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The Aroha block to 1879

Te Aroha was valued by Maori because of its strategic position as well as its healing hot springs, while Pakeha anticipated acquiring a large area (which shrank in size once surveyed) of fertile farming land. Before the Crown could acquire the block, the ownership of a disputed area fought over by the Marutuahu tribes (especially Ngati Maru) and Ngati Haua had to be determined. After the battle of Taumatawiwi of 1830, claimed as a victory by both sides, subsequent smaller battles continued for some years. In place of deciding ownership on this basis, the new land court struggled to make a judgment on the basis of contradictory claims about ancestry, battles large and small, and occupation. One part of the larger Aroha block, Ruakaka, was considered separately in 1869, resulting in the court allocating it to Ngati Haua. Also in that year, the first hearing of the Aroha Block was held, at Matamata, with the same outcome. Because of Maratuahu anger and threats of violence, Ngati Haua failed to survey the land as required, and a second hearing was held in Auckland, in 1871, at which Ngati Maru triumphed. Subsequently the block was occupied, but conflicts continued, notably when Ngati Haua gave a Pakeha permission to run cattle at Waiharakeke, further upriver. Starting in 1873, James Mackay slowly purchased the interests of individuals claiming ownership of the block, and paid off the Ngati Haua claimants. Then in December 1876, Ngati Tumutumu/Ngati Rahiri claimed the land for themselves, and in the following year the ownership of the Waitoki block, downstream from Te Aroha, was contested. In July 1878, a third hearing of the Aroha case commenced, resulting in Ngati Rahiri being allocated £3,000 and 7,500 acres, the remainder of the block going to Ngati Maru. Subsequently, the process of subdividing the owners’ interests proceeded, very slowly, and a small number of Pakeha settled and commenced farming or storekeeping.
Working Paper
Type of thesis
Te Aroha Mining District Working Papers
Hart, P. (2016). The Aroha block to 1879 (Te Aroha Mining District Working papers, No. 13), Hamilton, New Zealand: University of Waikato, Historical Research Unit.
Historical Research Unit, University of Waikato
© 2016 Philip Hart