History and traditions of the Maoris of the West Coast, North Island of New Zealand, prior to 1840
Potaka Takes Nga-Horo Pa
Potaka Takes Nga-Horo Pa.
It was stated a few pages back that Potaka, after he and Te Rangi-apiti-rua had arranged with Miro-ora the attack on the Sugar-loaf islands, returned to his home at Nga-puke-turua, near Sentry Hill. Here he arranged to second Mira-ora's efforts by an expedition by land to further harass the Nga-potiki-taua people. Mr. Skinner says: "Potaka came overland by way of the beach (at the same time Miro-ora came by sea) and was lying in ambush in the scrub close to the pas (at Nga-Motu). Seeing that the pas were deserted by nearly all but the old people, women, and children, he gave the signal and his party rushed the defenceless pas, and setting fire to the whares, made Mira-ora acquainted with the fact that the shore party had begun their work, which was the signal for him to commence his attack on the canoes. Those who succeeded in reaching the shore were at once cut off by Potaka and his followers, now in occupation of Miko-tahi (the island at the base of the present breakwater) and Te Motu-o-Tamatea. A few canoes only escaped and succeeded in making their way down the coast to Tapuae river."
Potaka and his party went on to Nga-horo (Major Lloyd's pa, Omata) to carry out the search for the bones of the ancestor Rata-nui, reported by Te Rangi-apiti-rua to Potaka. "The bones were found at that pa," says Mr. Skinner, "hanging up in the roof of one of the houses. They were quite intact, nothing having been done with them in the way of making fish-hooks, needles, etc., the Ati-Awa having followed up their loss so quickly. The bones are said to have been discovered in a curious way—curious to us, but quite naturally to the Maoris. As Potaka or some of his family were searching the house, they heard a peculiar sound, a kind of humming noise, as if some one were singing over a tuning fork. Being a blood relation or descendant of Rata-nui's, Potaka at once understood what the noise meant, and advancing discovered the bones concealed in the roof of the house. The Maoris tell me that in olden times this was a common occurrence; page 243the bones of a relative made their presence known by this singing or humming noise. Certain bones had the power of warning the people of approaching danger, and would also foretell propitious days for fishing." This was not only a Taranaki but a general belief of the Maoris.