ki te Upoko o te Ika
History » A Distinct Iwi and Rohe
While Ngati Toa, and the Taranaki iwi, hapu, whanau had shared and intersecting rights throughout the environs of Wellington, Ngati Tama maintained a separate and distinct identity in various places in Wellington. Ngati Tama places of residence on the harbour included Kaiwharawhara, Pakuao and Raurimu from the first arrival in 1824, Tiakiwai (Thorndon) after the departure of Ngati Mutunga (in 1835).
There were Ngati Tama settlements at Ohariu, Makara, Ohaua and Oterongo on the western coast; and Komangarautawhiri further north. Ngati Tama also had summer fishing kainga at Okiwi and Mukamuka (Palliser Bay).
The rights and customary interests of Ngati Tama included all interests and all rights in Te Whanganui-a-Tara and the lands and resources of those places in particular westward to the coast. Ngati Tama were joint tangata whenua, and had tino rangatiratanga, mana whenua and tangata whenua status over those lands in accordance with traditional Maori law and custom, whether by way of the exertion of their mana, rangatiratanga, by creating relations between groups or by physical use, cultivations and occupations.
Ngati Tama maintained a separate and distinct identity in Wellington and enjoyed occupation, fishing, birding, and cultivation rights there. Ngati Tama also set up a functioning organisational structure including hapu and whanau units with associated kainga, marae, waahi tapu etc.
Despite the pressures of competing interests between the Iwi of Wellington, initially, a thriving economy ensued based on servicing visiting ships in particular. However, some people had lost their lives in the journey south (eg, Te Taku), others sought opportunities further a field in the South Island (eg, Te Puoho), Chatham Islands, or even returned home to Taranaki.