Wakaiwa Rāwinia’s Atiawa hapū connections

Updated 31 December 2021


The hapū was the main social unit of traditional Māori society and it remains a fundamental organising institution for whānau groups today and is central to establishing one’s Māori identity. Melissa March wrote that:

In understanding the process of self-identification within a Māori context, it is vital to have an understanding of the individual’s place within their whānau/hapū/iwi and the wider community … for most Māori, knowing ones ancestry is of the utmost importance … Turangawaewae represents one location where an individual can say ‘I belong here’.

(M Marsh, 2010: pvii & 1)

Researching Rāwinia’s whānau/hapū connections has been one of the more challenging aspects of my research for this website. Complexities have included the multiplicity, intermingling and migrations of kinship groups in pre-European times; the loss of hapū that ceased to exist after a period following the arrival of Europeans; tribal and hapū configurations that became prone to change during the mid to late 19th century; and many references in the research of others claiming that Rāwinia belonged to the Ngāti Te Whiti hapū, although establishing whakapapa links in that regard has proven to be problematic.

Hapū affiliations fluctuated over time as many of our tūpuna identified themselves according to the situation in which they were operating at the time (personal correspondence with Hilary & John Mitchell, October 2019). One possible reason for the many connections claimed is that Māori traditionally carried blood relationships to the tenth or twelfth cousinship or further (Smith, p171). Some of that detailed knowledge has either been lost or has not yet surfaced in my research.

Another factor that would support close kin ties between hapū within Te Atiawa may have arisen from the population recovery of the tribe following almost being wiped out by the Nga-Potiki-taua in the 17th century.

Marsh observed that ‘over the years a mass of information had been lost through such things as the Land Wars and the suppression of Māori within Taranaki’ (2010: 3).

Percy Smith (1910) recorded 13 ‘divisions of Ati Awa’ [sic] in his History and Traditions of the Taranaki Coast, including:

  1. Hamua
  2. Ngati Rahiri
  3. Ngati-Tawake
  4. Ngati-Ue-nuku
  5. Puke-rangi-ora
  6. Puketapu
  7. Ngati-Tawhiri-kura
  8. Kai-tangata
  9. Manu-Korihi
  10. Nga-Motu
  11. Otaraua
  12. Ngati-Tuparikino
  13. Ngati-Tuahu.

At least six of the above are connected with Wakaiwa Rāwinia. Only the seven shown in italics above are recognised by Kotahitanga o Te Atiawa as one of their tribal hapū today. Ngāti Te Whiti, also recognised as one of the seven Atiawa hapū today, not listed by Smith, may have been regarded at that time as part of the Ngāmotu hapū.

Demise of some hapū

During the 1860s Native Land Court claimants were required to provide tribal and hapū details to substantiate kinship attachment to land (established under the Native Lands Act 1865, the court provided for the conversion of traditional communal landholdings into individual titles making it easier for Pāhehā to purchase Māori land). Extensive evidence presented to the court suggested a multiplicity of kinship groups had existed within Te Atiawa (Keenan, 1991) which no doubt clouded the establishment of proprietary rights to land and resulted in some hapū loosing their ancestral land.

In his research of the Hauraki area, Paul Monin estimated that hapū usually comprised 40 – 60 family members (2006, page 14). Using that as a guide there may well have been in excess of 50 Ātiawa hapū in Taranaki in the early 1800s.

Extensive land sales to the Crown during the 1840s and 1850s contributed significantly to the demise of some hapū. Confiscations of land by the Crown following the Land Wars of the 1860s also had devastating consequences for many hapū.

According to research by Leanne Boulton, mistrust between the settler community and Te Atiawa presence and their reserves utimately led to the retreat of Te Atiawa communities from the city of New Plymouth (2004, piii), further alienating hapū from their ancestral lands.

Ngāti Taweke

Ngāti Taweke is one such hapū that is no more. Wakaiwa Rawinia’s links to Ngāti Taweke go back at least to Korotiwha (circa 1600) and the sucessful restoration of Te Atiawa lands from the Taranaki iwi (see posting on Wakaiwa’s Tūpuna).

Moving forward to the 19th century, Government land agent Donald McLean, in his census of 1847, regarded Ngāti Taweke as still one of the primary hapū of the area between the Waiwakaiho and Waiongana rivers. Its members continued to claim mana whenua through to the 1860’s. However, the hapū’s demise seems to have been rapid as it did not appear in the census of 1874, becoming instead absorbed into the Puketapu hapū in consequence of its traditional mana whenua passing from its control (ibid, p196).


Ngāmotu is another of the original Te Atiawa hapū no longer recognised by Te Atiawa, the hapū regarded as a kinship group by the Ngāti Te Whiti.

The Ngāmotu area was popular in traditional Māori society due to the excellent fishing grounds around the Sugar Loaf islands. At different times the area was occupied by either Te Atiawa or Taranaki iwi.

By the early 1800s numerous sections of Te Atiawa hapū lived there, possibly including Ngāti Te Whiti, Ngāti Tawhirikura, Ngāti Rāhiri and Ngāti Tuparikino, with ‘Ngāmotu’ being used as a generic name for the cluster of hapū living there (Mitchell, 2014). ‘Nga Motu/ The Islands’ being a place rather than the name of an ancestor/tūpuna also lends weight to the hapū being a collection of kinship groups. Other researches such as Percy Smith described the community as the Ngāmotu hapū. Leanne Boulton used the term ‘Ngāmotu hapū’ to cover people of several closely related hapū, being Ngāti Te Whiti, Ngāti Tawhirikura, Ngāti Tuparikino and Ngāti Hamua. The Taranaki Report: Kaupapa Tuatahi noted that ”hapu’ may refer to both a single hapu and to a combination of hapu’ (1996:1, footnote 2).

The Barrett’s joined their Te Atiawa/Ngāmotu kin in the migration south in 1832. While they lived with their kin at Waikanae they were known to belonging to the Ngāmotu hapū, and it is that identity the survived at least through to the 1870’s.

Along with those who remained to maintain ahi kaa, other members of the hapū returned to live in the rohe in the 1840s. Ngāmotu became the main hapū identified not only with the area around the islands but extending over much of the lands purchased for New Plymouth.

The Colonial Government purchased approximately 3,500 acres (the ‘Fitzroy block) from Ngāmotu in November 1844 with about 83 signatories. That was followed in 1847 by another 9,770 acres (the Grey block) purchased from 28 members of Ngāmotu that also provided for 910 acres of reserves. Finally, there was another 12,000 – 14,000 acres sold to the Crown by 129 representatives of the Puketapu hapū and Ngāmotu hapū on 3 March, 1854 (J Ford, 1991).

Ngāmotu hapu utilised their native reserves as allocated by the Crown to grow and sell produce, successfully engaging with the settler community. Engaging with the European capitalist economy was not entirely new for the hapū, having formed a successful partnership with Love and Barrett from the late 1820’s when they exported and imported a range of goods (Boulton, page 112). Funds from land sales were used to purchase stock and agricultural produce. However, as Boulton pointed out ‘this expression of economic independence was considered a threat to the expansion of British settlement because it was believed that as Te Ātiawa had a steady income they would be reluctant to sell further land to the Crown’ (page 122).

Boulton went on to conclude that the Taranaki Wars of 1860 – 1863 were responsible for a radical and irreparable decrease in inter-cultural trust in the public sphere … despite the great majority of Ngāmotu remaining either neutral or friendly during the conflicts and despite Ngāmotu’s attempts to forge a future with Pākehā based on kinship, equality and mutually beneficial relationships (page 272).

The official census of the Māori population taken in 1878 revealed that a total of 87 people were recorded as being of the Ngāmotu hapū, living in the area from Mangaone to Ratapihipihi – the later being the likely ‘home’ area of Rāwinia’s parents in the 1820’s, and close to where she was allocated some land (NZ Census of the Māori population, 1878, source: Papers Past). A total of 1201 people of Te Ātiawa were recorded in the census, with eight other hapū (with numbers of people): ‘Ngatitama’ [sic] 32, ‘Ngatitama & ‘Ngatimutunga’ [sic] 194, ‘Ngatirahiri’ [sic] 441, Manukorihi 43, ‘Ngatimaru’ [sic] 156, Puketapu & Pukerangiora 248.

A major rupture of the Ngāmotu hapū seems to have occurred during the three years following the 1878 census. Only one person (a female over the age of 15) was recorded as being of the Ngāmotu hapū in the 1881 Census of the Maori Population – possibly Sarah Honeyfield as she lived in New Plymouth at that time. N Parris, Undersecretary of Native Department, recorded a ‘considerable decrease’ of 836 in the numbers of Māori in that area of Taranaki since the 1878 census, although 310 of those were held in the South Island as Parihaka prisoners. Indeed, the events leading to the establishment of Parihaka may explain part of that decrease – by 1881 over 1,000 Māori were residing at Parihaka, including 192 Ngāti Rāhiri – however no one from the Ngāmotu hapū or any of the other sub-hapu of the Ngāmotū were recorded as living there. Perhaps some of the prisoners were Ngāmotu, but there are no data of the tribal affiliations of the prisoners. Parihaka was established in 1866 by Te Whiti O Rongomai, a member of Ngāti Te Whiti who was born at Ngāmotu. The passive resistance of the Parihaka people through ploughing and fence removal between 1878 – 1880 lead to the government invasion and dismantling of Parihaka in 1881.

Sequential land sales are likely to have been the one of the main reasons for the demise of Ngāmotu hapū by the 1880’s. Other reasons for the demise of Ngāmotu may have been through deaths from consumption, or by transfer to other hapū (hapū living in the New Plymouth area in 1881 included Ngāti Rāhiri, Puketapu and Ngāti Tuparikino).

It is possible that with the passing of the Ngāmotu chief Poharama in 1875 that remaining members of the hapū subsequently realigned their affiliations. Poharama was one of those who remained to keep ahi kaa at Ngāmotu in the 1830’s. Poharama is buried on a plot of land at the Otaka/Pioneer Park on Hakirau Street, New Plymouth, adjacent the old freezing works at Moturoa that was the site of the Otaka pā. Poharama had been living at Ratapihipihi but, feeling that his end was near, asked that he be taken to his old home at Moturoa where he died.

I have not found mention of the Ngāmotu hapu after 1881 other than the Ngāti Te Whiti claiming a right of occupation partly based on kinship links to Ngāmotu. Where those kinship links lie remains an issue for ongoing research.

The Ngāmotu area continues to have special significance to the ancestors of Dicky and Rāwinia Barrett. It’s where Barrett first landed at Taranaki in 1828 and it became the location of Barrett’s trading station. Dicky and Rāwinia lived there as a couple from 1828, it is where they had their first two children and where they became members of the Ngāmotu hapū. Barrett helped to defend the Otaka pā at Ngāmotu against the invading Tainui in 1832. It is the area where a small band of Te Atiawa, including Rāwinia’s parents, maintained ahi kaa between 1832 – 1840. It was also the area that the Barrett’s returned to permanently in 1841 and where they worked their land holdings and where Barrett set up a whaling station. It is the area where they are buried. It is the area where the Honeyfield’s continued to live and farm for the remainder of the 19th century and into the early 20th century.

Rāwinia was a person of great mana due to her whakapapa connections. There can be little doubt that Rāwinia was related to members of all of the various hapū that lived in and around Ngamotu, and that she could whakapapa to Māori leadership throughout Taranaki and the Waikato. As members of the extended Honeyfield whānau, we can be proud to sustain the memory of Rāwinia’s high standing as a ‘wahine whaimana (female chief of the highest seniority and standing) respected by both Māori and European’ (Mitchell, 2014).

Through the descendants of Wakaiwa Rāwinia the heartbeat of the Ngāmotu hapū continues today, and as descendants of Dicky and Rāwinia, we can say:

Ko Taranaki te Maunga

Ko Te Herekawe me Te Waiwhakaiho nga awa

Ko Tokomaru te waka

Ko Te Ātiawa te iwi

Ko Ngāmotu te hapū

Ngāti Rāhiri

There are several whakapapa connections, ancestral land holdings and historic events that lend support to Rāwinia belonging to the Ngāti Rāhiri hapū. According to information held by the National Library (and as noted in the posting on Wakaiwa Rāwinia’s Tūpuna) Rāwinia’s grand-father Tautara was a chief of Ngāti Rāhiri.

Tautara’s son, Epiha Te Karokora, in advocating for the retention of Ngāti Rāhiri land, strongly indicates that he belonged to Ngāti Rāhiri. Similarly, the fact that Rāwinia’s second cousin, Huriwhenua was the paramount chief of Ngati Rāhiri ki Te Tau Ihu also confirms whakapapa links to Ngāti Rāhiri.

While the Ngāti Rāhiri traditional rohe was from the north side of the Waitara River to the Onaero River, concentrating about the Waihi Stream and the Te Taniwha pa at Turangi, Ngāti Rāhiri were a notable part of the cluster of hapū living at Ngāmotu in the early 1800s. One source noted that Ngāti Rāhiri were regarded as having mana whenua over Ngāmotu in the early 1800s (H & J Mitchell, 2004, p105). Percy Smith noted that one of the two waka that intercepted Barrett and Love’s vessel, The Adventure, was Te Pae-a-huri belonging to Ngāti Rāhiri. Those factors lend more credence to Wakaiwa Rawinia being of Ngāti Rāhiri descent as it clearly plausible that, while her whanau lived in or near to Ngāmotu, so did members of the Ngāti Rāhiri hapū,

Land holdings also fit the puzzle as Rāwinia was awarded Ngāti Rāhiri sections 3 and 9 by the Maori Land Court. Some of that Ngāti Rāhiri land holding was passed onto Rāwinia’s children. After Caroline (Kara) died her interest in a Ngāti Rāhiri land holding trust was passed onto her children in 1901. Honeyfield whānau representation on the trust continues to this day.

Interestingly, Te Wharepouri, Te Puni Honiana and Henare Te Keha – mostly otherwise regarded as being Ngāti Te Whiti – were listing among the Ngāti Rāhiri who joined Te Rauparaha’s migration to the south of the North Island in 1822, indicating a kinship relationship. For the next 10 years many Te Ātiawa chiefs travelled back and fourth between their new land holdings at Waikanae and Wellington, and their ancestral homes at North Taranaki (Mitchell, p110).

Ngāti Rāhiri were the most populous of the eight Te Ātiawa hapū recorded in the census of the Māori population, 1878.

Ngāti Tawhirikura

Ngāti Tawhirikura’s rohe includes Aotere Pā and what is now the Katere Scenic Reserve on the northern side of Waiwakaiho River.

Rāwinia’s first cousin, Taurau, was a rangatira of the Ngāti Tawhirikura. As noted in the posting of Rāwinia’s tūpuna, her grandfather Tautara was also said to have been a member of the Ngāti Tawhirikura hapū of Te Atiawa. Tautara spent some time living at the Ngāti Tawhirikura’s pā, Rewarewa, which lay on the northern bank at the mouth of the Waiwakaiho River. Tautara’s daughter Hineone (born in 1780 and sister to Kuramai-i–tera, Rawinia’s mother) was the mother of Kipa whose son was Neha Te Manihera (Skipper) of Ngāti Tawhirikura.

Te Puni Honiana was also of the Ngāti Tawhirikura as well as Ngāti Te Whiti.

Although the Ngāti Tawhirikura had kinship ties with the Taranaki iwi, they fought each other in a great battle at the Rewarewa pā in about 1805 (Penny Ehrhardt, 1993, page 16). On that occasion, the Taranaki iwi, seeking utu following their defeat earlier at the Koru pā near Oakura, defeated Ngāti Tawhirikura.

Rewarewa must have been a substantial pā as it was the host to the visiting Amiowhenua taua around 1821-22.

At various times the Ngāti Tawhirikura were considered to be part of the Ngāmotu hapū, along with Ngāti Tuparikino and Ngāti Te Whiti, and that must have continued to at least 1878 as the census made no mention of those three hapū, but did include Ngāmotu.

Ngāti Tawhirikura suffered greatly from English colonisation, and it was not until the 1980s that the hapū reestablished themselves and their marae at Katere, on part of the former Katere Native Reserve. Ngāti Tawhirikura are currently recognised as one of the seven surviving hapū of Te Ātiawa.

After 24 years of discussions, in April 2019 Ngāti Tawhirikura once again held mana whenua over Aotere Pā, once part of the Ravensdown fertiliser site in Waiwhakaiho, New Plymouth for 50 years.

Ngāti Tuparikino

While Ngāti Tuparikino is another of the original hapū not listed on Te Ātiawa’s web site the hapū continues to have a seperate identity recognised by local government.

The Ngāti Tuparikino hapū rohe includes what is now known as the Ngahere Scenic Reserve and the adjacent Tupare on the banks of the Waiwhakaiho River.

Tautara’s grandfather, Potaka Taniwha was said to have been related to the Ngāti Tuparikino. Following the defeat of the Taranaki iwi (Nga-Potiki-taua) the Ngāti Tuparikino hapū of Te Atiawa re-occupied their old territories in the Te Henui river valley through to the Waiwakaiho River, and portions of the Huatoki valley. Some of their pas were Wharepapa (Fort Niger), Te Kawau (at the mouth of the Huatoki), Pu-rakau on the north bank of the Henui river; and Puke-totara (History and Traditions of the Taranaki Coast, Chapter 10, Taking of Wai-Manu).

Ngāti Te Whiti

The people of Ngāti Te Whiti trace their descent from Te Whiti O Rongomai who lived in the mid 1700s.

There are many claims, in both official records and by researchers, that Wakaiwa Rāwinia belonged to the Ngāti Te Whiti hapū. Moreover, Wakaiwa Rāwinia was also said to be related to leading Ngāti Te Whiti rangatira (H & J Mitchell 2014, p337), with one source incorrectly claiming that Wakaiwa was the sister of Te Wharepouri (A Preston, 1991).

As noted elsewhere, there are references to her father Eruera also being of Ngāti Te Whiti. While I have found no direct whakapapa links to confirm that relationship, a census of Maori and Pākehā organised by Donald McLean in 1847 provides evidence confirming the historical references to Rāwinia being of Ngāti Te Whiti were right: Eruera, Rāwinia, Kararaina and Hera are all listed as being of ‘Ngati Te Witi’ (the spelling probably being due to the local dialect having a silent ‘h’). A side note records ‘Barrett’s children, Kararaina and Sarah’. Poharama and other Ngāti Te Whiti people are also listed (Inspector of Police – statistics and census returns, Maori and Pakeha). The census listed a total of 25 hāpu or pā identities.

The ‘Eruera’ listed in the census is very likely to be Rāwinia’s father, Eruera Te Puke Mahurangi, as other McLean papers reference a dispute between Poharama and ‘the father of the native woman [Barrett] is married to’ and ‘the chief Eruera of the Ngamotu tribe’. In December 1847 Governor George Grey met with the Ngamotu chiefs, including ‘the old chief Eruera’. There can no longer be any doubt that Eruera was of Ngāti Te Whiti ancestry.

Rāwinia’s parents lived at Ratapihipihi at the time of Barrett’s arrival in 1828. The Honeyfield whānau interest was retained at least until the 1940’s. The Ratapihipihi A East Block was granted by the Māori Land Court to Ronald McLean, son of Ellen Caroline Honeyfield, on 5 July 1942.

Dicky and Rāwhinia are buried at the Wahi Tapu urupa at Ngamotu Beach, part of the contemporary and traditional Ngāti Te Whiti rohe.

Ngāti Te Whiti currently trace their right of occupation to a number of kinship groups such as Moturoa, Ngāmotu, Ngāti Tuparikino, Ngāti Hamua and Ngāti Tawhirikura, only one of which survive today. However, Ngāmotu were clearly the leading hapū identity for most of the 19th century, with several sub-hapū, including Ngāti Te Whiti. Further research is required to reveal the process and timing which has resulted in Ngāmotu being superseded by Ngāti Te Whiti.

Several of those actively involved with the hapū today have Honeyfield or Love ancestry.

However, there has been a division of Ngāti Te Whiti, with a breakaway group called Ngāti Te Whiti Ahi Kaa.

Today, Ngāti Te Whiti say that the hapū:

… is the mana whenua of New Plymouth. Our rohe extends from the Herekawe to the Waiwhakaiho River, inland to its headwaters on Taranaki and back to the Herekawe. We regard New Plymouth as our tūrangawaewae – our paepae, our footstool, the land on which we alone might stand’ .

Ngati Te Whiti


Tautara’s usual place of residence was said to have been the Puketapu pa, a few miles to the north of the Waiwakaiho River. Tautara’s grandfather, Potaka Taniwha was also said of have been of the Puketapu (Smith). While Potaka has been described as being of Ngāti Toa/Ngāti Kinokaku/Tainui (Mitchell 2014, note 111 page 442, that relationship is more likely to have been in reference to his line of descent being from Ngāti Tama/Tainui some generations previously. Refer to my posting on Wakaiwa’s tūpuna for information showing that Potaka was a man of substance and influence within the Te Ātiawa rohe.

The Puketapu rohe is north of the Waiwakaiho River in the area now known as Bell Block and to the area just south of Waitara.

At the time of establishing the trading post at Ngamotu

Ngāti Rāhiri and Ngāti Te Whiti played a pivotal role in the establishment of Jacky Love’s and Dicky Barrett’s trading post at Ngāmotu in 1828. The two waka sent out to intercept the Adventure were Ngāti Rāhiri’s Te Pae-a-huri and Ngāti Te Whiti’s Te Rua-Kotare (Journal of the Polynesian Society, chapter XVII). At that time some 2,000 Te Ātiawa people lived along the coastal area, and there were over 30 pā (A Caughey, page 27). More information about the circumstances and background to these events can be found in the following postings on this website:

The hapū today

In partnership with the New Plymouth District Council under the Mana Whenua, Mana Moana arrangements, Ngāti Rāhiri, Ngāti Tawhirikura, Ngāti Te Whiti and Puketapu exercise kaitiakitanga (spiritual and physical guardianship of the environment) within their rohe.


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