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The Coming of the Maori

[the Toi expedition]

The second influx of settlers to nw zealand is associated primarily with Toi, one of the most widely known names in early Maori history. An average for a number of genealogies places him eight generations before the advent of the Fleet from Hawaiki and thus approximately in the middle of the twelfth century. Some east coast tribes who claimed descent from the first settlers maintained that Toi was born there. The fullest account of his history was given by Te Matorohanga (81, p. 97) and, as it contains some statements that should not be allowed to pass unchallenged, it is quoted in the following account.

Toi was a chief who lived in Hawaiki, where he was known as Toitehuatahi because he was a first-born. A number of chiefs from islands named Ahu and Tuhua visited Hawaiki and boasted that the men of Hawaiki could not equal them in canoe racing. [Percy Smith (81, p. 97) believed that Ahu was Oahu in the Hawaiian islands, but Tuhua was the old name of the nearby island of Me'etia.] The challenge was accepted and the date set for a regatta in the waters of Pikopikoiwhiti. Whatonga and Turahui, grandsons of Toi, entered their canoe Te Wao for the race. On the day of the competition, all the neighbouring tribes gathered on the shore of Pikopikoiwhiki. After it had been agreed that the course should extend far out to sea before turning back, Toi and the other spectators ascended the hill of Pukehapopo which formed a natural grandstand for viewing the race. The paddles of 60 canoes churned the waters of Pikopikoiwhiti as the race started. They shot out and headed seaward to the distant turning point. However, a strong wind arose which became a gale. The canoes disappeared over the horizon and did not return.

An unsuccessful search was made along the coasts for the missing canoes. The priests were consulted but there were so many conflicting replies from the gods (ka ahua raruraru nga korero a nga atua nei) that page 23Toi determined to set out himself to search for his grandsons. He set sail with a crew of 60 men. He reached Rarotonga but found no trace of his grandsons. He then said, "I will go on to the land discovered by Kupe in the expanse known as Tiritiri o te moana, the land that is shrouded by the high mists. I may reach land, but if I do not, I will rest forever in the bosom of the Ocean Maid." The secretary who reported Te Matorohanga's lectures stated that he was subsequently told that Toi visited other islands before he sailed to New Zealand. Among them was Pangopango which Percy Smith accepted as evidence that Toi reached one of the Samoan islands, sailing from there to New Zealand. I do not share the same confidence in the interpolations in the original text.

Toi made his landfall off Tamaki (Auckland Isthmus), where fires were seen on shore. He landed and found the country occupied by the Tini o Maruiwi and others. The people were numerous and were likened to ants because of their numbers. He dwelt with them for some time, and some of his crew married local women. Toi decided to move on and view the country. He went on to Aotea (Great Barrier Island) where he stayed for a time. Then he went down the coast to an island which he named Tuhua (Mayor Island) after the island of Tuhua (Me'etia) near Hawaiki. From Tuhua, he went on to Whakatane where he established his home at Kaputerangi above the present town of Whakatane. Information regarding the native food supplies was obtained from Raru, one of the Tamaki women who had married one of his crew. It was because they had to subsist on the local foods of the forest that Toi assumed the name of Toikairakau (Toi the wood eater) in place of his original name of Toitehuatahi.

Some of Toi's men visited Maketu, where they made themselves objectionable by marking out land for possession and by forcibly taking some of the women for wives. The descendants of Pananehu, who occupied the land, became angry and killed four of the intruders. The fugitives from the fight returned to Whakatane and informed Toi of the disaster. Toi sent a punitive expedition which returned with 200 men and women as prisoners. The captured people remained with Toi who was kind to them.

A man named Poi, with his wives, went from Whakatane to Tauranga to visit relatives of his wives. The local people, who were descendants of Ruatamore, killed Po. The Ngati Awa and the Koautaranga tribes, who were evidently affiliated with Toi at Whakatane, raised a war party of 400 and attacked the Ruatamore people to exact revenge. The Ruatamore tribe was defeated at Mangakino on the east side of Mokau on the west coast. One hundred young men and 500 young women of marriageable age were captured and brought back to Whakatane. Among the women prisoners was Piopio, a daughter of Pohokura who lived at Okoki in the page 24Urenui district of Taranaki. On learning of his daughter's capture, Pohokura travelled to Whakatane and begged Toi to return Piopio to him. Toi consented and said, "When you get home let her name be Kairakau." This was a high compliment, as it was part of Toi's own name of Toikairakau. Pohokura, appreciating the magnanimity and the honour, replied, "Since you have named her, let her remain as your wife, for I know you will look after my child." Toi replied, "I consent but she shall be a wife for my grandson, Te Atakore." Pohokura, having consented in his turn, returned to his people in the west.

The Ngati Awa, who were named after Toi's grandson Awanuiarangi, took their female prisoners to wife and added the male prisoners to their military strength. They thus increased in numbers, and the name of Te Tini o Awa was applied to them in place of Ngati Awa. Through the marriage of Piopio, many of them went to Taranaki to dwell with Pohokura. This, according to Te Matorohanga, was the origin of the Awa people of Taranaki who now call themselves Te Atiawa. The Atiawa people on the other band hold that though they descended from Awanuiarangi, they originated in Taranaki and that the Ngati Awa of Whakatane separated from them and went east to the Bay of Plenty. As my own tribe of Ngati Mutunga belongs to the Atiawa confederation of Taranaki, I will not venture an opinion as to which is right.

In the Matorohanga account, there are a number of inconsistencies. Ancestors who lived at different periods of time are brought together to converse with each other. An example has been given already of Kupe, who lived in 950, giving sailing directions in the first person to Turi, who lived in 1350. In the above story Pohokura, the younger brother of Taitawaro, who came in the Okoki canoe visits and speaks to Toi, who arrived in New Zealand after the descendants of Pohokura and his contemporaries had increased to such an extent that they occupied a large part of the North Island. The Ngati Awa, descended from Awanuiarangi, the grandson of Toi, muster a war party for a punitive expedition and capture the daughter of Pohokura who interviews Toi. Such statements, if accepted literally, do not make sense, and their inconsistency must have been as obvious to the Maori scholars of the past as they are to the students of today. The fact that they are repeated would seem to indicate that the Maori historians indulged at times in a literary style that used the first person or oratio recta between noted ancestors in describing events which occurred long after the period of one or both ancestors.