Waikākahi was the name of a pā situated under the foothills to the west of Poranui (Birdlings Flat) at the Horomaka (Banks Peninsula) end of Kaitōrete spit.

Waikākahi means the place where kākahi (a fresh water shellfish) was found.

Waikākahi pā was originally established by the chief Tūtekawa who was later killed in battles with incoming Ngāi Tahu led by the famed leader, Moki. Today it is a farmland area of undulating paddocks that stretches from the Akaroa/Christchurch highway down to the shores of Te Waihora. It is a spiritually and culturally significant site for Ngāi Tahu hapū of the Horomaka (Banks Peninsula) area.

Waikākahi is famous for being the starting place of the kai huanga (eat relations) dispute.

The Kai Huānga Dispute

This feud started when a woman called Murihaka violated tapu by wearing a kurīawarua (dogskin cape) which belonged to the chief, Te Maiharanui, who was away in Kaikōura at the time. Te Maiharanui was an ariki with distinguished ancestry. His relatives at Taumutu resented the sacrilege of Murihaka’s action and killed two of her relatives in an act of revenge.

Image of Taununu's pa, Ripapa Island, Lyttelton Harbour
Taununu’s pa, Ripapa Island, Lyttelton Harbour [1872] - ATLMAPS ATL-Acc-5099
On his return, Te Maiharanui punished not Murihaka or her people but rather those of Taumutu for their act of retaliation. Warriors from nearby Wairewa, the Peninsula and Waikākahi itself rallied together and with the help of Taununu (chief of Ripapa), Taumutu was captured. Taumutu warriors then counter-attacked Wairewa employing the help of Kaiapoi and Murihiku (lower South Island) relatives who brought muskets with them. However, the people of Wairewa escaped to safety on the lake.


The following year was 1827 and again an attack was led against Wairewa. This time, the people of Wairewa were ambushed on the water and overcome by musket warfare. The final and ultimate insult to an enemy was to eat the victim. So many relatives were eaten after this battle that it became known as kai huānga meaning ‘to eat a relative’.

This feud petered out only when the Ngāi Tahu tribe was forced to regroup under the threat of Te Rauparaha.


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