Maori Wars of the Nineteenth Century:
It will be remembered that the above name has been applied to the expedition undertaken by Patu-one and others of Hokianga and Kaipara in conjunction with Te Rauparaha, when they reached as far south as Wairarapa, and during which raid the latter chief made up his mind to migrate with all his tribe—Ngati-Toa–to the neighbourhood of Cook Strait, in order to communicate more freely with the vessels, which about that time (1819–20) were beginning to frequent the Strait for the purposes of trading in flax, and in whaling.
* It may be observed that whilst the above is the correct spelling of this name, it is pronounced Mauināīna, a strong accent being on the second “a.”
* Rangipito, of the Ati-Awa tribe, is my authority for this; he is a very well informed man on his own tribal history.
From Rotorua the force passed on by way of Paeroa and the Wai-o-tapu valley to Orakeikorako, on the Waikato river, their advent causing great alarm to the people living there, for which, no doubt, there was good reason. They assembled and retreated to a cave in that neighbourhood which is said to be able to contain 500 people, and although the taua sought high and low they failed to find the refugees. Possibly this is the Alum cave near Orakeikorako, as trees were said to grow in it, but although large, that cave would scarcely hold 500 people. At any rate the local tribe escaped the usual fate of those living on the track of a kai-tangata or man-eating expedition. After some time, the force passed on across the Kaingaroa Plains to Runanga on the eastern side. Here, the news of their advance caused the whole of the Ngati-Hineuru tribe to flee to the mountains for safety. Proceeding onward to the upper waters of the Mohaka, the taua page 212 passed to the westward of the Titi-o-kura pass and descended to Te Toi-kuri near the Ngaruroro river, and thence directly onward to Raukawa hills, and descending by Te Ipu-o-Taraia, arrived at Te Roto-a-Tara lake near where Te Aute College is now situated. Here they sat down to besiege the pa of the Ngai-Te-Whatu-iapiti tribe which was living there under their chiefs Pare-ihe and Tapu-hara. One of my informants tells me it was during this siege that the kaupapa or causeway was built by the besiegers from the main land to the island pa, but it seems doubtful if this did not occur at a later date. Seeing that the besiegers were likely to effect their object and take the pa, Tapu-hara cried out “E! Kakahina he morehu”! meaning, let there be some survivors left; so the besieged took to their canoes in the night and escaped, that is, the able-bodied portion of the tribe, but many old men and women, not able to travel, were left in the pa, and became the prizes of the invading force, some, no doubt, being put to the usual purposes in such cases.*
* One of my native correspondents informs me that this was the first siege of the island fortress of Te Roto-a-Tara, but this is doubtful. I am inclined to think it was the third siege. Four times has this stronghold been attacked, so far as can be ascertained, but it is very difficult to fix the dates.
* Te Ahu-o-Turanga is named after one of Turi’s sons, who there built a tu-ahu to commemorate a victory he obtained over some of the Tangata-whenua inhabitants of New Zealand in the fourteenth century.
From the Manawatu Gorge the Amio-whenua force passed to the south-east through what is now the Pahiatua district, killing and eating all they came across, until they reached Maungarake, not very far from the present town of Masterton. Here they found the Ngati-hikarahui tribe living in their pa of Hakikino, situated on the Wai-nui-o-ru river some two miles south of Brancepeth. As the pa appeared to be of great strength, the leaders of the force decided to try what strategy could effect. They camped near the pa and sent messengers with friendly words intimating their desire to visit the pa, and exchange presents, &c. Te Hopu, one of the principal chiefs of Hakikino was desirous of acceding to these overtures, but Potangaroa a chief of celebrity, strongly advised against it. Te Hopu, however, having faith in the invaders, proceeded to their camp with several others, and there they were massacred. Po-tangaroa, seeing that his fears had been confirmed, and having lost many warriors in the massacre, decided to evacuate the pa, and retire to the broken wooded hills in the neighbourhood. This was effected, but the taua was too quick for some of them, who were caught and killed in the pa before they could escape. One chief of rank was captured here by the taua, named Nahi-ki-te-rangi, whose sister was Kuru-tene, mother of To-whare.page 215
From Hakikino the taua moved on southwards, eventually reaching Te Whanga-nui-a-Tara, or Port Nicholson, where the City of Wellington now stands, but what adventures befel them on the way, we know not, for all the old men who could have told us, have passed away. Only one brief note has come down to us as to their doings in this neighbourhood, to the effect that the taua assaulted and took the Tapu-te-ranga pa, which was situated on the little island that gives the name to Island Bay, near Wellington. The people of the pa would be some of the practically extinct tribe of Ngati-Ira, that formerly occupied all the district around Wellington.
The news of this expedition, however, had preceded it all along the coast, so when the taua reached Cook Strait, they found nothing but empty pas, or more likely villages, for there are few pas along this coast. The Muaupoko and Rangitane tribes had taken refuge on Kapiti Island; no doubt they had no very pleasant recollections of the last northern raid under Patu-one and Te Rauparaha in 1819–20. No one was found at Porirua, but a few refugees were discovered at Horowhenua safely ensconced in the island pas in the lake, at whom the taua were obliged to look in vain, for they had no canoes with which to reach the islanders.
Near Otaki the taua attacked a pa of the Mua-upoko tribe, but before they could take it, Tungia, father of the late Major Keepa, page 216 made a dash out with a few companions and alarmed the taua. But he and his companions were captured. Tungia shouting out at the top of his voice, induced the women in the pa to come down the river in canoes, and they made such a noise that the taua, thinking they were about to be attacked in force, retreated, and in the confusion Tungia and his companions escaped. This incident is known as WaiKotero.
The taua continued its course up the west coast to Whanganui where the local tribes were met with, and a fight took place on an island in the river called by Ngati-Whatua, Te Manuka. The taua was victorious, but only after a hard struggle.
Mr. Downes supplies the following as to the adventures of the taua in the neighbourhood of Whanganui: “At Mangawere (or Upokopoito, some twenty miles below Mangatoa) the taua, under Tu-korehu and Te Wiwi, came upon and killed some brothers of Te Anaua (later known as Hori-Kingi), and captured a woman named Korako, mother of Hakaraia. The latter was a small child at the time and thus escaped. In revenge for this, Hori-Kingi gathered his tribesmen together and followed one portion of the taua, which had gone up the Whanganui river and came upon and defeated them at Mangatoa, a place about two to three miles seaward of the modern village of Koroniti (Corinth), on the east side of the river. Hakaraia’s mother, when captured, pleaded for page 217 her own life and that of her child, promising that if allowed to live she would lead the party to a place where her brothers and other people were, and that she would give them a large quantity of greenstone, which was hidden away. This was agreed to; so she guided the party up the river till they reached Te Punga (another name for Te Arero-o-te-uru, at Mangatoa), where they all landed and left the canoes. She led them on into a deep gorge on the Mangatoa, hemmed in by perpendicular cliffs, and out of which there is no escape except up or down the stream, but which widened out at one spot in the middle, where the taua was advised to camp, as it was just about night. Korako managed, as soon as it was dark, to creep away unseen, and then made all speed to her own people, some of whom were living not far from the cliffs above, whilst others had been following up the party from behind. Thus the invaders were in a trap, and when the time came, though those of Whanganui in the rear of the taua were only a few in number, they were strong enough to hold the pass, whilst the other local people held the upper end. After a great battle only six people managed to escape out of six hundred men of the taua.” I think this number is probably much exaggerated by the local people —for the taua was still a large one when it reached Taranaki. Te Wiwi is said to have been killed, whilst Tu-korehu escaped. Who the former was I have no knowledge. This page 218 party was, probably, only a branch of the main taua.
Then they passed through the thickly populated districts of Patea and Taranaki, but what success they had against the people of those parts is unknown. We next hear of them at Waitara, ten miles north of New Plymouth, where the Ati-Awa tribe opposed their course in force.
The taua on passing Te Rewarewa pa (near the mouth of the Waiwhakaiho river, two miles north of New Plymouth) halted for a time, thus allowing time for a messenger to be dispatched by Tautara, who was the Ati-Awa chief of that pa, to the chiefs of Waitara telling them to let the northern taua cross the Waitara and then fall on them in force; but Huri-whenua of Waitara decided otherwise, and as the taua arrived at Te Rohutu, near the mouth of the river on the south side, he and his fellow tribesmen of Ati-Awa, attacked the invaders as they commenced to cross. Te Pokai-tara of Te Ati-Awa, who possessed a gun fired into Ngati-Whatua and killed one or more of them, which led to some confusion, and eventually caused the invaders to give up the attempt to cross the river. They now retreated to the pa just outside the present town of Waitara, named Pukekohe, but were again attacked here by Te AtiAwa, and once more the taua was forced to retreat. This time they turned inland, and finding the Nga-puke-turua pa—near the Sentry Hill railway station—occupied by some page 219 of the Puketapu branch of the Ati-Awa tribe, the taua attacked it with success, firing volleys into the pa which killed a great number of those inside. Ati-Awa had only their rakau-maori or native weapons to defend themselves with, so could not get at their enemies. The AtiAwa, seeing the probability of the pa being taken, decided to attempt an escape; they made a gallant dash for life, and succeeded in breaking through the ranks of their enemies, and joining their fellow tribesmen at Waitara. The Amio-whenua expedition now occupied the pa abandoned by the Ati-Awa, but had not been there very long before the owners of the pa, reinforced by the people from Waitara, were seen approaching. The invaders were now, in their turn, besieged by the Ati-Awa, but for how long is not known.
Then follows one of those peculiar incidents of Maori warfare so difficult for Europeans to understand. Several of the chiefs of the Puketapu branch of Ati-Awa, as well as some of the Ngati-Rahiri branch, of northern Waitara, were engaged in the siege, and as provisions fell short within the pa, the besiegers—in the words of my informant, “Ka whai kaha e ratou ki a Waikato”—“became possessed with a feeling of generosity towards Waikato,”—i.e., towards Tu-korehu and others. Negotiations ensued, and then Te Manu-toheroa, of Puketapu, springing into the midst of Tu-korehu’s warriors caused the fighting to cease. Then the chiefs of the Ati-Awa, amongst whom were page 220 Pekapeka, Whakaruru, Whatitiri, Korotiwha, Te Ihi-o-te-rangi Ngata, and Te Morehu, arranged that the beleaguered garrison should be conveyed by them to Puke-rangiora, a strong pa on the Waitara river, afterwards so celebrated for the memorable siege under Waikato in December, 1831.
But the troubles of the Amio-whenua taua were not at an end. At Puke-rangiora they were again besieged by the Ati-Awa tribe, and surrounded by a large force “as in a pig-sty,” hence the name of this episode in Maori history, “Raihe-poaka,” which means a pig-sty. Whether the Puke-tapu chiefs helped in this siege is not known. The whole of the transactions between the invaders and the Ati-Awa tribe are obscure, and now incapable of explanation, but it is clear there was a great split amongst the local people, some favouring the taua, others opposing it.
The siege of Puke-rangiora continued some time. The besieged, seeing little prospect of Ati-Awa moving off, and their provisions becoming scarce, decided to send to Waikato for help. The first party of envoys was caught and killed, but a second party met with better success. Travelling by the mountains and unfrequented paths, they reached Waikato, and laid the matter before the great Waikato chief, Te Wherowhero. The latter chief was nothing loth to assist his fellow tribesmen in their sore need, the more so as it fell in with the tribal determination to be avenged on Te Rauparaha page 221 for his evil deeds, done at Kawhia, and which eventuated in his abandoning his ancient home with the whole of his tribes—the Ngati-Toa and Ngati-Koata.
* See the story as related in “History and Traditions of the Taranaki Coast,” p. 366.
Te Wherowhero acted at once on Te Rauparaha’s advice, and starting that same night, marched through the dark, daylight overtaking the force at Waitara. They then made their way up the river to Puke-rangiora, and joined their forces to those of Tu-korehu and Te Kawau, within that pa. How long the combined force held Puke-rangiora is not known, but after some time a truce was patched up with Ati-Awa, and the combined Waikato and Amio-whenua expeditions prepared to start homewards. But, apparently, they did not return together. Either whilst on the way back, or directly after the return, Te Wherowhero heard the news of the great Nga-Puhi raid, under Hongi-Hika, which was approaching the Waikato territories, and he hastened his return sufficiently to take part in the defence of Matakitaki, whilst Te Kawau and the Ngati-Whatua force did not reach their homes at Kaipara page 223 until after Matakitaki had fallen, or some time after May or June, 1822.
Type of old Maori woman, Pare-ngakaho of Nga-Puhi, who danced with Governor Hobson, R.N., in 1840.
The Amio-whenua expedition is the longest overland raid that any Maori force ever undertook, so far as I know; the distance traversed could not have been much under 800 miles. All the time they were absent they lived on their enemies, taking their stores of kumaras and taros, and eating the owners as a relish. These, with fern root also, would form a considerable portion of the stores. At that time neither Waikato nor Ngati-Whatua possessed many muskets, so the bulk of the force would be armed with native weapons. This was the last of the northern expeditions to reach Cook Strait, though many to less distant parts remain to be narrated. It was daring exploits like this expedition that caused the name of the northern tribes to be so much feared all over the island.