#1 place in New Zealand for a history tour

Incredible Akaroa history

Rich beyond your imagination

akaroa history

Marie Haley, the seventh generation, Akaroa

Akaroa history is incredibly rich with a unique grouping of 5 important historic sites in the New Zealand that tell a comprehensive settlement story.
The site of the earliest Polynesian settlers, the first European involvement in Māori inter-tribal warfare, the first signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in the South Island, the imperial race for Akaroa between the French and English and the sale of Canterbury.
And SO much more!

Outstanding akaroa history

Understand the BIG IDEAS, with the #1 LOCAL expert that makes Akaroa history real and personal and who will inspire you to BE THE CHANGE you wish to see in the world.

  • The first Polynesian settlers to Te Pātaka o Rākaihautū/Banks Peninsula
  • The geological foundations of Canterbury
  • The biodiversity hotspot that is Banks Peninsula
  • Takapūneke, the location of the Brig Elizabeth Te Rauparaha massacre
  • The Declaration of Independence of the United Tribes of New Zealand
  • Te Tiriti o Waitangi first signed in the South Island at Ōnuku Marae
  • The British declaration of sovereignty of the South Island at the Britomart Monument in the ‘Race-for-Akaroa’.
  • The French culture and heritage of AkaroaFrench culture and heritage of Akaroa
French Descendants Akaroa History Comte de Parisaris Descendants Group
Akaroa History Painting of the Nanto Bordelaise Company French Settler ship Comte de Paris named after the Count de Paris & the Aube by artist Paul Deacon

Akaroa Natural History
Volcano in Ecological Isolation

Banks Peninsula is a complex volcanic system formed from 12-6 million years ago. Built up as a island in isolation the New Zealand mainland did not join onto Banks Peninsula until 20,000 years ago.

Isolation gave Banks Peninsula the chance to establish it’s unique flora and fauna. With endemic plants and insects that are found nowhere else in the world. 

Prior to human habitation the island ecosystem would have been home to a an abundance and diversity of life that we can only imagine today.

Upon settlement, first Māori and later European many species were lost forever to extinction. The forest was cleared and burned until only 1% remained.

Then in the 1980’s an incredible change started, landowners started to realise what was being lost and in great numbers, and started to act. The conservation movement began, often to the criticism and doubt of some farmers.

Hugh Wilson started Hinewai Reserve, now the largest private reserve in the country with 1570ha of land managed for native regeneration.

The Wildside Project began as a collection of individuals who joined together to protect biodiversity on a landscape scale.

Akaroa Māori History
Waves of Conquest

The first Polynesian settlers to Banks Peninsula Te PātakaoRākaihautū were Waitaha or moa hunters. The next wave of conquest was Ngāti Māmoe, followed by Ngāi Tahu. Banks Peninsula has hundreds of important (forts), kāinga (villages) and wāhi tapu (sacred sites).

Takapūneke was a flax weaving and trading village in Akaroa Harbour that became the site of the Brig Elizabeth Te Rauparaha incident in 1830. Where one hundred Ngāti Toa warriors were hiden on Captain Stewart’s trading ship and raided and destroyed the village and captured the paramount chief Te Maiharanui. This incident led to the first British resident to New Zealand and ultimately the Treaty of Waitangi.

Ten years later Ōnuku became the first place where the Treaty was signed in the South Island, by two local chefs, Iwikau and John Love (Hone) Tikao.

In 1848 the Kemp Purchase forced the sale of 8.1 million hectares of the South Island for £2000. Formalising generations of dissociation from land, culture and language.

Māori revivalism has allowed for new generations to have a place to belong, and a culture that is becoming stronger. This is evident in the buildings visible today.

Akaroa French History
Imperial Race for Akaroa

In the 1830’s many French whaling ships came to Banks Peninsula each year. In 1837 the first European built a hut in Akaroa, Etienne Francois Lelievre, there he planted the famous napoleon willow next to his hut. 

In 1838 that same Frenchman was present when Captain Jean Langlois made a purchase for most of Banks Peninsula from Māori chiefs in Little Port Cooper. 

Returning to France Langlois created the Nanto-Bordelaise Company and gained support from King Louis-Philippe, who sent the warship Aube to protect the settlement. 

When the French captain Lavaud reached the Bay of Islands in New Zealand he found that the British governor Hobson had already secured sovereignty over the whole country, the North Island through the Treaty of Waitangi and South Island by ‘the right of discovery’. 

Hobson immediately sent his own frigate the Britomart to demonstrate sovereignty over the South Island and preempt any French settler ship that may have arrived. 

When the settler ship the Comte de Paris arrived with Langlois and Lelievre onboard they found the Union Jack flying and the Britomart had been lying at anchor in the harbour for only 5 days. Their hopes were dashed.

In reality there was no race for Akaroa as the British had already secured sovereignty long before the French settler ship arrived, it was a race to demonstrate that sovereignty. 

authentic local guide

Guided by a seventh generation local, with French and Portuguese history dating back to 1838, you will get the most unique and authentic experience in Akaroa. Weaving our own personal story into incredibly rich Akaroa history so that you can experience 'history coming to life!"

With extensive local knowledge, you will gain personal insights from a historian, ecologist and storyteller, while supporting a family-owned and operated business.

What customers say

History, culture, geology and ecology woven into one "Our family spent a beautiful autumn day learning about the early history of Akaroa from Marie. Her deep connection to the Banks Peninsula was evident not only in her knowledge of the past but also her vision for the future. She brought the whole landscape alive by weaving her stories of the lives of real people onto a canvas of ancient geology, coloured by changes to ecosystems as a results of human habitation.

Best Tour Ever. Marie Haley has extensive knowledge of the culture, history and geography of the area. She is personable, friendly, and makes terrific scones. Her appreciation of the culture of the area is easily translated into her story telling (true stories of course) which made a fascinating trip. You will be a better person after spending time with Marie. Thank you for sharing your world, your history and your knowledge with us."



Authentic local connections to nationally important history