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History and traditions of the Maoris of the West Coast, North Island of New Zealand, prior to 1840

Pari-Hamore Pa

Pari-Hamore Pa.

The above named pa is situated on property marked on the plans of the Town of New Plymouth as section F, immediately behind the Public Cemetery, and not very far from Te Henui river. It has been a strong place in its time, though not very large. The maioro or ramparts are still in fair preservation. The site is a fine one; the views both up and down the Henui valley being very picturesque. Separated from Pari-hamore (the "bare cliff") by a hollow basin and about an eighth of a mile from it to the east is Puke-tarata, another excellent specimen of the fortified pa, still in good preservation. These pas, besides several others, after the re-conquest of the country by Ati-Awa, were held by the Ngati-Tu-pari-kino hapu of that tribe, and at the time of re-occupation the principal chief of Pari-hamore was Whakamoumou-rangi, whose people cultivated the adjacent lands, caught eels in the bright waters of the Henui and fish in the sea about a mile distant from the pa. Pari-hamore pa at that time possessed two things which rendered it somewhat famous in the discussions that went on when the tribes met at feasts or other gatherings. These were a titoki tree, renowned for its abundant crop of berries, from which the sweet-scented oil was made, used in old times on the hair and the body; and also for the possession of a young girl, whose beauty was the pride of the tribe and the subject of admiration of all the young fellows of the district. This lady was Uru-kinaki, daughter of Kahu-taia, a chief of Pari-hamore pa. To preserve the descent from her I quote the following table:— page 244
Table No. XLVIII.

Table No. XLVIII.

In the above table, Tu-pari-kino is the eponymous ancestor from whom the hapu that owned all the country round the pa take their name, and the two Meres (Mary) are both well-known ladies now living.*

The chief Potaka, who, as we have seen, distinguished himself in the taking of Nga-horo (Major Lloyd's) pa, was at the time of the incidents about to be described living at Para-iti, a place inland of the Bell Block. The fame of Uru-kinaki had, of course, reached his ears, and he, though probably somewhat advanced in years, became desirous of possessing the famed beauty, Possibly he thought he would not be an acceptable suitor to the young girl, so decided to make sure of a successful issue to his suit by proceeding against Pari-hamore in force. There would not be much difficulty in finding an excuse for this—his "family records" would no doubt disclose some death unavenged, or insult not squared. However this may be, Potaka raised a taua of his own people and marched on Pari-hamore, where they encamped in the hollow between the two pas already described. But Puke-tarata pa was not occupied at that time.

The siege had lasted some time and provisions began to fail within the pa. Starvation stared the people in the face. It was therefore decided by Whakamoumou-rangi to attempt negotiations. To this end one of the women of the pa, standing on the parapet, called out: page 245"E Po'! Ka kawa te waiu!"—("O Potaka! The milk is bitter!"—meaning that through want of proper food the mothers' milk was bitter and not nourishing the babies.) Potaka now saw his opportunity, so replied: Tukua a Uru-kinaki kia heke ki raro"—("Let Uru-kinaki be sent down to the camp.") It was at once understood what this meant; that Uru-kinaki was to be the price of peace. What the lady herself thought is not recorded. But her people dressed her up in the finest mats, adorned her hair with plumes, anointed her with the famous titoki oil of Pari-hamore, and sent her down to the enemy's camp, to the great admiration of all beholders. Here Potaka met and claimed her as his wife, and then gave orders to return home with his prize. He shouted out to the people of the pa: " E noho ra i ta koutou pa. E wera taku whare, ka whati te ope"—("Remain in peace in your pa. When my house is set fire to you will know the ope has left.") And so Uru-kinaki was taken to the home of Potaka and became his wife, and they have many descendants still living at Puke-totara and other parts.

The above incident is believed to have occurred some years after the re-conquest of the country from Nga-Motu to Wai-o-ngana by Te Ati-Awa.

* Mere Tahana died in 1907.