“The Heke South”
Toa Rangatira who was the eponymous ancestor of Ngāti Toa, resided at Kāwhia on the west coast of Waikato-Tainui rohe around the 17th century.
Ngāti Toa occupied the coastline from Aotea to Huikomako, about 100km south of Kāwhia.
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 Ngāti Toa in a historic resettlement campaign from Kāwhia.
Te Heke Tahutahuahi (the fire lighting expedition) was the first stage of Te Rauparaha’s resettlement which arrived in North Taranaki. Here Ngāti Toa was joined by Ngāti Tama, and members from Ngāti Mutunga and Ngāti Awa.
Te Heke Tataramoa (the bramble bush) was the second heke which moved south from Whanganui to Ngāti Apa towards the Cook Strait.
The defining settlement of Ngāti Toa in the Wellington region was the battle of Waiorua on Kāpiti Island in 1824. Ngāti Toa defeated a combined alliance of Kurahaupo tribes and settled without protest from other Iwi in the region from Kāpiti to Te Whanganui-a-Tara.
In 1827, the battle of Tapu-Te-Ranga sealed Ngāti Toa settlement where an alliance of Ngāti Toa and Ngāti Mutunga defeated Ngāti Ira, the residing Iwi on the South Coast of Wellington. Tamairangi, the Paramount Chieftainess of Ngāti Ira was taken captive and presented to Te Rangihaeata of Ngāti Toa at Ōhāriu where she acceded to his protection. Tamairangi and her son Te Kekerengu to settle on Mana Island.
During the early 1800’s Ngāti 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 Ngāti Tama along the south west coast (principally at Ōhāriu) 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 Ngāti Toa Rangatira was established as the pre-eminent Iwi dominating the Kāpiti, Wellington, and Te Tau Ihu (northern South Island) regions. Ngāti Toa held a maritime monopoly in the Cook Strait including a de facto military, political and economic power in the region acknowledged by Māori and European settlers at the time.