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Chapter Fourteen — The Story of Tama-te-rangi

page 100

Chapter Fourteen
The Story of Tama-te-rangi

Hine-manuhiri, the sister of Rakaipaaka, had five children. For some reason they were in life often referred to by the term that still is heard to day, "Te Tokorima a Hine-manuhiri" ("The five of Hine-manuhiri"). Of the five, Tama-te-rangi was the senior. The whakapapa is as follows:

Kahungunu married Rongomai-wahine. Their son, Kahukuranui, married Tu Teihonga, and Hine-manuhiri was the child of this marriage. She in turn married Pukaru, the son of the noble Ruapani, paramount chief of the Turanga people. The children of this mixture of important blood were: Tama-te-Rangi, Makoro, Hingaanga and Pupuni, all males, and finally, Pare-ora, an only daughter.

The youthful Tama saw the fighting at Waerenga-a-hika, and in later years was no doubt thankful that his parents were, at the conclusion of the fighting, allowed to migrate peacefully to another district, rather than be the chief dish in a victory celebration. Driven cut by the victors, he came with his parents to their new home at Te Mania, on the Mangaruhe block, opposite Marumaru. In due course we find Tama, now the leader of the tribe, involved in a dispute with his neighbours, a section of the Ngai-Tauira folk who lived at a pa named Hore-hou on the northern side of the Wairoa River, near the site of the present Huramua homestead. Although the site of this pa has been levelled, evidences of Maori occupation still exist today. The chief of this pa was Iwi-katere.

Prior to the fight with Tama-te-rangi, the Hore-hou people had done tattle with some of their own people from another Tauira pa. This battle is now referred to as "The battle of the talking Tui" The Hore-hou people owned a very remarkable talking tui, named Taane-mitirangi. The bird possessed more than human intelligence as it could not only repeat powerful karakias (incantations) but it could also bewitch anyone at the will of its page 101owners. It seems to have been the counterpart of Edgar Allan Poe's famous and devilish raven. It would certainly be a useful bird to have on one's side.

The bird was greatly coveted by another section of the Tauira people known as Ngarengare, who lived in the very strongly-fortified pa, Rakau-tihia, so called because it lay in the direction of the south-west wind, and also because visitors ascending to it could not see the trunks of the trees but only the tops. The situation of this pa, the pits of which can still be seen, was on one of the highest hills surrounding Wairoa, the hill now bearing the trig on the southern side of the Wairoa-Turiroa cutting. The name as given above seems to mean that although the pa was built on the levelled spur, the way up to it (as the present day Home Guard signallers can testify) was so steep that only the tops of the trees above the level place could be seen.

The people of this hill asked that the talking tui should be given to them temporarily, to perform some special incantations in conjunction with the kumara planting. Iwi-katere would not agree to the tui's going to his relatives until it had performed the same service for its owners. The Ngarengare however were impatient. Kumara planting time with the ancient Maori was done on special days in each month, and waiting for the bird probably meant delaying planting until the suitable and auspicious days came around again. Therefore they stole the bird. When Iwi-katere discovered the loss, he and his warriors pursued the thieves and overtook them at Turiroa. A battle was fought at Kaura-kai-rapaki, on the site of the residence of the late Mr. J. Powdrell. The hill dwellers were victors, and they climbed to their eyrie with the tui. Faithful to its real owners, the bird, however, refused to utter a word to the advantage of its captors. The Ngarengare then killed the bird.

It was about this time, while the Tauira tribes were divided on account of this battle, that Rakai-hakeke, the son of Tama-te-rangi, came into the story. He contracted a liaison with Hine-kura, a daughter of Mutu, son of Tauira. The girl lived in the pa Tonga-Kaka. Mutu, the father, while visiting the house where Hinekura was living with her cousin, Hine-te-moa, daughter of Ngarengare, noticed a man sleeping with his daughter. He inquired the name of the stranger, and when he was told that it was Rakai-hakeke, he made a most insulting gesture by showing his fine set of teeth in a threatening manner, thus signifying his intention to eat the intruder. On his return, Rakai reported the insult to his father. Of such incidents wars were made. Tama-page 102te-rangi called on his tribe to prepare to teach the neighbours a lesson. Rakai and his brother, Tama-te-hua, were despatched to seek the assistance of Rakaipaaka. According to custom they carried with them a calabash of preserved birds. After their arrival at Moumoukai they were given the opportunity to explain their mission. They placed the calabash before their uncle and outlined their case. The matter rested with the old chief. If he rejected the savoury meats the people of Tama-te-rangi would fight their own battles unaided. If he accepted it, it was the sign that he was willing to stand by his sister's people. Rakaipaaka accepted the offering. He even went the second mile. As he was leaving for the fray part of the calabash of food was left behind as a sign requesting two well-known local warriors to follow. These men were his own son, Kau-kohea, and another named Kahu-tauranga. The two tauas met at Te Poti, near the eastern end of the Kihitu lagoon. Here they discussed their plans for the battle. A half day passed in discussion, until one of the sons of Rakaipaaka named Urewera became impatient with so much talking. He rose and asked, "What are we here for, the black (meaning the talking tui) or the red?" (meaning himself as typical of war). Urewera was only a lad of about eighteen, and seeing his keenness his father handed him his own patu (club). This ended the discussion, but the saying is still preserved as one of the famous sayings of old.

The combined party marched upstream without crossing. It was evident that they had been expected, for the Ngai-Tauira people marched in a strong force up the opposite south-western bank, seeking to catch the invaders at a disadvantage when they attempted the crossing. The attackers, however, tramped up to a ford over the Wairoa River, known as Waha-rera, near Springhill. They travelled downstream through Pakowhai, and as they forded the Waiau River they were attacked by the waiting Ngai-Tauira. Nevertheless they gained the opposite shore and drove the local people with great slaughter towards Kokopu.

Meanwhile the two latecomers, Kau-kohea and Kahu-tauranga had been endeavouring to catch up with the taua. An incident in their march gives us one of the place names in the Frasertown district today. While climbing the hill Pukaakaa, overlooking Frasertown, Kahu-tauranga surprised a hawk at close range, which was flying low over the hill, and brought it down with one sweep of his maipi, or long club. He said, "Te Kaahu a Kahu-tauranga" ("The Hawk of Kahu-tauranga"). Kau-kohea, not to be outdone, made a vicious slash at two tutu shrubs growing page 103nearby. Off went the leafy heads in one stroke. So the spot bears the name today, Nga tutu mahanga a Kau-kohea (the twin tutu heads of Kau-kohea). The pair arrived at Kokopu while the fight was still on. They were elated at being in time for the battle, but were unable to cross the river. Kahu-tauranga could swim, but the other could not. Kau-kohea therefore walked across underwater, using his maipi once or twice to force himself to the surface to breathe. Kahu-tauranga set out to swim across. A hidden enemy observed his progress and in ambush awaited his landing. However, Kau somehow managed to get across first, evidently a little up or down stream. In the nick of time he arrived to surprise and kill the ambusher, and so save the life of his friend Kahu. The rock where the enemy was concealed is named Kau-kohea to this day. Then came Kahu's turn at doing a similar deed. From the fighting above the bank he heard his own name called as protector by one of his own kin who was in sore straits: "Kahu-tauranga i Turanga ra e Kei whea Koe?" (Kahu-tauranga at Gisborne, where are you?) Kahu-tauranga responded by saying, "Tenei au tenei au" (Here am I at your service), and in the nick of time he swung his maipi and killed the attacker, and thus saved the life of one who proved to be Pupuni, the cousin of his own saviour and the brother of Tama-te-rangi.

The fight continued, and the Tauira's were pushed back in the direction of Taupara flat, to the west of Aranui on the Awamate Block. It ended hereabouts in the defeat of the Ngai-Tauira, the number of whom killed has been given at 4,000. No doubt many brave warriors among the attackers also fell on that grim day, Kau-kohea being severely wounded.

After the fight Rakai-hakeke, whose love affair had caused the battle, roamed the battlefield in search of his Hine-kura. Evidently she was discovered hiding in a gully, along with her father, Mutu, and her mother. At Rakai-hakeke's call they came forth. Taking them back to camp, Rakai placed Hine-kura in front of him, signifying protection. Her parents were placed in his rear. This was in accordance with Maori custom. As the party drew near to camp, Rakai's men ran to. meet them. Their plain intention being to kill Mutu and his wife, Hine-kura pleaded with her lover, "Ka patua e koe aku matua?" ("Are you going to kill my parents?"). The victorious young warrior replied, "Me pewhea ia te teteranga o nga niho ki au?" ("What about his showing his teeth at me?"). So the parents were killed in sight of the weeping girl, and thus ended the battle of Taupara. Both tribes of the Ngai-Tauira, who had quarrelled over the tui and page 104fought one another, were this day almost wiped out. Ngarengare was killed, but his daughter, Hine-te-moa, remembered as the cousin of Hine-kura, was allowed to flee with others to the Heretaunga district, where she married Hikawera the first, and was the mother of Te Whati-apiti, who became the originator of the hapu, named the Ngai-te-whati-apiti of Heretaunga. Rakai-hakeke married Hine-kura, and they became the parents of Te Okura-tawhiti, the father of the famous brothers Tapuwae and Te Maha.

This victory gave Tama-te-rangi and his people complete control over the land on both sides of the Wairoa River. Flushed with victory they now felt confident enough to journey in the opposite direction to avenge the defeat suffered by Rakaipaaka and Hine-manuhiri when they were driven from their homes at Waerenga-a-hika. The taua assembled at Te Mania. Just before the start, the waiting party, lined up in formation, waited for their leader to recite the usual tohi, or ceremonial, suitable to the occasion. But Tama-te-rangi did not stir, so the younger Makoro approached his brother with the question, "E, ta e tu ra ki te tohi, i a tatau" ("Sir, do get up and perform the rite over us"). Tama replied, "He ao te rangi ka uhia a ma te huruhuru te manu ka rere ai" ("It requires clouds to clothe heaven and feathers to make a bird fly"). Makoro understanding from this that his brother did not have the necessary clothes, took off his cloak and put it on his brother. Later on, understanding that Tama's wife was not a good provider, Makoro also presented the chief with his own wife, Hine-muturangi. The above phrase is still used in the present day by the East Coast when wanting to convey their inability to attend any hui, tangi or function by reason of shortage of money or apparel. A Maori not possessing the needful items will say. "I am a descendant of Hine-rangi" (wife of Tama-te-rangi). A Maori who is feeling opulent and well dressed will, however, boast, "I am a descendant of Hine-muturangi." To continue the narrative, Tama-te-rangi, being suitably clad with the mantle of acknowledged leadership, rose and recited the tohi necessary to allow the taua to proceed.

On reaching Turanganui the party found that their man, Tu-te-kohi, was living at Pakarae, near Uawa. They hurried on to this place and took Tu by surprise. They seemed to have had no difficulty in killing their man and many others, including an important female relative named Hine-nui. Hine's son, Parua, narrowly escaped by fleeing in a canoe. Seeing him when he was still just a short distance from the shore, Tama-te-rangi page 105shouted to him to ccme ashore. Parua replied, "Kua whakaorangia ati e koe to taua kui?" ("Have you spared the life of our mother?"). Tama replied, "Kaore hoki tera ahau i ora i te paahi taua nei" ("I have no option with these warriors"). The fleeing brave then said, "Kati ra i mahara hoki ahau ma hau e whaka-ora ta taua kui, i a koe ke hoki te u ora ko te u pirau i au, noreira haere e hoki waiho au mate hau o te whakarua e kawe atu" ("Then let the deed be done. It was my belief that you would have been the one to save our mother since you had the sound teat while I had only the defective one. Therefore go home and let the soft east wind bring me there").

Tama-te-rangi returned home victor, but his triumph was short-lived. As could be expected, Parua gathered many East Coast braves and set out in search of vengeance. Parua surprised Tama at the undefended pa Ma-kakahi (near Springhill) as easily as Tama had surprised Tu-te-kohi. This time it was the lifeblood of the renowned Tama-te-rangi, paramount chief of the Wairoa district, which ebbed out to pay the murderous toll exacted of Maoridom by the great war god Tu. So there passed the ancestor whose mana has been preserved and carried through to this day by those who have perpetuated this important line. To commemorate his name the bridge crossing the Wairoa River at Frasertown has been named "The Tama-te-rangi Bridge."

Before concluding this chapter, we must tell the sequel to this last fight of the son of Hine-Manuhiri. While Parua achieved his object in killing Tama, it seems that his raid was more of the hit-and-run type. Parua himself was wounded severely, necessitating his being carried away on a stretcher as his warriors fled home. They had reason to flee, for as soon as Tuku-tuku, a grandson of the chief, heard of the killing, he set out in the track of the Parua. A long chase ensued, but it was the hunter who paid the price. Parua's men were victorious, Tuku-tuku and some of his warriors being killed. So Parua was able to reach his home.

After the death of Tama-te-rangi his descendants, and those of his brother, went under the tribal name of Ngati-Hine-Manuhiri until the time of the great chief Tapuwae. We will tell later how this great chief felt it incumbent upon himself to carry on the feud and so take revenge for the death of Tama-te-rangi.