With regard to the native race who came to this part of New Zealand, tradition states that the first canoe that reached these shores
The Old Redoubt, New Plymouth. About 1870
was named Mateikoura, and was commanded by a chief named Kupe, who took possession of the country by naming all the mountains and rivers from Wanganui to Patea. The next canoe that arrived was called Aotea, and was commanded by the chief Turi, who gave names to all the rivers and mountains from Patea to Aotea. It is not known for certain what he named the mountain, but it has been called Pukekaupapa as well as Taranaki. The former word signifies an ice-clad hill. The ancestors of the Ngatiawa tribe are said to have come to New Zealand in a canoe called Tokomaru, commanded by a chief named Manaia, who, having murdered a number of men who had been working for him at Hawaii, one of the Sandwich Islands, felt it necessary to leave the island, and seek some other place where retributive justice would not overtake him. Manaia with his followers, in twenty canoes, made for the land first in the vicinity of the Bay of Islands, but he afterwards rounded the Cape, and worked his way with his party along the west coast, eventually entering the Waitara river, where he and those with him took up their abode. The district, however, was at that time occupied by some natives called Ngatimokotoiea. They were not a warlike race, and therefore Manaia and his people soon cleared the district of them, as those who were not killed made their way southwards. Mahoetahi, then called Ngapuketurua, situated on the banks of the Waiongona river, was the most ancient settlement of the Ngatiawa tribe, the spot being chosen because the hills afforded facilities for the creation of a number of fortified villages. As the Ngatiawa tribe increased in numbers, the young men, hearing of the exploits of their forefathers, were not satisfied to remain at home. Many of them, therefore, migrated, and some settled in the Bay of Plenty, along the east coast, near the Thames river, and ultimately at the North Cape. Others took up their abode at places on both sides of Cook's Strait, whence the natives, previously there, were driven away by these restless, marauding and powerful Ngatiawa. The date of the Ngatiawas' coming to New Zealand will never be known, but it must have been two or three hundred years before the Europeans began to visit the country, and several generations must have passed away for the tribes to have increased in numbers as they had when Europeans first came in contact with them.
In strict accuracy, the name of Taranaki was given to the tribe and district south of the Sugar Loaves, while the country stretching northward to the White Cliffs was known as Tokomaru. The whole country had been gradually occupied by various hapus of the Ngatiawa, whose kinship did not
Te Whero Whero.
prevent the internecine warfare which was one of the permanent facts of aboriginal life in these islands. Between 1805 and 1810 the Pukeariki pa, on the present site of New Plymouth, was the scene of a desperate struggle between the Taranakis and Atiawas, whose home was near the White Cliffs. About the same time the southern half of the North Island owed a nominal alleigance to Te Rauparaha. But the introduction of arms and ammunition into the island by the great northern chief Hongi, on his return from a visit to England in 1820, changed the conditions of native warfare, and shifted the balance of power. Rauparaha retreated before the attack of Tamati Waka Nene, Hongi's chief lieutenant, and, establishing himself at Kapiti, he became feudal lord of the tribal lands on either side of Cook Strait. As Te Rauparaha retired, the Waikatos, under Te Whero Whero—the “Napoleon of New Zealand,” and afterwards crowned as King Potatau—began to make incursions southward; and the use of firearms, now fairly common among the natives, vastly increased the slaughter incidental to these tribal raids. From 1822 to 1837 was, says Mr. W. Colenso, “a truly fearful period in New Zealand. Blood flowed like water; and there can be no doubt that the number killed during those fifteen years, including those who perished in consequence of the wars, far exceeded 60,000 persons.” It was not, however, till 1831 that the sanguinary Te Whero Whero, “a man of majestic proportions, terrible and ruthless in warfare,” first came into conflict with the Ngatiawa. In that year, a small party of Waikatos visited Ngamotu (the Sugar Loaves) ostensibly to catch shark, but in reality to spy out the land. Early next year, Te Whero Whero led a taua (war party) of 4,000 Waikatos to attack the unsuspecting Ngatiawas near the Waitara, and these fled to Pukerangiora, a stronghold above the river banks. The pa was taken after some resistance, and Te Whero Whero killed fifty of the captives himself as a prelude to a great cannibal feast. Te Whero Whero then led his taua to attack Moturoa, the pa on the mainland near Ngamotu, which was defended by 350 Ngatiawa, led by eleven Europeans. These white men were whalers and traders, all powerful and experienced fighting men, well accustomed to carry their lives in their hands, and much dreaded for their superior skill in the use of guns. The famous “Dicky” Barrett was the soul of the defence, and he was well backed by his comrades Love, Wright, Ashdown, Bundy, and Phillips. The siege of Moturoa was carried on for several weeks, during February and March, 1832, and ended in the repulse of the Waitakos. After several fights and treacherous attacks, which Barrett and Love aided the natives to defeat with equal skill and courage, the besiegers made a last united and desperate
attack upon the position. They were finally driven off with the loss of 350 killed and wounded, and the Ngatiawa hurried out to secure the bodies and devour them. The horrible scenes which followed have been vividly described in Well's “History of Taranaki,” and Seffern's “Chronicles of Taranaki.” But the remnant of the Ngatiawa, though for the time victorious, felt that they could not hope to withstand the Waikatos for long; and they determined to migrate southward in the train of their relatives, who had followed the fortunes of Te Rauparaha. Only a scanty remnant of the once powerful Ngatiawa was left, and these still occupied the district when the pioneers of the first European settlement were guided by “Dicky” Barret from Wellington to Taranaki, in 1811.
Inglewood Troop Of Hawera Mounted Rifles At Drill At Lepterton.