Ngāti Tapu have a unique history in terms of our relationship to the whenua of Tauranga Moana.
Our whakapapa is complex. We trace our descent from tupuna who arrived in Tauranga Moana around 1350AD. It has been estimated that Ngāti Tapu made up a third of the total Maori population of Tauranga Moana in the first part of the 19th century.
Ngāti Tapu’s primary settlements were Otumoetai, Otamataha, Matapihi, Opoutea and Maenene. We utilised the resources present within the coastal waters next to our pā and kainga, as well as the resources of the ngāhere, as well as having extensive cultivations throughout our rohe.
Settling Tauranga Moana
Our hapū shared a largely peaceful existence in Tauranga Moana along side our Waitaha neighbours brought about mainly through a series of inter-marriages between the two peoples.
Ngāti Tapu Hapū
We have a long history of occupation in Tauranga Moana dating back over 300 years. During this period intimate relationships and associations have developed between them and their surroundings including the harbour, estuaries, wāhi tapu, urupa, pā, kainga and taunga waka. Today, “ownership” may not be in the hands of Ngāti Tapu, however these relationships endure to this day.
Ōtamataha Pā (Cemetery Point) was one of the principal settlements in the early 1800’s. The Pā belonged to Ngāi Tukairangi and Ngāti Tapu under the Chief Koraurau. At that time Tauranga was densely populated. Visitors counted thousands of canoes large and small, between the Wairoa River and Te Papa.
In 1828, Otamataha Pā was attacked by Ngāti Maru under Te Rohu. Hundreds of Ngāti Tapu and Ngāi Tūkairangi were slain, and a great number were taken captive. In the same battle Koraurau was slain. Those who escaped fled to places like Otuatara, Otumoetai, Oponui, Matakana and Matapihi where they settled in small hapū groups.
In 1881, Ngati Tapu built the first Tapukino wharenui at Te Mānia at the Southern end of the current railway bridge
In 1901, the hapū decided to move the marae to Waikari where it stands to this day.
In 1978 carving of the maihi amo and pare was commenced by Pita Whareaitu. The carving was all but completed when Pita passed away in 1979. The carvings were attached in 1982.