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

Rangi-apiti-rua visits potaka

Rangi-apiti-rua visits potaka.

It has been stated that Te Rangi-apiti-rua was a Kai-whakarua or related to both tribes—a word that means one who eats on both sides —and it appears from Whatitiri's account that after defeating and slaying many of the people of Wai-manu, he was seized with regret for some of his relatives who had been killed there, and decided, in order to equalize matters, to incite Ati-Awa to attack the Nga-potikitaua people (of Taranaki), then living at the Sugar-loaves Islands. To forward this end he decided to risk a visit to Potaka at Nga-puke-turua, well knowing, however, that in doing so he carried his life in his hand, for the people there were smarting under the loss of relatives at Wai-manu. He decided, however, to trust Potaka, to whom he was related. So he proceeded to the pa and entered it secretly just after dark and sat himself down close to Potaka's house waiting until the latter, should come forth, with the idea of calling his attention. Presently Potaka's son came out, and seeing a man sitting there, returned and said to his father, "He tangata kei te noho mai i waho; he huru-kuri te kakahu"—("There is a man sitting outside there, dressed in a dog-skin mat.") Potaka thought for a bit, then came to the conclusion it must be Te-Rangi-apiti-rua, so said to his son, "That is your papa (elder relative), do not say a word to anyone." Potaka then went out and brought the old man into the house, where he was given food, etc.; but not a hint was given to the rest of the people in the pa that a visitor was within its precincts.

In the morning Potaka went outside, and getting on the roof of his page 240house, shouted out, "Kua, horo te pa! Kua horo te pa!"—("The pa has fallen, the pa is taken!") This roused all the people, who came rushing into the marae to find out what was the matter. On hearing that Te Rangi-apiti-rua was there an immediate outery was raised that he should be brought forth and killed. Potaka then led forth Te Rangi-apiti-rua and set him down on a mat in front of all the people, and then said, "Who will strike the first blow at your relative?" This silenced the people—not one would undertake the job, and soon one after another came up and rubbed noses with the visitor.

After a time the two chiefs entered into a conversation and a consultation. Te Rangi-apiti-rua said, "Have you got a koke?" (canoe) "Yes," said Potaka, "but it is a very small one." When Te Rangi-apiti-rua saw it he found it too small for his purpose, which he had explained to Potaka, and secured the latter's consent to his plan. This plan was to make a naval demonstration against the Nga-potikitaua people living about the Sugar-loaves, and so avenge the deaths of those that fell at Wai-manu. It will be observed that the wily Te Rangi-apiti-rua was willing to sacrifice his friends living beyond his home to secure to his Ati-Awa relatives some utu for their losses, but not those who had done the mischief. This was tikanga-Maori (Maori custom). It was to this end he proposed an expedition by water, probably thinking if it went by land his own pa might be attacked. Potaka pointed out that an old woman (name forgotten) had a fine large war-canoe at Waitara. So both these schemers started off for that place, and on arrival at Ao-rangi, the pa of Miro-ora of Ati-Awa, explained to that chief the proposed plan, to which he agreed. The canoe—a very large one—was now prepared for sea, and then Te Rangi-apiti-rua returned to his home—which Whatitiri says was then at Pukaka (Marsland Hill)—so as not to appear to his people to have had anything to do with the plot. Potaka also returned to Nga-puke-turua to carry out his part of his scheme.