Local Maori History

Wairarapa and Masterton

Joseph Masters and Retimana Te Korou are buried less than fifty metres apart in the Masterton Cemetery are the two main people involved in the purchase of the site of Masterton, which led to the establishment of the northern-most of the two Small Farms Association settlements in Wairarapa.

Retimana Te Korou

In the Pioneer Section lies Joseph Masters, prime instigator of the movement to establish the Small Farms Association, while nearby in the main part of the cemetery a simple grave marks the burial place of Retimana Te Korou, Rangitane chief.

The name Wairarapa means 'glistening waters' in te reo Māori. According to some oral histories, the Polynesian explorer Kupe named the wetlands after touching down in the area several times. According to other oral histories, explorer Haunui named the wetlands after the way the lake appeared to glisten from the Remutaka Ranges to the west.

Rangitane and Ngāti Kahungunu were the resident Māori tribes (iwi) when European explorers arrived in the area in the 1770s.

On 23 January 1855 the strongest earthquake recorded in New Zealand hit the region; it reached magnitude 8.2 on the Richter Scale and caused five deaths among the then sparse population.