Lore and history of the South Island Maori
Otautahi — Christchurch and its district
Christchurch and its district.
Looking down on Christchurch from a vantage point on the Port Hills it is difficult to realise that when the first Europeans arrived the district was largely one of swamps, the vegetation raupo and flax. The Otakaro (Avon) and the Opawaho (Heathcote) drained the swamps.
In 1840 two Sydney trading firms, Messrs Cooper and Levy (whose names are perpetutated in Banks Peninsula nomenclature) and Messrs Abercrombie and Co., investigated with negative results the possibilities of a European settlement, on the site of what is now the capital of Canterbury. The first European explorer of whom there is a record was a pakeha Maori of whaling days at Akaroa named James Robinson Clough, the man who interpreted Captain Stanley's speech to the assembled Maoris when the British flag was hoisted at Green's Point, Akaroa in 1840. The descendants of this man are well known at the present time as leading lights in the Maori community of Wairewa Pa at Little River. Robinson Clough journeyed up the Avon River by canoe as far as the small Maori Pa of Putaringamotu (The Place of the Severed Ear) now the site of Riccarton. The translation of the name Putaringamotu is a figurative expression referring to "bush isolated from the rest".
When Robinson Clough was journeying up the River, at South New Brighton he saw the small pa of Te Kai o te Karoro. This native village occupied the site now taken up by the Jellicoe Reserve of the Pleasant Point Domain. Evidences of its existence were clearly visible until forty years ago, although only the sites of Maori ovens can now be seen. The eeling weirs constructed of manuka stakes were situated half a mile up stream, and these were removed by yachting enthusiasts about 1920. Maori ovens are plentiful on the New Brighton Spit, and were no doubt used by fishing parties. Te Karoro karoro (Sea Gulls' Clatter) is the Maori name of the New Brighton Spit. Nowadays Otautahi is used as the general Maori name for Christchurch, however strictly speaking it is only applicable to that portion of the city bordering the river Avon between Madras and Barbadoes Streets.
Tautahi a son of Huikai of Koukourarata (Port Levy) who was one of the Ngai Tahu chiefs who along with Moki dispossessed the Ngati Mamoe Tribe in North Canterbury, page 47three hundred years ago built his pa on the banks of the Avon near its junction with Free's Creek close to what we know to-day as the "Bricks". Free's Creek until fifty years ago was a large stream with several branches draining part of the one time 2,000 acre Bog of St. Albans. St. Albans to-day is a fashionable suburb, and Free's Creek (also named Otautahi) has long since disappeared into concrete pipes. In early European times, up to the sixties, traces of Otautahi Pa were visible, and springs used to bubble forth through large cones of sand. The burial place of Otautahi is now taken up with the spacious grounds of "Chiselhurst". The skeletons were discovered by children in 1865. Traditionally Tautahi was buried in a sandhill in the vicinity and it was probably his remains which were found in 1870 on the opposite bank in Kilmore Street, when excavations were being carried out for St. Luke's (Anglican) Church vicarage.
Otautahi was unsuccessfully claimed by Hakopa Te Ata o Tu, a direct descendant of its founder Tautahi, at the Native Land Court presided over by Chief Judge F. D. Fenton at Christchurch in 1868, as the land was already crown-granted to Europeans. Pita Te Hore claimed Puari which is now the site in Christchurch of the Supreme Court. His claim was not entertained for the same reason. Modern writers have confused the sites of Otautahi and Puari, and speak glibly on the ford of Otautahi being on the Avon opposite the Supreme Court lawn.
Even in the earliest days of the European settlement the River Avon at that portion between the Armagh and Victoria Street Bridges was decidedly dangerous. In the sixties a young man named Fowler, not knowing this fact, entered the river on horseback at this spot. Both horse and rider were swept away and drowned. Other accidents followed, and the Canterbury Provincial Government spent several thousand pounds in employing convict labour on straightening and widening the river opposite the Supreme Court in an endeavour to reduce depth and velocity of flow, evidently with little success, as accidents continued to occur. This dangerous part of the River Avon was the subject of a leading article in the Christchurch "Press" of March 2nd, 1877, which declared the locality was getting more dangerous every year. The last accident the writer knows of at the erroneously called "ford" took place in 1893.
Puari, the site of the Supreme Court, was used in the fifties by the Maoris on account of its being near to the Market Square (Victoria Square), for on many occasions they came to Chritschurch to sell their produce. The burial-place for the old Puari Pa was situated where the Christchurch Public Library now stands. As late as 1853 the skeletons could be seen laid side by side in rows barely covered with sand. The Urupa for page 48Putaringamotu (Riccarton) is now occupied by the tennis courts of "Oakford". Isolated burial-places have been found from time to time in all quarters of Christchurch, even in the heart of Cathedral Square.
Some three hundred years ago Maoris of vision prophesised thus:—"Behind the tattooed face, a stranger lurks, his face is white, he owns the land," and "Weep not for me, weep for yourselves, for the time will come when white feet shall desecrate my grave." True they have proved, in both cases. The Maoris dwelling amid the swamps of Christchurch were nicknamed by the natives of other parts O-roto-repo (swamp dwellers).
The success which attended the domicile of the Scottish family of the Deans at Riccarton in February 1843, decided the Canterbury Association to make the English settlement in the same locality. The Deans Brothers secured an honest lease of Riccarton and Christchurch from the Maoris, but like all other arrivals before the Canterbury Pilgrims had a desperate fight for rights with John Robert Godley. An appeal to Governor Sir George Grey saw justice done to the Deans family. A photographic copy of the Dean's Maori Lease dated December 3rd, 1846, with its authorative Maori signatures can be seen at the Canterbury Museum, also Mr Richmond's approval on behalf of the New Zealand Government.
Maori Villages in addition to those mentioned existed at the mouth of Bowron's Creek at Bassett's Reach, and on the Waimairi Stream near Straven Road. There were several kaingas along Dudley Creek, on the Avon below Wainoni, and at Horseshoe Lake (Te Oranga), which was claimed unsuccessfully by Aperhama Te Aika on behalf of Te Onepua at the Native Land Court in 1868. A dugout canoe in a decayed condition used to lie until the nineties on the banks of the Avon at the outlet creek of Horseshoe Lake. Pilgrim's Corner in Hagley Park used to boast rest whares used by Maori travellers from Banks Peninsula to Kaiapoi.
Where the New Brighton Trotting Club Racecourse now stands at North New Brighton once stood a Maori village named Orua paeroa. It was in close proximity to Travis Swamp which abounded with eels and bird life. Orua paeroa was known as the place where strong east winds blew in from the sea, and was, like the pa of Te Kai o te karoro at South New Brighton, used only as a place of mahinga kai. An old native named Maori Joe was the last to visit regularly the latter place (up until 1866). His Maori name was Ngahoira.
Off the Burnside Road, a mile beyond the Fendalto tram terminus, can be seen a clump of cabbage trees which were carefully fenced around by an early settler who had learnt of their significance. The place is named Here ora. The trees served as a guide post to Maori travellers, but a tapu character became attached on account of sacred rites being performed there over travellers, to ensure for them a safe journey. Taumata nui is the old camping place at Harewood by the Waimakariri. Waitikiri is the old name of Bottle Lake near Burwood, an eeling lagoon no longer existent. Pukehinau is the settlement of Coringa midway between Harewood and Yaldhurst.
An outpost pa of the swamp dwellers once stood on the banks of the Opawaho (Opawa) River about where the Opawa Railway Station now stands. Poho areare is the name of an original chief of Opawaho and is applied to the old Maori track that led over the sandhills from Opawa to South New Brighton. Turaki Po was its later chief. A small carved figure from this Opawa pa can be seen at the Canterbury Museum. The swamps which the Opawaho drained were called Te Kuru. The upper reaches at Spreydon bore the name Wai Mokihi and the little pa there was O Mokihi.
Under Victoria Park, on the Cashmere Hills within private property there is a large cave known locally as Pigeon Cave, which has a story to tell of the days when the Ngai Tahu and Ngati Mamoe went to war. There a chief of the latter tribe was slain. The cave bears the Maori name of Matuku Takotako. Every cave and nook bordering the Estuary, between Ferrymead and Sumner appears to have afforded shelter to the Maori of old. Numerous relics have been found. The Moabone Cave at the Cutting, Redcliffs, and Monck's Cave at the Fire Station, Redcliffs, are the best-known, as they contributed very considerably to the Maori collection in the Canterbury Museum. The articles are too varied to name in detail, but the snow shoes from the Moabone Cave at Redcliffs bring it home to us mere pakehas that the Maori explorers of old excelled in bravery as do our modern mountaineers. Tamahika is the name of the mud flats at Redcliffs. The outlet of Watson's Creek at Redcliffs is called Waipatiki through Maoris spearing flounders there. Rae kura is the Maori name of Redcliffs and has the same meaning as the English word. The point at the Redcliffs Cutting is named Te Pou o te Tutemaro, in honour of an explorer.
The mud flats at Ferrymead are called Ohika paruparu. Maori women used to gather shell fish there, and as they often page 50sank in the mud their sterns became covered with the dirt, hence the name. Rapanui is the name of the Shag Rock and Tuawera that of the Cave Rock. Through the late James Cowan interviewing the late H. T. Tikao of Rapaki we owe the story attached to the name Tuawera.
Te Ao a daughter of Te Ake of Akaroa was sought for as a wife by Turaki Po of Opawaho. She spurned his advances, so Turaki Po in revenge makutued her to death. Te Ake her father learnt greater magic, and went to the hill overlooking the Cave Rock and Sumner, and sent forth mighty karakia against Turaki po and his people. In answer to his prayers a whale was stranded near the Cave Rock. The folk of Turaki Po eagerly cut it up and feasted on whale, and then went to sleep. It was the sleep of death, and only one girl related to Te Ake awoke. Turaki po felt that the whale was makutued, and did not partake with his people. However later, having few followers left to help him he was duly slain by Te Ake's party. Tuawera figuratively means "cut down as by fire."
From Otautahi the Maoris had several tracks leading over from the plains to Whangaraupo (Lyttelton Harbour). Principal paths were the track crossing from "Sandridge" at Sydenham via the line of White's Rapaki Road to Rapaki and the other to Ohinetahi, Governors Bay, by way of the present Dyers Pass Road. Another led via Richmond Hill, Sumner and Mount Pleasant (Tauhinu Korokio) to Lyttelton (Ohinehou).
There is very little evidence of Maori occupation of the Bromley area near the Estuary, although Native Reserve No. 900 of ten acres is sandwiched within the Christchurch Drainage Boards lands, and too far away from the channels in the Estuary to be of any use whatsoever to the natives. The name given this reserve is Ihu tai. It is said to have been a burial-place.
In the fifties the Maoris made full use of the Market Square (Victoria Square) Christchurch, and were much in evidence selling potatoes and other products to the early settlers. However horses had a habit of straying, and their dogs bestowing certain canine attentions which brought the Maoris into disfavour with Europeans.
Thomas Cass, Chief Surveyor of Canterbury, on November 21st, 1857, requested the Provincial Government to set aside a Native Reserve in Hagley Park. The request was ignored so Cass repeated it on September 14th, 1858. This time he was successful, and a site was set aside in Hagley Park near the bridge connecting the roads to Papanui and Riccarton. During December 1860, petitions were received by J. Ollivier, Speaker of the Canterbury Provincial Government, from the Maoris requesting the erection of a Maori Hostel by the Province on the Maori Reserve in Hagley Park, Christchurch. page 51According to the printed Proceeding of Session 14 the proposal was lost by a narrow margin on December 18th, 1860. The original petitions from the Kaiapoi, Rapaki and Port Levy Maoris are now the possession of the Canterbury Museum. The following are the translations:—(Kaiapoi) December 12th, 1860. "This is our word to you about a house at Christchurch. For we have no resting place there. The evil of this is manifest, when we have to pass through, some are obliged to sleep under the hedges of the roadside, others go to the public houses and spend their money to their hurt. The word of our meeting is that we should be treated as brethren, as one people, be fulfilled. We have lately shown that it is our wish to assist our European friends as far as we can. Let the same spirit be manifested by you towards us in this matter. Follow the example of Auckland, Wellington, Nelson and Otago, where houses have long been erected for the Maoris. This is the only town without a resting place."
These are the persons who signed these words:—Ihaia Taihewa, Hoani Paratene, Pita Te Hori (Assessor), Hakopa Te Ata o Tu (Assessor), Hamiora Tohuanuku, Horomona Pa, Wiremu Hape, Te Wakena Kokorau, Matiu Hutoi, Te Koro Mautai, Wiremu Te Pa, Tare Rangitira, Hakopa Tahitama, Matene Rehu, Te Wakaemi, Horomona Haukeke, Wiremu Te Hau, Ihaia Tainui, Aperahama Te Aika, Hemiona Pohata, Te Moroati Pakapaka, Ripene Waipapa, Matana Piki, Te Tura Turakina, Mikaera Turangitahi, Hoani Rehu, Henare Korako, Wereta Tainui, Heraia Te Koreke, Hoani Pareti, Hohepa Huria, Meihana Tawha, Manahi Iri, Te Manihera Te Pehu, Irai Tihau, Wiremu Pukupuku, Hapurona Taipata, Ahuira Tama-rangi, Hoani Poutoko, Mohi Patu, Tamate Tikao, Rewite Tekau, Paora Tua, Tukaruatoro, Hoani Hape, Te Wirihana Piro, Taituha Hape, Erua Tihema, Mohi Roperu.
(Rapaki) December 3rd, 1860:—"We have considered about the house at Christchurch. We shall be glad if Mr Moorhouse pays for its erection." From Paora Tau, Hoani Timaru, Harana Huria and others of Rapaki.
(Port Levy) December 5th, 1860. "Go then our letter to the gentlemen of the Provincial Council of Canterbury. Salutations to you for good will towards the Maoris we believe. We have heard all about your council from our friend Mr J. W. Stack. This is our love, our skins are joined and our language too. You are the elder brother, we the younger. Let us be one, the European and the Maori. Let us inquire what union means. It is this, let us have one dwelling place in Christchurch, Canterbury. This is our word to you about a house in Christchurch. The Governor has not yet fulfilled his promise to build us a house at Lyttelton. The Governor and Mr Hamilton will attend to that, but it is good for you to build at Christchurch." Pera Pukenui, Paora Taki, Harapata, page 52Hoani Tukutuku and others of Port Levy.
Walter Buller, Native Officer of the New Zealand General Government on July 8th, 1861, July 15th, 1861 and August 20th, 1861, on behalf of the Maoris continued to press for the erection of a Maori Hostel on the Maori Reserve in Hagley Park, but without result. However the following year on July 25th, 1862, the Provincial Secretary notified the Rev. J. W. Stack that the Provincial Government had set apart as a Maori Reserve a portion of Hagley Park coloured red in the tracing, and next to Woodfords Mill Bridge and on the right hand side of the road. In December 1872, it was suggested that the Maoris give over the Hagley Park Reserve in exchange for land elsewhere. The Maoris, through the Rev. J. W. Stack on March 3rd, 1873, requested land near the railway line at Kaiapoi or Lyttelton on which to build a store. This was declined. The Provincial Government informed the Hon. John Hall, acting for the Native Minister that land however would be given in exchange for the land at Hagley Park. Nothing has eventuated from 1873 until the present time. The columns of the "Christchurch Star" of March 25th, 1879 reporting on a meeting of the Christchurch City Council mention that Councillor Wilson proposed that a residence for His Excellency, the Governor be erected in Christchurch.
One of the sites proposed was Little Hagley Park near the Carlton Bridge, but several Councillors pointed out that it could not be used as it was a native reserve. Nothing came of the proposed Governor's residence. (The illustration is photographed from an original lease deed in the possession of the Lands Department, Christchurch. The black lines are the down strokes of the draughtsman's legal lettering showing through the parchment from the reverse side.)
On the Maori Reserve in Little Hagley Park during April 1868, over 150 natives of the Ngai Tahu Tribe were camped during the session of the Native Land Court of Chief Judge F. D. Fenton. Mr J. E. Coker arranged for a party of the Ngai Tahu Maoris to give a display of hakas and other dances at Coker's Gardens on April 25th, 1868. The Canterbury Provincial Police under Commissioner Shearman stopped the entertainment, perhaps wisely as feeling was running high at the way evidence was being accepted by the Native Land Court. The Court's own report supplies the cause in the following words:—"Whatever the demands of the natives, the Court was completely bound by the evidence of the Crown witnessess."
On June 17th, 1940, a conference of local bodies of the Christchurch district had laid before them an offer from the New Zealand Government of the Carved Maori House which had been a feature of the Centennial Exhibition at Wellington. The conference favoured acceptance. The local bodies, how-page 53ever, thought differently from their delegates, and only the Christchurch City Council favoured the acquisition. On January 27th, 1941, the by-laws committee recommended to the City Council the acceptance of the Maori House, free of cost from the New Zealand Government. The Council accepted the recommendation of its committee. Various sites were suggested on which to re-erect the Maori House, one of the positions being Little North Hagley Park. Opposition in the newspapers was made to all sites, and misstatements put forward on cost of the outer building and re-erection, particularly against the use of the forgotten Maori Reserve. Owing to a political change in the personnel of the Christchurch City Council, that body on March 9th, 1942, rescinded the motion of acceptance of the Maori House from the New Zealand Government.
One of the main attractions at the International Exhibition opened at Christchurch on Hagley Park in 1906, was the Arai te Uru Pa. This model Maori Pa was erected largely by the natives of Wanganui, and the carvings were executed by expert carvers of the Arawa Tribe. The great war canoe Taharetikitiki was loaned for exhibition by the Waikato tribes. The opening rites were conducted by Peni te ua Mairangi, a tohunga. Toutahi, a tohunga of the Ngarauru Tribe was also present at the function. The Arawa Tribe under Captain Mair were the first North Island Maoris to visit the Arai te Uru Pa.
After the close of the Exhibition on April 30th, 1907, the various features of the Arai te Uru Pa were sold by auction, and brought ridicuously low prices. A large carved Tiki was given as a gift to the Christchurch Domains Board, and accepted for re-erection on June 10th, 1907. However yielding to aristocratic pakeha opinion the Christchurch Domain Board removed the carved Tiki on July 15th, 1915, but not before wags had draped it and placed a notice thereon: "Off to the Museum, draped by order of the old women of the Domain Board."
Christchurch possesses the only institution of its kind in the South Island namely Te Waipounamu Maori Girls' College on the Ferry Road. On January 1st, 1909, the Rev. C. A. Fraer saw the need for the special education of young Maori women. After untiring efforts he managed to open the Te Waipounamu School for Maori girls in the old vicarage of St. Albans Anglican Church at Ohoka near Kaiapoi, on March 4th, 1909, with eight pupils. Mrs Miller from Dunedin was the first teacher. She was succeeded by Miss Opie and Miss Drew. The late Bishop Julius was the principal speaker at the opening. The Hon. A. T. Ngata on May 9th, 1909, visited the school, and expressed pleasure at the commencement of the noble work.
The Te Waipounamu Maori Girls' School was transferred page 54to Christchurch from Ohoka into the former home of the March family, and was duly re-opened by the late Bishop Julius and the late Rev. C. A. Fraer on May 28th, 1921, Miss Opie being the teacher. In 1922 Miss Opie controlled 21 pupils drawn from Chatham Islands, Rapaki, Port Cooper, Temuka, Otakou and Colac Bay. On May 8th, 1924, Sisters Kate and Theresa were placed in charge, Miss Opie having resigned to be married. Mrs Parkinson the matron also resigned. The late Sister Kate carried the school through the worst part of the depression period, and it has been a profound astonishment ever since how she managed to care for three adults and eighteen girls on an extremely meagre purse (£118). Sister Constance was her successor.
The control of the school was next placed with Miss Harding, who had been the principal teacher with the Anglican Sisters, and at the time of writing she still occupies the honourable position.
In June 1926, the erection of a carved Maori chapel at the Te Waipounamu School was taken in hand. Mr Roy Lovell-Smith was the architect. The contract price for building was £600 but it eventually cost about £800. The chapel was completed and dedicated on March 26th, 1927. The interior measurement is 40 by 20 feet, and is the Te Whare Tapu a Tumuki. Dedicated to St. Frances by Bishop West-Watson, the whole building is in keeping with Maori Art, the Cross being a memorial to the late Rev. C. A. Fraer. On May 6th, 1944, a new wing (together with other improvements) was opened by the Hon. H. G. R. Mason, the then Minister of Native Affairs, and of Education. A similar institution is badly required for Maori boys. The Maori community of Christchurch. have from the earliest pakeha days, given freely and also taken part in most public functions, such as the Jubilee of Christchurch City on May 28th, 1928, the reception of H.R.H. the Duke of Gloucester on January 19th, 1935, and the Christchurch functions of the 1940 Centennial. Surely it is not asking too much that pakehas should help along any movement which carries forward Maori welfare.
In the early fifties the Maoris, during the whitebait season, used to camp on Mill Island at Hereford Street Bridge, Christchurch. Mr C. W. Bishop, an arrival by the "First Four Ships", used to befriend the natives supplying them with boiled potatoes. On February 25th, 1857, the chief presented a drawing of his moko (tattoo) marked with the the signature Kaikaikoura Matireata to Mr Bishop. The late Mr R. C. Bishop kept the gift to his father in a place of honour in his home during his lifetime. The "moko" document, however, has disappeared since the sale of the surplus effects of the Bishop estate. Very few authentic "moko" patterns of South page 55Island Maori chiefs are now in existence. The author failed to locate this particular document. (He recently found that it was deliberately burnt).
Prior to the Akaroa Centennial in 1940, a small group of Maori residents in Christchurch met at the Y.M.C.A. and formed the Otautahi Maori Club. On December 9th, 1942, it was re-organised under the name of the Christchurch (Ngati Otautahi) Maori Association, with the patronage of the well-known South Island rangitira Mr R. Te Mairaki Taiaroa. The organisation has been operating in many directions for the wellbeing of the Maori population of Christchurch.
Skirting the Peninsula Hills towards the Ellesmere Flats the Maoris of Otautahi wandered. Where the Heathcote and Cashmere Valley streams unite at "Lady Wilson's" the natives of old had a bridge formed of felled tree trunks, and this structure is noted by H. J. Cridland an early surveyor as "Maori bridge". Beyond Halswell and Tai Tapu towards Motukarara extended large swamps, through which many small streams meandered. The Maoris used flax rafts (mokohi) on these. Eels and birds were plentiful. Maori settlements existed at the foot of the Landsdowne Valley, at Manuka, Tai Tapu and Ahuriri. The Maoris were evicted from Minchin's property at Landsdowne by the Provincial Government Police on December 29th, 1856. Hapakuka Kairua later at Judge Fenton's Land Court at Christchurch in 1868 unsuccessfully claimed the site.
Caves in the Landsdowne Valley known as Te Ika i te ana (Ellesmere Cave) and Te Ana Pohatu Whakairo (Cave of the rock markings) were used as dwellings. Manuka Pa stood on a spur half-way between Halswell and Tai Tapu. The latter word is an obsolete one for boundary. The Tai Tapu River is not tidal, but marks the bounds of the Ngati Koreha hapu, whose old pa stood back on the old coach road north of the Ahuriri Lagoon. The Halswell or Tai Tapu River has two branches, the north fork is Tauawa a maka and the southern fork is Opouira.
At Ngati Koreha Pa after the fall of Onawe, Wi Te Paa and his wife Hera kou turned the table on a Ngati toa pursuer by means of stratagem. Wi Te Paa was captured and tied to a tree, the lady allowed herself to be taken and offered herself to the sensuous Ngati toa. A stone hidden behind her head crashed on his skull, and that warrior went into a Ngai Tahu oven.
The lagoons south of Ahuriri on the L. River near Greenpark known as Yarr's Lagoon, and Clay Bar Lagoon bear the names respectively Tarere kau tuku and Makonui. The land lying in the bend of the Halswell River near the old creamery at Tai Tapu is an old burial place as is Moffat's Corner at Halswell.page 56
Quite a number of native burial-grounds have been discovered within the boundaries of Christchurch City, and crushed-in skulls have often been found, showing that strife was quite a diversion in the old-time Maori life at Otautahi on the place Otakaro, a locality known to-day as the "Garden City" and the "City of the Plains." Tautahi who founded Otautahi Pa must not be confounded with Potiki Tautahi who flourished before Maui in the times of the gods, whose name was held almost sacred on account of his birth by a virgin; nor with the Ngati Mamoe chief Potiki tautahi who was slain by the Ngai Tahu at Lake Wanaka about 1710A.D.