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Nelson Historical Society Journal, Volume 2, Issue 6, April 1973

Wakapuaka Native Reserve

Wakapuaka Native Reserve

A mile or so along the Cable Bay road from Hira can be seen the lines of boundary fences which still follow the original survey. This line extends from The Glen right across the hills to the Whangamoa River and all the land to the north of it was reserved for the Maori people. The eastern boundary follows the Whangamoa River from this line right to the sea coast. This survey was not accomplished without some opposition. The Happy Valley locality was tapu to the Maori people and the Ngatiawa chief, Paremata, strenuously opposed the surveying and occupation of the district by the pakehas. Paremata had apparently feared that his people would lose all their land. In July, 1843, a house belonging to a man named Coburn was torn down by the Maori people apparently in the belief that it was on their land. When Governor Fitzroy visited Nelson in February, 1844, he met the Maori chiefs from Wakapuaka and Golden Bay and they apparently had a fairly satisfactory interview. The Governor assured them that they would not be deprived of their pas and cultivations, nor of land not legally sold. He was a little disconcerted when Paremata announced that the Waimea had not been fairly sold, but he assured the chief that Spain would soon settle the Nelson claims.

In January 1845 Paremata and a few of his followers visited all the settlers in the Happy Valley and informed them that they must quit the land immediately or that the natives would destroy their homes and make kai (food) of the inhabitants. Meanwhile the survey was held up but after some days of discord and damage about one hundred volunteers rode out from Nelson to give support to the surveyors. Meanwhile the Church of England clergymen, Messrs. Reay and Butt, had gone out and prevailed upon the chief to change page 21his attitude. No further difficulties were put in the way of the surveyors but Paremata took the move so badly that, when the settlers moved into the recently surveyed land, he and his followers left for the North Island. The Maoris would not live in this tapu district and did not want the pakehas to settle there either.

Actually Paremata was an interesting character we seldom hear of. He was one of the local chiefs and closely related to Huria Matenga. He accompanied Te Puoho on an expedition down the West Coast to Otago and to what is now known as Southland. Te Puoho was killed and Paremata was taken prisoner. Later he was restored to his people at Wakapuaka. Paremata blamed some of his people for being the indirect cause of Te Puoho's death and tried to drive some of his tribe away from Wakapuaka. One of his tribesmen fired at Paremata but he was not seriously hurt and lived for many years afterwards, and died at Moutoa near the present town of Foxton.

J. D. Peart states, 'Te Puoho and Paremata te Wahapiro were the outstanding men of the Ngatitama tribe, and it is right that their existence should not be forgotten by Nelson people, partly owing to their feats of prowess on the battlefield, but more particularly on account of their close relationship to Huria Matenga, whose name will go down honoured by generations of Nelsonians yet to be. There are numerous descendants of Paremata living at Porirua and Wellington, but Julia Martin was the last of the line who sprang from Te Puoho.'