Our History

Ngāti Tama o Taranaki is the northern most of the Taranaki iwi.

We are descendants of Whata, Rakaeiora, and Tamaariki of the Tokomaru waka. We have defended and exercised mana whenua over our rohe for many generations.

The following history timeline starts at the beginning of colonisation and goes through to the late 1980s, when we embarked on our treaty claim journey. [Link to Treaty Settlement page]
By the 1830s Ngāti Tama had established settlements in at least four regions – Taranaki, Poneke, Te Tau Ihu o te waka a Māui and Wharekauri.
After Wiremu Kīngi Rangitāke refused to sell the Pekapeka lands to the Crown, they declared a state of martial law in Taranaki. The Crown built two military redoubts (forts) on Ngāti Tama ancestral land during these campaigns at Pukearuhe and Wai-iti. Both were built on wāhi tapu.
Unable to acquire the land by force, the Crown took it by legislation. The confiscation of 27,400 hectares in Ngāti Tama rohe was taken from people who had fought against the Crown, and those who had not.
Compensation courts were set up to identify “non-rebels” and award land to them.
The West Coast Commission recommended the return of a small amount of land to Ngāti Tama, but by this time the Crown had awarded almost all of the productive land in Ngāti Tama rohe to military settlers. The iwi was left with insufficient agricultural land for their needs. When Ngāti Tama supported the Parihaka campaign of peaceful resistance, they also suffered at the hand of the Crown.

The Native Land Court ruled against Ngāti Tama in favour of Ngāti Maniapoto on two large land blocks north of the confiscation line.
A Royal Commission of Inquiry was established to assess whether the 1865 land confiscation was excessive. The Commission found that Taranaki Māori “ought not to have been punished by confiscation of any of the lands”.
The Taranaki Māori Trust Board was established to represent the interests.
The Crown passed the Taranaki Lands Claim Settlement Act, which stated Taranaki Māori agreed a £5,000 annuity and the £300 payment as full settlement of claims arising from the confiscations and Parihaka. Although the settlement was recommended by the Royal Commission, there is no evidence any iwi of Taranaki agreed to it.
Without consultation with iwi, the annual payment of £5000 to the Taranaki Māori Trust Board was granted, and purported to settle land claims in Taranaki forever.
The New Zealand Māori Council was established to advocate for Māori interests. Due to Māori urbanisation, the council gained increasing authority while rural organisations declined. Over this time many Ngāti Tama people moved to Waitara to work in the freezing works.
The Māori Affairs Amendment Act introduced compulsory conversion of "Māori freehold" land with four or fewer owners into "general land", and made it easier for a Māori trustee to sell land to the Crown. This led to growing concerns of land dispossession and alienation of Māori. Protests and hui occurred throughout the country.
There were fears that the Kapuni gas pipeline would destroy the Pukearuhe pa and redoubt site. The site was not, at least on the surface, damaged by the pipeline being laid. Archaeologists carried out extensive research on the structure of the pre-European Māori settlement at Pukearuhe. Two Māori food storage pits at the site of the Pukearuhe pa were discovered in 1986, which further revealed the land’s history as a pa site.
This first oil shock (a second followed in 1978-9) contributed to New Zealand’s economic recession by 1976. The government responded by burning gas from the recently discovered Māui gas field in Taranaki to generate electricity and extract fuel. Agreements were later made with Ngāti Tama as the pipeline ran through iwi land.
The Waitangi Tribunal was established to hear grievances against the Crown. However, it did not allow for historical claims or those occurring after the bill was passed, nor could it make binding determinations.
Pukearuhe Historic Reserve was named and classified. (It was returned to Ngāti Tama in 2003.)
The Waitangi Tribunal’s powers were extended to investigate claims back to 1840. This led to the Tribunal’s expansion and regional reports were issued later. (Initially Taranaki iwi were addressed collectively.)
The State-Owned Enterprises Act was a key piece of legislation that incorporated the Treaty into legislation. Since then the Courts have been able to determine whether the Treaty principles are being appropriately applied.

The following year Ngāti Tama supported the NZ Māori Council’s appeal against the Crown. The council won the case – a ruling that had significant consequences on how courts interpreted the Treaty of Waitangi and treaty claim settlements that followed.

In 1988 the State-Owned Enterprises Act was amended to make land transferred from direct public ownership to state-owned enterprises subject to ‘resumption’ – meaning it was still available for treaty claims.
Quick links
Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Tama
PO Box 143 Waitara
E: ngatitamataranaki@gmail.com
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