Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 31, September 1987

During the summer of 1983-84 when excavation work commenced the Historical Society visited the Site and the story was recorded in Journal No 28 [see Journal 28: Raupa Pa - E].

Further excavation was undertaken during the summer of 1986-87, led by Nigel Prickett of the Auckland Museum Archaeology Department. The team of "diggers" came from all over New Zealand and many stayed on the Pae-0-Hauraki Marae. This was one of the largest archaeology excavations undertaken in New Zealand for some considerable time. The dig lasted six weeks.

The "diggers" unearthed what Mr Prickett believed was a fairly large early 19th Century house. The post holes in the ground indicate walls and one very large post, still in the ground, appeared to be the centre pole of the structure. Nearby, in another block, a cooking area was unearthed. In this, one oven was uncovered complete with its stones. These had been placed in a hole in the ground. Adjacent there were several scooped-out holes, some with stones, and all were varied in size - just like a modern day kitchen with a pot size to meet every cooking need.

Yet another block revealed a kumera pit, about 1m wide and almost 2m long. Mr Prickett said that this was a most interesting find as it had always been thought kumera pits - used to store the kumera for use over the winter months - were always on high ground away from the dampness. "But here we find one down on the flat lands, and very close to the river", he said.

Right alongside the pit there was evidence of a small building, with its pole holes being cleaned out. Mr Prickett said that judging by the colour of the earth immediately around the pit and in the bank, there was distinct evidence of a fire which could have destroyed the building.

In another layer nearer the surface there was some 150mm thick layer of shell, indication a miden [midden ? – E] had also been on the site at a later stage.

Apart from locating the evidence of a former house, there has been a considerable amount of obsidian and chertflake, which was used for cutting, found, along with the red dye oka [ochre ? – E]. On 2 February 1987 there was an "open day" and around 400 people visited the site.


The site of the Raupa Pa and the nearby village of Waiwhau appears to have bean occupied continuously from 1600 AD, and possibly before, until the Europeans came to the Paeroa area.

Of Waiwhau very little is known except for its appearance on the very earliest maps where it is marked as "old Waiwhau village".

The pa site of Raupa and the nearby village of Waiwhau were situated strategically at the junction of two rivers, the Waihou and the Ohinemuri. Built on flat land and surrounded on three sides by water and in a fertile area, the pa lay at a critical point of access to the Coromandel with the port of Thames to the north, the Bay of Plenty to the south and the Waikato to the west.

It seems that Raupa was occupied as early as 1600 AD when it is mentioned in the oral history that Te Kahureremoa spent the night here while on her way from the west side of Hauraki to the Bay of Plenty to meet her lover, Takakopai.

Samuel Marsden visited Raupa in 1820 when he and his party of some 50 people were given hospitality and accommodation by Te Hikamate [or Hikamata – E], the head chief (ariki) of the Ngati-tamatera. Marsden describes their houses as larger and better built than any he had seen previously in New Zealand. He noted Raupa as a promising site for a mission station and preached a sermon there. At that time the Ngati-tamatera were threatened from the north by the Ngapuhi and from the south by the Ngati-rahiri. To protect the settlement from attack, stakes were driven in across the river to form a barrier to impede the canoes of the attackers and ditches and parapets were thrown up to provide defences on the land side.

Eighteen months after Marsden's visit to Raupa there was considerable unrest in the area when the Ngapuhi forces who had obtained muskets, attacked. At Raupa they were repelled and after losing two chiefs, fled, but, at the famous battle of Totara Pa in 1821, the Ngapuhi were victorious and massacred the local tribes who dispersed and abandoned the pa.

By 1833 when Henry Williams came to Raupa, he found no people and no fences to indicate a fortress but was pleased to see the land had been cleared for cultivation indicating that the people felt a greater sense of security.

The site today is rather different. The course of the Waihou where it formed a junction with the Ohinemuri River is now dry, the Waihou having been diverted from its course by means of a canal and stopbanks. It is still, nevertheless, possible to see the original course as water tends to collect there and there is a depression, covered now with vegetation.

The debris from the goldmining operations washed over the area in numerous floods and caused heavy silting but work on the stopbank laid bare layers of cinders, hangi stones and pipi shells, and thus first drew archaeologist's attention to the site in 1982.