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The King Country; or, Explorations in New Zealand. A Narrative of 600 Miles of Travel through Maoriland.

Potatau II

Potatau II.

The ancestry and tribal connections of Matutaera Te Pukepuke Te Paue Tu Karato Te-a-Potatau Te Wherowhero Tawhiao, or Potatau II., render him the most illustrious and influential chief in New Zealand. No Maori chief is truly great unless he can trace his descent to some of those who came in the first canoes from Hawaiki. Tawhiao can do this, his ancestor being Hotonui, who came in the canoe Tainui, which made the land at Kawhia. The ancestor, however, who makes the greatest figure in the history of the family is Tapaue, who had a number of children who did well in the world, and founded quite a number of tribes who exist to this day. These children were—Te Rorokitua, who was the ancestor of the Ngatipaoa, Te Putu, Tahau, Te Apa, Huiarangi, Ratua, Hikaurua. The son of Te Putu was Tawhia, whose son was Tuata, whose son was Te Rauanganga, whose son was Te Wherowhero, whose son was the present Tawhiao. The name of Tawhiao's mother was Whakaawi, a woman of high birth of the Ngatimahutu tribe.

Tawhiao's autobiographical narrative is as follows:—

"I was born at a place called Orongokoekoea, at Mokau. The whole of the Waikatos had been driven from Waikato by the invasion of Hongi, with his muskets, and the tribes had suffered greatly when the pa was taken at Matakitaki. The whole of the Waikatos were living at Mokau when I was born, from fear of Pomare. [The fall of Matakitaki took place in 1823, and Tawhiao would probably be born a year or two later.] We did not remain long at Mokau after the death of Pomare. We came back to Haurua, Kopua, and other places. I lived at Honipaka, in the Waipa. The Ngatitipa were at Haurau. Te Rauparaha had gone south long before that time, in prosecution of his conquests at Cook's Straits. Some of Rauparaha's people, however, the Ngatitoa and page 346Ngatikoata, came to Matakitaki, and were slain there. Te Waharoa was then living at Horotiu, and did not move. The Ngapuhi did not attack him. Pomare made peace with Takurua. Waikato heard that peace had been made. At this time Te Wherowhero had gone to Taupo. Rauroha said to Pomare, 'Go back to your own country,' but Pomare would not consent. Rauroha said, 'You have made peace with me; look at Matire.' [Matire Toha was subsequently married to Kati, Te "Wherowhero's brother, on the peace-making between Waikato and Ngapuhi.] Te Wherowhero wished to go to Pomare, but Te Kanawa resisted his desire, thinking there would be treachery. Pomare insisted upon going up to Waikato. He was met in battle by the Ngatitipa, the Ngatitamaoho. Te Aho, a son of Kukutai shot Pomare's fingers off, and when his people discovered that Pomare was wounded, they fled. The fight took place at Te Rore, on the Waipa, and the Ngapuhi fled to Whaingaroa. The chase continued to Te Akau, and as far as Awhitu. I remember when Matire Toha was brought to Waikato to be married to Kati. I remember the great crowds that were assembled at the time. Te Kihirini brought Matire to Waikato. She was very young then. The first Europeans we saw were at Kawhia. The first I remember was Captain Kent. The first missionaries in Waikato were Stack, Hamlin, Williams, and Morgan. The missionaries told us that we should be burned up unless we believed. I myself was baptized by the name Matutaera, at Mangere, by Mr. Burrows.

"I remember a European coming to ask Te Wherowhero to sign the treaty of Waitangi. That European was the missionary, Mr. Maunsell. [The Yen. Archdeacon Maunsell.] The Maori he had with him was Tipene Tahatika. Te Wherowhero said he would not sign. Mr. Maunsell remarked to Tipene, 'This ignorant old man, if he had signed, I would have given him a blanket.' Te Wherowhero was then at Awhitu. Te Wherowhero's name was afterwards put to the treaty, but it was written by Te Kahawai, not by himself. I was at the great meeting at Remuera. That was when Fitzroy was Governor. The principal speakers were Wetere te Kauae and Te Katipa. Governor Fitzroy visited Kawhia. The Rev. Mr. Whiteley and the missionaries had been there long before that time. When Sir George Grey came, he visited Rangiawhia, Te Awamutu, and other settlements in Waikato. He had thirty Maoris as his following. Sir George Grey pointed out Mangere as a place for Te Wherowhero. He said to my father, 'Come to Mangere, the land is for you.' I never attended any of the Mission, schools."

page 347

In reference to the beginning of the New Zealand war, after Te Wherowliero's death, and when Tawhiao had succeeded his father as king, he narrates:—

"I was at Rawhitu, a few miles above Rangiriri, when I heard that the soldiers had crossed the Mangatawhiri. Heta Tarawhiti and a few others were with me. The Waikatos were then at Rangiriri and other places. I warned them to avoid the soldiers. When I heard that the soldiers had crossed the Mangatawhiri, I warned the Maoris to avoid the soldiers. I told them they should not meet the soldiers on the line of the Waikato river, but should go inland by Whangamarino to Paparata, and then to the Kirikiri. [Apparently this was Tawhiao's military plan, instead of constructing pas on the river, like Meremere and Rangiriri. If his advice had been taken, the line of our advance would have been threatened, and the settlements around Auckland placed in great danger.] The next thing I heard was that a battle had been fought at the Koheroa, and that the people I had sent to evade the soldiers had also gone and fought at the Koheroa. Tapihana was the chief man whom I had charged. I sent a message also to Mohi and Ihaaka (occupying the settlement at Pukekohe, the Kirikiri and adjacent places), telling them to come out from their villages. The engineer of the pa at Rangiriri, who directed its formation, was Te Wharepu. I told the people that they should retire to the depth of the forest to evade the troops. The others would not consent. Te Wharepu was the leader of the others. They said, 'We will not agree; if our blood must be shed, let it be shed on our own land at Waikato.' I was at the fight at Rangiriri. Wiremu Tamehana and myself went to Rangiriri, and requested the people to move away from that place. That was the object of both Thompson 1 and myself in going. A dozen times I tried to persuade them to break up from Rangiriri, but finding that our efforts were unsuccessful, we left. The balls were then flying in all directions. I took refuge behind a flax bush. A bullet passed close to me, and struck the bush. I was not injured. I had a gun and cartridge-box. I saw some of my people escaping. I told them to be swift, and move on. They said, 'You must look after yourself; are you not in danger?' I said, 'No, I will rest a while here.' I took off my coat and vest, and., after a while, I succeeded in getting on board a canoe belonging to the Ngatitamaoho, and in making my escape. Previously ten guns were levelled at me, and a big gun also. Messengers had gone before, and told the people that I was safe."

1 A native known as The King Maker.