Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

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



After the first settlement of the crew of the canoe "Taki-tumu" in the Middle Island, "a branch of the Ngati-Hau from Whanganui, under a chief named Tauira-pareko, were the next to cross over to the Middle Island; a section of whom called Ngati-Wairangi, with their chief Tawhiri-kakahu, settled at Arahura (near Hokitika), on the West Coast…. Next in point of time was a tribe named Pohea, also from Whanganui; they settled in the neighbourhood of Whakatu, or Nelson, where they built a large pa, called Matangi-awhea. The tribe Ngati-Tu-mata-kokiri were the next to arrive and spread themselves over the Whakapuaka, Nelson, Waimea, Motueka, Roto-iti, Roto-roa, and Massacre Bay districts and the West Coast as far south as the river Karamea. They are said to be descended from a chief named Tu-mata-kokiri, and to have come originally from Taupo to Whanganui, in the North Island, where, after dwelling for a while, they crossed over to the Middle Island and settled at Arapaoa (Queen Charlotte Sound), from whence, in course of time, as their descendants page 428increased, they spread themselves over to the westward, occupying the shores of Blind (or Tasman) and Massacre Bays; and it is supposed, according to native accounts, that it was a few of this tribe who attacked Tasman's boats' crew on the 18th December, 1642, on his visit to that part, which he describes in his voyages as having named Massacre Bay in consequence of this uhappy affair; in corroboration of which the locality pointed out by the natives as having been the scene of the first unfortunate meeting between the European and native races, is situated in close proximity to the Tata Islands, in what is now known as Golden Bay…."

After describing the irruption of the Ngai-Tahu tribe into the Middle (or South Island) about the year 1575-1600, and their collision with the Ngati-Mamoe tribe, Judge Mackay continues, "About this time a division of the Ngai-Tahu proceeded to Ara-hura, on the West Coast, for the purpose of getting the greenstone, or pou-namu.… In those days the West Coast of the Middle Island was inhabited by a tribe called Ngati-Wairangi…. A large body of Ngai-Tahu travelled across the Island to the West Coast, where they speedily overcame the Ngati-Wairangi, most of whom were killed, with the exception of a few women and children, who were spared by and embodied in the Ngai-Tahu. The Ngai-Tahu had not long been in possession of the West Coast before they were attacked by the Ngati-Tu-mata-kokiri (of Tasman Bay, etc.), but, as the attacking party was not large, no advantage was gained by them, and they withdrew to Mohua (native name of the northern part of the Middle Island). The Ngai-Tahu and Ngati-Tu-mata-kokiri seem to have had occasional fights about the right of catching the weka, Kiwi, and kakapo in the Upper Grey and Buller districts, but nothing of any moment took place during the first century of the occupation of the Middle Island by Ngai-Tahu…. The pursuit of bird-hunting and eel-catching at the sources of the Maruia (a branch of the Buller), the Clarence (Wai-au-toa) and Wai-au-uwha" (which is the proper name—not Waiau-ua, as the maps have it) " led to frequent skirmishes between the East and West Coast Ngai-Tahu and Ngati-Tu-mata-kokiri. This latter tribe appears to have held possession of the country to the north of the Buller river" (and extending to Cape Farewell) "for over a century after the first settlement of Ngai-Tahu in the Middle Island, when their territory was invaded by a division of the Ngati-Apa tribe from the neighbourhood of Whanganui, in the North Island, who partially conquered them, but after a time withdrew again to their own district."

"The Ngati-Tu-mata-kokiri, with a view to avenge themselves on this tribe, determined to cross the Straits and attack them at Kapiti,page 429where they then resided, but in attempting to do so large numbers were drowned, and the remainder who landed were so few in number that they fell easy victims to their enemies."

"No further attempt at conquest appears to have been made by the Ngati-Apa until about sixty years ago (i.e., 1810), when, taking advantage of a war then raging between Ngai-Tahu and Ngati-Tu-mata-kokiri, they crossed over to Massacre Bay and again attacked the latter tribe. The Ngati-Tu-mata-kokiri, about this time, unfortunately killed a Ngai-Tahu chief named Pakeke at Maruia; it was determined by both Ngati-Tuāhu-riri (of Ngai-Tahu) and the Poutini (West Coast) Ngai-Tahu to take revenge. Two fighting parties started unknown to one another almost simultaneously—one from Kai-apohia (on the East Coast), and one from Arahura (on the West Coast); the former headed by Te Whare-kino, an influential chief, travelled by the Hurunui river to Lake Sumner; thence by the sources of the most northerly branches of the Wai-au-uwha and the pass of Kai-tangata to Maruia, following this river down to its junction with the Kawa-tiri, or Buller. They then proceeded, after crossing the Buller, in a northerly direction by the valley of the Matiri—a tributary of the Buller—to the sources of the river Karamea, down which they proceeded to the West Coast, where they remained some days eel-fishing."

"The party of Poutini Ngai-Tahu, headed by their principal chief Tuhuru (father of the late Tarapuhi-Te-Kaukihi of Mawhera"—and, I may add, a descendant of Mango-huruhuru, the magician who brought the sands to the Taranaki coast, see Chapter VIII*), "travelled by the West Coast and reached Karamea at the time that Whare-kino and his people were there engaged eel-fishing. Seeing tracks of men on the sands at Karamea they supposed that it was some of the page 430Ngati-Tu-mata-kokiri, of whom they were in quest. Tuhuru and another native cautiously approached the Ngati-Tuāhu-riri camp. Tuhuru's companion being in advance came suddenly on Te Whare-kino (who was engaged baiting an eel-basket), and, taking one another for enemies, a seuffle ensued, when the Poutini man was thrown down and would have been killed by Te Whare-kino but for the timely arrival of Tuhuru; he at once, without ceremony, made a stroke at Te Whare-kino with his spear and ran him through the arm, at the same time giving him a push forward on his face. But before he could rise he was siezed by the hair by Tuhuru, who intended giving him a finishing stroke with his club, when he suddenly recognised him as Te Whare-kino and a cousin of his own. The Ngati-Tuāhu-riri, attracted by the quarrel, had by this time assembled round their leader; whereupon the mistake was explained and they at once agreed to join forces and proceed to West Whanganui, led by Tuhuru. There they attacked the Ngati-Tu-mata-kokiri and killed large numbers of them, but after a time retired to Arahura, from whence Te Whare-kino and his people returned to Kaiapohia, on the East Coast."

"The Ngati-Tu-mata-kokiri were shortly after again attacked by the Ngati-Apa, from the North Island, and driven on to the West Coast; and the last of them, consisting of Te Pau and Te Kokihi, two of the principal chiefs, and a few followers, were killed by Tuhuru and his people on the Paparoha range, dividing the valleys of the Grey and Buller. The Ngati-Apa had now entire possession of the country formerly occupied by the Ngati-Tu-mata-kokiri; but events were taking place in the North Island amongst the tribes there, which eventually led to their being dispossessed of their newly-acquired territory…."

Practically, the above is all that is known of the Ngati-Tu-matakokiri tribe, as they were destroyed root and branch, always excepting some of the women who were taken prisoners by their conquerors, and it is through some of them that the following old song was learnt by some of the Ngati-kuia and Ati-Awa people. It is very ancient:—

Nau mai, E te tau! ki roto nei taua,
Titiro iho ai taku tonga-rerewa
E tomo, E Hine! ki Mirumiru-te-po,
Ko To Tatau-o-te-po,
Ko te whare tena o Rua-kumea
O Rua-toia, O Miru ra e!
No Tu-horo-punga, no Kai-ponu-kino
Nana koe i maka i te kopae o te whare
Ki te ata ki a Te Kamu.
Ka huri mai hoki to wairua-ora,
E Hine! ki a au.
page 431 He motoi taniwha no roto i te kopa
Na to whaea, na to tuakana, na Hine-korangi,
He awe toroa no runga i a Karewa,
Nana i unu ake, tukua mai kia rere,
E Tama ma e! tauwhirotia mai
Te waka o te makau
Me tuku kia whano nga mata kurae,
Ki Rua-taniwha e—
Kia wawe ia te ihu
Ki Otama-i-ea
Tahuri atu ki tua ki One-tahua—e—
Te whenua ra e, kihai au i kite,
E takahia mai ra, e Tu-ki-Hawaiki.

Thou hast entered, O Lady! Mirumiru-te-po,
By the door of Hades, place of departed spirits.
There is the house of Rua-kumea—
(Where spirits are dragged to their doom)
Of Rua-toia, spirit-holder—of Miru,1 goddess of Hades.
There also is the house of Tu-horo-punga of Kai-ponu-kino
(The powerful gods of sorcery and spells).
'Twas Miru 1that cast thee into the corner,
To the shade of the firmly-grasped;
From thence did turn thy living-spirit,
O lady! unto me.
Welcome back, my love! to this our home,
And let me gaze on my treasure found—
My precious one from the treasure-bag;
Once thy mother's, thy sister's, even Hine-korangi's.2
Thou art like the albatross plume, from Karewa,3
Plucked from its wing and hither brought.
O my friends! welcome with beckoning hand
The canoe that bears my loved one,
And let it pass on by the many capes
That lead to Te Rua-taniwha;4
Quickly shall the bow reach the strand
At famed Otama-i-ea.5
Then turn away to One-tahua,6
To that land I have never seen,
Where Tu-ki-Hawaiki7 goes to and fro.

Notes.—This is the lament of Riri-koko, who, on the death of his daughter, followed her to the Reinga, or place of departed spirits, and brought her back. She was the sister of Hine-korangi. But see the Journal Polynesian Society, Vol. VII., p. 59, and Vol. V., p. 118, for the story on which this lament is founded.

page 432

In Judge Mackay's account it is inferred that the whole of Ngati-Tu-mata-kokiri were exterminated. No doubt, this was so, as a tribe, but many of the women were saved, as also some of the men—all of whom subsequently became slaves to Ati-Awa and Ngati-Rarua.

1 Miru, goddess of Hades.

2 Hine-korangi, sister of the departed.

3 An island off Kawhia, home of the albatross.

4 Rua-taniwha, a point a little to the north of West Whanganui.

5 Te Tahuna i Otama-i-ea is the boulder bank that forms Nelson harbour,

6 One-tahua is Cape Farewell Spit.

7 Tu-ki-Hawaiki was formerly the principal chief of Ngati-Tu-mata-kokiri of Tasman Bay.

It is said by the Whanganui people that Te Ahuru led the first migration to the South Island, followed not long after by Tu-mata-kokiri.

* Tuhuru had only lately become a. resident of the West Coast. The following is translated from a document written in Maori by an old man named Hakopa (of Hokitika) in 1898 for Mr. G. J. Roberts (now Chief Surveyor of Westland). He says, "Tuhuru came originally from Kaekae-nui (? Ngaengae-nui), near Kaiapohia north of Christchurch. He did not come to make war, but rather to hunt birds to make a return for a feast given to his people. These birds were kakapo, kiwi, and weka, besides eels, which his men carried back over the mountains from Poutini to Kaiapohia, and from there were distributed even as far south as Tau-mutu (south end of Lake Ellesmere) and to Arowhenua (near Timaru). After this, Tuhuru came back to Poutini (the West Coast) with his people and dwelt at O-Hine-taketake, in the Mawhera, or Grey Valley. Here he lived with some of the Ngati-Tu-matakokiri tribe until a quarrel arose, in consequence of a woman named Kakore having been taken forcibly as a wife by Tainui, Tuhuru's son, against the wishes of her tribe, and then troubles commenced between the two parties, ending, as Judge Mackay relates, in the text above.