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

The Death Of Te Karawa. — 1826

The Death Of Te Karawa.

We must return to Taranaki for a time to relate some trouble that occurred just at this period between the Ati-Awa, Taranaki, and Ngati-Rua-nui tribes, that eventually brought Waikato down on another of their great expeditions. We have the means of fixing the period of this event through the fact of Nga-tuta's journey to Waikato, where he arrived the second time just after the Nga-Puhi chief Pomare had been killed on the Waipa river in May, 1826.

Te Whare-pouri, one of if not the principal chief of the Nga-Motu hapu of Ati-Awa, whose residence was at the Sugar-loaf Islands, near New Plymouth, for some reason with which I am not acquainted, went with a party of his people to the country of the Ngati-Rua-nui, to Putake pa, situated between the Tangahoe and Mangarata streams, one and a-quarter miles north-east from Te Ruaki, or four and a-half miles north-east-by-east of Hawera. This is a celebrated pa and one of the largest in the district; it is described as over half a mile long and had an immense marae. In this place Te Karawa's skin was used on a hoop. The chiefs living here were Ngeru and Whare-matangi. With Te Whare-pouri were Rangi-wahia of Ngati-Mutunga and Te Karawa, a son of Te Moe, sister to Raua-ki-tua (another of the high chiefs of Ati-Awa, Nga-Motu hapu). Te Karawa was a very fine, handsome young man of the best blood of Ati-Awa. Whilst here, Te Karawa and another young man went into the Ngati-Rua-nui pa with the object of plundering, and were caught red-handed by tho owners of the pa. page 413After consultation it Avas decided to kill the two young men, and this was done, it is said, on the advice of Te Hana-taua, head chief of Ngati-Rua-nui.

When the news of this reached Te Whare-pouri's party, it was decided to attack Ngati-Rua-nui at once. But the latter advanced to meet them, and in a fight that ensued Ngati-Rua-nui were beaten, losing some of their chiefs, but the pa was not taken. After this the Ati-Awa ope returned home.

It is obvious that Ati-Awa were not so successful in the above fight as they say they were, for in order to obtain further revenge for Te Karawa's death they invited the Waikato tribes to help them. There was great lamentation over Te Karawa's death, for he was certainly one of the high chiefs of Ati-Awa.

The Ngati-Rua-nui people adopted a very peculiar method of showing their feelings towards Te Karawa's relatives, for after killing and eating him and his companion, they skinned the rape, or tattooed part of his buttocks, and stretching the skin over a hoop of supple-jack, they used this as a hoop, and trundled it backwards and forwards in the marae of the pa amidst the shouts and jeers of the assembled people. The bones of the victims were also made into fish-hooks, which were used to catch fish at Opunake.