From the mid-1820s the area was dominated by the Ngati Toa tribe of Te Rauparaha who had come south from Kawhia and conquered the area. Evidence of Maori occupation, in the form of kumara-growing terraces above the cliffs, can still be seen today.
The anchor stone of the canoe of legendary Maori explore Kupe is believed to have lain near Paremata for centuries. Kupe left the stone, named Maungaroa, to mark the spot where his canoe returned after floating out to sea. The stone was respected by Maori tribes over the centuries, but during the 1840s British troops stationed at Porirua broke chips off it. When some of them later drowned in the harbour it was seen by some Maori as punishment for their act of sacrilege. The stone is now housed in the National Museum in Wellington.
The Porirua Harbor region is rich in Maori history and Whitireia is a site which has particular significance to the Maori people. In traditional history it is reputed that Kupe landed at Komangarautawhiri, a point just south of Titahi Bay and while his canoe was left unattended, it floated away on the outgoing tide only to return on the tide some hours later and come ashore at Onehunga Bay on Whitireia Peninsula. Kupe was so relieved that he left his anchor stone at Onehunga Bay to mark the spot and it lay there for many years before being taken to Ngati Toa Domain and later to the National Museum where it is now in safe keeping. A monument commemorating Kupe's anchor stone can be found at the Onehunga Bay car park.
The Ngati Toa trace their ancestry to the Tainui people who migrated from Kawhia down the West Coast and settled in the Porirua area, after discovering the coastal and harbour waters to be equally as rich in sea food as their original home. The coastal area directly opposite Mana Island has long been known to the Ngati Toa people as a larder of kaimoana (seafood) and from earliest times through to the present day the Maori people have fished the waters and gathered kina, paua, and kuku along the coast. Cook Strait was known to the Maori people as the sea of Raukawa and is still referred to by that name on the marae.
Although seafoods were plentiful, New Zealand in its natural state was sparsely endowed with edible plants and bracken fern become the chief vegetable food of the Maori. However, kumara was a preferred food and great efforts were made to cultivate it, which in turn lead to considerable modification of the soil and landform. Whitireia was a favourable site for kumara cultivation and the northern faces of the park show considerable and valued evidence of this activity. Although there is some disagreement on what species of potato was grown there it is more certain that Whitireia was considered a strategic site by Te Rauparaha for commerce with the early Europeans.