Kaikoura Island in the Hauraki Gulf, New Zealand

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MAORI SETTLEMENT  (European Settlement)

There has been little written specifically about the Maori settlement of Kaikoura Island, although it appears to have been a politically important location in relation to the wider history of Aotea. The first people on Aotea were reputed to be the Tutumaiao, Maewae or Turehu people (MLC Minute Book 2 Taitokerau 1993). From the beginning of the 15th century the island came to be occupied by iwi of Tainui descent. They were known collectively as Ngati Tai and included Ngati Te Hauwhenua in the north, Ngati Tai Manawa in the east. Ngati Te Wharau who were of Arawa and Tainui descent occupied the south and west (Monin 199625-26 citing testimony of Witi McMath in Aotea Motairehe transcript p.96, Murdoch pers. com.). Ngati Te Wharau are reported to have lived on Kaikoura Island at this time (Tatton 1994:37).

Ngati Wai conquest and the ‘Maungarongo’

Ngati Wai’s mana whenua originates from their conquest, and subsequent permanent occupation from some time towards the end of the 17th century. Rehua, of Te Kawerau descent, and his son Te Rangituangahuru came to Aotea and defeated Ngai Tai in a series of engagements. The reason for this has been stated as utu for the death of the daughter of the Ngati Manaia rangatira, Te Whaiti, at Harataonga by Ngati Tai. It is also claimed that Rehua had earlier links with Aotea through Hoturoa of the Tainui waka and Turi of the Aotea waka. Following the defeat of Ngati Te Hauwhenua who were seen as responsible for the death of Te Whaiti, Rehua settled in the Whangapoua area. An interim peace settlement, or ‘Maungarongo’, was concluded at Kaikoura, and cemented by marriages including that of Rangituangahuru to Rangiarua, the daughter of the Ngati Te Wharau rangatira, Taihikingarangi, who lived on Kaikoura and controlled the western coastline of Aotea. Ranginui of Ngati Wai also came to Aotea and was gifted land. Some of his descendants remained on the island and in time they intermarried with those of Rehua and the two groups came together as Ngati Wai ki Aotea.

Ngati Te Wharau and Ngati Tai remained on Aotea until the peace with Ngati Wai was broken by the killing of Rehua by Te Mataa of Ngati Tai at Rakitu Island on the east coast. Te Mataa fled to the Alderman Islands, but Taihikingarangi and the remaining Ngati Tai and Ngati Te Wharau were at this point completely driven from Aotea by Rangituangahuru with the assistance of his Kawerau relatives from Mahurangi and Ngati Manaia, the tribal grouping that later became known as Ngati Wai (Tatton 1994:39; Monin 1996:26). Rangituangahuru and the other descendants of Rehua became Ngati Rehua and settled throughout the land (MLC Minute Book 21 Taitokerau 1993).

Ngati Rehua settlement on Kaikoura

It has been suggested that following expulsion of Ngati Tai settlement concentrations on Aotea shifted from east to west coast (Tatton 1994:128). Although a few Marutuahu iwi and Ngati Naunau in particular intermarried and lived periodically on the southern coast of Aotea with Ngati Rehua, Kaikoura and the surrounding area were solely occupied by Ngati Rehua.

While cultivations were maintained on the island, Kaikoura was considered relatively infertile, and a greater value placed on the seafood resources as evidenced in the island’s name (Kaikoura meaning ‘to consume crayfish’). Pa were constructed on Kaikoura island and named Motukaraka and Pahangahou (Murdoch pers. com).

Battle of Aotea 1838

The last significant inter-tribal battle on Aotea occurred in 1838 when a Ngati Kahungungu led one (contingent) of 120 warriors under the command of Te Mauparaoa, stopped to reprovision at Aotea after concluding a peace with Ngapuhi in the Bay of Islands. With most of the men away harvesting mutton birds at Motu Okokewa, Hauturu and Pokohinu, Ngati Kahungungu entered and raided Te Mariri’s pa at Kawa near Motairehe. Te Mariri requested assistance from his Ngati Naunau relatives and also to Horeta Te Taniwha of Ngati Whanaunga. Horeta Te Taniwha obliged by assembling a ope taua of Marutuahu forces to assist Ngati Rehua. Horeta Te Taniwha’s forces defeated Te Mauparaoa’s ope at Te Parekura, near Whangapoua, but not without significant losses.


'Kaikoura Island Archaeological Survey' Andy Dodd and Vanessa Tanner Department of Conservation 2006.

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