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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 9 (December 1, 1938)

The Ngatitoa Trek from Kawhia

The Ngatitoa Trek from Kawhia.

In his “History of the Taranaki Coast,” Percy Smith records that in 1821 the famous Ngatitoa chief, Te Rauparaha, whose followers were being continually harassed by Waikato tribes armed with muskets, made his historic trek from Kawhia. Hampered by all their belongings, and their elderly tribesmen and women and children, and travelling through country inhabited by hostile tribes, this exodus to the southern end of the North Island was indeed a heroic and desperate venture. Fighting their way almost every mile right down the coast from Taranaki, they eventually reached Otaki, whence they made frequent successful sallies against the Wairarapa and Rangitikei tribes.

Kapiti at this period was occupied by enemy tribes, and from his look-out at Otaki, Te Rauparaha cast longing eyes across the 12 miles strait that separates this strategic island rampart from the mainland at that point. He led several canoe expeditions across that sea barrier, but each attempt to surprise the defenders was repulsed, generally with heavy losses.