History, culture and hertiage
Te Rae o Papamoa has witnessed waves of immigration, from the earliest ancestral waka, through to Captain James Cook and the Pakeha who followed him. The area has also witnessed much conflict as control of Te Rae o Papamoa and the surrounding plains was contested between successive waves of occupants.
Maori have long understood the importance of the hills with their commanding position over the surrounding coastline. From Te Rae o Papamoa they could control the south-eastern access to Tauranga Moana and the coastal strip down to Maketu. Looking outwards into th Pacific, pa from the hills could keep watch on the busy coastal route from the East Cape, past Whakatane, Tauranga and Katikati, and up into hauraki and beyond. From the hills, Maori could also observe the bountiful islands of Motiti, Matakana, Rangiwaea, and Tuhua.
Archaeologists suggest the history of Papamoa hills may begin around 1650 AD or even earlier.The hill is considered a boundary between the Mataatua and Te Arawa waka and the sites have significance to a number of iwi/hapu.
Papamoa hills is therefore a large archaeological complex. There are seven pa sites situated within the Papamoa Hills Regional Park, and others can be seen in the surrounding landscape. Those pa are Papamoa, Te Ihu o Ruarangi, Te Houawe, Te Kaingapakura, Maraeroa (outside of Park), Karangaumu, Patakitahi, Patangata, Whaaro (outside of Park).
Every feature of the landscape has become known intimately by the indigenous people who can recall the history of the land back through the generations. It is for them to tell the story in is entirety and to interpret the many different layers of understanding within these stories.
The McNaughton family began farming the property around 100 years ago and supported the establishment of a Papamoa Hills Regional Park. Despite farming on the archaelogical sites, the features are still well preserved and the terracing of the pa sites is noticable landscape feature.
Papamoa Hills Regional Park today
The bulk of the Park was bought from the McNaughton family, further additions to the Park include nine hectares provided by Fulton Hogan Ltd and 28 hectares adjacent to SH2. The total size of the park is 135 hectares. The Park was established in 2003 and jointly owned by Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Tauranga City Council and Western Bay of Plenty District Council. From 2004, Bay of Plenty Regional Council took sole ownership and management responsibility for the Park.
Information derived from Boffa Miskell, September 2003 - Cultural and Archaeological Assessment for 'Te Rae o Papamoa'