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The Story of a Maori Chief

Hauhaus Enter Ngati-Porou Territory

Hauhaus Enter Ngati-Porou Territory

After the shocking massacre of the Rev. C. S. Volkner, at Opotiki, on March 2, 1865, the Hauhaus, led by the Taranaki native, Patara (Butler), wended their way towards East Cape. There was good reason for the move, for Ngati-Porou had already evinced sympathy with the kingite movement, by sending delegates to the great meeting held at Rangiriri in April, 1857.

Hoera Tamatatai, leader of the delegation, had delivered a great speech at the big conference, pointing out that the pakeha and Maori could never pull together. “You might as page 53 well,” he said, “yoke a horse with a bullock, for the horse would kick and the bullock use his horns” (“Ka whana te hoiho, ka tuki te kau.”) On the return of Hoera and his party they brought with them the kingite flag Rura. This was duly hoisted at Wai-o-Matatini, when the chief Popata Te Kauru was made king.

When the war in Waikato broke out in 1863 a contingent of Ngati-Porou sympathisers set out for the scene of war. Their progress was stopped by the Arawa at Kaokaoroa, but those who got through later took part in the Gate Pa and Te Ranga fights in 1864, and several of them were killed.

It may be remembered also that a Ngati-Porou chief, Te Kani-a-Takirau, was offered the Maori crown, which he wisely declined to accept, as he did not want any foreign title. Virtually he had always been a king.

As the rebels proceeded towards East Cape, tribes on the way easily succumbed by joining the party. The small Ngaitai tribe at Torere, under the chief Wiremu Kingi, and Houkamau's people at Hicks Bay held no parley with the rebels. On hearing of the approach of the Hauhaus the Rev. Mohi Turei, wearing a bandolier over his shoulders, made his way to Popoti, where the Aowera were holding a hui. Mohi was related to the sub-tribe. On seeing his military outfit they asked him what he meant. Briefly he told them that the Philistine Hauhaus were on the border of the Ngati-Porou territory and must be driven back by all means in their power. This appeal was sufficient to stir up the warlike Aowera, and very soon a war party armed only with native weapons was on its way to meet and drive out the intruders. The party came in contact with the enemy on the bank of the Mangaone stream, about two miles north of Tikitiki. The Hauhaus, armed with firearms, had the advantage over the ill-armed Aowera, who were compelled to retreat, leaving behind them several dead, amongst whom were the chiefs Henare Nihoniho1 and Makoare.

Encouraged by their success the Hauhaus entered the Waiapu Valley, the stronghold of the Ngati-Porou Tribe, and occupied the Pukemaire pa. Mokena Kohere, with a party of his own tribe, had come on to give support to the Aowera, but on hearing that the enemy had occupied Pukemaire encamped two miles to the east. He had sent a re- page 54 connoitring patrol, whom the enemy had surprised and chased. Mokena Kohere and his men had just time enough to get away, leaving behind them Mokena's relative, Hunia Huaki, whom the Hauhaus did not spare.

Mokena Kohere was fined on as he was crossing the Poroporo River, but escaped unscathed. He took up his stand at Rua-o-Pango, or Hatepe, as the stronghold was afterwards named. The Hauhaus had built for themselves a strong pa at Pakairomiromi, on the right bank of the Maraehara River. Almost every day the rebels fired on Hatepe and relied on incantations to render the loyalists’ bullets harmless. One fanatic approached the pa and held up his right hand, muttering incantation all the time. The loyalists fired and missed, but the notorious Hemi Tapeka took a steadier aim and put the fanatic out of action. Meanwhile the chiefs Pineamine Tuhaka, Arapeta Haenga, Wikiriwhi Matauru and others had entered Hatepe to render help to the besieged pa. It might have fallen, and Mokena Kohere and his small garrison, with women and children, might have been annihilated if relief had not arrived in time. T. W. Gudgeon says: “Hotene and Mokena, with the faithful portion of the people, retired to Hatepe, near the Waiapu beach, and wrote to Sir Donald (then Mr.) McLean, asking for guns. They were immediately supplied, and in all probability this prompt action saved the country half a million of money, for had not the arms and ammunition been sent at once, Ropata and Mokena would have been destroyed or forced to join the Hauhaus.”

Hotene was never in Hatepe pa. If the place had fallen Mokena Kohere and those with him would have been destroyed and Ropata would not have been touched, for he was out in the open.

“At the beginning of the Hauhau troubles in the Ngati Porou territory,” says James Cowan, “the chief Mokena Kohere took energetic measures to restore order and loyalty. He asked Mr. Titus White, R.M., to go to Auckland to procure arms for the friendly natives. Mr. White set out in a small schooner, but it foundered with all on board off White Island. Mokena then decided to go to Napier and see Mr. Donald McLean. His mission was successful.”

A body of thirty volunteers, under Captain Biggs, from Hawke's Bay was despatched by a small craft to Waiapu to render Mokena Kohere some assistance. Captain Biggs also page 55 brought with him arms and ammunition for Mokena Kohere's small garrison. Later a body of fifty men, under Captain Fraser, was despatched to Waiapu, Lieutenant Gascoigne also accompanying the men. They left Napier by the gunboat Eclipse, in command of Captain Fremantle. The Eclipse made a fast trip, reaching Awanui in thirty-six hours. This body of men was known as “The Fighting Fifty.” With the thirty volunteers already arrived under Captain Biggs the white troops now totalled eighty. The Hauhaus, numbering between 200 and 300, kept up investing Hatepe, but Mokena Kohere held on. Fortunately he had well strengthened the stronghold.

1 Father of the well-known Ngati Porou chief, Tuta Niho-niho.