History and traditions of the Maoris of the West Coast, North Island of New Zealand, prior to 1840
Battle of Te Motu-Nui. — 1822
Battle of Te Motu-Nui.
We must for the time leave the Amio-whenua taua cooped up in Puke-rangi-ora and return to Te Rau-paraha at his then temporary home at Ure-nui.
The news of the advance of the Waikato taua spread rapidly, and it caused a relaxation in the strict leaguer of Puke-rangi-ora, for it drew away a good many of the Ati-Awa people to the neighbourhood of Ure-nui in order to meet this now enemy before a junction could be effected with those in Puke-rangi-ora, Some of the Ngati Tama from Pou-tama left those parts and retreated to Ure-nui also, but a large page 367party of them under Taringa-kuri were away inland on a foray against Ngati-Uru-numia of Ongarue. "Others," says Mr. Skinner, "remained in their impregnable forts awaiting events. The death just prior to these events of their two great leaders, Baparapa and Tu-poki, had in a measure disorganised this tribe, for it is certain had they been living they would have offered battle to the invaders. Having reached Whaka-rewa, the great pa on the cliffs at the north end of the Wai-iti beach, three miles south of Puke-aruhe, the taua of Waikato managed to send on a messenger to Puke-rangi-ora to inform Tu-korehu of their movements. This news was the salvation of Tu-korehu and his party, for the siege of Puke-rangi-ora was at once (partly) abandoned and the hapus of Ati-Awa scattered to protect their different homes and to give battle to the invaders."
* In these grey papa cliffs are to be found many fossils and also a few nodules of the brilliant blue clay, called by the Maoris pukepoto, which in former times was used as a pigment to paint their faces with. The colour is due, probably, to some form of phosphate of iron.
It was on the plain at the foot of Okoki that the battle was fought, and from the pa the non-combatants could look down and see every movement of the parties engaged. Plate No. 12 shows the level plain of Te Motu-nui where the battle was fought; it is from a photograph by Mr. A. Hamilton, taken from Okoki pa.
The Waikato forces, the number of which is somewhat uncertain—the Maori accounts varying from two thousand to six thousand men—were composed of the following tribes:—Ngati-Mahuta of Central Waikato, Ngati-Mahanga, Ngati-Tahinga, Ngati-pou of Lower Waikato, Ngati-Haua of Upper Thames, and Ngati-Mania-poto of Waipa.
The following principal chiefs of the Waikato taua are known to have been there:—Te Rau-angaanga, his son Te Wherowhero, principal loader (afterwards King Po-tatau), Hia-kai, Mama, Hore, Te Kahukahu, Korania, Te Ringa-pakoko, Tamihana Te Waharoa (Tarapipipi), Pohopohe, Te Horo, To Awa-i-taia, Pou-tama, Tu-awhia, Te Kanawa, To Tumu, Te Puna-toto, and To Tihi-rahi.page 369
Ngati-Toa, under To Rau-paraha, Rangi-haeata, Te Ketepane (or Te Oho), Tama-tiwha, and a Nga-Puhi chief named Taki-moana.
Ngati-Mutunga, under Rangi-wahia and those mentioned above as living at Okoki, and Rangi-tokona.
Puke-tapu, under (?) Te Manu-tohe-roa.
Manu-korihi, under Taka-ra-tai and Rere-tawhangawhanga.
Ngati-Rahiri, under Huri-whenua.
Nga-Motu (?) (?) Te Whare-pouri.
What their numbers were is not known, but from the hapus engaged there must have been a great many.
The Waikato taua came on to a place called Waitoetoe, on the south bank of the Mimi, and there made preparations to camp. This place is only two miles from Okoki pa, where all the strength of Ati-Awa and Ngati-Toa was gathered. The fires of Waikato as they came along had been seen from Okoki, which commands an extensive view to the north. Rere-tawhangawhanga (father of the notorious W. K. Te Rangi-take), proposed that a party of eighty men should at once be despatched to reconnoitre and find out what Waikato was doing, but Te Rau-paraha thought it would be better to wait until the whole of Ati-Awa had assembled, for some of them were still holding Tu-korehu and the Amio-whenua taua in check at Puke-rangi-ora pa. Rere' then said to Te Rau-paraha, Ma taua te whetu."—("Let us obtain the chiefs," meaning, let their party make a dash for it and secure the death of some Waikato chief and all the ćclat that would be theirs), To this Te Rau-paraha consented, and so after Te Rangi-wahia and the old men had formed a reserve, eighty young and active men of Ngati-Hine-tuhi, under Te Rangi-puahoaho, were chosen as a hunuhunu (lit to singe; a party sent in advance to tost the metal of the enemy), and they advanced to just above Waitoetoe, where they found Waikato building shelters; a good many of the people being scattered about collecting toetoe and other material. Seeing their opportunity, the hunuhunu fell on some of these scattered parties and before they knew where they were twenty of Waikato had fallen. But the main party of Waikato were by this time aroused and Te Hiakai shouted out, "Whakatika! Whakatika!"—("Arouse! get up!") whilst Mama shouted, "Te toitoi! Te toitoi" (meaning not known) and immediately a large number of the taua came after the other party, catching them up as they began to retreat and—says Rangi-pito—killing a great number of them. The main body of Waikato were page 370now drawn in and followed in chase after the fleeing Ngati-Mutunga, many of whom were caught by their pursuers and killed. Whilst the Waikato were thus in full chase, old Te Rau-angaanga, the supreme chief of Waikato, was seated on a hillock in view of the field busily engaged "concealing the stars," or in other words, attempting by the force of his karakias to weaken the chiefs of the opposite party so that his own people should easily kill them.
But just before Waikato started on this chase, a heated discussion arose amongst them as to whether they should follow at once on the heels of the retreating scouts. Te Wherowhero was one of these, and he wished to complete the building of their temporary houses first, but Waikato were too excited to stop, now that blood had once boon spilled, and ho was drawn into the chase, Those who were in favour of staying said, "Haere ki te mate! Haere hi te mate.!"—("Go on to death! Go on to death!") Others shouted, "Taria te whita! Taria te whita!"—("Await the charge!") This division of opinion was considered an evil omen for them. But the final result was that the whole body of Waikato came rushing after their fleeing enemies, the Ngati-Mania-poto taking the lead.
* Plato No. 12 shows this gully where the veterans were stationed; it is the wooded gully crossing the picture.
* It is also claimed that Te Matoha of Ngati-Mutunga obtained "the first fish" —considered a very great thing amongst the Maoris.
The fight was now nearly over and Waikato were allowed to retreat towards their camp, but not unmolested. "As they were thus hard pressed," says Rangi-pito, "there arrived on the field from Uru-ti (a place up the Mimi valley) a chief of Ngati-Mutunga named Pi-tawa, the elder brother of Taki-rau, who reached the scene of the battle at a place named Te Tarata with a few of his followers, and, attacking Waikato as they retreated, managed to kill six of them. Pi-tawa was noted for his dexterity in the use of the taiaha, and on meeting Te Wherowhero in the fight, these celebrated warriors faced one another, each alternately making feints at the other, but neither daring to strike the first blow, well knowing that he who did so and missed his blow would lose his life. Pi-tawa was a man of great influence in the tribe, whose word would not be 'trodden on' or disobeyed by any of the tribe. In this respect he was like Te Puni, whose word was law to his followers."
* It is doubtful if Rangi-tuatea was at Motu-nui at all—see later on.
One of my informants tells me the pursuit of Waikato did not end until the fugitives reached Wai-iti, seven miles north of Okoki, but this seems doubtful—it is more probable it ended this side of the Mimi river. Wherever it may have been, it is quite clear that the pride of the great Waikato tribes was completely humbled that day, and they were thankful to be allowed to get quietly away.
Amongst the losses on the Ati-Awa side were Taka-ratai, principal chief of Manu-korihi hapu (who, it will be remembered, led the Tu-whare-Te Rau-paraha taua to Te Kirikiringa in 1820), Te Mamaru, Te Toea, and others.
Tu-awhea was the first person killed on the Waikato side, by Te Oho of Ngati-Toa. Taki-moana of Nga-Puhi killed Mama, and Te Hiakai was killed by Whakau of Ati-Awa.
As soon as darkness had set in, the whole of the Waikato taua marched southwards, taking the beach wherever possible, and reached the Waitara just at daylight. After crossing they proceeded inland, and finally effected a junction with Tu-korehu's party within the pa at Puke-rangi-ora; the Ati-Awa, on guard at the place, either letting them through or being afraid to attack them owing to the numbers of Waikato. On arrival, there was a great tangi held by both parties on account of their mutual losses.
The Ati-Awa appear not to have been content with Te Rau-paraha's arrangement to allow Waikato to quietly get away to their friends, for they sent a large party from Ure-nui with the intention of stopping them at Waitara, but arrived too late, for at that time Waikato had reached Puke-rangi-ora in safety.
The combined forces of Waikato with those of the Amio-whenua expedition did not stay very long in Puke-rangi-ora, but started away for their homes, travelling by way of the coast, 'neither attacking nor being attacked by Ati-Awa; neither side evidently considering it prudent, and the northern people well pleased to get away,'" says Mr. Shand.
Mr. Skinner says, "In this retreat Tautara, Whaitiri, and other chiefs with the Puke-rangi-ora hapu, accompanied them as far as Mokau. On leaving Puke-rangi-ora, they crossed the Waitara half a mile below the pa, then passing through the Tiko-rangi district on to Onaero and page 374to Pihanga, at the mouth of the Ure-nui, thence by the old Native coast track through the Ngati-Tama country into their own lands at Mokau."
Rangi-pito says, "On the retreat of the combined forces of Te Wherowhero and Tu-korehu, they waited a while at their old camp at Waitoetoe, Mimi, to give Ati-Awa a chance of attacking them again, but they did not do so." Probably, the latter people thought it best to rest on the victory they had obtained rather than risk an engagement with the combined forces of Waikato.
Mr. Shand obtained from Petera Te Puku-atua of Te Arawa tribe the following note as to the doings of the Waikato taua as they returned: "As they passed homeward the taua met a considerable force of Ngati-Haua (of the Upper Thames) under their great chief Te Waharoa (whose son, W. T. Te Waharoa, was with the Waikato party), then on their way down to Taranaki on a war-like expedition. (Ngati-Haua had not as yet obtained payment for the death of their chief Tai-porutu at the hands of Ngati-Tama,) Te Waharoa endeavoured to persuade Te Wherowhero to return, and with their united forces obtain some compensation for their losses at Motu-nui. But the defeated taua had had enough of it—at any rate for the present—and declined the advice. Te Waharoa, however, went on and had a brush with Ati-Awa and got badly beaten, He then returned home," It is not stated where this meeting took place, or where the Ngati-Haua were defeated, or by what section of Te Ati-Awa. Probably, it was Ngati-Tama.
Mr. Shand continues, "On the return of the beaten Waikato to their homes, they were met by Te Rangi-tuatea (he who assisted Te Rauparaha to escape from Te Arawi), who enquired of them what was the news from the south. They replied, 'We have been badly beaten at Te Motu-nui and lost all our chiefs without getting any payment for them.' Rangi-tuatea then said, 'Did I not tell you not to follow Ngati-Toa? You persisted in doing so to a far distance. I told you the trail was cold and that you had better return home.'*… Te Rangi-tuatea was secretly rejoiced at the discomfort of Waikato."… The Waikato taua returned to their homes in time to take part in the fighting incident to the fall of Matakitaki, on the Waipa, which event occurred in May, 1822 (see "Maori Wars in the Nineteenth Century.")
* This was at Kawhia—see ante.
A few laments for the chiefs who fell at Te Motu-nui have been preserved, which I give below. The first is for Te Hiakai, composed by his wife Te Riu-toto; a lady of high rank:—
E Hia! rongo nui, ki te taha o te rangi,
Ka whati ra, e, te tara o te marama,
Taku ate hoki ra, taku piki kotuku,
Tena te kakahi ka tere ki te tonga,
I pongipongia koe ki te hau ki a Tu,
Kei hea tou patu e hoka i te rangi,
Hei patu whakatipi ki mua ki te upoko,
Ki te kawe-a-riri.
Whakahaere ra, na runga o nga hiwi,
Kia kite Tanpo, kia kite Rotorua,
Kia werohia koe ki te manu kai miro,
I runga o Titi'.
Hoki mai E pa! ki te waka ka tukoki,
Waiho ki muri nei, ka ru te whenua,
Ka timu nga tai i roto o Waikato.
Taku koara te uira i te rangi,
Whakahoki rua ana na runga o Hakari,
Ko te tohu o te mate—i—.
O Hia! 1 whose wide-spread fame has reached
To the far sides of the very heavens.
Now for ever art thou broken
Like the limb of the horned moon,
Together with my heart. My white heron's plume!
Thy ivory comb2 has drifted away
And disappeared in the distant south.
Incited thou wert, and spurred on
By the spirit of the war-god Tu,
Where was thy weapon that was wont
To bestride the very heavers?
A weapon that ever in the front did slash
Before the faces of thy enemies,
In the excitement of the battle.
Thy fame ere this has carried been
Across the ranges standing there;
1 Hia, short for Hiakai.
2 Kakahi, a species of whale, from the bones of which ivory combs wore made.
But now art thou speared like some bird,
That feeds on the miros at Titi'3.
Return thee then, O Sir! to the lost canoe,
That now in troubled water rocks:4
For after thee the earth will quake—
The tides of Waikato will ebb away.
The following lament alluding to the losses at Te Motu-nui by a Waikato woman, is from Mr. Shand. It is interesting as referring to the fact that ships (or a ship) had visited Nga-Motu before the battle, and hence were some of the muskets used by Ati-Awa: —
He hau no waho i whiua mai ai,
Te puke i Oropi, i Poi-hakene.
I maunu atu ai te taniwha i to rua,
Te puru o Waikato—e—!
Taku tau i mutua,
To wehi o to whenua!
E Hine a Ngao! i murua iho ra,
To mata-whakarcwa ki to wai ngarahu,
Te uhi a Mata-ora.
Hoki kau mai nei
Te tan gata putoho o te riri,
To haere te rongo mo ko Te Rangi-wahia
Mo nga mate ngaro
I runga Te Motu-nui—o—
Tikina atu ra nga răta
Whakatere kai-puke i ruuga o Nga-Motu,
Nau i kumekume,
Ka u te paura, ka tini to măta,
Ka moo koutou ki runga o Raki-ura,
Kia ata whakaputa, te rac i Rangi-po,
Kei pchia koe c te awe o Tongariro,
Tahuri atu ki tua, to moana Pounamu,
Tautika te haero ki a Te Rau-paraha,
Ki'koa tonu mai te wahino Ati-Tama.
Mo Tupoki ra, mo Raparapa, ra,
Tenei kei roto.
3 Titi is probably Titi-raupenga mountain-a great bird-spearing place.
4 The canoe is used for the tribe.
5 Each tribe had a rua-koha, or mountain where the lightning played, and this was a sign of some death in the tribe.
6 Hakari-mata is the name of the range west of the Waipa and Waikato, probably a rua-koha.
'Twas a favouring breeze from beyond
That hither drove the ship from Europe,
Coming from the distant Port Jackson.
This was the cause that then withdrew
The famous taniwka1 from its lair.
O thou! the restraining hand of Waikato!
O my lover!2 now is thy career at an end!
Thou dread one! whose fame in all lands was heard.
O Lady of Ngao! his mobile face was decorated
With the dark-coloured water of ngarahu,3
Skilfully applied with Mata-ora's4 magic chisel.
When the struggling men of the fight returned
They brought no fame.
To Rangi-wahia5 alone did this pertain
Through the losses in sudden death,
In the south, at Te Motu-nui.
'Twas he that sought and inducement gave
To men learned in navigation,
Who brought to their home at Nga-Motu
Both powder and balls in plenty.6
Hence ye sleep above at Raki-ura.
Ye took no care the danger to pass
At the point of Rangi-po, 7
Lest ye be overwhelmed in death,
By the snows of Tongariro.
When I turn my thoughts to the southern sea,
I would that my course were direct to Te Rau-paraha.
Let the women of Ati-Tama then rejoice
For the valour of Tupoki8 and Raparapa,
As I feel within me now.
1 The withdrawal of a taniwha from its lair is emblematical of the death of a great chief.
2 "My lover" refers to the death of Te Hiakai and others.
3 Ngarahu, the burnt resinous wood of a pine, from which the tatooing pigment was prepared.
4 Mata-ora, the traditional inventor of tatooing, which operation is done with a chisel-shaped instrument—te uhi a Mata-ora.
5 Rangi-wahia, chief of Ngati-Mutungu and leader of Ati-Awa at Te Motu-nui battle.
6 This and the preceding lines seems to show that Ati-Awa had at that time (1821-22) obtained muskets from some vessel calling in at Nga-Motu, but it would not have been Rangi-wahia who obtained them, but rather Te Whare-pouri or some other of the Nga-Motu chiefs.
7 Rangi-po desert at the foot of Tongariro volcano, but probably used as emblematic of death.
8 The two warrior brothers of Ngati-Tama, killed not long before the battle of Te Motu-nui.
Tangi ra, e toku ihu,
E waitohu noa nei i te rangi-tahi;
He wawara taua pea,
Tenei ka tata mai wawara-aitu.
He aroha tangi atu naku ki te mate
E whakaingoingo mai ra,
I te tuoro pari ki a Rata.
Pupuke raahara e—
I roto i to hine-ngaro
I ou kainga waiho no'
Waiho i to ao—
To whenua kura, ka mania,
Ka paea te koko i Otaugi-moana,
To putea tătăka koi runga i to ringa
Wheko turuki ana te wheko
I a raure moana;
Ko koe anake tipao haere
I runga i nga maunga,
E to ana i tona waka
I a Te Kumukumu,
Ka puta ake ki waho
Ko nga whakaihu ki Maunga-roa
He ripa ka mau.
Kei runga kei te taumata;
Titivo ki Rua-wahia, ki Tara-wera
Ko te mea ia ra,
I whakakopea mai e Tara-iti
Ka mau te hu,
Ka hoki ki te wai-ora, ki te ao.
Ko te heke ra o Maru-iwi
I haere ai ki Te Reinga,
Ana to kai! ko te taringa o Ngatata,
Nana ano i maka mai ki te kupu
Ki te muri ki te tonga.
He ware koia tohuku
I te paenga tohora,
I te whakawhitianga i Tunm-tara,
He poa te tau i te kore,
Ka hohoro te pa,
Ka riro mai a Te Rama,
Me aha i te potiki tau-roto waenga,
page 379 O Papa-i-whara-nui,
Nana i hohora te whetu, te inarama,
Horahia mai ano kia takoto
1 tc aio moe rokiroki—e—.
Wail aloud then, 0 my nose!
With itching omen, the live long day,
'Tis the distant sound of battle.
Like some evil omen now approaching
A wail of love from me for the dead,
A low continued cry, it sounds
From the sloping cliff at Rata.
Swell up the thoughts
Within my mind,
For thy abandoned home,
Remaining in this world,
Thy beloved home has passed away,
The strand is covered at Otangi-moana.
Thy weapon from thy hand has fallen,
Extinguished dimly is thy light,
On the wide space of ocean.
Solitary thy spirit wanders,
Here and there upon the mountain,
Dragging with thee, thy heavy load—
A canoe laden with every doubt.
And then thou comest forth,
At the brows of Maunga-roa—
To the bounding line of vision,
On the mountains distant summit.
Look forth! at Rua-wahia;2 at Tara-wera
2 Whence were the forces gathered,
That came with Tara-iti.
Then was the convulsion of defeat,
Back again, to happiness, to the world,
Alas! 'twas like the headlong flight
Of the hapless people of Maru-iwi:3
Passing onward, to Hades and to death.
Behold thy object of revenge!
False Ngatata's ear,
He who spoke with words of guile,
To the people of the north, of the south,
Was the folly then of my doing ?
That caused the death of many chiefs,
At the crossing place at Tamu-tara.
Long was that year of striving
When after many days the fortress fell,
And famed Tc Rama4 was taken.
2 The volcanic mountains near Rotorua.
3 Maru-iwi, a tribe driven from "Whakatano, which in their fligrht all disappeared into a chasm near To pohue, Napior-Taupo road.
4 Rama is probably the famed inere Rama-apakura.
The famed Papa-i-whara-nui's5descendant,
Who stretched out in death, the stars, the moon,6
Spread out again the word
That peace may now prevail
Like tranquil waters.1
5 Papa-whara-nui, mothor' of Tou-hou-rangi, eponymous ancestor of the Tu-hou-rangi branch of Te Arawa.
6 Stars and moon represent the chiefs
1 "Putea tataka" ordinarily means a fallen basket; but tho reciter says it refcrs to weapons.