Links to war revealed

Taranaki War's legacy shared by Nelsonians

Last updated 15:46 18/09/2012
Peter Millward
SHINE A LIGHT: rovincial Museum chief executive Peter Millward uses a touch screen display at the Taranaki War Exhibition at the Nelson Provincial Museum.

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Te Ahi Ka Roa, Te Ahi Katoro, Taranaki War 1860-2012: Our Legacy Our Challenge, was originally put together by Taranaki's Puke Ariki museum, but the Nelson museum has added artefacts, artworks and information from its own archives and local sources.

Museum director Peter Millward believes many local people will be surprised by the extent of those early links between Te Tau Ihu (the top of the south) and Taranaki.

Not only did Nelson's early European population swell with refugees from the war, but some Te Tau Ihu iwi have strong links to the Taranaki tribes:

Te Tau Ihu found itself in a very difficult position once the first shots of the New Zealand Land Wars were fired.

Members of two Taranaki iwi - Ngati Tama and Te Atiawa - settled in Nelson and Marlborough in the first half of the 19th century.

Many of their whanau and descendants remained in the area, but retained strong ancestral ties to Taranaki.

By 1860, most South Island land was in Pakeha hands, but Maori in the North Island began to resist land sales.

In 1859, a young chief, Te Teira, offered to sell 240 hectares of Taranaki land to the Government, but a senior Te Atiawa chief, Wiremu Kingi Te Rangitake, objected to the land sale.

The resulting war between Maori and Pakeha in North Taranaki continued from March 1860 to March 1861.

The 19th-century land wars affected relationships between colonists and Maori in Te Tau Ihu, resulting in the increased marginalisation of Maori.

Descendants of Ngati Tama and Te Atiawa continue to live in Te Tau Ihu today.

About 1200 European settler refugees from the Taranaki War relocated to Nelson in August 1860 - their descendants also live in the region today.

A fascinating story emerges through the following timeline:

17 March 1860: Wiremu Kingi Te Rangitake refused to sell the Waitara block offered for sale by Te Teira, and Government troops attacked the Te Atiawa stronghold at the mouth of the Waitara River.

Te Atiawa of Nelson and Marlborough were divided depending on whether they had family ties to Kingi or Teira.

Some supported Kingi and sent waka with supplies and ammunition to Taranaki and even lost their lives in the war.

Other Te Tau Ihu Maori worked actively for peace and supported the Government land purchase.

August 1860: About 1200 European refugees from Taranaki arrived in Nelson.

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They were supported by family, friends and strangers, with emergency housing built for them in Waimea Road. Among the refugees who stayed were: artist, John Gully and his family, the Thompson/Rutherford family (including Martha, who was to become the mother of Sir Ernest Rutherford) and the influential extended Richmond/Atkinson family.

September 1860: Nelson's resident magistrate, James MacKay, sought exemption of Nelson volunteer militia from conscription in the Taranaki War to reduce provocation of Te Tau Ihu iwi. MacKay and loyalist chiefs convened hui and toured the region to discuss this.

4 September 1863: After sailing from Port Nelson into a terrible storm, The Delaware was driven on to rocks at Wakapuaka.

Maori from the area, including Huria and Hemi Matenga, rescued all but one man from the sinking ship.

Their brave, humanitarian actions did much to thaw the chilly relationship between Maori and Pakeha in Nelson at this time.

In the interim: Governor George Grey cancelled the Waitara purchase after learning some "new facts", but fighting broke out again in 1863 when Government troops occupied another Taranaki block and land confiscation followed.

In 1865 the Government confiscated all of Te Atiawa's Taranaki land.

Led by prophets, Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi, a pacifist settlement was established by dispossessed Maori at Parihaka in 1866.

Maori from other districts, including Te Tau Ihu, settled on the land which was confiscated during the 1860 war, but remained unsettled by Europeans.

29 October 1881: More than 200 Nelson volunteer militia and a canon left Nelson for Parihaka after parading down Trafalgar Street.

5 November 1881: 1600 armed troops (incl 200 from Nelson and a Blenheim contingent) stormed Parihaka, home of about 2000.

They were met with no resistance but the settlement was destroyed and Te Whiti and Tohu were arrested.

July 1882: Te Whiti and Tohu were held under ‘honourable restraint' at various South Island locations before arriving in Nelson in July 1882, where they remained under house arrest in Nile Street.

They were welcomed by Maori from Takaka, Motueka and Wakapuaka, including Huria Matenga, who was related to them.

March 1883: The prophets were returned to Parihaka with substantial gifts from the Government and the community was rebuilt.

April 2011: An exhibition, Te Ahi Ka Roa, Te Ahi Katoro, Taranaki War 1860-2010: Our Legacy, Our Challenge, developed by New Plymouth's Puke Ariki, won the Museums' Aotearoa New Zealand Museum Excellence in Exhibition (Social History) Award.

It was commended for tackling difficult contemporary perspectives through exploring history using objects and cutting edge technology.

7 September 2012: Te Ahi Ka Roa, Te Ahi Katoro, Taranaki War 1860-2010: Our Legacy, Our Challenge arrives in Nelson. Taonga are welcomed by iwi from Te Tau Ihu.

The taonga include a toki believed to have been owned by Wiremu Kingi te Rangitaake, which was greeted at the airport in late August by Archdeacon Harvey Ruru, a direct descendant of Wiremu Kingi.


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