The New Zealand Wars: A History of the Maori Campaigns and the Pioneering Period: Volume II: The Hauhau Wars, (1864–72)
Chapter 8: THE FIGHTING AT TE TAPIRI
Chapter 8: THE FIGHTING AT TE TAPIRI
ON THE WESTERN side of the Urewera Ranges, overlooking the Kaingaroa Plain, are the fern-grown ruins of a series of Maori redoubts, the scene of a war drama, hitherto unchronicled, which probably was the most gallant deed of the friendly natives during the wars. These earthwork pas of Kupapa and Hauhau are arranged with relation to each other somewhat in the figure of the Southern Cross constellation. They stand on the verge of the high country more than 2,000 feet above sea-level, and 1,000 feet above the plains which stretch away for apparently illimitable distances north and south. The locality is some fifteen miles above Murupara, on the Rangitaiki, and can be reached only by a rough horse-track, fording the swift Rangitaiki near its junction with the Wheao, then following up the latter stream for some distance, and striking into the hills by a narrow and rather difficult trail through the tall tutu and fern. As the top of this outermost range of the Urewera rohepotae is reached, two small rounded hills are seen on either side of the track, almost within revolver-shot of each other. Each toropuke is densely covered with tutu bushes, flax, koromiko, shrubs, and fern. Only on close exploration is it discovered that these peaceful verdurous mounds are fortified. Breaking through the shrubbery and flax bushes, an oblong fort of trench and parapet is found crowning each of the hills; in some places the parapet is 5 feet or 6 feet in height, preserved from crumbling by its protective garment of vegetation. These redoubts were built and manned in 1865 by the Ngati-Manawa Tribe and the Ngati-Rangitihi section of the Arawa Tribe, who espoused the Government side against the Hauhaus and bravely barred Kereopa's passage from the Urewera Mountains to the Kaingaroa Plain and the Waikato, after his murder of the missionary Volkner and the conversion of the Urewera tribes to the rebel faith. The larger of the two is Te Tapiri; it is the hill on the north side of the track—the left as one approaches from the Rangitaiki Valley. The earthwork here is about 40 yards in length by 18 yards page 85 in width, its greater axis lying north and south, the trend of the range. The pa on the south side of the trail is Okupu. These were the little forts which blocked the way to the west, and held up Kereopa the Eye-eater and his hundreds of newly made disciples. Looking eastward to the interminable ranges and forests of the Urewera, we observe that we are on the scarp of a tableland, much dissected by gullies and creeks, and that this tableland, now fern-covered, was evidently once populated and cultivated. Clumps of native bush stand here and there, but the edge of the main forest is about three-quarters of a mile distant. Half a mile away, in the direction of the forest, about south-east, is the site of the Hauhau camp Te Huruhuru. Farther in, three-quarters of a mile east from Te Tapiri, is a round hill called Hinamoki, close to the bush. This fortified hill was the headquarters of Kereopa and his gang of fanatics and murderers, with their army of Urewera warriors. Then, turning to the north, where the crest of the range breaks into less gentle outlines, we see the steep mountain-top called Te Tuahu-a-te-Atua (“The Altar of the God”). On this height, distant three-quarters of a mile by air-line from Te Tapiri Hill—the intervening terrain is broken into gully and severely slanting hill-slope—a section of the rebels built a fort which formed the objective of a desperate night raid by the Arawa contingent.
In the late summer of 1865 Kereopa and his apostles, gathering up a large body of Whakatohea people and carrying with them the preserved head of the murdered missionary Volkner, moved inland to the territory of the Urewera. The niu, or sacred flagpole of worship and incantation, rose in the bush villages, and Kereopa and his fellow-prophets of the new and bloody faith exhorted their savage congregations, teaching them the ritual of the niu as they revolved about the sacred mast-foot, and assuring them that if they embraced the gospel of Pai-marire no Government bullet could touch them. Volkner's head was left for the time being at Tauaroa, on the open Kuhawaea Plain, at the foot of Mount Tawhiuau; it was not taken to Te Tapiri, but presently other human heads were set up on the platform at the foot of Kereopa's niu. The mountain clans were summoned, and by May Kereopa was preaching his doctrine of blood and superstition to a gathering of practically the whole of the Urewera and Ngati-Whare, assembled near Ahi-Kereru. It was the leader's intention, after spreading the principles of the new religion among the bush tribes, to cross the Kaingaroa to Waikato and convert the Kingites to his creed.
Now it was that Ngati-Manawa determined to make an effort to prevent Kereopa penetrating their territory to reach the Waikato. Te Tapiri and Heruiwi, the routes by which the page 86 Eye-eater would leave the ranges for the Kaingaroa, were Ngati-Manawa lands, and resentment at the threatened passage of the rebel through their country heightened the animosity born of a determination to join forces with other sections of the Arawa against the Hauhaus. A chief of the Ngati-Manawa had fought against the Government and suffered a wound at Orakau the previous year, but that circumstance did not prejudice the clan's adherence to the Queen. The little tribe did not number more than forty fighting-men, but its pluck and determination made it a formidable antagonist to its truculent neighbours of the mountain country. Moreover, the women took a vigorous hand, and some of them exhibited a courage in no degree inferior to that of the heroines of Orakau.
So, in May of 1865, we find the Ngati-Manawa hurriedly raising an expedition to hold the Tapiri track. The business was urgent; there was no time to collect a large war-party. About forty people of the tribe, half of whom were women and girls, gathered at a rendezvous on the Rangitaiki, and, quickly marching up to the ranges, selected a commanding hill as a site for their post. A redoubt was speedily constructed, consisting of ditch and parapet as already described, reinforced with a timber palisade. This pa they occupied, and a message was sent to the Ngati-Whare and Tuhoe at Te Whaiti informing them that neither Kereopa nor any of his followers would be permitted to cross Ngati-Manawa land to the Kaingaroa Plain. An appeal for help had already been despatched to Arama Karaka Mokonui-a-Rangi, the principal chief of the Arawa Tribe at Lake Tarawera, who in his turn sent out to rally the main body of his people; but the only assistance Ngati-Manawa received in time to be of service was a party of about thirty of the Ngati-Rangitihi from Tapahoro, at the eastern end of Tarawera. When these people arrived, the pa Te Tapiri proved too small for the united force, and therefore another redoubt was constructed on the adjacent hill Okupu. The forces were then rearranged so that some of each tribe garrisoned each pa. Te Tapiri was under the command of Rawiri Tahawai, and Okupu under Peraniko Parakiri Tahawai, both of Ngati-Manawa, and each took in a section of Ngati-Rangitihi.
The larger garrison, that of Te Tapiri, consisted of the following persons, nearly all Ngati-Manawa:—
Men: Rewi Rangiamio, Peraniko Parakiri, Rawiri Parakiri Tahawai, Horomona Rawiri, Waretini te Mutu, Poia te Ririapu, Enoka Unuhia, Te Mau-paraoa, Raharuhi, Kuratau, Heta Tamati Eru te Uru-taia, Ahuriri, Takeke, Ngahere te Wiremu, Ngaharere, Katu Poia, Ngawaka, Nga-Korowai, Rorerika, and Pani Ahuriri (younger brother of Harehare).page 87
Women: Maraea Rawiri, Hinekou, Te Pare Tipua, Te Hau, Ramarihi te Hau, Roka Hika, Erena Horomona, Ruihi Eru, Te Amoroa, Mere Peka, Mere Rangiheuea, Ripeka Harehare, Hana Tia Poia, Raiha Poia (wife of Rewi Rangiamio), Kutia Poia, Waretini Paurini, Mereana Harete Peraniko, Ruihi Tamaku, Mera Peka Tamehana, Te Puaka Huriwaka, Nga-Aikiha Marunui, and Heni (sister of Harehare Ahuriri and the wife of Ngawaka te Toroa).
Among the Ngati-Rangitihi, besides their chief Arama Karaka, were a number of men who had previously distinguished themselves in battle. One of these was a very plucky old man from Tapahoro, named Rorerika. The combined garrisons were armed with single- and double-barrel shot-guns and some ancient Tower flint-lock muskets, called by the natives ngutuparera. Their stock of powder and lead was not large, owing to the haste with which the expedition had been organized, and the chiefs therefore did their utmost to prevent a waste of ammunition. In Te Tapiri pa the cartridges were made up by the old men Ahuriri and Rawiri Tahawai.
Among the women of Ngati-Manawa was a highly valuable auxiliary to the fighting force, a celebrated kuia matakite, or prophetess and sorceress, by name Hinekou. She was the mother of the two young warriors Te Mau-paraoa and Raharuhi (Lazarus). In her hands rested the direction of what may be called the religious or occult side of the operations. She was of the old cannibal age, and was a sorceress of reputedly terrible powers. She betook herself to her ancient gods, and continually recited karakia Maori, incantations of pagan days, read the tohu or signs of earth and sky, interpreted dreams, and performed dark ceremonies to confound and defeat the enemy. So wise a woman was a source of enormous strength in stiffening the morale of a Maori war-party.
The hilltop parapets of Ngati-Manawa and their Tarawera friends were still raw from the spade, and the lashing of the palisades had only just been completed, when the first shots were exchanged between the outlying pickets and the scouts of Tuhoe. The Urewera and Ngati-Whare headquarters with Kereopa was barely ten miles distant, and immediately the challenge of the Government party was delivered at Te Whaiti the call to arms was sent from village to village through the gorges and over the ranges to call in the full force of the tribes, and the conch-shell trumpets and war-horns, or pu-tatara and pukaea, blared their summons from hill to hill. A force of several hundreds of men was quickly on the march to the western frontier to engage and eject the daring Ngati-Manawa. The leading chiefs of the Whakatohea, Tuhoe, Ngati-Whare, and Patu-heuheu, page 88 with their people, had been captivated by Kereopa's religion, and the prophet of slaughter found the mountaineers a willing instrument. Added to this newborn fanatic fervour was the desire to pay off old grudges against Ngati-Manawa, and to sweep such a “contemptible little army” from the face of the hills.
Emerging from the forests which blanketed the head-streams of Whirinaki, the Hauhau army fixed its camp at the old clearing of Hinamoki, a stretch of undulating land about three-quarters of a mile east of Te Tapiri, just on the edge of the great tawa and rimu bush. Here a small round isolated hill which rose about 30 feet above the clearings was seized upon as a suitable site for a fortification; it had the advantage of a convenient water-supply, for a small clear stream flowed in a valley between its slopes and the bush. The hill was trenched, parapeted, and palisaded, and whares were constructed within its walls for Kereopa and his disciples and as many of Tuhoe and Ngati-Whare as could find room in the closely packed quarters. The rest built rough shelters on the slopes and levels about the pa. Later a smaller camp, not well fortified, was made at Te Huruhuru, about a third of a mile to the south-west of Hinamoki in the direction of the descent to the plains. Above the double palisade of Hinamoki were flown the Hauhau war-flags called “Rura” and “Riki”—the Pai-marire gods of incantation and battle. There was not room on the fortified knoll for the necessary niu flagpole, and a spar was planted on the little level space at the foot of the hill, on its northern side. To this day the turanga o te niu, the spot where the pole stood, may distinctly be seen. It is a bare circular space of earth from which the surface sods have been removed—in diameter about 6 feet. Here stood the sacred mast of Pai-marire invocation and worship, surrounded by a low fence of stakes. Within this pale none but the priest could stand; and here Kereopa and his fellow-prophet Horomona, a patriarchal white-beard from Taranaki, took up their posts, leading the chants as they stood with their hands on the flagstaff, and slowly revolving about it while their disciples marched around it repeating the rhythmic service in loud chorus. On the stage at the foot of the mast was exhibited the smoke-dried head of a white soldier who had been killed in Taranaki, one of the victims of the surprise attack at Te Ahuahu. This head had been carried from village to village through the heart of the Island; the Pai-marire prophets pretended to consult it as an oracle. Its bearer was the white deserter, Louis Baker. After the murder of Mr. Volkner at Opotiki this white slave was compelled to carry the missionary's head about the country on Kereopa's journeyings, and at each village it was displayed to page 89 the people on a kind of tray which was slung in front of him, supported by flax straps about his neck.
Not all the native spectators of those barbarous rites at the niu foot were willing witnesses. One at least was a herehere, or prisoner, temporarily in the Hauhaus' hands. This was Harehare, a young chief of the Ngati-Manawa, who happened to be at Te Whaiti on a visit to the Ngati-Whare, to whom he was related, when Kereopa and his party began hostilities. Harehare was not permitted to return to his people, but was held captive and taken to the camp at Hinamoki. His life was in danger, if not from Ngati-Whare, at any rate from Kereopa's acolytes among Whakatohea and Tuhoe; but presently he escaped into the night, and after hiding and wandering several days in the bush he rejoined his people on the plains after the last fight.
Kereopa could, of course, have descended to the Kaingaroa, but his Urewera followers determined to eject the daring Queenites.
Several skirmishes occurred between the opposing forces. Ngati-Manawa and their allies for the most part contented themselves with holding their redoubts built across the track and in defying Kereopa. Early in June, 1865, a skirmish was fought in the open ground between the camps. The enemy had cut off Ngati-Manawa from their water-supply, which was a small stream in a gully between the opposing camps. The Queenites made a desperate attempt to recover their source of water and to drive off the enemy who had entrenched themselves above it. Strong Hauhau reinforcements rushed out from the Huruhuru pa, and the enemy were led on by Kereopa with the utmost savagery, uttering ferocious cries and reciting Pai-marire charms. The prophet had assured his followers that his incantations and mana would render them bullet-proof; nevertheless two of them fell dead, pierced by balls from the Tapiri warriors, and several were wounded. The little band of Queenites fought their way back, losing five killed. These men were Eru te Erutaia, Tamehana te Wiremu Unuhia, Hohepa Matataia, Hemi Tamehana Anaru, and Te Ririapu.
The bodies of the first three named were decapitated by the Hauhau savages; the remaining two had hastily been concealed in the fern by their comrades, and so escaped mutilation with the tomahawk. The hacked-off heads were carried triumphantly to the foot of the niu at Hinamoki, and there Kereopa, in front of the people, snatched up each head in turn, scooped the eyes from it and swallowed them. Then, lifting up his voice in fanatic prayer-song, the cannibal priest, his face, hands, and garments smeared with blood, led his people in a burst of Pai-marire chanting round the niu. From this deed of ferocity following upon the crime at Opotiki, the arch-Hauhau came now page 90 to be known through the land as “Kereopa Kai-whatu” (or “Kai-karu”)—“Kereopa the Eye-eater.”
The three heads were set by Kereopa on the stage at the foot of the niu, beside the soldier's head, in the ceremonies which followed, and the prophet and his coadjutor old Solomon (Horomona Poropiti) exhorted the maddened tribespeople and prophesied complete victory over all pakehas and pakeha-favouring Maoris. Overhead flew the war-flags “Rura” and “Riki,” hoisted on the sacred mast. Round and round the niu again went the host of deluded worshippers, Kereopa the Eye-eater in the inner circle revolving about the pole, and the roar of hundreds of voices in the barking chorus was borne to the ears of the gallant little garrisons of the twin hills on Te Tapiri track.
Next day Kereopa boldly appeared in full view of the redoubts, on a bush-fringed ridge between Te Huruhuru pa and the hills of Okupu and Te Tapiri, and considerably more than half-way to the Queenite posts. The prophet was escorted by some of his disciples, who bore the heads of the three slain warriors of Ngati-Manawa. These heads were displayed on short sticks (turuturu) stuck in the ground, and over them Kereopa performed his Pai-marire ceremonies, crying his incantations and dancing with many and savage gestures. These insults to their dead infuriated the Ngati-Manawa and Ngati-Rangitihi, who from the parapets of Okupu fired several volleys at the Hauhaus at a range of about 300 yards, wounding a man named Meihana, one of the bearers of the heads. While Kereopa with his Pai-marire spells strove to strike terror into the Queenites, the walls of Okupu were crowded with men and women in an extraordinary state of rage mingled with fear. Their prophetess Hinekou was there, marching up and down the parapet, reciting her spells to whakaporangitia (cause madness to afflict) the enemy, and karakia to counteract those of Kereopa. While some of the musketeers directed a fire upon the prophet, others hurled curses at him, and some rolled up little balls of dough in their hands and, shouting, “See! I eat Kereopa's eyes!” swallowed them. So the strange scene continued until the volleys drove Kereopa and his head-bearers into cover in the gully beyond.
Ngati-Manawa and Ngati-Rangitihi were now in a desperate situation. Not only was their water-supply cut off, but their food-stores were very small, and their ammunition was almost expended. They were besieged and practically beleaguered, for while the skirmishing was going on on the tableland a party of the enemy had built another pa, hemming in the Queenites on the north. This pa was constructed on a sharp spur of the Tuahu-a-te-Atua Range, about three-quarters of a mile from Te Tapiri, and separated from it by a deep gully and steep slopes page 91 covered with bush and fern. The only way left clear was the western side, the sharp descent to the Rangitaiki Valley and the plains; but the two little garrisons did not intend to retreat until any other course was absolutely hopeless.
The leaders of Te Tapiri and Okupu at a council of war now resolved to launch at least one vigorous blow against their foes before abandoning their positions. Meanwhile Hinekou, the wise woman, waited for a tohu, a sign from the gods, and she counselled patience for a little while.
The old seeress watched the heavenly bodies at night and presently announced that the propitious time had arrived. The tohu was a small star just above the moon. Hinekou announced dramatically that it represented the small war-party of the Kawanatanga—the Government—while the moon symbolized the large force of the Hauhaus. The sight of the star in the ascendant signified that the Kawanatanga would prevail over the foe. The kokiri (the storming-party) had already been selected by the prophetess. One by one she told off the men for the assault. Some volunteers were bidden remain in the pa, for Hinekou's gods warned her that they would fall if they ventured forth. Certain eager young men marched out in spite of her admonitions and they were killed, as she had predicted.
The storming-party numbered seventeen men, led by Mauparaoa Puritia, Rewi Rangiamio, and Raharuhi. Armed with double-barrel guns and tomahawks, they left Te Tapiri quietly under cover of the darkness and made a long detour along the fern slopes on the west, facing the Kaingaroa Plain, ascending to the bush just below the pa well before the first signs of day-break. The bush grew close to the south-east side of the pa, and the gateway faced the dark growth of timber and fern which sheltered the little forlorn hope. The kokiri lay there awaiting the rising of Kopu (Jupiter, or Venus, as morning star), which was to be the signal for the attack. The assault was to synchronize with a series of feint attacks made simultaneously from Te Tapiri and Okupu redoubts against the three positions held by the enemy on the tableland. It was a winter's night, very cold at this altitude (about 2,300 feet), and the scantily clad warriors shivered as they lay in their cover anxiously awaiting the appearance of the morning star.
Suddenly a dark figure emerged from the gateway of the fort and walked down the track towards Rewi Rangiamio, who was crouching in the fern near the front face of the pa. The man was the Hauhau sentry. Unconscious of the nearness of his enemies, he moved along the track until he was almost on top of Rewi. That warrior could wait no longer. He fired both barrels of his gun into the sentry, who gave a great bound and fell dead. page 92 Leaping over the body, Rewi charged for the gateway, followed closely by several of his men. The other Queenites, posted at short intervals below the stockade, rushed for the nearest parts of the pa, and soon were clambering over the palisade and parapet. The pa, though small, was a strong place of defence, and could only have been taken by surprise. It had been constructed by cutting away the top of the sharp peaked hill and enclosing the flattened summit with an earth wall, ditch, and timber stockade. The whares of the garrison were built close up against the parapet, with the thatched roofs sloping inwards and the fronts open. Those of the kokiri who swarmed over the walls therefore found themselves on top of the huts. They thrust their guns through the flimsy roofs and shot some of the Hauhaus before they had time to rush outside.
There was desperate hand-to-hand work around the niu pole which stood in the centre of the pa. A man named Mihaere, of the Ngai-Tawhaki hapu of the Urewera, was shot at the foot of the niu. The surprise was complete; all who remained in the whares of the pa were shot or tomahawked. Those who escaped engaged the gallant little band as they fought their way back to Te Tapiri in the early foggy morning. Seven Hauhaus had been killed in the pa, but the loss inflicted on the enemy outside was much greater. One of the principal men shot was Te Roihi, of the Patu-heuheu; he was the too-wakeful sentry who received the contents of Rewi's tupara. Others of his comrades who fell in or around the walls were Karito, Wi Tere (Patu-heu-heu), Eria Toko-pounamu, and Ruka te Papaki (Ngai-Tawhaki).
The Queenites' loss was five killed and ten wounded. Rorerika, a fine old man of much courage, was shot through both thighs, and fell in the high fern below the fort. Both thigh-bones were broken, and Rorerika, knowing that his case was hopeless, with his tomahawk and hands scooped out a hole in the earth large enough to conceal his body from the enemy. The dying man then scraped the earth over himself as well as he could, and drew the fern around to hide all traces. So the old hero dug his own grave and saved his body from the mutilating tomahawk. The story of his last moments was plainly to be read by the relief-party of Arawa which arrived some days later, too late to join in the fighting.
Meanwhile the terrain between the Queenite redoubts and Hinamoki and Te Huruhuru was ringing with battle. The Queenites, immediately on hearing the first shots from Te Tuahu-a-te-Atua, delivered swift feint attacks on the Hauhau positions in order to hold the enemy's attention and prevent an effort to cut off Rewi and Raharuhi and their band. The parties told off for these operations took nearly the whole of the man-power of the garrisons; only five men could be spared to defend the forts, page 93 besides a number of women. These women, however, were as brave as their husbands and brothers. A courageous chieftainess named Maraea, a tower of strength to the Queenites by reason of her vigour and her prowess with a gun, was detailed to defend the waharoa, or gateway, of Te Tapiri pa. The attackers, assailed in their turn by hundreds of Hauhaus, were soon compelled to fall back on Te Tapiri, and a fierce fight was waged on the southern and eastern faces of that fort. Kereopa's men were beaten back from the walls after a strenuous attempt to storm. Maraea, the wahine toa, distinguished herself by shooting two men who had attempted to rush the gateway.
The members of the kokiri who had stormed the pa on Te Tuahu-a-te-Atua Ridge had desperate work in fighting their way back to their fort, from which they were cut off by a party of the enemy. They reached their friends at last, after making a long detour through rough and steep fern country. They were encumbered with the bodies of their killed and several men badly wounded—one had received an ounce bullet through his lungs—and finding it impossible to carry the dead off the field they concealed them in the fern, pressing the vegetation down round the bodies in such a manner that the foe never discovered the remains.
When the twelve survivors of the heroic storming-party at last rejoined their friends in Te Tapiri a council was held to consider further operations. Elation at the successful surprise attack upon Tuahu-a-te-Atua was tempered with the thought that if relief did not arrive very soon the position on the range would be quite untenable. Nevertheless, it was determined to hold the fort to the last possible moment.
Several days passed, made painful for the garrison by the want of food and water and the sufferings of the wounded. The one consolation was that they had inflicted so severe a blow upon the Patu-heuheu and kindred hapus at Te Tuahu-a-te-Atua that the survivors did not again occupy the hill pa; disgusted at their cutting-up, they marched off the field and left the other tribes to continue the siege.
Being now in a desperate strait, with scarcely any ammunition left, and with no prospect of relief, Ngati-Manawa and Ngati-Rangitihi resolved to abandon their posts. So, in the dead of night, having tied up their dogs and left their fires burning, to deceive the enemy, they quietly took the steep trail down through the tutu and fern to the Rangitaiki.
Daylight revealed to the Hauhau outposts the fact that the Tapiri redoubts were deserted, and a large force of Hauhaus came in pursuit. The retreating Kawanatanga men and women, however, having a few hours' start, had by that time crossed the page 94 Rangitaiki at a place where a precarious bridge, consisting of a single log, spanned the river, flowing rapidly through a narrow cañon, in places 100 feet deep and only 15 feet to 20 feet wide. This river-gorge, several miles in length, was crossed at three widely separated places by these perilous bridges. The retreating force used the bridge called “Te Arawhata a Noho-moke.” Wounded and all safely reached the west bank, and when the last man of the rearguard had crossed, Raharuhi with his tomahawk cut away the earth which supported the end of the arawhata, and the log fell into the rushing Rangitaiki. By the destruction of this bridge the pursuers were delayed, and the respite of several hours thus gained enabled the fugitives to continue their march unmolested until they reached the open tableland of the Kaingaroa. The persistent advance-party of the Urewera, however, still followed them, and only drew off when near Pekepeke, two small hills on the eastern side of the plateau, a few miles south of Murupara. Their retirement was prompted by the sight of a body of men crossing the plain to meet the retreating Queenites.
This was the long-expected relief-party, the main body of the Arawa, under Major William G. Mair, who had hurried up from the coast on receiving news of the siege at Te Tapiri, transmitted to Rotorua by the Ngati-Whaoa hapu at Paeroa Mountain. Mair took his force up into the range, the enemy retiring before him, and recovered the bodies of the slain friendlies.
So ended the plucky exploit of the friendlies on Te Tapiri Range, an epic of the Maori wars which has not until now found an historian. It was remarkable not only for the gallantry displayed by the small band of men and women who espoused the Government side, but for the observance of the ancient war-customs side by side with all the picturesque ritual of the Pai-marire. The Ngati-Manawa and Arawa expedition, although compelled to retire under pressure of numbers, accomplished its principal object, which was to frustrate Kereopa's plan to cross the plains and raise the Kingites against the Government. It was not long after Te Tapiri that he returned to Opotiki, for we hear of him there in August of 1865 bringing with him several heads of Government natives killed, smoke-cured, and preserved as trophies. These heads, he declared to his followers, would be efficacious as talismans in preventing the Government troops landing at Opotiki. That pakeha expedition was at hand. As for the Urewera who had come under the prophet's influence, but whose faith in the infallibility of his mana and incantations was somewhat shaken by the fall of so many men to the Kawanatanga bullets, Major Mair, with characteristic fearlessness, presently made a diplomatic visit to their headquarters and persuaded them to refrain from taking further active share in Kereopa's campaign.page 95
On the 14th March, 1920, Captain Gilbert Mair, N.Z.C., Harehare and two other men of Ngati-Manawa, and the writer camped in the tawa bush close to the Hinamoki pa, after exploring the battle-ground, and the old chief related many of the incidents narrated in this chapter. Harehare is now over eighty years of age. He wears the New Zealand War Medal for service on the Government side against the Hauhaus on many expeditions from 1866 to 1871. Other details were gathered at meetings with the Ngati-Manawa in their carved house, “Tangi-haruru,” at Murupara. The Urewera versions of the fighting differ from the Kawanatanga natives' narrative on some points.
Hinamoki (or Ohinamoki) was a settlement of Ngati-Whare. The Huruhuru pa was built by Tuhoe. It was not strongly fortified like Hinamoki Hill.
Harehare, when pointing out the spot where the Hauhau niu stood at Hinamoki, related that as the mountain tribes and Whakatohea were gathered one day on the marae surrounding the pole of worship, listening to Kereopa proclaiming the efficacy of his incantations against bullets, the faith of the disciples was rather damped when they suddenly received a volley which killed two of their number. The volley was fired by a Ngati-Manawa party at long range across the Hinamoki Creek. Harehare witnessed this incident.
Captain Mair supplied the following note about the casualties in the Tuahu-a-te-Atua fight:—
“Of the friendlies, Poia Ririapu had his lower jaw smashed; his son Katu was killed. Peraniko Tahawai (Parakiri) was very badly wounded. Ngaharare, Ngawaka's younger brother, was taken prisoner, flung on the ground, and held down while one of the enemy, placing his gun-muzzle (as he thought) on the centre of the neck, fired. The shot only stunned him; he lay still till next night, then recovered his senses and crawled out to rejoin his people. When Te Kooti raided Galatea in 1869 Ngaharare was taken prisoner, and later was shot by one of Te Kooti's men (accidentally, it was said, but really he was jealous of Ngaharare's predilection for his young wife). Of the seventeen men who attacked Te Tuahu-a-te-Atua five were killed and ten wounded. Mau-paraoa killed four or five Hauhaus with his tupara as they passed along a high ridge, showing clearly against the sky. He was a greater toa than Rewi Rangiamio. Another good fighter was Morihi, of Ngati-Rangitihi. As for the enemy, when I was sitting as Royal Commissioner dealing with Tuhoe lands, a surprising number of Ngati-Whare, Patu-heuheu, and Ngai-Tawhaki men were mentioned in sworn evidence as having been killed in the Tuahu-a-te-Atua fight. The total enemy loss must have been about twenty-five killed and the same number wounded. The loss effectually prevented Tuhoe and associated tribes from going to the Waikato.”