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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 8 (November 1, 1937)

Te Waka on the War-path

Te Waka on the War-path.

In the first dim light of dawn Bates was startled by Te Waka bursting into his hut. The Maori was armed with a tewhatewha, a wooden weapon shaped like a battleaxe, with a long handle, and a plume of hawk's feathers just below the blade. Bates was quite unarmed. Te Waka danced about, threatening him with death if he did not leave the village at once and return to the Mangatawhiri. The soldier hastily wrapped a blanket round his left arm to ward off the expected blow.

The maddened Maori's shouted threats brought the whole village out. Everyone was eager to see how the pakeha dealt with the Kingite champion. The wild man stood in the doorway brandishing his tewhatewha and yelling. One of the young women made a taunting remark. Te Waka struck her with the weapon. Next moment Haré Mokena jumped in and dealt him a blow with his fist.

“Run, run for your life!” cried a Maori, rushing and seizing Bates by the hand. He was not inclined to run; nevertheless he went with the Maori to a house where most of the women were gathered. There they begged him to wait till the mad fellow had cooled off. Meanwhile Te Waka was dashing about the place, striking viciously here and there with his tewhatewha. The sun rose, and with its coming, a complete change seemed to pass over the savage.

“Where is Te Peeti?” he asked quite mildly. “My anger is done. I am sorry I took his gun. I must make amends for it.”

Bates walked out to the village green. He distrusted the big warrior, and he kept the blanket on his left arm to take the first blow.

At the moment the pakeha appeared, Te Waka went mad again. He leaped into the air, his battleaxe thrust at arm's length above his head. He slapped his tattooed thigh, he went jumping to and fro uttering short, sharp sentences, his eyes glittering, glaring.

“You tell me!” he yelled, “that I have behaved treacherously! Yes, treacherously!” He charged up to Bates as if he were about to strike him down, then stopped short and slapped his thigh. He turned and trotted back, then ran forward again, whirling his weapon with its dancing plumes. “You call me treacherous! Yes, you have asked for satisfaction, for utu! Oh, yes, I'll give you satisfaction!”

“Now,” thought Bates, “it's coming! What a fool I am to stand here without a weapon to defend myself. Oh for my gun!” But he braced himself to look cool and keep on the alert for a lightning blow. The gun? Wise old Te Raro had hidden it until the trouble was over.