Matukurua Stonefields

  • Matukurua Stonefields.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 6054 Date Entered 21st November 1991

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City/District Council

Auckland Council (Manukau City Council)

Region

Auckland Council

Legal description

Lot 3 DP 73238 Blk XIII Otahuhu SD

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The following information is based on the Statement of Evidence by Susan Evelyn Bulmer prepared in relation to 'In the Matter of the Town and Country' Planning Act 1977 on 19 July 1990, that was appended to HP290/1991 considered by the Maori Heritage Committee 24 October 1991.

Please note: NZHPT does not normally use the double 'a' or double 'u' that some people use when spelling Maori words, but the following report by S E Bulmer does and we have left it as is.

HISTORY OF MATUKURUA:

The proposed stonefield reserve consists of the last remaining segment of about 45 ha in the Matukurua volcanic fields. The area is south and west of McLaughlin's Mountain in Manukau City, a roughly triangular segment running from the base of the former cone. The fields were formerly about 500 ha in extent, surrounding Wiri and McLaughlin's Mountains, both of which supported terraced cone paa.

(N.B. This account has been prepared from published sources and has not yet been checked by Tangata whenua).

Matukurua ('the two bitterns' - Graham 1980:18) is the collective name for the two paa on the cones there, Matukutuureia (McLaughlin's Mount) and Matukutuururu (Wiri Mount). The traditional names come from George Graham, who recorded a text about the paa and the people who lived there (Graham 1925). The other name used to refer to these settlements is Puhinui ('the large eel' or the large plumes), the name of the streamlet partly encircling the fields.

From archaeological evidence, the settlement of Matukurua began at least by AD 1200 (Sullivan 1975), but probably much earlier. The volcanic lands and climate of Taamaki were among the best in the land. Some Maaori histories relating to the sites date to the 17th and 18th centuries, on genealogical grounds. A Tainui (Waikato) ancestor, Te Ata i Rehia, was a daughter of Huatau, a Waiohua chief of Matukutuureia paa in the 17th century (Graham 1925). The two paa were attacked by Kawharu, a chief of the Ngaati Whaatua of Kaipara, in about 1750 (Graham 1912). Takawai, a woman of Otaahuhu in the 17th century, married Huarangi, a chief of Puhinui (the name of the stream on the western and southern sides of the field), (Graham 1925:6). The Te Akitai people lived at Wiri (Matukurua), as well as at Puukaki and Otaahuhu in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Matukurua was probably unoccupied in the early 19th century, when Taamaki was generally vacated about 1820 in the path of musket raids from the north. Although the people returned to Auckland about 1835, apparently Matukurua was vacant at the time of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840 and the land was sold as part of the Clendon Block in 1842, and re-sold to T.M. McLaughlin in 1845. Thereafter the land was used mainly for pastoral farming, and because its abundance of rocks prevented ploughing, the archaeological features are in a relatively good state of preservation.

Quarrying in the Matukurua field began on the eastern side, along the railway line, as early as the 1870s, although large scale quarrying at the McLaughlin's property, which included the proposed reserve area, only began in the 1960s. Six different quarries have destroyed all but 10% of the original fields. The proposed reserve area also includes the coastal peninsula, as well as a portion of Downers quarry, both of which are still used for pasture.

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Physical Description

The following information is based on the Statement of Evidence by Susan Evelyn Bulmer prepared in relation to 'In the Matter of the Town and Country' Planning Act 1977 on 19 July 1990, that was appended to HP290/1991 considered by the Maori Heritage Committee 24 October 1991.

Please note: NZHPT does not normally use the double 'a' or double 'u' that some people use when spelling Maori words, but the following report by S E Bulmer does and we have left it as is.

ARCHAEOLOGICAL DESCRIPTION OF MATUKURUA:

This is an intensively modified cultural landscape containing thousands of individual archaeological features linked in a complex network of gardens and settlements. The 45 ha of the proposed reserve is unique as the last well preserved example of pre-European villages and gardens of the stonefields of Auckland.

Matukurua is also important scientifically because it is one of only two field systems in Auckland that have been excavated by archaeologists (Bulmer 1987); the other was East Taamaki, where no reserves could be set aside. Matukurua has seen four projects of investigations. The first of these (Lawlor 1979) was in fact in the area of the proposed reserve. This was a 'rescue' excavation along the proposed route of the Auckland Regional Authority sewer pipeline. Stone fish traps were found under the mud in the Puhinui stream and an early living terrace next to the stream and a variety of garden features were excavated. Small scale excavations have also been carried out in the proposed reserve area by Agnes Sullivan.

This work taps only a small proportion of potential information that could be obtained from the Matukurua fields. Excavation at best uncovers a token amount of any site and these sites are very complex (Bulmer 1987). Therefore it is important to have the sites permanently preserved from destruction.

The proposed reserve area is not representative of the total former field because it is only one of the many kinds of zones in the volcanic fields, each of which had a different ‘suite' of archaeological features. However, the proposed reserve is an area of particularly dense settlement. It contains a concentration of house sites, some with stone walls and a unique feature, a kerbed enclosure that formerly had a standing pillar at one end, an example of a tuahu. The proposed reserve area also contains a variety of kinds of garden plots, including the typical long boundary walls of major land subdivisions, running from the cone to the field perimeter. These boundary systems were probably typical of the other former Auckland volcanic field sites, as similar evidence has been found in several other field systems.

The proposed Matukurua reserve is of particular public importance because of its unique potential for educational purposes. Because this is the Auckland field system that has been most intensively studied by archaeologists, well informed and detailed displays and publications are possible. The proposed reserve itself has only seen one excavation project, but other major investigations have been carried out at industrial sites elsewhere in the Matukurua fields. Its educational potential is also enhanced by the nearby major population centre in Manukau City, the largest city in the country with a very large school population, including a large proportion of Maaori.

Construction Dates

Public NZAA Number

R11/25

Information Sources

Auckland Institute & Museum

Auckland Institute & Museum

D R Simmons 1980. George Graham's Maori Place Names of Auckland. Records of the Auckland Institute and Museum. 16:11-39

New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT)

New Zealand Historic Places Trust

J Macdonald & S Bulmer 1981. Archaeological sites of west Manukau City, Auckland 1981/5.

V Rickard, D Veart and S Bulmer 1983. A review of Archaeological Stone Structures of South Auckland. NZHPT Auckland 1983/4.

University of Auckland

University of Auckland

A Sullivan 1975a. Slope Gardens at Wiri Mt., Manurewa. Working papers in Anthropology No. 31 Department of Anthropology

Journal of the Polynesian Society

Journal of the Polynesian Society

F G Fairfield, 1938: Puketutu pa on Weeke's Island, Manukau Harbour, 47 (187): 119-28

Fenton, 1979

F D Fenton, Important Judgements Delivered in the Native Land Court, 1866-1879, Auckland, 1979

Searle, 1981

E J Searle 1981. City of Volcanoes. A geology of Auckland (Revised edition). Auckland , Longman Paul.

Tonson, 1966

A E Tonson, Old Manukau. Auckland, Tonson Publishing Co., 1966

Victoria University of Wellington

Victoria University of Wellington

A Sullivan 1981. Maori occupation of the Otahuhu District up to 1840. Department of Maori. Wellington , Maori Department, Victoria University. Reissued NZ Historic Places Trust, Auckland 1986.

Other Information

A copy of the original report is available from the NZHPT Northern region office

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.