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Marae History
Arohanui Ki Te Tangata

te Runanganui o Taranaki Whanui ki te Upoko o te Ika a Maui Inc.



ACCORDING to Maori tradition, Wellington Harbour was discovered over 1000 years ago by Kupe who landed on Pito-one (Petone) beach and found the area uninhabited. He is credited with actually discovering these islands and "cutting them in twain", which is the Maori way of recording his passage through Cook Strait (Moana 0 Raukawa).

Some three centuries later, Wha­tonga, a noted chief from Mahia, sent his two sons Tara and Tautoki on an exploration voyage to seek new living space. They came to the harbour ­ now Wellington at the head of the fish of Maui, found it good, returned to report the discovery and subsequently settled there. It was they who named the harbour Te Whanga-nui-a­Tara (The Great Harbour of Tara). The Hutt River, which was previously known as Te-Awa-kairangi, was named Heretaunga (a mooring place) after their earlier home in Hawke's Bay.

In the interval of centuries between this settlement and European settlement various tribes lived around the harbour at different times. Summarised in succession, they included:­

                Ngai Tara

                Ngati Mamoe

                Ngati Kuia and Ngati Kura

                Ngati Ira

                Ngai Tahu

                Ngati Kahungunu

                Te Ati Awa

Te Ati Awa of Taranaki invaded the area in the early 1800s, a few years before organised European settlement began in the area.

On September 20, 1839, the survey ship Tory entered Wellington Harbour and was met off Matiu (Some's Island) by a large canoe carrying the Te Ati Awa chief, Te Puni and his nephew, Te Wharepouri. According to one authority the Tory was the 12th known European vessel to have entered the harbour. Captain Herd's Rosana had sailed through the heads in May, 1826 and the brig Lord Rodney had anchored in 1835. From another ship that called in 1837 a European settler, Joe Robinson, landed at Waiwhetu and married a girl of the village.

The Tory carried an advance party of representatives of the New Zealand Company including Colonel William Wakefield, Principal Agent of the company and E. Jerningham Wakefield, secretary to the company. Their assignment was to purchase land for settlement.

Negotiations were opened almost immediately. On the 27th of September, seven days after the arrival of the Tory, the deed of purchase was drawn up and signed, the distribution of goods to the value of £365 taking place the following day. Te Puni received the share for Pito-one, Wi Tako that for Pipitea, Taringa-kuri (Te Kaeaea) that for Kaiwharawhara, Te Wharepouri, that for Ngauranga and Puakawa that for Waiwhetu.

Under the agreement, every tenth town acre and every tenth 100 acre block was to be set aside as a Maori reserve.

Some months later, early in 1840. several hundreds of European settlers arrived in Wellington Harbour on the Aurora, followed by the Oriental, the Duke of Roxburgh, the Bengal Merchant, the Adelaide and others.

Tents and huts dotted the sand hummocks at the back of the Pito-one beach. A pioneer era had begun.

It is worthy of note that it was in the Hutt that the first plan for systematised colonisation of any part of the British Empire was carried out.

The size of the white invasion gave the Maori chiefs a shock. Their day was ending. Nevertheless they received the new settlers in friendship.

The ever faithful and loyal Te Puni, much loved by Maori and pakeha, on his death bed yet felt for both peoples. In his dying message -  muri nei kia mau ki aku taonga Maori ki aku taonga pakeha (be kind to my pakeha friends after I have gone, so that we may live in harmony) and in his life he did what he could to see that the spirit of racial friendship lived on after him.

It has endured and grown. It is in that spirit that the meeting-house Arohanui ki te Tangata has been erected.



Inspecting the state housing scheme at Waiwhetu, 1949. Left to right - The Prime Minister, the Rt Hon. Peter Fraser, Mr Ihaia Puketapu, Colonel Charles Bennett, Te Rangihiroa (Sir Peter Buck), Mr Ralph Love, Sir Eruera Tirikatene and Mr M. Rotohiko Jones.

(Photo by Photo News Ltd)                                                                   


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