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

Death of Pehi-Tahanga

Death of Pehi-Tahanga.

Mr. Skinner continues, "During one of the periodical raids of Ngati-Mania-poto into the Ngati-Tama country, a night attack or surprise was attempted on Te Kawau pa. The following is the Ngati-Mania-poto account as told by Toiroa, of Mokau Heads: 'A taua of our tribe had come to Pou-tama to obtain revenge for the death of one of our chiefs, and they nearly succeeded in taking the pa. The only approach to this stronghold was by means of steps cut into the sandstone rock on the landward face, up which only one man could go at a time' (or was it not rather by ladders which could be drawn up into the pa.—W. H. S.) 'It was night, or early dawn, and part of the taua had gained the summit of the island pa, where they were discovered by Ngati-Tama within, and the taua was quickly driven over the cliff or back by the way they came. As it was only possible for one man at a time to get down, the taua was caught in a trap, and a chief of very high rank in the Ngati-Mania-poto tribe, named Pehi-tahanga, in trying to escape, fell over the precipice into the gut (see Plate No. 2) that runs between the island pa and the main land, a height of one hundred feet or more. Falling on to the rocky ledge below, he was killed, or so injured that he fell an easy prey to Ngati-Tama. His body was cut up and eaten with great ceremony at the feast called Te ohu, at the planting of the kumara. His son, in consequence, afterwards took this as a name, Te Ohu. Pehi-Tahanga was an uncle (?) or near relative of Wahanui's.' "

The following is the haka, or ngeri, sung by one of the Waikato parties that came to avenge the death of Pehi-Tahanga—see "Nga Moteatea," p. 209:—

Rokohanga mai taku ipo,
O, e atawhaitia ana,
A, ka riro i te ko muhumuhu
U, ka riro i te korerorero,
O, ka. tu ra ka haere,

When evil counsel to my lover came
In the midst of those that loved him,
"Twas whispers of fame to come,
And strong persuasion together
That induced him to arise and join

page 257

E, ki to tiki ra i Te Kawau,
U, kia riro mai Tu-poki,
I, kia riro mai Raparapa
A, kia riro mai to kai
Ngoho ngohe te riri.

In the vain hope, To Kawau to take,
With Tu-poki its chief to slay
And his valiant brother Raparapa
'Twas there thy food would be
And war be easily ended.

The first line of this ngeri is sung by one voice, all the rest by the whole of the war-party, excepting the first letter of each line, carried over from the last of the previous line, which is sung by the fugle-man.