The Heart of Ngapuhi
The last years of the eighteenth century are full of incident. There was considerable fighting between hapu endeavouring to enlarge their areas of influence in the direction of the east coast. The aim was to consolidate their claims to conquered land and to extend their territories to the shores of the Bay of Islands where there were opportunities for lucrative trading.
The descendants of Tawakehaunga, (Ngai Tawake), for example, are said to have originally occupied land south of Kaikohe at Mataraua , and to have subsequently moved to Waimate and then through to the coast. Ngati Rangi, too were a wide-ranging hapu having strong claims to land in the Taiamai and Tautoro areas to the east, and also at Kororareka (Russell).
However, the lands around Kaikohe remain the centre of the inland hapu of Ngapuhi. Pakinga, Opango, Parahirahi. The districts of Hikurangi (Tautoro), and Mataraua, amongst others, were ancestral lands, fought for and won by illustrious ancestors. Forays into outer eastern districts gained extra land for the hapu. However, it appears that these conquered lands were considered to be of less value than the homelands around Kaikohe and old Ohaeawai (Ngawha), and were therefore more readily parted with when Europeans sought to buy.
Ancestral land was another matter. It was this reluctance to part with the land of their ancestors which led to the relatively late European development of the Kaikohe area.