Volume 91 1982 > Volume 91, No. 1 > Maori settlement in the interior of Southern New Zealand from the early 18th to late 19th centuries A.D., by A. Anderson, p 53-80
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Beyond the coastward ranges of the southern South Island lies almost 40,000km2 of interior hill country, plains and basins (Fig. 1). At the arrival of Europeans, forest— mainly of beech — fringed the western lakes as far north as Ohau while to the east were extensive tussock grasslands, in places thickly grown with matagouri and speargrass. Not a single Maori occupied this immense region when surveyors and run-holders traversed it from every direction between 1852 and 1860.

As a consequence, the lack of a foundation of direct ethnographical observation has, in the works of Beattie (1945, 1949), Stevenson (1947) and Taylor (1952), encouraged the unstructured collation of alternative sources of evidence about the late prehistoric and early historic Maori settlement of the interior. Beattie, in particular, informally mixes together fragments of tradition, the recollections of his Maori informants, notes on archaeological discoveries, historical observations and place-name analyses; the whole interspersed with anecdotes ancient and modern and comments upon scenic attractions.

This paper, which attempts to describe the history and nature of Maori settlement in the interior between the early 18th and late 19th centuries, adopts a different approach. The information is divided into four categories: traditional accounts, the recollections of Maori informants, European observations and archaeological data. Each of these is outlined separately and the important issues of settlement each raises are considered individually before attempting to draw the evidence together in a consideration of settlement history and patterns.


The earliest outlines of South Island traditional history were recorded by Shortland (1851), from his informant Tuhawaiki in 1843 and by Stack (1877, 1898) from the Canterbury elders beginning about 1859. These, and later accounts which have drawn substantially upon them, say very

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The interior of southern New Zealand: districts and features mentioned in text.
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little about the interior, but they do provide a basic framework to which the later records of Chapman and especially Beattie can be attached.

Very little has survived of the history of Ngatimamoe and Waitaha (probably including Rapuwai and Katihawea) in the interior so that the records largely recount the skirmishes between these peoples and the invading Ngaitahu during the late 17th to 18th centuries. In the account which follows I have set the various incidents in order according to the genealogies of Stack and Shortland and have adopted a chronology based on Stack's original estimate of a 20-year generation length.

The Ngaitahu Raids

In order to understand the traditional events of the interior it is necessary to look back to the origins of the Ngaitahu arrival in the South Island. In the late 17th century two cousins, Tuahuriri and Tutekawa, were at war in the southern North Island, at first as allies against another Ngaitahu chief but then, as the result of an insult during battle, against each other. Tutekawa was compelled to flee to the South Island where he was welcomed by the Ngatimamoe, to whom he was connected on his mother's side, and also because he was prepared to assist them in battles against Waitaha (Stack 1877:69). At about the same time a similar set of events brought Manawa, Maru, Waitai and others of the Ngaitahu and associated peoples across Cook Strait. During feuds with the resident Ngaitara and Ngatimamoe Waitai's displeasure at Maru's leniency towards a prisoner caused him to remove south to Otago while his erstwhile allies engaged in a series of battles down the Marlborough coast which led, by about 1710 A.D., to the siege of Pari whakatau. Stack (1877:59), estimates the siege at this time, not at about 1650 as Duff (1961:270) claimed in asserting a close agreement with his radiocarbon date of 1631 ±60 A.D., for a post butt from Pari whakatau. first phase c. 1690–1730 A.D. During the troubled years immediately before Pari whakatau, the plight of the Ngatimamoe brought a tribal champion, Te Rakitauneke, from his settlement at Ohau to challenge Manawa to single combat. Maru took up the challenge and defeated Te Rakitauneke who thereupon returned home. Soon after he was attacked by the Ngaitahu chief Huruhuru at another of his settlements, Takiharakeke (Fig. 2) or Upokopipi according to Stack. Although the Ngatimamoe won the day it was apparent that their prosition was seriously threatened. After burning their settlement they thus retreated to Otago where Te Rakitauneke formed an alliance with Waitai in order to resume his own feuds against Waitaha and Rapuwai who were then still strong in the interior (Stack 1877:79–84, Beattie 1915:25, 1917:70, Taylor 1952:98).

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At about this time, but probably immediately after Pari whakatau, Putete, a chief from Tu-wiri-roa's settlement at Tititea (Fig. 2), went to live at Waiateruati near Temuka, where he acquired a Ngaitahu wife. After returning to Tititea she died and reports of the circumstances of her death brought a Ngaitahu taua to the gates of Tititea. Putete advised them that they were outnumbered and they retreated, behind a grass fire, over the Crown Range toward home. Putete eventually went back to Waiateruati to live but Tu-wiri-roa felt his position had become too vulnerable and he retreated with most of his followers to Taieri (some preferred to go west to Tu-wiri-roa's Queenstown settlement) (Beattie 1917:69, 1945:48).

During this period as well, the family of Tutekawa come back into the story. Moki, a son of Tuahuriri and a brother of Turakautahi who founded the Kaiapoi pa, sought out and killed Tutekawa but managed to establish peace with Rakitamau, his cousin and Tutekawa's son, who was living at Taumutu. Rakitamau, who had Ngatimamoe and Waitaha connections, wanted a Waitaha wife and his son, Te Weka, mounted a raid into the interior to obtain one. During a battle at Parakarehu or Paekai (Fig.2), Potiki tautahi, the Waitaha chief and Te Weka's uncle, was killed (Beattie 1916:29). Waitaha then abandoned the Wanaka district. Te Weka, or another of his contemporaries, later attacked the Tekapo settlement on the way homeward from a raid, carrying off the chief Tukete's wife, Kanekane, to Kaiapoi (she later returned to Tekapo). (Beattie 1920a:195).

Hostilities in the MacKenzie country had by now become general with additional skirmishes at Ohau and a running battle across the estern hills which ended with the defeat of the Ngatimamoe at Gray's Hill (Fig. 2) and the establishment of a Katikuri fort there (Beattie 1919:47, Taylor 1952:92). By approximately 1720, therefore, the Waitaha had abandoned the MacKenzie country and Wanaka districts, and the Ngatimamoe held only Ohau and the areas from Wakatipu to the south. There seems to have been a brief period of relative calm, perhaps because Ngaitahu attention had been diverted, under Rakitamau, Moki and others, towards the nephrite-rich lands of the Ngatiwairangi on the West Coast (Stack 1877:87).

second phase c. 1730–1780 A.D. At about 1730 A.D. hostilities recommenced. Pohowera, chief of the Ngatimamoe settlement at Ohau was killed by the Ngaitahu chiefs, Te Kaimutu and Tawhiriruru, and they in turn by Pohowera's son Te Rakitauhopu. Ngaitahu responded with a taua, from which a youth, Kaunia, killed Te Rakitauhopu. Two sons of Turakautahi, Mu and Parakiore, then advanced into the interior, checking first for Ngatimamoe at Paritea (Fig. 2) which they found

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Traditional settlements and routeways: 1. Takapo, 2. Gray's Hill, 3. Rauru, 4. Paritea, 5. Te Ikaraeroa, 6. Te Rihatauriki, 7. Te Parekura, 8. Te kaika tahu, 9. Takiharakeke, 10. Kututuia, 11. Opakia, 12. Ohinetu, 13. Te Wakapapa, 14. Whakamate, 15. Otakou, 16. Upoko tauia, 17. O tu purupuru, 18. Turihuka, 19. Te taumanu o taki, 20. Paketuhi, 21. Te tawaha o Hawea, 22. Manuhaea, 23. Paekai, 24. Nehenehe, 25. Parakarehu, 26. Mouwaho, 27. Takikarara, 28. name unrecorded, 29. Wairere, 30. Oteroto, 31. Tititea, 32. Te kirikiri, 33. Paharaki, 34. Tahuna, 35. Puia, 36. Takerehaka, 37. Marakura, 38. Te Kowhai, 39. Whitiaka te ra, 40. Te rua o te moko, 41. Moturau, 42. Te Rakatu.
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deserted, and subsequently falling upon the survivors at Ohau. This raid ended the Ngatimamoe tenure of the MacKenzie country (Beattie 1917:71, 1919:48, 1920a:192, 1945:46–7). However, it should be noted that Chapman (1891a) had these same events set at Glenorchy.

Immediately thereafter, and evidently as a result of the Ohau affray, Kaweriri, another son of Turakautahi (and whose grand-daughter had been given in marriage as a reward to Kaunia), mounted a raid through the whole of the southern interior. This was timed to coincide with another by his relatives Taoka and Te Wera along the coast; the two actions evidently designed to solve the Ngatimamoe problem once and for all. Kaweriri found the MacKenzie country and Wanaka districts deserted and, in fact, met nobody until his party encountered a small group of eelers far to the south on the Waimea plains. A survivor of the ensuing skirmish managed to warn the main body of Ngatimamoe, under Tu-te-makohu, grandson of Te Rakitauneke, who thereupon retreated westward to enlist the help of their kin at Takerehaka (Fig. 2) under the Marakai. Brought to a close fought battle on the Five Rivers plain before they could do so, Tu-te-makohu managed to escape, in part through his relationship — cousin or second-cousin — to Kaweriri, but the latter was killed. His men, including his brother Parakiore, returned homeward (Stack 1877:88, Beattie 1916:31–2).

Finally, in this sequence, Puneke, the youngest son of Turakautahi, set out to avenge the death of Waitai who, having shifted south to the Foveaux Straits, was regarded as a threat by the Ngatimamoe and had been killed by Tu-te-makohu and Marakai. Puneke was satisfied by finding some Ngatimamoe at either Wanaka or near Balclutha and killing their chief, Raki-amoamohia, in single combat (Beattie 1919:158, 1920a:195).

Soon afterwards, internal dissensions amongst the Ngatimamoe, which were fostered by Tu-te-makohu's Ngaitahu relatives, resulted in an attack upon Marakai (Beattie 1919:155, 1945:49), but despite this both Ngatimamoe chiefs managed to hold their positions for some years afterward, Tu-te-makohu eventually dying in peace. Marakai, however, became involved in an alliance with a group of Ngaitahu under Matauira and Tutekawa (another of this name) then killed Marakai and went on to attack what seems to have been the last inland settlement of the Waitaha at Waiharakeke, near Lillburn, in approximately 1740 A.D. (Beattie 1916:38, 1945:51).

Thereafter conflict in the interior seems almost to have ceased and the last act of this phase had its origin in events outside the interior. About 1780 A.D. the murder of a young Ngaitahu chief at Otago Peninsula compelled some Ngatimamoe, under Te Maui, one of the murderers, and - 59 Pukutahi, his kinsman, to flee west. A Ngaitahu taua brought Pukutahi to bay at South Fiord, Te Anau and killed him and some of his followers, but Te Maui, who had sought sanctuary at Manapouri, escaped notice and was eventually able to return to Otago. The luckless Pukutahi was killed, it is said, by his newphew, Taikawa, who may have mistaken him for someone else (Stack 1877:90, Beattie 1916:45, 1945:50).

Settlement types and motives

All the traditional accounts of the interior refer to the settlements there as kaika or pa. Whether these were terms actually used by the informants and whether they intended the meanings of ‘village’ and ‘fort’ which these have come to hold are matters now generally beyond scrutiny. Yet within the traditional evidence there is reason to doubt that either forts or permanently occupied settlements actually existed. Only at Gray's Hill is the construction of a fort specifically recorded. Of the other settlements where battles occurred it is worth noting that there are no references to sieges, as there are so often in the traditions referring to contemporaneous feuding along the South Island coast. Moreover none of these settlements appear to have been occupied for periods exceeding a single generation. Although mobility was to some extent compelled by retreat, the principal traditional figures are said to have occupied various settlements during their adult lives. Thus Te Rakitauneke was associated with settlements at Ohau, Takiharakeke, Otepopo (East Otago coast), Maungatua (western Taieri), Wakari (Dunedin) and perhaps Oreti (Foveaux Strait). Tu-wiri-roa had settlements at Tititea, Queenstown and Taieri, and Tu-te-makohu at Otapiri (Hokanui Hills) and Te Anau (Stack 1877:83, Cowan 1905a:195, Beattie 1915:24-5, 1917:71, 1920a:197). Perhaps significantly, both Te Rakitauneke and Tu-te-makohu were believed to have been buried not in the interior but at their ancestral cemetery at the Bluff (Beattie 1915:24, 1916:33). On this evidence, temporary occupation of settlements fortified, if at all in a rudimentary way, seems a more reasonable inference than that generally implied by the terms which have been used.

What prompted the Ngaitahu raids on these settlements; was it, as Shortland (1851:99–102) and many since have supposed, part of a war of conquest? The traditional records do not support this contention. Skirmishes, whether successful or not, were invariably followed by the withdrawal of the Ngaitahu to their coastal strongholds and, when losses were sufficiently heavy, by the southward retreat of the Waitaha or Ngatimamoe. Although it is not known when the Ngaitahu established settlements of their own in the interior it is apparent, at least, that they claimed abandoned territory, not lands occupied by conquered peoples.

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Since no ruling class was thus imposed on Ngatimamoe and Waitaha, the ‘Norman Conquest’ analogy (Beattie 1954, Foss Leach 1978) is inappropriate in this case. The traditional motives of the feuds indicate no more than sequences of provocation and retribution, generally sparked by killings, which were fought out, at a chiefly level at least, by people who were closely interlinked by ties of blood, marriage and former alliances 1.

A second hypothesis has it that control of the greenstone sources was the principal intention behind the southward expansion of the Ngaitahu (Shortland 1851:99, MacKay 1873a:41, 44). In the case of the interior this also seems unlikely. The only traditional references to control of greenstone sources concern the raids into Westland described above. No mention is made of the important Wakatipu source (below) and greenstone does not feature in the traditional motives of raids into the interior nor in the booty obtained by them. Furthermore, the distribution of settlements associated with the Ngaitahu (Fig. 2), and the penetration of traditionally recorded raids, both stopped short of the Wakatipu district. Ngaitahu may have exploited the greenstone found here but neither control of its distribution nor conquest of the interior territory and peoples explains the traditional events as well as normal tribal revenge.


Evidence of this kind comes mainly from Chapman's informants of the late 19th century and from Beattie's of the early 20th century, although it also includes brief references to the interior in the observations of mid-19th century coastal visitors and settlers (Barnicoat n.d. [May 26, 1844], Kettle December 9 1850, Shortland 1851:205–9). Very little of it is localised in time or to particular settlements, but if it is assumed that it describes activities familiar to the informants during their youth, then these can be broadly referred to the period 1800–1880.

Subsistence activities

Weka hunting is the most frequent topic of subsistence recollections. Weka (Gallirallus spp.) were caught mainly on the open plains of the MacKenzie country and Central Otago. They were taken during the winter, especially in June and and July when they are fattest, and seem to have been sought by specifid hunting expeditions from coastal settlements. Amongst the hunting places mentioned are the upper Tekapo, the lower Ahuriri valley, the Old Man Range, the Maniototo Plain, the lower Shotover and Arrow valleys and the south end of Lake Wakatipu (Chapman 1891a, Cowan 1905b:117, Beattie 1920b:61–3, - 61 1944:38, 1946:103, 1954:43, 126, 1957). In the MacKenzie country weka hunting continued throughout the later 19th century; trips were recalled in 1869–1870 to Stony Creek, in 1889, and in 1894 to the Tasman valley. The people came from Temuka and Waitaki and they only ceased this activity about 1895 because rabbit poison had devastated the weka populations (Andersen 1916:37, Burnett 1927:56, Beattie 1954:43, Gillespie 1971:23) 2.

Of other birds, ducks were hunted in the MacKenzie country in the spring and, as ‘flappers’, in December (Beattie 1946:103) and takahe during the winter in the Te Anau district by people who came from the Southland coast (Beattie 1945:24, 77, 1949:91). Lamprey were caught in the Taieri River as far up as Hyde, or perhaps Waipiata, and also in the MacKenzie country, an activity which must have occurred between September and November (Chapman 1891a, Beattie 1920a:53, 1944:38, 1957). Eels, surprisingly, are hardly referred to in the recollections, or, for that matter, in the traditions. Likewise fernroot, elsewhere a staple, is barely mentioned and ti (Cordyline australis), only in connection with Te Puoho's raid (below). On the other hand minor resources such as snowberries31, raupo root32 and introduced mice (Hinerata)33 and cabbage or turnip (korau)34 are recorded. Potatoes, interestingly enough, are not mentioned (Beattie 1920b:73, 1945:75, 1957, Chapman 1891a).

These subsistence data are somewhat at odds with what might have been expected. Fernroot is mentioned as important only in the Mackenzie country and there its significance may have owed less to its abundance than to its comparative scarcity on the Canterbury plains from which expeditions to the MacKenzie country were customarily mounted (Leach 1969:35). Ti may not have been commonly exploited because it was more abundant and efficiently gathered on the Canterbury downlands and southern coastal plains (Shortland 1851:230, Andersen 1916:40). Alternatively, the evidence may reflect a Maori scale of values with staple resources such as fernroot, ti and eels being generally ignored in favour of mentioning the valuable articles for exchange such as preserved wekas and the unusual and introduced resources.

Settlement evidence

The earliest and most comprehensive recollections of settlement in the interior arise from accounts of Te Puoho's raid of 1836. Predominantly derived from Chapman's (1891a) discussions with Rawiri Te Maire in the 1890s, these describe the depredations of some 70–100 musket armed Ngatitama, under Te Puhoho, as they traversed the interior from Makarora to Tuturau, near Gore, in the summer of 1836–1837 3. The Ngatitama captured 10 Ngaitahu at Makarora, one of whom was a boy, - 62 Pukuharuru, the son of Te Raki who was camped at the Neck (Hawea). Two girls were killed and eaten but several men sent with Pukuharuru to capture his father were killed by Te Raki who escaped with his family of four, and with Rawiri Te Maire's family who were camped at the foot of Lake Hawea. Meanwhile the raiders captured five people under Te Mohene at Takikarara and then pressed south along the old inland trail to Southland 4. During the journey food was very scarce; some korau, a few ti and the occasional weka were all that would be got so that the party was starved and weak by the time it reached the Waimea plains.

It is apparent from this incident that few more than 20 people were distributed, largely on family lines, amongst four or five settlements in the Wanaka-Hawea district but none were living elsewhere along the main trail to the south. One of Chapman's (1891a) informants, probably Rawiri Te Maire, said that Takikarara was the main base and that the people in this district had gone up there from Otago to catch eels. Although Huruhuru's comments to Shortland (1851:205) about these settlements may be construed otherwise, Chapman's evidence suggests that the settlements may have been occupied for no more than a few months when they were attacked. Temporary settlements may also be implied by the claims of various other informants to have lived in the interior in their youth: Kawana at Wakatipu (Beattie 1920c:52), Paitu at Kingston (Cowan 1905b:117), Rawiri Te Awha at Te Anau and Manapouri (Beattie 1920c:49), and Rakitapu (also known at Rakiraki) at either or both Wakatipu and Hawea (Chapman 1891a; Pyke 1887) 5. Indeed Chapman's (1891a) questions on this topic elicited several replies which leave no room for doubt. Of the Old Man Range district one informant said his people went there to hunt weka and quarry flint but did not live there, while another commented of Paritea, “Our people campled there ... but did not lie there.” Finally the recollections of Southland Maoris, although they refer to ‘wild’ Maoris living in Fiordland mention only temporary trips to Te Anau in the 1860s and 1870s (Beattie 1920c:49, 1949:77–81) 6.

The importance of Wakatipu greenstone

Another issue arising from the recollected evidence is the degree to which greenstone sources of the upper Wakatipu region, principally the Dart valley, were being exploited during the early 19th century. Although it is necessary to refer briefly to archaeological evidence and recollections of Maoris living outside the interior, it was Chapman's (1891b) original belief that the source did not exist which prompted later re-appraisals leading to entirely contrary conclusions. Thus Bathgate argued (1968:212), - 63

Two villages at Otago Harbour, Murdering Beach and Taraewai Point which existed until 1817 and 1835 respectively, have produced more greenstone (from the Lake Wakatipu source) than have any other sites in New Zealand. Since European contact with the Otago Harbour Maoris has [sic] commenced as early as 1813 it is apparent that movement to Lake Wakatipu and the working of greenstone was still prevalent and indeed had reached a zenith prior ti 1840 ... by the early 19th century the Westland sources, after some centuries of exploitation, had been depleted and were superceded by the Otago sources.

Likewise Simmons (1969:13), in commenting on the working of Wakatipu greenstone at Murdering Beach, observed that it must have become one of the major attractions of Murihiku in the early European era.

Yet such evidence as can be marshalled hardly supports this contention. Of the coastal greenstone working settlements it must be pointed out, first, that whether the bulk of the greenstone is actually from the Wakatipu region is open to question in view of the difficulties of sourcing this material (Ritchie 1976a) and, second, that whether most of the greenstone recovered at Murdering Beach can be attributed to the late 18th and 19th centuries depends upon facts of archaeological provenance which were simply not recorded when it was dug up. In fact a series of radiocarbon dates obtained by later excavation has mean values falling entirely within the 17th century (Law n.d.).

Recollected evidence is equally questionable. Although the Dart valley was correctly identified by the later informants of Chapman (1891a) and Beattie (n.d.) 7, and although they were able to provide additional details such as the existence of a village, Puia, near the source (Beattie 1920c:45), no such information can be found in remarks earlier than 1844. Before then, the source of greenstone at ‘Te wai pounamu’ was variously placed at the head of Queen Charlotte Sound by Cook in 1777 (Beaglehole 1967:72), immediately southwest of Banks Peninsula (Maynard and Dumas 1937:209 8, somewhere in the centre of the South Island (Kent 1823:113), in east Otago (McDonnell 1834:12), and in the Strath Taieri (Wright 1955:35). Only Edwardson, who was told it lay near a volcano 12 days march north of Foveaux Strait (McNav 1907:222), and Tuki tahua, who depicted it in the southwest of the South Island (Barton 1980), provided moderately accurate information 9. None of these recollections stated that Te wai pounamu was actually Lake Wakatipu — a fact first brought to light by Huruhuru of the Waitaki in 1844 (Shortland 1851:205). Even he drew the lake very inaccurately, unlike his depiction of Wanaka, and it is unlikely that he had been there. - 64 Other late informants who claimed to have once lived at Wakatipu were unable to provide precise accounts of the source and Rawiri Te Maire told Chapman that the source was lost and he had only heard about it from older men (Best 1912:179). It should also be noted that Otago Maoris in the first half of the 19th century evidently obtained their greenstone from West Coast sources 10, whilst their Foveaux Strait contemporaries exploited the Fiordland bowenites (Carrick 1903).

In short, unless there was deliberate concealment of the fact, there is no convincing evidence to support the view that exploitation of the Wakatipu greenstone occurred on any scale, if at all, during the early 19th century. Indeed it might be speculated that this source was actually lost when Ngatimamoe abandoned the district in the 18th century 11.


Aside from the Maoris who engaged in the gold rushes, some of whom were observed catching laughing owls in 1862 (Beattie 1945:30), but who otherwise were miners like their European contemporaries, the only direct observation I can find of people carrying out strictly traditional activities was in 1865. In spring of that year,

... a party of about 30 Maoris — men, women and children — came from Moeraki to Makarora, and lived there during the ensuing summer and winter, catching large quantities of eels during the summer and drying them for the winter, which with fernroot formed their staple food ... When the Maoris left they floated down the lake and Clutha river to Lindis on koradi rafts, which they then abandoned, and made a short cut across the ranges, by what is since known as the Maori Pass [the Thompson Creek route through the Dunstan mountains] (Norman 1890).

On the other hand, 19th century Europeans observed various indications of recent occupation in the interior. These can be divided into two kinds; remains apparently of recent settlement and remains which, if accurately interpreted, must date to the post-European era (Fig. 3). In the first category are the following: two whares still standing in 1858 at Lake Tekapo (Taylor 1952:92), scrub whares on the Maniototo plains which were in sufficiently good repair to provide shelter for the early runholders in 1858 (Don 1936:54); similar structures in the Tunnel Burn (Te Anau) found in the 1890s (Beattie 1949:57), eel weirs at Garnockburn, Hope Arm and Shallow Bay (all Manapouri) which, along with a duck trap at Hope Arm, were observed in 1892 and 1900 but have since disappeared (Richardson 1892, Beattie 1949:73, 79, Coutts 1970); stake nets, eel baskets and other signs of recent camps at the head of Lake Wakatipu in 1860 (Duncan 1888:49) and sandals and wooden spits

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Remains of the latest prehistoric-early historic era: 1. Mount Hay, 2. Hakataramea, 3. Omarama, 4. Makarora, 5. Neck, 6. Matukituki, 7. Roy's Bay, 8. Maniototo, 9. Cromwell Gorge, 10. Clyde-Alexandra, 11. Queenstown, 12. Pigeon Island, 13. Head of lake, 14. Lake McKellar, 15. Upukerora, 16. Te Anau, 17. Te Anau, 18. Tunnel Burn, 19. Manapouri Station, 20. Lake Manapouri.
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on the shores of Te Anau in 1863 which were seen by a Maori party (Beattie 1949). It is likely that whare remains at Makarora (Skinner 1910) and “depressions” at the Neck (Hawea) (NZAA Site Record Form S107/1) belong here as well.

In the second category are beads from Manapouri station, abandoned campsites containing gunflints along the Clyde-Alexandra road (Hocken 1898) and the remains of a small settlement near the mouth of the Upukerora River (Fig. 3), in which, among recently burnt dwellings, White (1893) observed an iron adze and spike nails fashioned into chisels in 1859. This seems to have been the settlement to which Rawiri Te Awha belonged in his youth and to which he returned in 1872 to examine his greenstone cached there (Beattie 1920c:49). Most importantly, in view of the significance attached to it, is the evidence of Maori agriculture in the interior.

Agriculture and settlement

Potatoes and other European vegetables probably reached the interior from Foveaux Strait at the end of the 18th century. They had been introduced to Southland by sealers and were certainly being cultivated there by Maoris in 1809 (McNab 1907:113). Simmons (1969:13) has stated the importance of potatoes for interior settlement thus,

Villages established in the central lakes included one on Hawea, two on Wanaka, two on Wakatipu (one in the form of a pa), and others on Te Anau, Manapouri and Monowai. These settlements, which lasted until 1844, were all year round base villages made possible by potato agriculture. Parties still came in from the coast but only in the summer months.

In the south, potatoes were usually grown in regular heaps of soil, which Roberts (1913) called “Maori Hills”, but neither these nor the clamps in which the produce was stored have been reported from the interior 12. Most of the evidence is thus indirect.

Direct observations of Maori potato growing are confined to instances at Hakataramea in 1849 (MacKay 1873b:217) and perhaps Omarama in 1879 (Bathgate 1969). In Central Otago ‘Maori’ potatoes, presumably the ‘black potato’ or kapana mangumangu, were seen growing wild at Roy's Bay, Wanaka in 1860 (Roxburgh 1957:19). Less certain evidence includes traces of what was “... apparently an old Maori garden” on Pigeon Island, Wakatipu (anon. 1860), overgrown square patches at Lake McKellar said to have been, “...evidently the remains of old native gardens” (Chalmers 1861) and patches found cleared in the bush at Makarora in the 1860s “...apparently for cultivation” (Skinner 1910, also Norman 1890). Large clearings were found up the Matukituki valley - 67 by early settlers, but whether for cultivation is not known (Taylor 1952:144), and the NZAA site record form for S132/1 at Queenstown calls it a “potato village” but provides no evidence for the identification. Maori potato growing near Te Anau appears to rest only on two very slender points; the suggestion that koromiko stands in the vicinity may reflect previously gardened areas (Beattie 1949:76) and a note about the Upukerora settlement (above) which states, “I think they cultivated potatoes, for I found a large pipi shell from the sea which they use for scraping potatoes” (R.H. 1884). Finally, of other cultigens, a fenced patch of ‘Maori cabbage’ was seen in the Cromwell gorge by Buchanan in 1856 (Fig. 3) (Hector 1872:417).

This evidence indicates that agriculture did occur in the interior, although it cannot be attributed to settlement much earlier than 1860, but it offers no support to the proposition of permanently occupied villages founded upon potato cultivation.


Chronologically, this evidence is the most problematic. It comprises remains found in rockshelters and others which, by their type, association with other evidence, or state of preservation, probably belong to the late prehistoric period extending from the mid-16th to the late 18th centuries. Yet, beyond the facts that moa remains are generally absent, and that internal evidence is, where present, indicative of this period (e.g. weaving styles, bone flutes and abundant red ochre), there is nothing to rule out the possibility that at least some of the remains may be more than 400 years old. All those which probably belong to the late prehistoric period are listed in Table 1 and shown in Figure 4. Others which might belong here include ti cooking pits, all undated, found along the middle Clutha and around Lakes Wanaka, Wakatipu and Manapouri (Bagley 1973, Ritchie 1976b, 1980, Coutts 1970) and ovens associated with greenstone implements at various places in the MacKenzie country (Taylor 1952:92).

Assuming that all this material has been correctly assigned to the period 1550–1800, what does it indicate of subsistence and settlement patterns? Apart from the few whare remains, there is very little evidence of settlements, and none of fortification. The lack of anything approaching a village among the remains which have survived is reinforced by the scarcity of reported middens, blackened soils, ovens associated with late period artefacts, stone working floors, burials or other debris usually associated with settlements of any consequence. Most of the rockshelter remains are located along the eastern and southern fringes of the interior (Fig. 4), and comprise clothing and other - 68 domestic articles. From the evidence of the wooden bowls and the fishing gear, weka hunting and eeling seem to have been the most common objects of these visits. In addition there is evidence of the gathering of Celmisia spp. tomentum to make tikumu clothing (Hamilton), and of the manufacture of lace-bark tapa cloth, dog and bird skin garments and canoes. Scented gums of Celmisia viscosa and Pittosporum spp. were also gathered but no evidence of the important taramea (Aciphylla spp.) gum industry has been recovered (Stevenson 1947:56).

Among other articles which might have been expected, but are missing, are agricultural implements (although these have been found nearer the coast in Southland), silcrete and other rocks of the interior which were certainly important in the early prehistoric era, and, in the rockshelters, greenstone. In fact, greenstone is by no means as common in any sites of the interior as one might expect. It was found in abundance at the head of Wakatipu, especially near the mouth of the Dart River and at Camp Hill, but the 16th century date for the Dart Bridge site raises the question of whether the bulk of it may belong to rather early sites (Simmon 1969:12).

Late prehistoric remains
Place Material remains from rockshelters & clefts Reference
1. ?Kurow cloak Simmons 1968
2. Ardgour Run chisels, mats, needles, firesticks, dog tail Davis 1892
3. West Wanaka paddle Skinner 1974
4. Tarras firestick S125/20
5. Bendigo paddle S124/5
6. Puketoi a large kit containing: dressed flax, unfinished mats, a paua shell with kokowai, another paua shell, two albatross bone flute blanks, dogskin strips, a tutu juice bag, a bag containing chewing pitch, two pairs of sandals, large bundles of stripped Celmisia spp. leaves, a parcel of Celmisia viscosa leaves, a parcel of Pittosporum spp. gum, a hank of flax thread, a fragment of a net, a small package of kauru, bunches of albatross and kakapo feathers and several used mussel shells. Hamilton 1896
7. Strath Taieri fragments of dogskin Skinner 1952
8. Middlemarch roll of Hoheria spp. tapa Rowley 1966
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Place Materials remains from rockshelters & clefts Reference
9. Hyde a kit containing large hanks of cord, tapa cloth, strips of Hoheria spp. bark, a woven sash and matting Hamilton 1896
10. Glenavon two dogskins; in one a skull bowl containing sprigs of koromiko tied with human hair and Muehlenbeckia spp. vine. Also a flax kit containing Nestor spp. feathers and human hair. Several pieces of Hoheria spp. tapa. Skinner 1952
11. Glenavon two wooden bowls Skinner 1952
12. Cottesbrook woman and child burial with remains wrapped in weka and moa skin garment contained in a cloak Simmons 1968
13. Nenthorn wooden bowl S154/6, Skinner 1952
14. Nenthorn wooden bowl with notched rim S154/8, Skinner 1952
15. Ross Stream wooden bowl with spout S154/10
16. Mount Stoker wooden bowl S154/20
17. Rock & Pillar wooden bowl S154/2
18. Strath Taieri taiaha Skinner 1974
19. Rock & Pillar wooden club 13 Skinner 1974
20. Gt Moss Swamp wooden club* S154/1
21. Talla Burn wakahuia containing huia and kaka feathers and a wooden top. Box lined with Hoheria spp. tapa and wrapped in paper mulberry tapa and cloak Simmons 1968 Rowley 1966
22. Mount Benger wooden bowl Skinner 1952
23. Mount Benger tussock rain cape Simmons 1968
24. Cromwell Gorge desiccated child burial Hutton 1891
25. Italian Creek purangi ‘eel basket’ Ritchie n.d.
26. Clutha Valley kelp bags and fishing gear Hector 1872
27. Diamond Lake flax kit and 4 sandals S123/3
28. Lee Island drying racks, bedding, fireplaces, cut and torn totara bark and basket of, faunal remains of pigeon, kaka, kakapo and freshwater mussel, firestick, scraped flax. Cave 1979
29. Middle Fiord large wooden bowl with spouts Williams pers. comm.
30. South Fiord fernroot beaters Beattie 1949
31. Circle Cove hearth Coutts 1970
32. Channel Islands paddle Beattie 1949
33. Hope Arm eel spear and basket S149/7
34. Takahe valley snares, sandals and remains of Megalapteryx Duff 1952
35. Freestone Hill paddle Beattie 1949
36. Central Otago cloak Simmons 1968
  Open ground remains  
37. Patearoa patu Skinner 1974
38. Cottesbrook patu Skinner 1974
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Place Open ground remains Reference
39. Barewood Stn three patu S154/24, Skinner 1974
40. Strath Taieri patu Hamilton 1896
41. Manorburn wooden bowl Skinner 1952
42. Lindis mouth patu S124/11
43. Onslow River canoe Taylor 1952
44. Bald Hill Flat chisels and wooden bowls Beattie 1954
45. Makarora scoured beech trees Skinner 1919
46. Wanaka terraces, postholes, ditch and nephrite adze on Pigeon Island Ritchie 1976b
47. Motatapu valley “kitchen middens” and other evidence Anon. 1886
48. Soho Creek mere Anon. 1886
49. Lake Hayes greenstone manufactory Anon. 1886
50. Skippers quarry for greenstone cutters Beattie 1954
51. Pigeon Island stone causeway and canoe-building site S123/5 & 6
52. Diamond Lake freshwater mussel midden Ritchie 1980
53. Queenstown nephrite club Skinner 1974
54. Mavora Lakes stone eel traps Beattie 1920b
55. Nokomai marine shell midden Beattie 1954
56. Te Anau dendroglyph Coutts 1969
57. Te Anau canoe found 1858 Beattie 1949
58. Manapouri debarked trees at Hope Arm, near Stockyard Cove, Circle Cove and exit of Waiau, also possible whare sites, causeways and eel channels. Coutts 1970
59. Garnockburn roughed out canoe, whare sites and debarked trees Beattie 1949
60. near Waiau eel pots Richardson 1892
61. Waiau two spears, and later a chisel and tiki found at Horseshoe Bend Beattie 1947
62. Manapouri patu S149/16
63. Mossburn whalebone patu Skinner 1974
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Archaeological remains of the late prehistoric period (the numbers refer to Table 1).
- 72

Each of the sources of information I have considered has a different emphasis and a different chronological span. The traditions speak of tribal figures and events, and indirectly, of settlement patterns, mainly during the period 1710–1780. The recollected information dwells largely upon broadly localised food gathering pursuits and, to a lesser extent, upon settlement patterns, during approximately 1800–1880. The direct observations are of signs of recent settlement, some of which must date to about 1800–1850, although others may be earlier, while the archaeological remains consist of material which could span the entire late prehistoric era, 1550–1800. While the evidence from these sources clearly ought not to be indiscriminantly interleaved, as has happened in the past, it can be used in considering the main issues of settlement in the interior: settlement history, types and permanence of settlement and the motivations for people going there.

Settlement history

The traditions indicate that at the beginning of the 18th century, Waitaha and Ngatimamoe occupied settlements concentrated around the western lakes; Waitaha mainly at Ohau, Wanaka, Te Anau and Manapouri and Ngatimamoe in the Wakatipu district in particular. The conflicts between these groups, and within them, were turned into a three-way contest by the arrival of Ngaitahu. Waitaha, not as closely related to the other two groups as these were to each other, and seeming always to be victims rather than aggressors, were compelled to abandon the MacKenzie country and Wanaka by about 1720, and were driven from their last interior settlements in the south-west barely a generation later. Ngatimamoe, after the first Ngaitahu raids, retained a tenuous grip on Ohau and the Queenstown settlements, but by the mid-18th century seem to have retreated to areas south of Wakatipu. It is impossible to be more emphatic or precise about the course of events because of the uncertainties introduced by variations in the ascription of individuals to tribal groups, and of attributions of events to settlements. Moreover, given mobility in settlement patterns (below), the lack of a traditional encounter at any particular settlement need not mean that it had already been abandoned, only that it was empty when it came to the attention of a raiding party. But, despite these problems, it seems quite clear that Waitaha and Ngatimamoe had abandoned the interior as far south as Wakatipu by about 1780.

At this point traditional evidence runs out and there is a gap of more than 50 years before glimpses of settlement history reappear in the recollected information. Strictly speaking, only the events of the - 73 Ngatitama raid in the Wanaka-Hawea district are chronologically secure, but the recollections of other people living at Manapouri, Te Anau, Wakatipu and Ohau (Chapman 1891a, Beattie 1909:188), some of which refer to settlement ceasing as the result of raids from the north, probably belong to the 1830s as well. After 1836 it is said that the interior was deserted (Chapman 1891b:493, Shennan in 1857 as reported in Beattie 1947:60). While seasonal hunting and fishing sorties may have continued, if intermittently, the complete lack of Maori people in the interior during the European exploration phase generally confirms this view. However, from the 1860s onwards in the MacKenzie country and Central Otago, and perhaps earlier in the south-west (Carrick 1903), Maoris were certainly using and travelling through the interior. A fishery easement was created in 1868 at Lake Hawea for the benefit of the Otago Maoris (MacKay 1873b:245) and “full-blooded Maoris” are recorded in the earliest census of Maniototo and Lake counties in 1886, and subsequently (Durward 1933:58).

The interior people of 1836 are ascribed to Ngaitahu, but when Ngaitahu first began to occupy the interior is very difficult to tell. It does not seem to have occurred by the end of the traditional period, circa 1780, despite the fact that most of the interior was probably abandoned by about 1740, and it may not have begun much before the 1830s. It is possible that the virtual abandonment of the interior for some years after the Ngatitama raid reflects a reaction to the vulnerability of small isolated settlements which had also occurred towards the end of the traditional period. The post-European evidence and the probable recent remains may all date to the 1830s. At any rate, they cannot be ascribed to any other particular time between 1780 and 1850, and the archaeological remains provide no specific historical evidence at all.

Settlement type and permanence

In the recollected and observed evidence dating to the 19th century, two kinds of settlement are suggested. First, there were seasonal expeditions after fish, fowl, vegetables and fibrous resources which occurred in winter and again in the spring and summer. The settlement remains which can probably be attributed to these consist of tussock or scrub whare which were found in groups of two or three at the most and which were without palisades or other defences. Second, and based on the 1865 report from Makarora, some 19th century visits extended up to a year 14. It is conceivable that these involved settlements of larger size or structural permanence. The Upukerora settlement and the whare remains at Makarora and around Manapouri may represent them. Details are known only of Upukerora, and there they are somewhat variable. The - 74 earliest report refers to “several” whare and pieces of broad flat board, which might indicate that these were frame houses (whare puni), although White (1893) suggested the boards were canoe pieces. Beattie's (1949:81) report says that there were seven whare foundations, one set larger than the rest, while the report of 1884 refers to about a dozen whare of which some totara woodwork still remained (R.H. 1884, Hall-Jones 1976:32). It is impossible to tell which is the more accurate account, but something more than several scrub whare seems to be indicated.

There is no direct evidence of the settlement types earlier than the 19th century, except for the use of rockshelters in the Te Anau and Manapouri areas. The terms ‘pa’ and ‘kaika’ in the traditions probably do not refer to forts or villages in the common sense of these words, and settlement mobility seems to have been frequent. There is no archaeological evidence of fortifications or of large or long-occupied villages.

Overall, therefore, the settlement pattern of the interior from the 18th century onwards appears to have involved a mobile population, otherwise domiciled at the coast, temporarily occupying small, undefended hamlets.

Attractions of the interior

For the Ngaitahu the attractions of the interior settlements do not seem to have been their wealth, except to the degree that prisoners and their valuables may have been coveted. Nor is there anything in the traditional accounts to suggest that territorial conquest was the immediate objective, or that the Ngaitahu established a hegemony over conquered adversaries. That they were after control of the Wakatipu greenstone or its distribution also seems unlikely on various grounds, not the least of which are that Ngaitahu raids did not reach that far to the south-west and that the location of the Dart source seems to have been imprecisely known to them until the late 19th century. The Ngaitahu settlements of the early 19th century were not located near the Wakatipu greenstone, although some recent remains were observed in that area, and the Ngatitama raid appears to have had no interest in this resource (Ross 1933). Potato cultivation, though it occurred in the interior, was apparently a minor pursuit rather than one which facilitated a stronger interest in interior settlement.

The principal attraction of the interior, upon which all the sources of information agree, was its food resources. Weka hunting and eeling are the main subsistence activities reflected in the archaeological remains, the observations of recent settlement and the recollections. Fernroot does not seem to have been a major resource, except perhaps in the - 75 MacKenzie country and the exploitation of ti, judging by the distribution of probable ti cooking pits, was, quite literally, a marginal activity.

In addition to food consumed in situ, weka were preserved for use elsewhere and the interior also provided Celmisia spp. fibre for tikumu, Hoheria spp. for tapa, scented gums, silcrete (the ‘flint’ of the recollections) (Chapman 1891a) and greenstones. Most of these, with preserved birds, were important articles of exchange in the early 19th century. Finally, although it is difficult to document the point, the interior appears to have been a place of retreat from the frictions of coastal living to which families could repair in vulnerable peace to regain their strength and instruct their children in the traditional beliefs and arts of living 15.

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1   cf. Helen Leach 1978, on the events leading to Pari whakatau.
2   There is also the unusual case of some 140 Ngaitahu who occupied a site at Omarama for two years until forced off the land at gunpoint in 1879, according to Stevenson (1947:137 et seq). This, and possibly some of the foregoing are historical rather than recollected events.
3   The fullest account is in Ross (1933), who relied largely on Chapman and Smith (1910), whose information is also mainly from Chapman.
4   Ross (1933:99), Beattie (1945:44) and Taylor (1952:111) say Te Mohene was captured at Nehenehe, in the Matukituki valley, but Rawiri Te Maire does not seem to have mentioned this. He gives Takikarara as the place in Chapman (1981a).
5   Strictly speaking his name was Lakitap.
6   However, various comments, for instance in White (1893), may be construed as indicating that settlement at Te Anau and Manapouri was quite regular up until the 1840s or 1850s.
7   The existence of greenstone in the Dart River may have been known to Europeans as early as the 1860s according to Ritchie (1976a:133).
8   About 1840 Maynard was taken on a trip towards the fabulous greenstone lake, which was abandoned after some days of wandering round Banks Peninsula.
9   Other accounts include the report to Wohlers (n.d.), that greenstone came from any of the mountain rivers in the lower South Island.
10   Remarks attributed to John Hunter at Otakau about 1830 (in notes accompanying Bathgate 1969), see also Heaphy (1846:204). Heaphy (1862:166) also said that the Arahura people obtained a peculiar kind of greenstone from Wakatipu. However, from Heaphy (1846:241), and Chapman (1891:524), it is apparent that he was referring to the Milford bowenite.
11   This is a view which has interesting implications for current notions about the correlation of Classic Maori culture with the Ngaitahu (Leach and Hamel 1978).
12   Whitworth (1870), found overgrown hillocks in cleared bush land at Martins Bay.
13   possibly the same item
14   The Omarama case, where people lived in the interior for two years was at least partly due to political considerations and the availability of work on European sheep stations.
15   There are some possible clues in McKenzie (1948:29), and Beattie (1918:93, 99), on wharekura at Ohineroto and Takikarara.