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Marahau, The Abel Tasman VillageHistory


The traditions and recorded history of the land which comprises Abel Tasman National Park and its surroundings tell of some 800 years of human activity. A mild climate and sheltered coastline attracted a mainly seasonal usage by a succession of Maori tribes. European exploration and subsequent settlement resulted in a period which saw active exploitation of the area's natural resources. Recreational use of the coastline for boating and camping led to a campaign for the protection of its natural values, and the National Park was established in December 1942.

Maori History
A rich history of Maori association with Abel Tasman coast. Archaeological evidence suggests an occupation span of some 800 years. A much longer occupation is indicated through oral traditions.

Maori Traditions
Maori cosmology and creation myths tell of predecessors of the earliest inhabitants of the region. Traces of their passing remain in features of the landscape and the names they have been given. An ancient name for the South Island, Te Waka o Aorangi, comes from the voyage made by Aorangi which ended in a violent storm. The waka, the crew and their cargo turned to stone, thus creating the South Island. The tau ihu of the waka forms Farewell Spit, Golden Bay, Tasman Bay, the Marlborough Sounds and Cloudy Bay. Another legend tells of Te Komakahua, a leader of the Kahui Tipua, ogres with magical powers. To separate warring factions within his party, he isolated one of these enormous creatures in a cave at Wainui. Ngarara Huarau became the terror of passing travellers, and a small cave in Wainui Inlet bears his name. Visits of early travellers to the region such as Rakaihautu, Ngahue and Poutini also feature in a number of legends.

Maori Settlement
Descendants of these early visitors were in occupation at the time of Kupe's arrival in the early part of the tenth century. Ngai Tara occupied the Waimea district from about 1550 and spread out from there, before being displaced by Ngati Tumatakokiri in the early 1600's. Ngati Tumatakokiri were in occupation at the time of Abel Tasman's visit to Golden Bay in 1642, and they were not finally displaced until the late 1790's. Their conquerors were Ngati Apa, Ngati Kuia and Ngai Tahu, known as the Kurahaupo Alliance. A story arising from this time relates to the existence of a taipo (goblin) in the Canaan area. After Charles Heaphy had crossed the Takaka Hill in December 1843, Maori on the coast asked if he had encountered the Taipo. Jimmy Perrot of Awaroa said that Maori refused to speak about the Canaan area for fear of offending the Taipo. Another story with a number of versions from the late 1820's concerns two men who survived a shipwreck on the West Coast and made their way north along the coastline. They managed to reach Totaranui, where they were killed by local Maori.

A wide variety of site types occur, including middens, pits, terraces, defended sites (pa), gardens, stone working floors and artefact find spots. These have been interpreted to indicate a mobile lifestyle based on seasonal fishing, gathering and horticulture. Sites typically occur in places offering combinations of natural advantages, being favourable to everyday life and customary practice, e.g.. kumara storage and defence. The soft-shored bays and estuaries of Abel Tasman coast are easily accessible by sea and afforded fresh water and a range of food resources. Pa sites are found in places with naturally defensive features (cliffs) and panoramic outlook, such as prominent headlands, particularly where the headlands were accessible only by a narrow, and therefore easily defended ridge. Some 14 hectares of Maori horticultural soils have been identified in the Sandy Bay Marahau area. The deliberate alteration of the soil ( usually through the introduction of gravel and charcoal) was to improve the drainage, warmth and moisture retention in the soil, necessary for the successful cultivation of kumara in temperate climates. Records made by early European visitors to the area have left a picture of small settlements. D'Urville recorded Maori occupying Taupo Point, Mutton Cove, Mosquito Bay, Boundary Bay, Torrent Bay, Te Pukatea Bay and Adele and Fisherman Islands.

European Discovery
The first recorded contact by Europeans with the Abel Tasman area came during the time when Ngati Tumatakokiri were in occupation. In 1642 Abel Janszoon Tasman was leading an expedition initiated by the Dutch East India Company. The Company was hoping to discover land rumoured to lie in southern seas which would increase its opportunities for trade. Tasman had charge of two ships, the Zeehaen and the Heemskerck, and made landfall off the West Coast, in the vicinity of Punakaiki, on December 13. 1642. The two ships sailed north along the coast, until they rounded Farewell Spit and anchored in a large open bay on 18. December 1642. The ships anchored at sunset about four miles from shore, somewhere off Wainui Inlet. Two ship's boats had been sent ahead and they returned on board when two canoes approached from the shore. Shouts from the occupants of the canoes were responded to and an exchange of trumpeting followed. In the morning a canoe occupied by 13 men approached from the shore. The men on the Heemskerck indicated for them to come on board, showing knives and white linen, but they returned to shore. An officers' meeting was held to discuss the situation, and then seven canoes were seen to approach from shore. While the cock boat from the Zeehaen was ferrying between the expedition ships, it was rammed by one of the canoes. Three sailors were killed and another mortally wounded. After another council meeting, the two ships sailed away into Cook Strait, with Tasman bestowing the name of Moordenaers ( Murderers) Bay to mark the incident.

James Cook
James Cook gave the name Blind Bay to the coastal area between Farewell Spit and Stephen's Island as he sailed past on March 29 1770. In May 1773, on his second voyage, Cook saw that the bay was divided into two parts and confined the name Blind Bay to the southernmost bay.

Dumont D'Urville
The first detailed exploration of the coast was made by Dumont D'Urville, during a voyage commissioned by the French government in 1826. Sailing in the corvette Astrolabe he anchored in the shelter of an island off the western shore on January 16. D'Urville named the sheltered stretch of water Astrolabe Road stead after his ship, and the island after his wife, Adele. Other features named were Observation Beach, where an observatory was set up and Watering Cove, where freshwater supplies were taken. D'Urville was impressed by the picturesque landscape of forests and beaches. Other place names which survive from D'Urville's naming include Abel Head, Adolphe Point, Balloon Rock, Coquille Bay, Cyathea Cove, Fisherman Island, Guilbert Point, Jules Point, Lesson Creek and Simonet Creek. The French had continued their good relations with local Maori and when the Astrolabe set sail on 22 January 1827, they were given an emotional and rowdy farewell.

European Settlement
European settlement in the northern South Island resulted from the activities of the New Zealand Company. In September 1841 the Company decided to investigate Tasman Bay for a suitable site for their second colony. From the 1850s the story of Marahau becomes the story of all of those, Maori and pakeha who can be described as belonging to the four winds, that is they arrive from different directions with different directions with different backgrounds and origins, and make the most of what they find there. In the 1830s tangata whenua were sojourners, moving about, not yet settled. In the 1840s the tauiwi, the settlers, were similarly seeking to find places to put down their roots. Sections at Sandy Bay were surveyed in 1857 and purchasers included John Tinline, T R Berry, Robert McNabb, Thomas Askew, Henry Seymour and Mary Towers. Some 300 acres of bush land at Marahau were taken up by David Drummond in 1863. Timber was cut on the mainland at Astrolabe to provide piles for the building of Haven Road in 1860. All settlers were operating sawmills in the seventies and eighties but by the 1890s the timber had been cut down and they had left the valley. In 1900 the way of life in Marahau was still one where people were mainly on living off the land and the sea. Money was very scare, people lived off what they produced, made or caught. Life in 1900 was in that sense similar to that lived over the centuries by the tangata whenua. The first motor vehicles in use in Marahau arrived during World War 2. Horses were used for all farm work and to pull traps and buggies, for people to ride on, or drays or four wheel wagons, used for goods, loads of gravel for road repairs, hay, wool and hop bales and the like. Tractors only began to arrive in the 1940s. The first hop gardens were planted in the 1870s and the area ended in late 1940s. The first party line telephone arrived in 1948. In 1951 electricity arrived. Tobacco was grown in Marabou since about 1927. By the 1940s every farm in Marabou had built tobacco curing kilns, all at first depending on wood for fuel. The end of the tobacco crop in 1993 was also the end of significant farming in these valleys, as the attempts at dairying, at sheep and beef production and kiwi fruit were all not economically successful in these valleys.

Toitu te whenua, whatungarongaro nga tangata

The land remains, the people have gone


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