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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)



The Urewera, seeing that Ngati-Porou were determined to remain in the mountains until their mission was accomplished, now made efforts to catch the two outlaws. A small party under Hemi Kakitu went out in search of Te Kooti, and Ropata was informed that Kereopa was at or near Tuapuku, on the Upper Whakatane. Ropata sent out requesting the Government's instructions in case he encountered Te Kooti or Kereopa the Eye-eater in hiding. The reply received, after a long wait was “Capture them.”

Ropata now set himself the task of catching Kereopa, keeping his arrangements secret from the Urewera lest some warning should reach the wanted man. Three detachments were quietly despatched down the valley under cover of night in the direction of Ohaua-te-rangi, a large settlement of the Ngati-Rongokarae clan, on the Whakatane, about seven miles below Mataatua kainga. Te Whiu Maraki, the young chief of the Ngai-Tama and Urewera who had lately surrendered and espoused the Government cause, offered to guide Ngati-Porou to Kereopa's haunts. The outlaw was believed to be at Te Roau, a small bush village in the vicinity of Ohaua-te-rangi. Te Whiu, who had been the most active of Urewera toas against the Europeans and was anxious to atone for his recent rebellion (“kia murua te hara,” as Ropata phrased it), accompanied one of the detachments, or kokiri. One of these kokiri, consisting of thirty men led by Matiu Kahawai, followed the bed of the Whakatane River. The second kokiri, twenty men, went down the track on the east or right bank of the river; and the third, twenty men commanded by Erueti Rena, marched down the west bank, a difficult traverse because of the steep and broken character of the country immediately above the Whakatane on that side. Ropata, who remained with the main body at the camp close to Tatahoata, gave instructions that if either of the kokiri succeeded in capturing Kereopa two volleys should be fired as a signal to the others. Te Whiu, marching with the centre detachment down the river-bed, led the kokiri to one of the small kaingas, called Te Roau. The village was page 455
J. C., photo at Ruatoki, January, 1921]Te Whiu Maraki

J. C., photo at Ruatoki, January, 1921]
Te Whiu Maraki

Te Whiu Maraki, a very active Urewera scout and warrior of Te Kooti's days, fought against the Government, 1866–70. In 1871 he surrendered to the expeditionary forces in the Urewera Country, and guided the Ngati-Porou party which captured Kereopa at Te Roau, on the Upper Whakatane, near Ruatahuna. He pursued and caught Kereopa when the old rebel attempted to escape. Te Whiu died in 1922.

quietly surrounded in the early morning, and Te Whiu was sent up to the whares. As he reached the village he announced loudly the arrival of the Ngati-Porou. Kereopa was in one of the huts, and hearing Te Whiu's shout he rushed to the front of the whare.

He ran out in an attempt to escape, but the war-party had encircled the huts, and Te Whiu, who was reputedly the fastest runner in his tribe, seized him and brought him down before he could use his weapons. Kereopa was armed with a loaded gun and a kope or horse-pistol.

When Kereopa was secured two thundering volleys went up from the guns of the kokiri in announcement of the capture of the desperado who for six years had evaded all the efforts of the Government to bring him to justice. The united force of seventy page 456 returned in triumph to Tatahoata, where the rejoicing Ngati-Porou fell in for a great war-dance in celebration of their success. The tattooed, grey-bearded ruffian crouched dejectedly on the ground under guard, while the warriors threw themselves into the frantic action of the peruperu.

Kereopa te Rau (Called Kai-whatu, or “Eye-eater.”)

Kereopa te Rau (Called Kai-whatu, or “Eye-eater.”)

Kereopa was guarded closely in the Kohi-marama Redoubt while arrangements were made to take him out to the coast. Meanwhile the chief Kereru came in with sixty of his tribe and had a friendly meeting with Ngati-Porou. Captain Porter and seventy men set out for Waikare-moana across the ranges, taking the prisoner for surrender to the civil power. Kereopa informed his captors that he knew when he stood in the pulpit in Mr Volkner's church and swallowed the missionary's eyes that he would meet with misfortune, because one of them stuck in his throat; it was a tohu aitua, an evil omen. Major Large, who was with the escort, said:. “Every time we rested on the way to Wairoa Kereopa would exclaim, ‘Kaore oku hara, kore rawa, kore rawa’ (Emphatically, ‘I have not sinned’), meaning that what he had done was in accordance with the Maori custom in war-time.” Arriving at Mahunga-rerewai, on the northern shore of Waikare-moana, Porter and his party took canoe across the lake to Onepoto, whence they marched to Wairoa. From there twenty men escorted the prisoner by steamer to Napier, where Porter had the relief and satisfaction of handing him over to the police. The reward of £1,000 offered by the Government for Kereopa's arrest was paid over to Porter, who returned to the Urewera Country, and the money was distributed among Ngati-Porou at Kohimarama Redoubt. The officer's share was £25 each, and the rest of the force concerned in the capture received £10 per man. As for Kereopa the Eye-eater, he was tried for his crimes—after an unsuccessful attempt at suicide with a razor—and was convicted and hanged.

Ropata now had all the Urewera assembled at Ruatahuna, and addressed them in a final speech of advice and warning. “Farewell, the Urewera,” he said. “The Government has made peace with you, and has required you to withdraw your thoughts page 457 and sympathies from the deeds of the Hauhaus; that work must cease entirely. You must refrain from strife and cease to follow the makers of trouble. You must dwell quietly in your country and follow only the paths of peace.”

At the close of the speech the British flag hoisted at the redoubt was given over to Kereru te Pukenui in token of the establishment of peace and loyalty among the Urewera. The garrison at the Maunga-pohatu fort having been withdrawn, Ropata and Captain Porter and all their Ngati-Porou marched out to the coast by way of the Whakatane Valley, and were returned to the East Coast by steamer in December of 1871.