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Maoria: A Sketch of the Manners and Customs of the Aboriginal Inhabitants of New Zealand.

Chapter VIII

page 136

Chapter VIII.

Had man changed or had the seasons altered since the arrival of the immigrants from Hawaiki? Man certainly had changed, and nature seemed to have altered in unison. A few centuries, a mere drop in the ocean of time, had proved sufficient to change the soft sybarite of Hawaiki, or his descendants, into the fierce Maorian soldier, who believed that war and glory were the breath of man's nostrils. He had gradually developed into a proud, brave, self-possessed, athletic, energetic, industrious barbarian; delighting in battle and intolerably conceited of his own military prowess, or of that of his chiefs, whose deeds he believed had never been equalled. It would be injustice to omit his kindness and forbearance to his tribe and to his friends, though these virtues were counterbalanced by his ruthlessness and abominable cruelty to his enemies. Nature, too, had changed since the arrival of Te Arawa and page 137her consorts of the immigrant fleet, or they never could have crossed the stormy seas which separate Hawaiki from Maoria. Nor if even they had sighted the dreamed-of land, could the feet of the famine-pinched crews have touched the shore; the surging breakers must have shattered their frail vessels upon the ironbound west coast. Physically improved as the race had become, and well acquainted as they were with the winds, the coasts, and the estuaries, to venture over the bars which blocked the mouths of all the rivers upon the west coast, was looked upon as a matter never unaccompanied by danger, and only to be undertaken in the very finest weather, and even then with great precaution. The storms of winter over, "the bird-moon" (November), the month in which the young sea-birds are fledged and become fit for food, seldom passed without the Ngatiroa war canoes venturing across the bar to Ahana, a rocky storm-beaten island some fifteen miles from the mainland. Myriads of sea-birds built their nests in the rock, where it was impossible to walk without treading upon them; and so numerous were fish a short distance from the shore, that when fishing for the magnificent hapuka (cod-fish)—some of which weighed more than a hundred-weight—a very heavy sinker was requisite, that the bait might pass swiftly through the shoals of tamura (bream), of little account in comparison with their great fat neighbours, who lived below them. Fish and birds were certain to reward the risk of a voyage to Ahana, but the best prizes of these dangerous page 138expeditions were the seals, some of which were always surprised upon the rock and carried back in triumph to Ngutukaka.

The gales of spring had extended into summer, making the weather-wise predict "a year of storms," as they had confidently predicted a year of famine, "a sun year," before the late rain fell; the bird-month was passing, and the weather had not yet permitted the canoes to venture to Ahana.

At length the prudence of Karaka was overcome by the impatience and importunity of his followers, who urged that if they delayed longer the young birds would have all flown; and he was induced to put to sea before the weather was quite settled. The rock was some miles distant when the rising west wind made the crews repent of their rashness, and pull with all their strength to gain the shelter it offered. Ahana, when approached from the east, and still at a distance, looks like a great ship which has turned over and is floating bottom upwards. Seen nearer, the island resembles a bent bow rising gradually from the ends to the rugged ridge which forms the centre. The west or windward side of the island rises in bold cliffs from the sea, which has worn and torn away the limestone until large detached masses of fantastic shape form miniature islands near the parent rock. Some of these detached rocks, the sea, in the course of ages, has worn into obelisks; others, where the limestone is softer and intersected with parallel seams, which time and the ocean have enlarged and grooved, look as though they had page 139been built in layers by the hand of man: but all afforded homes of perfect security to innumerable tenants, which, when the canoes landed on the main rock, joined the thousands of their less fortunate neighbours, who, screaming in the air, were complaining that the great destroyer had come to rob them of their young.

The canoes, having reached the shelter of the island, in silence and with noiseless paddles entered the only landing-place—a rent in the rock, where landing, if not easy, was at least practicable. This rent or cove was also the only place upon the rock whence the seals could take the water, and from thence their pursuers intended to make them attempt to effect their escape.

Entering the cove, the seal hunters formed a semi-circle through which the seals must pass, if they could be forced, by a few of the first who landed, to make for the sea. A small herd of fur seals were basking in the shelter afforded by the centre of the island, but alarmed by the noise with which the sea-birds screamed their dislike to the unwonted intrusion into their domain, they rushed to make their escape over the cliffs, pursued by the men who had proceeded in advance to drive them down to the landing-place. The hunt was unsuccessful, nearly the whole of the seals escaping over the cliffs; and one old male, who was overtaken by the two fleetest of the pursuers, turned upon them, broke their clubs, and threw them heavily upon the rocks. Two or three cubs formed the sole bag of that day's hunt. During the week the canoes were detained upon the rock by the gale of wind, their experience, however, enabled the page 140crews to improve their tactics, and two or three successful expeditions enabled them to fully retrieve the misadventure of the first day's seal hunting.

"A gale of wind" always extinguishes a good many lights, and darkens many homes. In this case many many lives paid, though indirectly, the cost of the gale which detained the little fleet at Ahana, where we must for the present leave it, the crews seal hunting and fowling, while we relate what was taking place at Ngutukaka during its absence.

Ngutukaka had scarcely lost sight of the canoes when a messenger was seen rapidly approaching along the north sands. He proved to be a herald to announce the approach of a great embassy from the Northern Tribe, to whom Karaka had presented the unfortunate hapu of Pihoe. This announcement created the greatest excitement, for among the ambassadors were Waata and Rehutai, and Pakapa-kutotai, the great Northern Tohunga, who, in his own country, was as famous as Ngawhare was in the centre of the island. With the exception of its Ariki the north had sent forth its greatest princes upon this embassy, the purport of which was to request admission into the confederacy the central tribes had formed for the purpose of attacking the tribes upon the south-east coast.

The rank of ambassadors, or upon less important occasions, of messengers, was always a matter of importance; it being understood that the higher the rank of the persons sent, the greater the compliment paid, and the more difficult the refusal of the proposal or page 141request. Three generations had grown up since the last war between the northern and the central tribes, for the oldest men of the Ngatiroa, whose years numbered more than a century, had heard the tale from their fathers. The war, after being conducted with fury by both parties, had dropped from exhaustion; but the loss of the greatest man killed in it, Anatipa, had fallen upon the Ngatiroa, and still rankled in the breasts of his descendants. The former embassy of the Rarawa, composed of persons of little consequence, having not only returned in safety but brought back a valuable present of slaves, had thrown the tribe off their guard; and, misled by their anxiety to be permitted to share in the attack upon the east coast, they were induced to think that their ancient enemies had consented to make peace. The result of this belief was the present great embassy, which brought valuable presents of arms and garments in return for Karaka's present of slaves. Their greatest chiefs were about to arrive in person to formally make peace, and request that they might join the central confederacy. Intense excitement prevailed in Ngutukaka upon the announcement of the approach of the embassy, and the Runanga met in consultation.

"They are walking alive into the oven," said Ruia; "remember Anatipa!"

"What!" replied Te Wira, "would you slay these men who are coming hither induced to do so by our own act? I shall not give my consent, it would be an act of treachery, a kohoru; my spirit tells me that it page 142would be wrong and displeasing to the Being our ancestors worshipped in the Morai at Hawaiki."

"How mean you?" rejoined the Tohunga; "do you suppose that the Invisible condescends to guide or to view in detail the actions of such as you?"

"Perhaps so," answered the Ariki; "how else did the ten canoes from Hawaiki cross the sea now tumbling before us?"

"Who can say? but I may as well ask why the landslip fell and crushed the town of Oniatangi?" returned Ngawhare.

"Well, we know nothing for a certainty, but I feel that I am right, which you cannot say. I love war, but I also love a straight road to the war; and these men shall be received as our honoured guests."

The Tohunga was not, for a Maori, a bloodthirsty man; but his vanity was interested in the destruction of the only rival to his celebrity. Looking seaward, he saw that the rising gale would prevent the return of Karaka from Ahana for some days, and he felt master of the situation. Karaka was the only man he dared not have thwarted; he had therefore successfully opposed his being named the Ariki of the tribe. Had Karaka been present, he would never have dared to defiantly answer the meditative Te Wira.

"You talk like a woman; one cause of war is as good as another. These madmen have insulted us by coming hither, they shall not escape owing to the softness of a dreamer. I shall appeal to the warriors;" and he withdrew, taking with him his powerful disciple Tomo.

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While they went to scheme the destruction of the ambassadors, Te Wira, grieving, but feeling powerless to arrest the actions of the others, however fatal they might prove, proceeded to Kauroa, where there had been a general move from the Hill-fort. Placing himself at the head of his warriors, he received the ambassadors with the usual dance of welcome, succeeded by salutations, embraces, and rubbing faces, thereby having, as far as lay in his power, secured their safety. Having conducted them to Ngutukaka, and placed them in the guest-house, he bade them farewell, intimating that upon the following day he would receive their proposals. Satisfied in his own mind that he was upon the straight path in striving to save the lives of the strangers, he was shocked to learn that his efforts in their favour had been frustrated by his brother, acting under the direction of the Tohunga. With Tomo's demand for the death of the Rarawa, the warriors, like the people, seldom merciful when possessed of power, had joyfully acquiesced. Thus was irrevocably sealed the fate of the ambassadors.

Forthwith messengers were despatched to the most distant settlements of the tribe, announcing the arrival and impending slaughter of the ambassadors, to be of course followed by war with the Rarawa, and inviting the presence of the principal chiefs at what was looked upon as the formal declaration of hostilities. The morning after their arrival, the twelve northern magnates were received in public by the Ariki of the Ngatiroa. Seated in the midst of his chiefs he received them very graciously. Their attendants then pro-page 144duced the valuable presents, and threw them down before Te Wira to show that, whatever might be the value of the gifts, they were given with a free heart. All of the tribe who were near at hand were assembled. Round the chiefs were seated the warriors, and beyond them the women and children. Silence reigned for a time, when the orator of the embassy rose and adressed the assembly. "A thousand greetings to you all, brought upon the wings of the warm north wind. Too long have our tribes been separated by cold blasts from the angry south. Let no one enquire the cause of the long separation of our fathers; let us not uncover what time has concealed; we are now brothers, and when you go we would go at your back. The united might of the north and the central river shall, joined together, go forth to battle, and the whole Island shall tremble at our march? That is all I have to say." Then rose Te Wira. "Welcome! welcome! welcome my friends! Our messengers are gone to call together the tribe. When they return and the canoes come back from Ahana, you shall see the strength of the great River, and receive our reply to your proposal." The chiefs of the Ngatiroa then freely mingled with the Rarawa ambassadors; the soothsayers singling one another out and tenderly embracing. "Brother," said Ngawhare, "what say the stars? are they propitious to your embassy?" Pakapaka replied, "Man of understanding, without doubt you have observed that the stars are numerous near the moon, presaging war. Last night, if you consulted the skies, page 145you must have seen that a star was close to the moon, an undoubted prediction of a great calamity." Ngawhare asked no further question.

"Soup To-morrow," placarded upon the back of a turtle sprawling helplessly in a restaurant window, raises some small languid feeling of interest in passers-by, even when they have not the remotest expectation or intention of gormandizing upon the unhappy stranger. How great, therefore, must have been the interest felt in the twelve distinguished gentlemen who, to the multitude assembled in that public square, represented the turtle, and who were equally unconscious of their impending fate. Meantime every man present veiled the implacable enemy beneath the courteous host, and impatiently awaited the assembly of the tribe, that he might partake of turtle soup in revenge for the death of Anatipa. Not a man, not a woman, not even a child that could tell its right hand from its left, but knew that the decree had gone forth devoting to slaughter the representatives of the northern tribe, and kept the secret. Civilised man can keep to the death a secret affecting his own home or the honour of his family, but he does not know the meaning of a national secret—it is a thing beyond his comprehension. If his people yearn after communism, deism, socialism, or any other ism, or if his princes misbehave themselves, forthwith he takes the whole world into his confidence, and proclaims the backsliding to the five corners of the earth. Uncivilized man scorns the idea of keeping secret anything regarding himself as an injury to page 146society, but a national secret he never betrays; as some of the late immigrants in Maoria have learned at a cost which has already exceeded that of the Abyssinian war. England, too, may one day learn to her sorrow that a semi-civilized nation can cherish for generations a secret purpose. Is there not even now a gigantic European-Asiatic power, faithful to its hidden traditions of universal empire, crouching on our Indian frontiers and biding its time for the final spring?

To return to our soup. Patience was exhausted upon the mainland before the return of the expedition from Ahana. Six days, twice the ordinary duration of a westerly gale, had elapsed, and the whole tribe had assembled and were impatiently expecting the return of Karaka. For a day or so the gusts of wind had been more moderate, and longer intervals of calm had occurred between them; above the bar, across the mouth of the river, no longer roared and foamed the high white walls of surf, forbidding entrance or egress to far more powerful vessels than frail canoes.

On the seventh day, smoke arising from a hill seaward of Ngutukaka, on which a look-out party were stationed, gave the long wished-for notice that the canoes were approaching. Presently, taking advantage of the top of high water, when the bar was at the smoothest, they crossed it without accident, and were soon alongside of the landing-place, eagerly listening to the great news of the arrival of the embassy and of its impending destruction.

Karaka belonged to the order of men who, to their sorrow, possess greater instinct, and can draw in-page 147ductions and fathom motives with more accuracy than their fellows.

When his brother Te Wira told him how he had opposed the destruction of the embassy, and how the Tohunga had obtained its condemnation by appealing to the warriors, he at once penetrated the selfish motive of the soothsayer in wishing to be the sole possessor of "mana" sufficient to invoke a response from the spirits, by whom all believed that they lived surrounded. He felt dissatisfied with himself, as well as with the course of events. Had he been present, a word to the Tohunga, hinting that his motive in wishing for the destruction of the ambassadors was understood, would have effectually silenced him; beside this, he felt that the Tohunga feared him, and, had he been the Ariki, would not have dared to oppose his wish by an appeal to the warriors. He remembered, like an almost forgotten dream, the suspicions which had crossed his mind, when, at the Runanga held before his father's death, the Tohunga had first proposed, and then opposed, his being named the Ariki of the tribe. Now that it was too late he saw all; and, but that his philosophy forbade him regret the past, he would have regretted that, out of deference to his elder brother, he had refused to pilot the state canoe of the Ngatiroa. He had refused the chief seat in the stern; and if the ill-steered vessel upset from mismanagement, whose would be the blame? But Maoris never troubled themselves to lament the past, and the name of Fate or Chance, page 148or whatever rules the destinies of men, was to them unknown, They accepted the living present, and whatever it gave birth to, good or evil. Karaka consented to what it was out of his power to prevent, and the ambassadors were informed that on the following day the assembled tribe would answer their proposals.

On the eventful morning the tribe arrayed themselves for the ceremony. Their hair decorated with feathers, and wearing their finest shawls, they early surrounded the guest-house, for it was reported that the ambassadors would receive their reply after the morning meal. Presently a train of women approached, bearing covered baskets of a peculiar shape, which were used when food of unusual delicacy was offered to guests, ordinary food being served in uncovered baskets. The ambassadors marked this additional mark of appetising attention with congratulatory glances, anticipating a meal of the choicest spoils of Ahana. The baskets were placed before them, a thousand eyes were fixed upon them; they slowly uncovered them, and found they were filled with garbage, the signal of death. They would have sprung to their weapons, which hung upon the walls behind them, that they might have the satisfaction of dying fighting with arms in their hands, but this was denied them. The nearest warriors overpowered and slew them before they could rise. But one escaped the slaughter. A Ngatiroa chief, who had been comparing genealogies with one of the Rarawa, discovered that the latter was in some way related to him—was perhaps his seventeenth cousin; he had, therefore, with-page 149out communicating his intention to any one, taken his place behind his connection, and on the appearance on the board of the Maori bull's head, he threw his garment over him and embraced him, loudly exclaiming, "I save my relation!"

The solitary chief saved was directed to choose an attendant from those who had accompanied his party, the others being as a matter of course detained as slaves, and return to his tribe with the account of how the men of the river received embassies from their enemies; in other words, with the Ngatiroa defiance and declaration of war.

A nation living in the belief that war is the normal state of man, and ever ready to support their creed with the arms which were never out of their hands, required no preparation for battle. Every able-bodied Ngatiroa was a soldier; their fortifications were in their own opinion perfect; their stores were full of food, and they were ready and willing to play out the grand game to which they had challenged their distant neighbours. The question was, were they to act upon the offensive or defensive? Their own choice pointed to the former line of action, but, without the assistance of the tribes living up the river, they could not attempt to invade the North. With the utmost expedition the heads of the ambassadors who had been slain were hard baked, till they presented the appearance with which the zeal of the early visitors to Maoria has made the world familiar, for there is scarcely a museum in the world unprovided with a "New Zealand head."

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The heads, cured by an art as yet neither extinct or unpractised, were sent in charge of some of the chiefs to be shown to the up-river tribes, with an invitation to join in an invasion of the North. The great Maniawhere Tribe, upon whose decision depended whether or no the rest of the up-river tribes returned a favourable reply, declined to join the Ngatiroa. They said, "The root of the quarrel is not straight. Had you slain those men at once without rubbing faces, you would have acted correctly. As it is, you have performed an act of treachery, and we shall not come at your back." Nothing disheartened by this refusal of support, the Ngatiroa awaited the attack, confident of adding to the renown of their maiden fortress. If they could not play at invading their neighbours, the finest game in life, they would, the next best thing, defend themselves in an impregnable fortress; and this they could do without the assistance of allies, presumably jealous of the fortunate possessors of the strongest citadel, the richest eel weir, and the greatest number of gentlemen by descent of any tribe in the island.

Spies, or perhaps we should say scouts, performed an important part in Maoria warfare. To enter the country of an enemy as a spy and converse with the inhabitants was an impossibility. Every man was known to his fellows; besides, the different accent of the various tribes was so marked that a man's nationality could always be detected by his tongue. The scouts were the bravest and most active warriors, and proceeded upon their hazardous duty either singly or in page 151twos and threes. Scouts shunned roads, and, when approaching an enemy's village, avoided the paths which were sure to be watched, and, worming their way through the forest during the night, concealed themselves in a tree, or other commanding place, from whence they could see what was taking place in their enemies' lines; or, under cover of the darkness, they would crawl to the defences and strive to listen to the plans of their enemies. When detected, flight was their only chance of escape from death by torture; and a man fatigued by such dangerous duties was placed at a disadvantage when pitted against fresh men, whose lives were not staked upon the event. To have scouted successfully was therefore a most honourable claim to distinction, and one sought after by the most promising young warriors.

Ngutukaka was separated from the estuary on which lived the Rarawa by forty miles of wild hilly country, which the termination of the last war between the tribes had left wholly depopulated, the Rarawa having removed to the north side of the estuary. Latterly they had reoccupied its southern side, and there the Ngatiroa scouts reported they were concentrating. Day after day the scouts brought tidings that large numbers of men were crossing from the north side of the Firth. The attack would not therefore be much longer delayed. Finally, the news was brought that the enemy was setting fire to and burning the country through which the road lay. Maori roads, or war paths as they might be more correctly designated, whenever it page 152was possible, ran along the crests of mountain-ranges, to secure the wandering warriors from ambush and attack while unavoidably scattered upon the line of march. To be thus surprised and attacked they were peculiarly liable in the lowlands, from the dense vegetation, which in many places obliged them to march in Indian file.

The road from Ngutukaka to the north, after crossing; the river, proceeded for some miles along the sandy beach, and then, coming to precipitous rocks, struck inland, to revert again to the shore, as soon as the formation of the coast admitted of its being used as a road. The boundary of the two tribes was a sluggish stream which crawled through a swampy plain, situated nearly halfway between the two estuaries. At least, this was asserted to be the boundary by the northern tribes, while the Ngatiroa asserted that their boundary was upon the top of a ridge about two miles further north. This strip of worthless ground tradition said was the origin of the quarrel between the tribes. Onéwhero certainly had been the scene of numerous battles, and it, or Its neighbourhood, was about to become the scene of another. In the centre of the plain the road passed through a swamp in which stood the remains of an ancient forest. The swamp had been formed by a tree dropping across the course by which the rainfall found its way to the neighbouring river, and the damming up of the water had caused the forest to fall into decay, and left a lingering hospital of giants rapidly returning to their mother earth. The burning suns of summer had page 153dried up the swamp; and the decaying forest, full of rank dry grass and reeds, blazed so fiercely when fired by the Rarawa, that the smoke which arose from it at once carried the tale of its destruction to Ngutukaka. For several days afterwards the spies who returned reported that the trees were burning; at last some heavy rain fell, and they reported that the fires were extinguished, and that the blackened trunks of some of the giant pine-trees were still standing, while others were lying prostrate.

By-and-by the scouts brought back word that no more parties had joined the Rarawa, and that the latter were manœuvring preparatory to marching. The time had therefore arrived for Karaka to execute the plan he had privately resolved upon when the tribes of the upper Waitebuna refused their co-operation. In Maori warfare the attacking army was invariably the stronger, and its defeat, if it occurred, was usually the result of an unsuccessful attack upon some fortress. Karaka resolved to reverse the established order of warfare, and march forth to give the invaders combat. The description his scouts brought him of the burned swamp in the Onéwhero determined him in the selection of a field on which to fight the battle. In time of active war the authority of the war chief superseded all authority whatever; not only that of the Ariki and the head chiefs, but even that of public opinion. Whatever the war chief did or ordered, the public applauded and obeyed.

Karaka had daily manœuvred his army, and marched it about the country, seeking upon every variety of page 154rough ground to harden and improve the endurance of his men; and the rapidity with which they formed front, charged, changed front, broke into parties for pursuit, re-formed column, and so on, could not have been equalled by any troops less lightly armed. Charging in wedge-shaped column or phalanx, the best form in which to attack when men fight by the light of their enemies' eyes, and not in the sulphurous mist of "the grave of valour," as our ancestors called gunpowder, was the favourite Maori manœuvre both upon parade and in battle, and in this Karaka had exercised his army till even he was satisfied. On their final field-day he addressed them, and told them that upon no battle-field had he seen so swift and solid an advance, and that the next time they charged, it should be through the ranks of the Rarawa. Accordingly, he ordered all to be ready that afternoon when the sun had run three-fourths of his course; every man to bring sufficient food for himself for three days. Upon the troops parading, he walked along the line, saying here and there to a man in the decline or in the beginning of life, "You will remain," never giving any reason or allowing any one to dare to ask him why. Turning to those who were to remain behind, he addressed to them a few words of caution, desiring them to be vigilant during his absence; and, naming his brother, Te Wira, his deputy in military matters during his absence, he formed up his line of march.

Assuming the place of command, the centre of the left flank of the departing column, with a prodigous page 155bound into the air he led off the war dance and song. England, it has been said, will never look again upon the like of those majestic regiments of guards who marched from London to fight at Alma and Inkermann. So Maoria, since that fatal day, has never looked upon so splendid a body of men as those, who, taller and finer even than the British Guardsmen, shook the ground around Ngutukaka, as with voice and foot they kept time with the tramp and the song of the fearless Karaka. The dance finished, the army commenced its march, and was rapidly ferried across the river at Kauroa. Forming up his men upon the north bank, Karaka briefly addressed them, telling them that the Tohunga and himself had the previous night consulted the auspices, and that the spirits promised them an easy victory. He then announced that he required volunteers for the advanced guard; men who could trust to their own fleetness to rejoin their comrades after making an attack upon the enemy's outposts. More than the required number immediately stepped forth, and grievously were those young men disappointed whom the general for his own reasons relegated to the main body.

In the second watch of the night the army reached Onéwhero, and laid down to rest. Before the dawn began to break, three hundred choice young men, under the command of a noted warrior, all of them smeared over with charcoal, stood round the blackened stumps or crouched behind the logs through which the road passed. The main body was in ambush two-thirds of a page 156mile distant. Long, many, and anxious were the looks the picked body cast northward from their ambush before they were gratified by the sight of men moving along the top of the range, and the advanced guard of the Rarawa was discovered marching carelessly and confidently along.

So far well; and a momentary gleam of intense satisfaction thrilled through the ambushed men, damped by the observation that the main body was scarcely separated by a furlong from the advance.

It does not, however, take long to take away a man's life, and a good many were taken during the few seconds the Rarawa took in traversing the small space which separated them from their surprised and overpowered advance guard.

The preconcerted signal for the attack upon the Rarawa was the last of their advance coming in line with the most forward man of the ambush. Then the jaws of the human trap silently closed upon its prey. Loudly the victims shouted with their last breath the cry of alarm, "He whakariki! he whakariki!" "a surprise!" "an attack!" And surprised and attacked upon both flanks, down they fell. In the advance of the Rarawa was "Te Taniwha," the water monster, a person of great notoriety. He was a man of enormous bulk and of prodigious strength, which in the early prime of his life had gained him his name. His tribe were assaulting the land defences of a Pa upon a river side, when he plunged into the stream, and diving, swam down under the water, rising where his eye or his luck had detected a weak place in the page 157river palisading. Standing up to his shoulders in water, he had torn down many of the posts before the enemy engaged in front perceived him. The awful appearance of the monster had already caused great alarm, when a coward, the like of whom has lost many a battle, shouted, "He Taniwha! He Taniwha!" The cry spread among the defenders of the fortress; a panic seized them, and they were destroyed.

From that hour "Te Taniwha," as he was forthwith named, became a celebrity. His fame increased with years, for he was supposed to posses a supernatural "mana" or power, and his tribe, situated in the far north, were never defeated in a battle or unsuccessful in a siege at which he was present.

Upon the murder of the ambassadors by the Ngatiroa, the Rarawa had sent the fiery cross or call to arms throughout the north, and had received large promises of assistance as soon as the harvest was secured. In the meantime they were urged by their allies to march themselves without delay, that they might force the Ngatiroa to seek refuge within their fortress, and prevent them gathering their fields of kumiras and taro, the acquisition of which by the invading force would greatly facilitate the siege. The tribe of Te Taniwha had sent him as the precursor of their coming, and that his "mana" might be as a tower of strength to the Rarawa.

The first war cry from the Ngatiroa rose from Te Matuku, a powerful young man, who upon the signal to attack, as the black shadows rose from their am-page 158bush, rushed with almost more than mortal speed and fury upon the Taniwha, and with a blow of his bone sword felled the monster to the earth, upon which he rolled like a gigantic walrus. Joyfully Matuku shouted the cry, which only the man who has taken or killed the first man in a battle is entitled to raise, "Ki ahau te mataika!" "Mine is the first!" Then striking two or three more blows right and left, he turned and fled with the rest of his party, with the whole army of the Rarawa thundering close upon their heels. Fast and furious was the race for the nearest cover, nearly a mile distant. Those who had overrated their own speed of foot paid the penalty with their lives. The unburnt swamp was reached and entered, the fleetest of the Rarawa had passed, their main body had entered the cover, rushing along in full pursuit and high disorder, when from the rank grass rose a terrific war song, and a solid phalanx charged them in flank, crushing them with the ease with which now-a-days an iron floating fort passes over and sinks a wooden ship. Then turned the pursued, and in their turn became the pursuers; they and their main army chasing, killing, and capturing for many a mile; the honour of killing the last man in the pursuit being the object of eager competition. Matuku, who had thrown aside his heavy sword and armed himself with the king of weapons, a spear, was among the last who relinquished the chase of the Rarawa.

When Karaka charged the enemy, his place was in the centre of the column, but in the shock of battle he page 159stumbled or tripped, and was thrown heavily to the ground unperceived by his troops, who passed on in hot pursuit. He rose surrounded by the dead and the dying, and was looking in the long grass for his sword, when he was spied by two unwounded men of the Rarawa who had sought safety in concealment. "That is Karaka, the great war chief of Waitebuna, and unarmed," said one of them, to whom he was known, and they advanced to attack him. Karaka saw them approaching. His war cry would have brought hundreds to his assistance, but it would also have stopped the pursuit. He therefore drew his small mere of green stone from his belt and advanced to meet the attack of the pair, who instantly rushed upon him. He partly parried the spear of the first with the little weapon in his right hand, and the spear passed downwards through his right thigh, as he cleft the head of his enemy with his mere. The spear of his second assailant he attempted to parry with his left hand, but it passed through his side. Grasping the spear, he gave his enemy a kick which levelled him with the earth, and instantly followed it up by a blow from his mere; he then drew the spear from his side, and, sick and faint, sat down to await the return of some of his men. Parties of the pursuers soon returned, driving before them their prisoners with their hands bound; and when it became known that Karaka was severely wounded, many lives were instantly taken for payment (utu), while according to Maori custom the principal captives were brought before Karaka to page 160receive the coup de grace. When a prisoner of distinction was brought before the victorious General, the captor would proclaim this is—so and so—as the name might be; men of note being well known by repute to their enemies. Upon being brought before the conqueror, the captive, as a matter of course, received a blow upon the side of the head, which he held forward for the purpose. At length a great body of warriors approached, surrounding a single prisoner, many having mingled with his particular captors, that they might boast that they had assisted in the capture of so great a man as the famous Ariki of the Rarawa.

Karaka, upon this very noble captive being brought before him, with stately courtesy rose to receive him.

"Welcome! welcome! welcome my enemy!" said he; "come and see the might of my vengeance!" He then gave directions that the captive should be conducted over the field of battle and treated as an honoured guest. The old Roman feeling of wishing to make a display of their captives of the highest rank sometimes caused a few lives to be spared. Party after party returned from the pursuit, every man of them expecting to find untouched the spoils of those he had killed in the grand mélée or in the pursuit. Matuku found the giant he had struck down still lived. The bloated monster was seated upon a fallen tree, exposed to the jeers and taunts of a crowd who gazed upon him with wonder. Rage, grief, and the blood which had streamed from his wound and dried upon page 161his head and body, made him so terrifically hideous that his appearance justified his claim to be considered more or less than human. Upon the appearance of the captor of the giant he was loudly congratulated; they hailed him as "the Toa (hero) of Onéwhero," and bestowed upon him the name of his captive. Thenceforth he would be known as Matuku te Taniwha, and his first name would gradually fall into disuse. All wished, if possible, to take the monster alive to Ngutukaka, and to this the consent of the war chief was at once readily given.

Messengers were at once despatched to announce this great victory to their friends, and to carry the news and particulars of the fight, and of the capture of the Ariki and Te Taniwha, to the tribes of the upper Waitebuna, it being hoped that as they had commenced the war so successfully without any assistance, their neighbours might now feel disposed to join them.

The first thought of the victors after the battle was the care of their wounded. They were at once looked to, and their wounds carefully dressed. Scarcely less affectionately were their dead handled. The bodies of the most distinguished were placed in litters for transportation to Ngutukaka, while those of lesser note were either burned or sunk in some of the neighbouring swamps; the greatest possible precaution being taken that they should not be found by the enemy, who would be certain to search for them the next time they marched that way in force.

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Over the orgies of the battle-field we pass in silence; to the head curings, and so on, as a truthful historian, we must allude, but we cannot describe nor would the reader wish to read of them. This much, with truth, we may say—beyond precautions against escape, no unnecessary cruelty was practised upon the prisoners.