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

Attack on Ngati-Apa and Rangi-Tane

Attack on Ngati-Apa and Rangi-Tane.

It was mentioned on last page that the Ngati-Apa tribe had become embroiled with Ngati-Toa on account of their having joined with their related tribes, Rangi-tane and Mua-upoko, in opposing Te Rau-paraha's schemes. Mr. Travers says, "Te Rau-paraha had no sooner retired to Kapiti than the Rangi-tane erected a large pa at Hotu-iti, on the north side of the Manawatu river on the block of land now known as Te Awa-hou, where they collected in force and were joined by three chiefs of note of the Ngati-Apa tribe. Te Rau-paraha, hearing of this, determined to attack them, and he and Te Rangi-haeata marched to Hotu-iti with a well-appointed taua, accompanied by Pikinga (the latter's wife), who, on the arrival of the party before the pa, was sent into it to direct the "Ngati-Apa chiefs to retire to the district occupied by that tribe on the north side of the Rangi-tikei river. This they declined to do; and Te Rau-paraha then sent messengers to the Rangi-tane tribe offering peace, and desiring that their chiefs should be sent to his camp to settle the terms. Being advised by the Ngati-Apa chiefs to accept the offer, they sent their head men to Te Rau-paraha's quarters, where they were at once ruthlessly slain; and whilst the people of the pa, ignorant of this slaughter and believing that hostilities were suspended, were entirely off their guard, it was rushed by Ngati-Toa and taken after a very feeble defence—the greater number of the unfortunate people and their families, as well as the three Ngati-Apa chiefs, being slaughtered and devoured; such prisoners as were taken being removed to Wai-kanae in order to undergo the same fate."

Tungia of Ngati-Toa was nearly losing his life here, but was saved by Te Aweawe of Rangi-tane—a deed that bore fruit in after years.

"After this treacherous affair Te Rau-paraha and his forces returned to Wai-kanae, where they indulged in feasting and rejoicing, little dreaming that any attempt would be made to attack them."

It appears from my Ngati-Kuia informant that one of the chiefs of either Ngati-Apa or Rangi-tane captured in this affair was named Te Ao-kaitu. He was bound hand and foot and dragged to the ovens preparing to cook those who had been killed. One of the Ngati-Toa men said to him in derision, "You had better recite your own lament!" Te Ao-kaitu replied, "Is this a fit time for song when the stones are hot page 395for cooking me?" "Never mind," said the other, "sing your lament." So Te Ao-kaitu then proceeded to sing his death wail, as follows:—

Tenei taku poho,
Kei te kapakapa atu,
Na Te Ahirau
Ki te waro raia
Kei te turakinga ai
Ko te kete tu na Marino
Kei te weranga ai o te huha
Ka tu kei te tahua.

Now is my heart,
With fluttering beats,
(Awaiting the work) of Te Ahi-rau,
(To place me) in yonder chasm,
When I fall by the blow.
To be placed in Marino's basket,
My well-cooked thigh,
Will adorn the feast.

This my informant considers a very pathetic incident and song.