Te Waitere

Te Waitere (Ahuahu) on has the same name as Great Mercury Island off Whitianga, and for the same reason: a frost free climate and fertile soil that suited cultivation of kumara, the staple food of the Maori for some six centuries.

Te Waitere (Ahuahu) was probably one of the earliest settlements of Tainui at Kawhia but it has little traditional history, perhaps because there were many more formidable pa nearby to attract dramatic incidents.

Te Waitere remained a backwater even during the well planned campaign against Te Rauparaha although the pass at the southern end of the Te Waitere peninsula became an early objective, for it opened the trail up the Whakapiro.

It was the the home of Haupokia, who settled here with Ngati Kinohaku after Ngati Toa had been driven south, but while there remained a risk of war, his preferred home was in the stronghold on Rangiora, directly opposite.

Later, he settled at the head of Kinohaku Inlet on the western side of Oteke Valley, at a village called Korakora, at Waiharoto. Haupokia was of distinguished descent.

Rangituatea, who had taken a leading part in the negotiations that led to Te Rauparaha being assisted in his withdrawal from Te Arawi and his flight from Tirua Point, spent his convalescence here after being wounded in Taranaki.

Trading at Kawhia had begun about 1824 by Captain Amos Kent, who introduced the kune kune pig, which provided the basis of the export industry. Compared to the rather lean Captain Cooker, the kune kune was fat and when roasted, the meat was put in barrels and the fat poured over it to seal it for the long sea voyage to Australia.

By 1829 there were several traders living on the Kawhia harbour. Early European traders were given Maori wives and were adopted by hapu and iwi as their interpreters.

Often traders were referred to as Ngati Maniopoto or a Ngati Mahuta pakeha to signify to whom they were attached.

Most early European activity was initially on the southern side of the harbour, mainly between Nathan's Point and the Waiharakeke.

In 1838, Ahuahu became a mission station of the Wesleyans, who were so impressed with its genial climate that they planted lemon trees and called the place Lemon Point.

The resident missionary was John Whiteley who brought with him his wife Mary and their two children.

He had earlier lived on the Waiharakeke River at a place he described as 'depressing', probably at the bend opposite the ancient Maori fort called Kaiwhare.

He had been preceded in 1834 by the Reverend W. Woon, to whom a memorial stands at Awhitu on the south side of the Manukau Heads, but Woon had apparently settled on the eastern side of the inlet.

Since Whiteley's time, Ahuahu has been variously known as Lemon Point and Te Waitere, the latter apparently not a reference to the swiftness of the tidal ebb but, rather, a Maori rendition of Whiteley's name.

The mission prospered and grapes, potatoes, kumaras, peaches and cherries were grown, and goats milk and cream, fish, pipis, pigeons and pork in plenty prompted Riemenschneider, the Lutheran missionary, to exclaim, 'Oh Mrs Whiteley, we are libbing on de fat 0' de land!'

On Saturdays, hundreds of Maoris in canoes converged on the mission, cooked food, listened to the Sunday preaching and teaching and then returned to their homes on the Monday.

There Mary Whiteley reared her family, served her home and school, and with all, earned a name as a most generous hostess.

Whiteley, who was often called to act as peacemaker between hostile tribes, won the love and respect of the Maori people of Kawhia, who were deeply grieved by his transfer to a mission in Taranaki.

After the Treaty of Waitangi had been signed at Waitangi on 6 February 1840, Governor Hobson realised that further signatures should be obtained from those chiefs whose mana extended over other parts of the country.

Hobson himself visited the chiefs of Hokianga and, after some initial opposition, chiefs there also signed the Treaty.

Authenticated copies of the Treaty were taken by the Rev. Richard Taylor to the north and the Rev. Henry Williams to the east.

At Kaitaia, Lieutenant Shortland conducted the proceedings, which were supported by Nopera Panekareao, possibly the most influential of the northern chiefs.

Captain Symonds visited Te Wherowhero at Mangere but found that he would not agree to sign, being offended that he had not been consulted earlier upon the. matter.

Symonds went on to the portage at Waiuku and thence to the Waikato, where, with the assistance of the Rev. Robert Maunsell, more signatures of leading chiefs were obtained.

Symonds found that almost all of the chiefs as far south as Mokau had accepted the sovereignty of the Queen.

Those who had not were at Aotea and Kawhia, and accordingly the services of the Rev John Whitely were called upon to explain and interpret the document to them.

On 21 May 1840, Whitely obtained the signatures of Wetere te Rerenga, Taonui and Te Waru of Ngati Maniopoto, and of Haupokia.

Missionaries & Church - By Owen and Ngaire Emmett

Missionaries first came to the Kinohaku area in 1834 at the invitation of some of the Maori people.

Rev William White made short visits in February and May of that year when he negotiated with Chief Haupokia and Chief Waru to purchase some land at Waiharakeke for the purpose of establishing a mission station.

Transport was mainly by launch from Manukau (a 3 or 4 day journey) and sometimes on foot.

Rev White returned in November of that same year with Rev William and Mrs Woon who were left at Kawhia to work from there. Rev Woon travelled widely, meeting the Chiefs and their people.

In April 1835 Rev White again returned bringing with him this time Rev John Whiteley, his wife Mary and their two little daughters. As a result of Rev Woon's survey of the district, Rev.

Whiteley was appointed to Waiharakeke, to establish it as the main Wesleyan Mission Station on the West Coast. The Whiteley's took up residence at Waiharakeke in a one roomed whare with no floor, fireplace or windows.

"Worse still," wrote Whiteley, "It is built in a hole at the foot of a hill, on the southern side of a river which is not frequented by vessels on account of its entrance, and where I can have no supplies but by the natives carrying them, from Brother Woon's perhaps 50 miles."

Because this location was really most unsuitable the. Whiteleys stayed only a few months at Waiharakeke, then they moved to Ahuahu, or Lemon Point as Rev Whiteley called it, as he planted his lemon groves (nowadays it is sometimes still referred to as Lemon Point).

It was at Ahuahu that the district's first Post Office, or perhaps mail station, was established, run by the Mission from 1843 until 1855. This was later named Te Waitere, the Maori rendering of Whiteley's name.

About the time of the Whiteleys move to Ahuahu it was decided the Woon family would transfer north to Manukau. Sadly, just before they shifted their six month old son died.

He was buried at Te Waitere, the first of two missionary children buried there. The other was John, the 14 month old only son of John and Mary Whiteley.

These two graves along with a lemon tree, reputedly planted by John Whiteley, are now preserved as a historic place. John Whiteley, who really pioneered the missionary work in this district, continued at Te Waitere until 1855. He was succeeded for a time by H H Turton, then by C H Schnackenberg from 1858 to 1863.

John Whiteley was later killed in Taranaki on the 13th feb 1869.

After some years it was found that Te Waitere was no longer the best place for a head station, so the property was leased. In more recent years most of the land has been sold, with only a small portion being retained.

This includes the burial site of the two children, and a possible future site for a small Community Church. It is the hope that in the years to corne this site will see the erection of a Community Church, raised by the people of the district.

There are reports of sailing ships entering Kawhia harbour as early as 1825, but they probably didn't enter the Marokopa river entrance until the turn of the century. Naturally the harbour and river were used extensively by the local Maori for transport and communication.

A year after the arrival of the, missionaries in 1835 Captain Thomas Wing made a survey of the Kawhia Harbour and noted "Rev Woon's mission at Waiharakeke and Wesley's at Te Waitere." Also, "a native village northward of Albatross Point, sheltered from the southwest gales, a cluster of whares, a whata and two Maori figures. On the beach - pig rooting near a high prowed canoe".

Encouraged by the revered missionaries, the Maori eagerly became involved in clearing and cultivating the easy land adjacent to the harbour. They kept pigs and produced large quantities of wheat, fruit and vegetables which they sold to visiting traders. Unfortunately this activity ceased about 1863 due to the land wars.

Hence, when the Europeans returned about 1900 the land had reverted to fern an d scrub but there was still obvious evidence of the earlier cultivation. Groves of cherry trees still produced.

The legendary lemon trees at Te Waitere and grapes growing profusely on the rocky outcrops around the harbours edge. Large wheat mill stones were still evident in Ohau Bay and up the Waiharakeke inlet.

May Hunt in her writing comments about the fruit trees that were growing near Kinohaku in her childhood: peaches, plums, grapes, apples, cherries, figs, lemons and gooseberries. May was aged 4 when her parents Stanley and Elizabeth Carr moved from Ohau Bay in 1901.

After the balloting of land in 1902 the settlers began to arrive. Some of the first were Harry Derecourt and his friend Harry Green, taking several days to travel through dense virgin bush from Waitomo. Later Harry Derecourt's brother Fred arrived via the same arduous route.

These young and ambitious men, aware too well of their isolation, formed a company (Green and Derecourt) and in 1904 the new oil launch Kinohaku became the pride of the district. Up until this time all supplies and passenger service had been via Morgan's launch from Kawhia.

Fred Derecourt ran three regular return trips per week to Kawhia. The oil launch Kinohaku delivered the mail, passengers and supplies on a regular basis between Kinohaku, Waiharakeke, Te Waitere, Te Maika and Kawhia. Supplies would come by steamer to Kawhia and then by launch to Kinohaku.

Kinohaku wharf and shed were built in 1910 and the Te Waitere wharf in 1912. Even after the roads were all formed 20 years later it was still quicker and generally cheaper to have supplies delivered by steamer from Auckland to Te Waitere.

The water transport was the life blood of the district and all supplies in, and produce out, of the Kawhia Harbour or Marokopa River went via steamers to and from Onehunga, Waitara and, Wanganui.

One could board a steamer at Kawhia in the evening and wake up next morning in Auckland.

An array of coastal craft served the district: Heather, Dawn, Rothesay, Kia Ora, Kanieri, Rimu, Maori, Pitoitoi, Muritai, Claymore, Waitangi, Albatross, Kotahi, Aupours, Ngatiawa, Te Kuia and perhaps others.

When possible steamers went into Marokopa, but as the land was cleared the river and bar silted up making navigation difficult. A wharf was built in Marokopa in 1914 and later a landing and wharf shed erected at Kairimu.

In May 1907 the "Kawhia Settler" reported that Fred Derecourt had sold the oil launch Kinohaku to Neilson and Wright. Alf and Bertha Wright lived in Kinohaku and continued the service from there. In 1912, with trade increasing, their second launch was built by Neil Neilson at Waiharakeke. They named it Linda, after the Wright's eldest daughter.

Butter from the Marokopa Dairy Factory was shipped via Marokopa when conditions allowed until about 1918.

Otherwise it was carted to Kinohaku and taken to Te Waitere or Kawhia to coincide with the arrival of the steamers. Wool, pigs, fat lambs and cattle for the Auckland works were loaded directly onto steamers at Te Waitere. Stock could also be loaded off punts with a ramp onto the steamer.

Incoming goods consisted of grass seed, fertiliser, wire, building supplies and household goods.

All other stock was driven via the new Waiharakeke bridge to Ohaupo saleyards. Wool, butter, flax and timber were loaded out when possible from Marokopa, from about 1905.

Flax was surfed out from Hari Hari in the early days and wool continued to be transported in this manner up until 1929.

 


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