The Ngāi Tai tribe, descended from the people of the Tainui canoe, settled in Maraetai. Other Tainui descendants were Te Kawerau-a-Maki. This group lived under forest cover in the Waitākere and controlled land as far north as the Kaipara, across to Mahurangi and down to Takapuna.
The Ngāti Whātua-o-Kaipara Moves South
The Ngāti Te Ata tribe was based south of the Manukau at Waiuku.
Maori Settlements in Tamaki Makaurau
The dominant power on the Tāmaki isthmus was Wai-o-Hua, a federation of tribes formed under Hua-O-Kaiwaka and linked to the Te Arawa tribe Ngā Oho.
Land Use Back in the Day
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.
From 1600 to 1750 the Tāmaki tribes terraced the volcanic cones, building pā (settlements behind protective palisades). Across the isthmus they developed 2,000 hectares of kūmara gardens.
The coastal area of Auckland was a smorgasbord 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 took place 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 (Motukorea) and on the fertile soils of Howick and stored in kumara pits on the peninsula.