The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 2 (May 1, 1937)
The Conquering Raids
The Conquering Raids.
A giant of a warrior, named Tahuru, who is said to have been nearly eight feet high—he must have been a terrific figure in battle—was the leader of one of the last conquering expeditions by this pass from the east. Tahuru and his sons, Tarapuhi and Wereta Tainui, were among those who sold the West Coast to the Government for £300 in gold in 1860. It was over a century ago that Tuhuru captured the West Coasters—their headquarters pa was on the Ahaura River.
The Kopi-o-Kai-Tangata appears to have derived the name from repeated acts of man-eating in its gloomy recesses. The fugitives from Ahaura, on the Grey, were finally extinguished in the gorge itself, and the victors halted there and made earth-ovens and feasted on the bodies. Long afterwards, in the times of peace, the skulls and scattered bones whitened the ground at the camping-place, and that was how the gorge came to be called the Kopi of the Man-Eating.
It is also said that when the returning victorious war-parties were delayed by floods or otherwise in this hard country and found birds scarce, they would kill some of their slaves and cook them for food.