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Maori & Pakeha on the North Shore, 1840-1926

Ngati Whatua O Orakei and Te Wherowhero's (from 1858 known as King Potatau) Maori Fencibles at Mangere are two relatively well-known Maori communities in nineteenth century Auckland. Further to the northwest, there was also Ngati Whatua O Kaipara. Lesser known is the different Maori kainga on what is now the North Shore. The northern shore of the Waitemata, as with Tamaki-Makau-Rau, was the scene of much inters-tribal conflict. Ngai Tai and Te Kawerau fought many battles with Ngati Whatua, and from the middle of the seventeenth century also with Ngati Paoa from Waiheke and Hauraki. Rahopara at Castor Bay was a Te Kawerau pa. All these tribes linked together to unsuccessfully combat Ngapuhi in September 1821. The Ngai Tai and Te Kawerau remnants then abandoned the district, and victorious Ngapuhi returned to the north leaving the area abandoned.

The Mahurangi Purchase

The Crown's purchase from Maori of land, which included the North Shore, was in fact a series of purchases from 1841 to 1854. This was due to the number of interested parties involved. On 13 April 1841, 22 Maori signed on behalf of the Marutuahu or Hauraki Confederacy. This included Ngati Tamatera, Ngati Whanaunga, Ngati Maru and Ngati Paoa. On 31 May 1841 Patuone of Ngapuhi, whose wife was Ngati Paoa, signed a separate settlement, while on 29 June 1841 Na Tautari and five others began the settlement of Ngati Whatua interests in the area. On 3 January 1842 four other Ngati Whatua chiefs settled. There were further settlements into the early 1850's for particular parcels of land north of the North Shore, and included Te Kawerau, Ngati Whatua, Ngati Paoa and Ngai Tai (specifically Rangitoto).

Te Onewa and Northcote Point

Prior to 1841 Maori knew the Northcote Point area as Te Onewa. The point itself was Totaratahi, or one totara tree, while the small beach to the west was Onepoto. Okawau was the "home of the shag" at the southern most tip of the point and Te Onewa was the name of a fortification ditch, or "divided earth", on the southernmost part of the point. The pa protected local kainga in the vicinity, and inhabitants relied on local shellfish, roots and berries, kumara cultivation and nearby fishing grounds especially shark. Te Kawerau's Maruroa returned to nearby Kauri Point around 1835, while Ngai Tai returned to Te Onewa around the same time. Simultaneously Ngati Whatua also re-asserted control of the Auckland isthmus. Maruroa died in 1840 at Te Onewa and after the Mahurangi Purchase, Pakeha surveyed Te Onewa, or from 1841 Point Rough. The east and southerly parts of the point were divided into Lots 27 to 31. Lot 27 was sold in December 1843, but Lots 28 to 30 were not sold until July 1851. Lot 31, on the point itself, was purchased by the New Zealand Company in 1844, but was sold back to the Crown in 1847. The Callan family lived in the area from at least 1843, in a whare, and may well have come to some arrangement with local Maori until Philip Callan senior bought Lot 30 in July 1851, and Lot 31 in 1856. It could be assumed that Maori moved out of the area following the Mahurangi Purchase from 1841. However, St Patrick's Catholic Church, which served the North Shore until a separate church was built in the early twentieth century, lists six Maori marriages for "Onewa" families from 1846 to 1849. From 1850 to 1862, Maori Catholic marriages with a North Shore connection instead cite the Awataha Mission as their place of residence. There are no Maori Catholic marriages with a North Shore connection from 1863 to 1880. This is not conclusive proof of continued Maori residency at Point Rough, or from 1848 Stokes Point, but indicates at least a connection. In 1908, celebrating its new Borough status, the Northcote Borough Council proclaimed Northcote Point a Domain. Stokes Point had been renamed Northcote from 1880. The visit of the American fleet at the time provided a further sense of occasion, and Maori showed their connection with the site by participating in a presentation ceremony of the New Zealand Ensign to the Council on 8 August 1908, at the point itself. Local Maori had purchased the 15 foot flag and contributed to the cost of the 75 foot high flag-pole. Pataka Hapi of Waikato led Maori in a haka, and has been photographed staring wistfully towards Kauri Point, the other important site for local Maori. A totara tree was planted, and a picket fence installed. Later some Pakeha incorrectly claimed a Maori chief was buried there.

Hellyers or Oruamo Creek

Before the 1820's there were a number of kainga and protective pa in the Greenhithe and Paremoremo areas. As with the rest of the North Shore the Ngapuhi invasion in 1821 led to the area being abandoned. In the 1830's some Maori did return, and prior to the Treaty of Waitangi there were some land sales, mainly by Ngati Whatua, in the Okura, Paremoremo, Lucas and Hellyers or Oruamo Creek areas. Some of these Old Land Claims were disallowed, and that land then included in the Crown's Mahurangi Purchase. On 16 April 1860 a Crown Grant for Lot 173 was issued to Pero Tuwerowero for 126 acres in the area now part of the suburb of Witherford Heights, at the upper reaches of Hellyers or Oruamo Creek. On his death, there followed a succession dispute in 1884 and a confirmation in 1890 that the current owner, Matui Miru, had recently sold the land to Thomas Campbell. Little is known how many Maori actually lived on this site. It was ignored at the 1878 Census of Maori.

North Head, Flagstaff and Devonport

Heteraka Takapuna, the last chief of Ngai Tai, returned to North Head around 1835. He planted a weeping willow tree, originating from Napoleon's St Helena "around the racecourse, where was then a heavy native (Maori) population" (1). The racecourse being the current Waitemata Golf course at Devonport, which is on reclaimed land. The land at Flagstaff was surveyed in the early 1850's, and in 1854 Lot 8 on the northern slopes of Mount Victoria (bounded by present day Allenby, Derby, Albert and Lake Roads) was granted to Ngati Paoa's Te Rangi. This may well have been the site of Riria, Patuone's residence in the area before receiving land near Lake Pupuke. In 1852 land on the North Shore was given to Hakiaha and others, probably Ngati Paoa, for working on the construction of the Albert Barracks, and this may have been what became the 1854 land. Te Rangi sold in 1860. In 1862 50 or so Maori were still living at the "head of a little bay behind North head (which was) the outlet of a swamp that ran well up to Vauxhall Road .. (their meeting house was) where Munn's house stands" (2). They left for the Waikato in that year. This was on the second section to the east between Cambridge and Cheltenham Roads fronting King Edward Parade. In late 1864 land between those streets was taken "as a reserve for primary education .. (and in 1885 became a) recreation ground" (3).

The Patuone kainga

This is probably the best known Maori settlement on the North Shore. Eruera Maihi Patuone had been granted around 110 acres of Crown Land, Lots 29 to 32 at Waiwharariki (present day Takapuna), on 13 July 1852, effectively to control the northern borders of Auckland for the Crown. This land included three Lots fronting Takapuna Beach from The Strand to Hauraki Road and the Esmonde Road area. From 1866 onwards there was a complicated series of land sales, leases and mortgages raised on his diminishing properties. Patuone died in 1872, and ownership passed to Timoti, an atawhai. In 1878 there were still 19 Ngapuhi and Ngati Hao living in the Esmonde Road area. Timoti died in 1896 and the remaining Esmonde Road land was subdivided for Pakeha settlement from 1910 onwards. Unlike Awataha the Anglican Church ministered to these Maori.

The Awataha Catholic Mission and St Mary's College

In 1844 the New Zealand Company purchased a large part of what is now Northcote, when the Crown first auctioned it. In 1847 the New Zealand Company was wound up and was able to sell that land back to the Crown. In 1848 40 acres was instead purchased by the Catholic Church, with Government assistance, and a two storied stone building erected soon after to house St Mary's College. An additional 376 acres 2 roods and 2 perches of adjacent former New Zealand Company land was granted to the Church on 19 August 1850 "for the education of children of our subjects of both races and of children of other poor and destitute persons (by setting) apart certain pieces or parcels of land in the immediate neighbourhood thereof and for the use and towards the support and maintenance of the same" (4). Later, there were additional land purchases and a donation of land in the St Joseph's and Barrys Point areas. In 1851 the newly opened school included 20 Maori boys, with 17 in 1852. They had come from the Hokianga, the Bay of Islands and the Bay of Plenty to be educated. In 1853 and 1854 all tuition took place instead at Freemans Bay, with the land at Awataha given over solely to farming. The wives and daughters of those working at St Mary's were also educated at Freemans Bay. In 1855 20 Maori were educated at St Mary's, but in 1856 the school site again reverted to farming. In the early 1860's it was used as a school once more and in 1867 it was officially known as St Mary's College and Industrial School, with between 10 and 17 Maori pupils. Schooling ceased sometime after that and in 1893 the Sisters of Mercy moved on to the site to set up an orphanage. Marriage and death registers illustrate Maori residence at the Awataha Mission. Karawhira, aged around 45, was buried at "Takapuna" on 9 October 1855, according to St Patrick's Church Register. At that time the only Takapuna was Takapuna Head at Narrow Neck, and Maori knew Takapuna as Waiwharariki. In 1856 a party of Ngati Whakaue "crossed over to Awataha to see and weep over the grave of their deceased clanswoman" (5). She appears to be the first Catholic Maori buried at Awataha There were at least two other burials in "St Mary's burial ground on the college Glebe" (6). Pipirini, a sixteen year old from Rotorua, likely also Te Arawa, was buried 6 August 1862, while Ho Hira Tepuketawiro, aged between 45 and 50 from Manaia, likely Hauraki, was buried 19 August 1862. Two other burials in 1863 and 1865 were at the "North Shore Cemetery". This is now called the Pompallier cemetery and is at the top of Pupuke Road. The Catholic section of Mount Victoria cemetery in Devonport had no burials until at least 1869. After the 1856 gunpowder incident on Kawau, when a large amount of gunpowder was stolen, Te Tawera and his Hauraki people sought refuge at Awataha and from 1856 to 1858 there were "about 120 (Maori) living on the Glebe of the college" (7). Some were still there in March 1863, when their teacher William Coveney confirmed most of his pupils were from Manaia, and had converted to Catholicism. Note that Hira Tepuketawiro was from Manaia. On 9 July 1863 Maori in the vicinity of Auckland were put under a curfew, and those in Mangere and surrounding areas were ordered to swear an oath of allegiance to the Queen and hand in any weapons, or depart for the Waikato. On 11 July there was a curfew introduced on Maori vessels on the Waitemata and Manukau harbours outside the hours of daylight. Consequently all but 6 out of 500 in the Mangere area left and around 50 left the Devonport area. Some at Awataha may have also left, but others remained. From 1863 to the 1880's there were six different Pakeha lessors of different parts of the property. In 1869, at least, the remaining 55 to 60 acres were leased to Maori at 10 Pounds per annum (8). There is no mention of Maori here at the 1878 Census, but George Graham claimed Maori were at Awataha from at least 1882 (9). After the death of Te Hemera Tauhia in October 1891, and the sale of his lands at Puhoi in 1893, some of his Hauraki followers were allowed by the Church to reside at Awataha. This was a time of great distress for Hauraki generally. Between 1885 and 1912 they lost 235,000 acres of land, and the remaining 171,000 acres suffered from poor soil, mountainous terrain or was flood prone. In 1903 Aterea Petera and 80 others pressed for more and petitioned the government complaining "that the trusts in connection with certain lands in the Waitemata Parish, Auckland, vested in the Bishop of the Roman Catholic Church, are not being carried out, and they pray for investigation with a view to having the land used for the benefit of the Maoris (sic)" (10). This impressed the Native Affairs Committee sufficiently to recommend a further enquiry in 1904. In 1908, it was claimed that Maori were living in that area now known as The Warehouse Way, and were farming on the area from the current corner of Lake Road and Tonar Street, up Tonar and along College Road. In 1911 there were 69 men, women and children living in the area (11). Some were important kaumatua and kuia, mainly Hauraki, who were buried in the Awataha urupa at least until the early 1920's. This included Noka Hukanui and his wife Waiti Noka (12). By September 1914 two separate groups had emerged. In that month Nanaoka (Noka) Tukamui and Patariki Wiripo Mo Paki made a joint plea for assistance to Bishop Cleary. Cleary, however, was engaged in promoting Empowering Bills in Parliament allowing the Church to properly lease, and from 1924 sell Catholic land. He regarded this as the only way the purposes of the original grant could be fulfilled. On 31 March 1916 a lessor of Catholic land, Harry Hopper Adams, charged Rawiri Pahuta and Wirepa Heteraka with trespass. Maori claimed Awataha was an ancestral site, and that the Mahurangi Purchase hadn't specifically included Awataha. They also claimed a moral title to the land as long-term residents. Maori had earlier paid rent for the land. In 1919 and 1920 negotiations continued, with offers to the separate groups of life tenancies elsewhere on the Catholic endowment. An ejection notice in late 1919 was held over to allow Maori to harvest their strawberry crop, but in October 1920 "shanties were torn down" and those remaining reverted to "tents" (13). In that same year a second petition to Parliament was made by Eruera Patariki (also known as Patrick and a son of Paki) and others concerning the main urupa site on the point at Awataha. There eventually was an agreement dated 14 March 1921, but not carried out until around September 1921, when Noka's group of over twenty people left the lagoon area, for a lifetime lease of just over nine acres between Ocean View and Raleigh Roads. Noka's relatives, the Ngahuripoke family (Anglicised to Peters), lived there until the 1950's. From 7 April 1924, another group of Maori, the Patricks but without the mother, were given a lifetime lease of 1.75 acres of Catholic land at Barrys Point, just down from the current Foodtown supermarket on the eastern side. Chinese strawberry growers were moved off the site and money made available for housing the Patricks. What remained of Paki's group stayed at Awataha on the "point of land where the old cemetery is located" (14). Eruera Patrick had already agreed that remains in a smaller cemetery, containing influenza victims, be reburied in that larger cemetery. Part of his agreement was that the urupa be "cut off and reserved" (15). From late 1924 there were successive threats of legal injunctions to force the remaining group to leave the area. In 1925 Wiha Rawiri Puhuta and 76 others repeated their claim, in a third parliamentary petition, that "the land they now occupy known as Awataha in Takapuna, Auckland, was never included in the sale to the Crown of the Mahurangi Block, and therefore the Crown Grant issued to the Roman Catholic Bishop in 1850 was invalid" (16). Parliament recommended no action, and passed a further enabling Act to assist the Catholic Church to sell some of the land. The lease income was insufficient and land sales were deemed necessary to finance St Peter's College or Hato Petera, which opened in 1928. The end of the "trespassing" was between July and September 1925. On 23 March 1925 eight people were arrested. Paki personally agreed in July not to further "trespass", and left for Thames. In early September, Takapuna Police executed an eviction order, and remaining shacks were pulled down. Tents were erected as before, but on 30 September an interim injunction forced a final agreement to depart. One of the removed, Manea Parata, made a claim to the government for hardship, but was instead offered government employment. Waipaia Makateau was still pursuing the matter with politicians into the 1930's. By the time of the 1926 Census there were 16 Maori living in the whole of Northcote Borough, in 4 households. While 6 were Catholic, 10 were Anglican. In adjoining Takapuna Borough 31 Maori lived in 6 separate households. Again there was a wide denominational variety, with near equal numbers of Anglicans, Catholics, Ratana, Ringatu and Mormons. Elsewhere on the North Shore, Birkenhead Borough had just 4 Maori in 1 household, while populous Devonport Borough had 27 Maori in 5 households. Awataha remained empty until 1942 when the remains in the urupa were disinterred to make way for a fuel oil storage depot for the United States Navy. Both Ngati Paoa and Tainui, but possibly not Te Arawa, were asked to remove their graves in secret because of wartime considerations. Some may have been re-interred in the Pompallier cemetery. Hone Tuwhare describes the removal of one grave in his "Burial" (17). The site was then significantly altered with 200,000 cubic yards excavated, and 60 feet diameter concrete foundations laid for 25 fuel oil tanks. Further construction was cancelled in early 1943. From the late 1950's part of the site was taken for northern exit lanes from the Auckland Harbour Bridge, and still later the remainder became residential housing, commercial development and educational facilities. There is now the Awataha marae at the Auckland University of Technology North Shore campus.


Maori Pakeha relations on the North Shore between 1840 and 1926 were a microcosm of events generally in New Zealand. There was short-term benefit to local Maori from land sales, leases and mortgages, but in the long-term very valuable land was sold. The Waikato wars in the 1860's had local repercussions with the 1863 curfews and demands on local Maori to declare where they stood. The Catholic Church offered Christianity, education and sanctuary, as elsewhere, and eventually lifetime leases to Maori residents at Awataha. This followed a long dispute over land rights. Many other parts of New Zealand have similar stories. - David Verran


1. Waitemata Post, 15 September 1910, page 3 column 5. 2. Walsh, Tom. An illustrated story of Devonport and the old North Shore ... (1924), page 15. 3. Auckland Provincial Council Gazette 1864 page 350 and New Zealand Gazette 1885 page 164. 4. Crown Grant, 19 August 1850. 5. Maori Messenger, Volume 2, Number 1, January 1856, page 14. The 1 September 1860 issue (pages 6 and 20) claims a link between Patuone and Awataha. Te Koromiko of 14 August 1882 (page 2) describes a meeting at Awataha promoting Maori cultivation of tobacco. In fact strawberry farming was more lucrative. 6. St Patrick's Burial Register, RD 1 - 1. The database at Catholic Archives has the fullest details. 7. St Mary's College. Financial Returns 1850 - 1858. There are none surviving after this date. 8. Appendices to the Journals of the House of Representatives (AJHR), 1869, A5. Details the 1863 - 1869 leases. A letter from Bishop Lenihan to George Graham of 10 December 1902 echoes the notion of a rental relationship (Catholic archives, LEN 30 – 4). 9. National Archives, MA 1 1925/197, letter 19 November 1930. However the ‘Report on the Maori Mission by Rev. Fr. Patterson, New Zealand 1885’ reports no Maori at Takapuna (Catholic Archives, Mill Hill 22/6/2000). 10. Petition to Parliament 475/1903, AJHR, 1904 I 3, page 8. Unfortunately both the Petition itself and Native Affairs Select Committee records for 1904 no longer exist (National Archives, 29 May 2002). 11. National Archives, MA 1 1925/197, letter 6 September 1911. 12. Auckland Star 31 March 1922 and 14 November 1921. 13. National Archives, MA 1 1925/197, letter 20 October 1920. 14. Catholic Archives, Cleary Papers, 98 2,3 - letter of 13 April 1920. References to Awataha are scattered through these files. 15. National Archives, MA 1 1925/197, letter 11 April 1924. 16. Petition to Parliament 126/1925, AJHR, I 3, page 10, lists all signatories, most appear to be Hauraki. Also LE 1 1925/12 and especially MA 1, 1925/197 at National Archives, Wellington. 17. Hunt, Janet. Hone Tuwhare; a biography(2000), page 55, and F.G. Grattan The Official war history of the Public Works Department (1948), Volume 3, pages 691 -692.

Selected bibliography

Documents relating to the Maori history of Northcote ... compiled by Fran McGowan (1993). Many documents lack references. Graham, George Samuel, "History of Kauri Point", Northcote Athenaeum Meteor, 4 November 1910, page 6. This was republished in the Auckland Waikato Historical Journal, April 2000, pages 39-40. Graham, George Samuel, "History of Onewa (Northcote Point)", Northcote Athenaeum Meteor, 13 November 1908, pages 6-7. Hauraki Maori Land Trust Board. The Hauraki Treaty Claims, Volume 6, The Crown, the Treaty and the Hauraki Tribes 1880 - 1980 (1997). The Mercy Sisters and St Josephs Takapuna, 1893 - 1993 (1993). Monin, Pau. This is my land, Hauraki contested 1769 - 1875 (2001). Northcote Borough Council. Northcote's past, as related by elderly residents ... (1983?). Includes resident’s recollections of local Maori. "Northcote Flagstaff", Northcote Athenaeum Meteor, 13 November 1908, page 5. Rigby, Barry. The Crown, Maori and Mahurangi 1840 - 1881 ... (1998). Simmons, David. Maori Auckland. (1987). Simmons, E.R In Cruce Salus; a history of the Diocese of Auckland 1848 - 1980 (1982). Stone, R.C.J. From Tamaki-Makau-Rau to Auckland (2001). Verran, David. "Building communities on the North Shore: Part One: The Lake Highways Board, 1866 - 1888", Auckland Waikato Historical Journal, October / November 2000, Number 76, pages 10-17. Page 15 discusses the Patuone kainga in more depth. Verran, David. "Maori and Pakeha settlement on the North Shore, 1790 to 1860", Auckland Waikato Historical Journal, April 2000, Number 75, pages 33-38. Page 33 discusses the pre-1840 period in more depth. Walsh, Tom. An illustrated story of Devonport and the old North Shore ... (1924). Walsh also consulted local historians George Samuel Graham and Allan O'Neill. I have researched at Archives New Zealand, Auckland, especially records of the Auckland Magistrates and Supreme Courts, at Archives New Zealand, Wellington, especially records of the Native Affairs Department, at the North Shore City Council Archives and at Catholic Archives in Auckland, especially the Cleary Papers. The latter includes clippings from the "Auckland Star", some of which are not represented in the microfilmed Final Edition. I have also consulted Maori Land Court Minute Books and Maori Newspapers online.


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