The Migration south of Taranaki Whānui

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In the early part of the 19th century because of pressure and the threat of attack from northern iwi, Taranaki iwi including Te Ātiawa, Taranaki Tuturu, Ngāti Tama, Ngāti Mutunga, Ngāti Ruanui, Ngā Maru and Ngā Rauru along with Ngāti Toa Rangatira from Kawhia moved south down the island to the Kāpiti Coast and then on to Te Whanganui-a-Tara.

Beginning with the arrival of Ngāti Mutunga and Ngāti Tama to Te Whanganui-a-Tara in 1824/25 several heke (migrations) south from Taranaki took place. In 1833 Te Ātiawa hapū from Ngā Motu (New Plymouth) arrived in the harbour. Many of this heke then moved around the coast into Wairarapa shortly after arrival and returned in 1835. In the 1834 heke, hapū from the south and west of Taranaki including the Ngāti Haumia and Ngāti Tupaia hapū were welcomed into the harbour.

When Ngāti Mutunga and Ngāti Tama arrived at the inner harbour in the first heke, they found no permanent residents. Rangitane, Ngāti Ira and Ngāti Kahukura Awhitia were occupying the Hutt Valley and the eastern side of the harbour south to Pencarrow. The incoming hapū took over the inner harbour and first occupied an area stretching from Korokoro (Petone) to as far south as Owhiro Bay.

The principal inner harbour settlements developed at Te Aro, Kumutoto and Pipitea and just out of the inner harbour at Kaiwharawhara along with kāinga such as Tiakiwai and Pakuao around Haukawakawa, (now known as Thorndon) and Raurimu near the corner of Hobson Street and Fitzherbert Terrace. Extensive gardens or ngākinga were developed not only on the rich flat lands, but also on clearings on the ridgelines facing into the northern sun and sheltered from the wild winds.

Gradually Taranaki hapū pushed around the harbour to Ngā Ūranga, Pito -one and Hikoikoi, then across the river to Waiwhetū Pā with further kāinga established around the eastern shoreline of Te Whanganui-a-Tara and around the coast into Wairarapa.

When the last of the Taranaki tribes arrived in 1834, people of Ngāti Ira were still resident in the area. Over the course of nearly 15 years the arrival of the Taranaki people drove the residing iwi over the Remutaka range and into Wairarapa with the last pushed out of Wellington just prior to the arrival of the NZ Company settlers in 1839.

Ngāti Mutunga were the dominant iwi around Te Whanganui-a-Tara after their arrival from Taranaki in the 1820s. In 1835, with reports coming back from Māori returning from the Chathams (Wharekauri) that showed it was a more favourable place to live than Te Whanganui-a-Tara, it was resolved by Ngāti Mutunga and Ngāti Tama that their hapū would migrate there en masse in 1835.

On hearing this decision Te Ātiawa hapū that were in Wairarapa returned to the harbour. Before Ngāti Mutunga and Ngāti Tama left all the hapū met on Matiu and the land was gifted to Te Ātiawa/Taranaki hapū. Ngāti Tama retained their cultivations and Pā and enough of them remained to maintain their ahi kā. Only a small remnant of Ngāti Mutunga remained in Te Whanganui-a-Tara.

Many Taranaki people travelled back and forth from Te Whanganui-a-Tara following the original heke. In the mid to late 1800s many moved in part from the pressure of the colonists and the colonial Government or to maintain land interests in Taranaki particularly with the altercations at Parihaka in the late 1880s.


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Information provided by Wellington Tenths Trust

Image: Waiwhetu Marae