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History and traditions of the Maoris of the West Coast, North Island of New Zealand, prior to 1840

Te Whare-Pouri's Adventure

Te Whare-Pouri's Adventure.

After the pa was taken, says Manihera Maka, Ngati-Kahu-ngunu fled northwards up the river valley and over the forest-clad hills, finally assembling at some of the distant villages, where, after some time spent in discussion (and probably after the Wai-kanae massacre), it was decided to migrate to Nuku-taurua, at Te Mahia Peninsula, where some of their tribesmen had preceded them. Thus the greater part of the Wai-rarapa valley was for a time without inhabitants, though some few lingered in their old homes. It was not for some years afterwards that they returned, being induced to do so by Te Whare-pouri of the Nga-Motu hapu of Ati-Awa, who went specially to Nuku-taurua to make peace and induce them to return. Te Whare-pouri was at that time one of the principal chiefs of Ati-Awa, and afterwards the great friend and protector of the immigrants sent to Port Nicholson by the New Zealand Company in 1839. He was induced to undertake this peace-making with Ngati-Kahu-ngunu largely owing to the following circumstances: Not long after the fall of Pehi-kātia, Te Whare-pouri was at Wai-rarapa with a party of Ati-Awa, somewhere near Te Tarata, engaged in making canoes; for the fears that Ngati-Kahu-ngunu would soon return to take revenge for the fall of Pehi-kātia were not realized at once, which gave confidence to some of Ati-Awa and Ngati-Tama to return from Port Nicholson and again occupy part of Wai-rarapa. It is said also that some of Ngati-Toa also came over and occupied part of the country near where Featherston now is; but after Te Whare-pouri's adventure, as detailed below, they returned to Kapiti.

Whilst engaged in the canoe-building, some of the women were out on the lake in a canoe engaged in eel-fishing, and amongst those on board were Pare-kauri, Te Whare-pouri's sister, Tama-tuhi-ata (mother page 457of Rau-katauri), and others. Just at this time the celebrated taniwha, Pupu-kare-kawa* (according to Maori accounts) caused the lake to break out to sea, as it occasionally does. At first the waters cut a subterranean channel through the shingle, then, as the water increased in power, it rushed out with great force, drawing with it the canoe in which were the women, which was thus carried into the breakers, where all were drowned. Not very long after this, and before the new canoes were completed, a party of Ngati-Kahu-ngunu under Nuku-pewapewa came down to ascertain if Ngati-Tama and Ati-Awa were still in occupation of the country, and discovered by the smoke of their fires the whereabouts of Te Whare-pouri's party. Te Whare-pouri was at this time engaged in building a house, and when Ngati-Kahu-ngunu attacked his party he was inside. The attacking party attempted to spear him by thrusting their long spears through the sides of the house; but he climbed up to the roof, and there held on to the rafters until help came from his own party by way of diverting the enemy's attention, and he was released from his awkward position, and so escaped.

Mr. Downes tells me that Nuku, the leader of Ngati-Kahu-ngunu, was anxious to save Te Whare-pouri in order that peace might be made between, the two tribes, and that when the latter escaped from the house Nuku and two fleet runners pursued him in order to catch him. But Te Whare-pouri was too quick for them; he flew into the forest, and finally jumped over a cliff and escaped, his pursuers not daring to follow him.

But Ngati-Kahu-ngunu did not go back empty-handed, for they captured and took away to Nuku-taurua with them Wharawhara-i-terangi, a daughter or niece of Te Whare-pouri's, who, however, was very kindly treated by her captors, and eventually returned to her tribe.

Mr. Downes also says that Te Ua-mai-rangi, Te Whare-pouri's wife, was captured at this time, and with the desire of cementing a peace between these two tribes, she was sent back to Port Nicholson with an escort, and handed over to her husband, followed later on by the return of Te Whare-pouri's daughter to her father. Mr. Downes gives the name of this young woman as Te Kakapi.

It was this kind action that induced Te Whare-pouri afterwards to make peace with Ngati-Kahu-ngunu, and for that purpose he went to Nuku-taurua, on the Mahia Peninsula, by sea—it is said by a sailing vessel—and then concluded a peace with the tribes there, not long after which they came back and occupied their old homes at Wai-rarapa.

* The Maoris say this taniwha used to live in the sea near the mouth of the Wai-rarapa, but when the lake was closed for any length of time, he used to migrate to the Wairau river, Marlborough District.

page 458The date of this event is uncertain, but probably it was between 1830 and 1834.

Te Whare-pouri's visit to Nuku-taurua was followed by a return visit of the Ngati-Kahu-ngunu tribe, who came to Pito-one, Port Nicholson, where Te Whare-pouri and Ati-Awa were then living, when this peace was cemented. An old Maori describes the event as follows: "At the peace-making held at Pito-one, soon after which the Ngati-Kahu-ngunu tribe returned from Nuku-taurua to their homes in Wai-rarapa, Tu-te-pakihi-rangi (one of the principal chiefs of the latter tribe) said in his speech, 'The people from Taranaki and Maunga-tautari (Ngati-Raukawa) need not return to their own lands. Although I gave you no reason to come against me from those distant parts to kill and rob me of my lands, do not be anxious about it. Live, all of you, on this side of the bounding mountains (Remu-taka)—you on this side, I on the other. I will call those mountains our shoulders; the streams that fall down on this side are for you to drink, on the other side for us. Behold! Here is Te Kakapi, daughter of my friend Te Whare-pouri, who will act as a go-between—she and Wai-puna-hau; they both are he ika toto nui no te wkatu-kura-a- Tāne, piki ake, heke mai.* The god of the white man shall be our god. Although they are a new people we will cherish them, notwithstanding that their weapons, the muskets, are evil. I judge them to be an evil people by their weapons. I have now set up our daughter Te Kakapi as a go-between. Hold on to this rope!' To this speech Ngatata, Te Puaha, Pakau, Te Puni, Te Kawakawa, Kuru-kanga, and others, consented to this peace made with Ngati-Kahu-ngunu."

* This expression refers to the high rank of the two women, who are compared to the whatu-kura, or treasures brought down to earth by the god Tāne, when he visited the supreme god Io, in the twelfth heaven.