History and traditions of the Maoris of the West Coast, North Island of New Zealand, prior to 1840
The capture of the rewarewa pa by A Taua of the Taranaki Tribe. — 1805-10
The capture of the rewarewa pa by A Taua of the Taranaki Tribe.
The next event in the history of this coast was the capture of the Rewarewa pa, which Mr. W. H. Skinner thus describes:—
"The Rewarewa pa stands at the mouth of the Waiwakaiho river, which falls into the sea about two miles north of New Plymouth. The pa was situated on the north bank of the river, between a bend immediately inside the mouth and the sea, and at the time of this story —early in this century or about 1805-10—was occupied by the Ngati-Tawirikura, a subdivision of the Nga-Motu hapu of the great Ati-Awa tribe.*
Before relating the storming of this stronghold, it will be necessary to give a short account of the action that led up to this event, and which was the direct cause of the terrible revenge measured out to the inhabitants of the Rewarewa pa.
* See locality plan, opposite page.
After the capture of this pa by Te Ati-Awa, and when all the fighting was over, feasting and the recounting of deeds of valour and daring as a matter of course followed; then it was that a great dispute took place between the two hapus. It so happened that the contingent from Rewarewa consisted almost exclusively of chiefs, and several of these were men of high rank in the Ati-Awa tribe. The Puke-tapu men, on the other hand, though outnumbering their friends by two to one, contained few men of high rank among them. The aristocratic contingent from Rewarewa taunted their friends of low degree from Puke-tapu with only playing a secondary part in the affair of Koru; they intimated that they were there picking the bones of an enemy who, had it not been for the particular prowess of the Rewarewa people, would, have been eating them—the lowly men of Puke-tapu, instead—in fact they took all the credit to themselves, leaving none for the brave fellows of Puke-tapu. The Puke-tapu men withdrew to their homes—the country round about what is now known as the Bell Block—very pouri, to bide their time for taking utu for the insulting swagger of their Rewarewa kin. An opportunity was not long wanting.
At this time the country in and around the present site of New Plymouth was constantly being overrun by war-parties of the Taranaki and Ati-Awa. Originally the boundary between those two tribes was the Manga-o-raka river—six or seven miles to the north of New page 260Plymouth—but in course of years the Ati-Awa had driven their neighbours further and further to the south, and at the time of this story the line of demareation between these two hostile tribes was fixed about the base of Paritutu, the highest of the Sugar-loaves, about two miles to the south of New Plymouth—see Chapter IX. Evidence of the Taranaki occupation of this debatable strip of country is to be seen on every hand; a few of their principal strongholds may be mentioned: Pu-kaka, immediately at the back of St. Mary's Church, New Plymouth, and now known as Marsland Hill; the top of this great pa was afterwards levelled off for military purposes, and during the Maori wars of 1860-5 was the headquarters of the Imperial forces in this part of New Zealand; Pu-kiekie, just to the south of the last-named pa, in Victoria Park; Wharepapa, or Fort Niger; Mataitonga, or Fort Murray, both in the town of New Plymouth, and both used during the Maori war in 1860-5 as military stations; Puke-he, now known as the Mission Hill, near the Breakwater; Okoare, just at the back of Mr. F. Watson's farm-house, Westown; Whakawhitiwhiti, in the same neighbourhood; besides a number of others.
1 Tapuae, a small river which falls into the sea about, seven miles south of New Plymouth. Poutoko, on the high ground above the valley of Tapuae, towards New Plymouth, the pa formerly occupied by Tarnati Wiremu Te Ngahuru before the war.
Photo. by M. Crompton Smith.
Plate No. 11.
Puke-rangiora pa from the East.
I a matiti, e kai ana au
I te aitanga matua
In the days of summer, I shall be eating
The senior line of descent,
1 Pahakahaka: this pa is near "Woodleigh," and is cut through by the Frankley Road.
2 Pukeariki, Mount Eliot, formerly the Signal Station for the Port of New Plymouth, now cut away to make room for the Railway Station and other improvements.
3 Ratanui, formerly Major Brown's farm on the Carrington Road. [? Is this a bonâ fide Maori name; was it not so named by Major Brown from the great rata growing on the hill there?]
4 Koroheahea was the tupuna, or grandfather of Te Kahui, the well-known late chief of Rahotu, near Opunake, and also a near relative of Wiremu Kingi Matakatea, one of the principal chiefs of the Taranaki tribe, whose old pa—successfully defended by him against the Waikato tribes—was Te Namu, Opunake. Wiremu Kingi, in 1834, saved Mrs. Guard and her two children from being murdered when the "Harriett" was wrecked at the mouth of the Okahu river, a few miles south of Caps Egmont; and again in August, 1862, protected and brought safely through the enemy's country the passengers and crew of the "Lord Worsley," when that steamer was wrecked in Te Namu Bay, Opunake. W. Kingi died in February, 1893, at a very advanced age.
1 There were three chiefs of very high rank in the Ati-Awa tribe killed here—Rerewha-i-to-rangi, the father of Te Puni, was one of them.
2 Te Puni and Rawa-ki-tua. These chiefs afterwards led their hapu in the migration south, occupying what is now the site of the City of Wellington.—See Journal of the Polynesian Society, Vol. I., p. 88. Te Puni, at this time, was a young man of from twenty-five to thirty years of age. When the Europeans first came to Wellington in 1840, Te Puni's age was estimated at sixty years; this would make the date of the capture of the Rewarewa somewhere between the years 1805-10. Other information is to the effect that this event occurred many years prior to the sailing of Te Pehi for England in a whaler in 1826.—See Now Zealanders, p. 317.
A few of the Ati-Awa that had escaped the general slaughter made their way to Puketapu. Upon hearing the tidings the great war trumpet was sounded, and the whole hapu were soon gathered into the pa, and everything made ready to repel an attack. Later on in the day the emissaries from Puke-ariki reached Puketapu, with their scheme for a combined attack as mentioned before. A council of the whole of the inmates of the pa was called, and it was then decided that no help should be given, or revenge taken—at least for the present—for the capture and slaughter at the Rewarewa pa; for said they," are not these the boasters who said we were of no account, common fellows, not toas (warriors) like them; where is the bravery they boasted about when we stormed Koru? that bravery which they said belonged only to them, the rangatiras of the Rewarewa. This is our utu for their insults." So they remained quietly in their pa, whilst the feasting of their hereditary enemy on the bodies of their own tribesmen went merrily on. In this way did the men of Puketapu get utu for the insults heaped on them by the Rewarewa chiefs, after the capture of Koru.
As mentioned before, the Rewarewa pa was stormed just before dawn, and later on in the day the Taranaki taua moved inland and took up a position at Wanangananga, now called Katere-ki-te-moana—the rise seaward of Devon road, at the top of what is now called Mangaone Hill. The change of names was made at the time of the purchase of the Hua and Wai-whakaiho block, about 1844 or 1845; the owners refused to sell this portion of the block. The word denotes "let it float away to sea," or "float it out to sea," hence the name "Katere-moana." There a great cannibal feast was held, lasting some days, at the end of which time all that remained of their victims was carefully baked, and then packed away in calabashes after the manner of what we call "potted meat." Certain bones also of the higher chiefs were—after being carefully picked and scraped—packed away in their pikaus and taken with them for future domestic use, such as combs, flutes, fish-hooks, ornaments, etc. They were so elated with their late victory that it was decided to surprise Puke-ariki on their homeward march.
Everything being in readiness, they left Katere soon after midnight, timing themselves to reach Puke-ariki just before dawn—the favourite time for Maori attacks. Keeping the Wai-whakaiho Flat on their page 264right, this great taua, now increased in numbers by the captives from Rewarewa, passed on through To Rerenga, or what is now the Glenarvon Estate, keeping on the high ground just at the back of the homestead, thence down into the Wai-whakaiho valley, crossing the river just below the deep pool used for swimming matches at picnic times, then up to the western slope, and on to Puke-o-tipua, now known as Shuttleworth's Hill. Crossing the Mangaorei road—Hospital road—just seaward of Mr. Campbell's residence, they passed on through Mrs. Randolph Smith's farm and over the Henui stream just above Puke-tarata, into Sole Brothers' farm, over the present line of the Avenue road, passing through Hawehawe, close in front of Mr. C. W. Govett's residence into the Kaimata1 clearing, now the site of the homestead on Brooklands. From here they went down across the Pukekura 2 stream, about the upper end of the Recreation Grounds, passing through Taraketo, or Gilbert's farm, and coming on to the Carrington road at its junction with the Mill road, thence down the spur on which the Mill road now runs towards the Huatoki river. A halt was called on the brow of the hill, and after a short korero (talk), four or five hundred men were sent on as an advance guard to break a track through the dense fern and scrub, and make good the crossing of the Huatoki; this party consisted of common men only—privates, as my informant put it—the chiefs remained with the main body on the hill.
We will now leave the advancing taua for a short time, to see how things are going on at Puke-ariki and its neighbourhood. When it became known that the enemy had captured the Rewarewa pa, all the outlying forts were abandoned and the hapu concentrated within Puke-ariki pa. Within these lines, what remained of the hapu had gathered. On the refusal of the Puketapu hapu to assist in a combined attack on the Taranaki people, fears were expressed that the enemy would attack Puke-ariki, the inmates of which were numerically much weaker than the taua. Accordingly an appeal for help was sent off immediately to the Ngati-Tama, another hapu or subdivision of the Ati-Awa tribe, and who were renowned throughout the land as great toas.
1 Kaimata, now Brooklands, once the residence of the late Captain Henry King, R.N., now occupied by Mr. Newton King.
2 Pukekura, name of the stream running through the Puke-kura Park (late Recreation Grounds), which joins the Huatoki river at Pitawa, just above Carrington road railway bridge.
1 Pukaka: Marsland Hill. Huatoki: small river running through New Plymouth and crossing main street of town alongside the railway line. Mahoe: a small stream, one of the branches of which took its rise near the junction of Brougham and Powderham street; this stream joined the Mangaotuku, just about where the Criterion Hotel now stands.
1 Koronerea died about twenty-five years ago at a very advanced age, and was buried at; Puketotara. The head chief of Puke-ariki was Rangi-apiti-rua. Koronerea. was the fighting chief of this sub-division of the hapu.
2 The Hotel stood in Bulteel street, on section 785. town of New Plymouth; it is now removed,
3 Okoare, the old pa behind Mr. F. Watson's homestead. Ararepe, and Ratapihipihi around Rotokare lake, between Elliot and Barrett roads. Tapuaeharuru, the river just beyond Omata.
This slaughter, called 'Pakirikiri'5 took place near the site of the old mill (now demolished) known as 'White's,' that used to stand on the Huatoki immediately below the Gaol, and just down the stream from the smăll bridge that spans the river on the Mill road. The Ati-Awa ambuscade was laid in what is now Mr. W. D. Webster's garden, between Fulford and Bulteel streets, New Plymouth.
This is the story as told to me by Heta Te Kauri, of Puketotara, a member of the Ngati-Te-Whiti hapu of the Ati-Awa tribe. The capture of Rewarewa pa, according to the Taranaki version, was given me by Te Kahui—see Koroheahea—and all the main points verified by Piripi Ngahuku of the Ngati-Te-Whiti hapu (Moturoa) of the Ati-Awa tribe."
It would appear from the following that Takarangi, whose marriage with Rau-mahora has already been described in connection with the siege of Te Whakarewa (circa 1740) was in the Rewarewa pa at the time of its fall, and there taken prisoner by Taranaki. The following from "Te Waka Maori" Newspaper, 1877, p. 47, alludes to this event, and it is inserted here to preserve it in more permanent form: —
1 Otumaikuku and Pipiko. The locality around the site of New Plymouth Hospital; this building stands on part of the Pipiko reserve
2 Waimea, the name of stream that crosses the Frankley road, and flows into the Huatoki at the tannery, about a quarter-of-a-mile inland of the Hospital gates.
3 Tukapa, this locality is still known by its old name.
4 Herekawe, the name of a stream that crosses the Main South road, about three miles from New Plymouth, in the Omata District.
5 Pukirikiri, a name given to this battle in derision, on account of the large number of common people—tangata-ware—-that were killed. Pakirikiri is the name of the fish called "Rock-cod."
* Knowing the very great age to which the Maoris lived, it is not impossible Nikorima, might have been born about the time of Captain Cook's last voyage in 1777; and that the Taranaki natives may have seen his ship pass. This would only make Nikorima about 100 years old, not, an uncommon age for a Maori. The "first ship" to visit the coast came about 1825.