Te Tai – Treaty Settlement Stories

TORU | 3
Taking of the land

Once the owners of more than 80,000 acres of pristine land, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei saw their holdings reduced to a quarter acre urupā.

Video: Whai Maia Trust 1 Ltd

Dream Places

This is a prophetic reflection inspired by the ethnographer James Cowan (1870–1943). It evokes a time when the sea and lands occupied by the Taoū, Ngā Oho, and Uringutu peoples of Tāmaki (Auckland) and Ōkahu were still pristine, before they were ‘poisoned and the hills desecrated with the arrival of a foreign people’.

Video: Whai Maia Trust 1 Ltd

Te Puru o Tāmaki

The 700-acre Ōrākei block, known today as Te Whenua Rangatira, has its eastern boundary at Kohimarama (Bastion) Point. It extends across to Takaparawhau pā, then up to Pokanoa pā and across to Paritūtai pā. These ridges flank the low-lying lands of the Ōkahu valley. This is where the ancestral house Te Puru o Tāmaki once stood.

This timeline documents important events related to Te Whenua Rangatira.

  • 1837
    Apihai Te Kawau’s people re-established occupation.
  • 1859
    Nine acres taken at Takaparawhau Point for military purposes.
  • 1873
    A court order stipulates that a 700-acre block of land at Ōrākei be made ‘absolutely inalienable (not able to be sold) to any person in any manner whatsoever’. This also included the Takaparawhau block taken for military purposes in 1859.
  • 1879
    Te Kotahitanga, the first Māori parliament, is held at Ōkahu. Rangatira from Waikato, Ngāpuhi and Tāmaki Makaurau attended. They discuss mana Māori, Treaty grievances, land loss, laws, and the lack of Māori representation in local government and at Parliament.
  • 1882
    Trustees of the Ōrākei Block lease land under the powers of the Ōrākei Native Reserve Act 1882. Communal cultivation continues and rents and profits benefit the hapū.
  • 1886
    13 acres on Kohimarama (now known as Bastion Point) are taken for military purposes.
  • 1898
    The Native Land Court partitions the Ōrākei Block among the owners and reclassifies it as alienable (saleable).
  • 1908
    The Government passes a special Act of Parliament to take land and lay a sewage pipe across the beach in front of the Ōkahu papakāinga (settlement).
  • 1914
    Raw sewage from Auckland is discharged into Ōkahu Bay, contaminating their major food resource. The flood-prone papakāinga becomes a swamp of raw sewage whenever it rains.
  • 1951
    The Government takes the remaining 12 ½ acres of land. Aside from a quarter-acre designated as an urupā (cemetery), the hapū is left totally landless.
  • 1952
    The Ōkahu papakāinga is razed to the ground and the people evicted. It is deemed an eyesore and cleared in anticipation of a visit from Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. Many elders die due to the extreme trauma, sorrow and anguish they experience.


In 1976, Prime Minister Robert Muldoon announces that the Crown will develop the remaining land at Bastion Point as a high-income housing project. Of all their lands, this is the last 60 acres the people of Ōrākei believe could be returned.

Video: Whai Maia Trust 1 Ltd

In January 1977, the Ōrākei Māori Action Committee takes direct action to prevent the subdivision of Bastion Point. They occupy the site for 506 days, refusing to leave their ancestral lands.

This protest causes a split within the tribe, as the protestors have broken the law by ‘trespassing on Crown land’. A group of elders had been negotiating with the Crown for the return of a 10-acre block.

On 25 May 1978, the government sends a massive armed force of police and army personnel to evict the occupiers. 222 people are arrested, and their temporary meeting house, buildings and gardens are demolished. The Bastion Point eviction remains a blemish in the history of New Zealand, and it continues to be a point of both contention and redemption for members of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei.

Video: Whai Maia Trust 1 Ltd


Tumutumuwhenua is the wharenui (meeting house) of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei. It is a bastion for generations of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei.

This timeline documents important events related to Tumutumuwhenua.

  • 1959
    The government designates a site and later builds a national marae for Ngā Hau e Whā (people of the four winds) on Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei ancestral lands. This is a gross insult to their mana.
  • 1963
    A new chapel is opened. Piki, the daughter of Korokī, is given the key and her people perform the opening ceremony. Soil from the site of the old wharenui, Te Puru o Tāmaki, is blessed in the new church. The soil is then scattered on land designated for a new marae and where the new wharenui will stand. This symbolises continuity between the former and the new wharenui.
  • 1971
    Work begins on the new wharenui.
  • 1972
    The New Zealand Forest Service provides 2000 cubic feet of tōtara from the Whirinaki forest, of Ngāti Whare for carvings.
  • 1974
    The exterior of the new wharenui, Tumutumuwhenua, is nearly complete. Esteemed elders Hēnare Tūwhāngai and Whitiora Kupa conduct a dawn ceremony to lift the tapu, allowing work on the interior to commence, including tukutuku and panelling.
  • 1976
    An administration building opens.
  • 1990
    The wharenui is gutted by fire. It is refitted and redecorated with tukutuku and kōwhaiwhai designs. The carvings are sandblasted and reinstalled in the wharenui.

Video: Whai Maia Trust 1 Ltd

A Pāora Tūhaere genealogy

On 30 November 1866, in a crowded courtroom that includes members of Ngāti Whātua – distinguished by having their hair adorned with albatross feathers – Pāora Tūhaere stands and declares: ‘My mother was Tuha, Apihai Te Kawau's sister. I was born at Hikurangi 1825 with the women of Taoū. I was born there when the women of Te Taoū went hither when the pā of Mauinaina was taken. My tribes are Waiohua, Te Taoū and Ngāti Whātua also. That is on my father's side. I came from Waikato to Ōrākei when a boy. I have been living at Ōkahu since I first went there. I remember a pā being built there since before Governor Hobson came to this country. There were no other people living in the neighbourhood then. According to Māori Custom, the land belongs to Apihai.’

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei are continuously researching their history. This published narrative is done to the best of their knowledge.

First published in 2021 by Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei and Manatū Taonga.

© Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei 2021.