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

Te Taharoa

Te Taharoa.

We now come to the series of incidents that were the immediate cause of Te Rau-paraha's migration to Kapiti.

Reference to the frequent alliances that existed from ancient times between Ngati-Toa (of Kawhia), and both Ngati-Tama (of Pou-tama) and Ngati-Mutunga (of Urenui) has already been recorded; and this murder of Unu-a-tahu, by Raparapa, evidently was considered by Waikato as involving Ngati-Toa in the inevitable vengeance that the former tribe considered it necessary to take to square the credit and debtor account between these ancient enemies. There were other causes inducing to the same end: The death of the great chief Te Uira, of Waikato, at Te Rau-paraha's hands; the defeat of Ngati-Mania-poto at Ta-wlutiwhiti, and other disasters were by no means forgotten by the tribes concerned, and who had suffered at Te Rau-paraha's hands. Moreover, Waikato had not as yet fully carried out their formal decision of exterminating the Kawhia tribes.

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The death of Unu-a-tahu, by Raparapa, accentuated the determination of Waikato to complete their work, and for this purpose they undertook the war at Te Taharoa.

Te Taharoa is the northernmost of a chain of small lakes situated four or five miles south of Kawhia, and is in the heart of the country, then owned by Ngati-Toa, and around which they had many villages and fortified pas, some of which were named Te Kakara, Rangi-hura, Te Rako, Ara-raparapa, Te Kawau, and Tau-mata-kauae.

For the account of what follows, I am indebted to the notes of Major Te Wheoro, Hone Kaora, Rangi-pito, W. Taungatara, A. Shand, and others collected by myself. In the length of time that has elapsed since the events occurred, the recollection even by such splendid memories as were possessed by these old Maoris, is somewhat at fault, and consequently we have some uncertainty as to the precise order in which Te Taharoa should be placed with regard to the well ascertained date (1819-20) of Te Rau-paraha's and Tu-whare's southern expedition. The evidence is conflicting; but on the whole it seems to point to this latter expedition having taken place first, and, therefore, Taharoa was probably about 1820 or early in 1821. If this is right, then the next event in our narrative which should come in here is the expedition of Te Rau-paraha and Tu-whare, which has already been described in Chapter XII., but it has been thought best to keep all these Kawhia incidents together.

So when Ngati-Mahanga heard of the murder of Unu-a-tahu, their chief Te Puna-toto was urgent that Waikato should avenge it. This was agreed to, and many of Waikato, including Ngati-Mahutta (Te Wherowhero's hapu), Te Patu-po, Ngati-Mahanga, and others assembled in great force to attack Ngati-Toa. This great taua was divided into two portions, one going by sea (probably from Whainga-roa), under the chiefs Te Kanawa, Kiwa, Te Hiakai, Te Awa-i-taia, and others; the other by the "Waipa valley, and thence over the ranges to the coast. This last party was under Te Wherowhero, Te Tihi-rahi, Te Pae-waka, Hou (of Ngati-Apakura, now of Kawhia), Tu-korehu (of Ngati-Mania-poto), Te Au, Te Ake (of Ngati-Hikairo, also now of Kawhia), and many others. They were to proceed to the coast and attack Ngati-Rarua (of Ngati-Toa) of Wai-kawau pa, situated fourteen miles north of Mokau, in order to punish those people for a curse they had uttered against the great warrior Tu-korehu, as he and his people returned from some raid into the Ngati-Tama or other territory of Taranaki. Referring to this incident, Mr. Skinner says, "As Tu-korehu's taua journeyed northward along the coast, they had to pass under the pa, which was built on a high cliff jutting out into the sea, page 329and it was only at low water that a-passage round the base could bo effected. As they passed underneath, one of the inmates of the pa (of the Ngati-Karua hapu of Ngati-Toa) exclaimed, "Look at the steam rising from his bald head!" in allusion to Tu-korehu—a very stout, and presumably from this a bald-headed man. Now the mention of the head of a chief was a breach of the law, for the head was tapu, and never, therefore, mentioned; how much more insulting then to name it in this derisive manner, and on such a sacred personage as Tu-korehu. It was a deadly insult; and in revenge Wai-kawau pa was assaulted and taken, and all the inhabitants killed and eaten." *

This part of the taua went on to Wai-kawau, and sat down to besiege the place, where we will leave them for a time to follow the fortunes of the other branch of the expedition.

The second taua was composed of Ngati-Mahuta, To Patu-po, Ngati-Mahanga, and others. Te Awa-i-taia was "the young chief" of the party. On arrival at Kawhia, by water, they proceeded overland to Taharoa where the bulk of Ngati-Toa had assembled under Te Rau-paraha; but the Ngati-Koata branch of that tribe remained in their pas at Kawhia, with the intention, should Waikato be defeated, of attacking them on their retreat, or, of taking Waikato in the rear. Major Te Wheoro says, "Whilst the taua were besieging Taumata-kauae pa, near Taharoa lake, a child of the enemy was caught, killed, and then served up to the taua with some fish. Te Puna-toto (apparently of Ngati-Pou, who had induced Waikato to engage in this undertaking) arose and stood over the food with a ko (or wooden spade, which is sharp-pointed like a paddle) in his hand. He was a To hung a, or priest. Ho pierced the body of the child, saying, ' Hero I will stick this ko.' At these words all the fish raised themselves up (!), and thereupon he recited his tohakatapatapa :—

Papa, papa to whatitiri
I rung-a i te rangi, etc., etc.

The child's body was then divided out to the To hung a and the people. Te Rau-paraha was at this time within his pa—the battle had not commenced."

* Mr. Skinner places this incident after the defeat of Waikato at Te Motu-nui (see Chapter XIV.), but I think his informant probably had forgotten the exact occasion.

Whakatapatapa usually means the act of naming' some object after a part of one's self in order to tapu it and prevent others from taking it. But it appears to have a different meaning here. The lines of the karakia quoted are the opening ones of the pi he sung over the dead—aoe "Te Bou," p. 267.

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The pa at Tau-mata-kauae was taken, and then Te Kawau, situated (Mr. A. Wilson says) on a point projecting out into the lake. This is the place mentioned in Topeora's kai-oraora (see ante). After these two pas fell (or perhaps before, for the Native narrative is very obscure), came the battle of Te Kakara, which is (says Mr. A. Wilson) an old settlement situated to the north-west of Te Kawau. W. Taungatara says that before the battle Ngati-Toa were in their pa named Te Roto, and saw the advancing host of Waikato, four thousand strong, with Ngati-Maoia-poto, one thousand strong, coming to attack the place. Ngati-Toa, who had a few muskets given them by Tu-whare on his return to the north in 1820, sallied forth to meet this great force with only—as W. Taungatara says—three hundred men, composed partly of Ngati-Toa, Ngati-Koata, and Ngati-Rarua, under their various chiefs, of whom Te Rau-paraha, Te Pehi-kupe, Pokai-tara, and Te Rangi-haeata had guns. Immediately before the battle the famous Raparapa of Ngati-Tama had arrived on a visit to Te Rau-paraha—by himself, says Taungatara; accompanied by Rangi-numia and some ten men from Onaero, says Rangipoto—and they were quite unaware that fighting was taking place. With characteristic valour Raparapa immediately insisted on joining in the fight though disuaded from doing so by Te Akau, Te Rau-paraha's principal wife. She said, "E Rapa! E Rapa! waiho ma te pu!"—("O Rapa! let the guns decide it!")—for Raparapa had only a long handled tomahawk as a weapon. But he was determined to join in the fight and was quite annoyed at the woman's interference, exclaiming, "Ata.' Nawai i ki ma te wahine an e ako!"—("Aha! who says I am to be instructed by a woman! ")

The opposing forces now approached, each side in companies according to their tribes. Te Rau-paraha's people, Ngati-Toa and Ngati-Rarua, were posted in two bodies awaiting the onslaught of the enemy, which advanced, and were met by vollies from Ngati-Toa, each shot—says Taungatara—knocking over a man. After a time, and whilst the opposing forces were squatting down watching one another, Raparapa, who was impatient with that kind of fighting, dashed forth into the open space between the two forces, and with, his long handled tomahawk felled one of the enemy with a right-handed blow, another with a left-handed blow. A Waikato warrior now advanced to meet him; Raparapa made a blow at him and buried his axe so deeply in his body that he could not extricate it quickly, so he seized the man by his belt and flung him over his shoulder—Raparapa was noted for his great strength, see an instance of this, Chap. XI.—and bore him off. page 331Seeing him thus encumbered, Rota (or Kiwi)* of Waikato, rushed forth from the ranks, and catching Raparapa by his belt (about six inches wide and made of strong muka) took a grip of his naked body Several more of Waikato now rushed out to assist their tribesman, and in the struggle that ensued, Raparapa tripped up in a pig-rooting and fell, where Kiwi, watching his chance, succeeded in giving him a blow that killed him. Thus perished the great toa of Ngati-Tama, no doubt, in the manner he would have most desired.

All this time the muskets were doing their work; but on seeing the fall of Raparapa, the two companies of Ngati-Toa sprang to their feet preparatory to a rush, which being observed by the Waikato chief Pungarehu (or Hone Papita as he was afterwards named) of Ngati-Hine-uru, he called out, "Ara! He waewae tu!" expressive of there being no force in reserve behind the two companies of Ngati-Toa. All Waikato thereupon made a rush forward, and by weight of numbers drove back Te Rau-paraha's people in confusion, each man trying his best to save himself. Waikato continued the chase close up to the pa, killing great numbers as they fled, amongst them To Rau-paraha's elder brother, Waikato now took Raparapa's body to their camp, where they cut him up (and no doubt ate him with great satisfaction, though our Maori narrators do not say so), It was a great triumph for Waikato to have killed so very noted a warrior, "Had Raparapa known in time of this expedition of Waikato, he would have brought up the fighting Ngati-Tama, when the result would have been different "—says Rangi-pito.

Those of Ngati-Koata who had remained in their pas on the shores of Kawhia with the intention of cutting Waikato off, should they be defeated, had by this time advanced to the assistance of Te Rau-paraha whilst the battle was raging, but on seeing that the day was lost, they returned. Many of the others (Ngati-Rarua etc.) after the defeat fled south to their fellow tribesmen at Wai-kawau, several miles down the coast, and with them, says Te Wheoro, were some of Ngati-Tama and Ngati-Mutunga (of Poutama and Ure-nui).

* Hone Kaora's evidence states that it was To Awa-i-taia who killed Rapampa. This is confirmed by Mr. Shand, who heard the same story from Mr. Edwards (a native assessor), who had heard the incident related by Te Awa-i-taia himself.

Which of his brothers my informants do not say. The father of this family was Werawera and their mother Pare-kohatu; their children were (in order of seniority): 1, Te Rang-i-katukua; 2, Waitohi (who married To Ra-ka-herea and had Te Rangi-haeata and Tope-ora, the poetosp); 3, Te Kiri-pae-ahi; 4, Maliu-renga; 5, Te Rau-paraha.

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The fall of these several pas and the loss of the battle of Te Kakara was a very serious blow to Ngati-Toa, in which they lost a great many warriors. As Wi Karewa says, "Ka mate kino te iwi o Te Rau-paraha i konei; i patua i te ra, i te po, e Ngati-Pou "—("The losses of the tribe of Te Rau-paraha here were very serious; by day and by night were they killed by Ngati-Pou.") It was these losses that inspired the muse of Topeora when she composed the Kai-oraora given a few pages back. According to the same authority, Te Rangi-hokaia and Te Awa-i-taia were the most prominent leaders of the Waikato taua.

After the battle of Te Kakara, the Ngati-Toa left their pa Te Roto and retired to their stronghold, Te Arawi, a pa situated on the coast three miles south of Kawhia Heads, and two and a half miles eastward of Taunga-tara or Albatross Point. Mr. Andrew Wilson gives the following brief description of this stronghold. "It is situated on a point projecting into the sea, and is connected to the mainland by a narrow razor-back neck, and has cliffs all around it. On the north eastern side was an entrance to the pa, by means of a rope and steps cut in the rock, but it is so steep my informant thinks no one with boots on could make the ascent. The cliffs are all rock, in which pits have been cut out (for store houses), but there is no water on the point; off the pa, at sea, is a shark-fishing place."