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

Pehi-Katia Pa, Wai-Rarapa. — ? 1830

Pehi-Katia Pa, Wai-Rarapa.
? 1830.

As has already been stated, page 449, Te Ati-Awa were engaged in the siege of Putiki when the news of this disaster to Ngati-Tama reached them. Naturally, it created considerable excitement and a determination to avenge on Ngati-Kahu-ngunu the losses they had afflicted on Ngati-Tama at Te Tarata. Ngati-Kahu-ngunu, in the meantime, knowing full well that the blow they had inflicted on Ngati-Tama would not pass without an attempt to secure revenge for it, had all retired inland, and had fortified a pa on a high hill called Pehi-kātia, situated a few miles from Greytown. How long a time elapsed before steps were taken to raise a taua-hikutoto, or avenging party, is uncertain. Mr. Shand (loc. cit., p. 93) says, "Immediately the massacre of Ngati-Tama became known, Te Kaeaea (or Taringa-kuri*) came over to Wai-rarapa from Kapiti and Wai-kanae with one hundred and forty (hokowhitu) of the Ngati-Tama (and Ngati-Toa) as well as Ngati-Mutunga of Port Nicholson; in all, three hundred and forty men" (? six hundred and eighty, for men are always counted in pairs).

Whilst Ngati-Kahu-ngunu were still engaged in fortifying Pehi-kātia the Ati-Awa, Ngati-Tama, and Ngati-Toa force appeared on the scene, and immediately proceeded to attack the place. Mr. Shand says (loc. cit., p. 93), "The attack commenced early in the morning, and shortly after noon the pa was in possession of the allies. They killed all they could get hold of, following the fugitives for a long distance, and in so doing overtook and rescued most of the Ngati-Tama captives taken at Te Tarata. Not one, however, of the chiefs mentioned in Pukoro's kai-oraora (loc. cit., p. 92) fell into the hands of her tribe; they all escaped at the fall of Pehi-kātia. Ngati-Mutunga, evidently well aware of what they might expect from the incensed and powerful Ngati-Kahungunu so soon as the news of the fall of the pa reached the ears of their friends, said, 'Let us get the stars (chiefs) out of sight—me kowhaki nga whetu.' This they did with effect, but only two chiefs, however, were taken prisoners. One named Te Ohanga-aitu was suspended by page 455the heels, his jugular vein pierced, and then each of his captors imbibed a mouthful of his blood, a thumb being placed on the wound until the next man was ready to take his share."

I learn from Taiata, a very old man of Ngati-Tama, that in the fight at Pehi-kātia the Ngati-Kahu-ngunu lost the chief Te Noho-mai-tua (? Te Ohanga-i-tua—see the lament), the elder brother of Tu-te-pakihirangi, whilst the latter with Kai-a-te-kokopn, Te Uaua, Nga-Tuere, and Kawe-kai-riri—all high chiefs—escaped up a river bed, and so in process of time to Nuku-taurua at Mahia Peninsula, which place became a refuge for many of the East Coast tribes during the troubles of these early years of the nineteenth century. All the women and children, says Taiata, were captured at Pehi-kātia. The celebrated canoe, Te Ra-makiri, was taken during this expedition at Pahaua, and then presented to Te Rau-paraha, as already related.

The following is the lament for Te Ohanga-i-tua, killed by Ngati-Tama at Pehi-katia, for which I am indebted to Mr. T. W. Downes:—

Te Tangi a Nuku i Te Matenga o Te Ohanga-i-Tua, me Te Rangi-Taku-Ariki, i Pehi-Katia.
Haere atu ra, E Tama ma! e.
I te mate o te rakau, E Tama! e.
Tau eanga i patua ai Kaupeka
I roto o Kau-whare-toa.
Ka tangohia te manawa,
Ka poia ki a Aitu-pawa—
Ki a Rehua, ki a Tahu-rangi,
I te mata takitaki i tupea ai a Rangi,
Ki te poho o Rangi-tamaku i Tahua-roa.
I hikaia e Tupai, e Tamakaka,
Ki te ahi tapu na Rangi-nui.
I takahia ki Tauru-rangi ata mai,
Ka tu tona ahi, koia te ahi tapu—
Koia te ahi toro, koia te ahi tipua
Ka puta ki te hou-mata-pu
Ka ea ki te ao, E Tama ma—e.
Haere ra, E Tama ma e!
I te ara ka takoto i Taheke-roa,
Kia karangatia mai koutou
Ki te Muri ki te Wai-hou,
I to koutou tipuna, i a Ruai-moko
E whakangaoko ra i Raro-henga.
Ka puta te hu ki te tai-ao
Koia Hine-puia i Hawaiki
E tahi noa mai ra i te kauhika
Ki waho i te moana.
page 456 Ka tere Hine-uku, ka tere Hine-one
Ka tere Para-whenua-mea
Ki a Hine-moana e tu mai ra,
I Tahora-nui-atea.
Ka whakapae ki uta ra
Koia Hine-tapatu-rangi
E haere atu na korua,
E Tama ma! e.

Note.—This lament is so full of references to ancient beliefs and teachings that no translation without a volume of notes would do it justice. It refers nearly all the way through to the great wars of the gods after the separation of heaven and earth, and when some of them ascended to join the sky-father Rangi, whilst others descended by Taheke-roa to Raro-henga, or Hades, led by Whiro-te-tipua, the embodiment of evil and death, and the resulting earthquakes originated by Ruai-moko—youngest of the heavenly offspring. All of this is emblematical of the wars in which the two chiefs were killed, and the introduction of this ancient simile is intended to honour them.

* Died at Pito-one, near Wellington, 5th October, 1871, of a very great age.

A tcina, younger brother or cousin of Tu-te-pakihi-rangi.