Tangata Whenua Iwi of Te Tau Ihu (Top of the South)

This page gives a brief history of iwi in the region and is taken from The Tangata Whenua Tribes of Te Tau Ihu by Hilary and John Mitchell.

Three of the eight tangata whenua iwi in Te Tau Ihu (Rangitane, Ngati Kuia and Ngati Apa) are of Kurahaupo waka origins; three (Ngati Toa, Ngati Koata and Ngati Rarua) descend from the Tainui waka; and two are from northern Taranaki (Ngati Tama of Tokomaru waka origins and Te Atiawa of Aotea or Kurahaupo descent).

Kuia, Rangitane and Apa were dramatically displaced as manawhenua iwi (having authority over the land) when they were defeated by the alliance of Tainui and Taranaki iwi (Ngati Toa, Ngati Koata, Ngati Rarua, Ngati Tama, Te Atiawa) c1828-1832, although they retain their tangata whenua status.

Toa, Koata and Rarua, had been forced to abandon their lands around Kawhia Harbour in 1821 by their better-armed Tainui cousins, Waikato and Ngati Maniapoto.

After a ten-month stay in north Taranaki with relatives (Ngati Tama, Ngati Mutunga and Te Atiawa), which was spent planting and harvesting crops, hunting, fishing and preserving foods, the Toa chief, Te Rauparaha, led Te Heke Tataramoa down the west coast of the North Island. This was named the Bramble Bush Expedition, because of the difficulties of the journey.

The Kawhia tribes and contingents of Tama, Mutunga and Atiawa conquered and occupied the districts of Rangitikei, Manawatu, Horowhenua, Otaki, Kapiti, Porirua and Whanganui-a-Tara (Wellington).

After establishing themselves there, the allies (minus Mutunga who had migrated to the Chathams) turned their attention to the South Island to exact utu on Kurahaupo who had challenged them at Kapiti, and to avenge insults.

Between 1828 and 1832, war parties conquered Te Tau Ihu (Nelson-Marlborough), and as far south as Kaiapoi and Okarito. Iwi subsequently agreed on the division of lands. Toa and some Rarua occupied the Wairau, Port Underwood, and northern Kaikoura Coast.

Atiawa spread throughout Queen Charlotte Sound and Tory Channel. Koata settled at Rangitoto (D'Urville Island), the Croisilles and outer Pelorus, while Toa stayed in Pelorus Valley and the inner Sound. Tama got Wakapuaka and Rarua, Atiawa and some Tama occupied Motueka, Mohua and Te Tai Tapu (on the west coast south of Farewell Spit). Those Kurahaupo who survived were enslaved or withdrew to inland hiding places.

From The Tangata Whenua Tribes of Te Tau Ihu by Hilary and John Mitchell