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

Te Heke Niho-Puta. — 1824

Te Heke Niho-Puta.

The above is the name of the second exodus of the North Taranaki tribes to Otaki and that neighbourhood, near Kapiti. The word means "Boar's tusk," and we shall see why it was so called very shortly. Rangi-pito says that this heke took place about a year after Te Rau-paraha left Ure-nui; but this cannot be right. Mr. Shand, Mr. Travers, and Watene Taungatara all agree that it occurred after Wai-o-rua, so it must have been in 1824. They started away in the winter of that year.

Rangi-pito says, "Sometime after the battle of Te Motu-nui (about December, 1822), a man named Kainga, belonging to the Ngati-Mutunga tribe of Ure-nui, went on a visit to his relations at Waikato, the Nguti-Apakura tribe. Whilst there, Turi-manu, of the last-named tribe and a relative of Kainga's, warned him that Waikato had not forgotten or forgiven Ati-Awa for defeating thorn at Te Motu-nui, nor were they unmindful of the many reverses they had suffered at the handsof Ngati-Tamaatand near Pou-tama." Kainga was also informed that Waikato would soon take an opportunity of avenging these losses —"Te Motu-nui could never be forgotten." Kainga replied, "Waikato page 400came of their own accord, and hence we fought and beat them." Turi-manu then said, "You had better all leave and go to Kapiti. Abandon your country or Waikato will eat you." From others Kainga got the same advice, and so on his return home he told Ngati-Mutunga what he had heard, which caused considerable apprehension; and after discussion it was decided to migrate and join Te Rau-paraha. This was the origin of the "Niho-puta" heke.

With this migration also returned to Kapiti many of those who came back to their homes after the massacre of the Mua-upoko at Horo-whenua. The Ngati-Mutunga was the tribe that furnished the largest contribution to the party, but there were also members of the Ngati-Hinetuhi, Kai-tangata, Te Kekerewai, Ngati-Hine-uru, Ngati-Tama, and others, under the chiefs Rere-tawhangawhanga (who died at Wai-kanae, 26th September, 1843), Te Puoho, Te Arahu, Te Poki, Ngatata,* and many others. Generally, most of the people from the White Cliffs to Waitara went away in this heke, including some from Pou-tama; but not all, some remained behind to keep "the fires burning." The movements of this heke had been hastened by receipt of the news that all the tribes on the coast were about to combine and attempt to annihilate To Rau-paraha at Kapiti. This news seems to have dispelled the feeling that some of those who had accompanied Te Rau-paraha on his migration had against the latter for his overbearing conduct, and Ngati-Mutunga were again ready to help him, as they did at Motu-nui. They arrived too late, however, for Wai-o-rua had been fought and won when they got to Otaki.

This was a very large heke; the estimate of the armed men alone runs from four hundred to five hundred and forty, besides women, children, and old people. Before starting, Rere-tawhangawhanga of Waitara had said to Rore (Te Manihera, of the Kai-tangata happu, who afterwards died at Arapaoa Island) that the opportunity should not be lost of punishing Ngati-Rua-nui and Nga-Rauru for the part they had taken in killing some of the previous heke, as already related. The party passed through the forest by the Whakaahu-rangi track and thence onward through the Ngati-Rua-nui territories, where they seized the opportunity of attacking one of the pas, and took it; but all the people escaped away inland. From Patea they travelled by the sandy beach to Wai-totara, and then went inland to Te lhu-puku pa (just seaward of the railway bridge). Arrived (hero, some of the Nga-Rauru people were met with, who received the party in a friendly

* Uncle of Pomarc (not Poraare of Nga-Puhi), afterwards so well known at the Chatham Islands.

page 401manner and induced many of them to visit and be their guests, under the pretence of being hospitably entertained. Aware that a massacre was intended, Tama-i-akina of Nga-Rauru warned the strangers to keep together and not go to separate villages. Owing, however, to the pressing invitations of Nga-Rauru, this good advice was neglected, and the party dispersed in twos and threes to various houses. This was just what Nga-Rauru wanted; it enabled them to take their guests in detail; nor were they long about it, for directly the separation took place they commenced killing the strangers in several places at once without the others being aware of what was going on. One man of Nga-Rauru came to a house where several of the strangers were, together with a number of the local people. He said, "ku' patua noatia taku niho-puta*' mo te rurenga"—("My pig-with-tusks has long since been killed for the guests"); which was the signal to the others, who then rose and killed nearly all the strangers within the house. Mr. Shand says, "An old man named Hone Potote, who heard this and escaped, in telling the story afterwards, said, 'I suspected there was treachery, and sitting beside my companion, with my big toe-nail scratched him (kia whiwha) to indicate that we should attack our hosts, but he was afraid to do so. They attacked and killed many of us, but the bulk escaped.' After this the escapees made their way to Ihu-puku, where the bulk of the heke were camped. Te Poki remained with the party at Ihu-puku, whilst Ketu was the principal man who wont inland when the massacre took place"

"The heke," says Rangi-pito, "now went on their way, not stopping to avenge the deaths, but postponing that for the future. They reached Whanganui without further trouble, nor were they molested here, for the people of the place were all away inland up the river. Had there been any there, some fighting would have taken place" And so the migration passed on to Wai-kanae, on arrival at which place they found that the combined force of the allies had been defeated by Ngati-Toa at the fight of Wai-o-rua. On their arrival and occupation of Wai-kanae and the adjacent country, the Ngati-Toa were so strengthened that they were able again to return to the mainland to cultivate and live, a thing it had been impossible for them to do for some time past, for the remnant of Mua-upoko and Rangi-tano were always on the watch to pounce on any unwary straggler of Ngati-Toa.

Mr. Travers says that Te Puoho (whom he confused with Puaha of Ngati-Toa) came down to Kapiti to learn the truth about the attack on that island, and finding Te Rau-paraha had been entirely successful,

* From this expression the migration derives its name.

page 402he returned to Taranaki, and then it was that the "Heke-niho-puta" started. This is quite likely, but I have no notes bearing on the subject. With them, he adds, came a party of Ngati-Whakatere hapu of Ngati-Rau-kawa. This accession of force demands a little more space than Mr. Travers has given to it.