Te Whanganui – Port Underwood

By Richard Bradley

Te Whanganui is the original Maori name for what is known today as Port Underwood and lies to the north of the Wairau River mouth. The name simply means great harbour or inlet and most of the bays within Te Whanganui show signs of early Maori occupation consisting of pa, kainga right up into the time of the first whalers and sealers. It is in these bays that the richness of Te Whanganui asa Mahinga Kai can be found.

The names of many important Tupuna are recalled on some of the peaks and in the many bays and coves. Some of these names will be familiar but we probably weren’t aware of their location within Te Whanganui. The most significant landmark being Rahotia at the head of the port is linked to the peak known as Te Piripiri o Te Huataki. From these points the expanse of the lands of Rangitane, Ngati Mamoe and Ngai Tara can be seen. Others of interest are places like Rangitane Bay, Pukatea and Kaikoura Bay.

Another prominent landmark is the Island of Horahora Kakahu in Te Whanganui which was the site of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi on June 17 1840. Rangitane Chief Ihaia Kaikoura along with Te Rauparaha and Te Rangihaeata signed for the local natives. While you can’t find Sherwood Forest at Robin Hood Bay, the Waikutakuta river flowing into the bay adjoins the pa and garden site where Ihaia Kaikoura drew a map in the sand for the first surveyors to the district.