Hītori | Historical Account


This is the boundary for Ngātikahu ki Whangaroa, agreed in the legislation. We describe their ancestral lands as being between the eastern side of the Mangonui Harbour, across to the Whangaroa Harbour. This area covers from Taemāro, along the coastline to Omata, then north to Te Whatu (Berghan Point), and into to Tokerau (Doubtless Bay).

Moving into the Mangonui Harbour, Ngātikahu ki Whangaroa acknowledge the Mana Whenua and Mana Moana of Ngāti Kahu, and the boundary with Ngāti Kahu from the maunga, Whakaangi, south to Waiaua and Te Hihi, then south to Paewhenua Motu (Island). From there the boundary follows the Oruaiti River inland, taking in Ōtangaroa, Maunga Taratara, then to Waihapa, and Waihapa Bay, following the shoreline along to Tōtara North, north to Kōwhairoa, and westward to Taupo Bay, Frear Bay, Tupou Bay, Motukahakaha, into to Waimahana, and then back to Taemāro.

Pre-Treaty and Crown Transactions over Eastern Mangonui lands

Two chiefs of other iwi, Nopera Panakareao and Pororua Wharekauri, were in dispute over the extent of their authority in the Mangonui-Oruru area in 1840. Pororua Wharekauri had entered into land transactions prior to 1840 with Pākehā traders and sawyers, covering approximately 17,000 acres on the eastern side of Mangonui Harbour. The Crown sought to settle the dispute by acquiring the interests of each chief in a broad area between Mangonui, Taemāro and Ōtangaroa in separate transactions in 1841. Both the Crown transactions incorporated land that Pākehā claimed to own through their pre-Treaty dealings with Pororua Wharekauri. All these transactions encompassed ancestral lands of Ngātikahu ki Whangaroa in eastern Mangonui, but there is no evidence of Ngātikahu ki Whangaroa taking part in them.

Investigation of Eastern Mangonui Pre-Treaty Transactions

Before the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi Governor Hobson promised that the Crown would inquire into pre-Treaty transactions between Māori and settlers, and return any lands unjustly held. The Crown subsequently set up a Land Claims Commission to investigate all pre-1840 land transactions. Generally, where the transaction was supported by Māori, the Commission would recommend that the Crown issue a land grant to the Pākehā claimant. The amount of land the Crown granted depended on a set of specific criteria.

Land Claims Commissioner Colonel Edward Godfrey arrived at Mangonui to investigate land claims in the district in January 1843. Land Claims Commissioners generally heard evidence from Māori on whether they confirmed the transaction as valid or challenged the rights of those involved in the transaction with the land claimant to deal in the land in question. Godfrey was, however, unable to complete his investigations into the eastern Mangonui lands because of the conflict over land rights in this area between Nopera Panakareao and Pororua Wharekauri. The Crown offered Pākehā who claimed eastern Mangonui lands ‘scrip’ (a certificate that they could exchange for Crown land elsewhere) to remove them from the area of conflict. In return, the Crown took over their land claim. In most cases Māori evidence about the validity of the pre-Treaty transactions had not been heard in an open, public inquiry. The Crown later presumed, without further formal investigation of the pre-Treaty transaction, that it owned some of these lands. In 1851 the Crown granted 852 acres of land in the eastern Mangonui area to two Pākehā settlers in satisfaction of their land claims in another area.

The ownership of lands transacted before 1840 remained unclear, particularly in the eastern Mangonui area, and the Crown set up a further inquiry process aimed at resolving any outstanding claims. In 1857 Land Commissioner, Francis Dillon Bell, inquired into outstanding claims in the eastern Mangonui area. Bell investigated some claims but did not undertake any formal inquiry into Māori interests in the land for other claims. As a result of recommendations made by Bell the Crown granted approximately 1900 acres of land in eastern Mangonui to Pākehā settlers.

​The Crown retained the remainder of the eastern Mangonui lands involved in pre-1840 transactions under its ‘surplus’ land policy. The Crown considered that if Māori had sold the land to a settler then customary title had been extinguished and the Crown could then issue a land grant to the settler. The Crown generally limited land grants to settlers to a maximum of 2,560 acres to ensure settlers did not become owners of large areas of land. The Crown retained the balance of land from the original transaction, which was estimated at the time to be 11,000 acres, as ‘surplus land’. Most of the surplus areas were not surveyed on the ground at this time and Ngātikahu ki Whangaroa and other Māori continued to live on some of these lands, including the land around Taemāro Bay.

Crown Purchase of Whakapaku Block

In April 1856 some Māori chiefs offered to sell the Crown the Whakapaku block, which encompassed most of the land between Motukahakaha Bay and the Whangaroa Harbour. The Crown purchased the Whakapaku block in December 1856. Two areas, at Taupo and Motukahakaha, were reserved from the sale. At this time, Crown officials estimated that the boundaries of the block contained 3,000 acres and the reserved blocks, Taupo and Motukahakaha, 400 and 180 acres respectively. On survey, in 1857, it was found that the Whakapaku block actually contained 12,050 acres. The Taupo block contained 2,510 acres and the Motukahakaha block contained 480 acres.

1863 Mangonui Purchase

In 1862 local Māori claimed that they still had interests in the eastern Mangonui area. The Resident Magistrate, William Bertram White, considered that most of the land they claimed already belonged to the government through its surplus land policy and offered them £100 for their claim, which was initially rejected.

In May 1863 the Crown signed an agreement (the Mangonui purchase deed) with Pororua Wharekauri and other chiefs, including the Ngātikahu ki Whangaroa chief Te Paeara, to extinguish all outstanding claims in the area between the Mangonui Harbour and the Whakapaku block for payment of £100.
This transaction included Kopupene, which was an area where Resident Magistrate White acknowledged that Māori title had not previously been extinguished.

​Two areas within the boundaries of the Mangonui purchase deed, Taemāro (77 acres) and Waiaua (144 acres) were surveyed out and were intended to be granted to Māori as reserves. The surveyed area for the Taemāro reserve did not include all of the areas at Taemāro Bay that were occupied and cultivated by Ngātikahu ki Whangaroa. The deed did not specify who would be granted these reserves and no Crown grants were issued at this time. Ngātikahu ki Whangaroa continued to live in their settlements at Taemāro and Waimahana.

It is unclear whether a sketch plan of the area described in the Mangonui Purchase deed was available at the time the deed was signed. One of the Ngātikahu ki Whangaroa signatories to the deed claimed in petitions to the Crown in the 1890s that the only land they had intended to include in this transaction was Kopupene.

Taemāro and Waimahana Grants Act 1874

In the late 1860s Tamati Werohu and others applied to the Native Land Court for an investigation of title into the Taemāro block, which was within the area covered by the Mangonui Purchase Deed. The Crown also claimed ownership of this land as ‘surplus’ lands of the Crown, but Crown officials did not attend the Court’s title investigation hearings in 1870 to press the Crown’s claim. Judge Manning recorded that “the claimant stated in the course of the investigation that he had heard that part or the whole of this land is claimed by the government but that there was no foundation for any such claim. No one appeared to oppose the claim on the part of the government and the land is not marked on any plan in my possession as Government land”. The Court awarded the 3,990-acre Taemāro block to Māori owners.

In 1869, the Court also heard applications for title to the Whakaangi and Takerau blocks, which were also within the area covered by the 1863 Mangonui Purchase Deed. It dismissed the Whakaangi claim and awarded the 977-acre Takerau block to Māori owners. The Government subsequently sought and was granted a rehearing in respect of the Takerau block. As a result of the rehearing, the Court decided that it did not have any jurisdiction over the land, because it was owned by the Crown, and cancelled the claimants’ certificate of title.

​Resident Magistrate White only discovered that the Court had issued a certificate of title for the Taemāro block in September 1870. He informed the Court and the Native Minister that the Taemāro land was Crown land. There was no jurisdiction for the Court to investigate his claim, as it was outside the period of time allowed to apply for a rehearing.

In July 1871 three of the signatories to the 1863 Mangonui deed applied to the Court to have the 77 acre Taemāro reserve promised in that deed granted to them. This land was within the 3990 acre Taemāro block the Court had awarded to 26 Māori the previous year. Their application was dismissed because they did not provide a survey plan.

In 1873, White attended a Native Land Court hearing to try to overturn the Taemāro certificate of title. White subsequently persuaded the Taemaro block owners to surrender their title to the 3,990 acres in return for reserves of 99 acres at Taemāro and 649 acres at Waimahana. When an issue arose eighteen years later about the circumstances of the surrender of the title to the Taemaro block, White stated that the Judge had recommended to the holders of the title that they surrender the certificate, and appeal to the Government for a grant of land. White reported that the local community also put pressure on the title holders to give up their certificate of title. Ngātikahu ki Whangaroa made several petitions beginning in 1881 stating that White had threatened terms of imprisonment for the grantees if they did not surrender their certificate of title. The Crown officials involved denied these allegations.

​The 99 acre Taemāro reserve replaced the 77 acre reserve promised to Māori as a result of the 1863 Mangonui purchase. This agreement was given effect to by the Taemāro and Waimahana Grants Act 1874. The Act empowered the Governor to issue Crown grants to six named grantees for the Taemāro reserve, rather than the 26 who had been awarded ownership of the wider Taemāro block by the Court in 1870. The Waimahana reserve was to be granted to 10 people.

The surrender of the Native Land Court’s certificate of title to Taemāro block remained a contentious issue for Ngātikahu ki Whangaroa. The grants for the reserves were not issued until the turn of the century, despite a number of petitions from Ngātikahu ki Whangaroa.

Ngātikahu ki Whangaroa continued to petition the Crown between 1876 and the 1940s disputing its ownership of ‘surplus’ lands in the area and seeking a review of transactions on the Taemāro, Takerau and other lands. There were a number of Crown investigations into the petitions of Ngātikahu ki Whangaroa but the issues were not resolved.

Petitions about the Taemāro and the Takerau block were referred to the Government for inquiry and were eventually considered by a Royal Commission established in 1946 to investigate Māori claims relating to surplus land. The Commission did not make any specific recommendations in respect of the Ngātikahu ki Whangaroa grievances. One Commissioner stated that “The whole question could only be one of surplus lands and even if there was any surplus in this case any rights of whatever kind the Māori might have had therein were extinguished by the Crown purchases from the Māori”. The Commission recommended that compensation be paid on a regional basis rather than directly to the iwi affected by surplus land sales. As a result the Tai Tokerau Māori Trust Board was established and the Crown paid it £47,150 4s for all of the surplus land claims in the North Auckland region.

Motukahakaha Block

The Native Land Court investigated ownership of the Motukahakaha block in 1873 and awarded it to two owners with a proviso that the block be inalienable for sale or lease for more than 21 years. The Motukahakaha block was later sold to private interests.

Taupo Block

In 1899 the Governor, Lord Ranfurly, and Premier, Richard Seddon, had a picnic at a beach in the Taupo block near the entrance to Whangaroa Harbour. They were impressed with their surroundings and renamed the area (known to local Māori as Kohatupapa) Ranfurly Bay, after the Governor. Seddon later recorded that local Māori had indicated they would be willing to meet a request from the Government to gift the bay for a recreation reserve.

Before the area could be reserved for this purpose, ownership of the wider Taupo block had to be determined by the Native Land Court and the agreed area partitioned out of the wider block. The owners applied to the Native Land Court for an investigation of title to the Taupo block but the Surveyor-General, S. Percy Smith, initially would not authorise the necessary survey of the block because he was concerned that Māori in the area had little land remaining. He considered that once the land was surveyed and title determined it would be more likely to be sold.

In 1900 Premier Seddon directed the local Land Purchase Officer to make a further approach to Māori about ceding Ranfurly Bay to the Crown. Seddon asked that the Māori owners be told that they would “earn the esteem and respect of this generation and the generations to come” if they agreed to the wishes of the Governor and the Government to set the land apart for all time as a recreation reserve.

Motukiwi Hone Tua and others of Ngātikahu ki Whangaroa subsequently agreed to provide the Crown with an area estimated at about ten acres of land at Ranfurly Bay. When an official reported to Seddon on the agreement, he included a map he had drawn of the land to be given and suggested authorising a survey of the whole block. He also suggested that the Crown consider purchasing a further area of land near the Bay to acquire some interesting caves. The caves were ancient burial caves of Ngātikahu ki Whangaroa.

By April 1901 both the local settlers and the Māori owners were expressing their desire to have the reservation of the land progressed. In September 1901 Motukiwi Hone Tua and Wirihana Hone Tua asked the Native Office to prepare a map of the Ranfurly Bay land desired by the Crown, so the Native Land Court could investigate title to the land. They applied to the Court to have the title investigated, but the Chief Judge of the Court had instructed the local Judge that investigations of title were to be suspended. In November 1901, other Māori from Whangaroa and Taupo sought information on the nature of the agreement that had been entered into with the Government as they had not been informed of it.

The Tokerau Māori Land Council investigated title to the 2,510 acre Taupo block in 1902 and 1905. The Council made an order, with the consent of the owners, granting the Crown around 17 acres of the block in Ranfurly Bay. No action was taken to formalise this award and the land was not vested in the Crown at this time.

The Crown appointed a Scenery Preservation Commission in 1904 under the Scenery Preservation Act 1903 (which aimed to protect sites of scenic and historic significance). The Commission’s role included finding and recommending suitable scenic and historic sites for permanent reservation by the Crown. In 1905 the Chair of the Commission, S. Percy Smith, advised the Department of Tourist and Health Resorts that Ranfurly Bay was in his notes for reservation but he was not sure how much land the Commission would want. The Commission did not make any recommendations to the Crown to reserve the land.

The Crown again began investigating in 1912 whether it could acquire land in Whangaroa Harbour area on the peninsula part of the Taupo block (which had been partitioned and was known as Taupo 24 block) for a scenic reserve after representations from members of the public and the Chairperson of the Whangaroa County Council that land at Okahumoko Bay had scenic value. Local people and tourists used the bays in the area for camping and recreation in summer. The Crown Lands Ranger advised that much of the area had no scenic value, but recommended that a strip of water frontage and an inland area of bush be purchased and reserved. Instead, the Crown decided to acquire 706 acres, which was the majority of the peninsula, for scenery preservation purposes.

The 706-acre area was within the 910-acre Taupo 24 block, which had 58 owners and contained a number of burial grounds and three Pā. The Crown decided in 1915 to take the land under scenery preservation and public works legislation, but deferred action because of the state of the country’s finances due to the war.

In 1917 the Native Land Court partitioned the Taupo 24 block. It awarded Motukiwi Hone Tua and six others title to a one acre urupā site, Taupo 24A. During the court hearing, Motukiwi Hone Tua stated the urupā contained the remains of his parents. He wanted the urupā excluded from the land in Taupo 24, which was leased to a Pākehā farmer at £40 per year for 30 years.

A notice of the Crown’s intention to take the land for scenic purposes was published in the New Zealand Gazette and in a local newspaper in April 1919, but it is not clear whether the owners of the land were directly advised.

The Crown formally took the land in June 1919, under the authority of the Public Works Act 1908, the Scenery Preservation Act 1908 and the Scenery Preservation Amendment Act 1910, and subsequently started proceedings in the Native Land Court to compensate affected parties. The proclamation formally taking the 706-acre scenic reserve stated that it was a portion of Taupo 24, but made no mention of the 1917 partition.

The compensation claimed for the scenic reserve was considerably more than the value estimated by Crown officials. As a result, the Crown sought a delay in the Native Land Court’s decision on compensation, while it considered whether to reduce the amount of land it would take. Land Department officials advised that “it would be unwise and wasteful to lock up the whole of the 706 acres permanently as a Scenic Reserve” and that the Crown’s scenery preservation needs could be served by reserving a five chain-wide strip of water frontage around Ranfurly Bay and the adjacent bay. The lessee did not agree with this proposal and the Court proceeded with its compensation decision. It awarded the lessee £999 compensation for the loss of his lease of the 706 acres. The 58 Māori owners were awarded £1,060 for the loss of ownership over that land. The Crown lodged most of the compensation payable to the Māori owners with the Tokerau Māori Land Board for distribution. The taking of the land meant the Māori owners lost the income stream they had negotiated with the lessee for that land for the remaining 27 years of the lease.

There is no record of any contact between the land owners and the Crown about the taking of this land. The area taken included many pā, urupā and other sites of importance to Ngātikahu ki Whangaroa.

In 1935 a Ngātikahu ki Whangaroa resident Mrs Riwhi, was concerned that members of the public were entering burial caves on the Taupo 24 block and removing relics. An injunction was sought and received from the Native Land Court to try to stop the desecration of their sacred sites.

Matakaraka Block

During the Second World War the Navy occupied 6 acres of Māori land in the Matakaraka block opposite Ranfurly Bay and built a wharf, barracks, gun emplacements and observation dugouts. At the end of the war the Navy no longer required the site but the Crown decided to take the land under public works legislation so that it could preserve the value of the Crown’s investment in the wharf and buildings.

The Crown does not appear to have consulted the owners of the land before taking it by proclamation in August 1946. The Court awarded compensation of £55 the following year and ordered it be paid to the Tokerau District Māori Land Board for distribution to the owners. The Crown removed all the moveable buildings, including the wharf platform. In 1983 the Crown declared that the 6 acre area was no longer required for public works purposes. The Crown considered offering the land back to its former owners as required under section 40 of the Public Works Act 1981. Officials noted that it would be a complex task to trace the descendants of the 89 former owners of the land. Instead, the Crown decided to transfer it to the Department of Lands and Survey as the block did not have legal road frontage and the surrounding lands had been sold to that Department. In 1990, after appeals from descendants of the former owners, the Crown vested the land in representatives of those former owners.

In 1949 the Whangaroa County Council wrote to the Commissioner of Crown Lands proposing that the Crown acquire the 324-acre Matakaraka B blocks (consisting of three blocks: Matakaraka B1, B2 and B3) from their Māori owners and vest them in the Council as a scenic reserve. The Crown decided to apply to the Māori Land Court to call a meeting of the owners of the blocks to test whether they would be willing to sell the land to the Crown. At that hearing, the owners stated that they wanted those lands to be reserved for local Māori. They indicated that they used it for gathering oysters, in areas that the 1946 fishing regulations reserved for their use. They also indicated they would possibly build on the land. The Court asked the owners to give the matter further consideration and suggested the land be visited during the next Court session.

In informal discussions, some owners subsequently indicated to Crown officials that they were willing to discuss negotiating to sell the land to the Crown. The process for alienating Māori land owned by more than 10 people required the Māori Land Board to call a meeting of the owners (known as an ‘assembled owners meeting’) to consider the purchase offer and resolve whether to proceed. An assembled owners meeting had a quorum if 5 owners of the land were present or represented, irrespective of the amount of their total shareholding in the land. A resolution was deemed to be carried if the owners who voted in favour of it owned a larger total share of the land than those who voted against it.

In February 1952 the Māori Land Board called meetings of ‘assembled owners’ for each of the Matakaraka B blocks to consider the Crown’s proposal to acquire them for scenic purposes. The meeting for Matakaraka B1 block did not proceed because of insufficient attendance. The Crown subsequently decided to deal directly with the individual owners, as there was no legal requirement to hold an assembled owners meeting for this block because there were only 6 owners. Six of the fifty owners of the Matakaraka B2 block met and resolved to sell that block to the Crown. The Matakaraka B3 block meeting was attended by 8 of the 122 owners. According to the records of the meeting they unanimously resolved to sell the land.

At a subsequent Tokerau Māori Land Board meeting to discuss the sale of the Matakaraka B2 and B3 blocks one of the owners who had earlier supported the resolution to sell the Matakaraka B3 block objected to the transfer, stating that the price was too low. Others stated that they expected at least £1 per acre for the land and the matter was referred back to Crown officials to see whether the Crown would agree to raise its offer. The Crown subsequently agreed to pay £1 per acre and the transactions for those blocks were completed in 1953. The Māori owners retained two and half acres in Matakaraka B2 for summer fishing camps and access to offshore oyster beds.

Crown officials approached the owners of Matakaraka B1 individually to purchase their land. Five of the 6 owners had signed a Memorandum of Transfer by February 1954 but Māori Land Court officials were unable to locate the remaining owner to seek his agreement to sell his share of the land. The Māori Land Court subsequently issued an Order directing that the Māori Trustee act as that owner’s agent and execute the transaction in favour of the Crown. The Māori Trustee received the purchase money to distribute to the owner.

The Matakaraka B blocks were subsequently declared to be Crown land in 1958. They were added to the Ranfurly Bay Scenic Reserve, which was under the control of the Whangaroa County Council, in 1959.