Lore and history of the South Island Maori
Wairewa and Waihora
Wairewa and Waihora
Wairewa is the Maori name of Lake Forsyth, the sheet of water four miles long by three-quarters of a mile wide, skirting the main Christchurch-Akaroa Road at the south-west corner of Banks Peninsula. The meaning of the name is "water lifted up". Waihora is the larger companion lake lying to the south of Wairewa popularly known as Lake Ellesmere. This lake is fifteen miles long and at its widest part about ten miles across. Waihora, translated means "water spread out". According to Maori legend both lakes were formed by Rakaihautu with his famous ko (digging spade). Rakaihautu brought to New Zealand an aboriginal people named the Waitaha by a canoe named Uruao about 850 A.D. This Waitaha Tribe were of a different stock from the folk also called Waitaha who came to the South Island by the Takitimu Canoe under Tamatea several hundred years later.
Both lakes teem with eels, fish and bird life, a plentiful food supply for the several tribes which in turn have dwelt along the shores. The lakes are separated from the sea only by narrow shingle spits, and the inhabitants of the district have from time immemorial let the waters out to prevent undue flooding of the surrounding country.
Wairewa is the name given to the Native Reserve (No. 857) at Little River of which 440 acres were set aside in December 1856, according to the terms of the purchase of the Akaroa Block by J. W. Hamilton, Native Commissioner. The population on September 30th, 1857, was 36 all of whom belonged to the Ngai Tahu Tribe and of its hapus, Ngai-te-Irakehu and Ngati Mako. In 1861, there were 51 Maoris of the Ngai Tahu and 7 natives of other tribes dwelling at Wairewa.
The Ngai Tahu Tribe first became aware of the suitability of the environs of Wairewa and Waihora as places of habitation, through the glowing reports brought to Marlborough by the explorers Kaiapu and Te Makino, who had travelled as far south as Foveaux Strait. The inhabitants of Wairewa during the Kai huanga Feud took sides with Te Maiharanui in the attack on Taumutu, (which latter settlement aided by reinforcements from Otakou obtained satisfaction on Wairewa at the fight called Kai-whare-atua).page 81
Wairewa again suffered in an attack by southerners, when three canoes of fugitives were overtaken on Lake Wairewa and slaughtered. The inroads of Te Rauparaha and his Ngati Toa and Ngati Awa followers to the South Island caused the Ngai Tahu Tribe to cease fighting among themselves. The decimation of the warriors, and the lingering jealousies contributed largely to the successes Te Rauparaha achieved in Canterbury.
The Wairewa Native Reserve commences at the ridge called Waipawa, thence to Oweka, then to the hill Karawera and on to Hukahukaroa. The original grant was issued in the names of Heremaia Mautai, Henare Te Paro, Tamati Tikao, Rawini Te Ito, Raniera Kurawaka, Tamati Waka, Hoani Porohe, Hoani Te Ruru, Henare Tawha, Te Kaha Wharepuni. Mr W. L. Buller of the Native Department visited Wairewa in March 1860, and was highly pleased with the influence Tamati Tikao was exercising upon his people, the hygienic conditions at the pa, and the spreading of secular and religious education.
From 1860 to 1863 he maintained a boarding school for Maori children at his own expense. He was created a Native Assessor by Governor Gore-Browne, and immediately drew up laws and enforced them in every part of his district. Tamati Tikao died at Wainui on September 29th, 1885.
The Maori Church (Anglican) at Wairewa Pa was opened on January 19th, 1870, by the Rev. J. W. Stack before a large assemblage of both races. The building was erected by Noah Walters and consisted principally of totara timber, the glass stained windows being the work of Mr Wilson of Christchurch. Irai Tihau was the leader of the movement for a church
On May 24th, 1877, the pupils of the Wairewa Native School by means of a concert raised funds which were used in the embellishment of the interior of the native church. One of the last public religious acts of Bishop Harper was the holding of a confirmation service for over 16 candidates on March 19th, 1890. Bishop Harper was assisted by the Revs. J. W. Stack and G. P. Mutu together with Haimona Tuonga the Maori lay-reader.
Bishop Grimes, R.C. Bishop of Christchurch, visited Wairewa Pa on October 27th, 1888, and on April 2nd, 1889, assisted by Rev. Melu, he converted to the Roman Catholic faith a large number of the Wairewa Maoris, including the aged chief Paurini. It was decidedly noticeable, at the Maori Camp held at the Akaroa Centennial Camp in 1940, that the Roman Catholic clergy alone fraternised with the Maoris, irrespective of what communion they belonged to. The best of the land which is at all arable on the Wairewa Native Reserve, is unfortunately often damaged by floods, as in page 82February 1868, when a severe flood completely destroyed the extensive potato crops.
On January 10th, 1872, maize, wheat and standing crops were swept away by fire. The Maoris also lost their greatest asset, the Wairewa Bush, mostly totara, of which each tree was worth £1 to £3, by fire shortly afterwards. On December 18th, 1877, Mr J. W. Hamilton, always a staunch friend of the Maori people, called public attention to the fact that the losses the natives suffered were in the main caused by European carelessness, and advocated the appointment of a Government officer to protect them.
In 1865, William White, with the approval of the Little River Road Board and Provincial Government, endeavoured to obtain timber from an overall width road line, the Maoris appealed to J. W. Hamilton, native commissioner for justice, as the pakeha action was contrary to terms of the sale of the Native Land, which allowed the timber to the Maoris, and only a certain acreage for roads. The General Government authorised the native commissioner to take the matter to the Supreme Court, and the local authorities promptly came to terms. Compensation was paid over to Heremaia Mautau, Irai Tihau, Tamati Tikao, Tera Maitua and Eruera Irikapua.
The correct extent of roading had been surveyed in 1863 by H. J. Cridland under orders from T. Cass, Chief Surveyor of Canterbury. Mr Cass on July 6th, 1864, expressed the opinion that the river should have been exclusively reserved for the Maoris.
On May 16th, 1863, Mr J. W. Hamilton, Native Commissioner, wrote the following to His Honour, the Superintendant.of Canterbury: "I trust that I may obtain Your Honour's sympathy for the aboriginal owners of the land. I think a sense of shame if not a feeling of fair play ought to induce the Europeans to do something substantial and real for this section of their fellow subjects."
On August 4th, 1878, George Robinson of the Wairewa runanga called the attention of the local authorities and the Central Board of Health to the fact that owing to an impure water supply, and unsanitary housing at the pa, fever was rife, and that 19 Maoris had died and 11 were in a precarious condition and requiring medical attention. On July 29th, 1903, Mr Parata brought forward the need of a pure water supply for Wairewa Pa, on the grounds that available water was not fit for human consumption.
On December 22nd, 1918, the housing and water supply was condemmed by the authorities, and Doctor Chesson was requested to plan improvements. Doctor Burnett and others, during December 1936, pressed for housing and water at page 83Wairewa Pa. On December 14th, 1937, the Health Department reported on Walker's Creek, and other sources for a pure water supply to the Wairewa County Council. The Wairewa County Council at its meeting held on September 13th, 1943, reported that the Government through its Native Department had deferred the matter of a pure water supply, even though the County Council and the Wairewa Maoris had agreed to contribute towards the cost of such necessary work. Many deaths since 1878 can be laid to the lack of healthy conditions.
On October 23rd, 1919, Hoani Te Hau Pere and other Banks Peninsula natives petitioned Parliament to have Lake Wairewa (Forsyth) gazetted a Maori fishing reserve. The Europeans of Little River cast longing eyes on that portion of the Wairewa Native Reserve opposite the railway station for a Recreation Park. The Maoris however sent their chief, George Robinson per the S.S. Arahura to Wellington on August 25th, 1905, and he laid objection before the Government.
The Christchurch Workers' Educational Association visited Wairewa on January 5th, 1922 and were welcomed by the Maoris at the runanga hall. On November 8th, 1923, the War Memorial at Little River was unveiled by Lord Jellicoe and hymns were sung in Maori by Miss Mere Tini, Mrs Mary Kipa, Mrs Mary Tupa and Mrs Rahu Whaitiri. The Wairewa Maoris welcomed Governor Lord Bledisloe on November 6th, 1933.
On May 10th, 1935, the Maoris of Wairewa planted trees to commemorate the King's Jubilee. Under the guidance of H. Kini, a bonfire was lit on Springvale Hill in the evening, speeches being made by J. Roberts and T. Robinson, while hakas and poi dances were presented later.
A new Runanga Hall was opened on Thursday, April 16th, 1885, by the Hon. H. K. Taiaroa, M.L.C.; Honi Topi Patuki and T. Parata assisted. The present hall, opened about thirty years ago by R. Paurini, is named Mako (Mango) after the founder of the settlement, and the kitchen bears the name of his wife Ropuake.
On the conquest of Banks Peninsula by the Ngai Tahu Tribe from the Ngati Mamoe, Mako selected the site of his principal abode at the head of Lake Wairewa on R.S. 1784 near 4804, at the junction of the Okuti and Te Oka Roads. Kuaiti near Kinloch used to possess a tapu tree which had the faculty of disappearing from the vision of an unwelcome visitor. The name denotes this fact. The tree used to be on section 1109, but like the rest of the native flora has passed for ever.
Near the runanga hall stands a monument to Tangatahara, the Banks Peninsula warrior who was present at the old pa of Kaiapohia near Woodend, North Canterbury in 1829, when page 84the Ngai Tahu Tribe forestalled the treachery of the visiting Te Rauparaha by slaying eight of his leading chiefs. Te Pehi, his greatest, fell to the blow of Tangatahara. The monument stands as a contrast to the vainglorious memorial to Te Rauparaha at Otaki.
Tangatahara in his early manhood went a-wooing, but the lady he set his heart on would not countenance him at any price and dubbed him "ugly face". Hence his name Tangatahara, who was the commander of the Banks Peninsula Ngai Tahu Maoris that made a stand against Te Rauparaha's forces at Onawe.
When Onawe was invested by the northerners, Tangatahara noticed that the two main sections of the invaders Ngati Awa and Ngati Toa occupied different camps; he made a sortie on Ngati Awa, but his move was observed by the watchful Ngati Toa, who went to the aid of their allies. During the retreat of the Ngai Tahu back on Onawe, some of the northerners in the disorder (assisted by the lingering jealousies occasioned by the relation feud among the prisoners taken by Te Rauparaha at Kaiapohia) also effected an entrance. What bloodshed! Some 600 Ngati Tahu were either slain or captured. Tangatahara was captured, and fell to the custody of Te Hiko, the son of Te Pehi, whom Tangatahara had killed at Kaiapohia.
When the northerners were camped at Okaruru (Gough's Bay) the Ngati Toa folk demanded the life of Tangatahara, but Te Hiko stoutly refused, Te Hiko, the Ngati Awa chief, actuated either by a generous admiration of his captive or a strong dislike to his Ngati Toa allies, assisted Tangatahara to escape and go with other fugitives to Moeraki in North Otago.
Tangatahara retrieved his honour and took part in the Ngai Tahu expeditions organised in Otago to go north to Marlborough in 1833 and 1834 which thoroughly defeated Te Rauparaha's warriors. Indeed on one occasion had not Matata's dog barked, raising an alarm, Te Rauparaha might have found his way into a Ngai Tahu oven.
When Te Puoho sought Te Rauparaha's advice on carrying warfare down into Otago via Westland the wily old fox did his best to dissuade him. Te Rauparaha had escaped his Ngai Tahu foes only by under water swimming, his personal reward as he said being "a belly full of salt water". Te Puoho, as was to be expected, met his fate at Tuturau near Mataura at the close of 1836. The fighting honours remained with the Ngai Tahu Tribe.
Tangatahara settled for a time at Akaroa, but revisited Moeraki in 1840. He came back to Banks Peninsula where he died on December 13th, 1847. He was interred at Otu Reinga, the old burial place at Wainui. The memorial at page 85Little River was unveiled by the Hon. H. K. Taiaroa on March 22nd, 1900. Five hundred persons were present at the function, including many Ngai Tahu chiefs of rank. The Rev. Blathwayt also took part in the proceedings. A glorious feast was provided, all served in true Maori fashion under the guidance of George Robinson, then head of the Wairewa runanga.
The late Robert Gilbert who passed away on April 27th, 1944, aged 96 years, was a nephew of Tangatahara by the sister Te Marino, Gilbert senior being a whaler at Hempleman's Peraki station.
The Wairewa Native School was closed down in December 1943, Miss Young being its last teacher. One cannot but regret the passing of a school with a noble record. On February 8th, 1873, the Rev. J. W. Stack, the pioneer of organised native education in Canterbury approached the committee of the pakeha school at Little River to allow Maori children to attend the school. The committee did not agree entirely with the proposal, and resolved that an evening school be held in building at Wairewa Pa on three evenings of the week, and decided to lend their schoolmaster. Such was the humble beginning of the Wairewa Native School.
In 1875, the Rev. J. W. Stack helped by the untiring support of Eli Tihau and Tamati Tikao, secured a building at the pa, and the new day school was duly opened with a roll of 16 pupils, and H. J. Reeves from the Tuahiwi Native School as its first schoolmaster. Eli Tihau was the first chairman of the school committee.
On March 6th, 1877, the school was transferred to a building specially built by a Mr Grigg, and 26 Maori pupils faced Mr J. P. Restell, the schools inspector of the Canterbury Provincial Government. In his examination report, he speaks highly of the intelligence of the Maori children, and especially of their aptitude for geography. At the prize-giving function more than 300 residents of the Little River district were present, and addresses were given by the Revs. J. W. Stack, Te Koti te Rato, G. P. Mutu and Mr H. Buchanan of Kinloch. spoke.
As descendants of the scholars of 1877 are still living in the district, it may be of interest to give the prize list. Here is the list of recipients; Te Hira Mutu, Amelia Christie, Queenie Tawhio, Margaret Tini, Miriam Ruruwaku, Mary Nutira, Pipi Horotipu, C. Irihau, Mary Tawha, J. Nutira, Harawera Korotipu, John Pohio, Pinohi Korotipu.
Captain Curling, the next master of Wairewa School, came from the native school at the Wairau. Captain Curling was succeeded by Mr and Mrs Maloney, who had been teachers at the Onuku native school. During the nineties Mr and Mr F. A. Green were teachers, succeeded in 1902 by page 86Mr and Mrs H. R. Hamilton, in 1904 Mr and Mrs J. H. Thompson, in 1905 Mr Hastings, in 1906 Mr and Mrs Jennings and in 1907 Mr and Mrs J. Munro.
Since the Education Board took over the native schools in North Canterbury from the Education Department in 1908, Wairewa has, in common with others, had many teachers. Perhaps the most outstanding have been Mr and Mrs Freeman, who possessed that rare gift of understanding the Maori character. During their control, for years the Wairewa School won the Rock Peak Challenge Cup for art and sewing work, leaving the 16 European schools on Banks Peninsula far behind.
In the field of sport the Maori school has not been far behind the pakeha school at Little River. For example, it nearly secured "the ashes" at a cricket match held on October 18th, 1896. Having viewed work done at the Wairewa School, the writer feels the words of a former Minister of Education to be worth repeating: "It has given me great pleasure to obtain samples of work done in native schools, which in some respects, excel that done in some of the primary schools of Europeans."
The difference between Maori and pakeha naming of rivers is clearly shown in the Wairewa or Little River district nomenclature. Kakerikawai is the name of the Little River close to Lake Wairewa (Forsyth) below the confluence of the Okuti valley stream. One and a half miles up from this junction, the main stream (Okana) divides into the Western Valley stream (Huka huka tu roa) and the Eastern Valley stream (Opuaho.) At Puaha the Eastern Valley stream divides into the Te Puha (Eastern) and Hikuika (Western) creeks.
The outlet of Lake Forsyth at the head of the Ninety Mile beach is much frequented by the Wairewa Maoris in the eeling season. Hundred of eels can then be seen hanging under cover on stages. This locality is historically interesting for the isolated rock called Poutaiki alongside section 3,730 is an old Maori burial place named Wairenapa. There Te Rangi Tauhuka a Tane, a brother to Ropuake who was wife to Mako is buried. The lines of Oruaka pa can be seen west of Prices's homestead, and nearby is the spring alongside of which Taununu was slain by Kaiwhata and Kaurehe during the Eat Relation Feud. A cave east of the spot is Te Ana Koko, named after a North Island warrior slain there by Tuhawaiki.
On the south side of the lake stood the pa Mata hapuka visited by Edward Shortland on January 29th, 1844, when Tukupani was its chief. He was succeeded by Matenga Te Rapa whose descendants still live at Wairewa. Nguti piri and Otukakau are other old time pas in the locality. The isolated knob alongside the sharp ridge (Maro kura nui) is known to page 87Europeans as the Devil's Elbow and near Birdlings Flat railway station is Maro kura iti, a very ancient and tapu burial place.
The very high hill west of Little River railway station is Upoko a Tahumata (Tahumata's Head); the Europeans simply call it Bare Hill. It is the site of a one time hill pa, with Otekata and Okaua place names on its shoulders. Waipuna Springs at the head of Western Valley were the traditional possession of Te Rangi whakaputa of the Ngai Tahu Tribe.
Mount Sinclair which overlooks Eastern Valley is Terawera. Nga Mokaikai is the Barrys Bay Saddle at Hill Top, Kapurua a Whakatohe is the spring alongside the Main Road just before entering Little River, and is named after a chief who lived there with his two wives. Tahu ahi is the Rora Tawha Estate, Oweka the hill near Barclay's Estate. Te Pamakahi is part of the Waipuna Saddle and Wharau nui and Wharau iti small bays on the western side of Lake Forsyth.
The Kaitorete or Ellesmere Spit separates Lake Waihora (Ellesmere) from the sea. The Maoris fought hard for its possession before Judge Fenton's Land Court in 1868, and subsequently J. W. Hamilton, a Native Land Purchase officer on June 3rd, 1866 remarked:—'"From all the Maoris have told me, and so far as I can understand them I doubt if ever the Kaitorete Spit was ceded by them."
Perhaps the failure of the Maori claim lay in the admission made in Judge Fenton's report in 1868:—"Whatever the demands of the natives, the Court was completely bound by the evidence of the Crown witnesses."
On the Kaitorete Spit, fighting took place during the Eat Relation Feud. On it the great Te Maiharanui of the Ngai Tahu showed cowardice and was forced to go forward and fight by his comrade Whakatuka. Guns were first used by the Ngai Tahu during this intertribal feud. Halfway down the Spit is Otuweruweru, the site of a former small habitation.
Kaikanohi, a point down the Spit on the lake nearer to Taumutu, is so named because a chief caught his wife in adultery there, gouged out her eyes and swallowed them. Kua o whiti is where Harts Creek enters Lake Waihora; Waiwhio the Irwell; Waikerikeri the Selwyn; Ararira the mouth of the Lake and Heketara the outlet of the Halswell. Waikakahi Pa is situated at the Bluegums at Wascoes near Birdlings Flat. There Tutekawa, a Ngai Tahu chief, took up his abode after the slaying of Tuahuriri's wives, (Hinekaitaki and Tuaruwhati) at Wellington. He was looked up by Moki one of Tuahuriri's sons and slain by Whakuku.
Tutekawa was then an old man, and his son Te Rangi tamau dwelt at Taumutu at the outlet of Lake Waihora. Te Rangi tamau went to Waikakahi, and by night entered the page 88pa, and succeeded in placing his mat on the sleeping Moki. As a result of having spared the life of Moki, the latter pledged peace with Te Rangi tamau. The citadel of Waikakahi named Te Puia is still clearly visible on the point separating the Waikoko and Prices Valleys a few chains from the Main Akaroa Road, and near Mr E. A. Birdling's homestead.
Sites of old kaingas can be seen on all the hill spurs from Birdlings Flat to Gebbies Pass; showing that the waters of Lake Waihora (Ellesmere) abounded with food for the Maori people.
Lake Waihora and its Maori Associations have been dealt with more fully by the writer in a publication under that heading. Of Te Rangi tamau's pa at Taumutu no traces remain, as it was washed away by the sea and the overflow waters of the Lake. However the pas erected by Te Ruahikihiki and Moki II can still be easily discerned. The former encloses the Wesley Church and cemetery at Taumutu, and bears the name Orariki. Moki II Pa is near the Taumutu runanga hall. In 1840 there were twelve native dwellings at Taumutu and Rewa Koruarua was the principal man.
In January 1844, Bishop Selwyn preached to 40 Taumutu Maoris. On October 7th, 1845, the Rev. Charles Creed held the first Wesleyan service at Taumutu, and October 27th, 1851, the Rev. James Watkin of Old Waikouaiti baptised seven adults and one Maori child. The Wesleyan Church at Taumutu was opened by the Rev. Te Kote te Rato of Rapaki on Easter Sunday, 1885. The present runanga hall named Moki II was opened by R. M. Taiaroa on May 7th, 1891.
The large swamp at Taumutu is called Wai wakaheke tupa pakau and is fed by a spring. As the name implies it was a place for water burials. Whakamatakuira is the high boulder bank alongside the Taumutu Commonage, and from it could be observed the coming of visitors, whether friend or foe from the north. Pa-o-te-korua and Pa-o-te-ikamutu together with Wai pupu were old time look-out points at the south end of Lake Waihora near Taumutu. The few Maoris now dwelling at Taumutu, owing to the barren character of their lands make a precarious living as fishermen.
Quiet Taumutu is to-day, such a change from its past. A Kaikoura party on their way to Moeraki were ambushed there. Moeraki executed the usual revenge, only a celebrated runner named Kuwhare managed to escape death and slavery.
Through a lady named Murihaka, wife of a chief named Potahi placing on her shoulders a mat belonging to the great Te Maiharaui, an act of sacrilege, made for "utu" on a women named Rirewaka as the alternative of punishing by death the real culprit. The several hapus of North Canterbury were page 89soon at war with one another, and so commenced the Eat Relation Feud. Ngati Koreha Pa at Ahuriri near Tai Tapu, Waikakahi near Birdlings Flat, Taumutu, Wairewa, Ripapa Pa near Lyttelton, Whakaepa near Coalgate, Koukourarata (Port Levy) were all drawn into the squabble.
The Taumutu Maoris had varying fortunes until Te Maiharanui's side defeated them at Hakitai, the remainder of the Taumutu warriors then going south to Otakou. Te Maiharanui made an offer of peace, which they foolishly accepted, but on their way back to Taumutu, they were set on at Orehu near Rakaia Mouth, and completely decimated.
Te Mai hara nui was the chief captured by Te Rauparaha in Akaroa through the agency of the despicable Captain Stewart of the brig "Elizabeth". Fortunately his loss was not deplored by the Ngai Tahu Tribe or revenge would have been taken on the European sailors who within two or three years of the capture were beginning to frequent the coast of Banks Peninsula.