Maori Wars of the Nineteenth Century:
Te Ika-a-ranga-nui,* 1825
Te Ika-a-ranga-nui,* 1825.
* This is sometimes spelt, Te Ika-aranga-nui. I cannot say which is correct; but the text is as I learnt the name.
It has been said that the Koriwhai, of Nga-Puhi, had been murdered by some members of the Ngati-Whatua and Ngati-Maru tribes, then allied, more through force of circumstances than mutual good will. This event brought to the surface all the old memories of unavenged defeats that Nga-Puhi had suffered at Moremo-nui, and other places before the introduction of firearms. So Hongi-Hika decided to aid Te Whare-umu, to whom Koriwhai was related, and at the same time wipe out their brave and warlike neighbours of Kaipara, who were at that time but ill supplied with muskets.
Messengers having been sent to the Hokianga people, they assembled at Lower Waihou to discuss Hongi’s proposal to join in the expedition about to start. They decided to do so, and proceeded to Kaikohe to join the other force.page 331
Te Torea i te tahuna,
Te mata o te harakeke;
Te kai kaha o te harakeke;
Titi kahukahu, ha!
The Stilt on the sand-bank,
The point of the flax leaf,
The sustaining food of the flax,
The taua proceeded by way of the Mangakahia Valley. With them was the Roroa chief, Te Hihi-o-tote, elder brother of the well-known Parore-te-Awha, or Patu, of Kaihu, Kaipara, both of whom were related to Nga-Puhi and to Ngati-Whatua.
As illustrating the manners and customs of the times, the following is introduced:—During this expedition via Manga-kahia to Kaihu, an aitua, or evil omen occurred. One of Te Morenga’s wives was seduced by one of Hongi’s party, at which the latter was very angry, and insisted on the woman being sent back to Waihou, Hokianga, to which place she belonged. On the way back by the coast she was killed by some of the Roroa people, and her body cooked and partly eaten, the rest being sent to Muriwai, the chief of Hokianga, who handed over the remains to Te Morenga, her husband. On the return of the expedition, the cooked remains of the woman were distributed to the chiefs of the party, who ate them, but Te Morenga would not touch them.
Te Whare-umu was very wrath at the failure of the above expedition, and blamed Te Hihi-otote for depriving him of an opportunity of avenging his relative Koriwhai. Not being satisfied to wait for Hongi-Hika, he gathered together his own immediate hapu, together page 333 with some others, and started on in advance, this time avoiding the Roroa territories. He proceeded by sea from the Bay of Islands to Manga-whai, the little harbour six miles to the south of Bream-tail Point. His force numbered 170 men, and the point of attack intended was the middle Kaipara districts of Otamatea, etc., where dwelt Te Uri-o-Hau division of Ngati-Whatua.
Hongi-Hika started from the Bay with a force of 300 warriors (some accounts say 400) in February, 1825,* and followed up the advanceguard, under Te Whare-umu, to Mangawhai, where he overtook him. In this taua were many divisions of Nga-Puhi, but I have only been able to obtain the names of a few of the chiefs. These were Hongi Hika as commander-in-chief, his son Hare Hongi, Te Whare-umu, Te Ahu, Te Puhi, Taiwhanga, Kaiteke (the chief tohunga) Moka, Te Morenga, and Te Tirarau (of the Parawhau).
With these Nga-Puhi people of the central and eastern districts of the Bay of Islands, was a contingent from Hokianga, under Patu-one, Nene, Moetara, Poutu, and others from the coast south of the Bay.
* In the “Orakei Judgment,” Thomson’s “Story of New Zealand,” and other works, this date is given as 1826, but the Missionary records cannot be mistaken in a matter of this kind, and they clearly state that Hongi-Hika left in February, 1825. The Maori account says Te Ika-a-ranga-nui was fought in February, but they do not know the year.
It appears that Nga-Puhi were expected, and the Uri-o-Hau, with some of the other hapus of Ngati-Whatua, had gathered together to meet them at the head of the Otamatea, or, as it is there called, the Kaiwaka River. This was at the head of the navigation, and not many miles from the nearest of the Uri-o-Hau settlements, and about eight miles from Mangawhai, the Nga-Puhi camp.
The Rev. Hauraki Paora tells me that on arrival of the news of the coming of Nga-Puhi, plans were discussed as to the best method of meeting their foes. Murupaenga, of Ngati-Rongo, proposed that one party should proceed to Mangawhai and there await the landing, with the idea of attacking Nga-Puhi at a disadvantage, but Rewarewha, of the Uri-o-Hau, overruled this, saying: “Nawai i mea me pena te matenga mo Hongi-hika”—“What an absurd idea to suppose that Hongi Hika could be caught like that.” So the plan was abandoned, and it was decided to meet the foe at Te Ika-a-ranga-nui.page 335
The country lying immediately to the west of Mangawhai consists of rolling undulating downs, bounded to the north and south by wooded ranges, but the country between these forests, at the time I write of, was open and covered with stunted fern and manuka. The soil is sterile, with a little richer land in the valleys, such as at Hakoru. Formerly this country was covered by fine kauri forests, as the natives tell us, and as is proved by the enormous quantities of kauri gum, or kapia, which have been dug out of it. The Maori, having no tools in former days to clear a path with, always accomplished this by setting fire to the country, and the result is that these fires, continued for ages, have destroyed, first the forests, then the vegetable humus which goes to form a soil, and hence the extent of sterile country north of Auckland. Eight miles or so to the west of Mangawhai the open country comes down by gentle slopes to the head waters of the Kaiwaka, one of the branches of the noble Otamatea, the most beautiful of all the beautiful rivers—or rather inlets, for the waters are salt—of the Kaipara harbour. There is a little freshwater stream named Waimako, running down from a wood, and at a mile from its junction with the Kaiwaka is Te Ika-a-ranga-nui, an undulating picturesque country, with a somewhat better soil than that to the east, and which is now covered with European farms. It was here the great battle was fought.page 336
This open undulating country that has been described was used as a toanga waka, or portage, by Ngati-Whatua, when they used to drag their canoes across from Kaipara to the east coast, at Mangawhai, and some of the Urio-Hau had been engaged in this work when the news of the near approach of Nga-Puhi drove them to arms.*
Whilst Nga-Puhi were encamped at Mangawhai, an incident occurred which is so characteristic of the race that I quote it here, although it has already been published in Mr. John White’s lectures in 1861. He says: “A priest named Kaiteke was accompanying a war-party in their canoes from the Bay of Islands to attack the Kaipara natives, unaware that the natives of that district were awaiting them with the intention of fighting at Kaiwaka. Encamped on the shore at night, he invoked the gods to reveal to him his success by matakite, using the same ceremonies to himself which were described in a former lecture as being observed when the priest watches over the sleep of his disciple to see if he will become adept in the mysteries he is about to learn. In the trance Kaiteke saw a company of spirits dancing before him and singing—
Ki mai te Atua o te Po,
Ko Mangawhai, au ka mate,
* I have a piece of one of these canoes in my possession, found lying on the ground by one of the settlers in 1888, and by him presented to me. It is of totara wood, and excepting a little dry-rot is still quite sound, although it had been lying on the ground for 63 years.
Kia kite au, te tai o te uru,
Kia kite au, te tai o te awa,
E ka kutia, ka wherahia
Te tai o te awa
O Waihi,* ka kutia.
E kata te wahine,
A ko Tu! ko Tu!
A ko Tu! ko Tu!
E pupuhi ke ana
Te hau whenua iara;
A, ka titiro au, ki te wao kahikatea,
E tu ki Kaiwaka, ra! ra!
A ko Tu! ko Tu!
Kopiko atu, kopiko mai,
Kopiko atu, kopiko mai;
Ka whakaaro Tupua
Hua mai te riroriro,
I! i! i! i!
The gods of night are saying,
At Mangawhai, I shall be slain;
On the moutain side shall I die,
When I view the wave of the western sea,
And gaze on the river’s rippling tide,
My grasp shall hold, my power release
The flowing tide of the river,
Of Waihi, will I tightly grasp,
And woman’s laugh shall say,
’Tis Tu! ’tis Tu!
’Tis Tu! ’tis Tu!
The land breezes blow
* Name of the strong current at Kaipara Head.
† The original Maori is from Sir George Grey’s “Nga Moteatea.” Mr. White’s translation is evidently from a different source, as it is not faithful in places; I have altered it to agree with the Maori as nearly as may be.
That stand on Kaiwaka’s brink, there! there!
’Tis Tu! ’tis Tu!
Backwards and forwards,
Hither and thither,
Act ye like gods! for the small
Summer birds are assembled in flocks,
Ah! ah! ah! ah!
This he explained to his men on arising from his trance. The line, “Trees are seen in the blood-red clouds,” signified the enemy waiting in battle; the “small summer birds,” were the enemy in retreat after the battle. For “Trees are seen in the blood-red clouds,” I translate literally, “I see in the distance the kahikatea wood, that stands on Kaiwaka’s brink,” which is equally appropriate with Mr. White’s rendering, and also true to nature, for the Kaiwaka is there bordered by tall kahikatea trees close to the field of battle. Tu, mentioned above, is the god of war.
The following is taken also from “Nga Motea-tea;” it is called a mata, and whilst embodying a prophecy, is also used as war-cry to accompany the wardance. It was composed by Kai-teke, the author of the first composition, and I have no doubt was used by Nga-Puhi as they started forth to battle. The first and third lines are sung by one of the chiefs standing, whilst the taua silently kneels on one knee, their weapons resting on the ground, one end slanting forward. The first ae! is shouted by all page 339 kneeling, at the second they all bound into the air with a great shout, and the remainder is sung or shouted in chorus with an accompaniment of horrible grimaces and contortions of the body.
Ka mate koa Kaipara, nei?
Ka mate koa Kaipara, nei?
Ka mate koa Kaipara,
Ka tu wehiwehi,
Ka tu wanawana,
Ka tutu te puehu,
Ki runga ki te rangi,
A ko te puke i Aotea
Ka piki, ka kake,
Ka taupatupatu te riri.
Will Kaipara be destroyed?
Will Kaipara be destroyed?
Kaipara shall be destroyed,
They stand in fear,
They stand trembling,
The dust shall fly
Up to the heavens above,
And the hill at Aotea
We climb, we ascend,
Destructive shall be the battle.
* In the life of the Rev. S. Leigh, it is stated, page 269, that Ngati-Whatua numbered 800 men, of whom 100 were armed with muskets. Hongi-Hika had 300 men, all armed with fire-arms. Probably these figures were obtained at the time from the Nga-Puhi people. Ships had not visited Kaipara at this date.
† The hoeroa was the weapon with which women were usually killed, by impaling.
* Mr. C. F. Maxwell sends me the following note as to the expression used by Hongi’s wife: “E Hongi E! Ka kore te puru o Taumarere.” The fight at Te Ika-aranga-nui was not in Hongi’s name, though he generally got the credit of it. Nga-Puhi had decided that in this instance Te-Whare-umu (of Ngati-Manu, who resided at Taumarere, Kawakawa, Bay of Islands, and was afterwards slain at Waima) should declare war—Ki-whainga—and have the honour of leading the first attack. It was arranged between the leaders that Ngati-Manu should give way before Ngati-Whatua and draw them into the open, when Hongi-Hika with the main body of Nga-Puhi would fall on their rear and thus take them between two fires. Turi-ka-tuki, Hongi’s wife, with other women, watched the battle from a ridge near by, and when she saw Te Whare-umu hard pressed and Ngati-Whatua gaining ground, she called out that Taumarere was defeated, using a metaphorical phrase well known to Nga-Puhi. It is possible that she was unaware of the strategy of the Nga-Puhi chiefs. Hongi immediately attacked, and Te Whare-umu perceiving this rallied his men, and the main conflict came on. (Obtained from one of Te Whare-umu’s descendants).
* Korahi was explained to me as an expression used by the chief, meaning “Let it be so big”—at the same time he indicated with his mere, a small space of ground, on which his men were to die or conquer.
In this battle Nga-Puhi lost several chiefs, amongst whom were Hongi’s son, Hare Hongi, Te Ahu, Te Puhi, &c. Moka was severely wounded by a bullet, but his life was saved by Tai-whanga, who carried him out of the battle to a stream, and laid him therein until the fighting was over. He subsequently recovered, and then took the name of Kainga-matā (wounded by a bullet) in memory of the event. Archdeacon Williams, in his diary (vol. i., p. 115), says of Moka, “This Moka is brother to Wharerahi and Rewa, a daring, impudent, self-willed savage, of considerable influence in the way of mischief, possessing, I believe, not one good quality.” It is said that seventy of Nga-Puhi fell in the battle.
Of the Ngati-Whatua who fell there, only a few names have been retained; Te Toko-o-terangi, who built the carved house just prior to page 344 Moremo-nui,* Te Ahu-mua, who formerly lived at Hukatere, on the Wairoa, Te Tokotoko, Houtahi, and Pa-te-tonga (the latter three belonged to the Taou people), Whakamoe-ariki, and Matohi.
After the battle, Muru-paenga, who was present, but escaped—only to meet his death a little time after—gave utterance to the following poroporoaki, or farewell, to Te Ahu-mua and others of his relatives who fell there: “E tama ma e! haere atu ra; pōpō noa ana te koukou, e tawaia ana e te tariroriro!” “O sons! Depart! The owl cries alone, being baited by the wren!”†
* See ante, under Moremo-nui.
† I am unable to explain the inner meaning of this, which is like so many Maori sayings, cryptic.
In Rutherford’s adventures, published in the volume for 1830 of the “Library of Entertaining Knowledge,” is a description evidently intended for this battle, but it is wrong in many particulars, and leads to the inference that Rutherford was not there himself, as he pretends; he must have heard the account from others, and that very imperfectly.
The Ngati-Whatua tribe scattered in small parties, Ngati-Whatua proper to the ranges near Waitakere, and eventually to Waikato; Te Uri-o-Hau, to the fastnesses of the Tangihua mountains; Ngati-Rongo, to their relatives at Whangarei, and to the wilds of the forests. The fear of Nga-Puhi prevented them from occupying their old homes for many years afterwards, indeed not until Auckland was founded did they feel safe. It is a well-known fact that those who went to Waikato were nearly all exterminated at the taking of Nohoawatea in 1825 or 1826. The old men have often described to me the state of fear and alarm they lived in during their wild life in the mountains of Tangihua, Mareretu, and the forests of Waikiekie; they rarely approached the rivers or the paths, but confined themselves to the page 346 wild bush, living on eels, birds, and the produce of a few hidden cultivations.
The following is the lament for those who fell at Te Ika-a-ranga-nui, as given to me by Puriri, of the Uri-o-Hau hapu:—
Tera te marama ka mahuta i te pae,
E Pewa!1 moe-roa; Kati ra te moe,
Maranga ki runga,
Ka tu taua ki runga te parepare
Kia rokohanga atu Te Kau-whaka-tau,2
Te nui o ‘Tiwaka.3
Tenei to pu, ko Wehi-ki-te-rangi4
Tenei to pu, Te-Ata-o-kaihihi.4
Kei apo to hoa,
Ka tau korua, ki whare-kinatu.
To matua nui ki a Tama-na-tina
Mana e wliakarewa te kakau o te hoe,
Ka manu ki te Tapuae-nuku.5
Ka wara kei muri, tui ana te toto
Te whana i te rangi,
Paenga rangatira, ki runga o Kaiwaka.
Ka whakarauikatia ratou ki reira.
Tautika te haere,6
Ki runga ki te kaipuke,
Ka u ra, ka koa ia kei riri poka hou,
Ho hau tangi kino
page 347 Ka mate mai te utu,
Te puke o Ihe,
E kai ana ahau, te roro o Hongi.
I haere koutou i te Tane o roto
I te riri whatiwhati
I roto Waimako, te moenga o te iwi e.
See the bright moon on the horizon appears,
Then cease thy deep sleep, O Pewa1 the slothful,
Arouse thee, and arm!
Let us the parapet man,
And in readiness be when the war-canoes2 come
With the host of Ngati-waka,3
Here is thy gun,—“The fear of Heaven.’”
Or take this,—“The shade of Kaihihi.”4
For should thy friends in unreadiness find thee
Together will you sleep on the funeral bier,
Thy great ancestor, Tama-na-tina,
Shall ply the skilful paddle,
And float you on to Tapuae-nuku.5
Let the past be forgotten, for now
The heavens with bloody rays are flashing
Above the chiefs that lay in heaps at Kaiwaka,
Where all-consuming death devoured them.
Straight was his course, by ship over the sea6
An avenger to seek, for Koriwhai’s death,—
For the slain that fell at Moremo-nui,7
He returned, with gladness, fresh war to seek,
Like an evil-sounding blast
From the son of the heavens.
Deep was our revenge, on the heights of Ihe,
Where Hongi’s head laid low.
Alas! ye warriors, ye are gone the way of man,
In the overwhelming battle of retreat.
On Waimako’s sacred banks
Lies the tribe in deep death-sleep.
One of the Maori (Nga-Puhi) accounts of the return of the Hokianga contingent says: “After Te Ika-a-ranga-nui we went to plunder the kumara cultivations of Te Uri-o-Hau, and discovered a wahi-tapu, or burial ground, with page 348 a dead body on it. Hupe cut up the body and brought it to our camp, for which he was censured by Patu-one and Nene. It was then cooked by Hupe and eaten, because the body when living had eaten some of his relatives.
“As we returned to Hokianga, after Te Ikaa-ranga-nui, on the way we found the place where a party from Wairua had camped, and we followed after them to secure their aid as allies. Some of this party had surprised some of the Kaipara people, whom they found on the road, and had there killed and eaten them, leaving the heads stuck up on sticks, grinning at the passer-by. When we arrived at the coast near Maunga-nui Bluff, we secured some roi (fern root) and toheroa (shellfish) to eat, and as we passed on along the beach we saw some more heads stuck up on posts.
“After we had passed along towards Hokianga a woman, of the Ngati-Whatua, descended to the beach, returning on her way to join her people. We, of the advanced party had passed on, but the rest of us were behind, and they caught and killed this woman who was subsequently eaten by the hapu of Patu-one and Nene. This was the last occasion on which these two partook of human flesh.
“The Mahurere hapu of Waima, Hokianga, also discovered a woman near there, whom they killed and ate. Her people had run away and left her hidden. The Mahurehure did this because one of the people of Waima had been eaten by Ngati-Whatua some time page 349 before, at Waima. Pou-aha was the name of the Waima man who was eaten. Plenty of payment had already been obtained for his death, but what was to be done when the chance of utu, or revenge, could be obtained? All hearts were evil in former days.”
On Hongi’s return to the Bay, which was about the end of June or beginning of July, he learnt that the Whangaroa people had captured the brig “Mercury” early in March. She was taken by the Ngati-Pou tribe, under Te Puhi. Hongi-Hika, fearing that such outrages would drive away the ships, and with them all chance of his obtaining more muskets, went, together with Tareha and his forces to Whangaroa, arriving there on the 23rd July, where, after some hostile demonstrations he made peace with Te Puhi.*
The news of the Nga-Puhi being about to attack Te Uri-o-Hau people of Otamatea had been conveyed to the Ngati-Whatua at Kaipara, and to Te Taou at Okahu (near Auckland). But it was too late for these people to render aid to their fellow-tribesmen. Apihai Te Kawau, however, on hearing the news of the approach of Nga-Puhi started from Okahu with the Nga-Oho and Taou people, but met the fugitives in full flight after the battle and he returned with them. Te Uri-o-Hau and Ngati-Whatua proper, and other defeated tribes, retreated to Waikato Heads where they left their women and children.page 350
Ngati-Whatua proper, Te Mangamata, and Te Wai-aruhe hapus, under the chiefs Rewharewha, Ohurua, and Whaka-oho, then raised a taua hiku toto, or party of revenge, and starting from Waikato Heads proceeded by way of their own homes at Kaipara, and fell unexpectedly on some of the Parawhau people belonging to Hongi’s army at Otamatea, and out of a party of eighty killed seventy and captured ten, who were subsequently liberated. One of the chiefs of Parawhau, named Tuhoehoe, was killed in this affair; his head and the flesh of the rest was taken to Waikato. Thus impedimented, Ngati-Whatua fled rapidly up the Waikato to Te Rauroha’s pa, at Mangapiko.* Te Kawau did not join in this taua.
At the capture of Mokoia Island at Rotorua, by Nga-Puhi in 1823, as already related, numerous prisoners of Te Arawa tribe were taken and carried away to the Bay. Many of these joined Nga-Puhi in the expedition against Ngati-Whatua, and fought at the battle of Te Ika-a-ranga-nui; some of these were Nga-kuku, Amarama, etc. They would look on this proceeding as strictly in accordance with Maori tikanga, whereby they obtained some revenge for their own slavery.
* “Orakei Judgment.”
* Mr. Wilson spells this name as above, and he is probably right. This is the same man as mentioned previously, as a swift runner, but the name is there given as Te Hihi.
1 Pewa was the name of a Ngati-Whatua chief who lived in the Mata-wherohia pa, near the battle-field.
2 The name of a war-canoe.
3 Ngati-waka, a branch of the Uri-o-Hau hapu.
4 The names of the two guns possessed by Ngati-Whatua at that time.
5 Tapuae-uuku, the rainbow, but here, I think, is the name of a place.
6 This refers to Hongi’s voyage to England in 1820 to procure arms with which to exterminate Ngati-Whatua.
7 Moremo-nui: see ante p. 31, the battle in which Nga-Puhi were badly beaten by Ngati-Whatua, in 1807.