War in Wellington

Page 3 – Return to Hutt Valley

A key aspect of the New Zealand Company’s vision for planned settlement in New Zealand was the mix of town and country land on offer. Land was sold in lots of 101 acres – one acre of town land and 100 acres of country land. In this way, it was hoped, rural settlements would remain close-knit communities. It was soon apparent that Wellington lacked sufficient quantities of flat fertile land to realise this vision. Attention turned back to the lower Hutt Valley as the best location for an agricultural settlement.

Naming and claiming

Hutt Valley and the Hutt River were named in honour of Sir William Hutt, a New Zealand Company director. Early Māori settlers such as Ngāi Tara called the river Te Awakairangi – ‘the watercourse of greatest value’. The river was navigable by canoe for some distance inland, providing access to a rich supply of food. Another iwi to settle the area, Ngāti Māmoe, referred to the river as Te Wai o Orutu, ‘the waters of Orutu’, an ancestor. By the time the New Zealand Company arrived the river was known as Heretaunga, after the district in Hawke’s Bay from which more recent Māori migrants had arrived.

The problem with this solution to the company’s problems was that Ngāti Rangatahi (originally from Whanganui) had been granted rights of occupation in Hutt Valley by Ngāti Toa. Te Rangihaeata maintained that the company’s deal with Te Ātiawa was invalid as he had not consented to it. In 1841 and 1842 Te Rangihaeata and Te Rauparaha encouraged both Ngāti Rangatahi and Ngāti Tama to settle in and cultivate the valley. After the 1843 Wairau incident Te Rauparaha lived at his pā at Taupō (Plimmerton), while Te Rangihaeata moved between Hutt Valley and Pāuatahanui.

The Crown decided to investigate all land deals prior to the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi and appointed William Spain as its Land Claims Commissioner. The company was uncooperative in its dealings with Spain. While investigations were being conducted the company forced matters at Wairau, with tragic consequences, and allowed European squatters to move into Hutt Valley.

The company was bitterly disappointed by Spain’s verdict that not all their purchases were valid. In 1844 Spain told the company that further compensation would ‘complete’ the transactions for the land he now ruled it had claim to. Spain believed this would be fair to both Māori and the settlers who had bought land from the company in good faith. While Te Rauparaha and Te Rangihaeata were paid another £400 by the company, Ngāti Tama and Ngāti Rangatahi received neither land nor money. Te Rangihaeata insisted that any final deal was conditional on reserves being set aside for Ngāti Rangatahi in the upper valley.

How to cite this page

'Return to Hutt Valley', URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/war/wellington-war/return-to-hutt-valley, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 2-Apr-2019