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Historic Poverty Bay and the East Coast, N.I., N.Z.

Poverty Bay in 1831

Poverty Bay in 1831

Along the northern shore of Poverty Bay, the population was sparse. Rawiri had a small pa on Tuamotu Island, where Cook saw a large fort in 1769. Only in song and story would the once famous pa on Titirangi Hill be remembered; it could not have been in existence even in Cook's day. In the vicinity of the Turanganui River, there was only one palisaded village, “Heipipi,” much of which stood on the block which is now occupied by the chief post office and other government buildings. In 1841, when Captain A. Campbell first inspected it, it was occupied by some of Rawiri's people, about one hundred all told.

On the seaward side of Awapuni Lagoon stood the remains of Pa-o-Kahu. This pa was described to the writer by F. W. Williams (author of Through Ninety Years). It was, he said, one mile long, and he had been told that it was built as “a city of refuge for the whole of Turanga in case the district should be invaded by the Waikato tribes.” The south-western shore of Poverty Bay was much more thickly populated, and it was studded with fortifications. Orakaiapu pa, which stood on the southern bank of the Kopututea River, just below the then junction of the Waipaoa and Te Arai streams, was by far the most impressive. It covered about three acres and contained, in addition to many whares for sleeping quarters, several commodious structures.

It is not quite certain that Harris was the first European shoretrader in Poverty Bay. Whilst the Karaua block claim was being considered by the Poverty Bay Crown Grants Commission in 1869, Rapata Whakapuhia said: “The Europeans I saw [at the page 99 time of the sale of Karaua] were only those whom I had placed at Wherowhero. The name of the first man [I placed] there was Cooper. When Simpson came, I understood he came solely as a trader, selling guns and buying flax….” Harris told the Judges that Simpson had come in 1831, not as Rhodes's agent at that time but employed as such afterwards [1839]. Whether Cooper had preceded Harris cannot now be determined. No reference is made either to him or to Simpson in the scanty Harris Memoirs.

Another interesting point which emerged from the testimony given before the Commission was that, in 1840, Simpson had for an assistant a negro named Pompey. Matenga Waaka (born circa 1850 and an ex-clergyman) told the writer that Pompey had a half-caste daughter, who became six feet tall. He gave her name as Tohu, but other accounts suggest that it was Huhana (Susan). Pompey went off to Mahia whaling.