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

Early northern expeditions to Taranaki. — (Circa 1810.)

Early northern expeditions to Taranaki.
(Circa 1810.)

So far as can be learnt from Native histories—communicated by word of mouth to myself and others during these many years past—it was not until the early years of the nineteenth century that the page 272tribes living north of the isthmus of Auckland began to extend their warlike enterprises to the southern parts of the North Island.

With regard to the immediate causes that led to many of these expeditions we are often left in the dark. Those which followed the west coast of the North Island arc generally stated to have originated in the desire to acquire the fine flax garments made from the superior kinds of Phormium, for which the Taranaki coast is celebrated. No doubt the mere desire of man-slaying actuated those parties of warriors who joined in the forays to a considerable extent; and later, the acquisition of "heads" for sale to the ships visiting the north, together with the desire to possess slaves to prepare flax to barter for muskets, was an important factor.