Flat Point, about 45 kilometres down the coast from Castlepoint. Because he held authority at both Waimarama and Wairarapa he divided his time between the two places. His younger brother Te Angiangi also had interests on the coast. His father Te Ikaraeroa settled him between Ouepoto and Akitio.

Tumapuhia’s wife Hineteao was also a descendant of Te Aomatarahi. Te Aonohora was her grandfather and his interests lay between the Tukituki rivermouth and Cape Kidnappers. His principal pa was Te Kauhanga across the Tukituki from present day Matahiwi marae. His children and grandchildren grew up in this area. Mahangapuhua, a son of Whiringarakau in the above whakapapa, established a pa called Te Pa o Mahanga at Te Awanga.

Trouble arose between the brothers of Hineteao when a school of whales became stranded at Te Awanga during the absence of the eldest brother Tamaariki. The whales were cut up and a portion was saved for the absent brother and presented to him on his return. He asked where his son’s portion was, only to be told there was none left for him. He reacted badly, cursing his brothers and departing for Turanganui.

In time Tamaariki returned to Te Awanga only to find the door of his whare open and his brothers departed for Wairarapa. He knew he had been responsible and went to try and persuade them to come back. Only Huiariki and Poua accepted. As Huiariki had no son Poua offered a gift of land to Hikatoa, a son of Tumapuhia to entice him back to Heretaunga. Mahangapuhua chose to remain in the Wairarapa and later made a gift of his interests at Te Awanga to Hikawera II, son of Whatuiapiti.

Whatuiapiti himself had abandoned Heretaunga and gone to join Tumapuhia at Wairarapa. He was a descendant of the Te Hika a Papauma branch of the Ngati Kahungunu occupation of Heretaunga. This branch came into conflict with Te Hika a Ruarauhanga, the people of Taraia 1 at the battle of Te Arai a Turanga above Pakipaki. Among the casualties was Takaha, grandfather of Whatuiapiti. Te Hika a Ruarauhanga followed up their success with an attack on Te Kauhanga pa where Whatuiapiti was resident with his young wife and child. He narrowly escaped with his life, leaving his wife and child behind.

Whatuiapiti was related to Tumapuhia, hence he sought refuge with him at Wairarapa.

Tahitotarerere = Tuwairau (f) of Ngai Tara

Te Angiangi 1,  Rakaitekura (f),  Rakaipa (f) = Takaha

Kahutapere II,  Tumapuhia Te Angiangi,  Hikawera 1


About three years later Tumapuhia led an assault on Te Hika a Ruarauhanga from Wairarapa. When the war party arrived they went to Ngaruroro and took the lids off a hole where Taraia stored offerings of fish to the gods. They then followed Taraia back to his pa Tahunamoa at Waiohiki where he was killed. Satisfied that utu had been achieved they then retired to Wairarapa.

The story of how Tumapuhia acted as mentor to Whatuiapiti and encouraged him to reconquer his lost lands is one of the epic tales of Hawke’s Bay history. Assisted by Rangitane and other allies Whatuiapiti restored the lost lands of Te Hika a Papauma. Tumapuhia is said to have been killed during one of these engagements and Whatuiapiti returned him to Waimarama for burial.

Equally relevant to the subsequent settlement of the lands was a series of competitive feasts between Whatuiapiti and Te Angiangi, the younger brother of Tumapuhia. Te Angiangi allowed himself to get caught up in a situation which escalated beyond his control. Whatuiapiti called on the assistance of a group of young chiefs to make sure Te Angiangi remained in his debt. The inevitable happened. Te Angiangi’s small hapu couldn’t compete. On a desperate mission to Kaikoura, he was returning with a waka laiden with kaimoana when a storm sprang up off the Wairarapa coast and swamped it. Te Ikaraeroa was drowned and Te Angiangi was obliged to gift the lion’s share of his land to Whatuiapiti to pay off his debts.

Tumapuhia’s lands were not affected by this gift. His descendants retained the mana of the territory north of a line from Tamumu on the Tukituki river out to Ouepoto on the coast. With the exception of the land gifted to Hikawera II at Te Awanga by Mahangapuhua the rest of the inheritance of Te Aomatarahi remained with his descendants. Apart from internal partitions the status quo was maintained for almost 200 years.

Hikawera’s lands at Te Awanga and out towards the Cape passed by succession to his great grandsons Te Tutura and Rangikamangungu.

Hikawera II

Tuku a Te Rangi

Manawakawa = Numia i Te Rangi (f),  Tokopounamu

Te Rangikoianake,  Te Tutura,  Rangikamangungu

Hawea = Hinetokaiti (f)

Two events of significance relating to these people occurred in the period 1775-1800. Firstly a significant war party was mustered to gain utu for the death of a Pukehou chief named Takuao and his grandson Putarera at the hands of Whanau Apanui near the Waioeka gorge. Te Tutura and Rangikamangungu were present together with the chiefs Tamaiawhitia, Tarewai and Tuterangi and warriors from Waimarama and Heretaunga. The first engagement was inconclusive and Tamaiawhitia persuaded the war party to launch a second offensive the next day. The outcome was a disaster for Ngati Kahungunu. Among those killed were Tamaiawhitia, Tarewai and Tuterangi, all principal chiefs of their hapu. The name of the battle was Otuhawaiki.

The second event concerned another school of whales which came ashore near Haumoana. Te Tutura took possession of the largest one and climbed on it. His younger brother Rangikamangungu pushed him into the water. Te Tutura swam ashore and told his brother the only land he would have was that whale. He then gave his land and people to Hawea who was married to his daughter Hinetokaiti. The gift included lands on both sides of the Tukituki river and on to Te Awanga.

By this time the descendants of Te Aomatarahi had merged into four main hapu – Ngati Kurukuru, Ngati Hikatoa, Ngati Whakaiti and Ngati Ura ki te ao. The principal population extended from Rangaika to Waimarama. Lesser numbers dwelt at Te Apiti and Kairakau under the hapu names Ngai Tamatera and Ngai Te Oatua. A further grouping lived at Pourerere, predominantly of Ngati Hikatoa.

During this period a Waimarama chief named Ngamoa invited Te Karaha, a younger brother of Hawea to come and live among them. Similarly two other brothers were placed in other parts of Hawke’s Bay, Te Kikiri at Waipukurau and Te Orihau 1 at Te Hauke. This had a stabilising effect on the wider territory. The placement of Te Karaha at Waimarama may also have served to limit the influence of Hawea.

The period 1818-1827 was one of turbulence throughout Hawke’s Bay. Disputes which should have been contained within the province escalated out of hand involving powerful tribes from the interior. The fights at Te Whitiotu, Rotoatara and Te Pakake proved costly in numbers as well as putting strain on internal relations. Waimarama was harrassed by war parties including Ngati Paoa under the chief Tangi Te Ruru and Ngati Raukawa under Te Whatanui.

During the first siege at Roto a Tara the Ngati Tuwharetoa high chief Te Heuheu heard that some of the tangatawhenua were away at Maunga-wharau on a fishing trip. He split his forces and sent one contingent to attack them. The Waimarama people repulsed his attack killing his younger brother Manuhiri. When the news reached Te Heuheu he was griefstricken and halted proceedings while he mourned his lost brother. He then set out for Waimarama with the full warparty.

They launched an all out attack on Te Aratipi pa which held on the first day but was overcome the following day. Two prized greenstone patu were in the pa and one of the warriors was instructed to carry them away to safety. However he was run down and the historic stones were captured by the warparty. Their names were Kaiarero and Pahikaure. These patu are believed to have been cut from the boulder that the tohunga Tunui placed at the entrance to his whare.

Things got so bad in the province that the Ngati Whatuiapiti fighting chief Pareihe arranged for the people to go under the protection of Te Wera at Mahia. Some refused to go and prepared to defend themselves at Pakake island near the Iron Pot at Ahuriri. Among the chiefs were Te Hauwaho, Whakato and Tiakitai, principal chief of Ngati Kurukuru. Against the muskets of the Waikato and Ngapuhi tribes Te Hauwaho’s followers were powerless and a great slaughter took place. The survivors were taken into captivity with the exception of Tiakitai and Te Karawa who were left to tend the many wounded.

The people of Heretaunga remained in exile at Nukutaurua on Mahia peninsula until 1840 when the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi and the establishment of a mission station at Turanganui gave them to confidence to start repatriating their former territories. During this period the SS Resolution came down the coast soliciting signatures for the Treaty. It anchored inside the Tukituki rivermouth at Waipureku where Te Hapuku, Hoani Waikato and the Waimarama chief Harawira Te Mahikai signed it.

The pa Te Awapuni was built at Waitangi. The missionary William Williams realised that the population at Mahia would soon return and had a chapel built there. It became the major place of assembly on the return from Mahia. Pareihe returned the mana to the five principal chiefs before dying there in August 1843. These chiefs were Te Moananui, Te Hapuku, Tiakitai, Puhara and Tareha.

William Colenso took up residence at Waitangi in December 1844. This gave the repatriated exiles more confidence although they placed priority on activities such as dressing flax to buy muskets. Within months of his arrival Tiakitai took the decision to return to Waimarama which became a rallying point for peoples returning to their homes further down the coast such as Porangahau. Another boost for Waimarama in 1845 was the establishment of a whaling station at Rangaika. William Morris, formerly of Whakaari, was the whalemaster and he assembled a crew which included Europeans, Ngati Hawea and the hapu of Waimarama.

Colenso was pleased to report that a chapel was under construction but it was the calm before the storm. Internal conflict saw the chapel burnt to the ground and in September 1846 Tiakitai, the principal chief was drowned at sea with a crew of more than 20 off the Mohaka coast. He was on the way to attend the marriage of his son Te Teira Tiakitai.

Hard on the heels of this tragedy came the Government Land purchase officers. In the Hawke’s Bay region Donald McLean began negotiating with the principal chiefs while Colenso warned them not to part with the whole of their land but to retain sufficient for the needs of their children and their childrens’ children. Disputes soon arose among the principal chiefs over who had the authority to sell the lands and Mclean wasn’t averse to profiting from the situation.

Three major purchases were concluded in 1851 including the Waipukurau block, a large portion of which was inside Tumapuhia’s boundaries. Even closer to home was the Matau a Maui or Cape Kidnappers block which was sold to the Crown by Te Moananui on 28 March 1855. By ancestry he belonged to both Ngati Hawea and Ngati Kurukuru.


Hikawera II,  Rongomaiaia

Tuku a Te Rangi, Te Rangihouao

Numia i Te Rangi (f), Te Rangitipuanuku

Te Rangikoianake,  Te Ramaapakura(f)

Hawea = Waipu (f)


Te Moananui

The boundary of the 30,000 acre block follows approximately the present day road from the Waimarama bridge to Ocean beach. It wasn’t an ancestral boundary but rather an arrangement between Te Moananui and Harawira Te Mahikai, half brother to Tiakitai and his immediate successor as principal chief. The final instalment of ₤1000 was due in March 1856 but was delayed for a year due to dissatisfaction by Te Moananui over the extent of the sale. It was later claimed that McLean promised him two reserves to appease him – the fishing station at Rangaika and another at Te Awanga. The final payment was made on 24 February 1857. Part of the payment was received by Waka Te Papaka, a half-brother of Tiakitai, of Ngati Kurukuru and Ngati Whakaiti.

1857 was also the year of the last internal battle between the hapu of Heretaunga. It was the culmination of growing dissatisfaction between the united chiefs and Te Hapuku who was considered the main perpetrator. Breaking point was reached when Te Hapuku helped himself to timber from the Pakiaka forest at Whakatu. Among the casualties were Puhara Hawaikirangi, a principal chief and Pakiaka, a son of Tiakitai. Te Hapuku retired to Te Hauke.

The whaling industry was still flourishing on the Waimarama coast. William Edwards had established a small shore-based station at Putotaranui between Ocean beach and Waimarama in the early 1850s. He married Puma of Ngati Whakaiti by whom he had five children. A newspaper report in 1860 identified Felix Goulet, a Frenchman, as the whalemaster at Rangaika and described a tragedy on board one of his whaleboats when a young half-caste got caught in the ropes and was pulled down by a sounding whale.

The lands at Waimarama underwent a series of informal pastoral leases to Europeans in the 1850s and 1860s. At the time when Crown-grants were issued for the Waimarama blocks in 1868 W.F. Hargraves had just surrendered Waimarama while a man named Reynolds still held Okaihau. It was at this time that Walter Lorne Campbell and Fritz Meinertzhagen took up the leases in partnership. Campbell was a regular diary writer and through his entires a clearer picture of the society at Waimarama emerges.

Campbell had a real rapport with the Maori community and records his dealings with them in his writings. Details such as gifts of fish, help unloading supplies from the boats, employing fencers and shearers are all to be found in the diaries. He records the death of Tuahu, principal chief of Ngati Whakaiti in 1870 and arrangements made with chiefs such as Harawira Te Mahikai, Te Teira Tiakitai and Wi Turoa. The lease for Okaihau was dated 14 October 1868 giving the partnership a total of 31,000 acres leasehold with 11,000 sheep and 46 head of cattle.

Tragedy overtook Campbell when he drowned in the Tukituki river in July 1874. Meinertzhagen took a new partner to replace him. He was T.R. Moore, brother of Mrs. Meinertzhagen. The annual rental for the leasehold properties was received and distributed by the chiefs. It was a system that worked for the Maori and one of the reasons why the Waimarama people still owned the bulk of their land in 1900.

The history of the 326 acre Rangaika reserve is brief. It was Crown-granted to Karauria Pupu as the sole grantee on 11 August 1866. His father was Matenga Whakapiripiri, a younger half-brother of Te Moananui. Through common ancestry with Te Moananui on his father’s side he also belonged to both Ngati Hawea and Ngati Kurukuru. During the hearing Harawira Te Mahikai appeared as a part claimant but waived his rights in favour of Karauria who was a relative. Karauria onsold his Crown-grant to J.G. Gordon the same day.

Harawira Te Mahikai died in 1886, the last tattooed chief of Waimarama. Described by Colenso as a fine Christian chief, he caught the attention of the eminent portrait painter Gottfried Lindauer. Harawira was heavily tattooed and one of Lindauer’s preferred subjects. At least six portraits are known to exist, the last of them painted when he was ailing, shortly before his death. A further three paintings of family members have also survived.

In conclusion this is a brief history which serves to demonstrate the long and close association between the hapu of Waimarama and the land and coast. It is based on a framework of key events in history and focuses on events where the Waimarama tangatawhenua participated.


The above historical overview demonstrates that the hapu of Waimarama have a special relationship with the Ocean Beach/Waimarama coastline. The link with the original inhabitants is long and unbroken. The historical and spiritual associations are preserved in the genealogies. They are not subject to redefinition by local body requirements.

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