Scott McFarlane: At Taiamai


Tue 23 Jul 2019, 11:00am–5:00pm
Wed 24 Jul 2019, 11:00am–5:00pm
Thu 25 Jul 2019, 11:00am–5:00pm
Fri 26 Jul 2019, 11:00am–5:00pm
Sat 27 Jul 2019, 11:00am–4:00pm

Where: Whitespace Contemporary Art, 20 Monmouth St, Ponsonby, Auckland

Restrictions: All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Admission: Free


Taiamai Plains
Rolling farmland surrounding Kaikohe, with dramatic volcanic cones. Other volcanic features include Ōmāpere, a shallow lake created by an ancient lava flow, and Ngāwhā thermal springs.

Many of the cones are marked with pā fortifications that indicate the density of the early Māori population. The volcanic loams were well suited to growing kūmara (sweet potato), intensively cultivated by Māori. A mission-trained Māori, Rāwiri Taiwhanga, had the country’s first dairy farm in about 1840, and is remembered in a Kaikohe park. Today the landscape is studded with the small white churches distinctive to the north.

The northern war (1845–46) brought fighting to the area: a short distance north-east of Kaikohe, the Ōhaeawai battle is marked by St Michael’s Church and graveyard, built on the battle site. Another historic spot is Pakaraka, the site of missionary Henry Williams’s church and retirement home.

Volcanic cone (282 m) and historic pā about 15 km east of Kaikohe, not far from the junction of highways 1 and 12.

People first settled on the Taiamai plain in undefended kāinga (villages), but between 550 and 350 years ago some pā (fortified villages) were built. Pouērua is one, and has been investigated by archaeologists in collaboration with local hapū (sub-tribes).

The fortifications stretched 600 m, with massive earthworks and palisades encircling the high points of the volcano. It would not have been occupied permanently (water supply would have been too difficult), but was a refuge in times of conflict.

The arrival of Europeans diverted Māori interest to coastal settlements such as Kerikeri and Kororāreka, where they could engage in dealings with the newcomers, and the pā was abandoned.

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