COLOR-Waatea logo 2016-final

On Air Now
Radio Waatea

03:00pm - 06:00pm
Ed Sheeran

Ihumātao Te Riri Pākehā | The White Man’s Anger
Photo suplied

Share to Email
Share to RSS
Share to Print

Dr Rawiri Taonui                       


1. Te Riri Pākehā | The White Man’s Anger

This column is the first in a series tracing the historical injustices behind Ihumātao.

Ihumātao is injustice echoing along a 156 year corridor to the present. Inflicted by the Crown on the indigenous tribes of Ngāti Te Ahiwaru Waiohua, Te Ākitai Waiohua and Te Kawerau ā Maki, the multiple real and representative confiscations at Ihumātao, perpetrated for the benefit of Auckland, are uniquely unjust and the cumulative suffering among the worst for any tribe in New Zealand.

The Sim Royal Commission Report (1928)Waitangi Tribunal Manukau Report (1985) and the Te Kawerau ā Maki Deed of Settlement (2014) paint a litany of loss and disdain for Te Ākitai Waiohua and Te Kawerau ā Maki. Within 130 years of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, they had lost nearly all their wāhi tapu, urupā, papakāinga, whanga and awa.

Virtually landless, consequently destitute, and their communities demographically shattered, reduced and dispersed on scale with a Lemkinian cultural genocide, their remnant populations retreated to small enclaves centred around marae in Ihumātao and Pūkaki.


The Pākehā War

Te Ākitai Waiohua and Te Kawerau ā Maki are distinct tribes emanating from different principal ancestors, Maki and Hua. In Auckland for many centuries, they shared overlapping and intersecting interests with other tribes ranging from South Auckland to Whangapāraoa and from the Waitākere Forest to the Hauraki Gulf. Waiohua was centred more to the eastern Manukau and central Auckland; and Te Kawerau more to West Auckland, the Waitākere Forest and Kaipara Harbour.

During the 1840s, the constituent hapū of Waiohua - Te Ākitai, Ngāti Rori and Ngāti Ahiwaru at Ihumātao and Pūkaki enjoyed reciprocally beneficial relationships with Europeans centred on a robust food economy supplying a rapidly growing Pākehā Auckland. They owned one of the first flour mills in the country.

A sharp 1850s increase in European settler numbers and economic power led to mounting demands for more Māori land. Protecting position and place, Waikato and South Auckland Māori resisted further land sales and united under the first Māori King, Pōtatau Te Wherowhero who moved from Ihumātao to the Waikato.

Pākehā politicians responded that if Māori would not sell, then war and confiscation would ensue. The Great South Road was constructed to the Mangatāwhiri Stream border with the Waikato, a chain of stockades built, gunboats gathered, troops assembled and the New Zealand Settlements Act (1863) drawn up to confiscate land from any ‘evilly disposed natives … deemed to be in rebellion’.

Thus readied, on 9 July 1863, officials delivered a ‘Notice’ demanding that all Māori in South Auckland surrender their arms and swear allegiance to the Crown or be ‘ejected’ across the Mangatāwhiri Stream. Sir Jon Gorst wrote that Māori thanked Pākehā officials for their ‘act of kindness’ in ‘warning of the evil to come’ and said they would go and ‘die with their fathers and friends in the Waikato’.

Historian Vincent O’Malley likened the subsequent eviction to the 1830s Trail of Tears of the Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek, Chickasaw and Seminole in the United States. As with that episode, many Māori would not reach the Waikato. Already on the march, colonial troops reached the Mangatāwhiri the following day. Others arrived at Ihumātao and Pūkaki to clear the settlements. This pincher caught many Māori in a ‘No Man’s Land’ between South Auckland and the Waikato.


Applying a scorched earth policy, gunboats, soldiers and settlers destroyed canoes across the Manukau, looted possessions, raided food stores, burnt houses, and stole and sold Māori livestock. Māori sought shelter from the mayhem where they could or hid in the bush. Tony Simpson wrote that many of the infirm and very young died of exposure and starvation.

On the Great South Road, some soldiers allowed Māori columns ‘safe passage’, others plundered their possessions and livestock. Many Māori were ‘captured’ and without warrant or charge imprisoned. More died. Waiohua leader, Ihaka Takanini and 21 others were imprisoned in Ōtāhuhu. There, Ihaka’s father and two of his children died. The survivors were transported to Rākino Island where Ihaka would also die. Only his wife, Riria, and one son, Te Wirihana, and four others returned to Pūkaki - Ihumātao. An 1864 report to Parliament found the imprisonment of Ihaka and his people wrongful and against the instructions of the Attorney General. As recently as 2011, the Te Ākitai Waiohua Iwi Authority requested the return of the missing 16 bodies. If not in body, then in soul they too were confiscated.

Māori who remained in Auckland, mainly Ngāti Whātua at Ōrākei, swore allegiance to the Crown, lived under curfew and in a practice mirroring 1930s Germany wore coloured armbands when venturing out during the day.

Raupatū Confiscation

First by Proclamation in 1864, and a year later under the Settlements Act, the Crown formally confiscated 445 hectares at Ihumātao and 525 at Pūkaki. In 1867, the land was sold to European settlers through Crown Grants, including the 32 hectares at Ōruarangi to Gavin Wallace, now owned by Fletcher Residential. Wallace and his descendants the Blackwell family would farm the land for 150 years.

In 1928, the Sim Royal Commission condemned the confiscations as an ‘excessive’ and ‘grave injustice’ among the worse in the country because the Crown had forced the Māori of Ihumātao and Pūkaki into rebellion. The Manukau Report went further stating in the firmest terms that none at Ihumātao and Pūkaki were in rebellion, rather the Crown without justification or provocation had attacked them in direct violation of Article 2 of the Treaty of Waitangi.

The Settlements Act allowed Māori to submit claims for the return of their land. Māori returning to Ihumātao and Pūkaki in the 1890s did so. Having already sold off most of the land, Crown returns were an infinitesimally small proportion of losses.


Nevertheless, a small settlement flourished at Puketāpapa papakāinga (Ihumātao village) and built Makaurau marae. In 2016, the settlement numbered 67 homes and about 210 people. A similar papakāinga and marae was established at Pūkaki with up to 200 families living there by the 1950s.

Te Kawerau ā Maki

In the west, Te Kawerau ā Maki had lost the Waitākere Forest to an avaricious timer industry, land to Compulsory Purchase, Public Works and sales by non-owners. Pākehā urban sprawl swallowed their central lands. Confined to a few papatipu lands in the Waitākere and Piha areas, in 1912 most of Te Kawerau ā Maki moved to live with related whānau in Ngāti Whātua at Ōrākei or with Waiohua at Pūkaki and Ihumātao. Some periodically returned to live at Te Henga up until the 1960s. By then, Te Kawerau lost all their marae. The over-crowding at Ihumātao and Pūkaki led to demographic drift and by compressing two iwi and several hapū into two marae sowed the seeds of current mana whenua tensions.

The Airport Confiscation

The Manukau Report said that when Māori interests are regarded as one of many public interests Māori rank as the lowest priority. When the Crown and local bodies began construction of Auckland International Airport in 1960, they swept aside Māori concerns. 1000 hectares of fishing grounds were lost. Ōtuataua, the centrepiece maunga on the Ōtuataua Stonefields, the maunga on Puketūtū Island and Maunga Taketake, the Everlasting Mountain and birthplace of the Tāwhiao the second King were quarried, for the runway.

Airport related zoning and other restrictions crippled the papakāinga at Pūkaki. Houses fell into disrepair. Owners sold land under worthless houses for what they could get. Others walked away, local bodies seizing their properties for non-payment of rates. A three-acre block was set aside as a reservation so that at least a marae stood on the land. The Māori Land Court twice failed to gazette the land and it was accidentally sold. Taken by regulation rather than Public Works no compensation was paid. For the second time in a century, the papakāinga of Te Ākitai Waiohua was by default ‘confiscated’ for the benefit of Auckland.

Anguish repeated when in 2007 construction began on a second runway. One year later three kōiwi were uncovered. In 2009, 85 more were uncovered in one urupā. In a debacle of consultation, the airport appeared to consult both Makaurau and Pūkaki marae on the first remains but did not talk to Makaurau marae when the second larger group was uncovered (here and here). The kōiwi were returned to the Te Ākitai Waiohua Iwi Authority in 2013. Another stage of development will begin in 2025. There will be more urupā. They remain confiscated.


Some years later, airport restrictions were lifted and Te Ākitai Waiohua began a second revival that has lesson for the Crown.

In 1990, the Manukau City Council returned the titles for an urupā and Te Pūkaki Tapu o Poutūkeka (the Pūkaki Lagoon crater) to the Pūkaki Māori Marae Committee in recognition of the Manukau Report. Later, Chief Judge Arnold Turner, who learnt of the loss when presiding in the Planning Tribunal, persuaded his relatives of Turners and Growers Ltd to gift land back to Te Ākitai Waiohua for a marae. The Manukau City Council and Auckland International Airport in an effort to make restitution on previous losses put in roading. A new marae was opened in 2004.

In 2007, the Council purchased 25 hectares of private land around the crater establishing the Pūkaki Crater Reserve to be jointly managed with Te Ākitai Waiohua. With the support of several Crown and community bodies, a papakāinga rebuild was launched. As of 2016, 13 homes had been built.

The efforts of the Council, a Pākehā family and community groups above and beyond the stringent boundaries of Treaty settlement frameworks is a clear indicator to the Crown about how to address the confiscation at the heart of Ihumātao.

Confiscation by Tūtae

Auckland has a history of shitting on Māori. Auckland’s management of human waste mirrors the low priority accorded Māori concerns at Auckland International Airport. In 1914, an expanding Auckland decided to discharge its waste across the frontage of the Ngāti Whātua village at Ōkahu Bay - Ōrākei. Ngāti Whātua protests were ignored, the foreshore polluted, shellfish beds despoiled, seaward access blocked, and rain turned the village into a quagmire. Adding insult to tūtae, the council refused to connect Ngāti Whātua to the city’s fresh water supply.

On the unconscious premise that polluting Māori settlements was preferable to defiling new European suburbs steadily expanding past Ōkahu Bay, in 1960 Auckland’s shit slithered southward to the new Manukau Sewage Purification Works whose 500 hectare oxidation ponds, the largest of its kind in the world, crossed the frontage of Ihumātao.

For 40 years, tens of millions of litres of semi-treated human and industrial waste streamed daily into the Manukau Harbour. Ihumātao and Pūkaki lost all their shell beds, the kaimoana rich Ōruarangi, Pūkaki and Waokauri streams were blocked. The smell putrid, midges inundated homes.

Pākehā landowners were paid compensation. Māori at Ihumātao were not. Application was made to the Māori Land Court in 1961, but the Court disbarred from hearing compensation claims. This passed to the Māori Trustee who refused to hear cases dating before 1962.

In a mordant affront, Pūkaki and Ihumātao, the closest communities to the works were among the last to be connected. For a third time the resources of Ihumātao and Pūkaki had been confiscated for the benefit of Auckland.

To their credit, in 2000 Watercare Auckland initiated an upgrade including removing the oxidation ponds and cleaning the foreshore. A new waste plan includes pushing solid waste shit uphill to rebuild Puketūtū. They did not restore mana whenua streams.


Treaty of Waitangi Settlements

Te Kawerau ā Maki signed a Deed of Settlement in 2014. Financial compensation comprised a $6.5 million interest in the Riverhead Forest. This is less than for other tribes, not because Te Kawerau ā Maki losses were lower but because Te Kawerau, without critical population and marae, lacked presence at the table of negotiation.

As post-1900 refugees into Ihumātao and Pūkaki, the Te Kawerau ā Maki settlement did not include consideration of the 1865 confiscation. Moreover, the low financial compensation and settlement a year after Fletcher Building had entered into an agreement to buy the land from the Blackwell family, meant they were in no position to contribute to a buyback of the Ōruarangi land and avert the current conflict. The National government is at fault for failing to caveat or finance the land.

Raupatū is a part of the Crown and the Ākitai Waiohua Agreement in Principle signed in 2016. This is set to include $9 million commercial redress. Although finalising of a Deed of Settlement may still be some way off, there is an opportunity to do something constructive around Ihumātao.

Crown settlement policy is not to buy back private land. This derives from the 1993 Amendment to the Treaty of Waitangi Act that bars consideration of purchasing private land for return in settlements. The amendment stems from a Waitangi Tribunal recommendation for buyback in the Te Roroa case. The then National government, responding to a paranoid Pākehā backlash that Māori would reclaim their properties, banned consideration of private land in settlements. More restrictively, the definition of private land included all non-Crown land owned by private individuals, local bodies and companies. If there is a case worthy of an innovative solution it is the unjust enigma of confiscated land and consequential reduction at Ihumātao and Pūkaki.

The time differential between the Te Kawerau ā Maki settlement in 2014 and yet to be settled Te Ākitai Waiohua claim has established a tension between Te Ākitai Waiohua as a ‘pre-settlement’ entity with less assets and ‘post-settlement’ Te Kawerau ā Maki with more capital and resources. It has also aggravated a contradiction between Crown recognised mandated mana whenua and mana whenua recognised on the marae.

The Fletcher Confiscation

All things at Ihumātao go back to the original confiscation, which the Sim Commission described as a grave injustice, and from which the community has not yet recovered.

The Auckland International Airport induced abandonment of Pūkaki and management of waste in the Manukau wielded further hammer blows upon Ihumātao and Pūkaki.

Unable to re-establish a substantial land base except for the enclaves at Ihumātao and Pūkaki, Te Ākitai Waiohua and Te Kawerau ā Maki suffered a near catastrophic demographic obliteration as whanau dispersed in search of survival beyond the absence of a central land base.

As Auckland’s urban arm clawed towards Ihumātao, the compression of two iwi has rendered Te Ākitai Waiohua and Te Kawerau ā Maki vulnerable; internally to division, and externally to the mercy of the Crown, local councils, developers and culturally rather than justice centred legal processes. The Fletcher Residential development is a fourth confiscation.


Dr Rawiri Taonui CertPh, BA, MA (Hons1), GradDipBus, PhD
Director | Writer | Adviser


Copyright © 2019, UMA Broadcasting Ltd:

'Te Hononga' Urban Māori Stories
With NZ First sliding into political irrelevance, can the Maori Party save Jacinda?
Martyn 'Bomber' Bradbury: The latest political poll spells real danger to the Labour-led Government. After ruling NZ First out as a possible coalition partner by National, NZF has slumped to 3%.
Oranga Tamariki review: Deplorable, despicable and unacceptable !
Martyn 'Bomber' Bradbury, The Whānau Ora report into Oranga Tamariki is out, and it is a deplorable, despicable and unacceptable read!
Marama Davidson's Tamaki Makaurau attempt a chance for the Māori Party
Martyn 'Bomber' Bradbury: One of the problems for the Green Party is that it is essentially a middle class party focused on alienating Identity Politics over and above the actual environment.





Enter your email address to receive regular updates from Waatea News.
  • fb

On Air Now
Radio Waatea

03:00pm - 06:00pm