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

Omiiii. — Death of Te Peiii-Kupe. — 1829

Death of Te Peiii-Kupe.

After Te Rau-paraha's return from the Niho-mango expedition, as alluded to a few pages back, and whilst residing at his island home at page 439Kapiti, an incident occurred which again took him to the South Island.

In Chapter XV. the capture of the Ngati-Ira chieftainess Tamairangi and her family by Ati-Awa, and the subsequent protection afforded to them by Te Rangi-haeata of Ngati-Toa, has been described. Tamai-rangi's son, Te Kekerengu, who was an adult man at that period, was a fine, handsome fellow and somewhat of a "gay Lothario." Whilst living at Kapiti an intrigue took place between this man and the wife of Te Rangi-haeata (or Moka, which was his other name), the news of which, as is invariably the case amongst Maoris, soon became public property. Tamai-rangi and Te Kekerengu, fearing the result of this might be their destruction, procured a canoe and escaped from Kapiti one night, with all their relations. Crossing the stormy Straits they proceeded to Aro-paoa Island, in Queen Charlotte Sound, and stayed there for some time; but still fearing the wrath of Ngati-Toa they departed from there and went on south to somewhere in the neighbourhood of Kai-koura, and joined their distant relatives of the Ngai-Tahu tribe.

When the news of this intrigue reached Te Rau-paraha's ears, he was much incensed, but saw in the incident an excuse for a further expedition against Ngai-Tahu, who, by thus giving shelter to Te Kekerengu became, according to Maori custom, equally guilty. There is no doubt he was also actuated by the last of conquest and the desire of obtaining more greenstone, of which the people of the large pa at Kai-apohia, near the present town of Kaiapoi, were known to possess large quantities.

With these objects in view, the Ngati-Toa chief collected his tribe and started towards the end of 1829 for the South Island. After calling in at Wairau (Marlborough), they coasted on to Kai-koura, where it was found the people had fled, many of them assembling at Otama-a-kura, near Omihi—a river some fifteen miles south of the former place. Here Ngai-Tahu suffered a very severe defeat—the remnants scattering to the mountains and many fleeing to Kai-apohia. Te Pehi-kupe, Pokai-tara, and many other chiefs, with a considerable force of Ngati-Toa, leaving Te Rau-paraha at Omihi, followed after the fugitives to Kai-apohia, where Te Pehi-kupe and some others, after deceiving the people of the pa as to their intentions, were allowed to enter the fortifications and barter for greenstone. Residing with Ngai-Tahu at that time was a Nga-Puhi (or rather Te Roroa of Northern Wairoa) chief named Hakitara, who suspected Ngati-Toa's intentions, and warned his hosts to take advantage of the presence of their enemies in the pa to kill them.

According to Rangi-pito—a well-informed Ati-Awa chief—Hakitara page 440had been on a whaling cruise, and landed somewhere on Banks Peninsula, probably much disgusted with the rough life at sea, and made his way to Kai-apohia. When he saw the arrival of Ngati-Toa he said to Ngai-Tahu, "This is the tribe of Te Rau-paraha who was the cause of Te Waero's death at Motu-tawa, Roto-kakahi Lake, Rotorua district."* Hakitara had thus some idea of avenging the death of his own people as well as warning Ngai-Tahu. The Ngati-Toa had been induced to enter the pa by some one holding out a mere of greenstone—hei whakapataritari, or bait, says Rangi-pito.

This advice was acted on, and Te Pehi-kupe, Pokai-tara, Kiko-tiwha, and Te Ara-tangata of Ngati-Toa were slain. As Pehi was struggling with those who were trying to kill him, he said, "Kaua e hoatu ki te atua, me homai ki te Kaka-kura".—("Do not give it to the god, but to the Kaka-kura"); from which last word Wi Parata of Waikanae, who died in 1905, took his name Kaka-kura. What the real meaning of Pehi's speech is, I cannot say.

The subsequent attack on Kai-apohia pa and its failure need not be repeated here, for the Rev. J. W. Stack has fully described it in his "Kai-apohia." Thus died Te Pehi-kupe, a chief of high rank in the Ngati-Toa tribe, who, with the determination to procure fire-arms for his tribe had submitted himself to the rigorous discipline of a whale-ship in 1826, and made a voyage to England and subsequently to Port Jackson for that purpose. His death occurred in the latter end of 1829.

The end of Te Kekerengu, whose liaison with Te Rangi-haeata's wife had been made the pretence for this expedition, was equally disastrous to himself. He fled from Otama-a-kura pa at Omihi with his relatives directly he saw Te Rau-paraha's fleet outside, and made his way to a place on the coast twenty-two miles from Cape Campbell. How long he and his relatives remained here is not known, and the cause of his death is somewhat obseure. The strong probability is, however, that Ngai-Tahu, looking on him as the immediate cause of their disastrous defeat at Omihi, determined to be avenged on him, and for this purpose followed the fugitives and killed them all at the river now known as Kekerengu, which is so named after Te Kekerengu.

Before fleeing from Otama-a-kura, but after Te Kekerengu had recognised the oncoming fleet of canoes as belonging to Ngati-Toa, he exclaimed, "E kore e ki nga tauari a Hine-i-awhea!"—("The thwarts of Hine-i-awhea will not be filled!")—meaning, I presume, that he page 441would not wait to allow of his body being piled up in one of the canoes, so he made off.

It may well be imagined the wrath and sorrow of Te Rau-paraha at the death of his relative, Te Pehi-kupe; and that he would take measures to fully avenge it was only in keeping with his character. How he accomplished this is related in considerable detail by Mr. W. T. L. Travers (Transactions New Zealand Institute, Vol. V.) and by the Rev. J. W. Stack in " Kai-apohia." I will therefore content myself here by adding a few notes of matters not apparenty known to those gentlemen.

* See "Wars between the Northern and Southern Tribes," p. 90.