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December 23, 2020 December 2020, Regular Features No Comments

The changes in the formation of Martinborough

When William Colenso visited the area in 1843 the Chief, Nga Iro, was at Haungarua pa. At the time the pa was strong with 75 residents and anumber of whares and large gardens. 3 acres maize, 9 acres potatoes  and acres of other veges, 36 domesticated pigs. In 1844 under Colenso’s leadership they also built a Beautiful church.

The early land deals were made at Huangarua. Both the Pa and Captain William  Mein Smith’s  homestead were places for events and gathering such as the 1st Cavalry Troop meeting in 1859.

Waihinga and Kaupekahinga on the Ruamahanga River were other places of permanent Mãori settlements of gardens, whares and animals. In 1859 the local Māori built a large whare 70 feet long by 20 feet wide where they put on a three day banquet for both Māori and settlers, thus were more encouraged  to the District. They had a race course at Waihinga, a Ferry crossing and Inn. The little river boats  went up past there to the cliffs at Moiki to deliver goods and take back wool  and goods. This until the large January 1855 earthquake change the river bed.

Downriver  at Otaraia there was a fortified Pa , then in the 1890s an Anglican church was built at  Tuhitarata. Later there was a settlement at  Hikawera where a beautiful Marae was built  under the leadership of Mahupuka. This was opened in 1890  but was burnt to the ground at midnight  1911. Many land transactions took place at this Marae along with  sports meetings, town and school  picnics . On one occasion  there were 400 tents in use.

The way from Wellington to the area was round the coast by little boats or along the shore , this was very dangerous at the  Muku Kuku rocks which was passable only at low tide. There were only Māori walking track up through the valley  and onto the Wharekaka plain . In —– a walking track was established over the hill, it took nine hours to walk this . In  1856 this was improved to make it possible for an ox cart to  negotiate it. A description of a meal at J Grindall’s grandly named Inn and Entertainment Centre ; ‘pork potatoes and peas one shilling’ ( 2020 = $7.50)  Late in 1860 a start was made on a road or track from Featherston via the Waihinga ferry crossing to  Whangaimoana or Onoke Ferry crossing. It was not until November 1873 when a wooden bridge was opened  across the Ruamahanga at the same place was the current concrete bridge. 

All this changed when John Martin purchased  Huangarua station . There was always employment on these big stations. Now John Martin wanted to  establish ‘his’ town and so wanted things to be around he area of this township . This didn’t happen until the amalgamation  of Waihinga,  Wharekaka  and Martinborough in  April 1905 


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