(Updated 21 July 2019)
Te Atiawa trace their origins to their founder Awanuiarangi who was conceived from the union of an earthly mother, Rongoueroa, and Tamarau-te-Heketanga-a-Rangi, a spirit descended from the sky.
Early Te Ātiawa ancestors were known has the Kahui people, including the following hapū: Te Kahui Ao, Te Kahui Rangi and Te Kahui Maunga.
Te Atiawa date their Polynesian ancestors arrival in Aotearoa from Hawaiki in about 1350 from the Tokomaru waka (canoe). Intermarriages with the Kahui people followed.
As shown in the map below, Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand the traditional lands of Te Atiawa stretch from Nukutaipari at the southern base of Paritutu, through to Te Rau-o-te-Huia, near Motunui in the north. Inland, the territory encompasses the north-easter slopes of Mt Taranaki through to the Matematea Ranges. This territory of 32 km of coastline and a large fertile plain extending several kilometres inland, sustained Te Atiawa for about 500 years prior to the arrival of Europeans in 19th century.
As recorded in the New Plymouth District Council’s Mana Whenua, Mana Moana policy, the Ātiawa coastline collectively constitute ‘… one of the most extensive traditional fishing reefs and are referred to in song and legends as a source of pride and prestige as well as food’ (2014, p23). Just as the land of Te Atiawa was divided amongst the various hapū, so too were the reefs.
Over a period of about 40 years from the 1820’s to the 1860’s things changed dramatically for Te Atiawa through inter-tribal warfare and migration south, the arrival of Europeans, and land sales through to the land wars where Māori were in conflict with the Crown. Several of those historic shifts are covered in the following postings on this website. See the postings for:
- Tribal conflict for more information about inter-tribal conflict.
- Te Ātiawa’s invitation to passing trans-Tasman traders (including Dicky Barrett) to establish a trading station at Ngāmotu in 1828.
- The Battle of Otaka Pā for details of Te Atiawa’s success in fighting off the invading Tainui taua (war party).
- Te Heke Tama Te Uaua (migration south) that occurred in 1832 and settled firstly in Kapiti and then at Te Whanganui-a-Tara (Wellington).
- Dicky Barrett’s role in land sales.
An earlier migration south by Te Atiawa had occurred in 1824 when members of three hapū, Ngāti Mutunga, Manukorihi and Puketapu moved south as Te Heke Niho Puta to join the Ngati Tama tribe who had not long previously left the Kawhia region in the Waikato to resettle south at Kapiti.
As the population of Taranaki and Kawhia tribes in the lower North Island grew, the demand for more land and resources gave rise to the conquest of Te Tau Ihu (Nelson – Marlborough), with the main attack taking place around 1829-30. By 1840, Te Atiawa occupied land from Totaranui (Queen Charlotte Sound) to Mohua (Golden Bay). See The History of Te Atiawa as shown on the Te Atiawa Trust’s website for more information.
While thousands of Te Atiawa departed from their home lands, ahi ka (continuous occupation) was maintained throughout the 1820’s and 1830’s by small numbers of people who remained in their rohe (including Rawinia’s parents, Eruera Te Puki-ki-Mahurangi and Kuramai-Te-Ra).
Land sales that occurred over the 1840’s, firstly to the New Zealand Company and subsequently to the Crown, came under increasing dispute, as Māori who had left over the preceding two decades began to return. Tensions at the time within Te Atiawa have been described thus, ‘Relations between those Māori who had remained in the area, those who had migrated and then returned, and those who had been taken captive but subsequently released were complex, as were their views on land sales’ (Early Purchases, Te Kotahitanga o Te Atiawa).
While many pre-1860s land sales had provided areas for native reserves, under the Native Reserves Commission land was sold without the owners consent. By 1990, at least 90 percent of the land reserved from purchases of Te Atiawa lands was alienated (Te Kotahitanga o Te Atiawa).
Eventually, tensions between the British colonists wanting land, and resistance to further land sales, culminated in war breaking out between Māori and the Crown, in opposition to the proposed sale of the Pekapeka Block (Waitara) in March, 1860.
As a consequence of the 1860’s land wars, some 1.2 million acres of land held by Te Atiawa and other Taranaki Iwi was confiscated. Māori were left very largely dispossessed and reduced to exercising kaitiakitanga (guardianship for the sky, the sea, and the land) over the small remaining areas left in their ownership.
Over the last 40 years, outcomes under enabling legislation governing local government and resource management, and Treaty of Waitangi negotiations, have expanded land ownership and restored some of the Mana Whenua/Mana Moana (exercising spiritual, environmental, social and economic dimensions of traditional Māori values) held by Māori through their whakapapa (ancestry) and occupation of the land by the tangata whenua (Māori people of a particular locality).
The Ātiawa claim under the Treaty of Waitangi Tribunal was launched in 1990 at Owae Marae, Waitara. After an extremely complex and protracted process, settlement was finally reached 24 years later when the Deed of Settlement was signed in New Plymouth. Prior to that, in June 2013, Te Atiawa resolved to establish Te Kotahitanga o Te Ātiawa (Te Kotahitanga) as the post-settlement governance entity for Te Atiawa.
Today the hapū of Te Atiawa are Ngāti Rahiri, Manukorihi, Otaraua, Pukerangiora, Puketapu, Ngāti Tawhirikura, Hamua Te Matehou, Ngāti Tuparikino and Ngāti Te Whiti.
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