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The New Zealand Wars: A History of the Maori Campaigns and the Pioneering Period: Volume II: The Hauhau Wars, (1864–72)



On the 22nd September, 1871, Captains Mair and Preece started from Fort Galatea on another Urewera expedition, taking the trail up the Horomanga Gorge. Their way lay over rough country to Omaruteangi, on the Whakatane River, one of Kereru te Pukenui's settlements. There they were met by Paerau te Rangi-kaitipuake, Te Whenuanui, and other Urewera chiefs, but not by Kereru, who continued hostile. On the 26th they received a letter from Te Purewa, the old chief at Maungapohatu, saying that he had found Te Kooti's trail and was following it. They reached their former, camping-ground at Te Kakari next day, and were well received by the Urewera Maoris, who reported that some of Te Kooti's men who had left him had procured guns and rejoined him. The contingent then started for Neketuri to hunt up Kereopa, who was reported to be there, and to endeavour to pick up Te Kooti's trail. Sergeant Huta and ten men went in another direction; but Te Kooti had had four weeks' start, and the heavy rain had obliterated his tracks. For several days the men were divided into small parties under Captain Mair, Captain Preece, Sergeant Bluett, and Sergeant Huta, each going in a different direction through the bush from the pa at Te Kakari. On the 30th September Mair sent word that he had found a trail leading towards Ruatahuna or Waikare-moana, and Sergeant Bluett came in with his party and reported that Hemi Kakitu and twenty men of Tamaikowha's tribe had joined in the pursuit of their own accord. The commanders now spread their men out in three parties to follow up the trail, Captain Mair moving by Tatahoata with the main body. One day two camps were passed. Te Kooti had about twenty followers, and was avoiding the settlements of the Urewera, keeping well away from the tracks.

When Preece's force reached Tatahoata it was learned that a trail had been found at Paterangi, inland of Ahi-kereru, and that Captain Mair had started by the ordinary track with thirty men and intended to sleep at Tarapounamu. Within an hour Preece's party was off once more, and reached the Tahuaroa Range that night. On the following morning Preece made an excellent march over the ranges to the foot of Pukiore, where he page 444 found that, though Mair had not passed, Paerau te Rangi-kaitipuake with ten men had gone by. The river being low, it was decided to go along the bed of the Okahu Stream. Captain Mair caught his comrade up about a mile and a half from Ahi-kereru, and the the force arrived there at 11 a.m. Paerau and his Maoris there reported that the enemy's trail had been seen on the 30th on the Okahu Stream beyond Paterangi, evidently several days old. Sending the sick to Fort Galatea under Sergeant Matutaera, the column at once marched for Whataroa. It was apparent that Te Kooti was making for the Kaingaroa and Waikato.

Heavy rain set in, and the force had trouble in crossing the Whirinaki River. Captain Mair went with his company by way of Te Tapiri, and Captain Preece struck through the bush by an old track. At Ohihape he found a trail, but it was old. After following it for some time one of his men caught sight of a Maori, but his tracks were lost, though a place was found where Te Kooti had camped about six days before. The man seen was evidently in search of Te Kooti and had camped there the previous night. Captain Mair now joined Preece. He went off again with thirty-five men, and Sergeant Bluett with ten; Captain Preece started with the column for Te Arawhata to communicate with Captain Morrison at Opepe and get fresh supplies of food, and went on to Ngahuinga. Next day Captain Mair had a brush with Te Kooti in the bush. There were no casualties on either side, but the pursuers now knew at least that the foe had not escaped to Waikato.

The weather continued very bad for several days, and the men had so little food that they could not move from the Rangitaiki. Starting again for the bush on the 10th October in very cold weather with snow and hail, they soon found a trail of Te Kooti's people in small parties of twos and threes. It was followed until the Arawa lost it in the open ground. Tamaikowha with twenty Urewera now joined the force. His men reported that they had seen signs of the enemy in a creek in the bush and had followed them until night. Rakuraku, another of the Urewera chiefs, went to Ruatahuna to cut in ahead of Te Kooti in case he should double back that way. Next day the column followed the trail through the dense bush along the ranges beyond Ahi-kereru. In the afternoon they came to Te Kooti's abandoned camp, where they slept. It was believed that he would be at Weraiti by that time. As food ran short Captains Mair and Preece decided to return, leaving Tamaikowha to follow up the trail, and took their men out into the open country to wait supplies from Opepe.

On the 17th October news was received that Hemi Kakitu (an ex-Hauhau) had attacked Te Kooti on the upper part of page 445
Drawing by the author, at Waimana, 1921]Netana Whakaari

Drawing by the author, at Waimana, 1921]
Netana Whakaari

This veteran warrior of the Urewera and Ngai-Tama Tribes (over eighty years of age when this sketch was made) is one of the very few tattooed men of the Maori race now living, and is a good type of the old Hauhau scouts and bush fighters. Netana is the younger brother of the late chief Rakuraku, of Waimana and Ohiwa. He was often on the war-path during the Bay of Plenty and Urewera campaigns from 1864 to 1871. In 1864 he fought against the Arawa natives at Maketu and Kaokaoroa, and in 1865 he took part in the fighting against the Government forces at Opotiki, where he was slightly wounded. He shared in numerous forays in the Opotiki, Waimana and Whakatane districts with his relative Tamaikowha and the Ngai-Tama. In 1870 he turned to the Government side when peace was arranged with Tamaikowha by Major Kepa (Taitoko) at Tauwhare-Manuka, and in 1871 he assisted in bringing in the Urewera people for the final peace-making.

the Okahu Stream, in rear of Ahi-kereru, wounding one man and capturing one rifle, besides taking a woman prisoner. The spot was a short distance from the track to Ruatahuna, and not far above the junction of the Manawahiwi Stream with the Okahu. Captain Preece went to Ahi-kereru with forty-three men and interviewed the captive woman Huhana (Susan). She said that Te Kooti was trying to get to Waikato, but that some of his men were not willing to venture the journey.
page 446

Scouting-parties were sent out right and left. Sergeant Huta, finding traces of three men, for several days scoured the bush at the back of Ahi-kereru and towards the head of the Okahu Stream, but came on no more signs of the rebels. On the 24th October some of the scouts returned and reported a trail up the Okahu Valley leading towards Te Weraiti. It was followed for three days beyond Weraiti, in rear of Ruatahuna. The force met the Ngai-Tama warrior Netana Whakaari, Rakuraku's brother, who said that his party had surprised three men; they had, however, escaped down the creek, leaving cooked food behind them. At Ruatahuna one of Te Kooti's men had surrendered to the chiefs. He was a young Urewera chief from Maunga-pohatu, named Te Whiu Maraki. The Urewera were not inclined to hand him over, and as they had given help in the chase and promised to be answerable for his future behaviour Captain Preece allowed him to remain with them. It was this Te Whiu who shortly afterwards was chiefly instrumental in the capture of Kereopa.

Heavy rain set in and lasted several days, and the column was obliged to make for Ahi-kereru once more. Mair returned to his camp at Kaiteriria with his men. Preece, starting again from the head of the Whirinaki Valley, crossed the ranges at the head of the Ngamate and Okahu Streams, and the dividing range above the source of the Waiau River. The heavy rains, the flooded streams, and the shortness of food made it risky for the men to remain in the bush, so Preece marched back to Ahi-kereru, and on the 4th November went out to the plains and returned to Te Teko, leaving some men at Fort Galatea. On the 22nd November news reached him that Major Ropata and Captain Porter had been to Ruatahuna and had captured Kereopa, who was being sent out to Wairoa, Hawke's Bay.