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The Maori - Volume II

XV The Pa Maori or Fortified Village

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XV The Pa Maori or Fortified Village

The pa maori not known in Polynesia,—Pa and kainga—Old forts numerous in certain areas—Areas remarkable for remains of old forts—Fewer forts in forest districts—Situation of old forts—Different types of forts—Illustrations lacking—Names of types of forts—Methods of fortification—Extensive fortified villages denote extensive cultivation—Forts seen by Captain Cook—Ramparts, fosses, stockades and scarps as leading features—Defenders stationed on ramparts, not behind them—Series of stockades—The outer elevated screen—Watchmen—Oblique stockades—Fighting stages—Gateways—Entrance passages—Interior of fortified villages—Water supply—Modes of attack—Circumvallation—Sieges—Children sold as, and for food—The desperate attack on Awatoto. Approach of enemy force; its effect—Ceremonial pertaining to the building of a fort—The bird releasing act—Names of defensive works—Maori aptitude for fortification—Cliff forts—Island forts and refuges—Introduction of firearms—The “gun fighter's” pa—Enemies sell fascines to British sappers!—Fortified villages of Fiji; of Tonga; of Melanesia—Origin of the pa maori.

One of the most interesting features of old-time Maori life was their method of fortifying their villages. The defensive earthworks, of which thousands are yet in evidence, form a highly interesting study, and in no part of Polynesia do we find similar remains. Those of the Marquesas Group, and of Rapa Island are not to be compared to the pa maori (native forts) of New Zealand.

It were well that we commence this purview with a clear understanding as to what the word pa denotes, as used in this connection. As a verb pa means “to obstruct, to block up.” As a noun it is applied to a screen, anything used to obstruct, or to block an open space, hence to defensive works, and so a fortified village is termed a pa. An open village, having no defensive works, is styled a kainga, a word also used as meaning “place of residence, home.”

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In olden days a community often dwelt in both these forms of village. Near the fortified village would be situated an open one in which many of the people dwelt. When alarmed by the advance of an enemy force the residents of the kainga would retire to the protection of the pa, taking with them their chattels and any food supplies handy.

It is quite clear that, in pre-European days, some districts were much more peaceful than others. Hence dwelling in fortified villages was much more common in some districts than in others. When one notes the sites of old hamlets of bygone centuries, as denoted by shell heaps, the middens of neolithic man, many of them situated in places that could not be defended, such as the mouth of a gorge, then it is clear that, to permit of long residence in such places, prolonged periods of peace must have prevailed. This aspect is noted in the Wellington district, and the cause of such a condition is probably to be found in the fact that the old-time folk of this and surrounding districts were a more homogeneous people than was usually to be found holding so large an area of country. For these were all Takitumu folk, and, although they sometimes fought among themselves, yet blood is ever thicker than water. In some districts, where the bounds of lands of several tribes marched across fair lying country, fighting was much more common.

Of the fortified villages of the South Island there is little to record. It is quite evident that defensive earthworks were not employed there as they were in the North Island, and there was perhaps less fighting. Remains of old fortified positions in the south are a negligible quantity.

It must be explained that certain areas in the North Island are remarkable for the great number of old fortified places still to be seen. In some other districts they are much less numerous, and in yet others they are few and far between. The formation of some districts did not lend itself to the construction of earthwork defences. Thus, in the Wellington district, at most places that would have been considered good sites for fortified villages the rock is too near the surface to permit of excavation of fosses, and so we see very few remains of old earthworks. Those that are seen are very page 306 poor specimens, the local natives relying more on stockades. At the same time it is evident that the natives of the Wellington and Hawke's Bay provinces were never remarkable as pa builders. The Napier district has comparatively few remains of such, yet in many places there was no serious obstacle to excavation.

The districts that are remarkable for numerous remains of pa are Taranaki, the Bay of Plenty, and the far north, from Auckland isthmus northward. The Hauraki district is also said to contain many such remains, but they have never been described, and the present writer is unacquainted with the district. It is quite probable that the districts wherein the remains of old forts are most numerous were those in which fighting was most common. Certainly they are most numerous in districts where cultivation of food supplies was most carried on, and that means where the native population was greatest.

There is another matter to be noted, and that is the fact that the aspect of a district influenced the building of fortified villages. Areas in which agriculture was much practised were fairly open lands, if not level country, and in such places a pa formed the only refuge for a threatened people. In forest districts, however, the Maori relied much on that forest as a refuge in times of danger, in some cases almost entirely so. Thus, when the writer asked Tamaikoha why the Tuhoe folk did not dwell in fortified villages in former times, that grim, tattooed old savage replied: “We had no need to. The rugged canyons were our stockades; the steep ranges and dense forests were our earthworks.”

So that when a forest impinged upon a place of residence of a community the people looked upon it as a refuge, or, as the Maori would put it, as a fostering and protecting parent. In some cases a community would have a punanga in an adjacent forest, a secret place of refuge to which refugees might retire in the time of need.

The pa maori included four different modes of defence, ramparts, fosses, scarps and stockades. The pa tuwatawata was a village defended by stockade only, one or more lines thereof. The pa maioro was a village defended by ramparts, page 307 fosses and stockades, and of both classes of pa there were differing forms.

As to the sites of these old strongholds of neolithic man, the Maori ever preferred to construct them on a height, on a hill top, or spur, or headland. Many are situated on the brink of a terrace. On level land, such as a plain or a wide valley, the village builders would often select the bank of a river where there was a considerable fall to the water. Those situated on a ridge or spur are generally on a knoll so that the ground slopes downward from the defences on all sides. In some cases excellent sites were chosen on a projecting headland having vertical sides and but a narrow neck connecting it with high land. In such cases as these the defensive works are reduced to a minimum. Island forts were occupied in some places, the most interesting of these being artificial islets formed in lakes, lagoons and swamps. The Mua-upoko folk at one time had a form of aerial pa at Whakahoro, near Manakau, where several families lived in huts standing on platforms constructed among the branches of several lofty white pine trees.

Fortified villages of the pa tuwatawata type, that is defended by stockades, were of several different kinds. A peculiar and interesting type is that so much used on the Auckland isthmus and the long peninsula north of it. This method consisted of excavating the sides of a hill so as to form a series of terraces. These terraces were defended by stockades extending along their outer edges; no fosses or ramparts were used. Such large fortified hill villages as those of Mount Eden and One Tree Hill at Auckland must have accommodated thousands of inhabitants, and were assuredly highly picturesque places, with their numerous stockaded terraces.

In the Taranaki district one meets with the rampart and fosse, often combined with the system described above. The same styles are seen in the Bay of Plenty. The old Maruiwi and Mamoe villages at Heipipi and Otatara, Napier district, show yet another method of laying out a hill village. In neither place is a single long terrace seen, but the whole occupied area has been covered with innumerable linchets, diminutive terraces to accommodate one or two huts. At Heipipi two page 308 page 309 small earthworks were constructed, but all the rest of the village limits must have been defended by stockades alone, and the village was half a mile in length. One short, inferior earthwork exists at Otatara, another extensive hill village. Villages built on headlands and bluffs were in some cases protected by stockades only and stockades were the only form of defensive works possible on an artificial island.

One of the most interesting forms of earthwork defences is that composed of several lines of ramparts or walls, and fosses. In such cases stockades were merely an adjunct to the earthworks. Earthwork ramparts again were of two kinds. One form was marked by a low rampart, on the top of which was a strong stockade. The other form consisted of a much higher and wider rampart on which no stockade was erected, but the top of it was wide enough to accommodate defenders armed with long spears. To the height of such a rampart, say eight feet or more, must be added the depth of the fosse at its outer base, which would be probably not less than five feet.

It is a singular fact that no early observer has left us either a good description or illustration of a Maori fortified village. Descriptions in early works are meagre and inadequate, while the few sketch designs are even worse. Nor has anything worthy of note been done in later times to describe the interesting pa maori save the paper on that subject by Mr. W. H. Skinner published in the Journal of the Polynesian Society. That paper is an excellent one, but all too brief.

It is of much interest to note Banks's remarks concerning native life on the East Coast in 1769. South of East Cape the natives seen were living in the open, not in fortified positions. He states that no forts were seen on that part of the coast, but doubtless they existed. According to the evidence of others there was probably a fortified place on or near the Titirangi hill at Turanga. Banks also tells us that, in the Bay of Plenty and far north the natives were found to be living in fortified villages. In some places the remains of old fortified positions show that small positions only were constructed, and but few of them, as Porirua for example. The people of this page 310 place had the friendly forest at hand, and were apparently not often harassed by enemies.

The only old pre-European fort of which a plan and sections were published, as long ago as 1845, is the one known as Manu-korihi at Waitara. A so-called model pa erected at Rotorua is but a meet object for scorn. It is a combination of a modern gun-fighter's position and a European redoubt. A better one was erected by the Tuhoe natives; it has the aparua defensive system and a fighting stage to protect the entrance. A model of a stockaded village in the Dominion Museum, constructed by Mr. J. McDonald, is worthy of note.

Some of the old earthworks of England, according to published descriptions, must strongly resemble those of the Maori in general aspect, though larger. The statement that over 20,000 old forts have been noted in the small island of Ireland is one that we can readily believe. They were probably needed.

The following names denote different kinds of defensive positions of olden days:— Pa taua and Pa whawhai—Generally termed “fighting pa.” Fortified villages. Pa maioro or Pa manioro—A village with defences of earthworks. Pa tuwatawata—A stockaded village; no ramparts. Pa kokori or Pa korikori—An inferior place. A few huts surrounded by a single inferior stockade, as at a fishing camp, or at a cultivation ground distant from the village home. Pa tahora—Any second-rate stockaded village of a clan. Pa whakairo or Pa whakanoho—A main village having first-class defences, ramparts, fosses, stockades, fighting stages, defended passages, and carved entrance and main posts. Also protected by a mauri or talisman. Pa punanga—A place of refuge, as in a forest. Pa ukiuki—This expression denotes a permanently occupied defensive place.

The Maori did not favour forming a defensive position merely to be occupied in case of necessity, but chose to dwell within the defences in most cases. Any surplus population, however, might live outside the defences, to retire within them in case of an attack. Again such an outside residential area page 311 might have a single line of defence round it, such as a stockade.

Special names were assigned to all villages and hamlets, however small, whether defensive positions or otherwise. The human figures carved on the main posts of a stockade were usually named after ancestors. Superior houses, elevated storehouses and pits for food storage were also named.

Our list of pa maori or native forts may be divided into three classes, of which hill forts are conveniently subdivided into four minor classes:—
1. Fortified villages on flat land.
2. Hill forts.
  • A. Fortified positions on ridges and spurs.
  • B. Fortified hills, and hillocks.
  • C. Headland or promontory forts.
  • D. Cliff forts; often with few artificial defences.
3. Island forts or refuges.Stockades the only defensive works.

As observed, a flat land position may possess a deep scarp on one or more sides, as when situated on a river bank, or the brink of a terrace. The Manu-korihi pa mentioned above is a good example of the latter form. The edge of the terrace has been defended by a stockade only. The other sides have been protected by massive ramparts and fosses, still existing; stockades have, of course, long disappeared.

The A Class hill forts are, naturally, of many forms, according to the formation of the top of the ridge or spur. The native engineer was always keen to take advantage of the contour of the ground, hence old-time forts are of all imaginable forms, except rectangular; that form is but very seldom seen. In some cases a series of knolls on a ridge top have been fortified, but not the intermediate lower ground, unless it was by stockade only.

In seeking a site on a spur the Maori sought a place where the spur formed a knoll, or had a short level stretch. At such a place he would form the uppermost defence of fosse, rampart and stockade. He would then mark the lines of his defensive system on either side of the spur, according to the contour of the ground. Thus where an abrupt steep existed he would run his line along the top thereof. Where the ground had a more gradual slope much might be accomplished by page 312 scarping. The lower end of the fortified area was an easier task than the upper. The area enclosed was then excavated into residential terraces. Secondary defences would be formed by erecting stockades along the outer edge of the terraces, which stockades, having the steep scarp on the outer side, would be no easy obstacle to overcome.

Of the B type hill forts those formed on the volcanic cones of the Auckland district are fine examples. Another kind is seen on small volcanic mesas, isolated hillocks, as in the Taranaki district. In subdivision C we find innumerable examples in many districts. Some are points projecting horizontally from a terrace or plateau, some on headlands extending out into lake, ocean or swamp. Among cliff forts we find some highly picturesque positions, such as Paritutu, at New Plymouth, and Pohatu-roa at Atiamuri. Island forts did not admit of much in the way of artificial defences; water was their main defence, as against an enemy force not provided with canoes.

The one feature lacking in old native defensive works was that of regularity; nothing was regular save irregularity. The Maori ran his lines of defence where he thought they would do the most good, or be the most effective, regardless of what the general contour of such works might be. So long as he enclosed the required area of ground all was deemed well. Possessing only the weapons of neolithic man, and having no formidable missile weapons to face, he laid off no bastions, flanking angles, or traverses; those came with firearms in modern times. Scarps he well knew the value of, as also the effectiveness of a stockade at the summit of a steep scarp. At certain weak places he designed an extra line of stockade, or a fosse, or rampart, possibly a fighting stage. The entrance passage he laid off in manner tortuous, or with lateral defences, or a stage, and a covering stockade or rampart to blind the entrance thereto. His terraced hill forts showed no continuous terrace of one level; they were broken by abrupt changes of level, each such break being defended by a cross stockade.

All fortified positions of any size were subdivided into areas having minor defences. Where no terraces were formed page 313 then stockades, and, occasionally, earthworks, marked such dividing lines. Such sub-divisions were often occupied by a whanau or family group. When an enemy succeeded in entering such a position the experience must have been like that of entering a hornet's nest, unless the defenders were demoralised.

Many of those old fortified places are remarkably interesting, and many days has the present writer spent in tracing the defences of the hill villages of former centuries, fosse, vallum, scarp and stockade. The various devices to protect the main entrance are of special interest. Many of these long-deserted homes are covered with dense forest growth; some have huge trees growing in the old ditches. When accompanied by some old native acquainted with the history of the fort, he would explain the defences, and then relate stories of “…old, unhappy, far-off things and fights fought long ago.”

Several early writers speak of seeing occupied villages on low ground, but situated near the protecting hill fort. It was this aspect of protection that caused a fortified place to be often referred to as a kohanga, or nest. In some cases refuges in unpleasing situations were not occupied in times of peace. In times of danger the occupants of the picturesque hill forts made all snug at night. The makeshift bridges over the deep trenches were removed, the gateways were closed, the ladders against terrace scarps were drawn up, the watchman occupied one of the puwhara or elevated platforms secured to the stockades. In the far north the numerous remains of large hill forts, the many old store pits, the signs that swamps were once drained, and large areas cleared of stones to permit of the cultivation of the soil,—show that the country must once have supported a large population.

In many of those old terraced hill forts may be seen the sites of many, many huts of barbaric man, each marked by its takuahi or small pit fireplace lined with four stones, as they were left when the place was abandoned a century or more ago. Inasmuch as all these rows of huts, as well as the larger houses, were covered with thatch, it can readily be seen what a danger fire would be. Hence an attacking force often page 314 endeavoured to set fire to them, and non-combatans within the fort would act as fire fighters.

There is a marked difference in the size of old fortified places in different districts. In districts when cultivated food products could not be grown in large quantities one naturally expects to find small pa, but they are also found in warmer districts possessed of much fertile land. In the northern peninsula we find many large hill forts, as on the Auckland isthmus, where much of the land about must have been cropped. In Taranaki, however, where the cultivated food products of the Maori also throve, the old forts are of small size, and the same may be said of the old Bay of Plenty forts. The Napier district has but few of these remains, yet one, Otatara, has been estimated to cover 80 acres. Wakefield mentions an occupied pa, the outer stockades of which were a mile in circumference “and the various passazes between the different courts and divisions formed a perfect labyrinth.”

It would appear that the population of the northern parts of the North Island has, at some time in the past, been much more numerous than it was when Europeans arrivel here, but our information is not precise enough to enable us to speak with any certainty. Still some fortified places contained many people in missionary days. The Rev. Mr. Williams found 2,000 fighting men in the Whakawhiti pa at Waiapu in 1834.

Mr. S. Percy Smith tells us that a pa near White Cliffs was protected by a fosse 25 feet in depth on one side, the other sides being vertical cliffs. The Okuratope pa a Waimate was defended by three deep trenches and three line of stockade. It contained about 200 huts, as seen in 1815.

When the Maori lacked a hill site for his fortified village he would look round for a koinga wai or river bend. If the bank of the river was high and steep the site would be approved of, there being only one face on which the system of defence would have to be an elaborate one. Hill forts were more easily defended than others in olden times of rude weapons. Old natives have told me that there was much discussion and deliberation over the laying off of a new fort.

Tasman makes no mention of seeing any fortified positions on the New Zealand coast, and the attack of his boat page 315 page 316 by South Island natives seems to have driven him from these shores. We had no timid Dutchmen, however, in such men as Cook and Crozet, and to these and other early visitors we must turn for the first descriptions of the pa maori. The first seen by Cook was apparently situated on the hill near the mouth of the river at Gisborne. Banks tells us that “We could plainly see a regular paling, pretty high, inclosing the top of a hill, for what purpose many conjectures were made; most are of opinion that it must be either a park of deer, or a field of oxen and sheep.”

Cook describes a headland fort at Mercury Bay defended by rampart and fosse. From the top of this rampart to the bottom of the trench was a steep slope of 22 feet. The fosse itself was 14 feet in depth. There had been a stockade on the top of the rampart and another on the outer side of the fosse; the latter was so erected as to lean inward. The place had been burned, presumably by an attacking force. Now that stockade on the rampart would have been not less than 9 or 10 feet in height, so that this defence presented a very formidable obstacle at least 31 feet in height. Little chance would neolithic man have to pass this barrier, save by aid of fire or starvation.

Of another headland fort in the same district Cook remarks that it was defended by two trenches, a rampart and two lines of stockade. The inner line of stockade occupied the summit of the rampart, but the rampart was sufficiently wide on the top to allow of the defenders occupying it repelling an attack. The outer line of stockade was between the two trenches and leaned inward over the inner trench. The scarp presented by the rampart and inner slope of the inner trench was one of 24 feet, and to this must be added the height of the stockade, a barrier of about 34 feet in all. The account proceeds: “Close within the inner picketing was erected by strong posts a stage of 30 feet high and 40 feet in length, and 6 feet broad. The use of this stage was to stand upon to throw darts at the assailants, and a number of darts lay upon it for that purpose.” He mentions a similar fighting stage near the entrance to the fort. There were also some small outworks protecting small groups of huts occupied by persons who page 317
Fosse of a pa at Urenui, Taranaki.

Fosse of a pa at Urenui, Taranaki.

page 318 could not be accommodated within the fort. The other faces were steep slopes or cliffs having merely a stockade along the brink.

Within the above fort the sloping ground had been levelled to form terraces to serve as hut sites, such as are frequently seen. Each of these formations had a palisading round it, with small gateways; the communications were narrow lanes. The main entrance into the fort was a narrow passage 12 feet long, defended by a fighting stage. Large supplies of fern root and dried fish were in the place; the water supply was at the foot of the hill. In this account we see how a Maori village was defended. There can be no question of European influence in Cook's time, and it is clear that the Maori was an able deviser of defensive works.

Cook remarks that certain rocks or small islets were also occupied by the natives as strongholds in that vicinity. He proceeds: “Many works of this kind we have seen upon small islands and rocks, and ridges of hills on parts of the coast, besides a great number of fortified towns, to all appearances vastly superior to this I have described.” He was speaking of the Bay of Plenty coastline, and that onward to Mercury Bay.

The fort described above has been identified as that known as Whare-kaho (see Transactions of the New Zealand Institute, Vol. 35, p. 30). It was occupied by a clan named Ngati-Hei, and Capt. Gilbert Mair N.Z.C. states that it was taken with great slaughter by the Tama-te-ra tribe, who cut off the water supply.

Banks tells us that the stockades of Whare-kaho were 10 feet in height, and that of the fighting stage 20 feet; on it were heaps of stones and bundles of darts. He explains that the residential terraces within the fort differed much in size, some accomodating two or three huts, others twelve or fourteen.

The small entrances in stockades were closed by sliding bars or some similar device. Military writers have told us that the Royal Engineers could teach the barbaric Maori nothing in connection with these defensive works, but that they adopted certain Maori devices. The narrow entrance lane (ngutu) sometimes gave upon a long alley called the waharoa, from which branched off certain side alleys.

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The earthwork defences of the old native forts were ramparts, fosses and scarps. Bastions and casemates, etc., are modern introductions; they were not needed in the days of native weapons. We sometimes see the fosse without any rampart in old hill forts, as when cut across a narrow ridge. The common method was to utilise the spoil from the trench to form a rampart on its inner brink, so that the outer slope of the rampart and the inner one of the trench formed a single scarp. Occasionally one sees a low rampart or parapet along the outer edge of a terrace without any trench, but in most cases the Maori preferred to combine rampart and trench, with the trench on the outer side. In some cases one sees clear evidence of a stockade on the top of the counterscarp of the trench in the form of the decayed butts of large posts. By adding to that defence a stockade of heavy timbers not less than nine or ten feet in height the neolithic engineer had a very formidable line of defence as against assailants armed with weapons of the stone age. In some old forts we see two or three, even four such lines.

When the outer defence of a hill fort is a steeply scarped face, one sometimes sees a trench at the base thereof, doubtless to increase the height of the scarp. We occasionally see these outer scarps of hill forts upwards of 20 feet in height. A stockade of ten feet on its summit would give the assailants 30ft. or more of a defence to face, and in such cases escalade was almost impossible. Again, at the base of such a scarp is sometimes seen a fosse with a massive rampart on its outer side, on which another stockade would be erected.

We do not see any signs of earthen banquettes inside the ramparts. The Maori does not seem to have stationed himself behind heavy earthworks in pre-gun days. He preferred to stand on the summit of the rampart. It is possible that, in the case of a small rampart, the defender stood behind it, but then small ramparts were few in pre-European days. It was the musket that drove the Maori from the broad summit of his rampart to seek refuge behind it.

On level ground the outermost defence was usually a trench, and a similar one is sometimes seen in hill forts. These trenches are seen up to 20 feet in depth, and a width of 12 page 320 feet across the bottom. In most cases erosion has deposited much debris in the trenches, and no existing ramparts preserve their original form on the top, which have become rounded; in many cases the batters are degraded, in others they have been preserved by a dense growth of bracken or scrub.

In some old pa having several lines of earthwork defences they are close together, as sometimes seen in the case of an isolated hill, the summit of which was the residential area. In other cases these lines of defence are some distance apart, with residential areas between them. This has come about either through the contour of the ground, or as a result of increase in the number of inhabitants of the fortified area. In some old positions one seems to see that a place has been so enlarged by forming another line of defence to enclose an additional area.

The narrow space between a stockade erected on a rampart and the outer scarp of the rampart is the paekiri. It might be wide enough to walk along, but it was sloped downward and outward to render the passage difficult; also, in case of attack, it was liberally besprinkled with water in order to render it slippery and impassable. If any man attempted to make the passage then the prodding spears thrust through the palisades, and the stones showered on him, would soon discourage him. Crozet the Frenchman only succeeded in passing along such a narrow way by means of his muskets.

The term maioro denotes, not only earthen ramparts, but also a trench or fosse, thus recalling our word moat with its double meaning.

Awakari is a generic term for trenches, but the fosse outside an outer line of defence is called an awamate, while one inside is a whakaawarua. The primitive tools employed in forming earthworks and working down escarpments were the ko, wauwau or pinaki, rapa maire, koko, and okooko. The first was a digging stick to be explained later. A short form of this tool used in pa forming was the kaurori take or kaurori pa. The second was a short sharp pointed wooden tool used to loosen soil, the third a wooden spade, and the fourth a wooden scoop or short-handed shovel. The last was a scoop for earth fashioned much like a canoe baler. The loosened earth was placed in baskets and carried up to form page 321 the rampart above. Sometimes a form of creel of wickerwork, called a toi and toiki, was used instead of a flax (Phormium) basket.

The binding material used in building up ramparts would be bracken in most cases, sometimes manuka brush. Alternate layers of earth and bracken, carefully lined and carried up, form a sightly and durable wall. During the late unpleasantness of 50-60 years ago, our redoubts were built in the native style, and many still stand, albeit more or less eroded. The writer has a vivid recollection of that task, and the solidifying of the layers of earth by the tramping of a squad of men. But that was in the “seventies,” and very long ago. The alternate layers of long, twisted bracken were termed whakapuru.

Stone-faced ramparts and scarps are occasionally seen, and for these koperu and parihi seem to be descriptive names. There are a number of such places on the Hauraki peninsula, and they are occasionally seen elsewhere.

A common form of defence in hill forts was that consisting of escarped slopes, excavation of a hill side to form a steep, in some formations an almost vertical wall of defence. It is seen in conjunction with stockades (only) on such hill forts as those of Auckland, where deep excavations were made to form residential terraces. In other cases we see numberless cases of scarped hillsides where the aim was simply to form a steep batter as a defence; it would be surmounted by a stockade. In ridge positions one often sees the sides so scarped, while across the ridge, at both ends of the fortified areas, are ramparts and trenches, formerly supplemented by stockades. The slope of batters hinged upon the nature of the formation. Terraces were termed tuku, rengarenga, upane-pane, parehua, and whakahua.

The heavy timber stockades of the old pre-European forts differed widely from those of modern musket days, in that they were much stronger. The common form of stockade was erected in a vertical position, but occasionally they were so erected as to lean inward or outward. A superior place might have four lines of stockades in addition to ramparts, trenches and escarpments. In the case of a terraced hill fort, such as page 322
A stone faced scarp at Te Koru pa. Oakura, Taranaki.

A stone faced scarp at Te Koru pa. Oakura, Taranaki.

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Old pa site on a hill spur at Waiapu. Deep fosse at upper end of occupied area. Dominion Museum photo

Old pa site on a hill spur at Waiapu. Deep fosse at upper end of occupied area.
Dominion Museum photo

page 324 those of the north, there might be as many as a dozen, rising one above the other, each occupying the outer edge of a terrace used as a residential area.
In most superior fortified places one of the lines of stockade would be stronger than that of the others, and this was termed the katua. It was in this stockade that the principal gateway was situated, flanked in some cases by carved posts. The main posts would have on their summits a carved image of a man, grotesquely hewn, while the tops of the secondary posts were hewn into the form of large round or ovoid knobs. In some pa the entrance way was cut out of a huge slab or flatted balk, which towered high above the stockade and was adorned with carved designs. The orthodox series of stockades of a superior place was as follows:—
  • 1. The pekerangi or teki. Outermost. An elevated screen.
  • 2. The wītā.
  • 3. The katua. Main stockade.
  • 4. The parākiri. Fourth and innermost stockade

This was an ideal arrangement, and, as we all know, in many cases ideals are not attained.

The outermost stockade, or pekerangi, was apparently the lightest structure. It was a form of elevated screen. The palisades (wana, wawa) were lashed to the rails but not inserted in the earth. The bottom ends thereof were suspended about a foot from the ground. Defenders stationed within the second stockade thrust their long spears through between its palisades and underneath the outer screen. The latter being elevated the spearmen had plenty of play for their weapons, and so could swerve the point to right or left, as necessary.

The second stockade stood about two to three feet from the outer screen. As a rule there seem to have been three rails. These were lashed to the inner sides of the posts with strong tough, durable aka (stems of climbing plants). The palisades were lashed to the inside of the rails (huahua, roau). Thus, should an enemy force attempt to pull down a length of stockade by throwing a rope and bar over it, they had the deeply set posts to pull against, the rails being secured to their inner sides.

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Carved post on old pa site, Rotorua district.

Carved post on old pa site, Rotorua district.

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View of entrance to model pa at Rua-tahuna. Urewera district.

View of entrance to model pa at Rua-tahuna. Urewera district.

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In all stockades save the main one, the posts were plain ones, and of about the same size. They might differ in height, as palisades did, for the Maori never sought regularity in these matters. These posts were usually about six feet apart and ten feet or so in height. The taller posts of the main fence were much higher. These were not placed at regular intervals, but at angles and other prominent parts, and were sometimes as much as 30 feet in height, and 2 feet in diameter. The secondary posts of the main fence were numerous. The tall posts were sunk five or six feet in the earth, the shorter ones about three or four feet.

The carved figures of grotesque form on the tops of the superior posts of the main fence always faced outward. They were often provided with countersunk eyes of Haliotis shell, and were named after ancestors. The aspect of these images often betokened defiance. When a so-called model stockade was erected at Papawai some years ago, a leading chief decided that the carved figures on the posts should face inward. He explained that in these peaceful times there is no longer any danger of an attack on a fort from without, but that, so far as he could see, present enemies or dangers are all internal.

In Tongan forts, as described by Mariner, defenders were stationed on the tops of the ramparts, as in New Zealand. The Tongan pa was not of local origin, but a borrowed usage from Fiji. There was a close resemblance between the various devices of the pa maori of New Zealand and those of the hill forts of Fiji.

In some parts of the east coast of the North Island a system of defence consisted of a heavy outer stockade, on the inner side of which was a trench. Inside of the trench came another stockade, the posts of which were shorter than those of the outer one; then came an earthen wall, a rampart, as an innermost defence. No stockade was situated on the rampart, the summit of which was wide enough to accomodate defenders. Two methods of lashing stockades were employed—the apatahi and kauaerua. One is a single tie lashing, the other a crossed one, but both are running lashings.

The Okuratope pa at Waimate, as seen by Nicholas in 1814, consisted of a strong stockade as the outermost defence, page 328 consisting of heavy posts placed close to each other, and rising above 20 feet in height. The entrance was five feet high and two feet wide. On the inner side of this defence was a trench, and on the inner side of that again a rampart surmounted by another heavy stockade. A part of the hill showed a steep scarp of 15 feet surmounted by a stockade. This village contained between two and three hundred people. A water moat mentioned by Nicholas was a most uncommon feature. This account given by Nicholas seems to be incomplete, for the Rev. Mr. Marsden, whose companion Nicholas was, mentions three very deep trenches cut round the sides of the hill, one above the other, each of which was “fenced round” with whole and split trees from 12 feet to 20 feet high.

On the summit of this hill fort was standing a pourewa or lookout stage. It was a huge slab hewn out of a tree and was 20 feet long and 3 feet wide, elevated on a single massive trunk of timber 6 feet high. It commanded an extensive view of the surrounding country and formed a favoured lounging place of the chief of the place.

The pa at Waerenga-a-Hika attacked by colonial troops in 1865 showed many massive posts of puriri, or New Zealand teak, as some call it. These were about 18 inches in diameter, and of great weight, a fact that the writer is well aware of, inasmuch as he had the task of manhandling many of them and hewing them into square balks, during which process the broad axe sliced through innumerable leaden bullets. This timber, with totara, and heart of kowhai, when obtainable of required size, were considered excellent material for stockade posts, of so durable a nature are they.

Stockade rails might be either saplings or split timber; the most durable were of the latter kind. A strong crossed lashing secured them to the inner sides of the massive posts. The palisades lashed to the inner sides of the rails were roughsplit timbers of irregular lengths set in the earth and very firmly secured to the three or four horizontal rails. The following ditty was sometimes chaunted by men engaged in lashing a stockade, a task that had to be performed periodically:— page 329
Two carved figures that formed upper parts of stockade posts of a fortified village. Dominion Museum photo

Two carved figures that formed upper parts of stockade posts of a fortified village.
Dominion Museum photo

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“Tenei te tuwatawata
Tenei te aka te houhia nei
Tenei te mounu ko au kai roto

(Here is the stockade; here is the vine being bound; here am I, the bait, within.) This was also used as a watch song.
The labour of hauling the huge posts used in many old forts up to the hill tops must have been severe. It was effected by man power alone, lines of men hauling on ropes to the lilt of a time song. The lines of these songs were short, as the following portion of one shows:—

Fugleman: “Ko puke kiore.”
Haulers'chorus: “Auaia!”
Fugleman: “Ko waero kiore.”
Haulers: “Auaia!”
Fugleman: “Kari ki te rua.”
Haulers: “Auaia!”
Etc., etc., etc.

The haulers all exerted themselves in unison to these chaunts.

When erecting a heavy post one side of the deep hole was cut down to a downward slant, and a wooden slab placed against the opposite vertical side. The post was laid with its butt end over the slanting trench. The head was lifted and supported by a tokorangi, or “horse,” composed of two stout poles lashed together in X form. As it was raised higher, and the “horse” was moved forward, the butt end entered the trench and slid down it until checked by the vertical slab which prevented gouging of the earth. Two hauling ropes were then attached to the head of the post and passed over a gallows so as to get a lifting purchase, after which the heavy post was quickly swung up to another form of hauling song. One of these songs is said to have been that used in the night of time when the heavens were forced up on high; hence it must be of great antiquity.

A peculiar implement, called a matarau, was used in some parts when sinking a deep hole to receive a post. It consisted of many rod-like pieces of wood lashed firmly on to the end of a wooden shaft some five feet in length. It thus resembled a stiff form of birch broom. Having loosened the earth in the bottom of the hole with the ko, the delver took his matarau and page 331 thrust it down vigorously into the loose earth, a quantity of which would be retained by the many small tines of the implement. This was then drawn up and the earth disposed of by striking the tool across a block of wood. Ere long all the loose earth would be disposed of, and the ko again brought into use.

When the outer defence of a village was a stockade, that fact implied that defenders were numerous, plenty of men were available to prevent an attacking force destroying the stockade by means of fire. Defenders had a distressing time when attempts were made to burn a stockade; they had to remain at their posts with long spears in the midst of stifling smoke.

A strong, well-defended village was implied by the old saying of “He umauma tangata, he umauma rakau.” It alludes to human breasts and wooden breasts, men and stockades, that defy all attacks.

In some districts the pekerangi, or outermost palisading, the raised screen, was not vertical, but inclined inward at the top toward the inner upright stockade. This is the wita of the east coast. The only advantage to be gained by this device, apparently, was in cases where a fighting stage was erected on the inner side of the second stockade. Men stationed on that stage could then lunge with their long spears down the outer face of the inward sloping screen at any assailants. This outer double stockade defence is styled the aparua. We have notes to the effect that, in some cases, a trench was excavated outside the pekerangi, or elevated screen, into which trench the huata spears of the men of the fighting stages could be lunged. The expression wa patiki was sometimes applied to the space between two lines of stockades, but it does not appear to be a special term for it. The entrance to a pa was often a small one about four feet high and two wide, or even smaller, a person entering having to stoop and also step over a low form of stile or barrier, called the ahuriri. These openings were blocked at night with a series of bars.

Puwhara and pourewa (fighting stages) were elevated platforms which often formed an important feature in the defence scheme of native villages. They were erected as page 332 coigns of vantage, as an extra form of defence at the weaker places in defence works, and to protect the entrance passage. Fighting men stationed on these stages used three forms of weapons, one thrusting weapon and two missile. The long huata spears were a formidable weapon used from such commanding positions. Stones were kept piled up on the stages at all times ready for use; they were thrown by hand. When thrown by hand from a height of 15 or 20 feet they are a truly formidable weapon in close fighting. Missile spears were also used, crude forms, not carefully finished weapons. They may be termed darts. They were thrown by means of a whip, and sometimes by hand.

We have noted one of these fighting stages seen by Capt. Cook as 40ft. long, 6ft. wide, and elevated 20ft. above ground. They were built close against the inner side of the stockade, and, in some cases, they projected outward over the top of the lofty stockade. The stages were provided with a form of wooden bulwark, termed papatu, round their outer edges, as some protection to the men from stones and darts; these defences were about 4ft. in height.

Crozet has described these stages as seen at the Bay of Islands in 1772:—“Inside the village, at the side of the gate, there is a sort of timber platform about 25ft. high, the posts being about 18in. to 20in. diameter and sunk solidly in the ground. The people climb on to this sort of advance post by means of a post with footsteps cut into it. A considerable collection of stones and short javelins is always kept there, and when they fear an attack they picket the sentinels there. The platforms are roomy enough to hold fifteen or twenty fighting men.”

It was, as Crozet states, on one of these stages that the kaimataara, or watchmen, were stationed. They passed the night in singing watch songs. If the village possessed a wooden gong it would be suspended on the stage occupied by the watchman, and he would occasionally beat it. These Maoriland sentries did not remain silent; they strove to proclaim to lurking enemies that the village was on the alert. If considered necessary several watchmen would be employed.

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Some of the old watch songs are lengthy effusions, others are brief. When rendered by a powerful and harmonious voice some are very impressive. They are termed koko and whakaaraara, and a number of them have been collected.

Stages that projected outward over the stockade were known as kotaretare. They were extremely useful when the enemy employed anything in the form of a tortoise. In some parts the name taumaihi was applied to an elevated platform in a pa. The evidence shows that in some cases the projecting stages sloped upward to their outer ends. These stages were also a feature of village defences at Fiji, and also in the fortified places of Tonga, where the protective bulwark was also employed. The sloping stage was employed in New Guinea.

In some fortified villages a fighting stage was erected on one side of the entrance, in other cases there was one or more on each side of such entrance passage. Yet another plan was to have one immediately over the entrance passage, so that all persons entering the place had to pass beneath it. If an attacking force succeeded in forcing a passage through the outer stockade defence, which was sometimes effected by means of fire, then the defenders fell back on the rampart, taking up their stations on the wide tops thereof. An attacking enemy has been known to erect stages some little distance from a pa wherefrom to cast missiles into it. What may be termed fiery darts were also cast into besieged places in the hope of burning the huts, which would mean the fall of the place.

A small form of stage (pourewa) was sometimes supported by one pillar only. The support would be a tree trunk with portions of its branches to which the supporting beams of the stage were secured. If any heads of slain enemies were secured during a fight those heads would be suspended from the ends of poles lashed to a stage in a slanting position, or stuck on the palisades. This procedure was supposed to unnerve the enemy. In one fight of the “sixties” of last century an enemy garrison so exposed bodies of our dead, an act that utterly failed to unnerve the Forest Ranger type of bush fighter, as they proved to the discomfiture of the gentle savage.

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Gateways and entrance passages to fortified villages were never capacious ones, but those of the outer defences were often smaller than inner ones, so that a person had to stoop and enter them head first, as it were. The actual gateway or opening in the outer defence was the kuwaha, or waha ngutu. The overlap form of an outer stockade sometimes employed was the ngutu. Going along the narrow passage one passed through the kuwaha into the waharoa, or araroa, a lane-like passage leading into the inner area of the village. This lane was stockaded on both sides. Occasionally a ngutu was constructed inside the gateway. Entering the gateway one passed along a narrow passage parallel and close to the outer stockade or rampart, and then emerged into the waharoa. Occasionally several ngutu are said to have been constructed, so that a person performed a kind of countermarching when entering a village. This arrangement was known as an ara whakatara. Yet again the outer ngutu was sometimes open at both ends; it covered the gateway as a blind, to prevent an enemy having direct access to it. The gateway at the inner end of the waharoa is termed the waha tieke. When it was necessary to cross a fosse in entering a fortified village a few loose timbers formed the means to do so. These would be easily removed when necessary.

The passage way from one terrace to another of a hill fort was in some cases a sunken way that could be easily defended. Any form of short or detached rampart or stockade to cover an entrance way or weak place may be styled a takurua. I have heard of a form of tunnel passage constructed under a rampart in order to give access to the inner area. Also of several cases in which a form of tunnel was excavated leading from the interior of a pa under all defensive works outward to a bush gully hard by. This was evidently intended as a means of escape for the inmates should the place fall to an enemy, or be considered untenable.

In some old forts when a person passed through the outer defence he had to traverse the space between the first and second lines for some distance ere reaching the gateway of the latter, thus no two gateways were opposite each other. Having page 335 passed through the last there might still be a waharoa passage to traverse. At some old forts earthwork defences of small area are sometimes seen without the main work; presumably these were deemed to be of a protective nature, a kind of ravelin.

The pekerangi, or outer elevated screen, did not, of course, extend across the outer entrance to the fort. A form of hurdle was sometimes employed whereby to block a gateway. Another method was represented by horizontal bars, yet another by vertical timbers. The entrance might be at an angle, or in a tiaroa (curtain) of the outermost defence, according to the nature of the ground. The space above the small gateway was often blocked by palisades so as to correspond in height with the stockade on either side.

The fences often erected within a pa to enclose the huts of each whanau were styled taiepa kotikoti. The principal chief of a hill fort usually resided in its uppermost area, the toi or tihi. Prominent men were leaders in all work necessary to keep the village clean, and it was not an uncommon occurrence for them to join in such tasks. In every village there was one or more places where refuse was thrown. If a cliff or steep slope were handy the midden was probably situated thereat, all rubbish being thrown over the cliff head. Latrines (paepae, turuma) were situated at similar places. At places where shellfish entered into the food supply are still seen many old middens.

The water supply of hill forts was often a serious question. Inasmuch as these forts were constructed on hill peaks and ridge tops, it follows that few had a water supply situated within the lines of defence. This was the weak point of the hill forts of the Maori. If an attacking force decided to besiege a fortified village it would cut off the water supply, which would in the end mean disaster to the inmates of the place. Yet cases are on record in which such places have held out for many months, often suffering very severe privations. At the same time long-drawn sieges do not appear to have been by any means a common practice, to judge from tribal traditions. In some cases the food supply became a serious question with the besiegers.

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Were not these isles specially favoured as to rainfall and general humidity, the Maori would have been much worse off in his hill forts. Many times, when seeking the water supply of an old fort situated on a high range or isolated peak, has the writer found permanent springs of water within a hundred yards of the outer defences. Tradition tells us of desperate sorties made from besieged villages for the purpose of obtaining water. We are told that water was stored to some extent in a village that expected an attack. We see at some of the long abandoned pa sites a trench extending down hill to the nearest water supply. These trenches were either covered ways or protected by stockades on either side. This device is seen at the Ruaki pa, near Hawera, and at Hau-kapua, near Ruatoki.

When the Waikato natives were besieging the otaka pa at New Plymouth, they adopted an ingenious device whereby to cut off the water supply of the fort. The besieged folk had access to their water supply, a small stream, and the water of this stream was rendered undrinkable by the attacking force. Having succeeded in slaying a woman of the besieged people, they cut up her body ready to put in the oven, and washed the portions in the waters of the stream on the up-stream side of the pa. This act rendered the waters tapu to the besieged, who could no longer drink of it. The besieged were fortunate in being able to obtain water by sinking a well.

Wooden vessels, termed kumete, kuta wai, koehe wai, etc., were sometimes used to store water in. They were of a considerable size. Gourd vessels were used for the same purpose. In a few cases we know that water was conserved in pits excavated in clay or other deposits impervious to water. In some cases they were filled by hand, in other we are told that storm water was conducted into them, as at Tunu-haere pa, on the Whanganui river. This fortified village was occupied as late as the year 1845. The Maori was unfortunate in that he was unable to conserve for drinking purposes rain water from the roof of a dwelling hut. Such an act would be disastrous, for it would be an infringement of tapu. When a spring of water was situated near the outer lines of a fort an extra line of defence might be carried round it.

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When one face of a fort consisted of a vertical cliff, at the base of which was a river or lake, a peculiar contrivance was sometimes employed to obtain water in times of stress. A stout sapling with a crotched head was set up at the brink of the cliff, leaning outward. By means of a rope running in the crotch a vessel enclosed in a wicker-work creel was lowered into the water and then hauled up to the cliff head.

So strong were all well-constructed forts that they were seldom taken by assault. They were sometimes taken by surprise, occasionally by siege, or fire. An attacking force always endeavoured to approach unseen, and would probably halt some distance away and send out scouts under cover of night to examine the defences of the village to be attacked. It sometimes occurred that a weak place would be found whereat an entry might be made stealthily by means of a rude form of ladder. In other cases forts have been caught napping with no watchmen on duty. When a Tuhoe force approached a Taupo fort at Hamaria one of the scouts entered the place and found the watchman asleep on a stage, whereupon he killed him, and took up his task of beating the gong.

Sapping was occasionally practised by the Maori in easily worked soil, with a view to undermining a rampart or destroying a stockade by means of fire, or by the rou. The latter was the rope and bar method of pulling down a length of stockade. The kopani was an artificial mound of earth constructed by an attacking force from which to hurl whip spears, stones and firebrands into a pa. If an enemy managed to reach the last or inner defence women would take part in the fray in some cases. The roofs of huts near outer lines of defence were sometimes covered with earth as a precaution against destruction by fire. Terrible scenes occurred when an enemy succeeded in entering a fort.

A few cases are recorded in which a position in a swamp or shallow lake has been taken by means of a causeway constructed by the assailants. When Waikato besieged Te Ruaki pa, near Hawera, they erected a stockade so as to include the whole place, then sat down before it for three months, when it fell. Many of its occupants were slain, and many enslaved. When Ati-Awa besieged Waikato at Puke-rangiora they served page 338 them in exactly the same way, and dubbed it te raihe poaka (the pig sty), thus adding insult to injury. This well-known siege continued for seven months.

In some cases an attacking force erected a number of small redoubts around a besieged village, as at Toka-a-kuku in 1836. This place was so large that the people had cultivation grounds inside it; hence it was not taken.

When the Raukawa tribe invaded the vale of Whanganui and captured the Ma-kokoti pa, they took up their quarters therein, but remained somewhat too long, for the local natives reassembled and besieged the place. This siege continued until the garrison was in desperate straits for food, and so commenced to barter their children to the besieging force for food. They sold the girls first as being the least valuable. These children would probably be slain and eaten; in some cases they were spared. They were lowered down the cliffs in baskets. At last the girls were exhausted, then the boys had to go the same way, those of lower rank being sold first. When Apanui, a boy of high rank, was sent down the cliff in a basket, the besiegers knew that the plight of the besieged must be desperate indeed. When the chiefs of the local force found that the besieged were reduced to selling boys of chieftain rank, then occurred one of those strange incidents that tend to illustrate Maori character; they raised the siege, made peace with the invaders, and allowed them to return to their homes. Lest readers should marvel as to where the bartered children came from, a former statement is here repeated, that, in some cases, both women and children were allowed to accompany a raiding force. The writer has known natives who, as children, had marched, or been carried, from Te Whaiti to the Wairoa, over rough, high, forest ranges, on raids.

Several cases are on record of women having successfully defended a fortified village during the absence of their men folk. Did not women so hold the Mawhai pa at Tokomaru against Hauhau hostiles in the “sixties” of last century?

In some case escalading parties would be active, using rude pole ladders or driving wooden pegs into steep scarps to serve as steps. The overhead defence, however, was usually too strong for these activities.

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An extraordinary story is told of the Awatoto pa at Heretaunga that I must decline to vouch for, but will here relate as an entertaining narrative. An attacking force long pressed an attack on this position without success. Then a desperate plan was evolved and carried out. Four large moari swings (for which see chapter on games) were erected close to four different faces of the fortified village. A band of toa, or famed fighters, proposed to swing themselves over the defences in quick succession, and so make a desperate attempt to take the place, or give their fellows an opportunity to pass the defences in a less heroic manner. The first batch, foredoomed to dogs and vultures, swung over the defences and dropped inside the defended area. The Homeric combat that ensued was a brief one, but the “sea standing rocks” fought desperately to the last, even as the ururoa shark does. Others quickly followed them, to meet with a similar fate. Two of the slain desperados were Kahutia and Turongo-tua. The desperate attempt failed.

In his “Old New Zealand” the late Judge Maning has left us a most realistic account of the renovation and preparation of a pa for an expected attack. The work went on all night by the light of many fires, and the adventurous young Milesian doubtless enjoyed it.

In “The Peopling of the North” we are told that the people of the Mangere pa, when expecting an attack, covered all the approaches thereto with fragile shells so as to be able to hear the approach of enemies advancing under cover of darkness. They did so advance, but brought many garments with them and spread them over the shells to muffle the sound made by the advance.

When an advancing enemy was reported, a pa and its surrounding hamlets hummed with activity. All able men set to work preparing modes and weapons of defence, strengthening stockades, throwing earth on thatched roofs, wetting the paekiri, and a hundred other tasks. Non-combatants of both sexes set frantically to work carrying supplies of food and water up to the fort. All dwellers in undefended hamlets abandoned their homes and streamed up to the hill fort, carrying their penates, food supplies, and fuel. A scene of apparently page 340 wild confusion, but, ere Tane thrust the harbingers of dawn up above the ranges, that pa would be ready for business.

As for a vivid story of an attack on and defence of a pa maori, these things be too long to relate here, but the late Colonel McDonnell has left us the best of such accounts in that of the attack on Karewa at Hokianga, and its repulse, when the chief of the fort cried to the flying enemy: “Run! Fly! I will melt the marrow of your backbones whereby to light your spirits down to Hades.” And many, many heads adorned the towering stockades of Karewa.

A small force of natives often calmly awaited attack by a much superior force. When 1,600 men attacked Te Tumu in the “thirties” of last century, there were but 100 men in that fort, of whom 67 were killed. Of 200 women and children 180 were killed or enslaved.

We have seen that the Maori relied much on spiritual help when engaged in fighting, hence the custom of depositing a mauri in a pa as a protection. For that innocent looking stone became an abiding place for the spirit gods under whose care the village was placed.

As in the case of the fashioning of a superior canoe, or the building of a superior house, so in that of construction of the defences of a superior pa, the work was carried on under strict tapu. No food might be taken near the site, no women or non-workers might approach it.

The first post of the defences set up was erected in the early morning, and under its base was placed the stone talisman of the new village. As the first post was swung up, an adept stood on the scaffold used for the purpose, and chaunted: “Moe araara, moe araara, ka tau te manu ki te pae Koheri, kohera, ka tiritiria, ka reareaia tama ki tona hiwa Hiwa! Hiwa!”

This effusion breathes of alertness, a quality to be desired in the inmates of the new village and its spiritual protectors. Meanwhile the people remained within their huts, nor dared to kindle fire or partake of food before the conclusion of the ceremony. Perhaps the last pa erected with the old-time ceremonial on the east coast was the Pa-whakairo, near Taradale. This was about the year 1852. On that occasion Paora Kai- page 341 whata chaunted the above cry, standing in a nude state on the scaffold with a greenstone patu named Hinepare in his hand.

A ritual formula was recited by the priestly expert who placed the whatu, or mauri under the first post erected. The wording of one of these karakia before me is too archaic to admit of translation. One line is a statement that the new pa belongs to a certain spirit god. It invokes prosperity for the new village, strength of defence, safety for the inmates.

The ceremonial raising of the first post took place just as the rising sun shone on the scene. The task of constructing the defences was a long one. When completed, then one house was erected within the fort prior to the ceremonial freeing of the pa from tapu. After that ceremony was over a feast was held and all people might enter the place and arrange as to where their allotments should be.

A young, unmarried woman was selected as the first person to enter the defences during the ceremony, and she would be a member of a superior family. It was held to be quite an honour to be selected as a wahine rahiri for this rite. She represents the non-aggressive female element. The priestly expert instructs her as to her duties. Her first act is to proceed to the entrance gateway of the pa and there seat herself on the paetaku, or sill, with a foot on either side of it, and looking towards the sun. The priest, standing by her side, cries out:— “Taku ohi, taku ohi.” Then, laying his left hand on the girl's head he repeats:—

“He ohi tipua, he ohi wahine tenei ka takahi
He takahi ururangi, he takahi urutau
Whakaputaia, whakaputaia he orongonui
Ko akaaka-nui, ko akaaka-nui.”

This effusion announces that a young girl representing the female element has entered the scene and is about to tread the tapu threshold to ensure freedom from restriction. Also it appeals to the gods to grant the new home the condition of peace, harmony and general prosperity indicated by the peculiar expression orongonui.

The priest then says to the young woman: “Arise.” She then passes through the gateway, as also does the priest. He page 342 indicates the post at the base of which the talisman is buried: “Yonder is the whatu; go directly to it.” She advances to the base of the post and seats herself beside it, turning so as to face the priest, who remains standing some little distance away. He then chaunts another formula, commencing: “Whose is my pa? My fort is——.” Here is inserted the name of the spirit god under whose care the new village has been placed. Such atua would be a god pertaining to war and not to fishing or any other activity. The formula calls attention to the presence of the female element that represents peaceful prosperity, and craves enduring mana for the new pa. It announces that the supplicant is a son of Tu, and the protecting spirit of the place is asked to impart effectiveness to the ceremony.

The priest now advances to the girl, places his left hand on her head and repeats yet another formula asking that the place and people may enjoy the benefits of supernatural protection. This is the last act, and now the girl rises to her feet and the people acclaim her with cries denoting pleasure and satisfaction.

The young woman selected to act the above described part in the tapu lifting rite was arrayed in fine garments. She took her stand above the buried mauri or talisman because it represents the mana of the pa. Her entry into the pa banished the tapu that had hung over it. After the acclamation all the people would enter the place and salute the girl with tears and the hongi salute, greeting her with such sentiments as come under the term whakamānawa (to welcome), such as: “Welcome, O maid! You who hail from the revered customs and prized remembrances of your ancestors and elders.”

The same priest and girl would then proceed to take the tapu off the new house that had been erected in the fort. She enters the porch of the house, opens the door, but does not pass inside; she stands in the porch facing outward. The priest then advances and intones the ritual termed a kawa. If it be a lengthy recitation he will have an assistant, so that there shall be no break in the delivery, one relieving the other. At the conclusion of the chaunt the girl crosses the tapu threshold page 343 and enters the house, and by that act removes its tapu. The girl proceeds to the rear wall of the house and kneels down at the base of the main post thereof that supports the end of the ridgepole, and facing the door. The priest stands in the middle of the house and there chaunts another formula. As he finishes the ritual the girl rises to her feet; the ceremony is over. The next and final act was the feast.

If any serious mistake was made in the performance of the above ceremony, such as the misrendering of a karakia, then the site would probably be abandoned, and a new one selected.

On the east coast of the North Island the remarkable ceremonial releasing of a bird was sometimes carried out at the function of opening a new pa. In this function two priestly experts took part. They recited a certain ritual and, as it ended, they released two captive birds, as has been explained in connection with other rites. This was an emblematical act connected with the invocation that appealed to the gods to protect the new village and its inhabitants.

Names pertaining to the defensive works of a fortified village were as follows:—

Kahupapa. Shield or screen used when sapping up to defences. 2. A causeway. 3. A raft. 4. A platform.
Kauae. Curtain of defensive stockade or rampart. Syntiaroa.
Kiritai. Narrow space outside the outer stockade.
Koki. Flanking angle. Modern.
Kopekope. Bundles of green Phormium leaves lashed outside stockade as a protection against bullets. Modern.
Pa. A fortified village.
Paekiri. Syn. kiritai.
Parehua. A terrace. Syn. tuku, rengarenga, paehua, upanepane.
Pukoro. An extension of a defence to enclose a spring, etc., or to protect an entrance. In modern times applied to a flanking angle.
Tahitahi. The glacis.
Taiki. Syn. rangi. A wickerwork tortoise used by attackers.
Toi. Syn. tihi. Highest part of a hill fort. Citadel.
Whakarua kotare. Loopholes for musketry fire. Modern.
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Ahuriri. A low barrier across entrance.
Aparua. The double stockaded outer defence.
Awhikiri. The innermost stockade. Syn. kiri tangata, kirikaiahi, parākiri.
Himu. Main posts of a stockade. Syn. whakawhenua, tukumaru, pou turangi. pou take, pou toko. pou matua.
Tukuwaru. Secondary posts of a stockade. Syn. tumu, whakaporo. Some of these names differ in application as in different districts. Other names for such posts are take, pou tokotu.
Kahia. Human figure carved on main posts of stockade.
Tuwatawata. A stockade. Generic term. Syn. tiwatawata, piwatawata.
Kaungaroa. Side stockade.
Pekerangi. Outer stockade. Also teki, wita, kereteki, tātā, tātā-kai-taua. taiā. reu. karewa. A raised screen.
Matahao.Oblique outer stockade, leaning outward. Syn. koau maro.
Katua. Main stockade.
Kaikirikiri. A stockade inside the pekerangi. Syn. hukahuka.
Wana. Palisades of a stockade. Syn. kāwāwā. wāwā.
Huahua. Rails of a stockade. Syn. roau.
Puwhara. Lofty fighting stage built against inner side of stockade. Also pourewa, pou-tarewa, pourangi, kakerangi, ahurewa.
Taumaihi. Tower or stage in a fort used as a lookout, etc.
Kopani Syn. rangi. Any erection of timber or earth used in attack on a pa.
Păpätū. Defensive breastwork on a fighting stage.
Kotaretare. A form of fighting stage that projects outward over the top of the stockade. Syn. kahekoheko, whakatoro, whakaarero.

Names pertaining to the entrance to a fortified village:—

Kuwaha. Gateway of a pa.
Pae kawau. Some part of a gateway.
Waha tieke. Gateway at inner end of waharoa.
Ngutu. Narrow passage at entrance.
Waha ngutu. Entrance of the ngutu.
Waharoa. Entrance inside gateway. Also araroa and riuroa.
Ara whakatara. A zigzag entrance passage.
Ara piwai. Syn. ngutuihe. Minor entrance of a pa.
Ara kutoro. Subterranean passage under rampart.
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Maioro. Rampart. 2. Fosse.
Manioro. Rampart. Also pakaiahi.
Takurua. Covering rampart outside gateway.
Huka. Summit of a rampart.
Parepare. Small earthwork. Breastwork. Modern?
Parepare kokoti. Inferior earthworks subdividing interior of a pa.
Awamate. Fosse outside outer stockade.
Awarua. Fosse inside outer stockade. Also whakaawarua.
Maioro. A fosse or moat. 2. Rampart.
Koruarua. Rifle pits. Trench. Modern.
Pakiaka. A traverse in a trench. Modern. Syn. niho, kotikoti.

In works of early visitors to New Zealand are to be found interesting notes on the fortified villages of the Maori. Considering the picturesque nature of the old-time hill forts it seems strange that no person left us a sketch of such places. Crozet gives us a good account of the attack made by the outraged French on a Maori fortified place in 1772. He says that they defended the place with great coolness against the new and terrible musket. No word was heard among them save the commands of the chiefs, who were ever seen in the most dangerous places. These prominent men defended the gateway, and were, one after another, shot down by the musketeers, whereupon the natives became demoralised and a panic ensued. This illustrates a weak point in the Maori character. He also states that the natives tried to protect themselves from musket balls by means of donning thick, closely-woven capes.

In Du Clesmeur's Journal of the same expedition we read that “It is quite astonishing to what point of perfection they have arrived in their entrenchments and fortifications. I have seen villages whose approach was defended by moats of 20ft. in width by 10ft. in depth.” He also mentions double and triple stockades and raised platforms or fighting stages between them. These notes are valuable as coming down to us from the time when the Maori was still living under stone age conditions.

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Site of old pa or fortified village at Te Namu. Taranaki.

Site of old pa or fortified village at Te Namu. Taranaki.

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Some of the most picturesque pa of old were those situated on cliffs, crags and isolated rock masses. Such buttes as that of Pohatu-roa at Atiamuri must have presented a striking aspect when occupied in days of yore. Some of these cliff dwelling would be better described as refuges than pa or fortified hamlets; such was Paritutu at New Plymouth. This is a remarkably picturesque column of rock now being deliberately destroyed by civilised savages for the purpose of utilising the stone. This column has vertical sides save at one place, where it can, with some difficulty, be ascended. On its summit is a space of about 50 by 36 ft. that was formerly closely occupied by natives in times of danger. Terraced hut sites and a few pits are the only signs of old time occupation seen.

Mikotahi, near Paritutu, is another old pa. It was formerly an island, and a large number of pits, old storage pits for food products, are yet in evidence on it. The islet of Moturoa to seaward of Mikotahi was another refuge of olden days. From this coastline the natives saw Tasman's vessels wearing northward. It is probably those vessels that are referred to in tradition as Te Tere a Tu-te-paengaroa.

Lack of water was often a serious deficiency of these cliff forts and refuges. At Paritutu a small spring exists about 200 ft. from the base of the column, and, in times of stress, men were lowered down the cliff by means of a rope in order to obtain water.

At some old fortified places situated near water lines of stockades were erected in the water so as to form an enclosure in which canoes could be kept. The remains of such an enclosure are still to be seen at the Mawe pa on the shores of Lake Omapere.

Of the many island forts and refuges occupied in former times, the most interesting are the artificial islets constructed in certain lakes and lagoons, as those of Horowhenua, Muhunoa, Te Hurepo and also I believe at Tutira.

Captain Cook, in writing of an island fort examined in Queen Charlotte Sound, states that they gratified their curiosity at the risk of their necks. This was probably the place mentioned in Bayly's Journal of the voyage of the Adventure. page 348 He remarks that there were 33 houses on the islet, and that the entrance through the defences was only two feet square.

When the Maori folk acquired the musket they very soon found that sweeping changes had to be quickly made in their system of fortification and fighting. The fighting stages of yore were doomed to extinction, but the elevated outer stockade held its own. In the old form of earthwork defences the ramparts were massive and lofty structures, and the defenders stood on the summits thereof to repel an assault. The musket swiftly rendered such places untenable. The Maori then reduced the height of his ramparts and got behind them. He also saw to it that he had a trench behind the aparua, or double outer stockade, in order that he might kneel therein to fire under the elevated outer palisading. Ere long he added flanking angles, traverses and casemates. When cannon were brought against him he began to suffer from flying splinters as the balls plugged into his solid stockades and stalwart trunks. He then abolished such erections and replaced them with frail barriers of light poles, to minimise the splinter danger. He endured a cannonade by retiring to secure pits, well covered, to emerge fresh and full of fight when the troops swept up to the assault. He lay awake at nights to devise new devices in gun fighting and defences; he proved himself a highly adaptive fighting man. Some of his earthworks of later days were of truly European aspect.

In those places constructed somewhat on old lines the third or inner stockade was often dispensed with, and loopholes for musket fire came into use. The rifle pit became a common usage. I have seen them so small as to shelter only one musketeer. A form of flanking angle called a pukoro was devised. It was not an earthwork but a stockade. Across the middle of it was constructed a rampart about 5ft. in height. On either side of this rampart was a trench in which the defenders stationed themselves. They fired through the stockade, having the rampart behind them. The trenches gave on a sunk way that provided a passage under the defences of the pa to its interior. Thus the defenders of the flanking angle could pass to and fro without exposing themselves to enemy fire.

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The late Mr. S. Percy Smith, who visited the Ohangai pa, near Hawera, in 1858, remarked on its picturesque aspect and the extremely neat condition in which it was kept. Some of these places seen by early settlers were of considerable size. Wakefield tells us that the Waitahanui pa, at Taupo, was 500 yards long. That of Pomare, at the Bay of Islands, contained 300 huts, but many of the old pre-European forts were much larger. The Matai-taua pa, at Paua-tahanui, near Wellington, occupied by hostile natives in 1846, was 80yds. by 85yds. It had two stockades about two feet apart, inside which was a trench four feet wide and of about the same depth, in which were many traverses.

When the natives reoccupied an old pre-European fort at Taranaki in gun-fighting days, they did not utilise the rampart as a shelter for musketeers, but re-formed the old fosse outside it for that purpose. It was six feet deep, and a banquette was formed on its outer side; also traverses were introduced. Outside the fosse was erected a double stockade nine feet in height, blinded with bundles of Phormium leaves lashed on to it. Covered pits were made inside the ramparts, in which the natives lived.

Some of the forts of the early days of firearms were provided with the heavy stockades of pre-European days. Thus the Rua-pekapeka pa, in the Bay of Islands district, which was 170yds. by 70yds. in size, had two rows of stockade about 3ft. apart, and about 15ft. in height, composed of hardwood trunks 12in. to 15in. in diameter. Inside of these was a trench 5ft. deep, and inside that again a rampart. The trench contained many traverses. The Maori had already learned to form the trench inside his outer defence instead of outside. British troops assailed this fort with 12, 18, and 32-pounders, and, aften ten days, took it—after the natives had obligingly left it. The pa maori is an interesting thing to study, but to assault one is a very unhealthy pursuit.

In a report by Lieut. G. Bennett, R.E., dated February 10, 1843, is given a good description of native forts. The following passage therein is of interest:—“In illustration of their military knowledge I may say that, when I was ordered to prepare a plan of attack of the pa of Maketu, I consulted the page 350 chief Tupaea. He immediately sat down on the sand and erected a model of the pa and surrounding country, giving me the distances and command that each hill had over the pa and each other, and pointed out how it might be approached with safety. The plan I made from his model I was subsequently able to compare on the spot, and found his plan and ideas very correct.”

One of the positions occupied by natives at Waitara in 1860 had ten chambers, or casemates, communicating with each other. Each one could accommodate from 20 to 25 men. They were covered with timber, over which was laid bracken and earth to the thickness of about three feet. A double fence was filled up with bracken and earth. The musket-armed natives could fire from these works without exposing themselves. They had learned their lesson well. the Gate Pa incident showed how reluctantly and slowly we learn such lessons. The assaulted face of the Maori works at Rangiriri showed a scarp of 18ft., and the ladderless Imperial troops were repulsed. The native works at Te Arei had trenches 15ft. deep, a parapet constructed of bracken and fern 16ft. in width. This was covered by a line of rifle pits or covered way about 40yds. in front of the main work, with which it possessed communication.

An amazing story was related to the late Colonel McDonnell by a native concerning a well-known engagement at Taranaki. Some of our enemies busied themselves in making fascines which they sold to our sappers per medium of a so-called friendly native, and so made quite an honest penny. “So the sap progressed steadily, and did nobody any harm, and when, after a time, it came too near, we left that pa and built another one.”

The famous Nga Tapa pa, attacked in 1869, had three rampart defences connected by covered ways. The first was 8ft. in height, the second 10ft., and the innermost one 16ft.

The foregoing notes on the fortified villages of old Maoriland and modern redoubts are but a scratching of the surface of this highly interesting field of study. In a general work such as this space does not admit of giving particulars of old stone age forts that have been examined and plotted. The page 351 matter given will serve, however, to give the reader some idea of what the defences of a Maori village were like.

The fortified village was not an institution of Polynesia. The few defensive places of the Marquesas, Hawaiian and Society groups, did not resemble the pa of New Zealand. Those of Tonga were derived from Fiji. In Fiji the pa maori was employed in some districts. Descriptions of some of the hill forts of Viti-levu left us by various writers shows us that they bore a marked resemblance to those of the Maori of New Zealand.

The defences of the Fiji fortified villages consisted of ramparts, stockades, moats, and fighting stages, etc. The lines of stockades, and stages, were essentially a Maori feature. Most of the available data, however, refers to modern places in which certain modern features appear, due to the introduction of firearms.

Basil Thomson has stated that Fijian defences consisted of an earthwork rampart about 6ft. high, surmounted by a stockade, and having a moat outside it. In some cases two or three moats were made, with ramparts between them. He adds: “Almost every important hill top in western Viti-levu is crowned with an entrenchment of some kind.” Williams gives us similar information. The entrance ways were closed by means of strong sliding bars, another Maori feature. A raised platform surmounted the gateway. The Rev. A. J. Webb reported platforms for sentinels and marksmen. Commodore Goodenough described an old fortified position on a hill top that had two trenches; from the lower one extended a covered way to other fortified positions along the ridge. Apparently no comprehensive description of Fijian forts has been preserved.

The fortified positions on Rapa Island consist of rough stonework, scarped peaks, etc. Evidently the illustration of them in Vol. 1 of the Transactions of New Zealand Institute is misleading, as also is the statement that they are constructed of well-squared and cemented stones.

The description of a Tongan fort given in Mariner's work shows a striking feature in the fighting stages that resembled the Maori kotaretare. A palisade was nine feet in height; its page 352 entrances were closed with sliding bars. Over each entrance, as also at other parts, were fighting stages projecting outward over the stockade. These were furnished with a form of breastwork, the papa-tu of the Maori. Outside the palisade was a trench nearly 12ft. deep, and about the same in width, and outside this another palisading furnished with fighting stages, and having another trench outside it. The spoil from the trenches was utilised in the formation of ramparts. In another account Mariner tells us that the summits of the ramparts accomodated men: “On the top of the banks a number of warriors, armed with clubs and spears, were running to and fro.”

Williams describes a fort constructed by Tongans on Tongatabu Island consisting of trenches and of earthen walls, on the tops of which palisades were erected, as in one of the Maori systems. Tongan invaders of Samoa left earthwork defences in some places there.

Fortified places are reported from the Solomon Isles, but of these I have no particulars. They are also met with in New Guinea, where ramparts, trenches, stockades and stages seem to be employed. Christian mentions stone-walled forts in the Caroline Group. In various parts of Indonesia villages were fortified by various means.

As to whether the pa maori was a local evolution or not no man may say. Tradition tells us that the original inhabitants of the North Island, the Mouriuri folk, were fort builders, that some of the old fortified positions at Urenui were fashioned by them. If so, they probably introduced the custom from the western Pacific. The incoming Polynesians of later date did not come of a fort building people; the pa maori was not a feature of native life in eastern Polynesia.