Waiheke, pre-European history
First settled in 12000AD, Waiheke Island was home to the Maru iwi until centuries later when Toi claimed the Island.
During the 1820's the famous Hongi Heke killed most of the inhabitants in a big battle at Onetangi beach. Unsurprisingly, Onetangi means "weeping sands" - and the name Weeping Sands is now the brand name of one of Waiheke's great wines.
The pre-European, or Maori history of Waiheke, has left traces of the occupation in the form of archaeological sites scattered over the landscape. Pa and defended sites which are found on many of the narrow headlands are easily recognisable. As well as fortified sites, there are traces of villages which are generally seen as pits and terraced areas. The island was once called Te Motuarui-roa meaning long sheltered island, but later known as Te Motunui-o-Kahu after a young chieftain, by the name Kahu who is said to have landed on the island around middle of the 14th century to claim territory for the Te Arawa people. In 1769 When Captain Cook's Endeavour entered the Hauraki Gul,f the island was in the domain of Ngati Paoa.
The first Pakeha arrivals were sealers and whalers who stopped on the island for reserves. By the mid 1850's European settlement of Waiheke was under way and the process of timber clearance began. And the rest is history... Waiheke had begun to change. The book, Waiheke Pioneers by Dixie Day, is a must read for those interested in Waiheke's later European history.
Last updated: 29/8/2012