History and traditions of the Maoris of the West Coast, North Island of New Zealand, prior to 1840
Putiki at Whanganui. — 1829
Putiki at Whanganui.
The next event that must be placed in this year was the attack on Putiki-whara-nui pa at Whanganui. Mr. Travers refers to this incident, but indicates no date; but several circumstances seem to concur in indicating 1829 as the time.* Rangi-pito, to whom I am indebted for so much information as to these times, says it occurred four years after the arrival of the " Heke-niho-puta " at Otaki (see Chapter XV.) or in 1828, but 1829 seems to agree with other data better.
It will be remembered that the heke referred to above had been attacked by the Nga-Eauru tribe of Wai-totara river, and that a party of Ngati-Raukawa under Te Rua-maioro had been nearly all cut off on the Upper Whanganui (see page 402). It was to square the account for their losses in the above places that the tribes interested decided to attack Whanganui. At this period several large parties of Ngati-Raukawa had migrated from their homes between Cambridge and Taupo, and were living in close alliance with Ngati-Toa and Ati-Awa in the neighbourhood of Kapiti. Te Rau-paraha had also his own reasons for assisting the two other tribes; so it was decided to make a combined attack on Putiki-whara-nui pa—situated just opposite the present town of Whanganui, on the south bank of the river.
When the messengers arrived at Putiki pa, Pehi said to them, ' Whitia te korero, ka pehea?'—(' Deliver your message! What is it? ') The two men replied, ' Kia haere koe hi uta; kaore i haere mai hi a koe; engari ki te takitaki i taku mate."—(' It is, that you go inland; we have not come against you, but to avenge our losses by Nga-Rauru.')
Then arose Te Whainga of Ngati-Apa, and said, ' A! he tane koe; he wahine ahau?'—(' A! Art thou a man, and I a woman?') He was desirous of fighting the on-coming war-party. He went on, ' Whenei ake koe apopo me te punga-tai nei—kongakonga ana!'—(' By this time to-morrow you will be like this piece of pumice stone—utterly crushed!') taking up at the same time a piece of pumice and crushing it.
When the messengers returned to the ope, they reported the above conversation. Te Rau-paraha said, ' Ae! ae! ae! Kei kona a Te Rua-maioro!'—(' Yes! Yes! There lies Te Rua-maioro to be avenged!')
Although Rangi-pito seems to imply that the pa was taken soon after the war-party reached the place, Mr. Travers says the siege lasted upwards of two months, and this is most likely to be correct.
The party went no further, and did not carry out their intention of attacking Nga-Rauru. Their action had, however, given Whanganui abundant reason for reprisals, which they were not slow to act on when the time came a few years later.
During the time that the taua was besieging Putiki, a woman of Ati-Awa, who was somewhat out of her mind, suddenly appeared in the midst of the council of warriors, and shouted out so as to call the attention of the whole assembly, " Katahi au ka kihia! kihia!"—(" Now am I utterly cut off, destroyed!") The assemblage all took this as an aitua, or evil omen, and anticipated some calamity befalling them. The very next day arrived messengers from Otaki with the news of the massacre of some of the Ngati-Tama at Te Tarata, South Wai-rarapa, where this brave little tribe suffered very severely at the hands of Ngati-Kahu-ngunu. But as that incident falls in here, and as Ngati-Tama are one of the Taranaki tribes, it is necessary to describe the matter more fully.