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

Death of Ahiweka.—Raparapa, and tu-poki

Death of Ahiweka.—Raparapa, and tu-poki.

It was at the end of the eighteenth and the first twenty years of the nineteenth century that flourished the Ngati-Tama hero, Raparapa and his almost equally famous elder brother Tu-poki, both mentioned in the ngeri above. Their home was Te Kawau pa. They were the leading chiefs of Ngati-Tama in those days, and their war-like deeds are sung of to this day. Rangi-pito, whom I shall have very frequently to quote in what follows, says of Raparapa, "He was a comparatively small, spare man, but very active, and strong in the limb, with small muscular calves; he was a great toa or brave, who, with his valiant brother Tu-poki and their tribe, had often hurled back the élite of the northern tribes from their rock-bound home at Pou-tama." Another account of the same man obtained from Wi Ari by Mr. W. H. Skinner is, "He was a man below the medium height, not heavily built, but his joints were of phenomenal size (? double jointed). He was possessed of enormous muscular strength and great activity, and above all was a toa (warrior)."

Mr. Skinner adds, "As showing Raparapa's great strength and activity, he, on one occasion, rushed down from the Kawau pa and dashing into the rear of a retreating taua of the enemy on the beach below, seized a full-grown warrior" (named Ahi-weka) "by the tatua or belt, and throwing him over his shoulder, ran back with him to the base of the cliff, and then unaided bore his prisoner up the steep face by the way that has been described to the summit of the pa, where he was despatched at leisure." This was a feat of no ordinary strength. I have no means of fixing the exact date of this event, but it was about the year 1800. Wiremu Nero Te Awaitaia* says the tribes that formed this large war-party were Waikato, Ngati-Haua, Ngati-Mania-poto, even some of Ngati-Paoa and Ngati-Maru of the Thames Gulf, and a few of Nga-Puhi from the north. They mustered a thousand warriors and were met by an equal number of Ngati-Tama (and, as Te Awa-i-taia page 258says, some of Ngati-Hāua of Whanganui). A battle was fought on the Pou-tama beach and the allies defeated, who then returned to their homes without much satisfaction for the death of Tai-porutu, which was the object of this great taua. Te Awa-i-taia says the Whanganui chief Tangi was killed in this battle.

The same Maori writer says that, "There was the great expedition of Te Waharoa, Pohepohe, Tu-te-rangi-pouri, and all Ngati-Mania-poto when Poroaki and his party were slain at Pou-tama by Ngati-Awa"—which preceded the above; but I am unable to place it—probably it was either in the same or preceding year as that in which Ahiweka was captured (i.e., in 1800). It was in one of these expeditions that Maunga-tautari, a great chief of Ngati-Haua, was slain.

Mr. Skinner says, "Tu-poki, the younger brother of Raparapa, is described as a man of great size and strength, but slower in his actions than his brother." We shall come across these two men again in the course of this narrative.

* "Ancient History of the Maori," Vol. 6, p. 2.