View from Kaiwharawhara, across the harbour to the Hutt Valley, with the snow-capped Tararuas in the distance. Painted soon after the arrival of Pākehā, it shows Te Whanganui-a-Tara as it was when Taranaki Whanui had migrated there and established Mana Whenua over what became Wellington and the Hutt Valley.
Kaiwarawara [Kaiwharawhara], Port Nicholson Harbour, 1844, by G.F. Angas. Upper Hutt Libraries Community Archives.
The early decades of the 19th Century were a turbulent time of inter-tribal warfare for Māori. These are sometimes referred to by historians as the Musket Wars, because they were partly brought about through the de-stabilising effects of European contact in the upper North Island, including the introduction of new weaponry.
In 1820, as part of these conflicts, a tauā (war party) of Ngāti Whatua, Ngapuhi, and Ngāti Toa warriors from up north, as well as warriors from iwi in Taranaki, ventured on a raiding mission into the Te Whanganui-ā-Tara region. They travelled up the Heretaunga/Te Awa Kairangi River into the upper valley and destroyed the settlements and pa there, killing the inhabitants. Another raid followed a couple of years later. These raids marked the beginning of the end of Ngāti Ira control over Te Whanganui-ā-Tara and Heretaunga. A series of heke over the next decade and a half saw them gradually replaced by iwi migrating from Taranaki, including Te Ātiawa, Ngāti Mutunga, Ngāti Tama, Ngāti Ruanui and Taranaki (the iwi). Skirmishes were still being fought with Ngāti Ira and they were reluctant to move far up the valley as they were unsure if Ngāti Ira were living up there or if a tauā had come over into the valley from Wairarapa. People were still arriving from Taranaki in 1834.
Ngāti Toa, led by Te Rauparaha, had also migrated south during this time from their original home in Kawhia, establishing themselves as a very important regional power from their base on Kapiti Island and around Porirua Harbour. While Ngāti Toa did not establish settlements in Upper Hutt, they too are recognised as Mana Whenua on the grounds of their participation (under Te Rauparaha) in the 1820 tauā that conquered the settlements there, along with their subsequent influence, following migration over the Upper Hutt valley that neighboured their new home.
By the arrival of the NZ Company in 1839 Ngāti Ira had been driven out and the Taranaki migrants had control of Wellington and the Hutt Valley.
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