Taupō Plimmerton Heritage Trail


18   Te Rauparaha Reserve

This carved pou and the concrete plinth at the end of the narrow, grass path mark the site of a tī kōuka (cabbage tree) which was reportedly a lookout used by Ngāti Toa Rangatira leader Te Rauparaha.   The reserve was created in 1910.

The tiny (40m2) Te Rauparaha Reserve lies beside a driveway off Motuhara Road.   Its existence is marked by a carved wooden pou, with a strip of land leading to a concrete plinth and a plaque which states the site’s significant connection to Te Rauparaha – ‘overlooking Taupō Pa from which Te Rauparaha was taken’.

Concrete plinth at site of tī kōuka (cabbage tree) Photo: Deirdre Dale

Concrete plinth at site of tī kōuka (cabbage tree)
Photo: Deirdre Dale


Te Rauparaha pou – Tana Suzmann, 1996 Photo: Deirdre Dale

Te Rauparaha pou – Tana Suzmann, 1996
Photo: Deirdre Dale


In 1881, the Native Land Court set aside ten acres as a Māori burial ground, vesting the reserve (Taupō No 2 Block) in the Public Trustee as ‘absolutely inalienable’.   However, legislative changes saw the land subdivided for sale.   Despite the original status, and protest by the Plimmerton community who had wanted the land vested as a scenic reserve, in 1913 sections were leased then sold.  This small area together with one-tenth of an acre as a burial ground are all that remain as Māori reserve here today.

Tī kōuka (cabbage tree) approximate site of Te Rauparaha Reserve C1904 PATAKA Arts + Museum, Porirua Ref C-4-57

Tī kōuka (cabbage tree) approximate site of Te Rauparaha Reserve C1904 PATAKA Arts + Museum, Porirua Ref C-4-57


Tī kōuka (cabbage tree) approximate site of Te Rauparaha Reserve C1904
PATAKA Arts + Museum, Porirua Ref C-4-57

Within the reserve a lone tī kōuka (cabbage tree) once stood.  Local knowledge had it that Te Rauparaha had used the tree as a viewing point.   The area around the tree was set aside in 1910 as a reserve to acknowledge Te Rauparaha.   

Opinion among Māori is that the tree marked the site of Te Rauparaha’s whare where he was captured in 1846.   A different opinion, publicised at the 1896 Plimmerton land auction, identified the site of that whare on a section on the south side of Beach Road alongside the beach.  The description from the time of the capture, of the soldiers running some distance to and through the village from the beach landing to the whare, supports the Māori view.

Earlier pou - Kohe Webster, 1975 Patricia Burns, Te Rauparaha - A New Perspective, p297

Earlier pou – Kohe Webster, 1975
Patricia Burns, Te Rauparaha – A New Perspective, p297

During the 1960s, the New Zealand Historic Places Trust marked the site of the tree with the large concrete plinth and plaque.  In 1975, the Plimmerton Rotary Club commissioned a carved wooden pou of Te Rauparaha and installed it at the entrance of the reserve on Motuhara Road.   Seven hundred people attended the unveiling of the pou.

Kohe Webster carved the original pou, a tekoteko, of kahikatea (white pine).  He said that he carved the monument in a bold design to signify Te Rauparaha’s largeness and boldness of purpose.  (For the carver’s full description of the carving, see Patricia Burns.)

The first carving rotted and was replaced for a decade by a concrete mould. In 1996, the Porirua Heritage Trail sponsored the tekoteko which stands here today.  This time it was carved by Tana Suzmann from totara – a wood known for its endurance.

A new tī kōuka was planted at the site in the early 1990s.

For further information about Ngāti Toa Rangatira and about Te Rauparaha see

Mīria Pōmare. ‘Ngāti Toarangatira’, Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 24-Sep-14
URL: http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/ngati-toarangatira

Deirdre Dale (advised by Tiratu Williams)
16 September 2016

References

Lieut H F McKillop, Reminiscences of Twelve Months Service in New Zealand, Richard Bentley, 1849

Kapi-Mana News, 4 March 1975 http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz

Patricia Burns, Te Rauparaha, A New Perspective, (P296) A H & A W Reed 1980

Robert McClean, Power/Knowledge and Space: The Creation and Alienation of the ‘Reserve’ at

Porirua  Unpublished MPhil Thesis, 1996, Massey University, pp 149-154

Te Rauparaha remembered at Plimmerton, Kapi-Mana News, 30 October 1996