Tiromoana Pa

Charlton Road, Summerlee

  • Tiromoana Pa.
    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 6506 Date Entered 8th February 1985


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes part of the land described as Lot 4 DP 327818 (CT 113051), Hawke's Bay Land District and the archaeological site known as Pa (W21/1) thereon (refer to the Archaeological Site Land Title Form for further information).

City/District Council

Hastings District


Hawke's Bay Region

Legal description

Lot 4 DP 327818 (CT 113051), Hawke's Bay Land District


New Zealand Heritage List no. 6506 (NZAA site W21/1) is known as Tiromoana Pa, and has considerable cultural, traditional, archaeological and historical significance. The pa is on farmland at the end of a spur overlooking the Maraetotara River, which flows into the southern part of Hawke’s Bay at Te Awanga. Located at the edge of part of an uplifted marine terrace the pa has excellent elevated views of the surrounding landscape and has effectively utilised the natural defences of the topography.

Tiromoana Pa had spectacular surface evidence when it was excavated in 1974-75 under the direction of Lady Aileen Fox. This pa and the excavation carried out on the site provided, and can still provide, valuable archaeological information regarding the Maori occupation and settlement of the Hawke’s Bay and the Maraetotara River area.

Archaeological evidence and Maori oral history point to the initial settlement of Hawke’s Bay around 1250–1300 AD. Different hapu gradually settled the area from Mahia to Porangahau in a variety of diverse landscapes. The excavation and radiocarbon dates for Tiromoana Pa indicate that the development of the initial fortification of the site, when it was a small work of 450m² at the tip of the spur, was done in c. 1500AD. The construction of these fortifications coincides with the arrival of Ngati Kahungunu iwi into the Hawke’s Bay. Archaeological evidence from this site and others suggests that between 1550 to 1700 there was a period of widespread pa building and occupation that was undertaken in the Hawke’s Bay.

Tiromoana pa was a strongly defended site with a rampart fronted with a palisade and ditch, with a five metres long fighting stage built in two tiers on the highest point. A strong palisade with 22 large uprights covered the weaker eastern side. A second ditch 40 metres up the spur was dug to cover that line of approach. In the later period a third rampart was built 150 metres up the spur, and the pa was enlarged to take up 1.5 hectares. In the late 18th or early 19th century the second palisade was taken down and replaced with a long house (12 x 4 metres), rendering some of the internal defences ineffectual. Occupation of the site extended to the lower terraces. In one case a storage pit was modified into a hangi, and a new large raised rim was constructed. When the pa was abandoned the massive posts of the lateral palisade were dug out, presumably for use elsewhere.

In its present condition the three lines of defence across the spur are visible as are the two banks and three ditches at intervals of 150 and 50 metres. The interior contains fourteen raised rim storage pits, house platforms and terraces. The plateau within the outer defences is level and has no visible features besides the ditch and bank defining it. The outer plateau is grazed, while the section within the second defensive ditch is under scrub. The site is in good condition.


Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Public NZAA Number


Completion Date

28th May 2015

Report Written By

Christine Barnett

Information Sources

Jones, 1994

Kevin L. Jones, Nga Tohuwhenua mai te Rangi: A New Zealand Archaeology in Aerial Photographs, Wellington, 1994

New Zealand Archaeological Association (NZAA)

New Zealand Archaeological Association

A. Fox, 'Tiromoana Pa, Te Awanga, Hawke's Bay, Excavations 1974-1975', NZAA Monograph 8, 1978

Fox, 1974

Fox, Aileen. 1974. Tiromoana Pa, Te Awanga, Hawke’s Bay: interim report. NZAA newsletter 17(4)

Fox, 1976

Fox, Aileen. 1976. Prehistoric Maori Fortifications in the North Island of New Zealand. Auckland. Longman Paul

Fox, 1976

Fox, Aileen. 1976. Tiromoana Pa, Te Awanga, Hawke’s Bay, Excavations 1974-5 (Studies in Prehistoric Anthropology (Otago University), 11/ New Zealand Archaeological association Monograph, 8.

Other Information

Information in this report is from the citation prepared for the NZHPT Archaeology Committee at the time of the registration.

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.

A fully referenced upgrade report is available on request from the Central Region Office of Heritage New Zealand