Our History

Ngāti Koata Te Iwi

What makes us Ngāti Koata ultimately is our ability to whakapapa to our ancestress Koata of Tainui. The rich heritage and history that Ngāti Koata has is embodied in its people, its places and its taonga.

Ko Wai? Nō Whea? | The Historic Journey of Ngāti Koata

For Ngāti Koata the journey begins with the early navigator Kupe, who arrived to Aotearoa from Hawaīki c.925. Although the human face of Koata had not yet been revealed, the names, traditions and stories associated with his arrival are integral landmarks within the rohe(boundary) of The Ngāti Koata Trust.

“Whatungarongaro te tangata, toitu te whenua. ” – People pass on but the land remains

Ko Tainui te waka, Ko Hoturoa te tangata.

Ngāti Koata originates from the waka of Tainui that left Hawaīki and arrived in Aotearoa c.1400. Tainui was captained by Hoturoa and was finally hauled ashore to rest between the two pillar stones of Puna and Hani in Kāwhia (located behind the Maketu Marae).

Ko Ngāti Koata te Iwi.

Ngāti Koata takes it name from the ancestress Koata who was born c.1617. She lived in the Kāwhia area where she had two sons, Kāwharu and Te Wehi (the latter becoming Ngāti Te Wehi).

It is through the union of Kāwharu of Koata, and Waikauri of Toa that the interwoven whakapapa lines between the two iwi begin.

Although not much has been written about her there are many oral stories that have been passed down through the generations. Tradition states that upon her passing, she was taken by her hāwini (maids in waiting) and buried in an unknown location.

Kāwhia Kai, Kāwhia Moana, Kāwhia Tangata

Peace initially dwelled amongst the people of Koata as they settled the land. Conflict began to arise around population growth, intermarriages and land boundaries leading to an exodus of people from Kāwhia in the early nineteenth century. Ngāti Koata who formed an alliance with their whanaunga(relations) Ngāti Toa and Ngāti Rārua also departed. Many Koata remained in the Kāwhia area and to this day we try to maintain strong relationships with them.

The main heke (migration) for Ngāti Koata was called ‘Te heke Whirinui’ led by our Tupuna, who were known for their military strength. They travelled down the Western side North Island and with the support of Ngāti Awa, Koata travelled through Taranaki and continued onto Te Waewae Kapiti o Tara rāua ko Rangitāne (Kapiti Island) where they had settled at Te Waiorua. Soon after, Kurahaupō tribes led an assault on the Tainui tribes on Kapiti.

An important leader of the Kurahaupo waka, Tutepourangi was captured. A Ngāti Koata child, Tawhi, was also captured and taken South. With Tutepourangi onboard, Ngāti Koata followed the retreating waka to retrieve Tawhi. Realising the severity of the situation Tutepourangi gave a tuku (ceeding) to Ngāti Koata in exchange for the safety of his people and the safe return of Tawhi. This tuku was accepted by Te Putu.

The boundary of this tuku extends from the Clay point to The Trios, to The Jags, to Takapourewa and to Farewell Spit.

Mai Anatoto ki Kurupongi, ki Nga Kiore, ki Takapourewa whiti atu ki Te Hiku o Te Matau. 

Ko Maungatapu te maunga, Ko Maitahi te Awa, Ko Te Aorere te tai

Ngāti Koata were the first of the five Northern Iwi to establish themselves as manawhenua and many intermarriages between the people of Ngāti Koata and the original iwi of Kurahaupō occurred.

Due to colonisation many of our people became alienated from their coastal lands. Whakatū (Nelson) and its adjoining areas became one of the major destinations for education and employment. Maungatapu the mountain, Maitahi the River and Te Aorere the sea coast are associated with this area and form part of our rich tapestry.

Ngāti Koata continue the migration tradition today and currently live all over the world, although Te Tau Ihu continues to be our home.

He Kōrero Ō Nehe | Historical Timeline
The following is a summary of our iwi history from 1825, when we established our presence in Te Tauihu through a tuku by Tutepourangi, through to the signing of our Deed of Settlement in 2012.

Ngāti Koata settles in Te Tauihu (the northern South Island), after receiving a tuku of land from Tutepourangi, and as a consequence of an invasion by other, northern iwi. Ngāti Koata primarily settles at Rangitoto Island, Croisilles, Whakapuaka, and Whakatu.
The New Zealand Company signs deeds with other iwi in attempt to purchase the entire northern South Island.
Several Ngāti Koata chiefs sign the Treaty of Waitangi at Rangitoto Island.
Crown-appointed Commissioner investigates the Company’s purchases. He hears only one Māori witness in Nelson before suspending the inquiry to enable the Company to negotiate a settlement. Māori sign ‘deeds of release’ in return for accepting payments described by the Commissioner as ‘gifts’ to assist settlement, rather than payments for the land.
On the Commissioner’s recommendation, the Crown prepares a Company grant of 151,000 acres in Tasman and Golden bays, which would have reserved 15,100 acres for Māori. However, the New Zealand Company objects to several aspects of this grant.
The Company accepts a new Crown grant for a larger area of land that reserved only 5,053 acres at Nelson and Motueka, and areas in the Wairau and Golden Bay. Ngāti Koata has negligible involvement in the administration of the Nelson and Motueka reserves, known as ‘Tenths’, which are leased to settlers to generate income, which is to be spent on Māori purposes.
The Crown purchases the mineral-rich Pakawau block and pays only for its agricultural value. In 1853 the Crown signs the Waipounamu deed with other iwi, and purports to have purchased most of the remaining Māori land in Te Tauihu. Ngāti Koata did not sign the deed but were to receive a share of the purchase money. The Crown uses the 1853 deed as the basis for negotiations with resident Ngāti Koata in 1856, which led to the alienation of most of their remaining interests for L100. Rangitoto Island was excluded from this purchase. The reserves created for Ngāti Koata from the Waipounamu sale were mostly inadequate for customary use or effective development.
Native Land Court awards ownership of the reserves and Rangitoto Island to individual Ngāti Koata. Ngāti Koata participates in the Native Land Court’s title investigation of Whakapuaka. Ngāti Koata claims interests on the basis of the tuku and ongoing occupation. The Court deems that Ngāti Koata do not have interests and they are excluded from ownership. Tenths are let under perpetually renewable leases. Rentals are infrequently reviewed and over time inflation reduces rental returns. Over subsequent decades the Tenths are reduced by the compulsory acquisition of uneconomic shares and the further sale of reserves. Over time, sales and successions to the titles made the lands increasingly fragmented and uneconomic.
The Crown allocates some landless Ngāti Koata individuals land at Te Māpou and Te Raetihi (but does not issue titles to them until 1968).
Ngāti Koata are again excluded at a rehearing of the block. By the end of the twentieth century most of the remaining lands of Ngāti Koata, including their reserves and Rangitoto Island, have been sold. Virtual landlessness means that Ngāti Koata has lost connection and access to many of their traditional resources and sites, and the demise of a strong cultural base.
The Crown recognises the mandate of Ngāti Koata along with other ‘Tainui & Taranaki’ iwi to enter negotiations for a comprehensive Treaty of Waitangi Settlement.
The Crown signs terms of negotiations with the mandated negotiator.
The Crown and ‘Tainui & Taranaki’ iwi, including Ngāti Koata, sign a Letter of Agreement which forms the basis for settlement.
Deed of Settlement initialled on 7 October.
Deed of Settlement signed.
Our Rohe

Territorial boundaries are referred to as ‘rohe’ in te reo Māori, and are generally defined by prominent geographical features, such as maunga (mountains), awa (rivers), moana (seas), and roto (lakes).

The rohe of Ngāti Koata includes the whenua (land) and moana (sea) contained within the tuku of Tūtepourangi. From Anatoto at the mouth of the Pelorus Estuary and including the Sounds and around the coast from Kaiaua (Croisilles Harbour) to Cape Soucis, Whangamoa, Whakapuaka, Whakatū, Waimea, Motueka, and on to Te Matau (Separation Point). Ngāti Kōata oral tradition says that the tuku started at Anatoto at the mouth of the Pelorus Sound and included Kurupongi, Nga Kiore, Takapourewa and extended to Onetahua (Farewell Spit). Subsequent occupations also included the Pelorus Sounds.


The rohe of Ngāti Koata is encapsulated in the following pepeha.

Mai te awa Te Hoiere
Ki Kurupongi
Ki Ngā Kiore
Ki Takapourewa
Whiti atu ki te hiku o Te Mātau
Koata taonga
Koata mana e!

The image below shows the area of interest of Ngāti Koata as contained in our Deed of Settlement.

Deed of Settlement

The Ngāti Koata Deed of Settlement is the full and final settlement of all historical Treaty of Waitangi claims of Ngāti Koata resulting from acts or omissions by the Crown prior to 21 September 1992.

Ko Wai Toku Iwi?

Our Values Include: