“The Heke South”
Toa Rangatira who was the eponymous ancestor of Ngati Toa, resided at Kawhia on the west coast of Waikato-Tainui rohe around the 17th century.
Ngati Toa occupied the coastline from Aotea to Huikomako, about 100km south of Kawhia.
In 1819 Te Rauparaha lead a scouting expedition to the Cook Strait. From a well known lookout point, Omere near Cape Terawhiti,Te Rauparaha noticed a trading ship passing through the Cook Strait. After identifying the strategic importance of the Cook Strait as a major trading route Te Rauparaha lead Ngati Toa in a historic resettlement campaign from Kawhia.
Te Heke Tahutahuahi (the fire lighting expedition) was the first stage of Te Rauparaha’s resettlement which arrived in North Taranaki. Here Ngati Toa was joined by Ngati Tama, and members from Ngati Mutunga and Ngati Awa.
Te Heke Tataramoa (the bramble bush) was the second heke which moved south from Whanganui to Ngati Apa towards the Cook Strait.
The defining settlement of Ngati Toa in the Wellington region was the battle of Waiorua on Kapiti Island in 1824. Ngati Toa defeated a combined alliance of Kurahaupo tribes and settled without protest from other Iwi in the region from Kapiti to Te Whanganui-a-Tara.
In 1827, the battle of Tapu-Te-Ranga sealed Ngati Toa settlement where an alliance of Ngati Toa and Ngati Mutunga defeated Ngati Ira, the residing Iwi on the South Coast of Wellington. Tamairangi, the Paramount Chieftainess of Ngati Ira was taken captive and presented to Te Rangihaeata of Ngati Toa at Ohariu where she acceded to his protection. Tamairangi and her son Te Kekerengu to settle on Mana Island.
During the early 1800’s Ngati Mutunga and Te Atiawa moved into Whanganui-a-Tara and towards the Wairarapa with the support of Te Rauparaha . Te Rauparaha and Te Rangihaeata allocated land to Ngati Tama along the south west coast (principally at Ohariu) in recognition of their support during resettlement.
Following the battle of Waiorua,and Te Rangihaeata continued south leading a number of campaigns gaining mana whenua in the upper South Island particularly in the Wairau Valley, Port Underwood, and Pelorus Sound.
By 1840 Ngati Toa Rangatira was established as the pre-eminent Iwi dominating the Kapiti, Wellington, and Te Tau Ihu (northern South Island) regions. Ngati Toa held a maritime monopoly in the Cook Strait including a de facto military, political and economic power in the region acknowledged by Maori and European settlers at the time.