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Legends of the Maori

A War-Chant (Ngeri). — The Song of Tokatoka

page 295

A War-Chant (Ngeri).

The Song of Tokatoka.

Tokatoka is a sharp-topped volcanic peak rising above the eastern bank of the Northern Wairoa River. “Rocks upon rocks” is the meaning of the name. It has a story and a song, that fantastic peak, lifting like a huge marlinspike above the woods and farms. High up there on Tokatoka’s precipitous crag there dwelt a hundred years ago the warrior-chief Taoho, head of the Ngati-Whatua tribe. Taoho’s house (said his son, the old man Te Rore Taoho, of Ahikiwi) was close to the Puru (the “Plug”), that rocky projection which juts out from the western face of the peak, the Tokatoka citadel which no foe had ever scaled. This is the tribal warsong of the Ngati-Whatua and Te Roroa, the thundering ngeri of the river-dwellers, enjoining the warriors to be as firm as the great rock Tokatoka, which they regarded as a type of their clan and country:—

A-a! Ko te Puru-e!
A-a! Ko te Puru,
Ko te Puru ki Tokatoka!
Kia ueue;
E kore te riri
E tae mai
Ki roto o Kaipara.
Kia toa!
A-a-ae! Te riri!


’Tis the firm-set rock,*
The steadfast rock,
The rock of Tokatoka’s height!
Put forth your strength!
The tide of war
Ne’er shall the heart of Kaipara touch.
O tribe, be brave!
Ah, yes, indeed, ’tis war.

This battle song, the slogan of the Wairoa men, was chanted, said Te Rore, on the eve of an engagement, in particular before the fight of Te Moremonui, where Taoho and his braves defeated an army of Ngapuhi under Pokaia, Hongi Hika and other great warriors.

* Compare this allusion with the slogan of the Scottish Clan Grant: “Stand fast, Craig Ellachie!”