Ngā Uri and the Native Land Court List, 1892

Ngā Uri – the beneficiaries of the Nelson Tenths claim – are the direct descendants of those tūpuna named on the Native Land Court List, 1892.


The 1892 Native Land Court list is the list that most accurately records those specific Tainui Taranaki tūpuna of Ngāti Rārua, Te Ātiawa, Ngāti Tama and Ngāti Kōata who held customary title to the land at the time of the New Zealand Company purchase in 1841.


It identifies those tūpuna who were on the land when the New Zealand Company arrived in Nelson and who met with New Zealand Company officials to agree to the establishment of Nelson.


It is our most comprehensive and conclusive record, constructed by our whānau at the time and subsequently confirmed by the Native Land Court’s determination.


The validity of the list to determine the customary owners was recognised by the Waitangi Tribunal.


View the names on the Native Land Court List, 1892:

Voices of whānau | Sophie Irving, Ngāti Koata, Te Ātiawa

What does whakapapa mean to you?


Whakapapa to me is our indigenous way to understand how the world is. It is inherent to who we are as Māori. It is our line we trace back that connects us to everything in the natural world. For me, whakapapa ties me to my hapū-based identity as Te Ātiawa and Ngāti Koata. It is a reciprocal relationship with all that is around us – we belong to the land, the river and the seas and it is our responsibility to protect and nurture it for mokopuna to come.


For those starting out on their whakapapa journey, I say learn it by making the connections. Bathe in your awa, climb your maunga, be with your people. They will teach you more than reading your whakapapa on a screen or piece of paper ever will.



What is your connection to the Nelson Tenths whenua?


My tūpuna Inia Te Hunahuna nō Te Ātiawa and Mohoao, Hariata Mohoao and Raima Mohoao nō Ngāti Koata were of the many enterprising rangatira that entered into the formal agreement with the Crown to establish the town now known as Nelson.


This is a history I learned during my time interning for Wakatū and also being a participant on the Taiohi Wānanga. I feel so privileged to have been able to wānanga, mahi and be sustained in our homelands. An experience that changed the trajectory of my life! Once you learn the atrocities our whānau endured, you can’t see life in the same way.


Learning our histories affirms to me that knowledge is power and ever since I was introduced to our rohe and pūrākau, I have maintained a burning feeling in my puku to fight for our whakapapa and our indigenous way of life.


Tell us about your tūpuna on the Native Land Court List, 1892


Inia Te Hunahuna come on the hekenga down from Waitara to Waikanae. He then went with the boatload of Kaitangata to live in Collingwood, in the Whakatū region.


Koro Inia is immortalised in the whare tūpuna Te Ao Mārama, at Onetahua marae in Mohua (Golden Bay).



Describe your own whakapapa journey


Being Māori is something I always knew I was. I think I am so privileged to have a family that valued going back to our homelands in Taranaki. It was in Taranaki that I was given an understanding of my whakapapa. That was because my aunties and uncles always told me who I was. They took me to my awa and my maunga. I had a strong foundation to be able to find out more for myself.


The generations and generations of strong foundations are what make us able to endure the effects of colonisation. Whakapapa is a reciprocal relationship, the gift of feeling a sense of belong and knowing who I am means that I need to always be in the pursuit of knowledge and kitiakitanga over our identity as Māori.


Reconnecting our whānau to each other and to their whenua is integral to Making the Tenths Whole. We are actively working to bring our whānau back together. If you believe that, like Sophie, you whakapapa to any of the tūpuna identified on the Native Land Court list, 1892, we warmly welcome you to complete this whakapapa form.


Johny O’Donnell on Making the Tenths Whole



Johny O’Donnell has been a vocal supporter of Making the Tenths Whole – lending his voice and his platform to speak out on our behalf to media and hold politicians to account.   




Why was it important to be present at the hearing?


Turning up to court was important to show support for the whānau, especially those who have spent weeks in this courtroom having their identity and history cross-examined, to undermine them and their mana. I am absolutely in awe of those who have taken the stand and represented their community and their whakapapa so bravely. This is a deeply personal kaupapa and those on the frontline need to feel the aroha and tautoko that surrounds them and their quest for justice.


To me, this is not just a fight for the whānau, this is a blight on our whole region that needs resolving. Every single one of us has a responsibility to lend our voices to the injustice that has occurred and stand firmly behind calls for a resolution. I think we all want reconciliation and healing to occur.


What do you hope the outcome will be?


I do not doubt that the whānau will continue to succeed legally as the evidence is so clearly in their favour. It’s remarkably simple when you boil it down, an agreement was never honoured, and the entity that never honoured it has the means to resolve that. So they have no choice in my view, they’re just kicking the can down the road and disappointingly spending millions throwing good money after bad in an intergenerational battle that can be resolved.


I genuinely hope the Crown have a change of heart and realise their strategy of avoidance is deeply flawed. By not engaging in good faith and resolving this, they are continuing to diminish their mana. I want them to know that we are all watching.


What words would you have for Uncle Rore?


E mihi ana ki a koe e te rangatira. I commend your courage, resilience and determination. One of the things that will stick with me most strongly from witnessing the court is how you carry yourself with absolute dignity and never take your eyes off the proceedings. You are an absolute force, not only for your whānau but for the whole of te iwi Māori and indigenous peoples the world over.


What can you share about your personal connection to the whānau and whenua?


Our childhood home sat on Wakatū owned whenua and we lived through the changes to Māori leasehold law. It was a deeply divisive and difficult time that stirred my interest in this kaupapa from an early age. I always felt privileged to grow up under the mana and the manaaki of mana whenua in Motueka. It’s a very special part of the world and I consider myself lucky to have been fed and nourished by the waters, the whenua and the people of this place.


In recent years, I’ve had the honour of working alongside the whānau, which has taken many different forms but has always been driven from the same place – a desire to create better outcomes for Te Tauihu, the community and Te Taiao. To me, that is unwavering and that is what is so exciting about the potential for a settlement here – I just know the potential it will unlock for the whole region.

Recollections of tūpuna:
Ramari Herewini

The sad story of Ramari Harepeka Poria Herewini is one of many to come out of the broken promise of the Nelson Tenths.


Ramari was the daughter of Hare Poria. She was the mother of Mere Rore [Mere Edwina Meades]. She married Hare Rore – for whom kaumātua Rore Stafford is named.


Most of the land owned by Ramari was in Motueka, and was taken by the Crown.  It is said that when the Crown sent representatives to survey her lands, she would pull out the survey pegs and throw them at the surveyors.


For this reason, Ramari was declared insane and was incarcerated in the Ngāwhatu Mental Asylum in Nelson.


She was visited at Ngāwhatu by Alfred Domett, an important provincial politician in Nelson. He determined there was nothing wrong with her. Despite this, when he returned two years later she was still incarcerated.


Ramari lost her home, her livelihood and her land and was ultimately held in the asylum for three years before being released.


In the 1892 hearings, Ramari was one of the most prominent evidence providers for Ngāti Rārua, naming the people who were original owners.


In 1893, the Native Land Court named her as one of the original owners of the Tenths Reserves.


Sadly, we are not sure where Ramari is buried.


This extract of her words comes from the Mackay Compendium, a two-volume compendium compiled by Alexander Mackay when he was the Native Commissioner in the South Island, and now held in the National Library.

Brandi Stafford on the repercussions of a broken promise

“I don’t think Dad realised, when he originally started this battle, what responsibility this actually meant for him, personally.”


The broken promise of the Nelson Tenths has had a profound impact on generations of Te Tauihu whānau. What may be the oldest property claim in Aotearoa, the 180-year battle to make the Nelson Tenths whole has taken a devastating toll – not just on the original customary Māori landowners, but on their tamariki, mokopuna and ngā mokopuna nui.


For many of the thousands of descendants of the original owners of the Nelson Tenths estate, their lives have been shaped by this fight for justice.


As the eldest child of Kaumātua Rore Stafford, Brandi Stafford has grown up with the dissonance. Not only is her father currently representing the customary landowners as the plaintiff versus the Attorney-General in the Wellington High Court, but at the age of 83 he has now been championing the struggle for half his life.



“I don’t think Dad realised when he originally started this battle, putting in the Waitangi Tribunal [Wai 56] claim with Hohepa Solomon in 1986, what responsibility this actually meant for him, personally,” says Brandi, who describes the Nelson Tenths case as “an evolution”.


“We didn’t know in the High Court that we were going to get tossed out and that we’d have another chance through the Appeal Court; we didn’t know in the Appeal Court that Dad would get standing to take it through to the Supreme Court. Year after year we lost hope in the justice system, we saw the toll it took on the whānau, and we watched our uncles and aunties die not knowing what would happen to the case. Dad has lost most of his siblings now – all of these things have been significant to us.”


Brandi was just a child when the family discovered they had substantial land interests in the Nelson Marlborough region and, after her mother joined the Wakatū Incorporation Board in 1977, she began to learn more.


“We understood that a significant deal had taken place, that a very significant commercial opportunity had landed on our back doorstep with the return of the remnants of the Nelson Tenths to Māori ownership. I would have been 12 at the time and for me that was like we’d won Lotto.”


But the elation soon soured.


“As we started learning the history, it became obvious that there’d been a lot of breach and a lot of grievance, and we started to understand our tūpuna who had been alienated from their lands, lost their lands or been treated really badly.


“There was so much abuse. I recall our kuia who was put into a mental asylum because she wouldn’t give up her land. Other relatives tell us that in winter, Motueka was really wet, flooded and muddy and, in summer, there was drought. There were Nelson Tenths that should have been set aside for us yet we were living in the worst conditions possible.”


The emotional toll has been immense – but Brandi says that’s what keeps them fighting.


“We are trying to acknowledge the devastating circumstances our tūpuna lived in, making sure that we never have to suffer it again.”


It has felt mostly like an uphill battle, but Brandi couldn’t be prouder of the way her father Rore has led the charge – over decades. What keeps him going?


“Dad’s always had that commitment to the whenua. That’s just his natural modus operandi and he knows he has to do this for future generations to prosper from what our tūpuna lost. He’s not in the grievance mode that we used to be in. He’s all about righting the injustice and ensuring our mokopuna have the inheritance that they’re entitled to, the land interests and the money that is due to us all. He also knows that by doing this, by setting a precedent, he is helping potentially many other iwi.


“Dad sees this as his contribution as a rangatira – he genuinely understands the importance of us being rangatira on our own whenua.”


So what might the future look like for the Staffords and all those fighting for the return of the Nelson Tenths?


“Dad has always said that the Crown, the legal system, is about power and money, but for us it’s about whakapapa. We have a totally different world view to the Pākehā system.


“It’s really tough because the mechanisms of the government have torn us apart, we can see how colonisation has driven a wedge. My hope is that we find really strong ways to use rangatira and a peaceful approach to how we’re going to manage the asset, so that we will be really great examples of what is good for Māori will become good for all New Zealanders.


“Nelson Marlborough will benefit so much from us being landowners because we won’t sell out – that’s our whenua, our whakapapa, and our tūpuna. That’s our mokopuna and our tamariki.”

Faces of whānau: Kelli Te Maihāroa

Kelli Te Maihāroa, Associate Professor at Otago Polytechnic Te Pūkenga, on travelling up from Ōtepoti to tautoko Uncle Rore at the hearing.


View all videos



Introducing Te Here-ā-nuku | Tuia kia Kotahi

This week we introduce Te Here-ā-nuku | Tuia kia Kotahi, an identity to unify our kaupapa and purpose around Making the Tenths’ Whole.


Here-ā-nuku speaks to the notion of reconnecting ourselves to the land. This connection was severed when the Crown’s legal promise to protect the Nelson Tenths Reserves and our papakāinga, urupā and cultivations for the benefit of our people, the Māori customary owners of the land, was not upheld.

Here‘ is used to inspire us to be ‘bound’ together with common purpose, while ‘nuku‘ is a customary term shortened to symbolise Papatūānuku – mother earth. Simply put, the name is a call to action for us to reconnect with one another, as whānau, inextricably connected to our whenua, our whakapapa and identity as the mana whenua of Te Tauihu.


 The logo is inspired by Whakatū artist Lane Hawkins’s artwork Te Kaitiaki o te Wairua i roto – the guardian of the spirit within.


This artwork, currently on display in Whakatū, Nelson, depicts the coming together of those tūpuna and their descendants who whakapapa across the iwi of Ngāti Tama, Ngāti Rārua, Te Ātiawa and Ngāti Koata – that is those whānau and hapū who comprise the customary owners of the Nelson Tenths’ reserves and papakāinga lands in Nelson, Tasman and Golden Bay.

It highlights our journey as ngā uri o ngā hekenga, the settlement of the Nelson rohe and our growth and development in this region.


The artwork uses two traditional weaving patterns, Pātikitiki (represented as a diamond form) and Kaokao (represented as a parallel chevron).


The Pātikitiki pattern symbolises a good environment, an abundance of food, well-fed families, prosperity and whānau wellbeing, while the Kaokao pattern represents the work ethic, courage and physical and intellectual endeavours of ngā uri o ngā hekenga, needed to prevail and succeed, not only in relation to Ngā Hekenga, but also in relation to the Making the Tenths’ Whole kaupapa.


We will use this identity to bring together the different elements of our work in the lead up to the High Court case in Wellington from 14 August this year, and beyond.