Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

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

Whakarewa. — (1740.)


The following incident falls within the life-time of Te Rangi-apitirua, but whether before or after the conquest of the Nga-Motu country by Ati-Awa my informants cannot ssy, but probability seems to indicate that it was before.

I translate from Sir George Grey's "Nga Mahinga," p. 182, adding somewhat thereto from information derived from the Taranaki tribe:—" Now a war-party of Ngati-Awa and Ngati-Toa (the latter tribe was not there) was raised to proceed to Taranaki to attack the pa of Rangi-ra-runga (Rangi-mohuta, say Taranaki), which was named Whakarewa, a very large pa with high ramparts. (It is situated on section 28, block IV., Cape Survey District, three miles west of Okato Township, and, thanks to the Taranaki Scenery Preservation Society, is securely fenced in and protected. The pa is in good preservation, and is situated on one of those volcanic hillocks so common to that part of the country. Trees of many species cover the surface.) "Rangimohuta possessed a beautiful daughter named Rau-mahora, the fame of whose beauty had reached even to Te Rangi-apiti-rua at his pa of Puke-ariki, Town of New Plymouth. He was a chief of Ati-Awa and had a son named Takarangi, who was a great warrior. The latter had page 246heard also of the fame and beauty of Rau-mahora and his curiosity was aroused to behold her."

"In those days of old a quarrel arose between Te Rangi-apiti-rua and the father of Rau-mahora, hence the war-party of Ati-Awa proceeded to the latter's pa and laid siege to it. This continued for a long time; the place was invested very closely day and night, but the besiegers could not take it. The latter were very anxious to fight with the inmates of the pa, but they would not come outside. The time came when the food and water supply in the pa fell short, and starvation stared them in the face. Rangi-mohuta, the chief of the pa, could no longer bear to witness the sufferings of his daughter Rau-mahora for want of water; so he stood forth on the parapet of the pa and called out to the besiegers: "E te taua nei! Homai he wai moku; ma te rangatira e tiki,"—("War-party ahoy! Give me some water. Let the chief fetch it!") This was consented to and one of the war-party went to fetch some water, but another man seeing this smashed the calabash in the other's hand, and so the old man was disappointed. This was done several times, and then the chief of the pa, standing on the parapet, saw one of the chiefs of the besiegers passing who had a distinguishing mark on his head, an ivory comb and heron's plume, which is the sign of a chief. The word of the chief of the pa now came forth: "Who art thou?" The other returned, "It is I, Takarangi!" Then said the chief of the pa to him, "E horo ranei i a koe te tau o Orongo-mai-takupe?"—("Can you swallow (or cause to fall) the reef at Orongo-mai-takupe?"—the meaning of which is: Could the young chief overcome or rule his men.) Takarangi replied, "E horo! Taku ringa te ngaua e te kuri!"—("I can! Not a dog will bite my hand!") Takarangi said this, knowing that it was the father of the beautiful Rau-mahora, and he was troubled at the thought that she was suffering from thirst. And so he forthwith arose and proceeded to fetch some water for the girl and her father. He dipped from the spring Oringi, which bubbled up from the ground (the spring is about one hundred yards to the east of the Pa). The people of the war-party did nothing, because the waves of ocean became calm for fear of this man—that is his anger. So Takarangi took the water to the pa and gave it to the chief, saying to him, "Behold, I said to you, this hand of mine would not be bitten by a dog. See then! here is water for thee and the girl." Whilst they both were satisfying their thirst, Takarangi was looking at the girl, and she at him, and thus they remained for some time. The old man, after drinking, said, "Ka horo nga tai o Motu-takupu"—("The seas are breaking on Motu-takupu," or, in other words, his throat was page 247wet, i.e., satisfied with the water). And when the men of the war-party looked, behold! Takarangi was standing by the side of the girl, and they said to one another, "Friends! much greater is Takarangi's desire for Rau-mahora than for fighting."

"Seeing the state of affairs the father of Rau-mahora began to think; and then said to her, 'O Lady! would you like this man as a husband?' She replied, 'It is well!' And so the father gave his consent that his daughter should marry Takarangi. The young woman then proceeded to the stream to wash, and put on her finest garments, with an ivory comb in her hair, and then went forth from the pa and joined Takarangi; thenceforth becoming his wife. Hence ended the fighting, and the taua returned to their homes at Puke-ariki and Pu-kaka (Marsland hill), and never returned again in anger; for a permanent peace was thus made by the union of Rau-mahora and Takarangi."

"The descendants of that woman are those now here—Te Puni and his family and their children; thus —"

Table No. XLIX.

Table No. XLIX.

After the reconquest of Nga-Motu by Ati-Awa, peace was made (for a time) between that tribe and Taranaki, and in order that no further troubles should arise, two chiefs were appointed "Wardens of the Marches," Te Whare-pouri on behalf of Ati-Awa, and Rua-turi-whati on the Taranaki side. It was their business to see that "Kia Kaua e pikitia a Nuku-tai-pari."—("Nuku-tai-pari should not be crossed page 248by a hostile party")—that place being the boundary determined on; it is the sandy gully leading down to the beach immediately to the south of Pari-tutu, the main Sugar-loaf.

It seems probable that the marriage of Takarangi and Rau-mahora took place somewhere about 1740, and, as an old man, Takarangi was taken prisoner at the fall of the Rewarewa pa in 1805—see infra.