A Place of Importance
The Te Whenua Hou development is between the Waimakariri River and the Kōwhai River in the takiwā (tribal area) of Ngāi Tahu hapū (sub-tribe) Ngāi Tūāhuriri, one of the five primary hapū of Ngāi Tahu.
In 1848 as part of the Kemp purchase, the Crown promised the entire block of land between the Waimakariri River and Kōwhai River as reserve land to Ngāi Tahu. However, only a fragment of this promised land was actually given to Ngāi Tahu.
In 2000, following the Ngāi Tahu Settlement, Ngāi Tahu Property purchased the Eyrewell Forest (now known as Te Whenua Hou) block and today Ngāi Tahu are able to participate in a land-based economy in an area their ancestors asked to be set aside for them.
The original Ngāi Tūāhuriri Pā is east of the dairy farms near the coast. It was established by Tūrākautahi around the year 1700, after Ngāi Tahu crossed over from the North Island. It was originally called the nest of Kaikai-a-Waro, but the descendants of Tūrākautahi changed the name to Kaiapohia, which became commonly known as Kaiapoi. It was regarded as the chief Ngāi Tahu stronghold and, surrounded by waterways and wetlands on three sides, it provided a bountiful food supply of fish and birds.
The pā was eventually destroyed by the raids of Te Rauparaha in 1832 and many lives were lost. After the raids, the site of the pā was left to nature and memories. Fugitives from the old pā eventually set up a new settlement to the west at what is now Tuahiwi village – this remains the heart of Ngāi Tūāhuriri today.
The Waimakariri River flows past the dairy farms and feeds many of the waterways and wetlands of the original pā. Although Ngāi Tūāhuriri have since moved to Tuahiwi village the original pā still has several important mahinga kai areas (food gathering) and wāhi tapu (sacred sites).
Ngāi Tūāhuriri as kaitiaki (guardians) of the area have had input into the dairy operation through the Mana Whenua Working Party. Cultural and environmental aspirations have been the top priorities for Ngāi Tūāhuriri. Their main concern is to ensure that the dairy farms do not adversely affect the waterways.