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

Te Heke-Whiri-Nui

Te Heke-Whiri-Nui.

It was just a little before the time that Barrett and others settled at Nga-Motu that a further migration of Ati-Awa took place to the south. This migration was called " Te Heke-whiri-nui," because of the large twists or curls put on their koka, or mats, by way of ornament, says Mr. Shand.* Whilst this party was at Whanganui, the news of Love and Barrett's arrival reached them at that place, and as many of the people forming this heke were engaged in the conquest of Tasman Bay, referred to in last chapter, it would seem that the party left Taranaki say late in 1828. Mr. Shand says (loc. cit.) "that it included the people who lived between Waitara and Puke-tapu, whose chief was Te Manu-tohe-roa…and also the hapus named Puke-rangiora, Manu-korihi, Otaraua (of which Te Tupe-o-Tu was chief), and finally the Puke-tapu hapu, besides stragglers from the districts of Onaero and Urenui." It is not to be understood, however, that the whole of the tribes mentioned left at this time, for many remained in their old homes. Watene Taungatara says, " thousands went and thousands remained." Nor did they all stay in the neighbourhood of Kapiti when they reached there, for there was a constant going backwards and forwards of small parties.

As to the immediate cause of this migration, my Taranaki notes are silent; but it was probably due to a fresh inroad of Waikato, which so far as can be made out must have occurred just about this period. Te Awa-i-taia, in his account of the Waikato incursions, refers very briefly to this particular expedition. He says, " Waikato continued to bear in mind the death of their groat chief Te Hiakai at the battle of Te Motu-nui (see Chapter XIV.), which was still unavenged. When Te Ao-o-te-rangi and his party of sixty went to Taranaki, many of them were murdered (so translated by Mr. White, but kohuru equally means treachery, and it is probable it was some unexpected attack that page 447caused Waikato's loss). It was To Whare-pouri (of Nga-Motu) who saved the life of Te Ao-o-te-rangi and the others." Beyond this brief note, nothing further is known of this invasion, but that Waikato had neither forgotten nor forgiven their defeat at Te Motu-nui is manifest; indeed, as we shall see, it was only a couple of years after this that they took a most signal revenge for their losses, at the fall of Puke-rangiora.

* Journal Polynesian Society, Vol. I., p. 88.

Killed at Hao-whenua in about 1834.

A.H.M., Vol. VI., p. 5.