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Mahurangi Harbour Māori History

Mahurangi Harbour Māori History 


The name Mahurangi belongs to the sea stack (island) off the mouths of the Waiwera and Puhio Rivers and to the Pa that once crowned its summit. Much speculation surrounds the meaning of Mahurangi but it likely its “rock pointing to the sky”. The name Mahurangi eventually transferred to the wider harbour area from Puhio up to Kawau and was used by both Māori and pakeha settlers. Other terms commonly used were Waihe which referenced the main body of the harbour and Kiahou for the lower harbour stretch. 


Te Kawerau was the main iwi in the area however, they had a perilous time with inland attacks from Ngāti Whatua and coastal attacks from the Hauraki Gulf by Ngāti Pāoa. Given this nearly every headland and promontory shows evidence of fortifications which would have occurred over generations. The mahurangi’s location close to the isthmus of Tāmaki Makaurau and its extensive trading ports and the fact invading war parties had to paddle waka past the settlements was another reason for the extensive fortifications. Being only a day’s paddle from Auckland meant that waka parties often camped the night in the area. Aside from the fortification on now eroded sea stack off the Puhoi River Mouth there was a prominent fortified pa on the northern end of Saddle Island stretching up to the highest point. Motuora Island has an extensive fortified pa at the southern end of the island with numerous diggings now buried under the vegetation. 


The sheltered harbour provided an ideal location for settlement and with the abundant seafood and lush forest behind villages were common throughout the harbour. The climate was also favourable for growing crops such as kumara however the soils were poor hence fern root was a more staple starch food. Evidence of terraced gardens has been uncovered throughout the harbour. The final skirmish for the Te Kawerau iwi was against Ngāpuh who with their pakeha weapons obliterated those who they came face to face with. 



Join us for an empowering GIRLS ONLY (aged 13-18) adventure from January 15th to 19th. Experience five days of exploring the beautiful Hauraki Gulf on one of the world's most iconic yachts and in two-person kayaks. Encounter dolphins, orcas, and rays while making new friends. It's time to step out of your comfort zone and embark on an unforgettable journey. Let's go!


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Fun for the whole family down at @missionbaywatersports 🌞💯🤙 offering kayak and SUP rentals. @visitauckland @purenewzealand #kayaking #auckland
Heading out to the best preserved volcano in the Auckland volcanic field @visitauckland #motukorea
Fun morning on the water taking selfies with the swans @visitauckland @purenewzealand #amwaychina
Running with excitement to get on the mighty Manukau Harbor with @emr_nz
Stunning spring days for some student kayak races. Throughout the year we work with local primary and high schools educating them about how special the Hauraki Gulf is and how to preserve it for the next generation