Integrated Catchment Management

Mäori migration and occupation into the northern South Island and Motueka catchment


To understand Mäori values and Mäori issues related to the Motueka catchment, it is essential to start with an understanding of Mäori mythology, Mäori migration and tribal origins, Mäori ancestry, history, conflicts, relocation, and settlement and land tenure up to present day.

Mäori mythology

In Maori mythology, the North and South Islands of New Zealand originated in the time of the demigod Maui. The North Island is the great fish (Te Ika O Maui) that he caught while the South Island (Te Wai Pounamu) is sometimes conceived as the canoe of Maui. Maui is therefore seen to have pre-eminent authority over these islands. When later canoes arrived from Hawaiiki (northern Pacific), their crews cited their relationship to Maui in order to secure a firm footing in Aotearoa-New Zealand.

Mäori migration

The main Mäori migration to Aotearoa-New Zealand probably took place between 700 and 1000 years ago. Ngä unga waka - the landing places of canoes - are of great significance in Mäori history, because genealogies are traced back to those who came on the original waka (canoes). With the arrival of waka, Mäori tribes settled in different parts of Aotearoa and began to consolidate and expand. The names of the famous waka (canoes) that arrived in Aotearoa-New Zeland, that all iwi (Mäori tribes) trace their ancestry back to include: Tainui, Tokomaru, Kurahaupo, Aotea, Te Arawa, Maataatua, Taakitimu, Nuku-tere, Horo-uta, Uru-ao, Arai-te-uru, Mahuhu-ki-te-rangi, Maamari, Rua-karamea, Maamaru, Tinana, Ngaa-toki-mata-whao-rua, and many others.

Authority over land can be traced back to these original travels and migrations. Tribal narratives also abound with stories of warfare and ceremonies of uruuru whenua, which established the mana or spiritual authority of the victors over the newly conquered landscape. The outcome was a spiritual union with newly settled land. Authority of land could also be achieved by other means such as through inter-marriage and peaceful relationships (maunga-a-rongo), one people could unify with another and share their place in the landscape. Mana whenua is the Mäori term for this concept of collective authority in a specific geographic area, by whatever means it was accomplished.

Mäori occupation of Te Tauihu-o-te-Waka-a-Maui (Nelson-Marlborough region)

The term "Te Tauihu-o-te-Waka-a-Maui", and often used shorter versions, refer to the northern part of the the South Island, Te Wai Pounamu. The name translated means the "bow of the canoe of Maui", from the earlier stories of Maui, the waka (canoe) being Te Wai Pounamu (the South Island). The term more recently has been used to refer to the Nelson-Marlborough region. The occupation of Te Tauihu-o-te-Waka is complex and dramatic, but can be better understood in three main phases.

The great Mäori explorer Kupe travelled extensively throughout this region more than 600 years ago, with many of the present placenames in the region refer to Kupe and his exploits. The name Te Moana O Raukawa was the original name of the Cook Strait which separates the two islands of Aotearoa, separating Te Waipounamu from Te Ika-a-Maui. These stories are pivotal to the Mäori world view. The first phase of Mäori occupation into coastal areas of Te Tauihu-o-te-Waka-a-Maui was of long duration and intermittent.

In the second phase, people of ‘Kurahaupo waka’ descent or ‘Rangitäne tribes’, with original connections to Te Mahia and Heretaunga on the East Coast of the North Island, were some of the first people to populate Te Tauihu-o-te-Waka-a-Maui and occupied both coastal and inland areas. Kurahaupo ‘alliance’ iwi (tribes) include Ngäti Rangitaane, Muaapoko, Ngäti Kuia, Ngäi Tara, Ngäti Ira, Ngäti Apa, Ngäti Tumatakokiri and others. In terms of migration to Te Tauihu-o-te-Waka-a-Maui, Kurahaupo can be viewed as two major alliances, the first based on a close relationship between Ngäti Kuia and Ngati Apa (Rangitikei), originally from the West Coast of the North Island, along with Rangitäne ki Wairarapa; the other comprised the rest of the Kurahaupo tribes, sharing a coherence from the East Coast. The former Kurahaupo alliance represented an early migration into Te Tauihu. The latter alliance of Kurahaupo tribes including ‘Rangitäne’ migrated to Te Tauihu around the seventeenth century.

Other tribes to move to Te Tauihu-o-te-Waka-a-Maui included Ngaati Mamoe and Ngai Tahu originally from Te Tai Rawhiti (Gisborne-East Cape). Both Ngäti Mamoe and Ngai Tahu represent very early southward migrations into Te Wai Pounamu. All authorities however agree that probably one of the first occupations in the Wairau and Kaikoura districts was by the Waitaha tribe, descended from Rakaihatu of Te Uruao waka.

For the third main phase the origin of a number of iwi must first be traced. The iwi, Ngäti Toa, Ngäti Koata and Ngäti Rarua first settled in the North Island at Marakopa, Waikawau, Kawhia, Awakino and southern Waikato and were of "Tainui" origins. Ngäti Tama, Ngäti Mutunga, and Te Atiawa were from the Taranaki region. Ngäti Tama being of "Tokomaru" waka origins while other Taranaki iwi trace their ancestry back to several waka origins. Ongoing conflict with many other iwi forced people from these iwi to move to the southern parts of the North Island in the early 1800's. This move south culminated in much conflict and bloodshed with Kurahaupo tangata whenua living in the southwest region of the North Island and in the north of the South Island.

The third major migration into Te Tauihu-o-te-Waka occurred in the 1820's when people from northern Tainui and Taranaki tribes occupied southern North Island areas, and then moved south into the northern parts of Te Wai Pounamu, many finally settling in Te Tauihu-o-te-Waka-a-Maui either displacing Kurahaupo iwi from previously settled areas, or living with Kurahaupo iwi through arrangement. Many of these migrations southward into Te Waipounamu also resulted in direct bloody conflict with Ngai Tahu who occupied much of Te Waipounamu at the time. It was during this last phase that the infamous Ngäti Toa chief Te Rauparaha came to prominence in New Zealand history.

Te Rauparaha

(c 1768-1849) was one of the greatest Mäori fighting generals of his time. A short powerful man of high intelligence, he was chief of the small Ngäti Toa tribe. His mother was Ngäti Raukawa, born in the Waikato, near Lake Karapiro. After campaigning in the Waikato and Taranaki regions for many years, he decided to move Ngäti Toa people to Kapiti Island in the 1820's mainly because of serious conflicts and enemies he had with other Waikato and Taranaki iwi.

Te Rauparaha dominated the south western part of the North Island and the northern region of the South Island for a number of years up until about 1840. At this time New Zealand was increasingly being colonised by Europeans. The ship the Tory arrived in 1840 with the New Zealand company settlers. The Tory sailed past Kapiti firing a cannon salute to Te Rauparaha. He and his fellow chief, Te Hiko, negotiated the sale of land on the mainland adjacent to Kapiti Island, and also at the top of the South Island. A dispute soon arose between Colonel Wakefield, of the New Zealand Company, and Te Rauparaha over alleged sale of land in the South Island and many other land transactions. Consequential to this argument, and in retaliation, Te Rauparaha and his raiding party burnt down surveyors huts near Wairau, in the Marlborough, in June 1843. This led to a major dispute and confrontation between Te Rauparaha, his nephew Rangihaeata, and Colonel Wakefield and his party at Wairau, resulting in the colonel and 20 men being killed. The two Mäori chiefs returned to Otaki and, although feelings ran high among Mäori and pakeha, Government Fitzroy and a group of senior officials met them at Waikanae, heard their account of what had happened, which became known as the Wairau massacre, and decided not to take any punitive action.

After George Grey became Governor in 1845 the following trouble in the Hutt Valley from Rangihaeata, Te Rauparaha was arrested held in custody for nearly a year and then released to Auckland on the security of Chief Te WheroWhero and others. In 1848 he was allowed to rejoin his own people and spent his remaining days quietly at Otaki.

Te Rauparaha was twice a signatory to the Treaty of Waitangi on 14th May 1840, before the Reverand Henry Williams and on 19th June in the presence of a Major Bunbury. Te Rauparaha was never baptised but one of his sons Tamihana also known as Katu (1819-1876) a tall and handsome man, was greatly impressed by European culture. He was educated at St. Johns College in Auckland, was ordained a clergyman in his late twenties and later endowed land for the education of Mäori children.

A butterfly, Rauparaha’s Copper (Lycaena rauparaha), was named in his honour. It lives in coastal regions is a golden coppery colour and has a wing span of between 25 and 30 mm. One explanation for the name is that the coastal strip along which the Mäori warrior moved so often between Taranaki and Wellington was the butterflys most heavily populated habitat.