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

Tihi-Manuka. — Defeat of Ngati-Tama. — 1820

page 293

Defeat of Ngati-Tama.

We must again change the scene of our story to the north. It will be remembered that Te Kawa-iri-rangi, chief of Ngati-Tama, had basely murdered Te Rangi-hapainga, wife of Hari of Ngati-Urunumia, and the steps taken by several of the hapus of Ngati-Mania-poto immediately after that event.

A combination of Ngati-Urunumia, Ngati-Rakei, Ngati-Rora, and Ngati-Kino-haku—all "Tainui" tribes—now assembled for the purpose of punishing Ngati-Tama for their evil deed. We know few particulars of this affair, but the date is tolerably certain. Mr. Skinner says, "The people of Pa-tangata—a pa on a little island at the mouth of the Tonga-porutu (see Plate 1), south side, now nearly all washed away—knowing the high rank of Te Rangi-hapainga, the murdered woman, became uneasy after the deed was done;" (and with the people of the Kawau pa) "retired to a point overlooking the coast on the ranges near the Wai-kiekie stream. Here they built a strong pa at a place named Tihi-manuka. So says Toiroa of Mokau, but it is believed the pa was built long ere the invasion, and was used as a place of refuge like others similarly situated along the coast. From this pa started one of the great Maori highways leading from the west coast into the interior of the North Island, and known as the Taumata-mahoe track. In case of defeat the inmates had a chance of escape by this back entrance, and at the same time the pa served the purpose of checking any marauding parties coming from the interior. Here Ngati-Tama awaited the attack of the combined tribes. In due time it came; the stronghold was taken," and a great many of its defenders slain, among them Te Kawa-iri-rangi, who instigated the murder. The leading chiefs of the combined hapus were Hari, Tawhana, Te Rangi-tua-tea, Taonui, Tariki, Hauauru, and others. Judge Gudgeon, in his "Judgment, Mohakatino-Pari-ninihi Block," says, in reference to Tihi-manuka, "There is every reason to believe that a long series of defeats and the deaths of many great chiefs, including Runga-te-rangi, Kahui-Tangaroa, Whiti, Ihu, Hanu, Pehi, and Maunga-tautari were unavenged until Ngati-Mania-poto won this battle."

This, however, is the second defeat we have had to chronicle suffered by Ngati-Tama, the other being Nga-tai-pari-rua, fought on the beach between Ngati- Tama and Ngati-Rakei and others. The importance of this battle of Tihi-manuka is that, dependant on it as the first episode, was the loss of the Pou-tama country to Ngati-Tama, for when their title came to be inquired into in the nineties of last century, they page 294received but a few hundred acres out of all the tens of thousands of acres they held at the time of Tihi-manuka.

Though no doubt the defeat was a serious one, it did not exterminate the fighting spirit of the tribe, and that a great many people survived is proved by the fact that Ngati-Tama of Katikati-aka pa, a mile or so to the south of Tihi-Manuka, under the chiefs Tupoki and Te Puoho, followed up Ngati-Mania-poto as they retired along the coast from Tihi-manuka, "and another battle would have been fought had not Taonui and Tariki objected to fight so far from the shelter of a pa on which they might rally if defeated." (Judgment, loc. cit.)

We shall see what steps Ngati-Tama took to avenge their losses at Tihi-manuka later on; in the meantime must describe some further doings of Tu-whare and Te Kau-paraha, which fall in here.