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


page 156

The earliest noticeable incident in the history of the Taranaki tribes, subsequent to their arrival from Ilawaiki, and after settling down in their new homes, was an expedition made by Turanga-i-mua (son of Turi, captain of the "Aotoa") which, considering the times in which it occurred, was a very extensive one, and it moreover brings us face to face with the fact of a numerous population living in this country at the time of the heke of 1350. Turi had settled down and built his pa of Matangi-rei, on tho south bank of the Patea river, when, probably some few years after, this expedition went forth. We do not know the reason of it, but probably it was due to tho same causes that have in later times originated so many others, i.e., the love of fighting for fighting's sake, or it may have boon due to some affront offered to Turi's people as they came down the coast. It is clear that Turanga-i-mua had a considerable body of warriors with him, and though no doubt some of the crew of "Aotoa" took part, the bulk of his party must have been recruited from the tangata-whenua, for the Hawaikians could not have been sufficiently numerous in themselves to have accomplished what they did—even allowing for exaggeration of deeds in the story itself.

Turanga-i-mua, accompanied by Kauika, one of the priests of the "Aotea" canoe, and their men, started from Patea, and proceeding to the north overland, made their way as far as Tamaki, which was then and for long after the general name of the Auckland Isthmus. Here, for reasons unrecorded, they fell foul of the people there living, whom my informants refer to as the people of Titahi, and defeated them with great slaughter in a battle called To One-po-takataka. This, says one of my informants, was tho first occasion on which his tribe (Nga-Rauru) defeated the Titahi people, but not the last, as we shall see. From Tamaki the war-party travelled through the interior of the North Island, and came out to tho East coast at Ahu-riri (Hawkes' Bay) where they again fell in with a numerous people, who are expressly said to have been tangata-whenua, when fighting again took place. The first battle fought was called Kare-po, in which Turanga-i-mua page break page break
Plate No 8.The old pas, and modern village of Nga-puke-turua.

Plate No 8.
The old pas, and modern village of Nga-puke-turua.

page 157gained tho victory. This was followed up by a series of sieges, during which as many as ten pas are said to have boon taken by the invaders, the last being at a place called Mimi-a-Rauru. These tangata-whenua, there is little doubt, were some of To Tini-o-Awa, Whatumamoa, or Rangi-tane, who then occupied all the Hawkes' Bay country, and who were descendants of Toi and Te Awa-nui-a-rangi, often previously referred to.

From Hawkes' Bay, Turanga-i-mua made his way south through the other Tamaki district (Seventy-mile Bush) and then ascended the Rua-hine ranges, by tho old native path, which, starting near the present town of Woodville, passed to the north of the Manawa-tu gorge, coming out on to the plains of the West coast, at tho present village of Ashurst. It was a terribly rough track as the writer experienced in 1872. Near the summit crossed by the track, Turanga-i-mua was set upon by the tangata-whenua, who were probably Rangitane, and after a great fight he was killed, whilst most of his party made their way home to Patea. After his death, the people stuck into the ground a matipo post to mark the spot where he was killed, and heaped up (ahu) earth round it, and hence arises tho name of this spot (and the track) Te Ahu-o-Turanga, or Turanga's mound. His body, however, was afterwards exhumed and taken to Patea for final burial. The party on reaching Patea found Turi in his pa at Matangi-rei, and when the news of the death of his warrior son was mado known to him, the old man went out of his house, and, as tradition says, disappeared for over. He was seen by his daughter, Rua-putahanga,* going towards the eliif that fronts on tho Patea river at that place. Tho Patea people say Turi's spirit went back to Hawaiki his old home, and it is very strange that tho people of that old home, Rai'atea, say also exactly tho same thing, and that his spirit was a serious trouble to thorn for generations after, even down to three generations ago, as I learnt at Mo'orea Island in 1897. Turanga-i-mua is said to have been a great warrior in his time, and appears also to have been a taniwha slayer, for we have the statement that he slew a tipua-whenua, or monster, at Taranaki, named Pou-poto—about which, however, I know nothing further.

It is stated above, that it was the people of Ti-tahi who were slaughtered at Tamaki (Auckland). Another account says it was the Wai-o-Hua tribe; but in this I think the reciter, knowing that the

* It is doubtful if this name is right, for it is the only occasion on which this lady is mentioned as a daughter of Turi, whilst it is well known that one of that name was a famous ancestress of these people who lived many generations after.

See Chapter IX.

page 158latter tribe did occupy the isthmus in modern times, has merely jumped to that conclusion. The Wai-o-Hua did not occupy their Auckland home for many generations after the time of Turanga-i-mua. And as to Ti-tahi, this man, according to the best traditions, flourished about the year 1600*, whereas probably Turanga-i-mua's expedition occurred about tho years 1370 to 1390. The probability is, that as Ti-tahi himself was descended from the northern Ngati-Awa, who at one time also occupied the Auckland Isthmus, and built many of the pas still to be seen there, my informants mean Ngati-Awa (or Te Tini-o-Awa) when they say Ti-tahi, i.e., the people from whom Ti-tahi sprung.

* "Peopling of the North," page 47.