The rich history of Aotea/Great Barrier Island dates back to the initial settlement of Aotearoa by the East-Polynesian ancestors of today’s Maori population, Ngati Rehua Ngati Wai ki Aotea, who trace their ancestry over many centuries to the original inhabitants.
Throughout the Polynesian migratory age, many ancestral waka landed on the shores of Aotea, guided by the constellations. The first Polynesian wayfinder, Kupe, landed on our shores, calling it Okupe. Over the years this has changed to Okupu, still a name for one of our settlements now.
There are many archaeological sites all over the island, generally in coastal locations. Look out for pa (fortifications), with defence and habitation features, and terraced garden and settlement sites. Our local marae, Motairehe and Kawa, are in the north of the island.