History of Mimiwhangata
IntroductionOral history and archaeological evidence shows Mimiwhangata was once inhabited by a substantial Maori community. Major pa sites are spread over the peninsula and it is possible to see the patterns of long gone vegetable gardens on the hills.
A traditional history of Mimiwhangata
Mimiwhangata was once the territory of Ngati Manaia who came to Taitokerau on board the waka Mahuhu ki-te-Rangi. They are the ancestors of Ngatiwai, whose rohe now extends from Cape Brett, down the east coast as far south as Great Barrier Island.
The iwi of Ngatiwai and Ngapuhi have hereditary ties through the union of the Ngapuhi chieftain Rahiri with Ahuaiti and Whakaruru, descendants of Manaia.
The relationship between the tribes was not always harmonious and Mimiwhangata was the scene of several of their momentous battles. In one of the largest battles, Ngapuhi warriors descended on Ngati Manaia in revenge for the murder of their kinsman, Te Waero who had married a Ngati Manaia woman.
Three pa were attacked simultaneously. Te Rea Rea on the east coast, Kaituna on the next headland to the north and Tarapata which is probably the pa on the northern tip of the peninsula. The majority of Ngati Manaia were slaughtered; those who survived fled and their descendants became Ngatiwai. The scene of the massacre at Kaituna is considered tapu by the Tangata Whenua.
Mimiwhangata also has a rich and varied European history, having been broken in for farming from the 1860s, a site of a short-lived shore-whaling venture in the 1870s, a haven for remmitance men and eloping lovers, a picnic spot for Queen Elizabeth II, and a coastal retreat for "Beer Barons" and politicians, and now the public.
A Mr Blanchard is recorded as being the first European owner, who sold to Henry Holman in 1838, before the Treaty of Waitangi. The land consequently passed through the hands of a series of owners who broke the land in and expanded the farm by purchasing neighbouring blocks. In the late 1870s Auckland newspapers reported whales being taken by a shorewhaling venture in Whale Bay. By the start of the 20th Century, the Cyclopaedia of New Zealand described Mimiwhangata Station in the following terms "Mimiwhangata borders the east coast for five miles and faces the bay from which it takes its name. The area of 1692 acres which, with the exception of 400 acres is fenced throughout and subdivided into 10 paddocks. Half the property is undulating, cleared and rich in grass and grazes over a thousand healthy sheep and about 150 head of cattle. The homestead is a very compete one with numerous outbuildings giving an air of substantiality. Puriri and pohutukawa timber abounds and is of considerable value".
In 1962 NZ Breweries (later to be known as Lion Nathan) purchased Mimiwhangata Station and a multimillion dollar tourist resort was planned. A series of environmental impact studies were commissioned in the early 1970s, including an archaeological survey. Consequently, when the natural, historical and archaeological values of Mimiwhangata were put down on paper for all to see, the Brewery reconsidered its plans to build a Surfer's Paradise-style strip of motels and hotels and a town of 9000 to service the resort. In 1975 a charitable trust was formed and the public allowed to return to Mimiwhangata in the form of a Farm Park. In 1986 Lion Nathan began negotiations with the Crown to exchange land in Wellington for Mimiwhangata, and this deal was finalised in 1993.
Archaeological and historic significance
The park contains a rich and diverse archaeological landscape, which indicates intensive pre-European occupation. Recorded sites include 12 pa, numerous undefended settlements or kainga, agricultural evidence and extensive midden. Within the farm park there are also several identified urupa.
Angela Calder undertook the first archaeological survey of Mimiwhangata Station in 1972, commissioned by New Zealand Breweries Ltd.,who at the time owned the area. A total of 112 sites were recorded. Phillips, Rahui and Horwood later recorded the sites at Paparahi Point in 1982 as part of a PEP scheme.
Further archaeological survey was undertaken between 1992 and 1993 by staff and volunteers of the DoC. This survey reassessed the condition of sites for the purposes of site management in addition to recording a number of new sites.
Along with Maori archaeological sites, other points of historic interest include the grave of Joseph Glenny atop Te Rearea Pa. Glenny, who used to captain scows up and down the east coast and died in 1892, asked to be buried facing out to the Poor Knights Islands.
From Te Rearea, fine views of Rimariki/Limerick Island can be had; the 20 hectare island just off Kaituna Bay was, for a short time, the home to a pair of teenage runaways from Auckland who built a house and planted gardens of hyacinth and fig trees around the turn of the century.
The existing Rangers house (built in 1922 on the site of an earlier farm house) and farm buildings point to the rich farming heritage of Mimiwhangata Station. "Queens Corner" at the western end of Mimiwhangata Bay was the spot where Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip, Prince Charles and Princess Anne came ashore from the Royal Yacht Brittania and spent and afternoon picnicking in 1970.