Maori Settlement Timeline

A Timeline of Early Maori History on the island

Early 1300's
Probable date of initial Maori settlement - occupation of west coast of island at Sunde site, Sandy Bay and Pig Bay.
'Archaic' Maori material culture - found at Sunde site on southern west coast.
Activities included adze making from greywacke
Hunting of a wide range of forest birds - little clearance of bush
Dog and rat (Kiore) provide protein
Small hamlets

Mid 1300's
'Archaic Maori material culture - Decline in hunting as shown by lack of bush birds in diet suggest the growing importance of horticulture
Increase in bush clearance
Soils altered by the addition of charcoal, sand and shell fragments

Around 1400
Eruption of Rangitoto


Intermittent ash showers for possibly up to 200 years
Eruption smothered Motutpau in ash and caused widespread deafforestation
Reported visits by both the Arawa and Tainui canoes
Island now settled by the Tainui ancestors of Ngai Tai
Maori mixed ash into soils in gardens
Horticulture important
Fish and shellfish gathering replaces forest birds (lack of trees) as main source of protein
Netting used to catch snapper

Evidence of 'Classic' Maori material culture found on Motutapu
Defence required
Fortified pa built at Station Bay and other headland sites
Horticulture begins to decline in importance (possibly in favour of fern root dug by Ngati Tai)
Vegetation clearance for firewood, defence and to facilitate travel
This leads to the establishment of scrub and grasslands

Ngati Tai, originally from the eastern Bay of Plenty, and part of the powerful tribal grouping of Te Waiohua, continue to occupy Motutapu even after conquests on the isthmus.
The Northern hapu of Ngati Paoa, Ngati Hura are allowed by Ngai Tai to occupy the island for fishing expeditions

Ngati Huarere return from Moehau, Cape Colville to avenge a humilation which arose from an earlier dispute between the chiefs of both the Arawa and Tainui canoes.
Ngati Huarere lay claim to many gulf islands including Motutapu
Ngati Tai return to reclaim possession
Ngati Huarere allow the Ngai Tai to take up their claim to Motutapu and Rangitoto but they retain the right to the trees which are frequented by kaka and continue to snare the bird in season
Ngati Tai negotiate reciprocal fishing rights with Ngati Paoa on Waiheke

Samuel Marsden, New Zealand leader of the Church Missionary Society, attempts to sail between Rangitoto and Motutapu and notes large numbers of Maori in the area.
His whale boat is dragged through the channel with assistance from local Maori as there is insufficient water

Arrival of Ngapuhi from the Bay of Islands armed with muskets. Local Hauraki tribes suffer very heavy losses. Many gulf islands and the Tamaki isthmus evacuate in response to the threat of further raids by Hongi Hika and the Ngapuhi.
Many Hauraki tribes move south. Ngati Paoa seek refuge with Waikato.
(The Musket Wars - Tens of thousands of Maori were killed, wounded or displaced in the intermittent intertribal warfare from 1806-1845)

Local Ngati Whatua fishing party attacked by small group of Ngapuhi raiders off Motutapu. A number of Ngati Whatua men are killed and twenty women taken prisoner. Seeking utu, Ngati Whatua and Ngati Tahinga from Waikato attack a Ngapuhi Hapu at Whangarei.
Large numbers of Ngaphi are killed and forty women prisoners taken.
The original incident and its surprise attack aftermath sets the scene for another Ngapuhi campaign against the Hauraki tribes.

Ngati Tai island inhabitants flee to Maungatautari to seek refuge with Tainui relatives

Ngati Paoa and Ngati Tipa defeat Ngapuhi war party on Motutapu

Henry Williams camps on Motutapu

Most evacuated territories are resettled
Waikato chief Te Wherowhero leads Manukau Tamaki and Kaipara people back to their lands
Ngati Tai return to Motutapu
Ngati Tai remain on Motutapu until the northern part of the island is sold to Thomas Maxwell in 1840

Refer to the Early European Settlement timeline for the continuation of our story