Titirangi Station, Main Highway 35, Tolaga Bay

  • Pits, Titirangi Station, Tolaga Bay, Gisborne. Close-up of raised rim pit.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand . Taken By: Joanna Wylie. Date: 13/11/2007.
  • Pits, Titirangi Station, Tolaga Bay, Gisborne.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Joanna Wylie. Date: 13/11/2007.
  • Pits, Titirangi Station, Tolaga Bay, Gisborne.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Joanna Wylie. Date: 13/11/2007.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 6633 Date Entered 10th March 1986


Extent of List Entry

The registration includes part of the land described as Lot 64 DP 1324, Gisborne Land District and the archaeological site Z17/188.

City/District Council

Gisborne District


Gisborne Region

Legal description

Lot 64 DP 1324 (CT GS126/62), Gisborne Land District.


New Zealand Archaeological Association Site Record Number Z17/188 is a pit site that forms part of the dense archaeological landscape of the Tolaga Bay (Uawa) area. It is located on Titirangi Station, to the southeast of the Tolaga Bay township.

Pit sites and the many other recorded archaeological sites including pa, midden, gardens and urupa reflect the intensive Maori occupation of the Tolaga Bay from the time of initial Polynesian settlement approximately 700 years ago. Access to abundant food resources from the sea, rivers, inland forests and horticultural production (kumara) meant that a large population could be sustained. It has been estimated that the early Maori population of Tolaga Bay totalled approximately 1200; and the main iwi was Te Aitanga a Hauiti.

Pit and pit/ terrace sites are very common in Tolaga Bay, and demonstrate the importance of horticulture to Tolaga Bay's earliest inhabitants. The Bay's fertile soils and temperate climate were well suited to kumara gardening, and the pits were used for storing harvested kumara over the winter months. Rectangular storage pits (which were once roofed with a layer of earth), are more prevalent than the underground storage pits found elsewhere in New Zealand, a pattern attributed to the harder substrate of the soil in this area. They are in fact the most common archaeological site type in Tolaga Bay, and are found along the river banks and on the rolling hills to the south of the Bay. They are generally located in clusters on knolls or terraces, or on ridge crests, in lines from end to end

Pit site Z17/188 is located on a southwest/ northeast aligned ridgeline, which runs from Titirangi Trig to Cook's Cove. It is approximately 100 metres south of where the main Titirangi Station farm road splits into two (at the double farm gate); one road heads north to Cook's Cove, and the other heads southeast to Wairere Beach. A fence line now bisects the ridge line, which is in pasture, with some thistle coverage.

This site was first recorded by archaeologist Kevin Jones during his archaeological survey work in the Whangara, Tolaga Bay and Uawa Catchment areas in 1982-1983. This survey work was undertaken to gain information about the nature of prehistoric settlement in this locality, and also to evaluate specific sites for registration under the Historic Places Act 1980. Jones recorded Z17/188 as 'a number of pits, all raised rim, lying along ridge'. A sketch map completed of the site shows nine pits in total. A terrace is shown adjacent to the north-eastern pit, which is approximately 30 metres from the other eight pits that run along the ridgeline in a row.

Z17/188 was revisited by archaeologist Vanessa Tanner in 1999 as part of the New Zealand Archaeological Association Site Recording Scheme Upgrade Project. Tanner noted that the features of this site were very vague and obscured by gorse coverage, and had difficulty re-locating the features as shown on Kevin Jones' 1982 sketch plan. An updated sketch plan and photograph show that a fence line had also been put along the ridgeline since the site was first recorded.

Gorse had been eradicated from the ridgeline at the time of a 2007 New Zealand Historic Places Trust site visit, which assisted with field recording, although thistle had grown in places. Five pits/ pit groupings were re-located, on both sides of the fence line, and these roughly correlate to the original sketch plan of the site. The pits were all in fairly poor condition, particularly on the north-western side of the fence where stock damage was significant. Also, two of the pits recorded at the south-western end of the site had been damaged by a farm track running alongside the north-western side of the fence. These pits were clearly observed in the section of the farm track.

Z17/188 is one of numerous pit and pit/terrace sites recorded in the Tolaga Bay area, and is part of a dense archaeological and cultural landscape that is of considerable significance to Te Aitanga a Hauiti. This landscape reflects the intensive Maori occupation and settlement of the Tolaga Bay area since the 14th - 15th centuries AD, and the important role that horticulture played in this.


Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Public NZAA Number


Completion Date

9th March 2008

Report Written By

Joanna Wylie

Information Sources

Department of Conservation

Department of Conservation

Cooks Cove Walkway, Gisborne, 1998

New Zealand Journal of Archaeology

New Zealand Journal of Archaeology

Kevin Jones, 'Polynesian Settlement and Horticulture in Two River Catchments of the Eastern North Island, New Zealand, Volume 8, 1986, pp. 5 -32.

New Zealand Archaeological Association (NZAA)

New Zealand Archaeological Association

Site Record Form for Z17/188 - original 1982 site record form and 1999 update.

Historic Places in New Zealand

Historic Places in New Zealand

Kevin Jones, 'Tolaga Bay - Turangawaewae of Chiefs', No. 2, 1983, pp. 18-20

Other Information

Iwi/ Hapu/ Whanau: Te Aitanga a Hauiti

A fully referenced upgrade report is available from the NZHPT Lower Northern Area 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.