Maori have a proud History in Waipu and Bream Bay

Thanks to Marilyn of the Bream Bay News for printing this report.  Ever since I have been living in Waipu, I have tried to uncover more of this story, and it has not been easy.  At first I was told there were no Maori here when the Nova Scotians arrived, then that Maori assisted them, but it has been hard to find more out.  As a people who came to New Zealand having been forced off their land in the Scottish Highlands, perhaps present day descendents and residents should support Patuharakeke in pursuing this claim.  And if Piroa is the name of this magnificent range of hills that bound Bream Bay, I for one would like to reclaim it.

Marsden B Power Station before it was dismantled

Marsden B Power Station before it was dismantled

The Patuharakeke Iwi Trust Board is seeking an urgent hearing at the Waitangi Tribunal and has asked Mighty River Power to stop the sale of the 40-hectare former site of the Marsden A and B Power Stations at Ruakaka. The titles of both the power station site and the access to them have Section 27b memorials on them to indicate the Waitangi Tribunal could recommend the land be returned to Maori ownership.

The Patuharakeke Board will also be asking why the whole 166 hectares of industrial land in Ruakaka, which Mighty River Power is advertising with the real estate company Colliers International does not have Section 27b Memorials, as this is Crown land and, although it may have passed through private hands before being purchased by the Electricity Corporation in the late 1970s, the land was part of the Poupouwhenua block, which the Trust says, was illegally confiscated by the Crown in 1844.

Below is an explanation by Patuharakeke researcher Dr. Guy Gudex as to why the Patuharakeke Iwi Trust Board believes it has a just claim to this land.

Many people are unaware of the background to the devastating land loss that Patuharakeke have experienced and the reasons why. There is just an assumption that the land was purchased by the Crown and I suspect many people living in Waipu assume that there was no one living there before the Nova Scotians arrived which is certainly not the case. The Waipu block was 40,000 acres and the Ruakaka block 14,800 acres and not one single acre of these two blocks has been left by the Crown in Maori ownership, and so Patuharakeke were relegated to living just at Takahiwai from the 1850s.

That is why the marae at Takahiwai is the only one from the South side of the Whangarei Harbour all the way to Pakiri – because the Crown left no land for Maori in that whole coastal strip. James Busby purchased a large area at Ruakaka and Waipu in December 1839 – he paid 40 pounds and some other items including 60 blankets for an area of about 100,000 acres. This purchase was not recognised as valid by the Crown following further investigations in 1841 and 1842. Historians have shown clearly that Maori who agreed to sell land in the 1840s and 1850s thought they were only selling a right for the buyer to use the land, that the land was based on a mutual benefit, not
that the land was given up for ever.

250px-JamesBusbyNZBusby had been “British Resident “ in NZ based in Russell, carried a lot of influence and his purchase was probably NZ/s first case of ‘Insider Trading’ – he would have been aware that the land he was purchasing only 6 weeks ahead of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi and would have been aware of the Crown plans to stop Maori from selling land to anyone except the Crown once the Treaty was signed.

Many people are unaware that Busby was paid 36,000 pounds in compensation in 1868 by the Crown (a huge amount in those days ) for his old claims at Ngunguru and Ruakaka – quite a capital gain over 25 years for a 40 pound outlay (and some blankets).

In terms of background, the block called Poupouwhenua was 5000 acres and included all of the Marsden Point area across to One Tree Point, down to the old freshwater
lake, which is now filled in.  It was immediately to the North of the Ruakaka block.

This block was conviscated by the Crown late in 1944 as compensation for a house that was burnt down in Matakana earlier that year by a group that included a chief from
Patuharakeke. The settler’s house was burnt down because of a dispute about the land it was on. The Auckland Provincial Governor was later quoted in the Southern Cross
Newspaper as saying that following an investigation he was satisfied that the events in Matakana had been exaggerated but the land was still taken. This is the land where the Marsden Point Oil Refinery is located, also most of the Mighty River Power surplus lands, the Marsden Cove Marina etc.

The Crown deed in 1854 regarding Poupouwhenua was in fact a payment of 10 pounds for the claims of two Whangarei chiefs to 150 acres of the 5000 acres of Poupouwhenua (an area called Rauiri) This was not a deed of purchase but just a payment to extinguish their claims. Poupouwhenua was of great importance to Patuharakeke and provided access to the rich coastal and harbour sea food resources.

So actually the Native Title to Poupouwhenua has never been extinguished by the Crown by purchase or legislation (special laws were passed for instance to allow the Waikato Confiscations.

takahiwai_marae001002The Ruakaka and Waipu blocks were purchased by the Crown in 1854 and the Patuharakeke Trust Board claim to the Waitangi Tribunal outlines lots of Treaty breaches by the Crown with these purchases. There was a lot of pressure to sell so that the Nova Scotians could settle. The Crown paid 2 pence per acre for Waipu and 6 pence per acre for Ruakaka and straightaway on-sold this land to settlers for 10 shillings per acre (120 pence per acre) and so the price paid was unfair to Maori. Also the Crown purchaser Donald McLean had been told by the Crown to leave some of each block for Maori to live on.

He set aside none of the Waipu block and the reserve set aside in the Ruakaka block (1200 acres called Waiwarawara ) was not protected by the Crown as a reserve and sold 10 years later with the Crown’s encouragement leaving Patuharakeke with not one acre in Ruakaka, Waipu or One Tree Point. So Patuaharakeke missed out on the chance to have productive farms (the land at Takahiwai had also been broken up and about a third sold) and owned no land that would be of value commercially.

The tribe only has five acres now at Takahiwai in communal ownership, out of an original 100,000 acres.  The Crown has acknowledged that it’s actions left WhangareiMaori virtually landless and the claims are about trying to right some of those wrongs.

It helps if local people can understand what happened- after all the English perfected their techiniques of taking land in Ireland and Scotland first before coming to New Zealand.

Piroa or Bryderwyns?

One small example of the effect of the disconnection of Patuharakeke from the land is that most people know the hills as the Brynderwyns , unaware the Maori name is Piroa (hence the Piroa falls).  So you can see why Patuharakeke feels so badly treated by the Crown when on the one hand it says “sorry we left you without land” but on the other makes no attempt to discuss how Patuharakeke might be able to buy back the last of the confiscated Poupouwhenua that Mighty River is now trying to sell (MRP is 51% owned by the Crown) and this land came from the Crown.

It is their last chance to get a piece back.


  1. Jenny on July 20, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    Can anyone tell me the Maori name for Langs Beach please?


    • Rosemary Neave on July 20, 2014 at 5:11 pm

      I will facebook the question – I do not know, but someone will. You could contact someone from Patuharakeke

    • Rosemary Neave on July 29, 2014 at 9:58 am

      Hi Jenny, I have done some digging and Christine Birss, whose Grandfather first subdivided the family farm in 1927, named Wairahi Road, and her uncle said this is the only Maori name he knows associated with the area. Wai – water Rahi – Loud = The Noisy Surf perhaps.

  2. Rosemary Neave on June 22, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    In the latest Bream Bay News Marilyn reports that 90 year old Trevor McKenzie, a descendent of Duncan McKenzie says that Duncan became a fluent maori speaker, and the story was passed down that the Maori at Takahiwai befriended the new settlers. teaching them to make huts out of nikau and now to live in the bush.

  3. Ronelle Baker on June 22, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    As someone who wants to leave central Auckland, I was recently researching Waipu as an area to live, work and raise our children. Waipu is well known as a wonderful, close-knit community with strong Scottish heritage. However being of bi-cultural European and Maori descent, I was really glad to find and read this article. This is so far the only piece I have found which acknowledges the Tangata Whenua from the area and educates about their history. I hope that Patuharakeke are supported by the local community in their hearing at the Waitangi Tribunal and that serious consideration is given to the renaming of the Brynderwyns.

    • Rosemary Neave on June 22, 2014 at 1:54 pm

      HI ronelle, thanks for that. Last night at the Ceilidh it was great to see the primary school kapa haka group performing as well as enjoying the scottish country dancing. It is a great little community!

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