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Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 35, September 1991

The site of Opitau Maori village, near Raupa Pa was excavated during January and February 1991.

The site is on the bank of the former channel of the Waihou and Ohinemuri Rivers near where extensive excavation work was undertaken on the pre-European Raupa Pa which was occupied up to 1822. The Ngatamatera were driven out by a Ngapuhi raiding party. There were "digs" done on three previous visits to the pa and Waiwhi village which dates from 1790 to 1815. Both these sites are on the berm of the Ohinemuri River, opposite the end of Junction Road. The latest dig was on farm land owned by the Rasmussen family. Mr Harry Allan of the Auckland University Anthropology Department was in charge of the "dig".

Mr Allan said Opitau village was 'opened up' with a 220m by 600mm long machine dug ditch running through the middle of the site. "We had to cut down below the 'rock flour' layers - the fine mine tailings which covered the existing earth. Numerous floods deposited the layers." There are signs of post holes and at one end, on the bank of the old river, post holes forming part of the palisade have been unearthed, cleaned out, and the pieces of wood and stone all carefully retrieved and recorded. Outside this wall there are remains of middens and these revealed old stones, charcoal, pig's teeth, etc. At the other end of the ditch, close to the stopbank and also on the bank of the old river channel, further middens and fire pits were found, with shells and other debris being carefully dug out of the soil. Obsidian rock and other cooking stones were found.

The main aim of the exercise was to discover if there were any significant changes to the Maori way of life between 1790 and 1840, the 50 years in which European settlement was taking place. It was during this period that the Maori were introduced to iron tools, weapons, in particular, and other ways of European life.

Other information regarding Raupa Pa and Waiwhi village has been recorded in Journal 28 page 2 & 3 [see Journal 28: Raupa Pa - E] and Journal 31 page 23 [see Journal 31: Raupa Pa - E] .