A045. Huharua, Pukewhanake, and Nga Kuri a Wharei

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Chapter 2: Pukewhanake: page 22  (16 pages)
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Pukewhanake is an ancient pa site located on the spur of a low hill running along the west bank of Wairoa River, near the river mouth. Today, Pukewhanake is included within the boundaries of lot 178, Parish of Te Puna, which is privately owned farmland (see Figure 6).63 It is visible from Te Puna Station Road which runs parallel to the hill and is fenced on private farm land. Pukewhanake is also near to where the East Coast Main Trunk Railway crosses the Wairoa River. The hill remains eye catching: Not because of any natural feature but rather because it has one side sheered away by quarrying (see Figure 10).

Pukewhanake is a very important site to Ngati Ranginui because it was the site of their first settlement in Tauranga. When Ranginui, the son of Tamatea Pokai Whenua, bought his people to Tauranga, he settled at Pukewhanake, and subsequently established Ngati Ranginui in the area by defeating Ngamarama.64 J.A. Wilson provides the following account:

Ranginui moved with his people from Hangaroa (between Poverty Bay and Wairoa, H.B.) to Tauranga, and camped on the left bank of the Wairoa, near where the bridge on the Katikati road is now. They were squatting on land belonging to Ngamarama, a numerous tribe, who owned the whole country west of Waimapu River. The Ngamarama resented the encroachment, and, to put a stop to it, caused two Ngatiranginui children to be drowned by their own children while bathing together in the Wairoa. The Ranginui children fled home and told what had been done to them. The tribe considered the matter, and next day the children were directed to return and bathe as though nothing had happened, and when the Ngamarama children joined them they were without fail to drown some of them; this the children did, and reported that they had drowned a Rangatira girl. War followed, resulting in time in the destruction and expatriation of Ngamarama, and this is how Ngatiranginui became possessed of Tauranga…65

Pukewhanake is therefore associated with the very establishment of Ngati Ranginui in Tauranga, and more particularly along the Wairoa River.

As well as Pukewhanake, there are many pa sites on both sides of the river, that have been identified by Des Kahotea as belonging to the hapu of Ngati Kahu, Ngati Pango, and Ngati Rangi (see Figure 7).66 These hapu are today generally considered as hapu of Ngati Ranginui, but they also trace their descent from Ngamarama.

63 Certificate of Title, 21B/122

64 Turi Te Kani and Wiremu Ohia, ‘A Maori History of Tauranga Moana’, in Evelyn Stokes, Te Raupatu o Tauranga Moana: Volume 2: Documents Relating to Tribal History, Confiscation and Reallocation of Tauranga Lands, University of Waikato, 1992, p 19

65 ‘Extract from J.A. Wilson, The Story of Te Waharoa and Sketches of Ancient Maori Life and History in Stokes, 1992, p 68

66 Des Tatana Kahotea, ‘Ngati Kahu, Ngati Pango, Ngati Rangi: Draft Report for the Waitangi Tribunal’, 1996