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

Conquest of Tasman Bay. — 1828

Conquest of Tasman Bay.

We left the Ati-Awa and Ngati-Rarua expedition at Rangitoto (or D'Urville's) Island bound for the conquest of the Ngati-Apa of Tasman Bay. The fleet passed along down the east coast of the bay, attacking all the people they found as they went along. At a place named Te Ana-toto—a point on the mainland just to the west of the French Pass, they first fell in with some of the local people, and here succeeded in killing Te Nge and captured his wife Whakaata. Passing down the coast they killed or drove inland all the people at Croiselles Harbour (so D'Urville, its discoverer, spells it—the native name is Whangarae) and then on to Whakapuaka, where they fell on the people there, killing a great many, amongt them the wife of Tekateka, a Ngati-Apa chief, who, himself, climbed on to the top of a house and shouted out, whilst the massacre was going on, "Ko au tenei! Ko Tekateka!"—("This is I, Tekateka!") This man being a brother-in-law of Tu-te-povangi (one of the Ngati-kuia or Ngati-Apa prisoners of Ngati Toa and now friendly with them) was therefore saved by Te Manu-tohe-roa of Ati-Awa. Tu-te-porangi's grandson is Hoani Makareka of Blenheim. The expedition then went on to Nelson, Motueka, Takaka, and as far as Te Tai-tapu, or Massacre Bay, killing or enslaving the unfortunate Ngati-Apa. Having conquered all this page 435extensive stretch of country, embracing the whole of Tasman Bay, with a coast line of about one hundred and twenty miles, many of the conquerors settled down there in the choicest spots.

But the manslaying already accomplished did not suffice for these bloodthirsty warriors, now habituated to a diet of man's flesh and with the lust of killing on them. Apparently, the offence given by Ngati-Apa in joining in the attack on Kapiti Island in 1824 was not to be expiated, by the conquest of their country and the enslaving of their people. The strong desire also to obtain greenstone was another reason why a portion of the conquerors under Niho (or Nga-Niho) of Ngati-Tama (or perhaps Ngati-Rarua—both tribes closely related), and Otu of Ati-Awa, decided to raid the West Coast and attack the Poutini Ngai-Tahu, in whose country the greenstone was to be found. The course which this expedition took along the West Coast is one of the most difficult to travel in all New Zealand. The mountain ranges are nowhere very far from the coast, down to which the spurs come in precipitous slopes, all clothed with very dense forests, and intersected by numerous rivers and streams running in precipitous gorges. A writer in the "Karere Maori," No. 16, 1849, says, "Along this coast the Ngati-Tama chief Nga-Niho led his people in the year 1827 (? 1828) against the Ngai-Tahu people of the greenstone country, whom he defeated in every battle. The assailants had all of them guns, and although, amidst the almost inaccessible rocks and fastnesses of their coast, the Ngai-Tahu might have defied any enemy similarly armed to themselves, yet the fear of the fire-arms brought against them, together with their deadly effect, caused them in every instance to give way. The localities of the fights are yet pointed out, and scorched stones, which formed the umus, or ovens, are still discernable. It is very doubtful if these valleys—between West Whanganui and Karamea—were ever at any time peopled. The Ngai-Tahu and Ngati-Tu-matakokiri tribes that formerly inhabited the Middle Island occupied chiefly the Northern and Eastern Coasts and only visited the Western Coast in quest of greenstone and sealskins. A section of these latter people retreated to the rocky fastnesses of the Karamea country upon the invasion of the Ngati-Tama and Kawhia (Ngati-Rarua) tribes. Thence, after a succession of fights in which their strength was broken, they dispersed, going yet further to the south-westwards, where, at Arahura river and towards Milford Sound (Waka-tipu, sic.,) a community of about seventy persons, half of whom are of the Kawhia tribe, intermarried with the Ngai-Tahu, are all that remain of them, and the only inhabitants of a coast country of four hundred and seventy-five miles in length…. The incessant wars which seem page 436to have engaged the Ngai-Tahu, Ngati-Tu-mata-kokiri, and Rangitane tribes, even before the northern tribes crossed the Straits, prevented the population of the Middle Island increasing to such an extent as these valleys could be peopled."

Judge Mackay says (loc cit, p. 46), "Leaving Te Puoho and Te Koihua in charge of the conquered country (Massacre Bay, etc.), Niho and Takerei, with their followers, proceeded down the West Coast as far as the viver Hokitika, conquering all the country before them. Amongst the prisoners taken was Tuhuru, the chief of the Poutini Ngai-Tahu, who, on peace being restored between the contending parties, was ransomed by his people for a greenstone mere called "Kai-kanohi," which is now (1872) in the possession of the descendants of Matenga Te Au-pouri. After this, Tuhuru and some of his people, as an act of submission, went to visit Te Rau-paraha and the Ngati-Toa at Rangitoto; and Takerei and Niho, with some of the Ngati-Toa, settled at Mawhera (Greymouth) on the West Coast." My notes add to Judge Mackay's the fact that Niho married Tuhuru's daughter—a very fine, handsome woman.

From Mr. G. J. Roberts' notes, already referred to, I abstract the following account of the capture of Tuhuru, as obtained by him from Te Kere, an old Maori of about seventy-eight years of age:—"When Te Niho started for the West Coast (from Patu-rau*) Te Rau-paraha told him to spare Tuhuru (Hakopa says, 'but Pu-aniwaniwa was to be killed.') At West Whanganui he killed Te Weka, but no others, and at Mawhera killed five or six others. From there he came on to Hokitika. At this time Tuhuvu was at Kokatahi—a few miles inland of Hokitika. The party reached the latter place in the evening, and Tukai (who appears to have been the guide) persuaded the war-party to wait till morning as Tuhuru and the men would be away fishing. Tukai wished to save Tuhuru if possible. Arrived at the pa at Kokatahi in the morning all the men were away and only women at home (and some of Tuhuru's sons, says Hakopa, who escaped into the forest, whilst the women were captured). When Tuhuru approached the pa he saw the war-party, and fled to the Kokatahi river, and after crossing stood there with his long spear (huata). Niho followed him and called out, telling Tuhuru he did not want to fight. After this, Niho crossed the river and rubbed noses with Tuhuru, and then both page 437returned to the pa. Hakopa here says, 'Ka poia ki te atua kia kitea e Tuhuru te ara mona, ki te ora.'—('Tuhuru made offerings to his god to disclose to him the course he should take to save himself,') and that he explained to Ngati-Tu-mata-kokiri what was to be done." Hakopa's ill-written, badly composed narrative leaves the matter there and goes off on to a different subject. Mr. Huberts continues, "Tainui, his sister, and Tarapuhi (Tuhuru's children) were in the bush, but the latter came back (? before Niho left). Next morning Niho and his party left, and went on south wards as far as Okarito. Kahu, for whom Niho was seeking, was up the big Whanganui river at Lake Matahi, or Ianthe, engaged in fishing. He and his party came out to the coast to Whataroa, and next day Niho arrived at Okarito. Kahu was standing by a whata, or store-house, whilst Niho's people were taking food from it. Kahu tried to drag towards him with his foot a tomahawk lying on the ground; but Niho's men saw him, so killed him, also his wife and daughters.

"Te Niho then marched back to Arahura, and from there back to Patu-rau, taking Tuhuru and the other local Maoris with him, and here they stayed five years, after which Te Niho brought them back to their own homes. On this occasion Te Niho went right down the coast as far as Tahu-tahi (Cascades), from whence ho returned home. There was no one killed in this expedition, but Kahuwai, one of his party, was drowned in the Wai-a-toto river in trying to save another man. His body was burned, and the ashes buried at the head of the lagoon where 'Castle Douglass' now stands."

Te Manu-tohe-roa, of the Puke-tapu hapu of Ati-Awa, was one of the principal chiefs engaged in these raids, and, as my informant says, it was he and his people took the Waimea and Motueka valleys, and there captured Te Kotuku, the principal chief of those parts.

It will be remembered that at the battle of Wai-o-rua, or Whakapaetai, in which these Ngati-Apa people had assisted those of the North Island in attempting to destroy Ngati-Toa at Kapiti in 1824, a boy named Tawhi—son of Te Putu of Ngati-Toa—was the only prisoner taken by the allies. He was carried away by Ngati-Apa to their homes in Tasman Bay. When Ngati-Toa were engaged in their Pelorus Sound raid in 1828 they took prisoner at Rangitoto Island a chief named Tu-te-porangi (belonging, I think, to Ngati-kuia), who was conveyed to Kapiti. Some time after this, and evidently after the conquest of Tasman Bay, this man requested that he might be allowed to return to his tribe, urging as a reason therefor that he could secure the return to his parents of the boy Tawhi. Ngati-Koata, a branch of Ngati-Toa, to which tribe the boy belonged, agreed to the page 438proposal, and they fitted out an expedition from (I believe) Rangitoto, where some of them were living in order to accomplish this. They proceeded by canoe through the French Pass (Te Au-miti, native name) and along the coasts of the bay to Motueka, but on their arrival there they found the place deserted. The expedition then turned back to Waimea, where they found Te Hapuku, chief of that branch of Ngati-Apa. With this chief Ngati-Koata made a formal peace, says my informant, which seems to show that some at least of Ngati-Apa still retained their independence. But the child was not to be found. Whilst there they saw the head-piece of a very celebrated canoe named "Te Awatea," which had been taken there for safety, whilst the other parts had been left at Motueka. This canoe was presented to Ngati-Koata by Te Hapuku, and was brought away to Kapiti on their return. The boy Tawhi never returned to his people, but died a natural death at Pelorus.

After this, a second expedition was made by Ngati-Koata, which went to Rangitoto Island, Kaiaua (at Croiselles), Whaka-puaka, and Waimea, and at these places made peace with Ngati-kuia and Ngati-Apa. This expedition went especially to make peace with the remains of the above tribes, and it occurred shortly before the death of Te Pehi-kupe, or in 1829.

Although peace was made between the conquering northern tribes and the remnant of Ngati kuia and Ngati-Apa; they did not always live up to it, as the following incident will show, as told to Mr. Best and myself by old Te Paki of Ngati-Koata, who had taken part in Te Rau-paraha's raids and had settled at Otara-wao, on the west side of Rangitoto Island with his tribe soon after the conquest:—On one occasion two chiefs of Ngati-kuia, named Ruru and Tu-maunga, came on a visit to Ngati-Koata. As they landed from their canoe, Te Paki, having some grievance against Ruru, made up his mind to kill him, but on attempting to do so was prevented by Tu-maunga. During the evening Te Paki got some of his friends together in his house to persuade them to help him carry out his design. In the house was a woman named Rangi-kukupa, who, pretending to be asleep, overheard the scheme prepared for Ruru's death. She took an opportunity to go outside, and warned Ruru, who thus escaped the death intended for him.

* Judge Mackay tells me "Patu-rau is the name of a stream a short distance south from the entrance of West Whanganui, Niho (Te Whare-pakaru), Takerei, and some of the Ngati-Tama used to live there when the Massacre Bay district was first conquered."