History of Maori & Motu Moana Camp (MotuKaraka)
Te Whau was governed at Green Bay Beach by twin Pa on either side of the Manukau entrance. Whoever controlled these Pa were the gatekeepers across this part of the isthmus.
Most important was the eastern headland now called Te Whau Point, occupying a commanding position overlooking the Portage, Blockhouse Bay and across the Manukau in all directions. This pa was once terraced, with a large ditch that slowed access onto the headland. It has now greatly eroded. In its day, it is estimated that about 200 Maori worked and died at Te Whau Pa.
The other Pa, Karaka, was on the western side of the Portage, (Motu Moana Camp). Karaka trees are common around Pa Sites because of their edible berries. Green Bay was called Karaka Bay (MotuKaraka) on early maps. The Pa sites that were here at Motu Moana Camp are documented in maps as early as 1869. When looking at these maps, the following are noted;
Wairopa, ‘The slave water.’ A channel in the Manukau Harbour off Karaka Bay. On the south side of the Mukukaraka sandbank.
Mutukaraka, “The end of the Karaka”. A sandbank in the Manukau Harbour off Green Bay. Also known as Motukaraka, “Island of Karaka“.
Karaka, Name of a tree. A little bay on the Manukau Harbour now known as Green Bay Beach.
In the summer, parties of Maoris came from Auckland, the South Manukau and Waikato areas to camp along our coastline and catch sharks. The sharks were cleaned and dried in the sun on racks for winter use. Fresh shark eggs were a delicacy if eaten raw and shark oil from their livers was particularly prized.
Coastal birds that came in large flocks to feed on the intertidal harbour flats were also hunted. The Chief among these was the Kuaka (Godwit), which as caught during March and April. Nooses made of cabbage tree leaves, some from Motu Moana Camp, were strung across the feeding grounds at the mouth of the Whau, and at night the birds were frightened by torch-bearing Maori that made them take off and get caught in the nooses above. Maori would also wait on the Whau Saddle, (Motu Moana Camp) and club the low flying Kuaka to death as they flew in flocks between the Manukau and Waitemata Harbours with the changing tides.
Archaeological evidence suggests that all the ditch bearing pa sites along the North Manukau Coast may have originally been built when Ngati Awa controlled the whole area in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Many of these hardened clay tracks run through the seaside of Motu Moana.
Ngati Whatua swept through Te Whau in 1720 on their way to defeat Kiwi Tamaki’s Waiohua. After this defeat, Ngati Whatua consecrated many of the major Pa as tapu and left them unoccupied. However, they were documented using at least one of the Green Bay Pa in 1837-1863, when all Maori who were not loyal to Queen Victoria were exiled to the Waikato and their waka destroyed during the Maori Land Wars, seriously curtailing Maori trade throughout the Manukau.
Judge F.D. Fenton’s genealogy of Waiohua and Te Taou, showing Ngati Whatua chief, Apihai Te Kawau- who sold the Auckland District to the European colonialists, joining the two tribes.
Te Whau was a pa of the Tao Ngaoho and Uringutu people. “Several recorded traditions tell of a Chief named Oho Mairangi establishing a tribe call Ngaoho (Ngaoho l) at Tamaki. This is often placed in the 13th century, and Oho may have come on one of the first canoes, that brought the ancestors of the present-day Maoris to New Zealand.” The descendants of Ngaoho included the Waihua who controlled the region until defeated by Ngati Whatua in 1750.
Scouts New Zealand as proud owners of Motu Moana Camp has always been aware of its Maori history and connection to our land.
Puritia nga taonga a o tipuna
Hei tikitiki mo to mahunga
Hold fast to the treasures of your ancestors
As a plume for your head