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The Story of a Maori Chief

A Ferocious Ngati-Hoko

A Ferocious Ngati-Hoko

I may here, perhaps, relate an incident in which a relative of Mokena Kohere's was the leading actor. Te Paaka, an uncle of the Rev. Mohi Turei, always carried a hatchet in his belt, and even slept with it. And yet I never heard he ever assaulted anyone with that hatchet of his. Te Paaka happened to be a member of a party which was travelling in a canoe from Waiapu to Horoera, seven miles north of East Cape. There was a bit of a sea running in, and therefore great responsibility as to the safety of the party rested on the man who had command of the canoe. As the party paddled hard page 47 towards the shore they were overtaken by a sea which was not considerable. It carried the canoe with it, but whether it was the fault of the steersman or not the canoe slewed and capsized.

The crew were thrown into the sea and made for the shore as best they could. But old Te Paaka, as he came up to the surface, forgetting the circumstances in which he was, pulled out his hatchet and swam towards the steersman, who was making for the shore. The steersman, seeing the ferocious old man with hatchet in hand, swam faster and was out of danger's way. Mohi Turei told me his uncle was given the name “Te Wa,” that is, “The War Man.”

In 1886 a terrible event happened in the Waiapu Valley: the chief Hamana Mahuika was fatally shot by a native named Naera. Tribes in their hundreds came to Whakawhitira to lament over the massacred chief. Mokena Kohere, with a number of his Ngati-Hokopus, came armed, even with their guns loaded. When the party arrived on the bank of the Waiapu, overlooking the settlement at Whakawhitira, they gave a volley. The people across the river could hear the whistling bullets overhead, and, leaving the body, ran away. When the supply of bullets ran out the fiery chief and his followers crossed the river, and, as though nothing had happened, wept over the dead chief who lay in state. In accordance with ancient custom anybody could be killed in atonement for the shedding of blood, especially in the case of a murdered chief.