By Richard Bradley
The name karaka is derived from the Karaka tree with its orange fruits that are quite common on the New Zealand coast. There are a number of headlands, rivers and expanses of beach where this tree is found and in most cases, there are signs of the Maori occupation. Sites in Marlborough with the name Karaka can be found in the Marlborough Sounds, Rarangi, Cape Campbell and a small creek on the north bank of the Waiau Toa (Clarence) river.
The headland Pa just north of Waikawa in the Marlborough Sounds is known as Te Rae o Karaka after the Ngati Mamoe and Ngai Tara chief named Te Karaka who established the pa prior to the arrival of Rangitane from the north island. He also lived at Cape Campbell, and the reef adjoining the headland there still carries his name to the present day.
The pa was occupied by a mix of Rangitane and Ngai Tara up until the 1820s when it was overrun by the musket raiders of Ngati Toa and their Taranaki allies. The occupants managed to survive the withering musket volleys of the invaders and escape to their inland pa at Te Urukakea up what is known today as Esson’s valley, and thence over the Tirohanga saddle to Waikutakuta.
The Pa has remained unoccupied since that time.