Huriawa Pa

Dunedin City District

Te Wera's great fortress

This is an absolute stunner of a spot to check out and take a quiet stroll. Suitable for any family member, but watch out for the little ones as there are some very wild cliffs that plummet to the ocean below. This peninsular was once home to the mighty Te Wera! Probably the most renown Maori Chief in the entire South Island. It was also home to Johnny Jones, The famous whaler for before the settlers really arrived. Now it is a prized landscape the is well looked after by DOC and Puketeraki. Please enjoy, and be careful. Also, this is another Kiwi Guardians Adventure!


From Dunedin, get on Highway One and go North, take a right turn just after Hawkesbury onto Coast Rd, and voilà, you will drive right into Karitane!

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The Great Siege

Here stood the great pa of Te Wera, one of the most notable men in South Island History. Te Wera, who was born, approximately 1725 A.D. was the principal fighting chief of the Ngaiteruahikihiki and kindred hapus of the Ngaitahu tribe. Taoka was Te Wera's cousin from Timaru, and they were at war with each other. When Taoka's army arrived in their war canoes around 1770 at Huriawa. They laid regular siege to the parapeted and palisaded hill-fort. Te Wera and his garrison were fully prepared for them, In anticipation of attack, Te Wera had laid in a great stock of food, that would last him and his followers for nearly a year. Taoka's army pitched their camps on the Waikouaiti side of the river at the end of the sand bar. Here they lived for about 6 months. Toaka's warriors would taunt with war dances and loud threats, "Me whakatiki Koutou Ki te Kai!" ("We'll starve you out! Make a tiki of you as to food.") Te Wera and his men would shout their reply, "E kore ai, e kore! E kore au e mate i te kai, e kore ma te matua whakatakoto ki te Kutu-a-Toretore--e kore e taea! Engari ma te matua mate-wai ka mate ai!" "Never, never! We will never die for want of food, neither will we be conquered by the army lying there below the Lips-of-Toretore! You will never reach us! Only by the army of thirst shall we be overcome"

During the siege, a couple of Taoka's toas, braved the sea's and swam through one of the blow holes. They wormed their way to the sacred shrine of Kahukura. Stealing the carved image of the god, they made it back through the blow hole and to their camp. They say magic returned the figure back to the pa the next day with chanting, spells and war dances.

A few years after the siege, Te Wera and a number of his followers migrated south. They sailed away to Stewart Island and over to Foveaux Strait. He lived awhile at Paterson Inlet on the north-eastern side of Stewart Island, which also has a lot of places named after him. Te Wera finally settled on the shores of Oraka, called by the pakeha Colac Bay, and there he is said to have died. Te Wera's tales span though out the South Island and I will mention quite a few in other posts.

Tales from Papers Past, some of the first written accounts of Te Wera - Stu