Tuahiwi is the home of Ngāi Tūāhuriri and has played a vital role in Ngāi Tahu history. The takiwā (district) of Te Ngāi Tūāhuriri Rūnanga centres on Tuahiwi and extends from the Hurunui River to the Hakatere River and inland to the Main Divide. Nearby the famous Kaiapoi Pā was established by the first Ngāi Tahu ancestors when they settled Te Waipounamu. Kaiapoi Pā was the major capital, trading centre and point from which further penetration of the South Island occurred making the area a genealogical centre for all Ngāi Tahu Whānui. Kaiapoi Pā was established by Moki’s elder brother Turākautahi who was the second son of Tūāhuriri hence “Ngāi Tūāhuriri” is the name of the hapū of this area.
Ko taku ture I ahu mai I tōku tupuna, I a Tūāhuriri
My laws stem from my ancestor Tūāhuriri
While the principal settlement in the district was at Kaiapoi Pā, smaller inland settlements also co-existed at sites along the Cam River and at Tuahiwi (among others). Tuahiwi was attacked by Te Rauparaha enroute to lay siege to Kaiapoi Pā. The eventual destruction of Kaiapoi Pā by Te Rauparaha in 1832 rendered the entire area unsafe and the Ngāi Tūāhuriri people fled to the safety of other Ngāi Tahu settlements at Koukourarata and further South. Tuahiwi and other kāinga in the area lay deserted until the threat of war had passed. Many leading Ngāī Tahu whānau returned to live at Tuahiwi in the 1840s. Māori Reserve lands were later allocated to Ngāi Tūāhuriri whānau at Tuahiwi. From this time Tuahiwi became the principal area of Ngāi Tahu settlement in North Canterbury.
While Ngāi Tūāhuriri have had an association with Tuahiwi and its environs since the earliest days of Ngāi Tahu settlement, their relationship to that land was altered irrevocably with the arrival of European settlers. The Kaiapoi Māori Reserve was set aside as a place of residence by Kaiapoi Ngāī Tahu as a result of the Canterbury Purchase (Kemps Deed) in 1848, which saw the Crown purchase 20,000,000 acres from Ngāi Tahu for 2,000 pounds. In 1859 Tuahiwi or the Kaiapoi Māori Reserve was the first Māori Reserve where land was subdivided and title was individualized so as to encourage the building of a township. The reserve was subdivided into blocks allotted to specific Ngāī Tūāhuriri whānau.
Despite the land at Tuahiwi being the largest of the Māori reserves allocated, it was insufficient for the people to generate a living from. In order to survive financially, the land outside the immediate village area was let to Pākehā farmers – by the 1880s this practice had increase to the point that most of the Kaiapoi Reserve was leased out. Through a series of Native Land Acts that followed, Māori land was quickly alienated to Pākehā. Much of the original Kaiapoi Māori Reserve is no longer in Ngāi Tūāhuriri ownership.
This information has been sourced from the Ngāi Tūāhuriri: Tuahiwi and Takiwā booklet produced by the Ngāi Tūāhuriri Education Committee, 2014 and the Christchurch City Libraries website.