Waikekeno Historic Area

Glenburn Road, Waimoana Station (Rd 3 Masterton), East Wairarapa

  • Waikekeno Historic Area. Oblique aerial photograph, Waikekeno, Kevin Jones, DOC, 16 June 1998.
    Copyright: Department of Conservation. Taken By: Kevin Jones.
  • Plan of Historic Area from registration report..
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Date: 30/06/2006.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Area Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 7669 Date Entered 30th June 2006


Extent of List Entry

Registration includes Waikekeno and its associated features located on Waikekeno 1A Reserve, Pt Waikekeno 1B, Waikekeno 1C1, Waikekeno 1C2, Waikekeno 1C3, Waikekeno 1D, Waikekeno 2B6B including the pa site located on 2B6B. To define the boundary on Waikekeno 2B6B the natural ridgelines are followed to a large flat terrace above the pa site. The legal boundary on the south side of the stream is used since this is a fixed point. The stream is known to flood and shift its banks. The land on which the two baches are located is included but excludes the buildings themselves from the registration (see Appendix 2 of the registration report).. Waikekino (Waikekeno) is the name of a large stream near Glenburn Station in the eastern Wairarapa District. The Waikekeno Historic Area is on the northern bank of the mouth of the Waikekeno Stream. The land contains a number of archaeological features recorded by the New Zealand Archaeological Association as T27/10 and T27/11. The features include Pukehuiake Pa, an urupa, and an extensive stone wall and mounds gardening complex.

City/District Council

Carterton District


Wellington Region

Legal description

Waikekeno 1A Reserve (Maori Land Court)

Pt Waikekeno 1B (CT WN38B/326)

Waikekeno 1C1 (Maori Land Court))

Waikekeno 1C2 (Maori Land Court)

Waikekeno 1C3 (Maori Land Court)

Waikekeno 1D ( CT WN14B/358)

Waikekeno 2B6B (CT WN606/122)


On the East Wairarapa Coast is the Waikekeno Historic Area, an important and well-preserved archaeological complex that includes a papakainga, gardens and a pa site of significance to Ngati Maahu.

The papakainga was occupied by Maori until the early 1940s and the archaeological evidence is testimony to their long association with Waikekeno. The pa site was the scene of an important battle between local iwi and iwi of the Wairarapa lakes area.

The land was set aside by Crown Deed as a 1660-acre (672 hectare) Maori reserve in the 1850s. A certificate of title was issued by the Native Land Court on 22 July 1887 under the Native Reserves Titles Grants Empowering Act. The first subdivision of the reserve was alienated between 1887 and 1965 to the Cameron Estate, which leased the Waikekeno lands. The majority of the land is now privately owned and is used for cattle and sheep grazing.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

Traditional Significance:

The Waikekeno area is of high significance to Wairarapa iwi. The archaeological evidence is testimony to a long association with Waikekeno by Maori and forms a significant integrated archaeological landscape. The pa site was the scene of an important battle between local iwi and iwi of the Wairarapa lakes area. Ngakoiterangi, son of Hinewaka, was killed there. Oral history indicates that Waikekeno was a papakainga and included a meeting house and urupa. In 1853 a large portion of the Wairarapa coastal land was acquired from Maori by the Crown. In recognition of its importance to Maori, Waikekeno was set aside as a reserve. The settlement at Waikekeno was last occupied by Maori around the 1870s, although the connection remains today. Part of the land was subdivided in the 1880s and the block was set aside for a township. Despite this, the township was not occupied and the block was leased for grazing purposes. Subdivisions continued through to the 1920s and the first parcel of land was sold in 1911. Much of the original reserve had been sold by the 1970s. However, Maori retain ownership of Waikekeno 2B6B, which is the site of the Pa, the urupa and part of the flat grazing land comprised in the Waikekeno Historic Area.

Archaeological Significance:

The archaeological landscape at Waikekeno is important because of its size and complexity, across both space and time. The archaeological features in the garden system are of high archaeological significance. The size of both the walls and the mounds are rare. Many stonewall systems remaining in New Zealand are quite indistinct and can be difficult to discern on the ground. Also of importance is the remarkable state of preservation of the archaeological features in comparison to other gardening sites, both in the Wairarapa and elsewhere in New Zealand. Sites like this are frequently damaged or destroyed by farming activities such as ploughing, or other development pressures. There are few recorded pa sites in the Wairarapa and the pa site provides valuable information about Maori occupation of the area. The presence of non-local stone indicates that people occupying this site were part of a wider network of interaction that would have included an exchange of information as well as material goods. It is unclear what periods of occupation these sites represent. There has been no systematic scientific archaeological study of the field system at Waikekeno. However, a study at Palliser Bay to the south has shown that horticultural systems incorporating stone walls and mounds occurred very early in the sequence of human settlement of New Zealand. This study also illustrated a period of climatic deterioration about the fifteenth to sixteenth centuries during which it became too cold to grow kumara in this region. Pa construction is known to have begun relatively late in the prehistoric sequence, beginning about 1500 AD. Thus, the archaeological remains at Waikekeno may represent human occupation of the Wairarapa coastline throughout the period of pre-European settlement. The presence of people living in the area during the early to mid twentieth century may represent a continuation of the recognition of the significance of the area. There is enormous potential for information to be gained from this site complex. There has been virtually no research undertaken along this coastline, with the exception of the research project at Palliser Bay during the 1970s. The archaeological landscape at Waikekeno has the potential to provide information about the development of gardening practices in what is currently considered to be a marginal area for the cultivation of kumara. The possible relationship between the pa site and the cultivation areas and the urupa needs to be addressed, and there is much potential for information about exchange and interaction networks to be gathered.


Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

On 29 October 1853, a large area of the Wairarapa coastal land was acquired from Maori by the Crown as part of the Part Pahaua and Wilson's Run Deed. The transaction was made between Te Wereta Kawekairangi, Thomas Patoromiu, Patoromu and fourteen others, and the Chief Commissioner of the Crown's Land Purchase Department, Donald McLean (1820-1977). A number of reserves were retained by Maori, including one known as Waikekeno, which was described as: running near to the Sea to Huatokitoki, thence running along to Huatokitoki to the first range to Puongapupu, running along that range to Whatipu Waitohiariki Para o te Maoroki Waikekeno running in that stream till it reaches the sea. Part of the Waikekeno Reserve was occupied until the mid-nineteenth century and the papakainga included a meeting house and an urupa. The Reserve also contained Pukehuiake Pa (also known as Ahuriri Pa), which was the scene of an important battle between local iwi and the iwi of the Wairarapa lakes area. Ngaokoiterangi, the eldest son of Hinewaka (the eponymous ancestor of Ngati Hinawaka) and Tamaitohikura, was killed there by Te Hiha, a descendant of Te Rangitawhanga. Ngaokoiterangi's younger brother Hikarara revenged his death at Waikekeno. A whakatauki of Ngai Tumapuhia recalls Ngaokoiterangi and those that died in the battle: Kia hokowhitu Tumapuhia, putiki makawe tahi, heru tu rae anake. An image painted by William Mein Smith in the 1860s shows the settlement at Waikekeno in the 1860s. The picture shows four buildings, including a pataka. The pa can be seen in the background. However, it appears that the settlement was abandoned around the 1870s; in 1917, evidence produced for Pahaoa indicated that people had not lived on the land for approximately 40 years. The entire reserve had been surveyed by 1883 and it included approximately 1660 acres (672 hectares) of land. Although considered by European farmers to be too small to be economically viable on its own, the reserve was fitted for grazing and could turn a profit if grazed in conjunction with large portions of adjacent land. From 1884, the entire reserve was leased to Thomas Carswell of Masterton for a period of 21 years. From this point onward the majority of the reserve was leased and later sold to Pakeha who farmed it together with large tracts of adjacent land. On 22 July 1887 a certificate was issued for the land to 55 grantees under the Native Reserves Titles Grants Empowering Act. The first subdivision of the reserve occurred two years later on 6 October 1889. The subdivision resulted in six separate sections of varying sizes. Waikekeno 1, located at the mouth of the Waikekeno Stream, consisted of just over 53 acres (22 hectares) and had 22 owners. The minutes of the Native Land Court record that this block was intended to be set aside for a township. The township was to consist of 25 acres for Ngati Maahu, 25 acres for the descendants of Te Wereta Kawekairangi, and 2 acres for Ataria Punua. Despite this, the township was not occupied and the block continued to be used for grazing purposes. The following year Thomas Carswell transferred the remainder of his 21 year lease over the entire reserve to Frederick Hales. The lease was renewed for a further ten years on 30 June 1905. Three years later part of Hales' lease was transferred to C. A. Cameron. Further subdivisions of the reserve occurred on 26 May 1911 when the two largest land blocks, Waikekeno 2 and 3, were broken into seven parts. The first alienation occurred on 11 July 1911 when a land parcel was purchased by Mary Eliza Cameron. Margaret Cameron purchased several more of the subdivided parcels in 1913. Further purchases were made in the 1920s and early 1930s by Margaret and Muriel Constance Cameron. However, the remainder of the reserve continued to be leased, primarily by members of the Cameron family. Subdivisions of the reserve continued until the late 1920s. Amongst these was the partitioning of Waikekeno 2B6 on 25 August 1914, and the subdivision of Waikekeno 1 into four parts (held by fifteen owners) on 30 January 1917. One of these parts, Waikekeno 1A, was set aside for the purposes of an urupa and vested in the names of Patoromu Hoera and Hape Renata. Waikekeno 1C was further subdivided into three parts on 9 October 1917. A road was put through the reserve in 1929. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the leases came up for renewal. This prompted applications to purchase and much of the land was alienated during this period, leaving only two major subdivisions, Waikekeno 3E and 2B6B, in Maori ownership. Waikekeno 2B6B was the site of Pukehuiake Pa. However, the urupa (Waikekeno 1A) and parts of Waikekeno 1C were also retained. The final block to be alienated was Waikekeno 1B. In 1965 Francis Crawford Cameron applied to purchase the land, in association with Thomas Allan Cunningham, for £720. A meeting of the owners was held in Palmerston North on 19 March 1965. Although the largest shareholder was in favour of the sale, it was resolved not to sell. One of the attendees stated that it was his opinion that this block was known as a papakainga and had contained a meetinghouse. It was also noted that the block included a cemetery. However, records failed to indicate whether there had been a papakainga there or not and, in May 1965, the Maori Land Court granted approval for the sale.

In 1991 the Cameron family, who had been associated with the site since 1908, sold their interests in the land. Waikekeno was purchased by the Thompson family, who continue to use it for grazing purposes.

Physical Description

The area lies between the sea and hill country along the eastern Wairarapa coast. Access is via the Glenburn Station Road, which is about 1.5 hour drive from Masterton. The road intersects the area. On the beach side of the road is the urupa, archaeological features, and two baches. On the hill side of the road is Pukehuiake Pa and archaeological features (the main gardening area). Most of the land used for grazing sheep and cattle. The Thompson's also lease the Maori land blocks (except for the urupa) as part of Waimoana Station. The area is bounded to the south by Waikekeno Stream.

The pattern of land ownership in the area is complex as a result of title determinations by the Maori Land Court.

Pukehuiake Pa (T27/10)

This is a naturally defended ridge pa located immediately behind the Garden Area. The site incorporates a number of terraces, raised-rim pits and several artificial defensive scarp features. A transverse ditch is located at the NW end just above a slight saddle and there are two pits further up the ridge above the saddle. These features are in a very good state of preservation. Scattered lithic material comprising chert and obsidian has been found on the pa. A small stand of karaka trees is located on the southern slopes of the pa.

The Garden Area (T27/11)

This is an extensive field system on the Waikekeno stream fan incorporating walls and mounds, a ditch and bank fence, and a circular bank.

The walls and mounds are representative of pre-European gardening activities. The exact function of these walls is unknown but they may represent boundaries between different garden plots. The mounds, also known as puke, may have been used for growing gourds.

Several of the archaeological features at Waikekeno are uncommon in New Zealand archaeological sites. One such feature is a raised bank or stonewall with a ditch along its length on the western side. The function of this feature is unclear.


An urupa possibly dating to the 19th century is located on the flat near the coast. The urupa was set aside as a reserve on 30 January 1917. It is fenced and contains a large marble stone above a grave and several other noticeable graves. The large marble stone is a monument to Kohai Hoera (Patoromu Hoera), his father Hoera Whakatahakiterangi, and grandfather Te Haeataoterangi. Tangata whenua consider that other earlier ancestors are also buried either inside the designated urupa or in other parts of the Waikekeno area.

In addition to the recorded archaeological surface features, there is unrecorded archaeological evidence at Waikekeno. This is predominantly in the form of midden, which is evident in the section of the Waikekeno Stream. This midden primarily contains a species of cockle (Protothaca crassicosta), although other shellfish including paua (Haliotis iris) and cat's eye (Turbo smaragdus) are also evident. This combination of species from both soft and hard shore environments indicates that a number of resource zones were probably being exploited. An oven that is also visible in the stream bank contains large unidentified bone fragments. It is likely that there are other areas of midden that are not visible on the surface. Midden and darkened soil is also visible in the section of a ditch cut from the wetland area along the fenceline that bounds land parcels Waikekeno 1C1, 1D, 1C2 and 1C3. This midden extends over about 2 metres but the darkened soil extends over a distance of approximately fifteen metres towards the toe of the hill slope.

Construction Dates

Completion Date

30th June 2006

Report Written By

E. Brooks, R. McClean, R. O'Brien

Information Sources

Jones, 2000

K Jones, Notes on Waikekeno Wall Complex T27/10, 11, 19-23 May 2000. Unpublished, 2000

Turton, 1878

H. Turton (ed.), Maori Deeds of Land Purchases in the North Island of New Zealand, vol. 2, Provinces of Taranaki, Wellington, and Hawke's Bay, Wellington, 1878

Walzl, 2001

T Walzl, Ngai Tumapuhia Reserves, 1854-1980. Unpublished report for the Crown Forestry Rental Trust, 2001

Te Papa National Museum of New Zealand

Te Papa National Museum of New Zealand

Leach, B.F. and Leach, H.M (eds). 1979. Prehistoric Man at Palliser Bay. National Museum of New Zealand Bulletin 21

Other Information

A fully referenced version of this report is available from the NZHPT Central 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.

Historic Area Place Name

Pukehuiake Pa