Most Māori in pre-European times gave their primary allegiance to relatively small groups such as hapū (sub-tribe) and whānau (family). Iwi groups trace their ancestry to the original Polynesian migrants who arrived from Hawaiki.
Types of Settlement in Tamaki-Makaurau
Many tribes were formed under the Tamiki Makaurau iwi. They were very spread out and could be located in numerous places such as Waiuku, Whangaparāoa, Kaipara, Mahurangi, Takapuna and Thames.
The Ngāpuhi Invasion
From the 18th century many tribes migrated inwards into the Hauraki gulf. Between 1740 and 1750 Ngāti Whātua-o-Kaipara moved south, invading the isthmus and killing Kiwi Tāmaki, paramount chief of Wai-o-Hua. They then took his last pā at Māngere. The conquerors secured their dominance of the isthmus by intermarrying with Ngā Oho, descendants of the Wai-o-Hua.
Land Use in Our Region
From 1600 to 1750 the Tāmaki tribes terraced the volcanic cones, building pā. Across the isthmus they developed 2,000 hectares of kūmara gardens. At the peak of prosperity in 1750, the population numbered tens of thousands. It was pre-European New Zealand’s most wealthy and populous area.
In 1821, wanting to avenge previous defeats by Tāmaki tribes, the Ngāpuhi leader Hongi Hika launched a series of attacks on the region. With 2,000 men and 1,000 muskets he stormed two Ngāti Paoa pā (fortified settlements), Mauinaina and Mokoia, killing hundreds and enslaving hundreds more. Hika repeated the slaughter at Te Tōtara, the Ngāti Maru fortress near Thames. In 1825 Ngāpuhi attacked again.
The coastal area of Auckland was full of resources for early Maori. Seasonal migration occurred where people would move to follow food sources. The Tamaki River was a shark and kawhai fishing ground; fish drying happened on the river between Pakuranga and Otara. Wood pigeons were plentiful around Ohuiarangi, hence the name Pigeon Mountain. Kumara, taro, yams and gourds were grown on Browns Island and on fertile soil in Howick and stored in kumara pits on the peninsula.