Auckland: Tangata Whenua

By Rawiri Taonui

As Auckland merges to create a supercity, the Herald looks back at how Auckland has changed over the years. Click here to view the full series.

A Maori fishing camp, 1849, watercolour by Charles Heaphy. Photo / Alexander Turnbull Library
A Maori fishing camp, 1849, watercolour by Charles Heaphy. Photo / Alexander Turnbull Library

The land was known as Tamaki-makaurau (Tamaki of a hundred lovers). It was also known as Tamaki-nui (Great Tamaki), Tamaki-herehere-i-nga-waka (Tamaki that Binds Canoes).

The oral traditions relate a rich and diverse journey from ancient mythologies through changing tribal occupations of an isthmus that connected three great harbours and multiple trade routes to Northland, the Waikato, the west coast, Coromandel and the Bay of Plenty.

Each tribe has mana, each has their version of how Tamaki was named. The traditions variously say Tamaki is:

* the narrow neck of land between the Wai-te-mata and Manukau harbours,
* an ancient ancestor whose daughter married Toi-te-huatahi from the Bay of Plenty,
* the son of Maruiwi - another ancient ancestor, from Taranaki,
* a line of chiefs descended from the ancestress Parehuia of Taranaki,
* a daughter of Maki, a more recent ancestor and founding chief of the Waitakere tribe Te Kawerau-a-Maki,
* a chieftainess and daughter of the Ngati Te Ata chief Te Rangikiamata,
* named for the 18th century Te Wai-o-hua chief Kiwi Tamaki.

Ancient oral traditions use allegory and metaphor to explain the volcanic cones that dominate the skyline.

One says the deity Mataaho lived in Te Ipu-a-Mataaho (the Bowl of Mataaho, the crater of Mt. Eden). One day his wife left him taking all his clothes so Mataaho called on the goddess of fire, Mahuika, who sent forth flame across the isthmus to warm him, forming Nga Huinga-a-Mataaho (Gathered Volcanoes of Mataaho).

Another says the cones were created during a war between the Patupaiarehe, mystical beings that inhabited the eastern and western ranges when a high born young woman, Hine-mairangi from the Hunua, eloped with Tamaireia from Waitakere.

When Waitakere tohunga (priests) repulsed a Hunua war party sent to retrieve her, using incantations to bring super-heated sunrays down upon them, the Hunua tohunga responded in kind causing the isthmus to erupt in a conflagration of fire venting, hence the name Te Pakurangarahiri (Battle of the Sunrays).

Maori also knew the major harbours by different names. Te Arawa say that their ancestor Tama-te-kapua named the northern harbour Te Wai-te-mata (Obsidian Waters) after implanting an obsidian mauri (life force) stone in the upper reaches near Birkenhead.

Nga Puhi call this harbour Te Wai-o-te-mate (the Waters of Death). Te Arawa traditions name the southern harbour Manuka (the Implanted Post) after the ancestor Ihenga who implanted such a stake claiming ownership.

Tainui call this Te Manukanuka-a-Hoturoa (the Troublesome Sandbanks/Waters of Hoturoa) because of the shallow sandbanks and quick moving tides.

More generally the harbour is known as the Manukau (Settling Birds) because of the birds such as the godwit and southern oystercatcher that migrate there each summer.

The traditions of the many ancestral arrival canoes that passed through Tamaki include the Matawhaorua (or Matahourua), Aotea, Mataatua, Tainui, Te Arawa, Takitimu and Tokomaru.

Many crossed Te To Waka, the narrow stretch of land between the Tamaki River and Manukau Harbour and the most frequently used canoe portage in the pre-European Maori world.

Canoes portaging from the Tamaki River could cross the Manukau Harbour and then sail south along the coast to Raglan, Kawhia and the Taranaki, or northward to Northland.

Alternatively, they could make another portage at Waiuku to access the interior of the North Island along the Waikato River.

Those crossing in the other direction could go east to the Coromandel or north to Whangarei. Many of these canoes left settlers in Tamaki. The older extant tribes of Tamaki, Te Wai-o-hua and Te Kawerau-a-Maki, also trace descent from the canoes Te Wakatuwhenua and Te Moekakara that landed around Leigh and Te Kawau Island. The canoes left several settlers, giving rise to the earliest tribes, including Ngati Awa, Ngati Titahi, Ngai Tahuhu, Nga Marama, Nga Uri-o-Rakataura, Ngati Huarere, Nga Riki, Nga Iwi, Nga Oho and others.

These groups were later merged or evolved to form new tribes or were subsumed by later arrivals.

Associate Professor Rawiri Taonui is head of the Aotahi school of Maori and indigenous studies at the University of Canterbury.


Ngati Whatua-o-Orakei, Central Auckland
Ngati Whatua-o-Orakei are part of the wider Ngati Whatua confederation of tribes encompassing Te Roroa, Ngati Rongo, Te Uri-o-Hau and Te Taou.
The confederation's origins stem from the ancient ancestor Tumutumuwhenua (also known as Tuputupuwhenua), the canoe Mahuhu-ki-te-rangi and ancestors who migrated from Muriwhenua into the Waimamaku River Valley, Waipoua Forest, Kaihu River Valley and Kaipara Harbour where they first intermarried with and then subsumed earlier peoples.

The ancestors of Ngati Whatua-o-Orakei occupied the central isthmus during the mid-18th century when a Waha-akiaki and Tuperiri led an invasion of the Te Taou hapu of the Kaipara Ngati Whatua tribes culminating in an emphatic victory at the Battle of Paruroa (Great
Muddy Creek) about 1740, after which Ngati Whatua dominated the central isthmus.

Waha-akiaki and Tuperiri went on to conquer most of central Auckland. The core members of Te Taou stayed at Kaipara Harbour under Waha-akiaki, while a division under Tuperiri remained in Auckland eventually becoming known as Ngati Whatua-o-Orakei.

Te Kawerau-a-Maki, West Auckland
Te Kawerau-a-Maki is one of the older tribes in Tamaki. Their territory once extended from the Waitakere Ranges north to Cape Rodney and Leigh.
They descend from very early peoples and the canoes Tainui, Te Wakatawhenua and Te Moekakara. Their ancestor Tiriwa is one of oldest and more mysterious Tamaki ancestors and is credited with uplifting
Rangitoto from Karekare Beach, carrying it across the isthmus and implanting it in its present location.

An older name of the Waitakere Ranges, the central heartland, of Te Kawerau-a-Maki, was Te Waonui-a-Tiriwa (the Great Forest of Tiriwa).
Te Kawerau emphasises lineages from the Tainui priests Rakataura and Hape. They also have a link to the now extinct Te Kawerau tribe from the Bay of Plenty who were said to have migrated to Tamaki.

The ancestor Maki migrated from the Tainui and Taranaki regions taking control of much of the land between Tamaki and the Kaipara. His son Te
Kawerau-a-Maki was named after a dispute between his father and
Ngati Whatua over kumara plantations (Te Kawerau means the straps of a bag used for carrying kumara).

Maki's great grandson Te Au-o-te-whenua went on to control the land between Muriwai and the Manukau harbour.

Te Aki Tai and Te Wai-o-Hua, South Auckland
The Te Wai-o-Hua people originate from the early Te Arawa tribe Nga Ohomatakamokamoo-Ohomairangi (Nga Oho) who once dominated much of the land between Tauranga and Cape Rodney and the Te Wakatûwhenua and Te Moekakara canoes.

Nga Oho once comprised three groups including Nga Riki and Nga Iwi who occupied much of the land across Papakura, central Auckland and the North Shore. These groups coalesced into Te Wai-o-hua (The Waters of Hua) under the chief Hua Kaiwaka in the late 1600s or early 1700s.

Te Wai-o-hua remained the main tribe on the Tamaki Isthmus well into the 18th century. Their main chief Kiwi Tamaki was killed in a battle at Paruroa by Ngati Whatua from the Kaipara Harbour during a sequence
of events that saw Ngati Whatua take possession of central Tamaki.

The Te Aki Tai, the hapu located at Pukaki, Mangere and Wiri on the Manukau Harbour, take their name from Hautau, the uncle of Kiwi Tamaki, who was killed and drowned off Puponga Point during the late 1700s and whose body was dashed (aki) upon the rocks.

Other South Auckland subtribes, Ngai Tai, Ngati Tamaoho and Ngati Pou, were closely related to the broader Te Wai-o-hua group.

Ngati Te Ata, South Auckland
Ngati Te Ata was also known as Te Ruakaiwhare after the tribal taniwha
(guardian) that protects the waters of the Manukau Harbour. The tribe formerly occupied the area around Waiuku, the Awhitu Peninsula,
Huia and the Waitakere Ranges.

The tribe is named for the famous chieftainess, Te Ata-i-rehia, a granddaughter of Hua Kaiwaka the founding Te Wai-o-Hua chief.
Te Ata was granted land in Waiuku after assisting the local hapu Ngati Kahukoka in fighting with other tribes.

Te Ata married Tapuae, a Tainui chief who was killed after building
a fearsome reputation in fights for control of the Waikato River
from Taupiri to Port Waikato. His death was avenged by his son,
Papaka, who consolidated Waiuku for Ngati Te Ata.

The Marutuahu Confederation, East Auckland and Waiheke
The Marutuahu confederation of Ngati Maru, Ngati Tama-te-ra, Ngati Whanaunga and Ngati Paoa dominated the Hauraki Gulf and eastern parts of the Auckland region from north of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula through
Waiheke Island, today's eastern suburbs, the Hunua Ranges south to Mt Aroha in the Kaimai Ranges.

Ngati Maru, Ngati Tama-te-ra, Ngati Whanaunga and other hapu including Ngati Rongou are the descendants of the five sons of the ancestor Marutuahu who migrated from Kawhia Harbour to the Coromandel Peninsula where he married two sisters, Hine-urunga and Pare-moehau.

Ngati Paoa descend from the ancestor of the same name who migrated from Ngaruawahia on the Waikato River to the Hauraki where he married Tukutuku, a descendant of Marutuahu.

Paoa's descendants Ruatao and Kapetaua conquered much of Tamaki during separate campaigns. Ngati Paoa fought a number of campaigns against
Ngati Whatua and Te Wai-o-hua at Mahurangi and the Whau and Tamaki rivers and came to occupy much of the land from the Thames Estuary, Hunua Ranges, east Tamaki, Waiheke Island and coast northward to Whangaparaoa until colonisation.

Ngai Tai, East and South Auckland
Ngai Tai descend from Tainui ancestors Taihaua, Taikehu and Te Keteanatua who settled in Tamaki when the Tainui canoe crossed Te To Waka enroute to Kawhia Harbour.

The tribe was once part of an extensive coastal trading network between Tamaki, the Coromandel, Aotea (Great Barrier Island) and across the Bay
of Plenty to Torere Bay where another Tainui related tribe Ngati Tai lives today.

This link was reinforced about several generations ago when three sisters, Raukohekohe, Motu-i-tawhiti and Te Kawenga led several hundred people in a migration called Te Heke-o-nga-Tokotoru (the Migration of the Three Posts) from Torere to Tamaki where Raukohekohe and Motu-i-tawhiti married the Te Wai-o-hua and Ngai Tai chief Te Whatatau. Ngai
Tai also have strong links with the Marutuahu and Hauraki groups and to
the Tainui tribes of South Auckland.

Ngati Tamaoho, South Auckland
Ngati Tamaoho are closely related to Te Wai-o-hua and also part of the wider Tainui confederation further south to Hamilton and beyond. One
ancestor is said to have been Papaka who swam ashore from the Tainui canoe as it passed through the Manukau Harbour.

Ngati Tamaoho held main occupational sites along the western slopes of the Drury Hills, Patumahoe area and the shores of the Manukau Harbour.
Their main settlements and cultivations were close to their pa, two of which were near the mouth of Slippery Creek while two others were in the
Pukekiwiriki or Red Hill area east of Papakura.

One of these was the well known pa, Pukekiwiriki, a misspelling of
Pukeokoiwiriki being a more recent name for the same pa known previously as Paritaiuru, an ancient place connected to the great chieftainess, Marama, of the Tainui canoe.

- NZ Herald

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