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The Story of a Maori Chief

Pakairomiromi Taken

Pakairomiromi Taken

With the garrison strengthened by the addition of the white troops Captain Fraser took command, and, after consulting Mokena Kohere, decided to attack the Hauhau stronghold at Pakairomiromi on August 2, 1865. The attack was divided into three sections, commanded by Captains Fraser and Biggs and Lieutenant A. Tuke. The enemy had anticipated the attack, consequently reinforcements had come from Pukemaire during the night. It was considered necessary to take the Nuku, or “Sentry Hill,” as the soldiers named it, across the river, opposite Pakairomiromi, so that the stronghold could be fired into. This was taken, but to co-ordinate with other points of attack it was necessary to cross the river, climb up the steep bank and storm the stronghold. A bayonet charge was made and the pa was taken. For the number of men engaged it was considered the battle was one of the bloodiest in the whole of the Maori war. Eighty-seven of the enemy were killed, amongst whom was the fine chief Porourangi.1 An armed Amazon was also found amongst the page 56 killed. A large number of prisoners were taken. Before the pa was stormed the Eclipse, lying about four miles away, had shelled the rebel stronghold. One live shell was buried in the ground. The natives dug this up and threw it into the fire. Of course it exploded, killing nine natives.

After the fall of Pakairomiromi those of the enemy who escaped found shelter in Pukemaire. The loyalist force followed them up and attacked the stronghold. During a stormy night the rebels evacuated the pa and took the inland track to Kawakawa (Te Araroa). Hori Kohuru told me that in the retreat families suffered much from hunger. As one party tried to rest another would come along and leap-frogged over the family resting; then this family would in turn leapfrogged over the next or more families, for a family dreaded the idea of being the first. Leap-frogging was kept up all night long until the Awatere Valley was reached at daybreak. Here a store-house of potatoes was found. In order to roast the potatoes the whole house was set on fire.

I often wonder how the Hauhaus in their wanderings managed to secure sustenance. Even the well-organised white troops ran short of supplies. How did Te Kooti and his people, after their escape from Chatham Islands, manage to wander in the forest for months without proper arrangement to supply them with food. It speaks well for the toughness of the Maori, man and woman.

1 “This man (Paora te Wakahoehoe, a Waikari chief, not Porourangi or Paora Haenga) sent by Te Waru to Te Kooti in 1866, bearing a famous greenstone mere, called ‘Tawatahi,’ and accompanied by Te Waru's daughter, Te Maunikau; the understanding was that the acceptance of Te Kooti of the young woman as his wife and taking the greenstone heirloom would imply an obligation on his part to attack the Gisborne settlements and so avenge the death of the son of an important chief, Raharuhi Rukupo (of Manutuke), who had been killed in the assault on Pakairomiromi, Waiapu, by Fraser's force in 1865. How well Te Kooti carried out his part of the compact the massacre at Matawhero shortly testified. The greenstone weapon mentioned was found in Te Kooti's hut in the pa.”—James Cowan. The heirloom was given to Mr. J. D. Ormond.

Raharuhi Rukupo, father of the well-known chief, Pitau, of Manutuke. afterwards, as recorded in another chapter, became attached to Mokena Kohere.