Maori Wars of the Nineteenth Century:
Fall of Te Totara pa, 1821
Fall of Te Totara pa, 1821.
After the fall of Mau-inaina, it is not quite clear whether Hongi-Hika returned direct to the Bay page 191 or went on at once to carry out his threats against Ngati-Maru at the Thames. Hoani Nahe says that after taking Mau-inaina, he went at once to the Thames, and he gives the date of the attack on Te Totara as December, so the probability is that he went there at once.
At this period, Te Totara was the great stronghold of Ngati-Maru. The pa is situated about a mile south of the bridge over the Waiwhakauranga stream, on the road from Shortland to Paeroa. It occupies the seaward end of a long spur coming down from the wooded mountains to the east, which terminates in a steep face abutting on the mangrove-lined banks of the Waihou, or Thames, river. The fine grove of karaka trees growing on the western slope of the ridge, just below the old pa, is a noticeable feature from the present main road. which passes along the edge of the grove. The old maioros, or ramparts, of the pa, are still to be seen, and show that it was one of great strength in Maori warfare. There were not many of the Ngati-Maru tribe, however, in the pa at the time of its fall, though there were several people of other tribes. The following account was given to me by Hoani Nahe, of Ngati-Maru:—
“When Hongi-Hika arrived from the north, he assaulted and took the pa of Mau-inaina, killing the chief of that pa, Te Hinaki. From there he came on to Hauraki, and assaulted Te Totara pa, but failed to take it. They were two days page 192 and one night trying to take it, but did not succeed. Then Hongi-Hika conceived a treacherous idea with respect to the Totara, the pa of Te Puhi and his elder brother, Te-Aka-te-rangi-kapeke, and their numerous relatives. There were none but chiefs in the pa—the chiefs of Ngati-Maru—whose names I have forgotten. and remember only those of Te Puhi and TeAka.”
“On this same day, Pomare and his hapu (sub-tribe) returned home, because he was aware that Hongi’s designs were treacherous, and he did not approve of them. Hongi-Hika himself remained in their camp at Te Amo-o-te-rangi. with the main body. When this company of chiefs returned to their camp they reported to their chief Hongi-Hika, that peace had been made. and two meres given to cement it.”
Mr. J. A. Wilson, in his interesting “Story of Te Waharoa,” p. 12, says:—“Towards evening Nga-Puhi retired, and it is very remarkable—as indicating that man in his most ignorant and savage state is not unvisited by compunctions of conscience—that an old chief lingered, and, going out of the gate behind his companions, dropped the friendly caution, ‘Kia tupato,’ be cautious, or, on your guard.”
* Te Kahakaha was one of Hongi’s great warriors. He was shot at the Whakatere fight, near Waimate, in Hone Heke’s war against the pakeha in 1844. Maning, in his “Heke’s War in the North,” gives a capital description of his death, and of Heke’s attempt to rescue him.
† We learn from Marsden that the chief Waikato was also of the party, at any rate, at the taking of Mau-inaina, but that he did not accompany Hongi-Hika to Rotorua. Waikato was Ruatara’s brother and Hongi’s brother-in-law.
Mr. J. A. Wilson says:—“…It is said that one thousand Ngati-Maru perished. page 196 Rauroha* was slain, and Urumihia,† his daughter, carried captive to the Bay of Islands. where she remained several years.”
* In the “Orakei Judgment,” already quoted, Mr. Fenton says Te Rauroha was living at Mangapiko, Waikato, in 1824.
† The Rev. W. R. Wade says that on July 12th, 1835, he visited Kawakawa, and there found Urumihia on a visit from the Thames with many of her tribe. She had formerly married Kinikini, but was now separated from him.
Takoto ai te marino, horahia i waho ra,
Hei paki haeranga mo Haohao-tupuni,
Noku te wareware, te whai ra nge-au,
Te hukanga wai-hoe, nau E Ahurei!
Kai tonu ki te rae ki Koohi ra ia,
Marama te titiro te puia i Whakaari.
Ka taruru tonu mai ka hora te marino,
Hei kawe i a koe, “Te-pou-o-te-kupenga
Kowai au ka kite.
Kurehu ai te titiro ki Moehau-ra ia,
Me kawe rawa ra, hei hoko pou‘-e-,
Ki tawhito riro ra, ki te ketunga rimu.
Kaore te aroha, a komingomingo nei,
Te hoki noa atu i tarawai awa,
Tenei ka tata mai te uhi a Mata-ora,
He kore tohunga mâna, hei wehe ki te wai,
Kia hemo ake ai te aroha i ahau,
He kore no Tukirau, kihai ra i waiho,
He whakawehi-e, mo te hanga i raro nei,
Non nga turituri, pawera rawa au
Taku turanga ake i te hihi o te whare,
E rumaki tonu ana he wai kei aku kamo.
Behold! the ocean calm that spreads outside,
Fit weather for the cruise of ‘Haohao-tupuni.’
Mine was the fault that I followed not,
The foaming waters of thy paddles, O Ahurei!
Now in vain, Te Koohi point meets my gaze,
Whilst on beyond Whakaari volcano is seen.
The enticing calm spreads on the ocean,
To carry thee onward to Te Pou-o-te-kupenga—
O-Taramai-nuku, which I have never seen.
Through misty distance Cape Moehau shows up;
Then let me be taken some powder to buy,
To far distant shores, to the swirling sea-weed,
At Te Reinga; place of departed spirits.
Alas! this sorrow that writhes my heart!
Why didst thou not return, from the river’s far side?
This pain is like that of Mataora’s chisel;
Nor is there near a powerful priest, with proper rites,
Mete to asperge with sacred water fresh,
And end the sorrow that pervades me through and through.
Thou didst not listen! ’Tis I that suffer.
As I stand at the side of the carven house,
Whilst tears in streams from my eyes descend.
“So soon as they had finished their song. Hongi-Hika jumped up and speared one of them, and drank his blood. Both the boys laughed. for they felt no fear. Then jumped up another of the Nga-Puhi chiefs and did the same for the other lad. These were the same chiefs who, the previous day, had made peace with Ngati-Maru!
“The other people, Ngati-Maru and their allies, who dwelt in the neighbourhood, finding they could not rescue their friends in the pa, fled to the mountains, for the fear of Nga-Puhi was great.”
Thus Hongi-Hika avenged the defeat of his tribe at Wai-whariki in 1793 and other battles in which—before the days of guns—the Thames people had been victorious. In the fight at Te Totara Nga-Puhi lost very few of their braves. but amongst them were Tete and his brother Pu, the former of whom was husband of Aku Hongi’s daughter. The death of these young chiefs gave Nga-Puhi a pretext for invading Waikato the following year, as it was believed they were killed by some of the Waikato who page 199 were in Te Totara pa, as mentioned above by Hoani Nahe.
On the 19th December, 1821, three canoes belonging to Hongi’s expedition, under Muriwai, arrived back at the Bay with over one hundred prisoners, whom they took on with them the same day to their homes at Hokianga. together with many heads. The “Missionary Register” for 1823 describes with some detail the horrors which were perpetrated on the unfortunate prisoners on the return of Hongi-Hika to the Bay, which occurred on the 21st December, 1821. It is said they brought back about 2,000 prisoners. The dead bodies of Tete and Pu were also taken to their home for the usual rites to be performed.
Mr. Francis Hall on the 19th December, 1821, says: “Tete was the most civilized, best behaved, and most ingenious and industrious young man we have met with in New Zealand. His brother Pu, a fine young man, is also amongst the slain. This has created great grief in the family. Tete’s wife and Mattooka (? Matuku), his brother, are watched and bound to prevent them from putting an end to their lives. Pu’s wife hung herself on hearing the news. Hongi’s wife has killed a prisoner of war, which is customary on such occasions.”
Again on December 19th, he says: “We received the painful news this morning that Hongi-Hika and his people had killed more prisoners. making the number which we know of to 18 who page 200 have been murdered in cold blood since they returned from the fight.”
Another missionary says: “January 19th, 1822. Hongi-Hika came this morning to have his wounds dressed, he having been tattooed afresh on his thigh. His eldest daughter, the widow of Tete, who fell in the late expedition, shot herself this morning through the fleshy part of the arm with two balls; she intended to have made away with herself, but we suppose in the agitation of pulling the trigger with her toe the muzzle of the musket was removed from a fatal spot.”
* “Transactions N.Z. Institute,” vol. v., p. 59.
* See “History and Traditions of the Taranaki Coast,” p.366.
It is also well known that the ope of Tukorehu (called Amio-whenua, to be referred to later on), of Ngati-Maniapoto, with his allies, the Ngati-Whatua under their chiefs Apihai-te-Kawau, Uruamo and others, were at the date of the battle of Okoki, shut up in the Pukerangiora pa, Waitara, Taranaki. This ope was then on its way home after having come round by Port Nicholson; and after Okoki, Te Wherowhero and other chiefs of Waikato escaped to and joined Tu-korehu in the besieged pa. From here Te Wherowhero returned to Waikato, arriving in time to take part in the defence of Matakitaki in about May, 1822. We may, therefore, assume that the siege of Puke-rangiora by Te Ati-awa was from about October, 1821, to say January or February, 1822.*
* This siege of Puke-rangiora must not be confused with the more celebrated siege by Waikato in 1831.