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

Taking of wai-manu. — (1770.)

Taking of wai-manu.

We have no certain information as to the length of time that elapsed after the defeat of Taranaki (or Nga-Potiki-taua), north of the Wai-whakaiho river, as described in Chapter IX., until the Ati-Awa hapus again began to occupy their old territories from Wai-o-ngana to Nga-Motu. But, apparently, it was not very long; and at about the year 1770 we find the Rewarewa pa at the mouth of the Wai-whakaiho, north bank, and the Wai-manu or Puke-pupuru pa both occupied by Ati-Awa. "The latter pa" (says Mr. Skinner) "was situated partly on Town sections 853 and 854 and on Mount McCormick reserve, Town of New Plymouth. It was occupied by the Ngati-Tupari-kino section of Ati-Awa, and they also occupied the valley of Te Henui river and the country between there and Wai-whakaiho, besides portions of the Huatoki valley and the eastern part of the Town of New Plymouth. Some of their pas were: Whare-papa (Fort Niger), Te Kawau (at the mouth of the Huatoki, where the railway goods shed now stand); Pu-rakau, north, bank of the Henui river—a little seaward of Devon Street; Puke-wharangi (on Section 20, N.R., east of Te Henui river and between there and the Mangaorei road); Parihamore and Puke-tarata (on Education Reserve Y, inland of the Cemetery, in a bend of Te Henui river, south bank); and Puke-totara, where most of the few remaining members of the hapu still reside.

"At this same period Hangi-apiti-rua, of Nga-potiki-taua, was chief of the Puke-ariki pa and possibly the builder of it. The outworks of this great fort extended from the junction of Queen and St. Aubyn Streets, Town of New Plymouth, as its north-west corner, to the present page 238site of the Borough Council offices as its south-east corner, and seaward to and embracing what is now the passenger platform of the Railway Station; the hill has been entirely cut away for railway and other improvement purposes. Rangi-apiti-rua was what is called a Kaiwhakwrua, or related to both Taranaki and Ati-Awa, and a chief of both tribes. But he was distrusted and disliked by both, and considered a mischievous, plotting, and deceitful man."

"The chiefs of Wai-manu pa (Ati-Awa) were two brothers called Wero-manu and Manu-kino, and neither of them were on good terms with the people of Puke-ariki "as was but natural seeing the serious fighting that had taken place not many years ago when Taranaki was so severely handled by Ati-Awa. Mr. Skinner continues:—

"The people of Wai-manu had certain fishing rights in the Hua-toki stream and in the early spring the piharau or lamprey fishing time came on, and the usual traps were set in the river, near a large stone called Pai-are, situated immediately at the back of Nathan's stores, in the prolongation of Currie Street. On going one morning to gather in the fish it was seen that the traps had been tampered with and the fish stolen. The same thing occurred three mornings following and it was then decided by the Wai-manu people to set a watch, which was accordingly done; the men hiding and holding up fern fronds in front of their faces so they should not be seen. Just before dawn the watchers saw some men approaching from the southern side of the stream descending the bank through what is now Mr. R. C. Hughes' garden. These men at once began to search for the lampreys, and whilst doing so were surprised by the watchers, who succeeded in killing one of the marauders. They proved to be some of Te Rangi-apiti-rua's people who had been sent by him to rob their neighbour's traps. The body of the slain was taken to Wai-manu and put to the usual purpose."

"Although caught in the act of stealing, and therefore liable in accordance with Maori law to suffer the extreme penalty, this did not render the people of Wai-manu safe from the claims of the law of utu; and the more so, as they were numerically much weaker than the people of Puke-ariki. Accordingly, Te Rangi-apiti-rua made preparations to exact revenge for the loss of his man. Early one morning the Wai-manu pa was surprised by Te Rangi-apiti-rua and his party, and, fortunately for the inmates, this attack was not entirely unexpected. They had made their pa as secure as possible, but the difference in numbers between the attacked and the attackers was so great that they could not expect to hold out very long. In view of this fact one or two messengers were sent off directly the attack commenced to Potaka, the page 239principal chief of Nga-puke-turua pa (near Sentry Hill) to beg him to come to their rescue before it was too late. In the meantime a stubborn defence was made by the inmates of Wai-manu. At last they were driven from the shelter of the pa, but keeping together they retreated along about where Gill Street is now, disputing the ground as they passed along towards Te Henui, and showing a brave front to their enemies. Almost exhausted they had reached Kerau (about the junction of Gill and Hobson Streets), when the rescue party of some seventy men under Potaka came on the scene by way of Te Henui beach and up to the retreating Wai-manu people by Tai-rau.* The fighting immediately stopped and Potaka told Te Rangi-apiti-rua he had taken sufficient utu and bade him return to Puke-ariki. Taking the Wai-manu people under his protection Potaka returned to his home at Nga-puke-turua."

The Marae, or plaza of Te Kawau pa was where Currie Street now runs, between the pa and Devon Street; it was called Kai-arohi.

* About town sections 1950, 1954, etc.