Land Loss Since 1840
War and Confiscation
West Coast Commission
Ngati Mutunga and Parihaka
Ngati Mutunga Seek Justice
Ngati Mutunga descend from a number of ancestors who lived in the area occupied today by nga uri o nga tupuna o Ngati Mutunga. These ancestors include Tokauri, Tokatea, Mihirau, Heruika, Purakino, Rakaupounamu, Uenuku (son of Ruawahia), Hineweo, Hineno, Te Hihiotu, Kahukura and Mutunga.
We also descend from ancestors who arrived on the Tokomaru, Tahatuna and Okoki waka such as Taitaawaro, Manaia and Nganganaruru. Over generations the descendants of these tupuna intermarried and became generally known as Ngati Mutunga.
Prior to the arrival of tauiwi to Aotearoa, the Ngati Mutunga Iwi was an autonomous, independent and self governing confederation of hapu. These hapu included:
- Te Kekerewai (also known as Ngati Rangi, made up of the sub groupings of Ngati Te Uruwhakawai, Ngati Korokino, and Ngati Tutewheuru),
- Ngati Hinetuhi (descendants of Te Hihiotu)
- Ngati Aurutu (descendants of Aurutu)
- Ngati Okiokinga (descendants of Okiokinga)
- Ngati Kura (descendants of Hineno)
- Ngati Uenuku (descendants of Uenuku son of Ruawahia)
- Ngati Tupawhenua (descendants of Uenuku son of Ruawahia)
- Kaitangata (descendants of Tukaweriri, Hineweo and Te Ito)
As Ngati Mutunga we exercised tino rangatiratanga over our traditional rohe. The historical hapu no longer form distinct communities within Ngati Mutunga. In more recent times we have operated as a single tribal grouping.
Considerable migration occurred in the nineteenth century in which Ngati Mutunga joined with neighbouring or related groups to travel bck and forth from Taranaki. This was not, of course, a single exodus, but several heke (migrations) over time mainly to the Wellington District and Wharekauri (Chatham Islands). While the heke took place, small settlements throughout the rohe maintained ahi kaa and were present on the return of the majority of the Iwi in 1848 and 1868.
The loss of Ngati Mutunga ancestral land following British settlement began after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. Increasing settlement led to pressures on land in Taranaki by and on behalf of the settlers. The amount sold did not satisfy settler demand and increasing pressure began to be placed on the people of Taranaki to sell further land.
At the same time the Crown attempted to prevent the return to their ancestral homelands of members of Ngati Mutunga who had temporarily settled elsewhere during the period preceding 1840.
From the 1840s the Crown purchased large areas of land in Taranaki to satisfy settlers’ demands for land. Agreements were reached between Rangatira from various iwi in Taranaki to resist further sales. The Crown was determined to overcome this policy, often reaching agreements on sales without the permission of all rangatira concerned. The flashpoint for armed conflict between Taranaki Maori and the Crown was an attempt by the Crown to force the sale of the Pekapeka Block at Waitara despite the opposition of Wiremu Kingi, the principal rangatira of Waitara.
The Crown persisted with negotiations for the block. Following attempts by Waitara Maori to resist the surveying of the disputed land, the Crown proclaimed martial law throughout Taranaki in February 1860. War broke out in March when Crown troops attacked a fortified Pa built by Wiremu Kingi to command road access to the Pekapeka Block.
Members of Ngati Mutunga joined the forces supporting Wiremu Kingi. During the fighting the Crown built military redoubts on Ngati Mutunga land at Urenui, Wai-iti and Papatiki. Urenui and Wai-iti were existing Pa sites and Urenui was one of the principal kainga of Ngati Mutunga.
The war would have lasting consequences for Ngati Mutunga.
The New Zealand Settlements Act of 1863 provided for the confiscation of Maori land when the Crown determined an iwi, or a significant number of members of an iwi, had been in rebellion against the Queen.
In January 1865 “Middle Taranaki” was declared a confiscation district and in September of that year two other districts were declared, Ngatiawa and Ngatiruanui. The Ngatiawa district included Ngati Mutunga’s entire rohe and the Crown assumed ownership of all the land within that district.
A Compensation Court set up under the New Zealand Settlements Act was intended to return land to some of those affected by the confiscations, principally those who were deemed not in rebellion against the Crown. Every member of Ngati Mutunga who sought the return of their land was required to do so through the Compensation Court. Those deemed rebels could not make claims.
In 1866, the Court made 87 awards totalling 9000 acres for the Ngati Mutunga area. The awards were made to individuals rather than iwi, the customary way in which we had held title to our lands.
As more members of Ngati Mutunga returned to the rohe from the Chatham Islands and elsewhere the pressure for the return of land grew. Those returning were placed on land by the Crown (the current site of Urenui golf course), but had no security of tenure. The Crown described these Ngati Mutunga as squatters.
More than ten years later, when the Crown appointed a Commission of Inquiry (known as the West Coast Commission) into the promises made to Taranaki Maori about confiscated land, none of the land awarded by the Compensation Court to Ngati Mutunga had been allocated or granted. Nor had the Crown implemented an earlier proclamation guaranteeing the retention of 5% of any land sold in a confiscation district to provide for reserves.
The West Coast Commission process identified approximately 16,000 acres for return to Ngati Mutunga but because the pace of settlement had had left most coastal and flat land in the hands of British settlers, the land returned was in rough and inaccessible bush. Our people were left with little land for growing food. Sale of this land, transferred under individual title, was initially restricted, but the restrictions were removed and much was subsequently sold.
Where reserves intended for Taranaki Maori were established, the owners had no control over their land. Control of the land was instead in the hands of the Public Trustee who leased the land to settlers, usually without the consent of the owners. The West Coast Settlement Reserve ct of 1892 made the leases on these lands perpetually renewable and rents were based on the unimproved value of the land, with the owners meeting the costs for surveying, fencing, drainage and roads out of this rent. With the provisions of this Act, reserves intended for Taranaki Maori, including Ngati Mutunga, became permanent European settlements.
Resistance to the actions of the Crown in Taranaki included the movement for peace and independence led by Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi. Members of Ngati Mutunga joined the movement and lived in the movement’s settlement at Parihaka.
When the Crown began surveying confiscated land near Parihaka in 1878, Te Whiti and Tohu offered passive resistance to both the surveyors and the settlers who followed. Survey pegs were lifted and surveyors denied access. Where settlers had arrived, the land was ploughed or fenced by Te Whiti’s and Tohu’s followers. The ploughing took place throughout Taranaki and within the Ngati Mutunga rohe it took place at Urenui, Wai-iti and Mimi.
More than 600 of those who had taken part in the resistance organised by Te Whiti and Tohu were arrested and imprisoned, Ngati Mutunga members among them, including Te Rangipuahoaho, a prominent Rangatira. Other Ngati Mutunga people arrested and imprisoned were: Heta Namu, Tahana Kawhe, Pitiroi Paekaha, Tiemi Hohepa, Hare Te Paea, Tapihana, Tamihana Te Karu, Wi Pukere, Tukaweriri, Turangapeke, Wi Watikini, Harawira Wharetutaki, Te Kooti, Hira Tomo, Matene, Te Whao, Wiremu Neera, Wharemate, Te Rehumarangai, Te Peina, Tupoki and Pene.
The conditions of their imprisonment were harsh. The experience of Pitiroi Paekaha, who died while incarcerated in Dunedin, was symbolised in the names of his children: Te Kirihaehae (lasing of the skin), Matengaro (lost death/hidden death) and Ngarukeruke (discarded body).
In November 1881 more than 1500 Crown troops invaded Parihaka and 1600 people who were not originally from that settlement were expelled and made to return to their previous homes.
In spite of this treatment Ngati Mutunga continued to seek justice and seven Crown inquiries in the late 19th and early 20th centuries investigated the impact of the confiscations on our people. These culminated in the Sim Commission of 1926-27, which, although limited in the extent of its inquiries, gave serious consideration to our grievances for the first time.
Among other things, the Commission found that the consent of Wiremu Kingi and his people were required for the sale of the Pekapeka Block, that Taranaki Maori were treated as rebels and war declared against them without cause, that in fighting against the Crown, Taranaki Maori were acting in self defence and that the confiscations of land by the Crown should not have occurred.
The settlement sum recommended by the Commission for injustices was a £5000 annuity and a £300 payment for the loss of property at Parihaka. The compensation was never discussed with Taranaki Maori. Ngati Mutunga, and other iwi of Taranaki, regarded the compensation as inadequate. Payments of the annuity for the first 17 years were irregular and, in the 1930s, were not fully paid. Nor, in years of high inflation, were they adjusted for the loss of value.
The settlement was enshrined in the Taranaki Maori Claims Settlement Act 1944 that stated Taranaki Maori agreed to the annuity and the £300 payment as full settlement of our claims arising from the confiscations and Parihaka. There is no evidence Ngati Mutunga, or any other Iwi of Taranaki, agreed to this.
Ngati Mutunga rights were further eroded by legislation in the 1950s and 1960s when specific interests in reserves located within our rohe were removed and replaced with general interests in reserves throughout Taranaki and land sales to leases were made easier. By 1974 more than 63% of our original reserves under the control of the Public Trustee had been alienated.
Ngati Mutunga also lost land during the 20th century through public works legislation. Land lost included Okoki Pa and part of Pukemiro Pa, both significant wahi tapu.
Loss of land also affected our capacity to sustain ourselves beyond the loss of our ability to cultivate food. Our access to rivers, lakes, forests, swamps and the foreshore was also impeded as alienated land close to these food gathering areas was enclosed. Such access difficulties continue to this day.
The reacquisition of assets and access rights to resources was seen as extremely important to the future development of Ngati Mutunga. Economic activity has been minimal in the past with few Iwi assets held as a result of the complete confiscation of Ngati Mutunga resources during the 19th century.
From 1996 to 2006 Ngati Mutunga undertook Treaty settlement negotiations with the New Zealand Government to address this issue. A Deed of Settlement was successfully concluded with the Crown on 31 July 2005 and Parliament passed the Ngati Mutunga Claims Settlement Act in November 2006.