Story: Ngāti Whātua

Page 4. Ngāti Whātua and the Treaty of Waitangi

All images & media in this story

Signing the treaty

The chief Āpihai Te Kawau signed the Treaty of Waitangi at Manukau Harbour on 20 March 1840. He did so after inviting Governor William Hobson to live in Auckland, hoping that he would protect the land and its people. Unfortunately, the relocation of the capital from Russell to Auckland meant there was extra pressure for land. Ngāti Whātua sold 3,000 acres (1,214 hectares) to the Crown for cash and goods worth £341; six months later, 44 acres (17 hectares) were sold by the Crown at public auction for £24,275. The remainder was sub-divided and sold for over £72,000, mostly within two years. By 1850 most of the tribe’s accessible land in Auckland was gone.

By 1900 Ngāti Whātua were reduced to living at Ōkahu Bay in Ōrākei. The government and the Auckland City Council continued to apply pressure to remove them. A main sewerage pipe was built across the front of the village at Ōkahu Bay. That same village was refused connection to the city’s fresh water. The last inhabitants were evicted in the early 1950s, their houses demolished and their meeting house burned. Only the church and cemetery remained.

Bastion Point and beyond

Ngāti Whātua have been at the forefront of action over tribal land loss since 1881, when Paora Tūhaere hosted a pan-national assembly of Māori chiefs at Kohimarama. Nearly 100 years later, in 1977–78, Joe Hawke led a 506-day occupation of Bastion Point. However, Ngāti Whātua protesters were evicted from the ancestral lands they had hoped to get back. Media coverage of that protest raised awareness among New Zealanders of Māori grievances over land issues. A great deal of progress has been made since then. In 1992 the Waitangi Tribunal released findings supporting Te Roroa’s claims, and the tribe now plays a significant role in their region. Action from the Crown has also been positive, offering guardianship of Tāne Mahuta, the largest surviving New Zealand kauri tree in the Waipoua Forest, north of Dargaville.

Treaty claim settlements

Te Uri-o-Hau settled its grievances with the Crown on 13 December 2000. The $15.6-million settlement included Crown-owned land and cash. Te Uri-o-Hau was appointed as an Advisory Committee to provide advice on the management of fisheries in the Te Uri-o-Hau area of interest. Te Taoū claims were before the Waitangi Tribunal in 2004.

On 5 November 2001 Ngāti Whātua Orākei settled its historic treaty claims for a total of $18 million. The tribe also received redress over the maunga on the Tāmaki isthmus through the Ngā Mana Whenua o Tāmaki Makaurau (Tāmaki Collective) deed of settlement, signed on 7 June 2012. This vested 14 maunga in the Tāmaki region in the Tūpuna Taonga o Tāmaki Makaurau Trust for the benefit of the iwi/hapū of the Tāmaki Collective and all other people of Auckland. Ngāti Whātua received financial compensation for their losses at Ōrākei, and the tribe now play a prominent part in the cultural and political life of Auckland city. The tribe have also lodged a further claim over much of Auckland. At perhaps one of the most poignant events in Auckland’s recent history, over 15,000 people gathered at Ōkahu Bay at dawn on millennium day, 1 January 2000, to welcome the modern Ngāti Whātua canoe Māhuhu-ki-te-rangi into the same bay from which, 50 years earlier, the tribe had been evicted.

How to cite this page:

Rāwiri Taonui, 'Ngāti Whātua - Ngāti Whātua and the Treaty of Waitangi', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/ngati-whatua/page-4 (accessed 23 November 2019)

Story by Rāwiri Taonui, published 8 Feb 2005, updated 22 Mar 2017