Te Maika

te maikaTe Maika, just across the harbour entrance from Kawhia is one of the most ancient regions in New Zealand. Steeped in Maori history, this is the ancestral home of the Ngati Toarangatira tribe.

Their most famous chief being Te Rauparaha considered to be the Napoleon of the Maori world.

Their present tribal name was adopted from one of their principal chiefs, named Toa-rangatira. Previous to that they were called Ngati-Mango.

In approx 1820, a united force of inland tribes attacked the Ngati Toa at Kawhia, where they were defeated after a number of skirmishes, and eventually forced to evacuate their ancestral homeland after approx 600 years of occupation.

The Ngati Toa retreated down the South coast and eventually occupied Kapiti Island. However after nearly two hundred years after that great and sad battle, there are still remnants of Ngati Toa living in the Kawhia region, that call themselves "Ngati Toa o Kawhia". They still claim an un-broken line of residence and occupation of the Kawhia harbour since the arrival of the Tainui waka nearly 800 years ago.

The Maori King is considered the kaitiaki (caretaker) of Te Maika, as it was placed in a previous Maori Kings name nearly a hundred years ago to safe-guard the precious peninsula from been acquired or stolen by the pakeha (Europeans) at that time.

According to one of those that placed the land under the kings guardianship (Rawinia King), Te Maika would be given back to future generations, when it was safe to do so, or when the perfect time unfolds.

Although there are no permanent residents living in Te Maika, there are bach owners who relish any chance they can get to enjoy a holiday in solitude.

te maika bachThere is no electricity and access is only by boat. The visitors who have discovered this little nature jewel are few, but appreciative.

There is a certain energised feeling that one experiences as soon as you hop off the boat and onto the sand.

After lugging the gear up to the bach, one of the first urges is to sleep.

Sometimes for a long time. Its a a place that allows you to to relax, be yourself and realign body and mind...

The 30-odd baches at Te Maika range from derelict to to neglected. But they're loved. Some are freshly painted. The occupied baches are strewn with holiday paraphernalia - kayaks, nets, shells, buoys and swim wear.

Most of the houses appeared in 1953 and by all accounts haven't changed much since, and mod-cons are still limited. Partly thats because the headland is so isolated.

The narrow, hilly peninsula, bordered by rocks on the ocean side and shallow sand on the harbour side, is more than 10km from Taharoa, the nearest settlement, and a rough trip by 4-wheel-drive or horse.

Its a mission to bring in timber to fix up houses. You can't plug in a saw there. There are no roads on the headland; the isolation almost turns Te Maika into an island.

Most baches are on leasehold land, although a few are freehold.


Most holiday makers take a half hour Kawhia harbour cruise or use their own motorboat. Two thirds of the baches are quite close together, lining the black beach. A few others dot 5 ha of scruffy hillocks that protect the harbour from the Tasman Sea.

As in some ancient suburb at the end of the world, each ramshackle bach has a little fence to keep out the sheep and horses grazing the buffalo grass.

Most baches have long drop lavatories...

No one can really identify why you get so energised on Te Maika, as it is subtle, and the longer you stay, the more energetic you become. If there is any such thing or place as a power point, then this is certainly one of them.

Te Maika has a tremendous amount of history, both Maori and European. Historians believe its one of the first places in New Zealand to rise up out of the sea.

A giant fossilised mollusk and fossilised remains of a giant penguin was found close by between Te Maika and Te Waitere.

There are also remains of giant pre-kauri trees that grew 170 million years ago, at the same time as the trees in Curio Bay, in Southland.

te maika wharfAround the harbour are limestone caves. Every year Godwits fly down from Alaska to fatten up for breeding.

Author James Mc Neish immortalised Te Maika in his book "As For The Godwits", published in 1977, in which he called the settlement Te Kuaka.

James Mc Neish also wrote a sequel, An Albatross too many, published in 1998.

For 15 years Mc Neish lived in Te Maika's biggest house

Until recently no one has lived permanently at Te Maika since the Rewi whanau left about 20 something years ago.

However just recently, a solo dad and three kids whose ancestors include the famous warrior "Te Rauparaha" have moved back from the city to take up permanent residence in there ancestral homeland for the purpose of setting up an outward bounds program for rangatahi (youth).

Awesome images of one of the kids riding her horse at Te Maika...


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