The Place – Awataha, the river flowing at the sideA place at Shoal Bay on the northern headland of the basin Te Kopua o Mata Kamokamo. The place is art of the site of an ancient papakainga or village – Te Korekore – settle perhaps a thousand years ago and occupied until 1923 by the Kawerau a Maki people. It is known that the Kawerau a Maki suffered greatly at the hands of invading tribes but returned to their ancestral land to re-establish their papakainga.
The immediate surrounds of Awataha are mentioned in the sacred mythology and history of the Māori people.
Te kopua o Mata Kamokamo and Kopua o Mata Kerepo are ancient names of the basins to the south and celebrated in mythology as being the footsteps of Mataaho, the Volcano God, responsible for the volcanoes of Auckland.
Slightly south of Awataha is the place named Nga Huru a Taiki of the Tainui canoe.This place was known as an ancient and sacred place of concealment for tapu objects by the Kawerau a Maki. Part of the papakainga site is now occupied by Hato Petera College. This area was formerly called Te Punawai a Tene (The Spring of Tene) after a Kawerau a Maki Chief who lived some seven generations ago.
Tom Walsh's Story of Old Devonport and Old North Shore records a conversation in 1908 between George Graham and Whatarangi ngati. Whatarangi told Graham of the planting in 1892 of a Kahikatea tree near Awataha. The tree was planted in commemoration of the birth of a son to Tati Wharekana.
Also at Awataha is the place named Te Urupa, an ancient place respected by the Kawerau a Maki people as a burial ground.
1841 the first areas of Kawerau a Maki land – titled the Mahurangi block – was sold to Governor Hobson. The block stretched from Takapuna (now Deveonport) to Te Arai (near Warkworth) in the north. By 1854, 9,500 acres had been purchased. At some time in this period Awataha was included in the purchase. The whole area, 9,500 acres, was purchased for cash and goods to the value of £1500. This was made up of: £680 cash, 440 blankets, 60 gowns, 2 cattle, 4 cocks, 400 lb tobacco, 30 coats, 2 bags of rice, 100 caps, 1 bag of sugar, 1 vessel, 1 boat, 60 cloaks, 6 horses, 3 saddles and bridles and 200 pairs of trousers.
The land was purchased by the Crown for 6.5pence per acre. In 1843 the first sections purchased, nos. 1-70 at Northcote, Birkenhead and Shoal Bay were sold by the Crown to settlers or their agents for £2 per acre – a profit to the Crown of 1167%.
On 28 August 1850 a Crown grant of some 375 acres was made by Sir George Grey to the Catholic Bishop of Auckland for use for educational purposes.
This area covered much of the old papakainga site including Awataha, Hato Petera College and perhaps the present site if the Catholic Church buildings in Taharoto Road. A few years later some 110 acres opposite Awataha was given to Sir George Grey as a Crown grant to Patuone and his people. The grant was made by Grey in appreciation for his role as an advisor and as a defender and supporter of the early settlement.
This grant was to have been inalienable to Patuone and his people. Over the years, however, the land was lost and eventually none remained in Māori hands. Patuone died in 1872, he is buried in Devonport. By 1914 the area of Awataha and the area immediately adjacent was known as the Catholic Native Settlement.
The settlement was the lst of the many papakainga occupied by the ancient Kawerau a Maki people in what had become known as the Mahurangi block. Occupation of the papakainga area including Awataha, by the Kawerau o Maki was terminated in 1923.
An extract from the New Zealand Observer dated 10 November 1926 stated; “On several occasions in recent years legal proceedings have been instituted to remove Māori people who had squatted on a portion of the land, presumably to keep alive what they considered to be their right to the land. After a lot of delays, however, the passive resistance of the Māori people was rejected and their occupation of the site terminated under an order of the Court.” During the period 1883 to the 1960s, Awataha and the adjoining area was passed through several stages of ownership and proposed use.
Hato Petera College ws established in 1928, the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation purchased Tank Farm from the Catholic Church; the North Shore Teachers’ College, now the Auckland University of Technology, was established and some of the area, including part of Awataha was designated for motorway purposes.
Later, in 1965, part of this area (again including Awataha marae site) was redesignated as Crown land.
In 1984 the Awataha site itself was declared as being surplus to Crown requirements.
Then, late in 1985 the Governmetn agreed to lease the site to the Awataha Marae Incorporated Society for the establishment of the marae.