The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Taranaki, Hawke's Bay & Wellington Provincial Districts]
The Maoris and The Colonists
The Maoris and The Colonists.
So far as the natives were concerned the early settlers in Hawke's Bay had very little cause for complaint. Even in the very early days when the Maoris far outnumbered the white settlers, the natives were almost always friendly. In 1837 there was a fierce tribal quarrel between Te Hapuhu and Moananui, the leading chiefs of the district. But though a number of natives lost their lives through the feud, both parties frequently protested their friendship for the pakehas, and their determination on no account to injure the white settlers. Moananui and his followers finally secured possession of the extremely valuable Ahuriri plains; but neither they nor their defeated rivals made any attempt to molest the Europeans. It was not till the Hauhau rebellion and the descent of Te Kooti on the East Coast that the Maoris and the whites in Hawke's Bay came into conflict.
Kereopa by this time had worked through the country down to Poverty Bay, and in 1868 he had gained such a hold over the natives that Bishop Williams and his family were obliged to retire to Napier for safety. Mr. McLean urged upon the notice of the Government the importance of the movement in its early stages, and Majors Biggs and Fraser were ordered to march on Poverty Bay, with the co-operation of the Ngatiporou chiefs Ropata and Mokena. Wacrenga — a — heka, a strong pa, was stormed, though bravely defended by the Hauhaus, and large numbers of prisoners were taken. At this juncture we first meet the notorious Te Kooti, who, though professedly friendly to the whites, was accused of intriguing with the Hauhaus. A little later he was shipped off to the Chatham Islands along with the worst characters from the Waiapu and Poverty Bay tribes. It is quite possible that there was no real ground for the charges brought against him. In any case he was deported without trial, seemingly on the general pretext that he was a troublesome and daring man, a professional thief and blackmailer. But whatever may have been the degree of his guilt, it is certain that the atrocities afterwards committed by him and his followers in this district, were inspired by a desire for vengeance against those who had sent him into exile.
During 1865–66 there was a good deal of trouble with the Wairoa tribe—a branch of the great Ngatikahungunu family. Kopu Para-para, one of the bravest chiefs, fortunately remained faithful to the English, while the skill and courage of Ropata were as usual of immense service to his white friends. A large body of native, including Uriwera, to the number of 500, gathered together at Waikaremoana, the lake on the border of Tuhoeland, now so famous for its picturesque scenery. They were defeated through the resourcefulness and valour of Ropata; and Tuatini, one of the old generation of chiefs, who had once ruled over the whole East Coast, was among the slain.
So far as the East Coast was concerned, the trouble with the Maoris for some years centered round the tribes connected with the Opotiki outrages, and the murder of Mr. Volkner. The Ngati-ira hapu, which was accused of complicity in this crime, once formed a formidable tribe, having held all the country then possessed by the Ngatiporous. The Poverty Bay tribes and the Uriwera were their kinsmen, and the sympathy shown for them along the East Coast rendered it necessary to send an expedition against them. Colonel Lyon and Captain Newland succeeded in breaking up the Hauhau forces, and recapturing most of the booty taken from the Opotiki settlers. A long series of desultory skirmishes followed, but ultimately the Uriwera were driven back into their own inaccessible country, and troubled the Europeans no more till 1868, when Te Kooti once more came upon the scene.
In July, 1868, the schooner “Rifleman” called at the Chatham Islands with Government stores for the use of the 200 Maori prisoners, who were then interned on the islands under the supervision of Captain Thomas and fifteen men. Te Kooti and his followers suddenly seized the arms and ammunition of their guards, overpowered the crew, and captured the ship. They behaved with kindness to the women and children, and killed only one man who offered resistance. On the 5th the vessel started under her new masters for the New Zealand coast. On the 10th they landed a little to the south of Poverty Bay, and disembarked the provisions, guns and powder with which the “Rifleman” was loaded. Major Biggs, the Resident Magistrate of the district, advanced against them with a force of volunteers and friendly natives, but found them too strongly posted to admit of a successful attack. The Hauhaus then retreated inland into rough country, and Major Biggs, pursuing them, was repulsed with loss at Paparatu. Colonel Whitmore had been summoned from Wangamu on the news of Te Kooti's escape, and he now took command, leading his men a desperate chase over very rough country in pursuit of the agile and lightly encumbered Hauhaus. One division of his force, under Captain Richardson, was beaten at Te Konahi, while Coloel Whitmore, following too closely and incautiously on the Hauhaus, was page 288 driven back with loss at Ruakituri.
These successes naturally increased Te Kooti's “mana,” and brought him many recruits. He gave out that he intended to advance toward the Waikato and dethrone the King. But in the mean-time he had resolved to exact vengeance from the pakehas of the district for their share in his deportation. His followers murdered a young Wairoa chief and several of his men, and the friendly natives—600 Ngatiporou and Ngatikahungunu—gathered to attack the Hauhaus. But Te Kooti easily evaded them, and advanced rapidly toward Poverty Bay. In spite of the fact that prisoners were captured who revealed the intentions of the Hauhaus, no message was sent to Poverty Bay to warn the settlers. When rumours of the coming danger did eventually reach the district, Major Biggs refused to countenance any serious preparation for defence. The military men on the spot all seem to have argued that Te Kooti would never advance on Poverty Bay, because he would thus leave his rear exposed. But they had soon to learn that Maoris had no particular respect for British military traditions. On the 9th of November, Te Kooti came down on the unprotected settlement, and almost without opposition murdered in cold blood thirty-seven friendly natives and thirty-three whites—men, women, and children.
The news of this atrocious crime aroused the authorities to resolute action, and within a fortnight a body of 600 friendly natives and whites were again in pursuit of Te Kooti. The Hauhaus were defeated with loss at Karetu, and thence they retired to the almost inaccessible stronghold of Ngatapa. An attack was made on this position by Ropata with the Ngatiporou, but it failed; and Te Kooti, after defending himself for some time against Ropata and Colonel Whitmore, eventually escaped. Over 120 of his followers were killed, and that portion of the East Coast was cleared of the Hauhaus. Te Kooti subsequently appeared among the Uriweras, and persuaded them to join with him in a raid towards Mohaka in the Hawke's Bay district. It this expedition he killed seven Europeans, and fifty-seven friendly natives, losing only twelve of his own men. As Lieutenant Gudgeon says in his “Remminscences of the War,” nothing in the history of these campaigns is more remarkable than the ascendancy that Te Kooti exercised over the Maori mind and in spite of numerous defeats and losses he could always depend upon finding some of the tribes ready to do his bidding. After an arduous march to Lake Waikare-Moana the colonial forces drove him further back into the Uriwera country. He made an other foray on the East Coast in the direction of Tolago Bay; and the indefatigable Ropata conducted another unsuccessful march in pursuit of the Haunaus, right up to the borders of Tuhoeland. In 1872 a fourth expedition set out from Poverty Bay under Captain Porter in pursuit of Te Kooti, and after suffering great hardships succeeded in surprising the lebel chief at Ruahapu. But here again To Kooti eluded his pursuers, escaping with only nine men. He finally sought refuge in the Waikato with the King party; and with this disappearance ends all strife between Maoris and Europeans on the East Coast or in the Hawke's Bay district.