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

Taking of Kapiti Island. — 1823

Taking of Kapiti Island.

It would seem that even during Te Rau-paraha's first expedition down this coast with Nga-Puhi in 1819-20 he had cast covetous eyes on the island of Kapiti, separated from the main land by a narrow strait about five miles wide, as a very desirable acquisition for his tribe to be used as a stronghold difficult of access and easily defended. During the first year of their residence at Ohau on the mainland more than one attempt had been made to take it; but Mua-upoko, together with some of the Rangi-tane tribe who dwelt there, had so far succeeded in repelling the attack. The island possesses a fairly secure anchorage for vessels at the south-east end, which a few years later than the time we are writing of was constantly visited by whalers and other ships, thus allowing Te Eau-paraha to acquire many muskets, in which he was of much need.

It was during a raid made by Te Eau-paraha on the Ngati-Apa of Rangi-tikei, which tribe had become involved in the quarrel with Mua-upoko, that the Ngati-Toa forces were divided—one party under Te Rau-paraha proceeding against Ngati-Apa, another under Pehi-kupe crossed by canoe to the island, which they took by surprise, for the Mua-upoko people of the island had learned of Te Eau-paraha's page 393proposed absence and thus felt themselves secure for the time, so took no precautions against surprise. Pehi-kupe captured the island without difficulty and put to death a large number of the people, whilst some escaped in canoes to the mainland and there joined their fellow tribesmen at Pae-kakariki.

When Te Rau-paraha and his party returned they found the island taken, and from that time forward for many years the Ngati-Toa chief took up his abode there.