Paparoa, Owairoa or Howick name?

Howick historian Alan La Roche continues his fortnightly column which provides some very insightful glimpses into Howick’s past in this, its 170th year. The area is preparing for big celebrations on the 175th anniversary

There was controversy in 1847 when Governor Grey replaced the centuries-old Maori name of Paparoa or Owairoa for the English name of Howick.

The newspapers thought the euphonious names of Owairoa and Paparoa good names. Earl Grey, Lord Howick was responsible for sending the Fencible pensioners and their families to Howick, New Zealand. It was not until 1923 that the Howick Town Board officially adopted the name “Howick” as some people continued to use the names of Paparoa and Owairoa.

The first Fencible-settlers and their families settled into a new life in Howick. They became good friends of local Maori who had been building their cottages and selling food around the village. Some of the Fencibles struggled with the long Maori names which they quickly accepted. Some of these are listed.

Ngai Tai are the descendants of Maui-tikitiki-a-Taranga who fished up the North Island of New Zealand and are the tangata-whenua of Howick and Pakuranga.

Waipaparoa-Howick Beach means “water of the flat rocks”. This name was used by early settlers and has been reinstated after the recent Ngai Tai Treaty of Waitangi settlement.
Paparoa was a Maori name for Howick district and was later used for the flat lands of the Meadowlands Valley.

Aotearoa means “land of the Long White Cloud” named by Kupe’s wife who in about 950 AD first saw and discovered New Zealand.

Owairoa means “the place of the long river”. The view from Stockade Hill towards Waiheke looks “like a river”.

Te Komiti is a name for Bucklands Beach.

Pakuranga is a shortened version of Pakurangarahihi, “the day the earth caught fire” and the story about Auckland’s volcanoes erupted.

Mangemangeroa means the “long valley of the mangemange vine”. The vine was used for rope for fishing nets and for house building.

Manukau means only birds, when the Tainui waka entered the Manukau Harbour they saw no people “only birds”. Some early settlers spelt it “Manu-cow”!

Motukaraka [Flat Island] means Clarke’s Island [Maori for Karaka]. It also is called Motu Ika, Fish Island.

Motukorea [Brown’s Island] means island of the oyster catcher birds. Some were trained to alert the pa of visitors approaching in pre-European times.

Ohuiarangi-Pigeon Mt. named after a Ngai Tai ancestor who lived here. Early settlers saw many kereru, native pigeons feeding on the Pigeon Wood trees here.

Okokino, for Mellons Bay means a bad wind or gusts that were a hazard for canoes or sailing vessels.

Te Naupata Point is named after Coprosma repens-the shiny leafed coprosma, near Musick Memorial Radio Station.

Turanga (the old name for Whitford) means “standing up” as you could stand up in your waka in the calm shallow water.

When the Fencibles arrived most Maori in Howick had attended Fairburn’s Maraetai Beach mission school and could read and write the English language. There was a fashion amongst some of the Fencible grandchildren of using Maori names or using them as nicknames such as Tui, Rata, Ngaire, Ana [for Anne], Mere [for Mary] or Anaru [for Andrew], Hone [for John], Hori [for George] or Henare [for Henry]. These names are less common today.

Alan La Roche, Howick Historian

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