Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei has had a presence in the Tāmaki Isthmus for 400 years.
The tribe migrated from the northern reaches of the North Island to the Auckland area via the west coast. After conquering the then occupants of the land, Ngāti Whātua were quick to see the benefit of occupying the fertile soils of the isthmus. The continued occupation was key to securing Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei as ahi kaa (Keepers of the Fire (land)). Since then Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei have formed relationships with other iwi and this practise of hono still continues today.
Ngāti Whātua’s reach extends from the central Auckland area up to the Brynderwyn Hills in the north. The Kaipara Harbour on the west coast and the Waitematā Harbour on the east coast also come under the tribes’ domain. Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei have seen first-hand the issues facing an indigenous people who have been made to live with the country’s largest city at their doorstep. The tribe has worked hard to maintain a presence in Auckland and the future for the people is looking better because of the teachings from our past.
Orākei is the area the Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei members can call home. Prior to European arrival Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei had several villages based around the Waitematā harbour and beyond. Okahu Bay was where the last village stood, until the people were moved up to the Orākei area along the ridge line between Okahu Bay and Mission Bay in the 1950’s. Orākei has had its fair share of controversy and by 1977 there was only a quarter acre block Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei could call their own, the family cemetery. Orākei is the gateway to the eastern suburbs and many vehicles pass the Okahu Bay and Orākei area without an appreciation for its past history.
“Really interesting. We had Tom, our Maori guide, all to ourselves for this walk. The most challenging thing was to find the museum in...”