Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


In Mid March, a mapping project commenced of the historic Ngati Porou Pa site, Hungahungatoroa in the Karakatuwhero Valley, Te Araroa.

Date:  27 April 2010

In Mid March, Department of Conservation (DOC) staff with the help of locals, commenced a mapping project of the historic Ngati Porou pa site Hungahungatoroa in the Karakatuwhero Valley, Te Araroa. Its historical significance became better known in the times of the Hauhau wars.

Michelle Wanoa (with clipboard), Mereana Henare (seated), Ginger Walker, and students from Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Kawakawa mai Tawhiti following; commence mapping project from the top of the Pa Site. Photo: Trudi Ngawhare.
Mapping the site

The Hauhau Wars raged in the 1860’s. A Maori religious movement called Pai Marire, founded in Taranaki, rejected Christianity and British colonisation. It was readily absorbed by many Maori who were becoming displaced from their ancestral lands. Pai Marire also known as Hauhau, moved through Ngati Porou, resisting British sovereignty. Government forces with Ngati Porou who had pledged an allegiance to the crown, moved to extricate these Hauhau forces driving them from pa sites from Gisborne up the Northern East Coast.

The Hauhau finally fortified themselves at Hungahungatoroa. It was a pallisaded stronghold settled deep in the bush, surrounded by cliffs. The government force lead by Lieutenant Biggs and Ropata Wahawaha was unrelentless in their attack and eventually 500 Ngati Porou Hauhau were compelled to surrender. Of that group, 16 ringleaders were exiled to the Chatham Islands. They later escaped in 1868 with the infamous Te Kooti Rikirangi Te Turuki. The remaining Ngati Porou in custody were forced to pledge allegiance to the Queen and salute the British flag before being released on parole. British domination ensured that there would be no further “rebellion” again.

From left: Bennet Haenga, Michelle Wanoa, Ranger Hal Hovell, and Te Aoturoa tutor Tamatea Kopua scope the landscape features along the tape measure. Photo: Pam Bain.
Recording the landscape features

Upon the more recent visit to the pa, remnants of the historic settlement still remain. DOC Ranger Hal Hovell guided students and staff from Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Kawakawa mai Tawhiti, local community members and Te Aoturoa Tutors around the site pointing out kumara pits, gun pit trenches, whare, and palisade sites. Highlighting the logic of these earthworks and how they would have been used. With the expertise of Historic Assets Ranger Pam Bain, the group began to measure out the area for mapping.

“Many communities record their historic sites, but not too many map these areas” says Ms Bain. “It’s great to see the community taking that extra step, getting out on the sites, driven by a keen interest to learn about their heritage through this practical exercise. With participation of both the pakeke and the rangatahi, it’s a very valuable way of ensuring that the stories and care for these sites will continue through generations”.

Doug Katae speaking to students from Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Kawakawa mai Tawhiti about the history of the Pa site and identifying native trees. Photo: Pam Bain.
Doug Katae speaks to students from Te
Kura Kaupapa Maori o Kawakawa mai
Tawhiti about the history of the pa

“Hungahungatoroa is the first of 36 pa sites from East Cape to the Pukeamaru Ranges to be mapped” says Te Araroa Ranger Hal Hovell. “Our community have held a number of weekend wananga over the last year which discussed ancestral pa sites, waahi tapu, and significant historic sites. The mapping project is a follow on from these wananga, so as to retain a record of the historic features on these sites”.

Hungahungatoroa is protected as part of the Pukeamaru Scenic Reserve, and the local Maunga ‘Whetumatarau’, also a key historic pa site, already holds Maori Reservation status as a place of historic and scenic interest. The community plan is to map the rest of the 36 pa so they can all be included with the Historic Reserve status.


Cowan, James (1922) The New Zealand Wars: A History of the Maori Campaigns and the Pioneering Period, Vol 2 (Wellington: Government Printing Office).

Back to top