Maori history of Karekare Beach Auckland New Zealand
and the early settler kauri tree milling days.
The Waitakere Ranges with their western margins at Karekare were formed millions of years ago during a sustained outburst of volcanic activity in the Tertiary period.
Landforms have a backbone of andesitic lava overlain by ash and other volcanic debris. Erosion of similar materials produced by the cataclysmic eruptions in the central North Island has created the unique black sands of this dramatic coastline.
Centuries of occupation in the fertile Karekare Beach valley where the Te Kawerau ā Maki cultivated sweet potatoes as their staple crop.
Supplemented by seafood and birdlife from the coastal wetlands, this area was able to support a sizeable population.
The native rainforest provided building materials and medicinal plants with the rugged volcanic peaks making ideal lookout points suitable for fortification in times of war.
Karekare means ‘breaking surf’ in the Maori language more evocatively described as ‘rolling thunder’ and it was such a sound that the valley must have reverberated to in the early 19th century
when a large column of Ngapuhi warriors burst into the valley sweeping all before them.
Strong points held out for long enough for some to escape but never again would the Maori history of Karekare Beach be one of idyllic plenty.
Europeans subsequently purchased large tracts of land in the Waitakere Ranges and began the kauri tree milling industry.
Sweat replaced blood at Karekare as the hardy pioneers struggled to cut the giant kauri tree from the forest.
Timber mills, dams and railways soon altered the natural landscape though.
Within thirty years the best trees were taken and at the beginning of the 20th century Karekare reverted to peaceful isolation.
The rugged beauty of the area as captured by many important early New Zealand painters, then photographers, began to attract a small number of visitors.
Karekare became a popular weekend excursion destination.
Hiking, or tramping as it is known in New Zealand, drew more people, then surfers discovered that, on a good day, the waves at Karekare are exceptional.
Lodge can be yours as a base from which to explore the area.