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Maori settlement at Piha

Posted by SCe Comments Off on Maori settlement at Piha

Te Kawerau a Maki are the iwi or Maori tribe of the West Coast. The main Te Kawerau settlements were on the coast and large areas were cleared of forest to grow crops and so that settlements could be better defended.

There were a number of Kawerau pa (fortified village) sites on the headlands in the Piha area. Lion Rock was the site of Whakaari pa, and Te Wahangu was on the headland at the north end of the beach.The main pa was Maungaroa on the ridge above the lagoon and there was a fourth pa on the headland halfway along North Piha beach calle Otokitoki.

The hill to the south of The Gap was traditionally used by Kawerau a Maki fishing parties and there are midden sites, terraces, pits, and rock and cave shelters all over Piha. The large number of sites indicate that Piha was, at different times, home to large numbers of Maori.

A few years ago, the skeleton of a young woman appeared out of the sand dunes. She had been buried sitting and it was estimated this occured in about 1600. She was reinterred in a private place.

Although there are a number of reports of Maori occupation of Piha from the 1870s until the 1890s, this seems to have come to an end around the turn of the century. The final settlement was in the Wekatahi Stream valley where a hapu had gardens which they traded with Pakeha settlers. This explains the name Garden Road – it was originally called Maori Garden Road – for the road that runs from the Wekatahi to the Piha Village.

Today, Te Kawerau a Maki descendants regard themselves as holding ‘mana whenua’ or ‘traditional ownership’ of their Waitakere domains. They still own Taitomo Island (Camel Rock). Lion Rock is now owned by the Crown. Waitakere City Council has recently provided land at Te Henga for Te Kawerau to build a marae. This was the final West Coast settlement of Te Kawerau who today have a papakainga at Makaurau Marae at Ihumatoa at Mangere.

Categories: Maori, Uncategorized

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