The Land of Tara and they who settled it, by Elsdon Best
Part VI. pp. 105-121. Maori Occupation of Wellington district. Notes on some Archaeological remains, contributed by H. N. McLeod.
Note : the sites have been rearranged in alphabetical order.
Return to Introduction, including map of placenames.
Burnham Water. Rotokura or Pārā Lagoon. Drained by the late J. C. Crawford in 1847-49 by means of a tunnel piercing the ridge, thus allowing the lagoon waters to flow into Evans Bay. On the northern border of this lagoon a greenstone adze was found, and other stone adzes at Rima Street and Ira Street East, also the tusk of some sea creature at Park Road. At the junction of Devonshire Road and Princes Street a rib bone 15 inches long was found 20 feet below the surface. Evidences of old occupation were noted at George Street and May Street, and some other places; also on the hill top at Old Farm Road and Kings Road, and the cave at its base. Our early settlers found patches of bush in this gullies at the northern end of the lagoon, and those clumps of bush were occasionally frequented by pigeons and kākā.
Day's Bay. On the ridge to the north may be seen the remains of a fortified position, as evidenced by levelled hut sites, an earthwork defence, and butts of totara posts.
Evan's Bay shores. On a fair slope above the steep bluff about ten chains north of the U.S.S. Coy. Laundry are some fairly distinct narrow terraced formations that are probably old hut sites.
On the ridge extending downward from Mt. Victoria to Te Akau-tangi, the bluff above the lower end of Wellington Road, signs of occupation were visible in several places. One of these was the knoll above Arawa Road, another east of Rata Road ; others on the spurs on each side of the gully near Kilbirnie Reserve. The bluff immediately overlooking the Reserve showed until lately a number of small artificial terrace formations, hut sites of the men of yore. In the sixties could be seen signs of old time occupation above high-water mark on the shores of the little bay, now reclaimed, extending from the tram waiting shed southward. Hut sites also appear to be traceable on Te Ranga-a-Hiwi, at Aka-tarewa, and on the spur running down toward the hospital.
On an old plan of Port Nicholson district, issued by the N.Z. Company, the words "coal has been found here" adorns the foreshore at Wellington Road. That coal has not been rediscovered yet.
The small stream from Moxham Avenue that runs into Evans Bay near Wellington Road is marked Good Water on Captain Herd's chart of 1826. A stone adze was found here.
Haewai or Haughton Bay. Here we see that no suitable sites were available near the beach, but signs of occupation were formerly observed by the streamlet at the head of the bay. On the hills above, however, a number of old hut sites are still in evidence. On the western slope of the ridge that separates Lyall Bay from Haughton Bay, near the point known as Te Rae-kaihau, are a number of small terraces on a small spur offshoot above Haughton Bay. On the steep slopes on the western side of the bay similar sites are seen. In all cases these terraced hut sites would be wider when occupied than they are now, owing to several causes.
Island Bay. Prior to European settlement traces of native occupation were discernible all round the bay, on the flat and the hills on both sides; it appears to have been a favoured place of residence. A number of stone implements have been found here, some of which are in Mr. Beckett's collection. Old ovens and midden refuse of shell, bone and stone, including human bones have also been seen in the past. Small terraced hut sites are seen at Uruhau, the high hill on the eastern side of the flat, on the hillock above Liffey Street, and on the central one ; at Milne Terrace and on the hill at High Street. The terraced knoll above Cliff House may have been surrounded by a stockade. The island also retains impressions of man's handiwork, both on the central butte or hillock, and below it, where the piled up stones possibly surrounded huts with sunken floors. On the eastern side of the Tawatawa range, further north, a spur jutting out from Vogeltown may also have been occupied. Part of a broken patu (a short stone weapon) found on the island is probably a relic of some old time fight.
Kaiwharawhara. Signs of occupation were seen here in past years, apart from the Ngati-Awa hamlet occupied when the first European settlers arrived. These last native dwellers here had potato gardens on the range above the village.
Kakariki in Worser Bay. The small flat-topped spur point here has been a fortified hamlet in the past, as shown by levelled top, terraced sides and fosse whereby it was cut off from the ridge. Hard by were found two human skeletons, also a very fine stone weapon (patu) of the mere type, which is preserved in the Board Room of the Wellington Harbour Board. On the north side many scattered and broken human bones have been found.
The famed fortified village of Te Whetu-kairangi is said to have been situated about the site of the State School on the ridge above the Bay. At the base of the bluff, near the spring Te Puna a Tara, or Te Puno a Tinirau, have been seen signs of old-time occupation.
Across Seatoun Heights Road from the School is a knoll which carries marks of human occupation, as also does the spur south of it.
Karaka Bay or Te Karaka. Here over a considerable area are signs of occupation ; evidently this was a favoured place of residence. Large quantities of shell and oven stones on and below the surface, and a number of implements of the neolithic Maori have been recovered here, such as stone adzes and chisels, bone combs and tattooing implements. Here also was found a fine piece of greenstone 5 1/4 lbs. in weight, in a partially ground condition; apparently it was intended to fashion a mere therefrom.
At the entrance to a cave near the wharf were found human bones and a stone chisel. At the point just south of Karaka Bay and north of Worser Bay, which Rangiwhaia Te Puni maintained is the true location of the name Taipakupaku, terraced hut sites are seen on the ridge. Hare also a human skeleton was disinterred, by the side of which a stone adze was found. See "Transactions of the New Zealand Institute," Vol. XXXII., p. 271. Other human remains have been found here, as also some stone adzes, bone needles and other objects. South of the point eight human skeletons were unearthed during some excavation work.
Karori Stream. At the mouth of this stream a village has stood in the past, and signs of occupation are seen in other places in the vicinity. A considerable amount of village debris is still observable, and a number of old implements have been found here. The Opuawe hamlet, far up stream, was occupied in European times, as shown by the peach trees growing there many years ago.
Kau-whakaarawaru is said to have been a village in Kau Bay, immediately east of Point Halswell. Shell middens show that the place has been occupied.
Lowry Bay. The headlands or hills to north and south show signs of occupation, while old ovens have been seen on the flat near the beach. A shell midden of the talus type is seen by the side of the road as one proceeds to Waiwhetu.
Lyall Bay. The name of Hue-te-para assigned by Crawford to the foreshore and sandy beach is not recognised by any Ngati-Awa or Wairarapa natives who were questioned twenty-five years ago, nor is the name Tapu-te-rangi known to them. Some interesting middens were formerly in evidence on the isthmus, and one still exists about ten chains south of Rongotai Terrace. On the eastern side portions of charred moa bones and pieces of egg-shell have been found a few chains from the beach. Moa and human bones have been found on the sands in past years. Mr. W. Capper has found numerous implements, a carved piece of whale's bone, twelve inches long, at the foot of Moa Hill, as the headland hill above Hua-te-taka is sometimes called; also a moa skull and toe bones near the quarry, moa bones and shell fragments at Māranui and the east side gullies, as also some stone adzes, one of which is greenstone. Most of these objects went to England. Mr Bourke found a piece of carved wood, probably belonging to a canoe on the isthmus. Mr. A. Hamilton found a well-worked piece of greenstone, moa egg-shell fragments, and jaw bones of tuatara near the site of Māranui School. Sand cut stones of curiously symmetrical form have been found in numbers on the isthmus, and the raised beaches of this area are an interesting feature of the place. Many stone knives of flake form have been found in common greywacke, a few flint specimens, and some obsidian knives.
Maupuia. This old stockaded village, already mentioned, covered about two acres at and near the deep cutting through the above ridge. About a dozen butts of the old totara posts of the stockade have been found in late years; in the forties they were plainly visible. One dug up in 1906 was 4 1/2 feet in girth, and is now in the Newtown Museum. Two stone adzes were found here, one of which vvas of greenstone; also a grinding stone, with human and other remains. Food storage pits were also in evidence. On the border of Burnham Water, below Maupuia, the skull of a moa was found.
The Rongotai ridge was occupied long generations ago by the Ngati-Hinepare clan. The famous Nepia Pohuhu, of Wairarapa, a man learned in the ancient lore of his people, was a member of this clan. Further along this ridge, toward Mt. Crawford, several places show signs of native occupation. Shell middens were formerly visible at Shelly Bay, and at several other places at the base of the ridge.
Miramar Bay. The little cove just below the old Crawford homestead. Here, on the slope above high-water mark, as also on the northern extremity of Rabbit Hill, which thrusts Shag Point out into Evans Bay, are, or were, shell middens, ovens and hut sites showing that this was a favoured place of residence in olden days. In the hollow on Bridge Street was the Miramar Lagoon, on which a pleasure boat was kept for some years. In its former bed were found two stone adzes, and also human remains. Excavations along Bridge Street have clearly shown that, at some time in the past, Rabbit Hill, over which Tirangi Road passes, was an island.
Nga Uranga. Years ago signs of occupation were seen on the hill whereon the fort is situated, above the former position of the Wharepouri cenotaph.
Ohau. The shores of the bay carry signs of much occupation in the form of middens, ovens, etc. The tableland of Te Rama-a-paku has also been occupied.
Orongo-orongo. Remains of native occupation in former times are to he seen at this place, and a number of stone adzes have been found here. One seen by the writer was nine inches long and three wide.
Oruaiti. Fort Dorset now occupies the site of Oruaiti pa, one of the old stockaded villages of past centuries. Prior to being interfered with the ridges showed many levelled hut sites, sufficient to accommodate about fifty huts. A number of water-worn boulders scattered about were probably used as blocks on which to pound fern root, and for other purposes. Butts of posts, one of which is in the Newtown Museum, were found here, as also stone flakes and other tokens of former occupation. Some information concerning this place, and other matters pertaining to Hataitai are contained in the works of Jas. Mackay and Canon. Stack. At one time Oruaiti is said to have been occupied by the Rangitane folk.
Oterongo. Here many signs of occupation are still seen on the shores of the bay and on the banks of the stream. A number of implements have been found here. At other places on the coast small middens betoken native occupation.
Owhariu Bay. On the point at the western side of the bay is a well preserved pa, name unknown. The earthwork defences of wall and ditch across the base of the point were in good preservation 25 years ago, and are still in fair condition. Butts of stockade posts were seen hare, and shell refuse is in evidence all round the bay, where a number of places have been occupied in past times. Signs of occupation have also been noted above the beach south of the bay, towards Te lka-a-Maru.
Owhiro. This has been another much favoured place of residence, and two middens were in evidence until lately. Here a number of stone implements have been found, including the smallest and most interesting greenstone graver known. As late as 1915 a number of interesting relics have been found here, many stone knives and flakes bearing the mark of percussion, worked bones, and an autoru or ochre muller, etc. A village site, with its debris is on the hill on the eastern side of the Owhiro road, with its midden below. On the western side a talus midden shows that the spur above was occupied. The flat on the western side of the road, north of the bridge, has probably been cultivated, as food storage pits are, or were, in evidence near the creek.
Paewhenua. In the bay below the Signal Station signs of occupation have been noted in the form of shell heaps and human remains. The tooth of a sperm whale, partly cut through, and half a stone mere, bored by marine creatures, were found on the beach. At one time a considerable number of karaka trees grew along this coast, but many have disappeared and others are dying, as at Te Rimurapa. The finest tree of this species in the district in the sixties was that which stood at Nga Uranga.
The raised beaches along this coast line are plainly discernible, and form an interesting study. The pieces of flint found on the beach in this vicinity have apparently been brought hither in late times in some unknown manner, otherwise flint flakes would assuredly be much more numerous at places formerly occupied by natives.
Palmer Head. This point is on the eastern side of the gulch of Tarakena, and the high bluff-browed hill shows a number of hut sites, now much eroded, but still recognisable. On the eastern side of the extremity of the spur is a ditch-like depression that may be an old entrance way from the beach below. If this place was ever defended by stockades, then the lines of defence would include the first knoll on the ridge so as to take advantage of the depression or saddle just beyond it. Hut sites also seem to be in evidence further up the spur. Up the gully from Tarakena runs an old road made in early days to give access to the Pilot Station.
Proceeding along the beach westward of Tarakena we come to the stone quarry, near which some moa bones were found below the road level.
On the crest of the hill at Hua-te-taka, the eastern headland of Lyall Bay, have been found many fragments of moa egg shell, as also on the sandy area on the lower levels. Old ovens have been seen on the summit of the headland, which is pretty sure to have been occupied in former times, for it is just such a position as appealed to the neolithic Maori. Erosion and drift sands have, however, concealed all evidence of such occupation, save the umu of oven. Ini the first, second, and third gullies east of this hill a number of interesting finds have been made, including shell middens, implements, human, whale and tuatara bones, with fragments of moa egg-shell, and probably the gizzard stones of that creature. Large whale bones have been seen as much us 140 feet above high-water mark on the sandy slope of the second gully; others on the sand between the two first gullies. When exposed these bones soon crumbled away. Further on toward the Golf Links, at the base of Green Spur, the long spur trending down from the Orongo Ridge, are tokens of former occupation in the form of ordinary village refuse, stone and shell.
Pencarrow Head Indistinct traces of native occupation have been noted on the hill near the lighthouse.
Point Arthur. Sign of old time occupation seen here.
Point Halswell. A number of hut sites, represented by small terraced formations, have been located on the spur extending upward front this point. Indistinct remains are, or were, seen at what is thought to be the site of the old time stockaded village of Mataki-kaipoinga. A few chains westward of this place, on a jutting spur north of Shelly Bay are a number of hut sites; old ovens are also in evidence.
Owing perhaps to the rocky nature of the ground we see nowhere in this district any considerable terrace formations such as are seen in many other places. No long continuous terraces are here seen, but merely linchets of small area, often only large enough to accommodate one or two huts ; occasionally one may be seen fifty feet in length ; few are longer.
Point Jerningham. Omaru-kai-kuru. The tokens of former occupation seen here were hut sites and a shell midden. Of the former some traces still remain.
Rona Bay. In this and adjacent bays a number of stone implements have been found.
Rongotai. The ridge extending from the block cutting near Miramar wharf southward. At several places along this ridge shell middens and levelled hut sites tell of former occupation (see map). At the southernmost knoll ovens and human remains were found in addition to shell middens and luit sites. The next knoll northward also shows signs of occupation, while between the two knolls is a singularly level area, which may have been occupied, or may have served as a plaza, or a cultivation ground. The site of the old Crawford homestead is also said to have shown signs of former occupation.
Seatoun. On this sandy flat, and near the hill numbers of old implements have been found, some of which are in the local Christie Collection in Newtown Museum. Among the discoveries may be cited adzes, stone flake knives, fish-hooks, pendants, needles or awls, spear points, bone toggles, a fine moa bone ripi paua, cloak pins, as also a cut human jaw bone, other human bones, and moa bones. Several implements were found in a deep rock cleft. There has been much native occupation of this flat in past times.
On the highest part of the ridge above the flat, as also half-way up, hut sites have been noted, as also on the spur terminating at Ira Street and Broadway junction. Above Church Street are terracings. At the quarry, below the Church Street level, a cave was opened up which at some time in the past had been both accessible and occupied. Herein was found the biggest collection of moa bones found on the peninsula, with bones of other birds and of seals, as also human bones. The moa bones are preserved by the Miramar Borough Council.
A number of middens were formerly in evidence on Seatoun Flat. Remains of human skeletons, scattered skulls, etc., have been found here, also a fine greenstone ear pendant. Old native ovens were seen on the slope near the tunnel, and on the ridge above are signs of occupation for some distance in the form of terracings and small levelled areas, evidently hut sites. Other such traces are seen on the hill west of the signal stations. It is now impossible to tell which of these occupied places were open settlements, and which were defended by stockades, save that some of the places occupied on fairly steep slopes could not have been defensible positions.
Sinclair Head. On the eastern side of the point a midden was formerly visible, though now obliterated by debris from the hillside. On the hill above the point are much weathered hut sites.
Tarakena. The three points which form the southern portion of the peninsula bear marks of former occupation. The termination of the eastern spur shows a considerable number of terraced hut sites, much weathered. The western spur is but little marked; the middle one bears the plainest group of hut sites to be seen in the neighbourhood. Butts at stockade posts, shells and oven stones are seen here. In the mouth of the gully below, the original Pilot Station is the best preserved midden of the district. Here many implements have been found by Mr. H. M. Christie, the writer, and other seekers, such as stone adzes, chisels, pounders and grinding stones, stone cutters, flake knives, bone spear points, also pendants, and carving implements and fish hooks, with teeth and bones of dogs, birds and fish. Mr. Green here found a fine greenstone chisel, and also a curious carving in soapstone, the design being that of a human figure reclining on the back of some creature, presumably a whale. Students of Maori myths will recognise the meaning of the design. A somewhat similar figure is said to have been found in the South Island.
The following remarks on the site of the old pa on the full on the western side of this little bay are from one who made a close examination of it:- This is the best preserved of the old pas of Miramar. The upper part of the position, overlooking the beach, has been scarped; on the northern slope a part of the scarp, about five to six feet in height, is still extant, also another piece on the eastern slope; the other two sides being precipitous. There are six small residential sites, artificial terraces, at the upper part of the position, and seven more on the eastern slope to the bluff head, the largest of which is about 19 yards long and 3 to 4 yards wide. The remains of the scarp on the northern, side still shows signs of having had a ditch or small fosse at its base. The terraces of the upper part would accommodate about twelve small huts. At the western extremity ot the pa summit, above a small saddle is the spur, the butt of a half decayed totara post, 10 inches in diameter, is still in position. It may be one of the original stockade posts. Another near the bluff head is probably modern, of the Pilot Station days. It is probable that the folk who lived hard by the midden in the mouth of the gulch below, were the inhabitants of this pa, which served as a refuge when enemies appeared.
Te Ika a Maru. This place shows the only old fortified position in the district which is entirely surrounded by earthwork defences, which consist of rampart and fosse. On the central spur facing the bay this position measures some 80 yards. The fosse still shows a depth of 4 1/2 feet, and the rampart a height of 4 feet, though erosion has played sad havoc. Pits, some post holes, and waterworn boulders are the only other tokens of former occupation. On the hill to the west of the station homestead other signs of native occupation are seen.
Te Mahanga. Talus middens are in evidence here, shell and oven refuse. Small terraced hut sites were at one time visible on the hills above, where, in excavating operations for the modern fort, the butts of some totara posts are said to have been unearthed. In the waters below a taniwha or water monster is said to have abode in days yore.
Between Te Mahanga and Te Karaka or Karaka Bay is the place we call Scorching Bay, where many signs of native occupation have been seen, including such refuse of bones of man, fish and birds, including moa bones, together with shells and oven stones. On the slopes above terraced sites were noted, as also on the crest of the ridge between Crawford and Fortification Roads. Hard by a grinding stone was found.
Te Ranga-a-Hiwi. We have soon that this is the Maori name of the range extending from Pt Jerningham to the coast between Lyall and Island Bays, and on which are the three peaks known as Mt. Victoria, Mt. Alfred and Mt. Albert. Some traces of former occupation on this range we have already noted ; a few more remain to be mentioned. On the slope north-east of Newtown Park, and on a spur above Māranui School, such signs are seen. On Queens Drive, south-east of the school, a village has existed in the past. Along the old beach levels at the hill bases in Lyall, Haughton and Island Bays have been seen old ovens and other tokens of native occupation. On the spur above the Corporation stone quarry, western side of Lyall Bay, a number of small terraced hut sites formerly existed, but many have been destroyed. A stockaded village has undoubtedly existed on this hill, as shown by the remains of a defensive trench at the upper end of the spur, where it juts out from the hillside. It is a similar position to the one on the bluff north of Days Hay.
Thorndon. We have already seen that a number of small Ngati-Awa hamlets were settled along bluff and beach from Pa-kuao to Kumutoto, but apparently this part was not much occupied in pre-Ngati-Avva days. A few signs of occupation were seen by early settlers, but some of these might be the result of Ngati-Awa occupation.
Waiariki. This place was occupied for some time after the arrival of Europeans. The small hill by the stream side was possibly defended by a stockade in pre-Ngati-Awa times.
Waikomaru pa. 'This small position showed, as late as 1911, post butts, hut sites and shell refuse. The hamlet must have been a very small one.
York Bay. Signs of native occupation on hill and beach have been here seen.
With the exception of the little Ngati-Awa hamlet in a clearing at Opuawe, it will be seen that all the native settlements were on or near the coast. With the exception of the Miramar Peninsula, the Ranga-a-Hiwi ridge, and a smaller area at Te Aro, the whole of the main peninsula was forest covered in the old Maori days. Most of the native settlements were on the outer coast line either just above high-water mark or on the hills overlooking the beach. There was little occupation of the western side of the Wellington Harbour, apparently, in pre-Ngati-Awa days, but more on the eastern side, and as far as Hutt River. This manner of occupation would be owing largely to the fact that a great part of the food supplies of the people must have been obtained from the ocean. This district can never have supported any large population, such as did the fertile lands of Taranaki, Turanga, Whakatane, the Auckland isthmus, Taiamai, Oruru, and some other areas. It was not a suitable place for tha cultivation of tha sweet potato, which could never have been an important part of the food supply. A certain quantity of food stuffs, principally birds, would be obtained from the forest, but the procuring of these supplies necessitated nothing more than temporary camps in the bush ; there were no permanent hamlets within the forest. The aim of the people was to preserve the forest, not to destroy it.
In the Dominion Musenm are preserved some old native implements found in this district, including the following objects : -
Stone adze found in (old) Government House grounds.
Stone adze found on site of the museum.
Stone adze found at Pipitea.
Stone weapon (patu onewa) found at Island Bay.
Stone adze found at Lowry Bay.
Stone flake implements from Miramar and Owhiro.
Stone hammers from Owhiro.
Shell trumpet (Septa rubicundum) from Somes Island.
Bone fish-hooks, barbs, shell teeth (pendants). Miramar.
Stone fibre beater from Pauatahanui
Stone adzes, etc, from Titahi.
In the local collection made by Mr. H. M. Christie, and now in the Newtown Museum, are some interesting relics of neolithic times, including stone adzes, chisels, sinkers, and borers or drill points, also flakes of flint, obsidian, &c.; bone fish-hooks, barbs, awls, needles, spear points, cloak pins, &c. Human hones and shell teeth (the latter used as pendants) are also included. The piece of obsidian marked ' tomahawk ' can never have been employed as such a tool, however. The rude hand-made iron axes or adzes are a very interesting relic of early European trade, as also are the locks of flintlock muskets.
Mr. Beckett's collection of old artifacts found in this district is probably the best ever made in this area.
In any examination of the sites of native settlements in the vicinity of Wellington, the observer is impressed by two facts, the very few signs of hamlets having been fortified, and the situation of a number in places that could not possibly have been defended. The evidence before us seems to show that the people of this district were never so much harassed by the raiders as were those of many other places. One of the principal causes would be that occupants of this area were, in most cases, nearly related to those of the Wairarapa district, hence most of their quarrels were with Muaupoko of the Otaki district, and other tribes to the north of them. Hamlets situated in the mouths of narrow gullies, such as existed at Tarakena, or on slopes such as Owhiro, would be indefensible, yet the middens at such places call for prolonged occupation. Doubtless the men of yore lived much of their time at such places, as they also did at Porirua, but, on the approach of enemies, retired to stockaded positions, or took refuge in the forest. Presumably stockade defences were employed owing to the rocky nature of the land which, in most places suitable for hill forts, did not lend itself to the formation of ramparts and fosses by means of wooden implements, hence the uninteresting aspect of old village sites here in comparison with those of other districts. The positions where even a single line of earthwork defence was employed, are but few, and consist of one at Days Bay, one each at Kakariki, Tarakena, Waitaha and Owhariu, while Te Ika-a-Maru is the best specimen.
It is interesting to note that Cook, who anchored off Palmer Head, makes no remark as to seeing any native pa or open village, as he seems to have done whenever he saw any. If either the hills at Tarakena had then been occupied at that time he could not fail to have seen the huts and stockades.
The story of the settlement of this district, as preserved by native historians and given above, is one of much interest. In no other case have we gained so clear a description of the settlement of a district, and the definite statement made as to Miramar being at that time an island much enhance the interest of the narrative. The details of construction of stockade defences and of the manipulation of weapons, as explained by Whatonga, are the most illuminating notes on those subjects ever collected, and the various illustrations given of old customs and beliefs throw considerable light on the mode of life of the Maori.
Like all Maori narratives, however, the story has certain unsatisfactory aspects and inconsistencies. If we accept all statements made in the above story we must believe that about six generations of the Toi family were alive and flourishing at one and the same time. This is a common weakness of native traditions. As to Whatonga being still alive when the "Takitimu" canoe arrived on these shores; this cannot be accepted. Again we scarcely believe that, prior to the death of Tara, the band of 200 immigrants had so increased in numbers as to occupy five fortified villages, and be able to raise so formidable a body of fighting men. This leads to other matters of questionable aspect, for the Muaupoko tribe is said in tradition, to have originated a long time after the time of Tara. Perhaps the most interesting question of all is this one of early inhabitants of these southern parts of the island. During the exploration and settlement of the district there is no word of any people occupying the more southern parts of the island, including the Napier district, yet our party under Tara and Tautoki deem it necessary to construct fortified villages, and prepare to defend them. Against whom were these local villages so fortified ? Any enemies to be feared in the time of Whatonga must have been of the Mouriuri or Maioriori aborigines, and there is no evidence to show that these folks occupied any area in the southern part of the island. They occupied Taranaki, we are told, and the Mamoe clan of that people settled in the Napier district apparently after the arrival of Toi on these shores.
There is another point of much interest that may be alluded to and that is the fact that we have collected no tradition as to the first Maori settlers having seen the moa in this district. Remains of those creatures have been found at both Wellington and Porirua, and in some cases such discoveries seemed to show that the moa had formed part of the food supply of residents of this district at some time in the past. For instance bones and fragments of egg-shell have been found near old ovens. Mr. Chapman found moa bones at Paremata said to show marks of some cutting instrument. Mr. Beckett found a bone near Sinclair Head bearing similar marks. At the same time these nicked bones are no actual proof of Maori knowledge of the great bird in this district. The marks may possibly been made in late times, or at least long since the birds disappeared. Certain old settlers have remarked that moa bones were seen on hills and in gullies west of Owhiro in former years, when the bush was burned off, but that they soon disappeared. After the destruction of the forest on steep slopes the surface began to fritter away, and the creeks to remove great amounts of debris. The late Mr. Travers found a moa leg bone on a hill above the Hutt Road, beyond Nga Uranga. Other bones have been found at Miramar, Porirua, Pae-kakariki and Wairarapa.
A vast amount of nonsense has been written concerning the hapless moa. It has been accused of strolling about Gollan's Valley in 1842, and thereby annoying certain veracious sawyers. See " Transactions of New Zealand Institute," Vol. XXVI. ; a paper by H. C. Field. A still worse case was that in which a stalwart moa, 16 feet high, so far forgot its proper place as to perambulate the Rangitikei district in 1870. When a journal of this nature publishes such childish fables, it is time for modest folk to retire.
We are told in native tradition that, when the party of Toi reached the Bay of Plenty, the moa was seen inland of Maketu, and, after much trouble, one was trapped by Rua-kapanga, hence the saying, " Te Manu nui a Rua-kapanga" (The great bird of Rua-kapanga.) Thus we might well expect to hear that others were seen in this district when Whatonga and his sons arrived here, more especially as we are led to believe that this district was uninhabited at that time. But local tradition, so far as it has been preserved, is silent as to the lost bird. The old men who have passed away may have known something about it, and we must remember that the traditions that have been recorded are but a very small part of what was known when Europeans first arrived here.
Early Vessels to Port Nicholson.
Native tradition speaks of two vessels as having entered this harbour early in last century, of which we appear to have no record. In 1878 Karauria Pahura stated that, prior to the time when Ngati-Ira were ejected from these lands, a whale ship entered the harbour and anchored off Te Korokoro, where a native village existed In those days, the principal house of which was called Te Putawaro-rangi. The vessel lay there for at least several days and took in water and fuel, and the captain gave the natives two spotted pigs. He cohabited with a native woman named Raumata-nui, whom he wished to take away with him, but to this the people objected. This incident is mentioned in song. The vessel had come from a place called Tiakitene (Jackson), hence a child born at Te Korokoro about that time was named Tiakitene. "In after days we learned that Poihakene (Port Jackson) was the proper name of that place."
Native tradition also mentions a ship, commanded by one Rongotute, that is said to have been wrecked at Pallisar Bay prior to the Puhi incursion described above, i.e., prior to 1820.
Te Whaiti, of Whātārangi, in Palliser Bay, states that a vessel was wrecked in that Bay early in the last century, and that he has a bell obtained from the wreck. This bell carries an inscription which, he has been told, is in French.
Local natives of Ngati-Awa told the writer many years ago that Amuketi, the name by which Capt. Kent, an early coastal trader, was known to the Maori, entered Port Nicholson in early days, a considerable time before European settlers arrived here. We have already noted a place at Seatoun named after him. This seafarer entered Hokianga in 1820, was wrecked near Ruapuke, Foveaux Strait, in 1824, and took Earle and Shand to Hokianga in 1827.
I regretted much that we did not hear of this ship while we were in the Sound, as, by means of Omai (Cook's Tahitian interpreter), we might have had full and correct information about her from eye witnesses. For Taweiharooa's account was only from what he had been told, and therefore liable to many mistakes. I have not the least doubt, however, that his testimony may so far be depended upon as to induce us to believe that a ship really had been at Teerawitte prior to my arrival in the Endeavour, as it corresponds with what I had formerly heard. For in the latter end of 1773, the second time I visited New Zealand, during my late voyage, when we were continually making enquiries about the Adventure, after our separation, some of the natives informed us of a ship, having been in a port on the coast of Teerawitte. But, at the time, we thought we must have misunderstood them, and took no notice of the intelligence. . . . Taweiharooa told us their country was indebted to her people for the present of an animal, which they left behind them, but as he had not seen it himself no sort of judgment could be formed, from his description, of what kind it was."
If this native story contained any truth, the pre-Cook ship must have laid in Port Nicholson, Porirua, or under Kapiti; she would find shelter at no other place. The N.W. coast of Tarawhiti would seem to imply one of the latter places!
Years ago the remains of an old wreck were uncovered at Lyall's Bay. In the " Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute" for 1892 occurs the following paragraph pertaining to the meeting of October 26th : - " The chairman drew attention to some pieces of pottery and copper nails, etc., found by Mr. Capper at Lyall's Bay, near the wreck. The pottery was carbonaceous, and it was generally thought that the nails were of French make."
Subsequent to the visit of Capt. Herd in 1826, the next vessel to enter the harbour, whose visit we are sure of, was the schooner " Joseph Weller " of Sydney, in 1835.
The Coming of the White Man.
When European settlers arrived here in 1839-40, they were well received by the natives, and very little trouble arose between the two peoples, when we consider the many causes for friction that inevitably arise when two races so dissimilar in customs, beliefs, prejudices and modes of thought are commingled. The Rangatahi clan, that gave some trouble at the Hutt, was not of Ngati-Awa, though related to Ngati-Tama.
The cause of this attitude on the part of the local natives lay in their position at the time. Many of their fighting men were away at the Chathams, their Kahungunu neighbours eastward were hostile, and Ngati-Toa of Porirua were but doubtful friends; hence the Children of Awa were situated between the devil and the deep sea. That is why they welcomed the advent of an alien people, who not only proposed to settle here, but also brought with them many highly desirable products; muskets, tomahawks, blankets, etc., not to speak of jews harps, sealing wax and red nightcaps I
When Te Rangi-haeata sought allies among the Kahungunu clans to assist in sacking Wellington and wiping out the pakeha, the answer he received was: - "If the white men are expelled, where am I to obtain red blankets ? " (Kei hea he tahurangi mohu.)
In a speech made by Tamati Waku Nene at the Kohimarama Conference in 1860, he said to the assembled natives: - " E nga tangata o Whanganui, o Wairarapa, o Poneke, o Ahuriri! kia atawhai koutou ki te pakeha. Ki te kino koutou, maku e ki atu ki a koutou - e kore taku wahine e matau ki te whatu kakahu, koia ahau i mea ai ma te pakeha e whatu he kahahu moku." (O people of Whanganui, of Wairarapa, of Wellington, of Napier, be kind to the Europeans. Should you treat them badly, let me say to you - my wife does not know how to weave garments, hence I have decided that Europeans shall weave garments for me.)
And now we must say farewell to the Land of Tara and they who settled it. The bones of the old pioneers of these lands have long since mouldered into dust, the few descendants of the old neolithic ocean rovers dwell in the vale of Wairarapa, beyond the rugged ranges of the red sun. That sun shines as of yore upon the restless waters of the Great Harbour of Tara, but not upon the homes of the Sons of Tara, the offspring of Toi, who dared the pathless wastes of Hine-moana. For their picturesque stockadsd villages have passed away forever, the fair green forests they loved have been torn from the breast of the old Earth Mother, whilst the riven and tortured land supports an alien and intrusive folk. The descendants of Tara, the explorer, and of Ira, the Heart Eater, are unknown in the land, their culture of the stone adze has passed away for all time, nought remains of long centuries of neolithic occupation save grass grown village sites and middens, a few rude implements and place names.
In the days that lie behind, the Maori had traversed the great waterways of the Pacific, and made known many lands and far scattered islets. He explored the rolling realm of Tahora-nui-atea, the far spread plaza of Hine-moana, the playground of the Wind Children, who come forth from the four quarters to gambol in the vast open spaces of the Ocean Maid. In his primitive outrigger he had sighted all the isles of the sunlit sea, and made his landfall under alien stars ; he had tied far spread lands together with the wake of his carvel-built craft, and carried his ancient tongue from Hawaii to Aotearoa, from Rapanui to the Carolines. He traversed his rolling water-ways with fine skill and sublime confidence to reach these lands of the far south and spent long centuries in settling them. He brought with him his rude neolithic arts as the first wave of human culture, and practised them after the manner of his kind and according to his lights. As to what plane he may have attained we know not, for the advent of Europeans called a halt in his progress and shattered the stone age fabric of many centuries. The gulf that yawned before him, traversed by us in doubt and ignorance and much suffering for countless years, was too wide for him to cross in the span of a man's life. The fleeting years leave him of the stone adze stranded on the shores of the river of progress; across the hurrying waters we greet the last camp fires of the Maori pioneers.
Of all the scenes familiar to the men of yore in the Land of Tara nought remains unchanged save the contour of the great hills and the rippling waters of the Great Harbour of Tara. No more are seen the hamlets that girt the Red Lake round, the cultivations that fringed the Awa a Taia, the paddling of many canoes to the fishing grounds. No longer are the fortresses of Motu-kairangi crowded with fierce fighting men as of old, ready, at the sign of the signal fires on the Ranga-a-Hiwi, to grasp spear and club in defence of their homes. Never again shall the chieftain's war canoe swing across the waters of Tawhiti-nui, and never more shall the hills of the Land of Tara re-echo the roaring chorus of the war song.
And the Children of Awa, where are they ? Of a verity are their numbers few in the land. Of all those stalwart, war-seasoned migrants who welcomed our fathers, none are left. Anon you may see a brown skinned descendant on your streets, a lone figure from the age of the neolithic, a descendant of the sea kings who ranged a great ocean when our forbears were hugging coastlines, a lone figure gazed at curiously by passers by. He is not of us, nor of our time; in the words of a survivor of the days of the levelled spear - " Me te mea he wairua tangata e haere ana" - Like a human spirit moving abroad !
Wherefore have we rescued from oblivion these few fragments of the long past history of the Land of Tara, even that the few survivors from that past may say: -
" And from their scholars let us learn
Our own forgotten lore."