Preview revision #1: view live Otorohanga District History

Topic: Otorohanga District History

Topic type: Place

short history of the Otorohanga District in the last thousand years

Archaic Polynesians

This is a short history of the ares covered by the Otorohanga District Council.

Surrounding Otorohanga District at Raglan, Waitomo and faraway Taupo are archaeological sites dating back to 1000 years. It is likely there are similar sites in the Otorohanga District that have not been discovered. These original inhabitants, the Tangata Whenua came from the Polynesian Islands North and east of Aotearoa in what is now French Polynesia and the Cook Islands. They arrived without food plants and animals apart from stowaway rats and it is likely they were  castaways who were blown off course or drifted with currents, There may have been several arrivals  this way. They found plentiful food in the new land and developed a hunter-gatherer way of living without permanent settlements and agriculture. Their primary source of protein was from kaimoana and birds especially the moa and they were previously called moa-hunters. They travelled widely according to the seasons and traded with other similar groups, their early stone (paleolithic) tools were made from rocks from all over New Zealand. They established a network of tracks that were used by later waves of settlers including the Euopeans. Many of these routes are still used including many of our roads we use today. Around Kawhia harbour with its abundant food more settled communitees developed still without agriculture.

Classic Polynesians

Back in their original homeland highly skilled navigation and sailing technology  developed. This allowed some of these ocean travellers to visit Aotearoa and return. This in turn led to the planned migrations of the classic Maori, they knew were they were going. The arrival of Tainui around 1350 was one such planned colonisation, we know the exact month they arrived (November when the pohutukawa was in bloom) but not the exact year.They bought with them food plants such as taro and kumera and the animals dogs and more rats. Pigs and hens may have been carried also but may not have survived the trips or were eaten on the way. After travelling around the top half of the North Island they chose Kawhia to settle, again attracted by the abundant food. They soon established settlements and grew crops in the sheltered sunny sites with good soil. They assimilated or displaced the earlier Maori some of whom adopted the new way of life and took agriculture inland. Some of the descendents of these earlier people the Nagiti Hia settled around what is now the Otorohanga township. The hills along Gradara/ Mountain View were occupied by around 1500 AD, their pa sites were called Kakamutu at the State Highway 3 end, Matai whetu, Koura pirau, and Te Arero where the Scout Hall is today. Population pressure around Kawhia encouraged Tainui people to expand inland also and again displaced or assimilated these earlier people. Population pressure also started conflict between the various Tainui Hapu and Iwi. At the beginning this was over important resources particularly good food sites but eventually it continued as an ongoing cycle ofretaliation and revenge. Born at Parangi around 1770 and into these troubles was Aotearoa's most famous fighting Chief Te Rauparaha. The rivalrys and fighting was intense and Te Rauparaha and his people were forced to leave. He moved south and eventually took control of nearly a quarter of New Zealand on both sides of Cook Straight.