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Lore and history of the South Island Maori

South Otago

page 179

South Otago

As we journey south from Dunedin it is evident that the Ngati Mamoe strain becomes stronger within the blood stream of the Nga Tahu Tribe, especially once the Molyneux River is crossed. In Canterbury the Maoris are apt to forget that many of them possess Ngati Mamoe blood, much of it acquired in the North Island, as shown in the principal whakapapa (genealogical trees). In dealing with Maori history of South Otago it can be shown that the Ngati Mamoe in battle often gave as much as they got. Wise men on both sides saw that an alliance was for the best, even if the Ngati Mamoe were in the position of junior partner. The so-called "Lost Tribe" of the West Coast Sounds were but an accumulation of broken groups from various fightings on both east and west coasts of the South Island.

When the Maori Hall called Te Waipounamu was opened on April 9th, 1901, at Henley on Taieri, several of the natives present were proud to declare that they belonged to the Ngati Mamoe Tribe. When the hui was held at Tuahiwi, North Canterbury, during January 1925, the late Mr W. T. Pitama, a member of one of the committees discussing ways and means of dealing with moneys from settlement of the Ngai Tahu Claim found it expedient to assure the members of the committee, that the interests of the Ngati Mamoe, who for three generations had supported the claim, would be safe-guarded. The further south one goes the more frequent is the use of the Ngati Mamoe dialect, especially in place names; "nga" being substituted by "ka"; for example the names of the tribes are given as Kati Tahu and Kati Mamoe. The writer here has endeavoured to use the common usage applied in the localities under review. The Rangitata River is always called such, not Rakitata, the Waitangi River on the other hand is always Waitaki. The monument at Old Kaiapohia erected by the Maoris of Kaiauoi bears in bold letters the name of the tribe "Ngai Tahu". It seems a pity when so few of the young native people speak the native tongue, that standard Maori should not be universally used in the South Island as a means of preserving the. language.

The Taieri Plain, south of Dunedin, hardly requires an introduction as it has earned the reputation of being one of the finest agricultural districts in New Zealand. So far as the pakeha is concerned the Taieri district dates from the year 1843 when Edward Shortland, sub protector of aborigines visited it. In 1844, Tuckett the surveyor and Dr. Munro, explored the locality, much of it by way of the Taieri River, page 180in Maori canoes as far as its junction with Scrogg's Creek at Owhiro. The Maoris divided the Taieri Plain into three sections, the northern section nearest Dunedin is Wakaehu, the middle or East Taieri is Owhiro, and the southern section towards Lake Waihola is Waihora. The lakes at South Taieri are Lake Waihora, Lake Waipori, Lake Tatawai, Lake Potaka and Lake Marama Te Taha (Ascog). The pas west of Lake Ascog was also called Marama Te Taha.

Over the waters of these lakes, the Maori lovers Koroko Whiti and Haki Te Kura, the southern counterparts of Tutanekai and Hinemoa, used to go courting in their canoes—but alas! their love making ended in tragedy. Koroko Whiti was the handsome son of Tukiauau, a Ngati Mamoe chief from Marlborough, who had suffered many reverses there, and had found at least a temporary haven from the relentless Ngai Tahu in the Henley district of the Taieri. Ram Island on Lake Waihola, known to the Maoris as Whakaraupuku was the site of the pa of Tukiauau. Haki Te Kura was the daughter of Tu Wiri Roa, a Ngati Mamoe chief of Motu para Pa at Taieri Mouth, who formerly dwelt on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. Tu Wiri Roa appears to have been a surly individual, as he neither countenanced his daughter's sweetheart, nor the hapu of the Ngati Mamoe Tribe to which he belonged. When Tukiauau and his son Koroko Whiti were passing down the Lower Taieri Gorge below Omoua Pa in canoes, on a move to Stewart Island, Haki Te Kura leapt from a cliff on the south bank to join her lover. Alas, her leap fell short of deep water, and she met her death on a ledge below! The cliff is known as Te Rereka-o-hakitekura even to this day.

The six miles of the Lower Taieri Gorge from Henley to Taieri Mouth offers quite beautiful and interesting country, something akin to the loudly praised Wanganui of the North Island. The writer is reminded of several leisure trips by boats from Henley with the Dunedin Photographic Society forty years ago. There is another Maori Leap on the Taieri River on its north bank, perhaps better known; it is called Te Rereka o Tuhokairaki. Tu Wiri Roa followed up the folk he considered responsible for the death of his daughter, and wiped them out, all but two young men Tuokioki and Hapetaua-ki-whiti. These men managed to gain the sympathy of the Ngati Kahununu Tribe of the North Island and a party of 240 men under Tapari taniwha came south to avenge. Tu Wiri Roa's Pa of Omoua was too strong to take by assault, so stratagem was resorted to. The Northerners set to and built a pa further up the Taieri River between Otokia and Allanton near the estate of the late Johnathan Shore at the Elbow, and for a time lived at peace with their neighbours. A feast was prepared and the folk of Omoua Pa were invited. The guests duly arrived, and a massacre of Glencoe resulted. The stay-page 181at-homes of Omoua Pa were next attacked and formed the menu of a second feast. The chief Tuhokairaki, while escaping, was speared at the cliff which bears his name. The Elbow is called Amoka, and the pa named Pa a tupari taniwha. The ramparts can still be defined. The northerners, their object accomplished, reurned to the North Island.

Motu rata the island off Taieri Mouth was for a time the abode of Te Wera and his people, after the abandonment of Huriawa Pa and Old Waikouaiti and prior to the migration to Stewart Island. Onumia is the name of the large but somewhat useless native reserve on the north bank of the Taieri River below Henley. Manu whaka rau was the name of a Maori village that once existed at Te Whata, better known to-day as Palmer's Gully. John Bulls Gulley is Whakarekeamake, the much-photographed cliff known as the Governor's Chimney is Te mai kau mai.

Away to the west from Henley towering high above the Taieri Plain is Maunga atua (the hill of spirits), named after a survivor from the Arai te uru canoe, keeping guard on the ancient Maori past. The Taieri was once the abode of a taniwha (water monster) which had its home up the Silver-stream Valley near Whare Flat. Its nest was a swamp, Waipotaka (round pool), but it was of a restless disposition so it journeyed down stream to the place where the town of Mosgiel, and the woollen factory, now stand. The hollow where the town exists was formed by its weight. Mosgiel did not meet the monster's demands so it tripped down the Taieri River. Wriggling and wriggling it made all the sharp bends between Allanton and Otokia. This part of the Taieri is called Te Rua taniwha and its former resting place at Mosgiel is Te Konika o te matamata. When the taniwha died it became Saddle Hill near Riccarton with two main humps named Puke Makamaka and Turi Makamaka.

Make hakikatoa is Outram, and Outram Glen, the favourite picnic resort, is Te Kerikeri. Waipapa a karetai is the deep pool on the Silverstream known as Barclay's Pool. On January 4th, 1896, two remarkably made totara canoes each 22 feet long with extra topsides were found at Lee Creek on the west side of the Taieri Plain. Lake Tatawai at the south end of the Taieri Plain was gazetted a native fishery reserve of 125 acres on March 28th, 1901. Native schools were established at Taieri Mouth and Taieri Ferry in 1876 each with 15 pupils. Te Raki and Kura were the principal men at the Taieri in 1844, and Rawiri Te Uraura in 1868. In addition to these mentioned, past leaders have been Tuarea, Te Kurihi and Tamaki.

On April 9th, 1901, the Maori Hall named Te Waipounamu was opened at Taieri Ferry by Henare Karetai and the Union page 182Jack was hoisted by T. Parata, m.p. Speeches were made by Mr Carncross, m.p., Mr T. Edwards and Mr Maire. Mr W. Brown was M.C. Mrs Tanner and Mrs Crane, daughters of W. Palmer were present at the function. Their claim for distinction being that their mother Titi was of pure Ngati Mamoe lineage through her parents Te Maukaumai and Te Rahui. The hall was largely the outcome of the zeal of Hoani Koani and his subscription list.

In 1859, the Maoris at Taieri Ferry had 20 acres under cultivation and they possessed 10 houses. In 1871, a native school was established at the Taieri. Miss Christie was appointed as teacher and for her services she was remunerated at the rate of £4 per pupil per annum. The pa at the Taieri has had at least one of its inhabitants classed as a centenarian—Matene Koroko Wera, who passed away on September 22nd, 1896, had reached the outstanding age of 129 years. Motu rata island off Taieri Mouth saw the end of Te Mauwi and his followers. These warriors were the die-hards of the Ngati Mamoe Tribe who refused to be bound by the alliance with Ngai Tahu, but continued to attack and slay members of the latter tribe on sight. Boulder Hill near Mullocky Gully, North Taieri is Tuaheka, and the Silver Peak at the head of the Silverstream (and South Branch of the Waikouaiti on its north side) is called Huatea.

The Kaikorai, the well-known stream near Dunedin which enters the sea at Green Island Beach towards Brighton, should be spelt Kaikarae. At its mouth are evidences of Maori camping places, and such exist at intervals south along the coast to the exit of the Tokomairaro River, at which place a rougher coastline commences. Inland from the town of Milton is the small village and stream known as Waitahuna, usually interpreted as "valley of water". It takes its name from a Ngati Mamoe chief who was slain there by the Ngai Tahu, after the disgraceful ambush and massacre of the Ngati Mamoe at Kauwae whakatoro (now named Hillend).

The district stretching from Lovell's Flat to the Molyneux River was once the abode of the ancient Rapuwai Tribe of which little reliable history now remains except that they made their landing in the South Island at Te Hoiere in the Marlborough Sounds, and were noted for the manner in which they swam. Taratu near Lovell's Flat produces an excellent coal for the Dunedin Market, but its importance to our subject is that it was once the site of a very strong Ngati Mamoe Pa. Te teke kapu was the place of making kai near by. Lovell's Flat Stream is Tuaki tata.

For the Kaitangata district information I am indebted to the kindness of my friend Mr Herries Beattie of Waimate, whose energy in preserving the Maori place names in published form will be more greatly appreciated as the years roll on. My own page 183visits to the locality were in the interests of a large Friendly Society, and the press, and I made no personal historical inquiries. The lakes known as Kaitangata and Rangitoto should be named Kaitiria and Roto-nui-awhatu respectively, the latter bearing the name of an ancient explorer. It appears that the name Kaitangata is derived from the fact that the Ngai Tahu Tribe dwelling at Kotore a hinau Pa, near the present town of Kaitangata, under the chiefs Te Rua a wai and Tuahuriri, had a fight with the Ngati Mamoe of Lovell's Flat over eeling rights on the lakes. Among the slain of the Ngati Mamoe was their chief Mokomoko, who was duly cooked and eaten. The Ngai Tahu by no means had all the victories.

We move on from the Kaitangata district to Balclutha, well-known to all Maori scholars by its Maori name of Iwi Katea (bleached bone). The Ngai Tahu suffered a crushing reverse at the hands of the Ngati Mamoe led by Kaurahi, Te Whara-whara and Marakai. The bones of the vanquished remained bleaching in the sun for years. Marakai with his bosom friend Tutemakahu were thorns in the side of the Ngai Tahu Tribe defeating them at Te Waewae Bay, Warepa and Waipahi. At Waipahi, Marakai captured the Ngai Tahu chief Matauira and instead of putting his captive to death let him go free despite the advice of his friend Tutemakohu not to do so. The gallant Marakai paid for his clemency, as later Matauira captured him while he was strolling alone at Otaraia between Clinton and Gore and promptly put him to death. Matauira met his own death near Moeraki in an intertribal quarrel. Tutemakohu of the Ngati Mamoe lived to fight the Ngai Tahu often and yet died naturally in his bed.

The massacre of the Ngati Mamoe which took place at Hillend, known as Kauwae whakatoro, was engineered by the Ngai Tahu leader Te Hau tapu nui o tu in order to eliminate those of the other tribe who did not favour an alliance. Taikawa, a protege of Te Wera, who had been saved by the latter in the fighting at Pukekura (Otakou) acted the part of the decoy (in a similar manner to the decoy animal at the abattoirs). The Nai Tahu closed around their victims like jaws around food, and the name kauwae whakatoro is descriptive. Te Hau tapu nui o tu died at Taumutu, and his legendary burial place is near the mouth, of the Selwyn River in Canterbury.

The large island known as Inch Clutha on the Molyneaux River below Balclutha, formed by the branches Koau and Matau has its claim for notice because it was the birthplace of the great leader of the South Island Maoris—Tuhawaiki of the early European era. This chief figures in the defeating of Te Rauparaha at Marlborough, in several land deals, the Treaty of Waitangi and the sale of the Otakou Block. Without exception all early European observers speak highly of his personal page 184attributes. He was unfortunately drowned in his canoe at Jack's Point, Timaru, in November 1844, as recorded by the "New Zealand Spectator and Cook Strait Guardian" (Wellington) of November 16th, 1844.

The Molyneux River which now enters the sea south of Coal Point near Kaitangata used to have its exit at Port Molyneux. Port Molyneux is now dry land, but in its day saw a considerable amount of coastal shipping. Its European history is admirably told by Colonel Waite, m.l.c., in his centennial publication. When Captain Benjamin Morrell, the American whaler, visited Port Molyneux on January 7th, 1830, he found 200 Maoris dwelling there. When George Willsher came on the scene in 1840 the native population had shrunk to half a dozen persons.

When Frederick Tucker, the surveyor on May 7th, 1844, was at Port Molyneux, or to give the place its Maori name Maranuku, he found the following Maoris dwelling there:—Toke, the widow of Tahu and aunt of Tuhawaiki; Makariri her daughter; Maihou and Tauwera, both old men; Raki raki, Kinihi Kurupohatu; and three children. The reason for so few inhabitants being found there, was the introduction of measles and influenza epidemics by Europeans. At Measley Beach, near Wangaloa can be seen hundreds of graves (as at other places), which according to Dr Ellison, a Maori authority, reduced the South Island Maori population from 30,000 to to approximately 3,000 souls; a greater scourge than war.

The old-time native villages near the mouth of the Molyneux River were called Murikauhaka, Otapatu and Matai pipi. Port Molyneux and the Nuggets (Tokata) are to-day favourite pakeha holiday resorts, easily visited from Balclutha by rail or motor. The Maori connection goes back to the time when a Ngai Tahu chief Waitai, joined up with a Ngati Mamoe chief named Rakitauneke, and commenced slaughtering the peaceful folk of the Waitaha II Tribe. This warfare started after Waitai left Pukekura (Otakou) and prior to his arrival at Mokamoka (The Bluff). A few of the place names date from this period. Taumata o te rakipokia is the hill behind the Nuggets Point Lighthouse. Campbell's Point and the creek there is called Owaea; Taumata kotare is the hill nearby; the spring at Hay's Gap is named Puna a wai toriki, and Jenkinson's Creek bears the name of Wairawaru. Willsher Bay, named after the early pakeha settler, is known to the Maoris as Te Karoro. Taukohu is the spur running from the Karoro Creek to Omaru Hill near Romahapa. The cave on the north side of the Lighthouse Point is Te Ana o Ngatiwairua, being the name of a hapu of the Ngati Mamoe Tribe. The hills behind Port Molyneux are called Tamahika. Parauriki is Kaka Point; Fisherman's Hill near Willsher Bay bears the name of Taita.

page 185

During the early fighting which occurred about 1680A.D., the peaceful Waitaha were hopelessly at a disadvantage. Yet bravery was shown by two of their chiefs Mokihi and Makutu, who went to their doom acting as rear-guards to allow their people to scatter, and some fortunately reached safety. Makutu was cooked and eaten on the site now occupied by the present school. Some of the Waitaha were caught and slain at Whawhapo Creek. Tuapohia Point is named after an unfortunate Waitaha chief. Peace appears to have reigned at Port Molyneux until about 1800, just about the time European sealing ships appeared off the coast. Warfare started when a section of the Ngai Tahu Tribe under Waitai II, Pokohiwi, Tamahiku and Taikawa, apparently as sport, killed off a few of the Ngati Mamoe. When the object was accomplished, Taikawa stopped proceedings.

The Maoris had a track from Port Molyneux to Clinton, going via Glenomaru, Romahapa, over a saddle to the Puerua Valley, over the Waiwera saddle to the destination. Roaring bay on the south side of the Nuggets Point Lighthouse bears the name of Whangaparaoa. Away on the coast further south is the Catlins River district which the author remembers as a photographer's paradise. To the old-time Maori this locality was the abode of the wild men of the forests, the "maerorero". The McLennan Range is named Puke maeroero, and the McLennan River is the Wai maeroero. The other river there, the Tahakopa, enters Taukupu Bay. The late Hon. Thomas Mackenzie in the eighties in this district found many evidences of former habitation, with ovens overgrown with trees. Within recent years collectors for the Otago Museum have made extensive finds at the north side of the Tahakopa River and opposite Papatowai township.

The estuary of the Catlins River is called Kuramea and Catlins Lake is Pounawea. The junction of the Catlins and Owaka Rivers at Manuka Point bears the name Makomako. There are elusive traditions of fighting having taken place thereabouts. Now-a-days curio hunters are generally found busy not only there, but also at False Islet and Tuhawaiki's Cave (Blow hole). False Islet has the Maori name of Otara, Jack's Island is Pihautakoia, Cosgrove Island is Pukemauku uku and Cannibal Bay is named Oraki utuhia. Chasland's Mistake is known to the Maoris as Maka ti. Clinton the well-known halfway stop by rail between Dunedin to Invercargill, was known formerly as Poupoutunoa. Travelling south there is the Waipahi, which can be interpreted "flowing water", "leaking water", and also as "slave water". Pukerau simply means "many hills". Kuriwao, the farming district near Clinton is translated "bush dog". At Gore we contact the Mataura River (glowing face) and pass into Southland (or Murihiku).