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

Death of Tai-Porutu. — (1780.)

Death of Tai-Porutu.

The amount of fighting between Ngati-Tama and the Tai-nui tribes to the north has been so constant, and the events so numerous, that it is impossible to describe them all, or even to place them in the proper sequence until the opening years of the nineteenth century. But the death of Tai-porutu rests on somewhat surer data than usual. Tai-porutu was the principal chief of the Ngati-Haua* tribe of Matamata, Upper Thames Valley; his son was Te Waharoa, whose son was Wiremu Tamihana Tarapipipi, the so-called "King Maker." Mr. J. A. Wilson, in his interesting "Story of Te Waharoa," says Te Waharoa was upwards of sixty ) years of age when he died in 1839, and that he was born just at the time Tai-porutu was killed. This takes us back to the year 1780, and it seems probable to me that it was during the expedition of Tipi and Inuwai already described that Tai-porutu's death occurred, for it was Ngati-Haua who formed the bulk of that war-party.

Whether it was in retaliation for the Wai-ana massacre described above, or to settle some other account with Ngati-Tama, a party of Ngati-Haua and Ngati-Mania-poto came down the coast and got as far as the Kawau pa, the great stronghold of Ngati-Tama, a description of which will be found in Chapter I. Mr. Skinner adds, "On the hard sandy beach below and to the north of Te Kawau, called Rangi-kaiwaka, was fought many a pitched battle, and here has been heard times beyond measure the thundering chorus of the ngeri or war-dance, the forerunner of a coming fight. A quarter of a mile to the north of Te Kawau, a rocky ledge ran from the base of the cliff seaward, separating the Rangi-kaiwaka beach from that of Pou-tama, which latter ran unbroken to the Mohaka-tino river two miles distant. Many of the battles fought here centred around this ledge of rocks; the first party to gain the advantage of its slippery summit bade defiance to their less successful foes below."

It was during one of the battles fought on the beach just described that the taua above referred to were defeated by Ngati-Tama, and page 256Tai-porutu killed or wounded. His body was then taken up to the Kawau pa and suspended head downwards in the main. gateway or waha roa of the pa; he was crucified, in fact. Hence comes the name Waha-roa, of the Ngati-Haua family, which was given to Te Waharoa by his mother soon after his birth, when the news of Tai-porutu's death reached her.

Colonel Gudgeon says that the Whanganui tribe Ngati-Hau were assisting Ngati-Tama at the time that Tai-porutu was killed, which is confirmed by W. Te Awa-i-taia's account in "Ancient History of the Maori," Vol. 6, p. 1.

* Not to be confused with Ngati-Hāua of Upper Whanganui, for the two last syllables (haua) are pronounced quite differently in the latter tribe's name, like ha-ua, not hăua.