Brief History of Okura and Environs

Page Two

Treaty Settlements and Aspirations of Iwi Partners:

Te Kawerau a Maki, Ngati Whatua o Kaipara, Ngati Manuhiri

The Treaty Settlements of the early 2000’s were meant to compensate in some way for the mana that Tribes had lost through systematic, historical reduction in their ancestral land interests, their places of importance for burial of their dead, benefits of natural resources such as flax gathering, places to grow and gather food, walking tracks and navigable waterways, and wahi tapu.

Therefore, it is important to understand the rohe of each tribe, how they overlap and the history of conquest, acquisition and occupation that led to tribal lands being customarily held by the whole tribe. Common ownership (really stewardship to Maori) was not understood by the early Settler Governments; or if it was, it was ignored.

When Maki (a common ancestor to all three Tribes in question) settled Tamaki Makaurau, he was in the land of his Ngaiwi and Ngaoho relatives and ancestral home. The name Te Kawerau a Maki arises from an incident that occurred while Maki was visiting the southern Kaipara. It means “the carrying strap of Maki”. Here, Maki and his wife Rotu had their only Kaipara-born son, who became the founding ancestor of the Iwi, Te Kawerau a Maki. His name was Tawhiakiterangi ((Tawhia). He was also known as Te Kawerau a Maki.

In time, Maki’s descendants occupied lands from Hikurangi (West Auckland), to Whenua roa o Kahu (The North Shore), Whangaparaoa, Mahurangi, Matakanakana, Pakiri, Southern Kaipara, and the gulf islands of Aotea (Great Barrier Isalnd), Hauturu o Toi (Little Barrier Island) and Tiriti Matangi, forming the Te Kawerau Confederation.

By the early 1700’s, the traditional rohe was thus from Okaka (South Head, Kaipara) to Paratutai (North Head, Manukau) in the west; and from Te Arai o Tahuhu (Te Arai Point) in the Northeast to Takapuna in the southeast, as well as the gulf islands. The heartland of Te Kawerau a Maki was and remains: Hikurangi.

Other iwi and hapu share this broad area of interest, including the other partners of Friends of Okura Bush: Ngati Manuhiri and Ngati Whatua o Kaipara. Both these iwi bring in separate lands as well, to complete their respective rohe.

Specifically Te Kawerau a Maki:

Te Kawerau a Maki are associated with many geographic locations and areas through the traditions, songs, place names, and histories of the people. Their manawhenua status is established through their tupuna (Ancestral rights), ahi kaa (occupation), and kaitiakitanga (guardianship and management of cultural and natural resources).

The role of kaitiaki continues in current cultural and natural resource management. Kaitiaki responsibilities include, but are not limited to:
• Protection and maintenance of wahi tapu and other heritage sites
• Protection of taonga
• Placing of rahui (temporary ritual prohibition) to allow replenishment of harvested resources
• Restoration of damaged ecosystems
• Protection of sensitive environments
• Directing development in ways that are in keeping with the environment
• Ensuring the sustainable use of resources
• Observing the tikanga associated with traditional activities
• Providing for the needs of present and future generations

Okura / Long Bay: Te Kawerau a Maki has occupied these lands for over 400 years, though the association and ancestral rights go back much further. The lands of Okura and Long Bay are part of the Te Kawerau a Maki identity and contain a large number of cultural sites and place names reflecting this enduring relationship. Significant local place names include Whakarewatoto (the southern end of Long Bay beach and the headland above), Te Oneroa a Kahu (Long Bay itself) and Otaimaru.

The area is associated with important tupuna and significant battles as well as a network of kainga (open settlements), gardens, pa, walking tracks, wahi tapu and resource gathering areas. Landscape features such as the Okura and Weiti rivers were significant transport routes and food gathering areas. The ridgelines of the interior were used as walking tracks and also for gardening using terraces and pits. The river catchments and coast afforded an abundance of marine birds and fish, while the wooded interior provided timber and complimentary terrestrial and fresh water bird and fish resources.

For Te Kawerau a Maki, the relationship between Long Bay, Okura, Weiti, Whangaparaoa and Tiritiri Matangi cannot be understated as a cultural landscape on a macro level, while this region also has important connections with the Hauraki Gulf Islands.

Specifically Ngati Manuhiri

Ngati Manuhiri are the descendants of the tupuna Manuhiri, the eldest son of the Ngati Awa ki Taranaki warrior chieftain, Maki and his wife Rotu. Therefore Manuhiri are affiliated to the broader Te Kawerau confederation. There are also close whakapapa connections with Ngati Wai. The Ngati Manuhiri community affiliates to Omaha Marae at Pakiri.

Manuhiri was born at Kawhia in the mid-17th century. In adulthood he left Kawhia with his parents, siblings, and a large group of Ngati Awa followers, to look for a new home amongst Tainui relatives to the north. After staying briefly at Tamaki, Maki and his people settled permanently in the southern Kaipara, Waitakere, Whenua roa o Kahu (North Shore) and Mahurangi districts.

According to Ngati Manuhiri tradition, Manuhiri and his followers built a pa named Koritoti, near Araparera north of Helensville, and came to occupy the eastern coastline of the Kaipara Harbour extending north to the Hoteo River. It was in this area that Ngati Manuhiri developed its own distinct identity as a tribal grouping. Manuhiri and his brothers Ngawhetu and Maraeariki defeated the original occupants of Whakarewatoto (Long Bay), Karepiro (Okura) and Huhuruhuruwaea (Tawharanui). As a result,by the late 17th and early 18th centuries, Ngati Manuhiri and their Te Kawerau relatives came to occupy the eastern coastline from Takapuna to Te Arai Point. Maki and his brother Mataahu and their sons later fought for and occupied both Te Haututu o Toi (Little Barrier Island) and Aotea (Great Barrier Island).

To secure peace and to consolidate their occupation of the district, Ngati Manuhiri made strategic marriages with the older tribal groupings of Ngati Tahuhu, who adjoined them to the north-west and north, and Ngati Manaia (Ngati Wai) who occupied the eastern coastline north of Whangarei and many of the offshore islands. Through these marriages, Ngati Manuhiri gained ancient links with the land, sea and islands on the eastern coastline from Paepae o Tu (Bream Tail) to Takapuna and with eastern Kaipara.

Ngati Manuhiri held their land and resources under collective tribal custodianship. Rangatira had the role of safeguarding the social and political wellbeing of iwi and hapu, and held authority over their rohe. Ngati Manuhiri describe their ancestral interests as extending along the eastern seaboard from Whangaparaoa in the south to Paepae o Tu in the north. In the west these interests extend to the coastal range from Koritoti and Otakamaitu near Araparera, to the Hoteo River, and on to Kikitangiao and Hauhanganui (Wellsford). They then run north east from Patumakariri near Wellsford to the east coast at Te Arai o Tahuhu (Te Arai Point) and Paepae o Tu.

This extensive area contained bountiful sea and land resources, including access to the sought-after shark fisheries off the Mahurangi coast. The climate of the wider region was temperate, allowing for the cultivation of kumara, while extensive kauri forests provided timber for waka and other forest resources.

European contact in the late 18th and early 19th centuries brought rewharewha or epidemic disease, which had a major impact on the populations of the iwi of the district. In the early 1800’s the introduction of muskets disrupted relationships between iwi and hapu across New Zealand. Ngati Manuhiri were drawn into these conflicts and suffered significant losses. Ngati Manuhiri, along with all of the other iwi and hapu of the south Kaipara and Mahurangi districts, sought refuge for a time both in Northland and the Waikato. A small group of men remained on the land to maintain ahi ka (occupation rights). According to Ngati Manuhiri tradition, they, along with other iwi and hapu, returned from exile in the late 1830’s. Although significantly reduced in numbers, Ngati Manuhiri re-occupied all parts of their rohe.

The Treaty of Waitangi was not brought to southern Kaipara nor Mahurangi to be signed. Ngati Manuhiri rangatira, however, undertook early cordial engagement with Crown officials such as James Clendon and William Symonds, who visited the district from 1840. Ngati Manuhiri rangatira also recognised the mana of the Treaty and developed a generally co-operative relationship with the Crown.

Prior to 1840, Europeans and Maori entered into a number of transactions over lands north of Auckland, including offshore islands. The Europeans were mainly interested in the forests of the Mahurangi district, which were easily accessible by sheltered harbours and estuaries. These forests provided kauri for the lucrative spar and sawn timber trade to service the needs of the British Royal Navy in the 1830’s, and later to supply the timber needs of growing numbers of settlers.

Six transactions, located between Mangawhai in the north and the Mahurangi River in the south, impacted directly on Ngati Manuhiri. They included areas of strategic importance because they took in a significant proportion of the land surrounding harbours, river mouths and estuaries. The deeds were all negotiated and signed by Europeans and iwi who were not permanently resident in the area. None of them involved Ngati Manuhiri.

The Crown did not, in 1840, recognise these and other transactions over Ngati Manuhiri lands as conferring legal title. Nonetheless, the transactions marked the first stage in a process that eventually led to the alienation of most Ngati Manuhiri landholdings and some of their most prized possessions.

At around 1840, Ngati Manuhiri held customary interests through a tribal estate of approximately 250,000 acres that included vast forests, waterways and countless sites of cultural, spiritual, historical and economic significance. Today, Ngati Manuhiri are effectively landless. They hold title to just 1,300 acres at Pakiri, 5 acres in the Omaha block, 356 acres of coastal land (which is multiply owned and has very limited development potential because of planning restrictions), and 50 acres of Taumata A and B. Their last remaining marae sits on just 5 acres of land, surrounded entirely by private land with poor road access and no practical coastal access.

The Crown’s 1841 “Mahurangi and Omaha” transaction.

Despite the Crown’s subsequent acknowledgement of customary interests in Mahurangi that had not been extinguished by the 1841 sale; for all intents and purposes the district was considered by the Crown as its property. For Ngati Manuhiri, the key issue was that they had not been party to the original transactions or their investigations. They continued to occupy much of the land, none of which had been formally reserved to them at this time. At the same time settlers were increasingly moving into the area.

The Crown attempted through the 1841 Kauri Proclamation to protect valuable kauri on Crown lands or lands subject to pre-Treaty claims, but failed to implement it successfully. Private enterprise continued to cut out kauri and other timber to feed the needs of a fast-growing colony, including for the construction of the new capital in Auckland.

In 1846 the Crown issued its first timber cutting licences in Mahurangi. By 1847 the Crown had licensed twelve sawyers and began receiving revenue from the timber harvest. These licences were issued over lands that had not been alienated with the consent or to the satisfaction of Ngati Manuhiri. From the mid-1840s, Ngati Manuhiri and other Maori began to dispute a number of these licences and complain to the Crown about Europeans cutting timber on land they said had never been sold to the Government.

Because Ngati Manuhiri were not identified as rights holders prior to the 1841 transaction, the Crown never canvassed their views about whether Mahurangi should be sold, or what parts of it would be sold, and under what conditions. Although the Crown accepted by 1853 that it had not transacted with all of the proper rights holders, European settlement of these lands had begun and Ngati Manuhiri were obliged to accept the Crowns position that the sale would not be revisited in any substantial way. All that was left to them in 1853 was to choose to accept a payment and attempt to have reserves set aside.

In this way, the disadvantage created by the 1841 transaction was permanently locked into place. Ngati Manuhiri lost treasured resources, landmarks and wahi tapu, substantial interests in land on the eastern coastline of the district, valuable landing places, harbours and estuaries that had supported their traditional way of life and over time their identity.

Applying to all tribes:

The prices paid by the Crown for land in New Zealand in the time immediately after the signing of the Treaty, were generally low. The Crown justified the low price on the basis that Maori were expected to benefit from the associated infrastructure and economic development that would follow on from land sales. This relied on those developments occurring while Maori retained enough land to benefit from them. Usually, this did not happen.

Various deeds of sale that included lands previously held in customary title by Maori, included a provision that “ten per cent of the proceeds of the sale of this block of Land by the Queen is to be expended for the benefit of the Natives”. Such benefits for the vendors were to include schools and hospitals. However, no mechanism was proved to distribute the proceeds.

Specifically Ngati Whatua o Kaipara:

The Mahuhu-ki-te-Rangi canoe, the main ancestral canoe of Ngati Whatua, landed on the West coast between Kaipara Harbour and the Hokianga. The four tribes of the wider Ngati Whatua confederation (Te Roroa, Te Uri-o-Hau, Te Taou and Ngati Whatua-o-Orakei) occupied the lands between the Hokianga Harbour and Tamaki (Auckland).

Intertribal wars between 1815 and 1840 were particularly damaging for Ngati Whatua. They had fared well in traditional conflicts before this. The introduction of muskets by European traders and settlers overturned traditional balances. Conflicts were spread more widely and casualties were much greater. In the 1820’s, Ngapuhi, under Hongi Hika, had acquired more muskets than other tribes. They attacked Ngati Whatua, killing and dispersing many of the tribe. As various tribes fled the fury of the muskets, much of the Kaipara and Auckland areas became abandoned wastelands.

A gradual return to their lands occurred. By 1840, the hapu of what is now termed Ngati Whatua o Kaipara, namely: Te Tao U, Ngati Whatua Tuturu, Ngati Rango, the people of Puatahi who are Ngati Hine, and other related groups – all occupied settlements and used resources throughout Kaipara, Mahurangi and Tamaki. With the exception of Ngati Hine, whose presence developed as a result of a tuku (gift) of land following the battle of Te Ika a Ranganui in 1825; these groups had gained rights in land through conquest and strategic intermarriage in the early decades of the eighteenth century.

The relationship between Ngati Whatua and the Crown was founded on the partnership created in 1840 through the signing of the Treaty, and the provision of land at Waitemata as the site for the new nation’s capital. As happened with other tribes; both parties intended the Treaty to create a partnership under Queen Victoria. Ngati Whatua o Kaipara agreed to the establishment of a British system of law and government (kawanatanga), and to give their loyalty, support and assistance to the Crown. They also agreed to make land available for settlement by allowing their land to be subject to “pre-emption”, a Crown monopoly on the purchase of land. The Crown in return, promised it would protect the interests of Maori. Ngati Whatua o Kaipara would receive all the rights and privileges of British subjects. In the Maori text of the Treaty, this also included protection of chiefs’ tino rangatiratanga (self management) over their lands (whenua), villages (pa) and treasures (taonga).

The litany of deception and legalised theft that followed matches the stories of many of New Zealand’s tribes during the later part of the 18th century, and well into the 19th. However, before 1865, the Crown actively fostered its Treaty partnership with Ngati Whatua o Kaipara and worked closely with leading chiefs whose support was required for the Crown to secure the land needed both for settlement and to help fund colonisation. For the tribe, European settlement presented significant opportunities for trade and development. The introduction of English law was welcomed as it was protection from the ravages of intertribal warfare, and also for their legal status in the sale of land. Assurances were given by Crown Officials, ostensibly to promote the interests of Ngati Whatua and Maori generally. In return, the tribe provided resources and protection for the colony, including a substantial amount of land for the new settlement of Auckland. Early governors personally affirmed Ngati Whatua’s status as a loyal and friendly tribe.

However, from 1848 until 1853, Ngati Whatua o Kaipara sold around 56,000 acres of upper Waitemata Harbour land. No reserves were established. From 1854/5 until 1868, the Crown purchased 225,000 acres of land between Riverhead and Oruawharo. Some small reserves were created, but no Maori control ensured, and the Crown itself re-purchased many of them. Ten acres on which the town of Helensville now stands, was gifted by Ngati Whatua o Kaipara in 1864. One acre was set aside for Maori purposes, but despite Ngati Whatua o Kaipara protest, was transferred to the Helensville Town Board. The Crown also breached the terms of the gift with other parts of the block, selling to private parties rather than returning them to the tribe when they were no longer required for public purposes.

Applying to all tribes:

By 1844/5 the Crown waived pre-emption and allowed Maori to sell land directly to settlers. The Crown promised to protect Maori interests in those transactions and to reserve a tenth of all land purchased for schools, hospitals and other benefits. However, these reserves were never established. Nor did it protect Maori interests in land sales. If a Maori told the Commission they had transferred land to a settler, customary title was deemed to have been extinguished. The land then became Crown land and under it’s “surplus lands” policy, the Crown could choose to issue a land grant to the settler or retain the land for itself. In total, approximately 6,000 acres of land were granted to settlers in the upper Waitemata Harbour area and the Crown retained a surplus of around 24,000 acres.

In 1852, the British Government granted New Zealand a new constitution to establish a representative settler Parliament. However, the right to vote was based on holding property under Crown titles and therefore most Maori, did not qualify to vote.

Specifically Ngati Whatua o Kaipara:

In 1860, Ngati Whatua protested at the Kohimaramara Conference against a number of government measures. They asked the Crown for equality with the settlers by allowing for representation in provincial authorities and the General Assembly. They based this request on the Treaty of Waitangi and the loyalty they has shown the Crown since 1840.

In 1867, four Maori seats were established in the General Assembly. Ngati Whatua leaders argued that these would be swamped by the 41 Pakeha representatives and that Maori and Pakeha should be equally represented in government.

By the late 1860’s, Ngati Whatua o Kaipara has sold or been divested of around two-thirds of their land in South Kaipara. They had received little in return. They began a slide towards ill-health that was to continue unimpeded in the years ahead.

In 1862 the Native Land Court was established. The Crown selected Kaipara as the first region for the Court operate in. Ngati Whatua o Kaipara welcomed the Court in 1864 as a means of controlling and managing their lands. What they were soon to learn was that the Court was intended to speed up the alienation of Maori land and to open up lands for settlement. Through individualisation (a foreign concept to Maori) the Crown also sought to detribalise Maori and promote their eventual assimilation into European culture.

However, between 1864 and 1871, title to around 109,000 acres was determined in South Kaipara. Survey costs, court costs and other costs placed significant burden on Ngati Whatua o Kaipara. Individualisation of title had a profound negative effect on the tribe, who held their land collectively. There followed other impediments: no process to manage land collectively; the requirement to award tribal lands to 10 individuals or less; the legal responsibilities of those 10, resulting in debt and further loss of land; rules of succession that made smaller and smaller shares in each generation, rendering the land unusable. There was compulsory acquisition of land in South Kaipara for railways, roading and public services, despite protest from the tribe. By 1900, Ngati Whatua o Kaipara had lost around 90% of their land, retaining only 38,000 acres – much of it sandhills or marginal country, isolated from areas of settlement.

The situation worsened with long-term lease administration by the Tokerau District Maori Land Board. The Crown compulsorily vested large chunks of Ngati Whatua o Kaipara land in the Land Board without consulting the owners. Some of this land included wahi tapu and urupa. Some was land that provided legal access to the West Coast to gather kaimoana. Work in the Woodhill and Riverhead forests sustained the those of the tribe who remained in the area, but in the 1980’s the Crown reformed forestry without consulting Ngati Whatua. By the late 1990’s the tribe were virtually landless and dislocated. The promised collateral services such as education and health and meaningful work were not provided in a timely or accessible fashion.

Despite the failure of successive Crown administrations to honour the Treaty partnership and its reciprocal obligations, Ngati Whatua o Kaipara have steadfastly held on to the principles that underpin this relationship.

And so it can be concluded that despite long histories of relationship with the land, all three tribes have experienced huge setbacks as a result of the coming of the settlers, the signing of the Treaty and the disillusionment that followed. What is foremost in the on-going obligation of the Crown to Iwi is: their respective economic wellbeing, the acknowledgement of their mana whenua, and the moral obligation never to repeat historic duplicitous treatment of the People of the Land. It could be said that the voice of Tangata Whenua regarding the preservation of taonga is still not being heard.

Glossary of Terms:

Ahi kaa Occupation rights
Customary rights Rights to occupy land, rights in relation to the use or stewardship of land or other natural or physical resources, rights of burial, rights to affiliate to a marae of the iwi / hapu that they are descended from.
Ecotone A region of transition between two biological communities
Iwi Tribal group
Hapu Family (usually extended), within tribal group
Kaimoana Food gathered from the sea or sea shore
Kaitiaki The role and responsibilities of kaitiakitanga
Kaitiakitanga Guardianship / stewardship / management – looking after our cultural inheritance and natural resources
Kawanatanga Principle of government
Kingitanga Maori King Movement
Mana whenua status Birthright to belong in an area
Matauranga Maori The unique Maori way of viewing the world, encompassing both traditional knowledge and culture
Mauri Maori spiritual connection to the land and nature
Muri Ritualised plunder for compensation
Pa Maori village
Pakeha New Zealanders who identify with their European ancestry
Papakainga Designated housing area
Rahui Temporary ritual prohibition
Rangatira Chiefs
Rangatiratanga Principle of self management
Rewharewha Epidemic disease
Rohe Region, tribal domain
Tangata Whenua The people of the land (the land which is their birthright)
Taonga Treasures, property, natural or ethereal; something prized
Taua War parties
Te Ao Maori The spirit of things Maori
Te Tiriti o Waitangi The Treaty of Waitangi 1840, subsequently signed by most iwi
Titi Mutton birds
Tikanga Maori customary values and practices
Take Tupuna Ancestral rights
Urupa Burial ground
Wahi tapu Sacred areas, sites and places
Whakapapa Ancestry, the oral recitation of family back through generations
Whenua Land, connection to the land through the umbilical cord


The writers were directed to certain existing documents to guide and inform in the preparation of this Management Plan.

Material from the following documents has been abridged, or used to inform and inspire the content of this Management Plan.
The writers of the original documents are hereby acknowledged:

Ngati Whatua Orakei Iwi Management Plan, 2012

Te Kawerau a Maki and the Trustees of the Te Kawerau Iwi Settlement Trust and the Crown – Deed of Settlement of Historical Claims, 22 February 2014

Ngati Whatua O Kaipara and The Crown – Deed of Settlement of Historical Claims, 9 September 2011

Ngati Manuhiri and the Trustees of the Ngati Manuhiri Settlement Trust and the Crown – Deed of Settlement of Historical Claims, on or around 1 December 2012.

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