Wars and muskets
The intertribal wars between 1815 and 1840 were particularly devastating for the tribes of Tāmaki (Auckland). Under Hongi Hika, who had acquired guns in his dealings with European traders, Ngāpuhi destroyed the Ngāti Pāoa pā at Mauinaina (Panmure). Many of the tribe's members were killed. Te Kawerau-a-Maki also suffered, with several of their pā along the west coast falling in quick succession. During the 1820s much of the isthmus was abandoned as tribes sought shelter in the Tainui region.
Signing the treaty
Sixteen chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi in Waitematā on 4 March 1840. Āpihai Te Kawau of Ngāti Whātua signed it at Manukau Harbour on 20 March, and another seven chiefs signed at Tāmaki on 9 July. Āpihai Te Kawau signed the treaty after inviting Lieutenant-Governor William Hobson to settle in Auckland in the hope that this would protect the land there.
Early European settlement and the relocation of the capital from Russell to Auckland in 1841 meant there was pressure for land. By 1850 most of the usable land in Auckland had been purchased by Europeans. Promises to establish ‘generous reserves’ were overruled or ignored. By 1860 over 40% of Auckland’s Māori land had been lost. In addition, an estimated 40,500 hectares of land in south Auckland was confiscated under the New Zealand Settlements Act 1863.
By 1936, Māori in Auckland possessed less than four hectares per head. The lands of Te Kawerau-a-Maki, Ngāi Tai and Ngāti Pāoa in the Waitākere and Hūnua Ranges were used for supplying Auckland’s water, and eventually became regional parks. In 1951 Ngāti Whātua, who occupied the last significant Māori bastion at Ōkahu Bay in Ōrākei, were systematically evicted, their houses demolished and meeting houses burned. Ngāti Te Ata and Te Wai-o-Hua continued to lose much of their lands around Manukau Harbour well into the 20th century. It was taken under the Public Works Act for projects such as Auckland airport, Māngere sewage works and the steel mill at Waiuku.