After Te Rauparaha conquered the Muaupoko people. they left the area and headed for Horowhenua in the Manawatu. Te Rauparaha and his followers were allocated all the lands formally held by the Muaupoko. This was all the land from just south of the Otaki River to the southern tip of the North Island. Te Rauparaha and his allies at this time could put into the field just on four thousand warriors.
Probably the most famous battle to take place in the vicinity of Paekākāriki was the 1824 battle of Waiorua Bay. The battle takes its name from its site. This bay is the one on the eastern side of Kāpiti Island and almost at the northern tip. Te Rauparaha had become so unpopular with his former allies and the people of the Marlborough Sounds, whom he had raided, that they decided to band together and attack him on his island fortress. Men and canoes came from far and near to take part in the raid, and practically every major tribe from Canterbury to Taranaki was represented. The attack started off successfully, but the early successes were not sustained and the large force was routed and heavily defeated. Soon after this battle, a significant heke (migration) named Nihoputa came south from Taranaki and took up the formerly occupied places.
By the late 1820s, Ngāti Raukawa, who had close links with Te Rauparaha, came to the Horowhenua coast from Waikato and in 1832, further northern Taranaki people also came south. The increased numbers of people and their various interconnections brought tensions among the different groups. By 1834, these tensions erupted into a battle named Haowhenua which took place in the Otaki district. Many groups changed their living places along the western coast.
The Ngāti Toa chief, Ropata Hurumutu, crossed over from Kāpiti Island and built and occupied the Wainui Pā with Ngāti Haumia. Aperahama Mitikakau and his Ngāti Maru people, moved north from their previous occupation in the vicinity of Titahi Bay and occupied Whareroa Pa. Ngāti Maru were also living at the small settlement of Tipapa (within the now Queen Elizabeth Park area), a place said to have been given to them by the Ngāti Toa chief, Te Pani. Tipapa remained occupied until about 1840 although both Whareroa and Wainui remained as important villages for much longer.
From the 1830s onwards, European ships, including whaling boats, regularly took up moorings between Kāpiti Island and the mainland as this stretch of waterway provided a safe anchorage. In 1847, only three boats operated and their yearly harvest was 29 tons of whale oil.
One of the Pākehā who inhabited the western coast before the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi was Edward Bolton who had come to New Zealand in 1837 as a whaler. He went to live at Whareroa with a Ngāti Maru woman although it is not recorded who she was or how long he stayed there. At some time before 1840, Evans, the owner of a local whaling establishment, needed a large quantity of timber to build various works at his station on Kāpiti Island. He made arrangements with Ngāti Toa chiefs, Ropata Hurumutu and Tungia, to cut a stand of white pine that was located in the vicinity of Whareroa. The payment was blankets, guns and “a little” rum.
In March 1840, when Edward Jerningham Wakefield journeyed to Whanganui looking to buy land for the colonisation scheme, he travelled along the “beach highway” that is now located within Queen Elizabeth Park. This beach highway remained an important travel route north. The Wellington to Wanganui mail service was established in 1841, and dating from the 1840s, a Cobb and Co. coach route between Wellington and the north proceeded along the western beach including the area now within the park. The beach would remain the main thoroughfare in the area for many decades. By 1865, a vehicular road had been established over the hills from Pauatahanui to Paekākāriki along the same route as the Hill road is today. At Paekākāriki, wheeled transport would access the beach and travel north from there, fording the various streams along the way.
The villages of Wainui and Whareroa remained important centres of occupation. In 1847, it was reported that 450 acres of land were in cultivation at Wainui. The land around the Pā was all sand and not suitable for cultivation so the potato and kumara grounds were located some distance away.
During 1849, the people of Wainui were in the process of moving from their old village to a new site nearby. It is noted in records that Wainui was one of the new villages established by the government of the day. A report from the time states “It is a desirable situation for a settlement of the kind, as it not only had the benefit of being near the coast, with a very fair share of good land, but it also had the additional advantage of being close to the new public road enabling the conveyance of wheat either by land or water to the mill at Porirua in which the Natives of Wainui had a share… At Wainui, the Natives would clean the flax as their usual evening’s occupation. The old Wainui Pa was in a state of dilapidation and unhealthy, but in the course of a few months the Natives will probably remove to the new village which is more sheltered and in every other respect more convenient. They have a Day School under the superintendence of one of the young chiefs and apparently well conducted. Their cultivations are in good order, particularly the kumara, and the soil at the head of the valley is very rich although the extent of land is very limited. A total of 195 persons resided at Wainui, the settlement was made up of 40 huts and two churches. Nine war canoes were recorded. Stock included nine horses, nine cows and two sheep, but also 40 pigs and 30 goats. Three acres of wheat were being grown as well as five acres of maize, 18 acres of potatoes, three acres of kumara and a further acre of other garden produce. Half a ton of flax had been prepared for market.”
In 1850, there were tensions between the Taranaki groups who occupied the Whareroa area. Some wished to sell the land and return to Taranaki where increasing troubles between Māori and settlers were evident. Eventually, Ngāti Toa were said to have offered the land for sale to the Government in the late 1850s. On 27 November 1858, Crown Lands reported that a purchase had been completed for £850 for a block estimated as being 34,000 acres and stretching all the way from the Whareroa Stream four and a half miles to the south and over into the hills. This land now included in the Queen Elizabeth Park had been acquired through this transaction. Several reserves were made two of which were within the park boundaries: 135 acres at Wainui and 17 acres at Whareroa. In the decades after the sale of the surrounding land, the occupation of Wainui and Whareroa gradually declined.
After the wars in Taranaki, the villages of Wainui and Whareroa seem to have declined over the following decades. In 1874, the census recorded only eight persons at Whareroa all of whom were adults. At Wainui, there were fourteen people – eight adults over 15 years old, and six children. Four years later, in 1878, the census recorded 20 persons at Whareroa – 12 adults over 15 years old and eight children. At Wainui there were only six people, one of whom was a child.
From the 1850s, several Pākehā families came into the Whareroa/Paekākāriki area to farm the land which included areas currently within the Queen Elizabeth Park area. Captain Henry Lynch of the 65th Regiment of Foot Brigade arrived in New Zealand in 1846 and was soon engaged in action against Te Rangihaeata at the Battle Hill conflict in the Horokiri Valley. In 1852 it is said that he was granted property stretching from the north of Paekākāriki through to Paraparaumu which he named Emerald Glen.
Arthur MacKay, who had arrived in New Zealand in 1840, was granted land in the vicinity of the park in 1870 along with his brother. From 1876, the family leased more of the Whareroa plateau including, presumably, areas that are currently in the southern part of the park. The land north of Paekākāriki was described as being “rough” with stands of high mānuka covering places. At one stage, the Smith brothers – Francis, Isaac and Stephen – came to farm in the Whareroa district.
In 1879 when the then Government recommended that the western rail line be discontinued, several prominent Wellingtonians formed the North Island West Coast Railway Company and worked with the Government to gain permission and assistance to recommence work. Beginning in September 1882, work on the line started from both ends – Paekākāriki and Longburn. The two lines met at Otaihanga on 3 November 1886. The Wellington and Manawatu Railway Company (WMR) operated the line for 25 years, and, in December 1908, the rail line was purchased and taken over by the Government.
Ropata Hurumutu died in 1875. This left the remaining lands in the hands of Aperahama Mutu Mira and Ropata Tangahoe. Aperahama Mutu Mira was, in 1872, Main Land Claimant after confiscation of Wainui Reserves. These were let to Francis Smith for 14 years from 1872, and Ramaroa was let to Mr McKay from 1876. Ropata Tangahoe was also involved in these land deals.
The Mira family have been involved with this area the whole time. Ropata Hurumutu’s great, great grand daughter, Miriona Utu Mira (born in 1893), was the last of the family to actually live on the Wainui land. In 1938 she owned a house in what is now Queen Elizabeth Park where she was living with her husband, Wehi Budge, and children. The park ranger now lives in this house.
After the Wainui Block was confiscated again for the erection of a Marine Camp in 1942, and with negotiations not being completed until mid-1950’s Miriona and her family lived in the park. As some sort of compensation, the family were awarded several sections around the village, where Miriona and her daughters had to build the houses for themselves.
The establishment of the camps brought changes for the local community. Building Camp Paekākāriki meant tearing up the Paekākāriki golf course. Land for the camps was taken for temporary occupation under wartime regulations with Camp Russell including land from the MacKay family and Camp Paekākāriki being located primarily on Māori land within the Wainui Block.
Soon after the departure of the Marines, the Government considered what it would do with the land it had temporarily acquired. In June 1948, Cabinet directed that the development of the land be put on hold for several years. In the meantime, the land was to be farmed by the Department of Lands and Survey with a 450-acre dairy unit being established on a share-milking basis for city supply purposes whilst the remaining 1,200 acres would be run as a sheep and cattle farm.
As plans for the park proceeded, steps were taken to formally acquire the necessary land. With the land that had been used for the Marine Camp, instead of compensation being paid for the occupation, negotiations to formally take the land and award full compensation occurred. Other pieces of land, including the 20-acre Whareroa Māori reserve were taken under “better utilisation” clauses available in public works legislation, while several blocks held by members of the MacKay, Lynch, Smith, McKenzie and Budge families were negotiated for.
In August 1957, a motor camp was established on a 33-year lease to licensees, and over the next five years roading was improved, two bowling greens were created, and a children’s playground was built as well as other picnicking and holidaying conveniences and facilities. Plans for the park were still grand. However by 1965, only a putting green and paddle boat pool had been added.
In the local government reorganisation of the late 1980s, the management and administration of Queen Elizabeth Park was transferred to the Wellington Regional Council. By the time that the Wellington Regional Council took over Queen Elizabeth Park, approximately 422,000 people used the area per year. This made it the most popular of all the regional parks.
During recent Treaty negotiations, the camp ground in the park was awarded to Ngāti Toa as part of their settlement. They now lease the site to a private company to run.
The Mira Urupā sits on the hill overlooking the Wainui stream and the motor camp under a Norfolk pine reputed to have been planted by Aperahama Mutu Mira in 1830.
The Budge House is now under threat of rising tidal waters and coastal erosion. It is hoped in the not too distant future that it will be moved closer to the Urupā and become part of a proposed Pā that Ngāti Haumia are planning to establish.